Thursday, May 29, 2003

SOMALIA: 133 would-be illegal immigrants detained in Puntland
NAIROBI, 29 MAY 2003 (IRIN) - The authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland have detained a group of migrants who were waiting to be smuggled into western Europe, Puntland's deputy information minister told IRIN on Thursday.

Abdishakur Mire Adan said 133 Sri Lankans had entered Puntland under "false pretences". The people who had brought them here from the United Arab Emirates a few months ago had obtained visas for them as "commercial fishermen", he said.

Investigations by the authorities revealed that the Sri Lankans were to be smuggled into Europe. "We have established that the traffickers had charged them up to US $6,000 each to get them into western Europe by boat," Abdishakur told IRIN.

He said the Sri Lankans had now been detained and were being kept in a guarded compound until they could be repatriated. "We have asked for assistance in repatriating them, but have so far had no positive response," he added. MORE

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

SOMALIA: Business community to support all-inclusive government
NAIROBI,27 MAY 2003 (IRIN)-- Members of the Somali business community have said they will support an "all-inclusive" outcome of the peace talks currently underway in Nairobi, Kenya.

Muhammad Jirde Husayn, an executive member of the Dubai-based Somali Business Council, said the business community would support any comprehensive agreement emerging from the talks.

"We will support morally, materially and physically any new government that comes out of Nairobi," he told IRIN.

Jirde is leading a 27-member team to Nairobi, representing a cross-section of the community both inside and outside the country. He said that the group, which comprises members from all Somali clans, had convened "to see how best we can contribute to the reconciliation process".

Jirde said they had met delegates to the conference and its chairman, Kenyan Special Envoy Bethwel Kiplagat. "We have told the delegates to stay the course and conclude the conference successfully," he added.

According to a Somali delegate, the business community's support is crucial to any future government in Somalia.

"The community has the money and military muscle," he said. "If it puts them at the disposal of the government, this will succeed, but without the support of business leaders, getting a government going will be next to impossible."

A Somali economist attending the peace talks added that it made "business and economic sense" for the business community to support the peace process.

Currently, it was business leaders who were providing commodities such as security, electricity and water, "all the things a government is supposed to do".

"This means a lot of overhead costs for businesses, which cut into profit margins," he noted.

Monday, May 26, 2003

SOMALIA: Premier says rift over as he heads to Mogadishu
NAIROBI, 26 May 2003 (IRIN) - The prime minister of the Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia, Hasan Abshir Farah, is expected to leave for the capital, Mogadishu, on Monday, from Nairobi, where he is attending the Somali peace talks.

Abshir's decision to go home follows "intensive discussions and consultations between him and the president to end their differences", a TNG source told IRIN.

The prime minister had earlier admitted that there were differences between him and President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan, but he described them as "minor", stressing that they did not amount to a split within the TNG. "These are differences of opinion on minor issues which we are now in the process of resolving," he told IRIN last month.

On Monday, Abshir told IRIN that "everything has now been resolved and we are united". He said the aim of his trip was to brief the president and the rest of his government on the peace talks. "We will then come back to talks as one united single entity," he added. MORE

Opposition party rejects Kahin as Somaliland president

NAIROBI, 26 MAY 2003 (IRIN) - The main opposition party in the self-declared republic of Somaliland says it does not recognise the legitimacy of President Dahir Riyale Kahin, according to a statement issued by the party on Sunday.

A senior official of the Kulmiye (Solidarity) party told IRIN that it was prepared to talk to the ruling party, the Unity of Democrats Party (UDUB), "so long as they are not claiming to be the winners" of last month's elections.

Kahin of the UDUB, who had been the incumbent president, was confirmed as the winner of last month's disputed presidential election by the Somaliland High Court.

Kulmiye's presidential candidate, Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo - Kahin's main challenger, told IRIN at the time that his party "categorically rejected" the results of the 14 April election.MORE