Saturday, May 24, 2003

Troops Moved to Somali Border
NAIROBI, 21 MAY 2003 (NATION)--Two Kenya Army battalions are stationed on the Kenya-Somali border in a fresh attempt to counter terrorism.

The soldiers will patrol the border, now the focus of the government's fight against terrorism, said National Security minister Chris Murungaru.

Intelligence reports had isolated the border as a possible entry point for terrorists, Dr Murungaru said, adding that the government was determined to crack down on terrorism.

Kenyan security forces were put on high alert last week after a bomb attack in Saudi Arabia in which 34 people died, and following Dr Murungaru's warning that a terror attack was imminent in the country.

"Burying our heads in the sand and wishing the problem away will not help," said the minister at his Harambee House office in Nairobi, after he received senior US army officers, who are in the country on an official visit.MORE

SOMALIA: Satellite radio officially launched
NAIROBI, 23 MAY 2003 (IRIN)--The Mogadishu-based Somali Television Network (STN) radio and television broadcasting station has officially launched a radio satellite broadcast, according to a press statement issued this week.

The statement said the radio broadcast would cover "every single part of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America (Minneapolis)", 24 hours a day. The launch would soon be followed by a satellite TV channel.

The channel currently broadcasts in Somali, but plans are under way to introduce other language services such as English, Arabic, Amharic and Swahili.

"The Somali speaking people in different parts of the world can discuss their affairs, express their opinion live through STN Satellite Radio, which has never happened in Somali history before,” said STN chairman Abdirahman Robleh Ulayareh.

“What is unique is the STN satellite radio broadcasts 24 hours [a day] and can be accessed in every single city and village in Somalia. In addition, the STN is in a position to transmit its broadcast via FM everywhere in Somalia on demand,” added Abdulkadir Sharraay, the STN Operations Manager.

The network will provide a blend of news, business and cultural programmes and inform its listeners about political, economic and social trends at home, the STN statement said, adding that it welcomed the participation of interested partners.

SOMALIA: Fact-finding mission arrives in Mogadishu
NAIROBI, 23 MAY 2003(IRIN)-- A fact-finding mission from the African Union and the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) arrived in Mogadishu on Thursday to look into the security situation in Somalia.

Mission leader Major-General Joseph Musomba of Kenya told IRIN the team planned to visit Baidoa, Bosaso, Belet Weyne, Galkayo and Kismayo, as well as Mogadishu, but that the itinerary would be flexible. Musomba, who remained in Nairobi on Thursday, said he would join the rest of the team shortly.

The 21-member mission, which will spend 10 days in Somalia, also includes observers from the European Union, the Arab League, and Somali delegates, according to a statement by the organisers of the Somali peace talks in Kenya.

Musomba said the aim of the mission was to collect and verify information on the general security situation, aimed at planning the demobilisation of militias and weapons collection. The team would also carry a "message of hope for peace" from the Kenya conference.

The mission would help prepare the ground for the eventual deployment of African Union military observers, he added. He did not know how many observers the AU might send, saying this would depend partly on the results of the fact-finding team.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Peace strike closes Somali capital
MOGADISHU, 21 MAY 2003 (BBC)--Civil society activists in Somalia have gone on strike to push for an end to the 12-year civil war. The capital, Mogadishu, was paralysed by the strike which began early on Wednesday morning.School children stayed at home, hospitals closed their doors, except for emergencies, and the universities stopped lectures.

The strike followed a big meeting on Tuesday in Mogadishu where more than 14 civil society groups, including the universities, the doctor's union, the two education umbrella groups and others issued an eight-point appeal for peace, starting with the strike. MORE

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Somali Bantus off to US
NAIROBI, 20 MAY 2003(IRIN)- - The first group of Somali Bantus who have been living in a Kenyan refugee camp for the past decade, are due to start their final journey to the US this week where they will be resettled, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

In a statement, UNHCR said this was the beginning of one of the biggest resettlement operations to take place from Africa, in which some 11,800 Somali Bantus will be resettled in the US.

The first batch, consisting of 74 Somalis, were due to leave Kenya on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Another 150 are expected to travel before mid-June, the statement said.

The resettlement programme has been jointly conducted by UNHCR and the International Organisation of Migration (IOM). The trip follows weeks of cultural orientation given by the IOM, which is in charge of relocation.

"The programme was designed to teach them how to go through airport security and how to cope with cold weather when they get to their new homes, among other topics," the statement said.

