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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Three die in Somaliland demonstrations


( M e d e s h i )
Three die in Somaliland demonstrations
HARGEYSA — At least three people died and several others were injured in the breakaway state of Somaliland when angry demonstrators clashed with riot police Saturday, officials and witnesses said.
The clashes erupted when opposition demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans tried to break into the parliament building after police tried to stop a debate scheduled on a motion to impeach the president.
"They tried to enter the parliament building by force and the riot police stopped them. There were clashes and so far three people have died," a Somaliland police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The protestors also burned three police vehicles and set fire to tires in the streets, he added.
Witnesses said the riot police opened fire onto the crowd.
"We were peacefully demonstrating this morning when the police aggressively dispersed the crowds by indiscriminately spraying them with gunfire. They killed three civilians and injured several others," witness Mohamed Salad said.
Tempers have been running high over the impeachment motion all week.
On Tuesday police swarmed into parliament after lawmakers fought among themselves and one drew a pistol.
Tension has mounted in the breakaway state after the postponement of the presidential election scheduled for September 27.
The election has already been delayed twice, notably over a disagreement concerning the voters' register.
President Dahir Riyale Kahin, in power since May 2002, is seeking re-election but faces a stiff challenge from Faisal Ali Warabe, of the Justice and Welfare Party, and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, of the Development and Solidarity Party.
A former British protectorate, Somaliland broke away from the rump Somalia 10 months after Somali strongman Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.
More stable and economically viable than central and southern Somalia in recent years, Somaliland is seeking international recognition as an independent state.

