Ads 468x60px

Saturday, November 3, 2012

EU delegation arrives in Mogadishu, meets with Somali president

A high-level delegation from the European Union has today torched down in Mogadishu airport, the second visit since the EU has appointed its first ambassador to the horn of Africa nation for more 20 years.

The delegation which headed by Michele Cervone d’Urso, EU’s new envoy to Somalia, has held a closed door meeting with president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and other government top officials.

A joint press conference after the meeting, Somali president Mohamud praised EU commitments on Somalia. He said it, however will open a new chapter in the relations between Somalia and the EU, aiming at a true and balanced partnership.

For his part, Michele Cervone d’Urso, told reporters that EU is committed to help Somalia restoring peace and order and end long running crises.

In October 20, Michele Cervone d’Urso presented his credentials as new envoy to Somalia to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
read more

MAIN NEWS Two suicide explosions at cafe kill 4 in Mogadishu

At least four people have been killed and many others injured in double suicide explosions at a hotel in Somali capital Mogadishu, police and Witnesses said.

Witnesses said two bombers blew themselves up at the entrance of Village restaurant in Mogadishu’s Hodon district that is frequented by government official and residents, killing a security guard and a civilian customer.

Abdullah Hassan Barise, the spokesman of Somali police said two bombers have carried out the attack. “The bombers were shot dead before they reached their target by the security guards during a shootout,” he added.

The two suicide bombers, a security guard and a civilian person dead in the attacks and no group has yet claimed responsibility for the double blasts
read more

Uganda threatens Somalia troop withdrawal

Uganda has threatened to pull its peacekeeping troops out of Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after a UN report accused it of backing M23 rebels in the central African country.

In a statement to parliament, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said on Friday that the UN report carried baseless, unfair and malicious allegations.

The report, leaked to the media last month, also accused Rwanda, Uganda's southern neighbour, of supporting M23 rebels, who are based in eastern DRC and take their name after a peace agreement they signed with the Congolese government on March 23, 2009.

M23, commanded by Bosco Ntaganda, a warlord indicted by the International Criminal Court, have been battling Congolese troops since March, seizing towns in fighting that has displaced thousands of civilians. 

The group is made up of former fighters in the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), an ethnic Tutsi rebel movement.

Mbabazi said Uganda was acting in good faith and sacrificing a lot to bring peace to the region and deserved better understanding from the UN and the region, reported the state-run New Vision newspaper.

"We have now decided, after due consultations with our brothers in the AU and the region, to completely withdraw from these regional peace efforts; that is to say DRC, Somalia and others," Mbabazi said, according to the paper.

Findings 'absurd'

Asuman Kiyingi, Uganda's state minister for regional co-operation, said: "We are saying that if these allegations, which are malicious and unfounded, are not withdrawn then we are considering withdrawing not only from Somalia but from all peacekeeping missions we are involved in."

Uganda, along with Burundi, sent peacekeeping troops to Somalia in 2007 under an African Union mandate backed by the UN.

The peacekeepers have been credited with driving the al-Qaeda-linked rebel group al-Shabab from Mogadishu, Somalia's war-ravaged capital. 

A sudden reduction in the peacekeeping force, especially in Mogadishu, would risk unravelling the security gains that allowed the first presidential elections in more than four decades to be held in the capital in September.

Somalia's poorly equipped and ill-disciplined army is more a loose affiliation of rival militias than a cohesive fighting force loyal to a single president.

Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, the spokesman for al Shabaab's military operation, said it was unaware of Uganda's intention to withdraw and that it would keep fighting the African peacekeepers.

"After Ugandans leave, what else, it will be easier to fight the remaining invaders. We shall finish them," he told the Reuters news agency. 

Financial rewards

Uganda has earned significant Western support for deploying its soldiers to a warzone few foreign powers outside the region have the stomach for.

It also benefits financially for its AMISOM contribution while at the same time a troop presence in Somalia, Central African Republic and South Sudan gives the Ugandan military a big footprint across the region.

"It's just politics and playing to the gallery. They won't pull out. Things will be quietly settled behind closed doors with perhaps future reports not being so critical," said London-based Somali-analyst Hamza Mohamed. 

The UN Security Council's Group of Experts said in their report that despite their strong denials, Uganda and Rwanda had continued to support M23 rebels in North Kivu province.

The group, who monitor compliance with sanctions and an arms embargo on the DRC, delivered their report to the Security Council's Congo sanctions committee at the beginning of October.

Both Uganda and Rwanda dismissed the allegation, with Okello Oryem, Uganda's state minister for foreign affairs, saying that the experts' findings were "rubbish and absurd".

"Some of those so-called experts came here [to Uganda] and did not interview anyone," Oryem said.

Mbabazi said Uganda, which shares a border with the DRC, got involved with mediating with M23 rebels following a request by Ban Ki-Moon, the UN chief and Joseph Kabila, the president of the DRC.
read more

Sunday, October 14, 2012

KDF to mark one year since Somalia invasion

Kenya Defence Force will hold the first commemoration ceremony since the incursion to Somalia at the 10th Engineers Nanyuki Garrison.

According to a press release issued by the Director of Public Communications, Ministry of Defence, Mr Bogita Ongeri, October 14 would from now on be a special day for the forces.

“It will be a day to celebrate and remembering the contributions present and past of those who served or continue to serve in the Kenya Defence Force diligently,” Ongeri said.

Defence Minister, Yusuf Haji will preside over the celebrations.

Officers back from active service in the war against Al Shabaab in Somalia will narrate their experiences in active combat, said the press release. 

Similar celebrations will be held at the KDF Headquarters, Moi Air Base-Eastleigh, Manda Naval Base, Lamu, Gilgil and Kahawa Garrisons.

read more

Minn. witness describes early al-Shabab recruiting

A Minnesota man who traveled to Somalia to enlist in the terrorist group al-Shabab has identified the person he says first attempted to persuade him to join up.

Salah Osman Ahmed is testifying in the federal trial in Minneapolis of Mahamud Said (mah-hah-MOOD' sy-EED') Omar, who is accused of helping Americans travel to Somalia.

The trial is shedding light on the way recruiting worked. Ahmed named Abdiweli Yassin Isse (EE'-say) as an early recruiting leader. Ahmed says Isse is one of the people who first began talking in 2007 about traveling to Somalia, and how Americans would go to paradise if they fought Ethiopian soldiers seen by many Somalis as invaders.

Authorities say more than 20 young men have gone to Somalia from Minnesota, and at least six have died.
read more

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Somalia Detains 300 Suspected Al-Shabaab Members

Somali National Army(SNA) have detained at least 300 suspected Al Shabab members in Mogadishu, the biggest mass arrest for months in the capital, police official said.

General Mohamed Hassan Maalin, the police chief of Benadir region for Somali government told reporters in Mogadishu that the massive operation was conducted in villages in Hodon district, to protect attacks in the capital by Al shabab militants.
read more

Friday, September 28, 2012

Somali Islamists Driven Out Of Kismayo Port

Somalia’s violent Islamist movement has been driven out of its headquarters in the southern port city of Kismayo.

