Friday, April 25, 2003

Peace Talks At a Critical Stage (Opinion)
NAIROBI, 25 APRIL 2003--To a casual observer, the seven-month-old Somali peace and reconciliation conference which opened in Kenya last October is a confusing series characterised by disagreements, boycotts and numerous other obstacles.

There are many who have either lost track of the progress or lost interest in them altogether. The disagreements and the delays have dogged the talks since the Siad Barre government collapsed in 1991.

Despite the setbacks, the conference, at the Kenya College of Communication and Technology, Mbagathi, Nairobi, continue to be the greatest hope for peace and stability in Somalia. MORE

SOMALIA: Community-based project aims to promote economic recovery
NAIROBI, 25 APRIL 2003 (IRIN) - The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has launched a prototype community project in parts of the Somali capital Mogadishu which it hopes will be expanded to cover the entire city.

The project, implemented by a local NGO, SAACID (Somali for 'To Help'), has employed 600 local people (300 men and 300 women) and hired private sector hauliers to remove sand and garbage from the streets of Mogadishu.

The scheme, launched earlier this month, is being carried out in six of the city's 16 districts for a period of three months.

"The project is seen very much as a test case to determine whether it is possible to operate effectively in war-ravaged Mogadishu," said Joe Connolly, the project's chief technical adviser.MORE

Thursday, April 24, 2003

ETHIOPIA: Aid agencies warn of "slow starvation
ADDIS ABABA, 22 APRIL 2003 (IRIN) - Millions of children in drought-stricken Ethiopia are being “slowly starved” by the international community, leading charities warned on Monday.

“We are appalled by the lack of full rations to food aid beneficiaries in Ethiopia, which amount to slow starvation for those without other sources of food,” said a statement issued by Save the Children Alliance, Action Aid, CAFOD, and Christian Aid.

“For the international community to allow this to happen in the 21st century is unforgivable,” added the aid agencies which all work in Ethiopia.

The statement follows sharp criticism by the head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), James Morris, who said donors were overlooking the crisis in Africa to deal with Iraq.MORE
Presidential Candidate Sets Out Terms
NAIROBI, 14 APRIL 2003--Existing agreements between the current regional administrations and the Somali Transitional National Government should not be recognised by the federal government when a new government takes power in Somalia.

One of the presidential candidates in the forthcoming Somalia elections, Mr Farah Addow has sugested.

Addow says in his foreign policy document that any agreements with the international community, or regional organisations or foreign investment companies should be ignored.

However, he called on the Federal Government to fully respect the treaties and agreements which Somalia subscribed to prior to 1991 when former dictator Siad Barre's regime collapsed.

He said those regional administrations are not entitled to any legitimacy or legality based on the wishes of Somali people and its legitimate representative political forces.

"The Federal Government should be ready to co-operate with the international community on issues related to humanitarian aid being extended to Somali people," Addow said. MORE
SOMALIA: Somaliland opposition says poll recount puts it ahead
NAIROBI, 24 APRIL 2003(IRIN)--The main opposition party in the self-declared republic of Somaliland says its recount of last week's vote in presidential elections shows it to be ahead of the declared winner.

Usman Abdillahi Egal, the head of the Hargeysa branch of Kulmiye (Solidarity) Party, told IRIN that a recount of last week's votes showed that its presidential candidate, Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo, was ahead of the declared winner, President Dahir Riyale Kahin, by 76 votes.

"We have recounted the votes and it shows that we are ahead," he said. "We have informed the election commission."

The Somaliland Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday declared Kahin of the Unity of Democrats Party (UDUB) the winner of Somaliland's first multiparty presidential election, which was held on 14 April.

The decision was, however, challenged by the Kulmiye candidate, who told IRIN that the party "categorically rejects" the results of last week's elections "as they have been announced".MORE

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Comments on Somaliland's electionsSOMALILANDNET, (POSTED ON 24 APRIL 2003)
Election Messages: Message from an American to Somaliland

I am an american citizen who only recently heard of the existence of your country, and I was pleased to hear of your elections. Then, when the results were anounced and I heard of the challenge by the opposition candidate Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo. It rminded me of an event from America's history.

Our first President, George Washington, was extremely popular, but refused to serve more than two terms. His vice president, John Adams, became president after him. John Adams had participated in the declaration of independence of the United States, and so was a great patriot. But he lost his re-election campaign to Thomas Jefferson, a man who wanted to undo many of John Adams' actions while president, by only a few votes. Adams hated Jeferson, and he was sure that Jefferson would ruin the country, but Adams accepted the loss, and placed his hopes on democracy and on the people of the United States. Today, we in the United States take peaceful transfers of power for granted, but John Adams could easily have nullified the election and declared himself president for another term. In many ways, we owe our present democracy to the bravery of John Adams, who was willing to accept defeat.