Somaliland Faces a Tipping Point

( M e d e s h i )
Jamie Lynn DeCoster
12 Sep 2009
World Politics Review
Amid devastated Somalia, a country mired for two decades in unforgiving conflict, Somaliland glows as an ember of hope. A moderate peace has held for 10 years in the autonomous region, reflecting a decade of efforts to expand governance, security and social institutions. Yet, despite it being a minor success in a sea of failure, regional and international organizations will not grant Somaliland status as an independent state, or give it a seat at the international roundtable.
As another transitional government in Mogadishu fractures in the face of insurgent forces, and the international community scrambles to update policy positions, Somaliland must hear the sound of opportunity knocking. With pirates plundering merchant ships in the waters off its coast, and the port of Berbera bridging the supply line between Eritrea and Islamist militants in Somalia's south, Somaliland suddenly finds itself in a position to be a strategically important ally in the West's battle against terrorism and piracy.
Somaliland has shown the international community that it is willing to play ball. Now it must prove it can be a reliable partner in promoting international peace and security by acting as a responsible, accountable and capable government. And the best way to do that is for Somaliland's current president to facilitate fair and legitimate elections as soon as possible.
The region declared its independence from Somalia in 1991, after the bloody collapse of Siad Barre's regime. Since then, a multiparty democracy has evolved under a constitution that combines traditional qabil (or clan) styles of governance with Western models.
Since then, Somaliland has held competitive and credible presidential elections in 2003 and 2005, both of which, though imperfect, were perceived by public opinion as legitimate. Following one of its parliamentary elections, Somaliland's political system was even able to carry out a successful transfer of power to the political opposition.
Somaliland's progress is laudable. Its nascent institutions continue to nurture elements of state infrastructure. The Somaliland currency, for instance, is stable and managed by a central bank. The region's transportation system maintains buses that operate between four main cities, as well as other light vehicles that ensure rural villages' access to major towns.
Among other bright spots is a strong, energetic civil society that expresses its opinions through various media forums, among which radio broadcasts and the Internet are favored. Unlike many of its neighbors, Somaliland's 30,000-strong army has been able to maintain a basic -- and rare -- level of security in the region, allowing people to live relatively free from repression.
But there is still much to accomplish.
A June 2009 Human Rights Watch report, "Hostages to Peace: Threats to Human Rights and Democracy in Somaliland," uncovered evidence that may shake the foundations of Somaliland's current stability. The report highlighted widespread poverty and rising unemployment, as well as very limited government-provided social services. In particular, it identified the lack of access to health care and education, and a dire need for judicial reform, as cause for concern. Such critical weaknesses test the regime's stability and make Somaliland more vulnerable to the spread of Islamist militancy from the south.
Sadly, there is little prospect for relief because Somaliland, as an autonomous entity without international recognition as a sovereign state, is isolated from international development assistance. And Somalia's overall insecurity deters risk-averse aid organizations from operating there.
Equally disconcerting, current President Dahir Riyale Kahin and his administration have exceeded constitutional term limits and repeatedly postponed elections without any legal basis. Worse still, the Somaliland election commission, under pressure from the Riyale administration, recently canceled this September's presidential elections, stating the current political crisis would impede any fair and democratic elections. No future election date has been set.
In response, the opposition in Somaliland's Parliament has introduced a motion to impeach Riyale. This boiling political instability and divided government could very well undermine Somaliland's legitimacy, and perhaps even its survival, at a most crucial time in its brief existence.
As Somaliland moves toward what may be a tipping point, the international community should stand with it as a potential partner to forestall any radical shift in the region's political order. If the United States intends to continue its containment policy towards Somalia to prevent instability from spreading, it must nurture Somaliland's successes and enhance its capacity to govern its territory. If Somalia's Transitional Federal Government fails, the United States will need to engage directly with Somaliland's governing institutions to further its own antiterrorism and counterpiracy objectives.
Somaliland could be the ace in the hole in those efforts.
In the short run, Somaliland's armed forces need security-sector training to oppose a growing insurgency originating from the south -- training that the United States could be in a position to offer. In the long run, engagement with the United States could potentially encourage the African Union and the United Nations to be more open to recognizing Somaliland's autonomy.
But Somaliland's tempting array of diplomatic prospects is now in the hands of the Riyale regime. For Riyale to make his mark on history, his administration must first improve human rights conditions and actively engage in consensus-building with Somaliland's population. He must support and encourage free and fair elections, and respect their outcome by stepping down as president if need be. Instead of repressing Somaliland's media, he must embrace it. If the Riyale administration can act responsibly today, Somaliland may prevent the spiral of instability and chaos that too often marks the history of this African neighborhood from engulfing it, and instead create a legitimate, independent state.
And if that happens, the ember of hope might just become a beacon for other successes to follow.
Jamie Lynn De Coster is a master's candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. The views expressed here are her own, and do not reflect an official position of the U.S. Navy or any other government department.