It was the first amphibious assault by African troops since independence in the 1960s.

A Kenyan task force bombarded Kismayo then landed troops from seven ships, locals said. They then battled the al Shabab which rushed troops to the city’s port and its beaches three miles to the north.

Joined by Somali government troops, the Kenyans squeezed al Shabab from the north and with an attack from the south - which had followed months of painstaking operations - Kenyan forces inched forward against the Islamists, who claim allegiance to al Qaeda.

Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said: "We came from the beach side and we're moving towards the main city. Our surveillance aircraft are monitoring every event taking place on the ground.

"For now, we're not everywhere. We've taken a large part of it without resistance. I don't see anything major happening," he added.

Kismayo is the most important strategic asset held by al Shabab. It has been the centre of its economic operations since it was driven from Mogadishu a year ago.

The natural port has been a money spinner by exporting charcoal and importing diesel which is then smuggled throughout east Africa. It has also been the only route for the importation of weapons by the radical Islamist group.

Samantha Lewthwaite, 28, the British wife of 7/7 bomber Jermain Lindsay, is believed to have fled to Kismayo after she was allegedly involved in a bomb plot in Kenya’s second city, Mombasa.

Kenyan police issued an arrest warrant for the mother of three soon after they uncovered the alleged plot last December.

Al Shabab had its roots in the Islamic Courts Union government which was established in Mogadishu after almost two decades of chaos and mayhem caused by warlords in Somalia.

The courts fell foul of the US which encouraged Ethiopia to drive it from power in 2007.

Extremists in the movement formed al Shabab and began reaching out to terrorist organisations around the world for support while conservative members of the courts eventually joined the transitional government. Its troops have joined the battle for Kismayo.

British staff officers have been involved in the planning of African Union operations alongside the Somali government in Mogadishu.

Their deployment to the region follows widespread concern that al Shabab had established al Qaeda-style training camps for Somalis based in the west, especially in the UK.

About 200 foreign fighters, of whom 50 are believed to be British, are reported to have joined al Shabab, western intelligence agencies have said.
read more

Kenyan Troops Storm Somali Militant Stronghold

By: Gabe Joselow

Kenya’s Defense Force says its troops took control of parts of the Somali port city of Kismayo Friday in a pre-dawn attack from the land, air and sea. The long-awaited operation is targeting the last major stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab.

Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) launched the assault around 2:00 am local time from the Kismayo coast in coordination with Somali forces and the African Union peacekeeping force known as AMISOM.

KDF spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna says Kenyan soldiers secured the northern part of the town with little resistance from al-Shabab. “Since our troops got there early in the morning there have been no ground engagements -- serious ones -- there have been air strikes in key locations of the city to target strategic al-Shabab logistic bases,” he said.

Oguna said the militants still control the southern sector of the city, but he expects their fighters to disperse as troops close in. “We expect some of the members of al-Shabab to disappear into the local communities -- the junior commanders -- the key leaders will probably just leave and flee to other parts,” he added.

Two witnesses say the militants have mounted machine guns on the town's tallest buildings.

The Somali militia group Raskamboni is fighting on the side of the pro-government forces. The group's leader, Ahmed Madobe, told VOA that "we hope to take over the city within the coming hours." 

He noted, however, that al-Shabab relied economically on Kismayo and may fight to prolong its control.

Al-Shabab said in a series of Twitter messages Friday that it remained in control of Kismayo and had destroyed three Kenyan armored personnel carriers.

A witness in Kismayo said al-Shabab clerics urged residents during Friday sermons to stay and fight against the incoming forces.

He also said Kenyan ships have been shelling the city from the sea and that some civilians have been injured in the fighting.

The United Nations refugee agency reported Friday that about 12,000 people left Kismayo in the past month, in some cases to avoid forced recruitment by al-Shabab.

KDF spokesman Oguna said a humanitarian corridor is being provided for civilians who choose to flee, but some residents say the roads have been blocked.

Kenya has been vowing to take control of Kismayo since it first sent troops into neighboring Somalia in October last year, following a spate of cross-border attacks blamed on Somali militants.

Al-Shabab has used the town’s seaport to bring in weapons and other supplies to support their battle against the Somali government.

Kenyan forces were incorporated into the AMISOM peacekeeping mission in June, though Kenyan naval forces continue to operate independently.
read more

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kenya bomb Somali town from sea and air

Unknown warships off the Somali coast bombarded Somalia’s southern port city of Kismayo, 500 Km south of Mogadishu, Somali capital on Wednesday afternoon, forcing local residents to flee, reports said.

Kismayo residents, who requested anonymity, told the Media station in Mogadishu via telephone that the warships shelled villages in the heart of the rebel-held town on Wednesday,

“Missiles fired from unidentified warships are raining down into the town, we run to the concrete buildings, to save our selves and avoid casualties—the situation is very tense everybody is fearful,” another resident said.saying it was an apparent strike on Islamist militants’ bases.

Some news accounts quoted locals as saying that at least one person was killed and another has been seriously injured in the naval shelling.

No government has yet said it carried out the attack.

Kismayo, a key town and the largest town controlled by Al shabab that is located near the Indian Ocean on the southern tip of Somalia
read more

Somali President speech on the UN Mini-Summit on Somalia

Ladies and Gentlemen am humbled and feel privileged to be given this opportunity to join you through the use of technology and make my statement from Mogadishu. I am both proud and happy to address you.

Allow me to present my compliments to you and I regret to say that, I couldn’t make it to be with you physically New York due to prevailing circumstance in the transition of authority and wider consultation with parliamentarians and various stakeholders in this historic time of our nation. However, I have sent a high level delegation, led by the Prime Minister.

Ladies and Gentlemen
This is a very important occasion. As I address you, our resolve to build a new Somalia is underway and further strengthened afresh. I must warmly convey my gratitude to UN, African, Arab League, European Union, United States, OIC as well as all others that, in a way or another, stood beside us in our difficult times. I extend on behalf of the Somali people and on my own behalf, the deepest gratitude to all nations, forces, and international organizations and personalities who supported us in the darkest times of our nation all along the way in the past decades.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
After the end of the long transition period and the rebirth of the third Republic:
Federal Republic of Somalia as well as the election and the smooth power transfer that followed, Somalia has re-attained its distinguished position in the world community and has assumed its responsibilities both in the national and in the international fields, thus earning the support and esteem of the entire human family.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my capacity as the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia, I proclaim before you that, my administration for the coming years will be characterized by the new approach I proposed in my vision – THE FOUNDATIONS OF A NEW BEGINNING- a six-pillar policy framework that I deem to be essential to the realization of the priority issues aimed at salvaging Somalia.