Perhaps Mr. Silayo should accept his defeat, however controversial it may be, because in the long run, it will be good for Somaliland to have a stable government and fair elections. I do not know whether there really was any tampering in the election (Thomas Jefferson was accused of that, too) but I do know that maybe, in two hundred years, a child in the Republic of Somaliland can have democracy if every side would just be willing to accept the results, however close they may be. READ MORE

SOMALIA: Business community demands role in peace process
NAIROBI, 23 APRIL 2003(IRIN)- The Somali business community has demanded a role in the ongoing peace talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The call came during a two-day workshop for the Somali Business Council (SBC), held last week in Dubai, and jointly organised with the Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD), an affiliate of the War-Torn Societies Project International, according to press statement.

Sharif Ahmad Shino, the SBC chairman, told IRIN that the group comprised members from all Somali clans, and had come together "to see how best we can contribute to the reconciliation process".

"We have members from all clans, who can bring pressure and influence political leaders," he stated.

Jibril Ahmad Abdulle of CRD told IRIN that any future government in Somalia was unlikely to succeed in establishing itself without the support of the business community. "Without their support it is next to impossible to get a government going," he said. "So it is logical to have them involved." MORE
Hellish battles: Mogadisho battles turned into a fancy children's game
SMH, 24 APRIL 2003--As depicted in Ridley Scott's film, Black Hawk Down lets you experience the hellish battles that United States Special Operations forces faced in Somalia. The 1993 Mogadishu street fight was America's bloodiest battle since Vietnam. But strangely, this is not a tactical combat simulation, rather an action-orientated shoot-'em-up where you act like a lone Rambo. The first 10 missions are set in the months leading up to the battle, with the final five on October 3.

Objectives include protecting a convoy, securing weapons, destroying a bridge and capturing enemies. Most duties are on foot but there are opportunities to jump into a chopper or armoured vehicle and man a machinegun. MORE

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Journalists' Leader Sought By Police, in Hiding
TORONTO, 18 APRIL 2003--The International Federation of Journalists today called for action in Somalia to counter a "wave of terror" in the capital, Mogadishu, where a journalists' leader is in hiding, fearing for his life.

Omar Faruk Osman, an Internet journalist based in Mogadishu, is currently under threat from security police staff of the transitional government. "He is the latest victim in a wave of terror against journalists and civil rights activists that has reduced Mogadishu to a state of lawlessness," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. The IFJ says social activists are harassed, killed, arrested, threatened, tortured and kidnapped by militia demanding money. Omar Faruk Osman, 27, was informed that he is being sought by the police on the orders of senior officials within the transition government. He was also sought at the office of the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON), where he is the Secretary General. Omar Faruk Osman is now in hiding.
Somaliland Opposition Leader Rejects Election Outcome
LAGOS, 22 APRIL 2003--IN an about-face the leader of the Somaliland oppposition on Sunday rejected the results of a presidential poll in the breakaway republic, narrowly won by incumbent President Dahir Riyale Kahin, calling them "rigged." "I am the winner of the election. The people know that and my supporters are all convinced that they won the election," declared Ahmed Muhammad Silanyo, a candidate for the opposition Hisbiga Kulmiye (Solidarity Party), only a day after he had said he would accept and abide by the results. "How can I concede defeat while our party won, the election was rigged," Silanyo said, adding that his party's top body is holding discussions on what to do next. The Somaliland Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday declared Kahin of the Unity of Democrats (UDUB) Party the winner of Somaliland's first presidential vote since the country -- which is not recognized internationally -- seceded from the rest of Somalia 12 years ago.

Kahin squeezed through with a razor-thin margin of 80 votes, garnering 205,595 votes against 205,515 for Silanyo. Faisal Ali Warabe of UCID (Justice and Restoration) came in a distant third, polling less than one in seven of every vote cast. Silanyo claimed that police in the capital Hargeisa had arrested several opposition supporters after a peaceful demonstration. MORE
Opposition to protest against Somaliland poll result
NAIROBI, 22 APRIL 2003 (IRIN) - The main opposition party in the self-declared republic of Somaliland says it will protest against the results of last week's presidential elections by peaceful means.

The presidential candidate for the Kulmiye (Solidarity) Party, Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo - the main challenger to incumbent President Dahir Riyale Kahin - told IRIN that his party "categorically rejects" the results of last week's elections "as they have been announced".

Silanyo, however, stressed that his party would not do anything "to compromise the integrity, peace and stability this country [Somaliland] has achieved".

"We will, however, resort to peaceful means to rectify the injustice done to us," he said. MORE

Press Release - Victory To the Nation of Somaliland, Somaliland Women in Europe.
22 APRIL2003--Praise be to Allah, 14th April 2003 is the day Somaliland voted for her democracy. The good news is that against all odds the nation of Somaliland has proved to the International Community that a small nation like us can produce miracles. Victory to the people of Somaliland. Victory to a nation who has lost so many heroes in its quest for democracy. The women and children of Somaliland should rejoice on this great day where thousands and thousands of our women, elderly and children have travelled miles and miles to vote for their future. MORE
Sweet deal for businessman
DUBAI, 21 APRIL 2003 (GULF NEWS)--A deal to export sugar worth $3 million from South America ended happily for a businessman who was charged with embezzling Dh1.3 million from a businesswoman.