Southern neighbour puts Somaliland on Horn of a dilemma

Southern neighbour puts Somaliland on Horn of a dilemma

AFTER almost two decades as a failed state torn by civil war, perhaps the world should begin to admit that Somalia – as currently constructed – is beyond repair.
Some of the country, however, can meet at least a basic standard of governance. The northernmost region, Somaliland, situated at the opening to the Red Sea and home to roughly 3.5 million of Somalia's ten million people, is more or less autonomous an
But this stability fuels fears that Somaliland's people will activate the declaration of independence they adopted in 1991.
At the end of September, Somaliland will hold its third presidential election. Unlike many developing countries, it will welcome foreign observers to oversee the elections, though, unfortunately, most Western countries and agencies will stay away, lest their presence be seen as legitimising Somaliland's de facto government.
But Somaliland's strategic position near the world's major oil-transport routes, now plagued by piracy, and chaos in the country's south, means that independence should no longer be dismissed out of hand.
Indeed, following a fact-finding mission in 2007, a consensus is emerging within the European Union that an African Union (AU) country should be the first to recognise Somaliland's independence.
A 2005 report by Patrick Mazimhaka, a former AU deputy chairman pointed out that the union in 1960 between Somaliland and Somalia, following the withdrawal of the colonial powers (Britain and Italy), was never formally ratified.
Ethiopia is the obvious candidate to spearhead recognition, given its worries about jihadi unrest within Somalia. Moreover, landlocked Ethiopia uses Somaliland's port of Berbera extensively. Yet Ethiopia may hesitate, owing to its fears that formally recognising Somaliland's independence could undermine Somalia's fragile, western-backed transitional federal government (TFG). But, as Somalia's new president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is a former head of the Islamic Courts, Ethiopia may choose the status quo in Somaliland over the dream of stabilising Somalia.
The key regional obstacle to recognition is Saudi Arabia, which not only objects to the secular, democratic model promoted by Somaliland, but is also a strong ally of Somalia, which is a member of the Arab League (despite not being Arab) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Saudi Arabia supports the TFG financially and politically. Saudi pressure on Somaliland has ranged from banning livestock imports to threatening to reject the Somaliland passports of Hajj pilgrims.
When Somaliland's people vote at the end of the month, they will not be deciding explicitly on secession, but their steady effort at state building does amplify their claims to independence. So it is high time for diplomats and statesmen to provide some guidelines as to when and in what circumstances secession is likely to be acceptable
Does any self-selected group anywhere have the right to declare independence? If so, the richest parts of any country could decide to go it alone, thus impoverishing their fellow citizens. Even if greed is ruled out as an acceptable motive, in favour of traditional ethno-cultural nationalism, a profusion of tiny tribal states might make the world far more unstable.
Thus clear principles are needed, as neither self-determination nor the inviolability of national borders can be treated as sacrosanct in every case.
So let me attempt to outline some basic principles: no outside forces should either encourage or discourage secession, and the barriers for recognising secession should be set high. Secession is in itself neither good nor bad: like divorce, it may make people more or less content.
A declaration of independence should be recognised only if a clear majority (well over 50 per cent-plus-one of the voters) have freely chosen it.
The new state must guarantee that any minorities it drags along – say, Russians in the Baltic states, or Serbs in Kosovo – will be decently treated. Secessionists should have a reasonable claim to being a national group that, preferably, enjoyed stable self-government in the past on the territory they claim. Nations need not be ethnically based; few are entirely. But most nations are unified by language, a shared history of oppression, or some other force of history.
On this, admittedly subjective, measure, Somaliland qualifies as a nation. It was briefly independent (for five days) in 1960 after the British withdrawal, before throwing in its lot with the formerly Italian south, a decision its people have regretted ever since. In this brief period, 35 countries, including Egypt, Israel, and the five permanent members of the Security Council, recognised Somaliland diplomatically.
Given the interests of all the world's great powers in stabilising the Horn of Africa, there does seem to be movement toward accepting Somaliland's claims and it could be a force for stability and good governance in an otherwise hopeless region.
  • Last Updated: 11 September 2009 9:38 PM
  • Source: The Scotsman
  • Location: Edinburgh

Somaliland: Police Use Tear Gas against Protestors, One person died

( M e d e s h i )
Somaliland: Police Use Tear Gas against Protestors, One person died
HARGEISA, 12 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Somaliland police used tear gas for the first time in the history to disperse protests that began today infront of the Parliament house in Hargeisa.
One person died on the spot when the police fired at the crowd gathered around the MPs who were trying to go into the parliament house. The Parliament was closed by the government last week after the MPs fought during a controversal motion which aimed at the government’s impeachment.
The demonstrations are now spreading to the wider areas of the city specially in the downtown where the police are using life bullets against the demonstrators.
The protestors are burning tires and blocking the streets with stones, trees and other materials. There are reports indicating one police vehicle has been burned down by the demonstrators.
Published by: R Mo

Hargeisa, Somaliland: The new "City of hope"?