The forthcoming Prime Minister, whom I intend to appoint soon, will set up and lead a competent Federal government with functional institutions that are capable of delivering


socio- economic recovery in the country,. The administration, as a whole, will give priority to the promotion of sustainable peace, political dialogue and economic development through justice, democracy and unity where the rule of law and good governance guide the activities of the government.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for organizing this timely Mini-Summit on Somalia. Today, you are there to define priorities for peace building and stabilization in Somalia by launching a high level dialogue between representatives of the international community and the new Somali leadership on the new Government’s priorities with special emphasis on Rule of law, Economy Recovery and Service Delivery.

The most important intervention is to ensure a coherent approach for international assistance in support of a Somali-led plan of action, including timelines for a donor conference; to commit to supporting AMISOM beyond 2012; as well as to enhance efforts to rebuild the Somali security institutions. The theme you are deliberating on is

"From Transition to Transformation: the New Agenda for Somalia" which comes barely two weeks after my election and months after London and Istanbul conferences. I hope the Somali delegation at the Mini-Summit will seize this opportunity to align our home-grown priorities with our international partners in the provision of funding for the state-building projects.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my capacity as the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia, I proclaim before you that I am embarking on my mission, with a new approach, by doing things differently to lay strong foundations for building reliable and functioning state institution.

To change this situation with the new approach, our priorities will remain in:
1- Creating an enabling environment for full stability, rule of law and good governance. With credible justice system.

2- Re-building national economy that focus to restore decent livelihoods for the Somali population.

3- Peace-Building with comprehensive reconciliation of all levels with emphasis on social integration for Somali refugees and IDPs.

4- Strengthening International Relations with the aim of recovering national image through effective relationship with the region and the world at large.

5- Encouraging national unity using dialogue as vehicle for a united Somalia.
read more

Kenyan Navy Vows More Attacks in Kismayo

Kenyan military spokesman Cyrus Oguna said that Kenyan navy and ground forces will not stop launching assaults in southern Somalia until they seize Kismayo, the rebels' last key bastion.

Kenyan military spokesman Cyrus Oguna said the Kenyan navy shelled rebel gun placements on the jetty at Kismayu on Wednesday morning, after fighter jets launched air strikes on a warehouse and armoury near the airport on Tuesday.

"It is what we call shaping up operations for the eventual attack on Kismayu. The attack by ground forces is not yet (on). What we hit yesterday are targets we have been mapping for some time," Oguna told Media.

Local residents confirmed both the airstrikes and the shelling. Oguna said there were no immediate details of any casualties.

"We have information that there were a lot of explosions after the warehouse was hit and the armoury as well so these were basically munitions and guns, mainly machine guns and anti aircraft guns," he said.

Kenya sent its troops into Somalia last October after the rebels were blamed for carrying out a series of raids on Kenyan soil targeting its security forces as well as western tourists.

The Kenyans, who are expected to lead the assault on Kismayu, are now within 40-50 km (24-30 miles) of the port city at Jana Cabdallah. "As and when the time is right, they will begin to march towards Kismayu," Oguna said.

Somalia has made progress in the past year in battling the militants who had taken control of large swathes of south-central Somalia from 2007.

The Horn of Africa country elected a new president earlier this month, but still faces security challenges, mainly bomb attacks carried out by al Shabab.
read more

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Somali lawmakers threatened

Shebab threaten to kill them ‘one-by-one’

Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab threatened Monday to kill all the country's new lawmakers, saying that a Member of Parliament killed at the weekend in Mogadishu was just the first to be targeted.

"The successful elimination of Mustafa Haji Mohamed was the action of the mujahedeen who are committed to killing all MPs," a Shebab official who asked not to be named told AFP, saying the group would "kill one-by-one" all other lawmakers.

"The remaining 274 MPs are on the waiting list to die if they don't abandon the criminal organisation that was set up contrary to Islamic law," the official said, referring to the new parliament selected in August. AFP
read more

Monday, September 17, 2012

Unidentified gunmen kill journalist in Somalia

Unidentified gunmen have killed a local Somali radio journalist in the capital Mogadishu, making him the ninth journalist to be killed within this year in the war-torn country, Press TV reports.

On Sunday evening, Zakariye Mohamed Mohamud, a cameraman working as freelance journalist, was shot several times by four armed men with pistols in Nasib Bundo neighborhood of Shibis district in Mogadishu. 

According to his family members, the gunmen shot the journalist in the head and chest. He died on the spot and the killers escaped the scene. 

Hours after the attack, the National Union of Somali Journalist (NUSOJ) condemned the killing of Zakariye, who is son of veteran journalist Mohamed Mohamud Moallim (aka MM Moallim). 

“We mourn yet another colleague who is a victim of bloody violence in line of duty,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. 

“Zakariye’s death is a tragedy for his family and colleague who over years confronted danger in covering the news of their communities and country,” he added. 

No group has claimed responsibility for the killing. 

Earlier in August, gunmen killed well-known journalist Yusuf Ali Osman, known as Farey who worked with the country’s information ministry in southern Somalia.
A popular Somali media worker known as Marshale was also killed late July after making fun of the al-Shabab militant group on the air. 

Reports indicate that about 30 Somali journalists have been killed in the country since 2007. 

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. 

The weak Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab fighters for the past five years and is propped up by a 12,000-strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti. 

read more


The two suicide bombers arrested on Thursday night by Special Crime Prevention Unit and Anti Terrorism Police Unit are part of a larger Al Shabaab sponsored terror gang targeting to blow up Parliament and assassinate a high profile Kenyan politician. The suspects found with a cache of bombs and an assortment of weapons have confessed that one of their targets was parliament.

"They wanted to find their way into Parliament and blow themselves while others targeted a senior politician," said an investigator privy to the probe. Police on Friday morning seized a cache of explosive-laden vests, grenades and automatic rifles in a midnight raid in a an apartment in Eastleigh, Nairobi.

Kenya has been on a heightened state of security since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia to crush al Qaeda-linked insurgents who carried out a double suicide bombing in Uganda in July 2010. Police displayed the six suicide bomber vests, 12 grenades and four AK-47s with more than a dozen loaded magazines.They also seized mobile phones that were to trigger the bombs.

Police said the successful seizure of the weapons was a result of intensive intelligence gathering that also resulted in the arrest of four foreigners with links to the Al Shabaab. It emerged yesterday that the two suspects reached Nairobi on August 10 from Garissa by bus. They bribed their way at the Garissa bridge which is normally manned by police officers who check every passenger and luggage before letting buses and private cars proceed to Nairobi.

They walked on foot after getting off the bus Eastleigh to their hideout. One of the two is a Kenyan whose mother lives in Nairobi and is described by detectives as well versed with the geography of Nairobi and Mombasa. His accomplice, who is of Somali origin, had already acquired a Kenya identity card.

