Thursday, June 26, 2003

SOMALIA: Peace talks falter over proposals for parliament
NAIROBI, 25 June 2003 (IRIN) - The Somali peace talks, currently underway in Kenya, are in danger of collapse if a compromise solution is not found to the selection and number of future parliamentarians, a faction leader warned on Wednesday.

Speaking on behalf of the G8 alliance of factions, the influential Mogadishu-based faction leader, Muhammad Qanyare Afrah, told IRIN that certain groups - "with the tacit approval of some Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) technical committee members" - had proposed a 450-member parliament, with the 361 delegates to the peace conference forming the basis. The regional IGAD body is facilitating the talks. MORE
SOMALIA-TANZANIA: Somali Bantus to get citizenship
NAIROBI, 26 Jun 2003 (IRIN) - Tanzania will favourably consider applications for citizenship from about 3,000 Somali Bantu refugees who have lived in the country since 1992, a government official told IRIN on Thursday.

Speaking from Dar es Salaam, the deputy minister for home affairs, John Chiligati, said the government was willing to integrate the refugees into the society because it believed that they originated in the country before they were taken to Somalia as slaves some 300 years ago.

Chiligati said issue was raised in the Tanzanian parliament on Wednesday by a member who wanted to know what the government was doing about the Somali Bantus who have been living in Tanga region. The first group of about 1,000 refugees arrived in Tanzania in 1992 after they fled Somalia when Mohammed Siad Barre's presidency ended in 1991. MORE
SOMALIA: UN to extend mine clearance project
NAIROBI, 26 June 2003 (IRIN) - A UN mine-clearance pilot project in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has been so successful that it is planned to extend it to other regions of Somalia.

According to a UN Development Programme (UNDP) press statement, the project has trained and equipped two teams in the Somaliland police force.

"The squads consist of a team leader and three policemen trained in unexploded ordnance [UXO] disposal and first aid, and a commander who is in overall control," UNDP said.

They were trained for 12 months by a UN Mines Advisory Group before being deployed under their own command.

The teams, which come under the direct command of the Somaliland police commissioner, have destroyed 10,000 items of UXO and mines since they became operational in July 2002.

"What is uplifting about this specific project is that there is a sense of ownership, and Somalis themselves are excited about it," UNDP Country Director Andrea Tamagnini said. "UNDP encourages the involvement of the local administration in enhancing the local capacity for demining in the country."

By virtue of the project's success, UNDP now plans to extend it to other regions. It has already received funding from the European Commission to train two teams in the northeast (Puntland) and another two in the south, the statement said.

Landmines were extensively used in Somalia during conflicts with Ethiopia in the 1970s and 1980s and during the civil war in the 1990s when all sides to the conflict laid mines. Almost all regions of Somalia have been affected by mines or UXO.

The mine-clearance project, which is implemented by the UN Office of Project Services (UNOPS), is part of UNDP Somalia's 'Rule of Law and Security Programme'.

Interview with Somaliland Foreign Minister Edna Adan Ismail
ADDIS ABABA, 24 June 2003 (IRIN) - Edna Adan Ismail is the foreign minister of the self-declared republic of Somaliland which is seeking international recognition as a separate independent state. On an official visit to Ethiopia - 12 days into her new job after being appointed Somaliland's first female minister - she tells IRIN about the quest for recognition.

QUESTION: Is Ethiopia ready to recognise Somaliland following your talks with the foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin?

ANSWER: Recognition is something that will take its natural course, but what we talked about were the bilateral relations of the two countries, the trade relations, and the common concern about security in the region. We discussed food aid coming in from the European Union through the port of Berbera, flowing freely without being looted, without military escort across Somaliland.

Q: But as your most important ally did he say in a year’s time we will recognise Somaliland?

A: That he did not say, but it has been said before that Ethiopia will not be the first to recognise us. But they certainly will not be the third.

Q: Who is going to be the first?

A: We think the smartest country will, because recognition of Somaliland is something that is bound to happen. The independence of Somaliland, in the fifties, came about as a result of mutual agreement and treaties, with pomp and pageantry, with signatures of documents. At that time when Somaliland gained its independence from Britain, 34 nations recognised Somaliland including the Security Council members of that time. We have never severed relations with any of those
countries so technically we are still recognised by 34 countries of the world. The problem now is our former partners, our Somali brothers, are in such disarray, such confusion that there is no way we can part like we did with Britain. Somaliland is not self-declared unless somebody is brave enough to tell me Britain does not exist. MORE

Sunday, June 22, 2003

U.S. Marine Killed Training in Horn of Africa
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti, 22 JUNE 2003 — An explosion that may have been caused by a bomb dropped from a B-52 killed a U.S. Marine and wounded eight U.S. service members during a Sunday training exercise in this Horn of Africa nation, U.S. Central Command said.

The explosion occurred near forces at Godoria Bombing Range, along the northern coast of Djibouti (search), a Central Command statement said.

The names of the victim and injured were being withheld pending notification of relatives.

Two service members were treated for minor injuries and returned to their units. The other six injured were transported to Bouffard Hospital in Djibouti, where they were in stable condition, said Capt. Will Klumpp, a spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. MORE
Somali leader seeks lifting of flight ban
NAIROBI, 23 JUNE 2003--The Somali Transitional National Government wants Kenya to lift the flight ban on the country.
The closing of Kenyan airspace to aeroplanes from Somalia will only add to the suffering of its citizens and undermine the on-going peace talks, President Abdi Qassim Salat Hassan said. His call came barely two days after the ban was effected.

He was addressing a press conference at the Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi yesterday.

The president said he hoped the ban would be lifted in two or three days.

"Kenya is a friend and a brotherly neighbour to Somalia and I'm sure the decision to ban all flights to Somalia is a temporary security measure which I hope will be lifted in a day or two."

He added: "Somali tribal and political leaders use the flights to take part in the on-going peace negotiations and there is no doubt that the decision to ban flights to Somalia can seriously interfere with the process."

The TNG leader hosted Somalis living in Nairobi at the hotel. MORE