( M e d e s h i )
Hargeisa, Somaliland: The new "City of hope"?
Thu, 09/10/2009 - 5:48pm
Somalia may generally be thought of as a source of refugees, but fierce conflict in Ethiopia is sending more and more refugees into the country with predictably negative effects. There's recently been a large increase in street children and a rise in gang conflict in the city of Hargeisa, which is often an initial stopping point for immigrants seeking to travel further into Somalia or Yemen.
Children flocking to Hargeisa join Somali kids in searching for the most basic necessities, using any means necessary to find their next meal off the streets. Current estimates claim there to be about 3,000 children, most of them boys between five and 18, living on Hargeisa's streets. Lacking families and home environments many of these children cling to gangs as a source of fraternity and stability. In the past two years, approximately 5,000 knives and weapons, commonly used in robberies, have been recovered from street children. Mohamed Ismail Hirsi, Hargeisa's Central Police Station commander recently stated:
"In the last 72 hours, we have arrested more than 30 street children who have committed crimes such as stealing mobile phones in different parts of the town."
Increased crime by these young boys is complicated further by the fact that a 2008 juvenile justice law has yet to be implemented, forcing these children to be charged and processed as adult perpetrators.
Getty Images/Stringer

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Somaliland: Street children "becoming the new gangsters"


( M e d e s h i )
Somaliland: Street children "becoming the new gangsters"
HARGEISA, 10 September 2009 (IRIN) - The number of street children in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, is on the rise as more Ethiopian children cross the border in search of a better life.
The immigrant children are adding to the burden of local street children, most of whom have been forced on to the streets by drought and insecurity within Somaliland and further south, in Somalia.
“You can see old women accompanying about 20 children, of different ages, crossing the border into Somaliland from Ethiopia. These women may be their grandmothers, aunts or mothers,” Khadar Nour, chairman of the Hargeisa Child Protection Network (HCPN), told IRIN.
(Photo: Knives recovered from street children in Hargeisa on display at the town’s police station)
"The children, who are mainly from the Oromo [region of Ethiopia], beg in the streets of Hargeisa with their mothers," Nour said. Some work as shoe shiners, sending their earnings to relatives in Ethiopia.
Hargeisa is also a popular transit point for those seeking to travel further. “About 100 to 200 immigrant children cross the border from Ethiopia into Somaliland [annually] on their way to [the self-declared autonomous region of] Puntland, or to Yemen,” he said.
Poverty and family break-ups have also fuelled the rise in numbers. There are about 3,000 children, most of them boys between five and 18, living on Hargeisa's streets.
Crime threat
With the rising numbers, officials are concerned about an upsurge in crime. “They [the street children] are becoming a threat to the town's stability,” said Nour.
“When they grow up, they still find themselves living in difficult conditions; it is for this reason that they grab mobile phones."
Consequently, a number of the children are now in conflict with the law. In August, Nour said, a 16-year-old was sentenced to death in a Berbera regional court after being found guilty of murder.

"The grown-up street children have become the new gangsters," Mohamed Ismail Hirsi, Hargeisa's Central Police Station commander, told IRIN.
"In the last 72 hours, we have arrested more than 30 street children who have committed crimes such as stealing mobile phones in different parts of the town."
(Photo: young boy makes a living polishing shoes on the streets of Hargeisa, Somaliland (file photo): Immigrant children are working in Hargeisa to support their families )
In the past two years, some 5,000 knives and other weapons, which are commonly used in robberies, have been recovered from the street children, prompting calls for more focused interventions.
"People say good words in workshops, but few interventions for street children have been [implemented]," said Nour of HCPN, which recently started providing food and education support for the children.
Once arrested, the children are charged as adults because a 2008 juvenile justice law has yet to be implemented.
Glue sniffing
The children living rough are turning to drugs. "I use glue because when first I came to the streets I saw my friends sniffing it," Ahmed Omar, 12, told IRIN. "Whenever I use it, I am able to survive a difficult situation."
The lack of a family support system also means more children may end up on the streets, as Abdi-Qani Ahmed’s experience illustrates. "When my mother and father divorced, there was no one left to take care of me," Ahmed, 11, said. "I used to get my food from restaurants in Hargeisa where I fed on leftovers.”
During Ramadan, however, few if any restaurants are open. "I have to wait to see if someone gives me something to eat or not," he said.
Living on the streets puts the children at risk of abuse from other street children as well as strangers. For protection, the children often seek refuge outside the police station at night.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Children, (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Environment