As part of their vile plan, they bought an old maroon Peugeot saloon car for Sh180,000. The car was sold to them by a dealer near the Holy Family Basillica. They did not ask for a logbook. Their leader had informed that Thursday was the day for the evil mission. But their vehicle broke down when loaded with the explosives and they were advised to abort the mission.

They were intent on carrying out bombings similar to the August 1998 bombings in Nairobi that brought down the US Embassy off Moi Avenue. Only this time they would carry out similar bombings in Kampala, Nairobi and Mombasa. In Mombasa they were to explode their bombs at Pirates Club. Investigators said yesterday the bombs had been put together by an expert.

One of the two bombers had been hit by a mortar while in Somalia in the past and was later brought to Nairobi and treated at three top Nairobi hospitals including the KNH. His right hand is partially paralyzed. The operations in Nairobi was complicated and the marks stretch from his shoulder to the elbow.

After recovering he went back to Somalia. Detectives will interview the doctors who treated him in Nairobi. The Kenyan youth was brainwashed by his recruiters and convinced that the United States was bent on destroying Muslims and that he needed to join a special group of Muslims who would defend the faith.

Because of the onslaught by Kenya Defence Forces in Operation Linda Mpaka that turned into Operation Linda Nchi and later culiminated into KDF joining AMISOM, the Al Qaeda linked insurgents have been dislodged from most of their strategic defensive positions. The group now believes that striking Parliament or assassinating a high profile Kenyan politician will help slow down AMISON specifically Kenya Defense forces who have made so much gains as they seek to take over Al-Shababa stronghold of Kismayu.

" Al Shabaab have been defeated in Somalia and have now resolved to bring the war back to Kenya. Their people are planning a major attack in Kenya in the next few weeks. We have obtained information from some of them arrested while crossing into Kenya that they are planning to detonate explosives in Parliament or assassinate a high profile politician and cause upheaval in the country.This people are not good. We are lucky to have arrested the suspects. Things would be different now," a senior intelligence official privy to the arrests a weeks ago said.

Parliament has since stepped up its security and legislators are now only allowed two visitors at a time. Several senior politicians have also had their security improved and have acquired armored vehicles. The suspects who were arrested last Friday, Abdul Majid Yassin, 26 and 24-year-old Suleiman Abdi will appear in court while police and intelligence operatives hunt down eight other suspects on the run.

The suspects have been interrogated and will appear in court today. The suspects were arrested in a room within an apartment with in which they found food, clothes, jerricans and three mattresses with no furniture. Some of the bombs recovered were mounted on the suicide vests with connections to mobile phone batteries.

Police said the connections to mobile phones, which were also recovered, showed that the attackers would have ignited the explosions from far in case the suicide bombers failed to detonate them. Al Shabaab have threatened to detonate bombs and grenades in Nairobi and other major towns since last October when the Kenya Defence Forces entered Somalia in pursuit Al-Shabaab militia group who had repeatedly kidnapped tourist and foreign aid workers from Kenya.
read more

Somalia inaugurates elected president after 20 years of strife

Somalia's new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office on Sunday, calling for an end to terrorism and piracy in a nation mired in conflict for more than two decades.

Mohamud's inauguration, the first of its kind since the country slid into civil war after warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, follows a regionally-brokered, UN-backed effort to end fighting in which tens of thousands of people were killed and many more fled.

Mohamud is a relatively new face in Somali politics, but the one-time academic will have to encounter old problems: acrimonious clan politics, rampant corruption, maritime piracy and a stubborn insurgency by al Shabaab Islamist rebels.

"We want Somalia free from piracy, terrorism and asylum seekers abroad. We want to create a united community so that Somalis and the neighbouring countries can live peacefully," Mohamud said during his inauguration at a ceremony in a fortified hall in Mogadishu's police training camp.

"Somalia has now turned a fresh page."

Islamist suicide bombers attacked the hotel where Mohamud and the visiting Kenyan foreign minister were addressing a news conference on Wednesday. They were unhurt.

Mohamud's inauguration ends a succession of United Nations-backed transitional governments since 2004.

He takes over from Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who took over as head of a transitional government in 2009 but was defeated in this week's vote among members of parliament to appoint a new leader.

"I urge all Somalis to work cordially with the Somali president, his government and the parliament," the outgoing president said during the ceremony.

An African Union (AU) force comprising Ugandan, Djiboutian, Kenyan and Burundian soldiers is fighting al Shabaab in various parts of the country and is planning an onslaught on Kismayu, Somalia's second biggest city, which is a base for the group linked to al Qaeda.

Weakened by internal divisions and financial constraints, al Shabaab still control swathes of southern and central Somalia, while pirates, regional administrations and local militias also vie for control of parts of the Horn of Africa country.

During the inauguration, AU and government forces blocked key city roads and the only planes allowed to land or take off were those carrying dignitaries attending the ceremony.

Among those in attendance were Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Ethiopia's incoming Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, AU Chairman Jean Ping, UN Special Envoy for Somalia Augustine Mahiga and other officials from the AU, UN and Arab League.

"Meles Zenawi, our late great leader, always worked very hard to stabilise Somalia. I wish he were with us today to witness the fruits of his labour - stabilization and democracy," Hailemariam said during the ceremony, his first international assignment after being approved to take up the post of prime minister on Saturday.
read more

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Somali president, Kenyan FM escape deadly bomb attack

By Yara Bayoumy

Somalia's new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the visiting Kenyan foreign minister on Wednesday escaped an apparent suicide bomb attack on a Mogadishu hotel where they were holding a news conference unscathed, witnesses said.

Somalia's al Shabaab rebels said they had carried out the attack, which killed at least eight people and came just two days after Mohamud was elected in the first presidential vote in Somalia in decades.

Two explosions shook the Somali capital, underscoring the huge security challenges facing Mohamud who came to power in a process that was billed as an historic break with 20 years of violent anarchy.

"We were behind the Mogadishu hotel blasts. It was a well planned Mujahideen operation," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, a spokesman for al Shabaab's military operation, told Reuters.

A television journalist accompanying Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri said she had seen "pieces of meat flying all over the place" after the first blast.

"Then I saw a second guy shooting as he stormed towards the hotel," said Jamila Mohammed, who was outside the hotel when the assailants struck.

Mohamud's election by Somali lawmakers on Monday was hailed by his supporters as a vote for change in the war-ridden Horn of Africa country that has lacked effective central government since 1991.

Although he is a relatively new face in Somali politics, the former academic faces old problems: a stubborn Islamist insurgency, acrimonious clan politics, rampant corruption and maritime piracy.

"First and foremost we will address the security issue. Priority number one is security and priority number two and priority number three," Mohamud said moments after the blasts.

A Reuters witness said the body of what appeared to be a suicide bomber could be seen outside the hotel. A severed head lay in a large crater in the road.

Al Shabaab - who are al Qaeda-linked militants - said the explosions had killed four members of the government's security forces. A Somali ambulance service worker said they had picked up the bodies of five government soldiers and two civilians.