The Somali Bantus - a minority group whose physical, cultural and linguistic characteristics distinguish them from the Cushitic majority in Somalia - were considered for resettlement in the US, because they faced difficult circumstances in their country where they were treated as second class citizens.

In the early 1990s, during civil war in Somalia, more than 10,000 fled to refugee camps in Kenya, where discrimination against them by major Somali clans continued. END

Monday, May 19, 2003

ICRC Assists Flood Victims in Somali Region
ADDIS ABABA, 19 MAY 2003 (DAILY MONITOR)--The International Committee of the Red Cross has started an urgent relief operation to assist the victims of flooding which affected the population living along the Wabe Shabelle River, in the districts of Kelafo and Mustahil, situated in the Somali National Regional state (SNRS).

According to the press release sent to The Daily Monitor in the past days, heavy rains fell in the upper escarpments of Bale and Western Hararghe areas and in several zones in the SNRS. Consequently, the Wabe Shabelle River started to swell in a significant way until it burst its banks inundating a considerable part of the territory.

The excessive rainfalls had a devastating impact on the area. Villagers were obliged to seek refuge in the surrounding hills and those living in the lowest part of the territory, mainly near irrigations canals used for flood recession agriculture, had their houses destroyed along with cultivated fields of sorghum and maize.MORE
Rulers Deny Claims of Quitting City Peace Meeting
NAIROBI, 19 MAY 2003 (NATION)--The Somali transitional national government (TNG) has not pulled out of the peace talks in Nairobi.

TNG Foreign Affairs minister Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim stressed his government's commitment to the talks and dismissed claims that it had pulled out as "baseless, unfortunate and unfounded".

The minister, who was speaking in Nairobi at the weekend, denied his team was involved in a parallel meeting in Mogadishu.

TNG has in the past threatened to boycott the talks to protest against what it terms Ethiopian invasion and occupation of the Somali territory.

In March, Mogadishu claimed Addis Ababa had encroached on Bulla Hawo, Luuq and Dolo towns in the Gedo region.MORE
SOMALIA: Puntland opponents sign peace deal
NAIROBI, 19 MAY 2003 (IRIN) - The administration in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland and opposition forces signed a peace deal on Saturday aimed at ending conflict in the region, a local journalist told IRIN on Monday.

The talks which have been under way in Bosaso, the commercial capital, since 10 May, between the Puntland administration of Col Abdullahi Yusuf and the opposition led by Gen Ade Muse Hirsi, "ended with the signing of a power-sharing agreement between the two sides", said Muhammad Sa'id Kashawiito, of the Bosaso-based Midnimo radio.

Under deal the opposition will have three ministers, two vice-ministers, two governors, two mayors and the commander of either the police force or the army, Kashawiito said. Furthermore, the opposition militia will be integrated into the Puntland security forces.

"As of Saturday the opposition ceased to exist," Puntland's acting information minister Abdishakuur Mire Aden told IRIN. "The agreement brings to a close a dark chapter in Puntland's history." MORE

Kahin sworn in as Somaliland president

NAIROBI, 19 MAY 2003 (IRIN) - The president of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, Dahir Riyale Kahin, was sworn in at a low-key ceremony in the capital, Hargeysa, on Friday, local sources told IRIN.

Kahin of the Unity of Democrats Party (UDUB), who had been the incumbent president, was last week confirmed as the winner of last month's disputed presidential election.

The swearing-in ceremony, conducted at the presidential palace, was attended by leaders of the House of Elders (GUURTI) and the House of Representatives, government ministers and other dignitaries, the sources said. The president and his deputy, Ahmad Yusuf Yasin, were sworn in by the president of the High Court.

Another source told IRIN that no-one from the opposition had attended the ceremony. The leadership of the main opposition party Kulmiye - which has rejected the election result - was said to be holding meetings "to consider their next step", an official of the party told IRIN on Monday.

"Kulimye will not go into coalition, nor will it congratulate UDUB," the official said, adding that the party would issue a statement "in due course".

A regional analyst, however, told IRIN that Kulmiye's only option was to reach some sort of arrangement with UDUB. "It is the only way to preserve the peace and stability Somaliland enjoys. No-one in Somaliland politics wants to be accused of undermining that," the analyst said.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 after the collapse of the Siyad Barre government, but has not been internationally recognised. Over the past decade, it has moved away from conflict, while the rest of Somalia has been locked in civil strife.