SOMALIA: Hassna Qassim, "I cannot remember the last time we had more than one meal a day"


( M e d e s h i )
SOMALIA: Hassna Qassim, "I cannot remember the last time we had more than one meal a day"
(Photo:Hassna Qassim with her grandchildren outside their hut at an IDP camp in Jowhar)
JOWHAR, 8 September 2009 (IRIN) - If she is lucky, Hassna Qassim, 58, returns at the end of the day to her makeshift shelter in a camp for the displaced with 1kg of rice to share with her five grandchildren. Qassim is one of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) struggling to survive under extremely difficult circumstances in the Somali town of Jowhar, 90km north of the capital, Mogadishu. When her daughter abandoned the children a year ago, Qassim took on the task of caring for them. Her oldest grandchild is eight while the youngest is 18 months old, yet she has to leave them alone for long hours every day. Qassim spoke to IRIN on 8 September:
"We used to live in Shiirkole area [south Mogadishu] but when the Ethiopians [soldiers deployed in the country to assist the federal government] came, it became one of the most dangerous places in Mogadishu; there was fighting every day. It became impossible to stay.
"The road to Jowhar was the closest to us, so we took it and came here.
"I don’t know what happened to my daughter but she just left them [the children]. Now I have to take care of them. I don’t have anything to give them so every day I have to leave them and look for work.
"I don’t like leaving them but I have no choice if I am to find food for us. I either leave them and look for work or we starve. The eight-year-old looks after the others.
"I go to town every day. Sometimes I wash people's clothes. If I can't find any work, I collect grass and sell it to livestock owners.
"Most days I find enough for the night's meal. I cannot remember the last time we had more than one meal a day.
"But there are nights when I put the children to sleep with nothing. In the last two weeks, a Somali man in Galkayo, who heard about us, sent me US$100. I have never seen $100 before but it was a Godsend. The last two weeks the children have been eating every day.
"But life is often very hard and is not getting any better. It seems every year things are getting worse. Just when I think that things will improve, they get worse.
"My grandchildren have never known peace and they may never know it. All I can do is pray and hope that peace will come so we can return to our homes and lives."
ah/mw
Theme(s): (IRIN) Children, (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs

SOMALIA: Puntland warns of looming crisis as drought bites

( M e d e s h i )
SOMALIA: Puntland warns of looming crisis as drought bites
NAIROBI, 10 September 2009 (IRIN) - Thousands of people affected by a severe drought in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, are in desperate need of assistance, with officials describing the situation as “very critical”.
"We are at a critical stage and if help does not come within weeks the situation could develop into a catastrophe,” Abdullahi Abdirahman Ahmed, head of the Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency of Puntland (HADMA), told IRIN.
He said a recent assessment by his agency showed that almost all of Puntland was affected by the drought.
“We saw livestock, including camels, dying by the roadside. Others were being abandoned by their owners because they were too weak,” he said.
He said the authorities had started water trucking to the worst-affected parts of the region.
“The government effort can only cover about 30 percent of those who need help,” he said, adding that Puntland did not have the capacity to mount the kind of operation needed. “The resources are simply not there.”
Ahmed said HADMA had informed the agencies of the severity of the situation. "This is not a situation like any we have seen and so I hope that agencies don’t treat it as business as usual."
Livestock dying
Haji Muse Ghelle, the governor of Bari region, one of the worst-affected areas, told IRIN some 30 percent of livestock in his region had died and the remaining animals were in very poor condition.
He said the Gu (long) rains had failed, leaving the barkads (water catchments) in the area dry. “Eighty percent of water comes from barkads and they are almost dry.”
Hundreds of families were moving from their villages in search of water and food, he said. Ghelle, who toured parts of his region from 25 August to 4 September, said he had found villages “totally abandoned… They are moving wherever they think they can find water and food."
He said both people and the remaining livestock were weak and "could not last long without help".
The priority should be to save the lives of the people and what is left of the livestock, the economic mainstay of the area. "On my tour we did not see people dying but what we saw was close to it."
Said Waberi Mohamed, the district commissioner of Qandala, in Bari region, one of the hardest-hit areas, said some 13 settlements in the district, with 1,000 families (about 6,000 people), had been abandoned. He said the district was entirely dependent on barkads, which had run dry. “We are facing one of the worst water shortages I have ever seen," he said.
Ahmed of HADMA said many nomadic families were moving to towns in search of assistance. He said the first priority was to deliver water to affected areas and to distribute food to those who had lost their livestock. “If something major is not done to intervene within the next few weeks, we will be facing a serious crisis,” he warned.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Health & Nutrition, (IRIN) Natural Disasters