"I could also see three dead African Union soldiers," the ambulance worker, who declined to be named, said.

The attack targeted the Jazeera Palace hotel which is located near Mogadishu's heavily fortified international airport.

The airport compound is a major base for African Union peacekeepers and the surrounding area is considered one of the safest parts of the coastal city.

On Tuesday, al Shabaab branded Mohamud a "traitor" and vowed to continue their jihad against a government they say serves only Western interests.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in November to help crush the Islamist insurgency.

"The bomb blasts will change nothing at all. We are determined. We are there for the course and until that course has been achieved," Bogita Ongeri, a spokesman for Kenya Defence Forces, told Reuters.

... Reuters
read more

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Statement on the Election of New Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 11, 2012

I want to congratulate President Hassan Sheikh and the Somali people on yesterday’s election. I commend former President Sheikh Sharif for his humility in conceding the election. With the election of a New Federal Parliament and Speaker, the national constituent assembly’s adoption of a provisional constitution, and the election of a new president, Somalia has completed its political transition. This significant achievement is the result of years of hard work – by Somalis and the international community. I especially want to thank the African Union, the United Nations, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development for their critical contributions.

We applaud these steps toward a responsive, representative and accountable government and Hassan Sheikh’s commitment to inclusive governance. But there is still more work to be done. The United States calls on Somalia’s new leaders to continue the reform effort and to work together to create a better future. We are committed to helping the new government strengthen democratic institutions, improve stability and security, and deliver results for the Somali people.
read more

Kenya PM Backs New Somalia President

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday congratulated newly elected Somalia president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, terming his election as a 'turning point' for peace and progress in the neighbouring country.

He said that Mohamud's election on Monday was manifest of a clear intention by lawmakers in Somalia to break away from the past and start on a new chapter.

"His election reflects a clear desire by parliamentarians to break with the past by electing a leader who has had no political involvement in the last two turbulent decades of violence-wracked Somalia," said the PM.

Odinga noted that with every clan and village represented in the new Parliament, the election enables Somalis to come together in a manner unprecedented since 1991.

"His decisive election margin beating incumbent president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed gives him a powerful mandate for peace and rebuilding his country," he said.

Odinga described the newly elected president as having credentials to steer Somalia to peace having been a civil society activist for peace and having also worked for the United Nations Children's Fund.

At the same time, he promised Kenya's support to Somalia to ensure that the neighbouring country enjoys lasting peace.

"Every step towards peace and development by Somalia will meet our outstretched hands of support" - Odinga.

"Every step towards peace and development by Somalia will meet our outstretched hands of support," he said.

The premier thanked the outgoing Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Kenyan troops, regional governments and the international community for efforts to restore peace in Somalia.

"Let me pay particular tribute to all the peace-keepers, among them so many noble Kenyans, who laid down their lives in a foreign land for the sake of a better tomorrow for Somalis," he said.

Odinga urged President Mohamud to actively work for peace to build an inclusive and united nation which alone will pave the way to the new Somalia.

He also urged all Al Shabaab factions to recognise that using arms as the means for ascending to power is over.

"They should renounce violence and join the new democratic and truly inclusive enterprise that is poised to take a great leap forward for all Somalis," he said.

He said Kenya has no intention of forcefully repatriating Somali refugees in Kenyan camps, pointing out that many of them were economic refugees who will go back home when the situation normalizes in Somalia.

Odinga at the same time made it clear that the Kenya Defence Forces on active duty in Somalia are not targeting the civilian population.
read more

Monday, September 10, 2012

Somalia MPs elect Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as new president

MPs meeting in Mogadishu have elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the new president of Somalia with a big majority.

The 56-year-old university lecturer garnered 190 votes against 79 for former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in a second round run-off in the presidential election, which was held on Monday, AFP reported. 

The two men were close in the first round of voting but no candidate secured the required two-thirds majority. 

After the first round, two other candidates, outgoing Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Abdikadir Osoble, withdrew. 

"Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is the winner for today's presidency," Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari announced after the MPs voted. 

In a speech after the results were announced, the new president said, "What has happened today will be written on a golden page in Somalia’s history and my friend Sheikh Sharif will always be credited for his role in this development.” 

"I hope that Somalia will from now on start heading towards better days and that all problems we have undergone will be history," Hassan Sheikh stated. 

The outgoing president conceded defeat to the little known academic. 

"I am congratulating my brother Hassan Mohamud for his victory, which is fair, and I'm very much pleased with it," Sheikh Sharif said. 

"I'm ready to work with him as I would have liked people to work with me had I won the election,” he added. 

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The weak Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab fighters for the past five years and is propped up by a 10,000-strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti. 


read more

Somali election: Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh in run-off

Somalia's parliament is choosing a new president, in the latest step to end decades of war. No candidate secured the required two-thirds majority in the first round of voting, conducted by secret ballot.

Two candidates then dropped out, leaving a run-off between outgoing President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and academic Hassan Sheikh.

It is the first time in many years that a president will be chosen on Somali soil - a sign of improving security.

However, the al-Qaeda linked group, al-Shabab, still controls many southern and central parts of the country, and has staged frequent suicide attacks in the capital since it was driven out of Mogadishu last year by African Union troops and pro-government forces.

Despite qualifying for the second round, outgoing Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and moderate Islamist Abdulkadir Osoble then pulled out after coming third and fourth respectively. Eighteen candidates were eliminated at the first hurdle.

Analysts say the election is likely to be decided by the clan structure which remains a huge factor in Somali life. However there are also reports of votes being sold.

The BBC's Daud Aweis in Mogadishu describes a mood of real excitement in the city. The election is being broadcast live on several local TV stations, and is being streamed live on an official feed.

The process began five hours late at a police academy in Mogadishu, following tight security checks.

The election was also delayed by the swearing-in of the last batch of MPs and then a vote on whether a group of disputed MPs, including former warlords, could take part. The MPs voted in favour.

A two-thirds majority is also needed in the second round.

If no candidate achieves that, the two best-placed candidates would go to a run-off.

The new speaker of parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari, has urged MPs to vote with their consciences.

"May God help us to elect a good leader in an atmosphere of tranquillity. We must give the youth of Somalia a bright future," he said.

The process is still in many ways owned by outside powers who have for years been involved militarily and politically in Somalia, the BBC's Mary Harper reports.

She says that it is telling that in recent days the UN, the African Union, the US, Britain and others have issued strong statements on Somalia, some warning that resorting to violence is not an option.

They have invested so much money, time and manpower in trying to solve the Somali problem that they cannot afford to see it fail, our correspondent adds.

Since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all battling for control.

.. BBC
read more

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Somalis await nomination of their new president

New Somali parliamentarians pray during an inauguration ceremony for members of Somalia's first parliament in 20 years in Mogadishu August 20, 2012, in this photograph released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team.
Image by: HANDOUT / Reuters
MOGADISHU - Somalia's 25 presidential hopefuls were campaigning ahead of an election due Monday, the final stage of a UN-backed process to set up a new administration for the war-torn country.

