First Published: 2005-03-22

Deep divisions among Somali government

Government’s plans to relocate from exile in chaos amid bitter disagreements over timing, destination.


Middle East Online

By Bogonko Bosire - NAIROBI

Delayed again

Somalia's transitional government-in-exile met here Tuesday in a bid to bridge deep divisions over plans to relocate to the war-shattered nation that are now in chaos, officials said.

Amid bitter disagreements over the timing and destination of the eventual move that led to a walk-out by several ministers at a meeting on Monday, the cabinet gathered again to try to hammer out details, officials said.

But with inter-clan tensions that led to a fistfight last week over peacekeepers among Somali lawmakers still running high, there was no indication that Tuesday's meeting would yield any immediate consensus, the officials said.

"It appears to be a revenge game, nobody will let go of his position," one Somali minister said on condition of anonymity.

The walk-out at Monday's cabinet meeting came after prime minister Mohammed Ali Gedi proposed an indefinite delay in the relocation and suggested that the government not set up shop in the capital, Mogadishu, when it moves, they said.

Instead, Gedi proposed that the government, which has been in exile in Kenya for security reasons since it was created here last October, move to either Baidoa or Jowhar when it eventually makes the move, the officials said.

His plans were met with howls of protest from ministers, some of them warlords themselves, who insisted that the government move to the capital and angrily left the meeting, the officials said.

An official in Gedi's office said President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was unwilling to relocate to Mogadishu, which is controlled by warlords from the dominant Hawiye clan, a rival to the president's Darod faction.

"The warlords insist that if the government is to relocate, it will move to Mogadishu, but the president and his prime minister are not keen on that because they fear for their security there," the official said.

"Mogadishu is the capital," said Somali construction minister and Mogadishu warlord Osman Ali Ato, one of those who stormed out of the cabinet meeting.

Ato noted that a group of more than 100 Somali MPs from the Hawiye clan had formed a committee last week to travel to Mogadishu to prepare for the government's relocation but failed to get backing from Gedi and Yusuf.

Despite the rancour, many Somali watchers believe Jowhar, 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Mogadishu and controlled by warlord Mohammed Dere, is the odds-on favorite to serve as an interim capital.

The southern town of Baidoa, which is held by three warlords, is considered unsafe after militiamen blocked Yusuf and his entourage from visiting last month in a dispute over airport landing rights.

There has been widespread confusion and uncertainty over the government's stated relocation plans for some time.

Under pressure to move from their Kenyan hosts and regional states, Somali leaders have several times since December announced the imminent relocation of the government, but each time the target date has passed without action.

Previous unmet timetables have set January, mid-February and early March as dates for the move, but many analysts believe the relocation cannot realistically begin until July or August.

The Horn of Africa country has been in chaos without any functioning central authority since the ouster of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 turned the nation into a patchwork of fiefdoms ruled by warlords.

An already strained relationship between Gedi and warlords worsened last week when lawmakers fought in parliament over the inclusion of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya in a regional peacekeeping force planned to help the government relocate.

The dispute over the government's relocation has been fanned by a threat from Gedi, who supports the participation of the three nations, to sack opposed warlords from the cabinet, officials said.


UN Security Council warns against holding Iraqi Kurd vote

Barzani delays Kurdish independence vote announcement

Iran defies US, tests missile

Yemen leader promises UN to open entire country to aid

Saudi Arabia marks national day with fireworks, concerts

Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen

Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Syria's war off the radar at UN assembly

For many Iraqis, tradition trumps police

Darfur clashes kill 3 as Bashir urges reconciliation

Saudi cleric banned for saying women have ‘quarter’ brain

Veteran Syrian activist, daughter assassinated in Istanbul

Tunisia drops forced anal exams for homosexuality

Bomb used in Saudi-led strike on Yemen children US-made

Syria Kurds vote to cement federal push

Police charge teenager over London Underground attack

Nigerian official to meet Turkish counterpart over illegal guns

Thousands feared trapped in Raqa as IS mounts last stand

Iraqi forces achieve first step in new offensive on IS

Migrant boat sinks off Turkish Black Sea coast leaving four dead, 20 missing

Trump praises 'friend' Erdogan

Rouhani vows Iran will boost missiles despite US criticism

Russia clashes with EU over Syria

UN sets up probe of IS war crimes in Iraq

US, Iranian top diplomats confront each other for first time

Air strikes kill 22 civilians in northwest Syria in 48 hours

Iranian supreme leader lashes out at Trump UN speech

Thousands of Huthi supporters mark 3 years since Sanaa takeover

Iraq attacks all remaining IS territory at once

Moscow accuses US of hitting Syrian regime forces

Turkey jails lawyers representing hunger striking teachers

Turkey, Iran and Iraq make joint threat against Kurd vote

Syrian Kurds to hold first local elections in federal push

Qatari expats lauded as statesmen by Arab critics

Shipwreck off Libyan coast leaves over 100 migrants missing

Will Turkey’s opposition to Kurdish state translate into action?

US ups the ante on Iraq Kurds

Macron: Iran nuclear deal no longer enough

Trump’s mind made up on Iran but refuses to divulge

Scores of Iraqis missing during war against ISIS

Netanyahu rejects calls for mixed gender worship at Western Wall

Russia accuses US of missile treaty breach

Iran TV translator mocked for watering down Trump speech

Saudi Arabia hopes Kurdish referendum will not take place

Saudi invites women to sports stadium for first time