The Dubai Court of Appeal yesterday acquitted Vimal S.H., 40, an Indian, of breach of trust and embezzlement and absolved his compatriot, Raishanjani N.B., 39, an Indian manager, of the same charges.

The Dubai Court of First Instance had earlier acquitted Raishanjani but sentenced Vimal to two years followed by deportation.

Both men had been charged with breach of trust and embezzling Dh1.3 million after they had struck a $3 million deal with Maryam A.Y., 48, a Somali businesswoman, to export sugar from Brazil to Somalia.

According to the deal Vimal was to ensure the sugar was dispatched to Somalia.

After signing the deal, Vimal travelled to India. Maryam meanwhile signed over cheques worth Dh1.3 million to Raishanjani who transferred the amount to Vimal. A month passed and the shipment wasn't dispatched.

In October, when Vimal returned to Dubai, Maryam contacted him and sought clarification. Vimal told her that he needed more money to be able to renew his company's commercial licence in India. Maryam paid $10,000.

Vimal allegedly left the country once more and didn't keep his promise.

Once again, Vimal returned to Dubai and asked Maryam for more money, to set up an office in Dubai and finalise the deal. He claimed that he faced financial problems in India.

The Somali businesswoman then filed her complaint against Vimal and Raishanjani.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Somali government, two southern militias to form military alliance
MOGADISHU, 21 APRIL 2003 (BBC)--A vice-chairman of Rahanwein Resistance Army [RRA, based in Baydhabo] Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade, has said the Transitional National Government of Somalia [TNG], the Jubba Valley Alliance [JVA, Kismaayo-based pro-government militia force], and his faction group will cooperate [militarily] against any party that attempts to attack his side.

Mr Habsade said Gen Muhammad Sa'id Hirsi Morgan [TNG rival, aiming to recapture Kismaayo] will not be allowed in Baydhabo [alternative spelling Baidoa, RRA HQ]. He said he had conversed with Shaykh Adan Madobe [another RRA vice chairman] on the telephone while in Baydhabo regarding some RRA members who had left for Ethiopia, adding that he is not happy with their trip.

"I do not know about those members who have left for Ethiopia and what they were looking for," said Mr Habsade.

He said some representatives from his faction would return to the peace talks venue in Kenya.

Somali Minister Hopeful of Somaliland Peace Efforts
JEDDAH, 22 APRILl 2003 (ARAB NEWS)-- Dahir Muhammad Sheikh, interior minister of Somalia’s Transitional National Government (TNG), yesterday congratulated the people of Somaliland on the outcome of the presidential poll in the northern breakaway region.

Dahir Riyale Kahin narrowly won the elections the results of which were announced on Saturday. A former British protectorate, Somaliland took advantage of the collapse of the former military regime in Somalia 12 years ago and unilaterally declared its independence in May 1991. Somaliland remains unrecognized internationally.

The TNG, which was formed in August 2000, has not recognized the secession of the northern region as a sovereign state.

“I congratulate the people of Somaliland on the election of their leadership. Although I do not recognize its declaration of an independent state, the regional administration has so far succeeded in establishing all necessary government institutions such as police, judiciary and civil service as against the chaos in the rest of Somalia. The pacification efforts in the region paved the way for the elections. I hope that the new leadership will work toward Somalia’s peace,” the minister told Arab News during a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he was treated for minor ailments.MORE

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Somaliland presidential poll loser rejects result
HARGEISA, 20 APRIL 2003(Reuters) - The defeated opposition candidate in Somaliland's presidential election accused the government of vote rigging on Sunday as violence flared between rival supporters.

Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, who emerged as the main challenger in Somaliland's first multi-party presidential election, claimed victory in the April 14 poll. Official results on Saturday handed victory to President Dahir Riyale Kahin by just 80 votes.

"I can confirm that I won the election," Silanyo told reporters. "The government has used public funds and its authority to win the election for its candidate. I call on the government not to suppress the (will of) the people."

He spoke as violence broke out between supporters of Kahin's United Democratic Party (UDUB) and Silanyo's Solidarity party (Kulmiye) in the capital Hargeisa and other cities.

Officials said four people were wounded and a teashop destroyed in Burao, Silanyo's hometown, as his supporters clashed with police. In Hargeisa, police shot in the air to disperse a protest against the election body.

There was no immediate comment from the government. MORE
Somaliland leader wins poll
BBC, 19 APRIL 2003--Results from presidential elections in the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland - the first since it broke away from Somalia 12 years ago - show a narrow win for the current leader, Dahir Riyale Kahin.
The National Electoral Commission announced on Saturday that Mr Kahin had defeated his closest rival, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, by just 80 votes. The third candidate was Faisal Ali Warabe.

Commission chairman, Ahmad Haji Ali Adami, urged the losing parties to accept the result.

"There is no other asset that Somaliland can rely on than peace and, as such, I would like every candidate, whether defeated or not, to respect the result of the elections," he said.

But it is not clear whether Mr Silanyo will accept the result. MORE