The election has been delayed several times -- having already missed an August 20 deadline -- but international pressure has increased on parliament to chose a president swiftly, setting the date for Monday.

"We are only days away from an historic presidential election," UN special representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga said earlier this week, praising efforts to "move forward to a new more legitimate and representative" system.

Analysts have taken a far gloomier outlook on the process, suggesting it offers little but a reshuffling of key figures and positions.

Somalia has lacked an effective central government since president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, unleashing cycles of bloody conflict that have defied countless peace initiatives.

Ruthless warlords and militia groups including Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have controlled mini-fiefdoms that African Union troops and other forces have only recently started to capture.

Outgoing president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, in power since 2009, is one of the favourites, though he cuts a controversial figure with Western observers.

A UN report in July said that under his presidency, "systematic embezzlement, pure and simple misappropriation of funds and theft of public money have become government systems" -- claims Sharif has rejected.

Former Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, a US-educated economist, is also another strong candidate for the post.

"The future of Somalia depends on each and every legislator voting for whomever they believe can best lead their country," Mahiga added. "I encourage them to carry out this sacred trust free from any external influence."

The new parliament, whose members were selected last month by a group of traditional elders, will vote in a secret ballot in up to three rounds. Each candidate had to pay $10,000 (7,900 euros) to enter the race.

Bitter arguments have begun between rival challengers, divided along Somalia's notoriously fractious clan lines, and the United Nations Security Council has issued repeated warnings of "intimidation and corruption".

The council has warned of its "willingness to take action against individuals whose acts threaten the peace, stability or security of Somalia."

However, Britain's ambassador to Somalia Matt Baugh said earlier this week that both the outgoing president and prime minister -- key candidates for the top job -- had assured him of "their commitment to respect (the) election outcome."

The voting will be overseen by newly elected parliamentary speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari, a veteran politician and former minister.

A candidate needs to take two-thirds of the vote to win outright, otherwise the top four candidates will go into a second round, with a third round of the final two. The winner is selected by a simple majority.

The political developments come as African Union and Somali troops make significant gains against the hardline Shebab, although they remain a major threat. Ethiopian troops are also battling them from the south and west.

The extremist insurgents last month abandoned the port of Marka, leaving the Shebab with two major ports in southern Somalia -- Barawe and the rebel bastion of Kismayo -- although an international naval blockade has already greatly squeezed maritime access there.

The Shebab a year ago abandoned their last fixed bases in Mogadishu, where they have since reverted to guerrilla tactics, claiming a series of suicide attacks and roadside bombs.
read more

200 al Shabaab militias surrender

More than 200 al Shabaab fighters and their leaders on Wednesday night and Thursday morning surrendered to the African Union Mission in Somalia. The fighters and their leaders told Amisom troops and the Somalia National Army that they had defected from the militia and begged for leniency.

They asked to be allowed to fight alongside the UN-backed troops to oust their former colleagues as Amisom marches into Kismayu. The insurgent fighters surrendered in Bibi, Soya and Jana Cabdalla and others even left their defense positions in Kismayu. "We will not take them and have them fight alongside us.

They cannot be trusted because they have been fighting against us," a military source said. The military and police have been monitoring the border with Somalia to ensure the defectors are taken into custody and interrogated. Some of Amisom success in Sector 2 has been attributed to intelligence collected from al Shabaab defectors. The defection has dealt a major blow to the al Shabaab insurgents, some of their leaders are fleeing Kismayu together with foreign jihadists.
read more

Somalia: Outgoing President Denies Corruption Charges

Mogadishu — Somalia's outgoing Transitional Federal Government (TFG) president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, denied corruption allegation during time in power.

Addressing to parliament on Friday, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said that he worked for his country in fair and transparent manner with no fraud and embezzlement.

Mr Ahmed, who is now vying for second term in office told Somali federal parliamentarians that charges of TFG' corruption are off-base.

Somali parliament is going hold a secret ballot next Monday, September 10 to choose the next president, a historic day for Somalia.

The comments came after the UN report alleged that seven out of every $10 donated to the transitional government had gone missing.
read more

Friday, September 7, 2012

Somalia: Al Shabab Attacks African Union Forces

Badade — Heavily armed Al shabab fighters attacked on Thursday night the town of Badade under the control of Kenyan forces, serving with the AMISOM and the Somalia's Transitional Federal Government soldiers.

Residents of northern Mogadishu reported hearing explosions and gunfire used in Badade combat on Wednesday as Somali government and African Union soldiers advanced on other Al-Shabab positions in the same region.

The casualty is yet unclear. Al shabab militants have lost control of the southern town of Badade in last February, and therefore they have receded back towards Kismayu".

The offensive comes several days after Al-Shabab displayed the dead bodies of four soldiers, two Kenyans and two Somalia in Kismayo following heavy fighting in Miido area, close to Afmadow town.

Meanwhile, Somali and Kenya continue to step up attacks against Al Shabaab-controlled port town of Kismayo, where for the fourth-day is under sea, air and ground strikes, forcing local residents to flee their houses.
read more

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Top Shabaab Leader Killed in Kismayu Onslaught

A senior Al Shabaab commander was among seven people killed as Kenya Defence Forces continued shelling the Somali port town of Kismayu.

Military Spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said the attack was part of a push by the African Union force in Somalia (AMISOM) to capture the city.

"During the shelling on September 3, we killed seven al Shabaab members including a senior commander based in Kismayu," said Oguna.

Tuesday's bombardment was conducted from aboard naval warships that are positioned strategically off Kismayu.

"The shelling is being done in preparation for our foot soldiers to enter Kismayu. As at now, we are between 80 and 90 kilometres from the town," Oguna added.

About 149 insurgents have been killed since Wednesday last week when AMISOM launched its long-awaited push towards Kismayu. The African Union (AU) forces have vowed to capture the strategic port town, which is key to financing and arming the al-Qaeda affiliated group.

The move on Kismayu comes as Somali MPs prepare to choose a new president under a UN-brokered peace plan. The election is due on September 10.

Kenya sent troops to Somalia last year, saying that it wanted al-Shabaab defeated because the militants threatened its security. Kenyan soldiers have since joined the AU force in the country, boosting its numbers to nearly 18,000.

Al Shabaab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, withdrew from Mogadishu last year after heavy fighting with AU and Somali government forces.

It still however controls many areas in southern and central Somalia.

In July, a UN report said the export of charcoal from Merca helped Al Shabaab generate millions of dollars despite a UN Security Council ban on countries buying charcoal from Somalia.

The report accused the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia of failing to uphold the ban.
read more

Somalia: Kismayo feels the heat ahead of AMISOM assault

Mogadishu (Somalia) - Hundreds of civilians have over recent weeks fled the Somali port city of Kismayo, where tension is rising amid sporadic shelling by the Kenyan navy in the run-up to an African Union military operation to dislodge Al-Shabab militants from their last stronghold in the country.

Some 800 people left Kismayo between 30 August and 6 September, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which tracks population movements in Somalia.

“Business is not doing well because many of my customers fled,” a Kismayo shopkeeper told IRIN by phone.

“I used to make sales [equivalent to] about US$20 every day before, but I now earn about $10,” he added.

Those fleeing to other places in Lower Juba “appear to be doing so on a short-term basis as they temporarily return to Kismayo for different periods to safeguard livelihood assets, and are likely to return to Kismayo if the situation normalizes,” UNHCR spokesman Andreas Needham told IRIN.

Needham said Al Shabab “restrictions on movement of people and vehicles out of the city” might explain why the numbers of people leaving was not greater. He also noted that many of Kismayo’s residents had already left during various bouts of military activity over the past five years.

“It would appear that most of the people remaining in Kismayo are business people and who were intending not move outside the city,” he added.

Those who have fled recently, according to the Missionary International Service News Agency, include “entire families … old people [and] women and children, [who] fear being caught between two fires. Everyone knows that the attack by Somali and African forces on the city is imminent.”

The Kenyan navy has shelled the city on several occasions, most recently on the first weekend in September. Kenyan officials said the shelling was directed at Al-Shabab positions.

On 23 August, Human Rights Watch said, “Three civilians - boys aged 11 and 15, and a pregnant woman - are known to have died, and two others were wounded, apparently from shells fired by the Kenyan vessel” on 11 August.

The African Union force in Somalia, AMISOM, is open about its plans to “liberate” Kismayo. But while Kenya’s ground forces operate under AMISOM’s banner, its naval and air assets in Somalia do not.

“We will take responsibility for our military strikes, but we will not be responsible for any non-AMISOM strikes,” AMISOM spokesman Col Ali Aden told IRIN.

“AMISOM does not have any naval capabilities nor does it have air capabilities,” he added.

AMISOM troops and allied Somali government forces are currently positioned in Miido, a village 80km west of Kismayo, which has been major source of income for Al-Shabab, largely due to charcoal exports.

“The port is closed and there is not much business activity as a result of the shelling,” said an elder in the city who asked not to be identified by name.

“We are calling the Kenyan government to stop shelling the city because these shells can only be used when you have a precise military installation [to target],” he added.

Residents contacted by IRIN said that although there has been no dramatic change to the cost of living, education and businesses have been affected.

“My school is still open, but our studies have been interrupted several times during shelling,” said Ahmed, a student at Guulwade Secondary School.

“I do not know if I will finish my studies peacefully,” he added.

Another businessman said the bus fare to Mogadishu, 500km to the north, had increased from $20 to $30.

There is uncertainty over whether Al-Shabab will resist the AMISOM assault. Some have suggested the insurgents will withdraw - as they did from Mogadishu in 2011 - in the face of a superior military force.

But residents told IRIN the group had used loudspeakers mounted on vehicles to urge people, especially the youth, to join them in “jihad” against the “Christian crusaders” of AMISOM and the “apostate” government forces.
read more

Mogadishu still unsafe, says UK group’s report

A UK-based advocacy group has issued a report highly critical of the Somali government’s attempts to restore security in Mogadishu and improve local governance.

The report points at a disturbing rise in violence and officially-sanctioned vigilantes a year after the militant insurgent group Al-Shabaab was dislodged from the capital by the African peacekeeping force, Amisom.

The 27-page report by Saferworld, a conflict-prevention research and advocacy organization based in London, entitled Mogadishu rising? - Conflict and governance dynamics in Mogadishu”, notes tentative gains in security.

It acknowledges that there is an improved public perception, but says progress “remains inadequate and uneven with significant areas of Mogadishu – particularly the city’s northern districts – almost entirely unpoliced.

“In the absence of state-provided security, residents and officials have formed an array of neighbourhood vigilante groups and private militia to protect themselves and their property.”

The report, based on a comprehensive field research that involved opinion surveys and focus groups, from April to July 2012, accuses the TFG of failing to capitalise on the military gains achieved to improve security and instead fuelling a “privatization of security” likely to undermine the efforts to stabilize the capital in the longer term.

“A significant number – reportedly up to 50 per cent – of police and military personnel work for private individuals, adding to the large number of freelance armed actors in the city, and seriously undermining the security services’ ability to perform their duties.”

The private militias and neighbourhood vigilante groups serve basic security functions but the problem is that they operate independently and are primarily loyal to their clans, the report says.

“These groups are better defined by what they are against – Al-Shabaab – than what they stand for as they work autonomously and lack a single command and control structure.”

There is growing public unease at the rise of these private militia groups loyal and their links with faction leaders and influential businessmen, whose political agenda remains dubious.

It says there is evidence some of these warlords, who feel aggrieved at their exclusion from the “new political order”, may use these private militia groups to stage an armed revolt or foment instability.

Insurgency-related violence is declining but remains a threat, the report says, with Al-Shabaab picking on soft targets – NGO staff and journalists.

_Daily Nation
read more

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

US drone attack kills 21, injures 72 in Somalia

At least 21 people have been killed in the latest attack by US assassination drones in Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, Press TV reports.

According to local military officials, over 72 others were also wounded in the incident which took place in Buur Dubo town on Wednesday. 

Further details regarding the incident have not yet been released. 

The US military uses remote-controlled drones in Somalia for reconnaissance operations and targeted killings. 

Washington has been carrying out assassination attacks using the unmanned aircraft in other countries including Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen. 

The United States claims the CIA-run strikes are aimed at militants. But witness reports and figures offered by local authorities indicate the attacks have led to massive civilian deaths.
The UN has condemned the US assassination drone strikes, saying they pose a challenge to international law. 

The weak Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab fighters for the past five years, and is propped up by a strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti. 

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia remains among the ones generating the highest number of refugees and internally-displaced persons in the world. 

read more

Kenyan forces shell Kismayo port city

Kenyan military spokesman,Col.Cyrus Oguna on Tuesday said the shelling is part of the efforts to flash out Al-Shabaab militants out of Kismayo.

Initially Kenyan Prime minster requested enough funding to takeover Kismayo port city from the Al-Qaeda surrogate in Somalia.

Residents in Kismayo said they have witnessed shelling in their city which instilled fear in them.

Recently the militant Islamist have blocked Kismayo residents to flee out of the town where they compelled elders to support the war they are engaged in.

The port city which is the major source of income for Al-shabaab is said to be hosting a population of 90,000, with another 77,000 living in surrounding areas and is popular with illegal exports of charcoal.
read more

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Somalia - Electoral Commission Releases Criteria for Candidates Running for President

Mogadishu, Somalia — The electoral commission announced the criteria for candidates running for president of Somalia, Garowe Online reports.

Spokesman for the electoral commission Osman Libah Ibrahim held a press conference in Mogadishu on Saturday explaining the criteria for candidates running for president.

The ten point criteria included that the candidate must pay a $10,000 registration fee before running for elections.

The candidate must be a Muslim and age must be 40 or over and not have a criminal background.

Another condition for candidates written in the newly approved constitution and reiterated by Mr. Ibrahim was that every candidate must have at least 20 supporters in parliament before running for president.

The issue of a complete parliament is still in debate as the Technical Selection Committee (TSC) has rejected candidates for parliament while they look for other means of being instated.

Backed by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed some of the rejected candidates went to the Supreme Court to get the TSC ruling reversed.

Aydid Ilka Hanaf Judge of Mogadishu's Supreme Court ruled that the rejected candidates were patriotic Somalis who were falsely judged by the TSC and reversed the TSC's ruling.

However if Judge Ilka Hanaf's ruling will be acceded by the TSC is still in question.

The new Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari was reportedly requested by the international community to resolve the issue of parliament as quickly as possible.

Former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and former Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas are some of the more prominent candidates that are running for president.

The Somali presidential elections are slated for September 10th and would officially put an end to the 8 year transitional government.
read more

Somalia: Somali and African Union Forces Claim Victory in Two Day Battle

Kismayo, Somalia — Somali and African Union forces announced that they captured the town of Miido in the lower Jubba region after an intense battle with Al Shabaab, Garowe Online reports.

Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti Commander of the AMISOM forces stated on Sunday that his forces have taken control of Miido located 86 kms away from Kismayo, which had been controlled by Al Shabaab.

"The operations were successful, Somali and AMISOM forces have taken over the town of Miido and we will continue on to Kismayo," said Lt. Gen. Gutti.

Allied forces battled with Al Shabaab over the strategic town of Miido which lies in between Afmadow and Kismayo.

Miido is located 25 kms away from Afmadow towards Kismayo and up until Saturday was a defense stronghold for the terrorist organization.

AMISOM denied reports that stated that the district of Afmadow controlled by the allied forces was taken over by Al Shabaab.

Afmadow had been in the control of allied forces since June and Al Shabaab has fought furiously to regain control.

AMISOM also denied that a helicopter belonging to the African Union forces was shot down by Al Shabaab.

According to the AMISOM official website Lt. Gen Gutti stated that the reports were "untrue Al Shabaab propaganda".

AMISOM reported 36 Al Shabaab militants were killed in the battle.

Al Shabaab who claimed victory in the two day battle released pictures of four allied forces bodies on Saturday.

AMISOM spokesman Col. Ali Adan Hamud said the pictures were disgraceful.

"The soldiers being dragged in Kismayo was very despicable and a shameful act," said spokesman Col. Hamud.

Late Saturday after Al Shabaab militants dragged the bodies of four soldiers in the streets of Kismayo, warships stationed in the waters off of Kismayo launched strikes at the city.

Reportedly the strikes hit some parts of the port and the outskirts of the city. As of yet, there are no reports of casualties from the strikes.

According to some reports the shelling came from AMISOM vessels.

There are reports of more and more residents fleeing Kismayo as the allied forces edge closer to Kismayo.
read more

Somalia: We Are Ready to Talk to Al-Shabaab


Somalia Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali spoke to The Independent's Andrew Mwenda

What is your biggest challenge as a Prime Minister?
When I came here as a Prime Minister I had two biggest challenges; one was the severe drought. As you may be aware the people here lack food because of the drought. The other challenge is insecurity-you know Al-shabaab have for a long period tried to control the biggest part of the country. So we have tried to take care of people who lost their livelihood because of the drought and at the same time helping the country to become peaceful by fighting the Al-shabaab.

How do you as a Prime Minister lead a country without institutions of government, revenues, the military might and other logistics?
It is tough but you have to do what you can. You have to first do the most important things and leave others because this is not a developed country like Germany, or America.What you have to do here is to first look after the people and then other things will follow later. What I mean is you provide public goods like security and protect civilians, give them education, health, food among others.

How problematic is the food issue?
Drought is one of the biggest problems here and that is why we lack food. When we came in June last year it was horrible many people had walked long distances to Mogadishu and were settling on the streets. They feared to lose their lives and also many had no food. They expected food and other services from us-of course as a transitional government it was our responsibility to look after these people and we have tried to do that. In fact it is an achievement of this government otherwise people would have perished.

How have you managed to achieve that?
Because of the instabilities, we had to put in place camps. The International Community has given us support. We have even created some jobs to the people. The International Community has actually managed to give us some money which we have passed onto some people who were once nomads and agriculturalists so they can go back to their former activity. We have a disaster management agency that deals with this issue.

There are critics of your government who say that your government is composed largely of former warlords; the very people who were involved in looting and killing?
Not in this government. There is no single warlord in my cabinet. Most of the people in this government are from the Diaspora probably 60% or 70% are from the Diaspora and all of them were approved before they entered office.

Some people are saying your government is very corrupt, about 70% of all the money that has been internally collected and donated cannot be accounted for?
But the question is where did that money come from and who is demanding accountability? Do we get bilateral aid? I do not know about that. We have the anticorruption coalition that deals with those issues. All our officials are accountable. But also the donors have to be accountable to the people of those countries where they get the money.

Why do you demand accountability from donors?
I am saying accountability from all sides is necessary. This money they bring is taxpayers' money from those countries and that is why they have to account for it. We could have diverted some money into other uses especially to providing livelihoods but we have been transparent.

Have you accounted to the people of Somalia regarding the money you collect from the airport, from ports...?
We have a budget on which we spend this money. You can go to the ministry of finance and ask them how much money government collects and what we spend. I am sure they will tell you. Remember we have to pay salaries and to meet other costs to run government.

I interacted with a soldier in the TFG force and he said he had not been paid for seven months...
That is not true. We pay all the soldiers and we have stayed with them without any problem.

What is the government's plan to reconcile, provide justice to those who murdered and tortured the people?
Punishing criminals is a good idea but we need to first bring them together, reconcile and exchange ideas.

How about Al-shabaab?
They already changed their name to Al-Qaeda; they are no longer Al-shaabab. We have no problem with talking to them as longer as they are ready. Those who want violence we will deal with them, those who want to reconcile we will sit with them and welcome them to our camp. What we want at the end of the day is to have all the people united.

Most of the fighting is being done by AMISOM and not TFG forces because they are young. When do you expect AMISOM to leave?
That is not the case... All of us are fighting. But letting AMISOM go will come later. We want to first build a strong national army and the police force before we can allow AMISOM to leave.

As a long term measure, if you stabilise the rest of Somalia what is the plan for the Puntland and Somaliland?
We want to train a military force together so that we strengthen our relationship. As far as Puntland is concerned we started negotiations with them and we are moving in the right direction. Punt people will not succeed if they want to secede but what we want is to have all sides united.

Do you have the plan to participate in the next government?
I have got capacity but I have not decided on that yet.
read more