African Union appeals for calm in Somaliland

( M e d e s h i )
African Union appeals for calm in Somaliland
By Husein Ali Noor
Thursday, September 10, 2009
HARGEISA (Reuters) - The African Union (AU) called for calm in Somaliland on Thursday after lawmakers scuffled in parliament and one drew a pistol in an angry dispute over the postponement of an election planned this month.
Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with the rest of Somalia since the Horn of Africa nation plunged into anarchy in 1991. But persistent delays to presidential elections have worried rights groups and angered opposition politicians.
Nicolas Bwakira, the special envoy of the AU Commission chairman, expressed his concern about the rising tensions after a ballot due on September 27 was postponed.
"The AU special representative calls upon all parties to remain calm and avoid pronouncements and actions that may lead to further deterioration of the situation and further urges all parties to desist from any form of violence," an AU statement said.
"He regrets that if the current situation slips into a state of lawlessness, there will be worsening humanitarian conditions similar to that in the rest of the country."
Violence has killed more than 18,000 Somalis since the start of 2007 and driven another 1.5 million from their homes, triggering one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies.
Politicians traded blows in Somaliland's parliament on Tuesday after officials agreed to debate a motion to impeach the president of the breakaway enclave over the election delays.
One lawmaker began waving a pistol before police burst in and ordered the rowdy politicians out of the chamber.
Source: Reuters, Sept 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Somali Week Festival 2009

(Medeshi)
Somali Week Festival 2009
Friday 23 October – to Saturday, 31st October 2009
Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green, London E2 6HG
Kayd Somali artist and culture in partnership with REDSEA-ONLINE.COM, a range of national, international and local community organisations is pleased to present the Somali Week Festival as part of Black History Month. The Festival events will take place at Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green, London E2 6HG from 23rd to 31st October 2009.
Somali Week offers the best of Somali culture both old and new, through an eclectic mix of events including, poetry, literature and music. This year’s Somali Week Festival will focus on Censorship.
The SWF is an established festival within the Somali community in London, nationally and internationally. It celebrates and explores the uniqueness of Somali art and culture. The festival will showcase this year mix of poetry, prose literature, Plays and music which will be presented by artists, while also allowing ample time for discussions between artists, professional guests and audiences. SWF will present and celebrate Somali arts and culture by featuring international and UK-based artists of the highest calibre in a vibrant programme of events.
SWF 2009 will explore the theme of arts censorship and creative freedom of expression throughout the extensive programme of events, whilst the festival’s programming aims to celebrate artists’ creativity, it will also discuss the important role that art can play within society.
We are proudly expecting a range of guests including renowned Somali and non-Somali artists, academics and commentators: Ahmed Saleebaan Bide, Abdilahi Hirsi “ Baarleex”, Amina Abdilahi, Kinsi Haaji Aden, Maryan Mursal, Hudayd. Kuluc, Dararamle, Hon. Kerry McCarthy, MP, (TBC), Gaadaco, Abdi Bahdoon, Prince Abdi, Aar Maanta, Shuki shacni, Ali Hassan Adan “Ali Banfaz“, Hussein Hersi Adib “Buun Hirsi“, Jama Musse Jama, Warsan Osman, Kaltuun Bacado, Anab Ismail, Abdilah hajI, Ahmed Abdilahi awale, Beeldage, Abdiftaah yare, Mustaphe TITI, Xassan Abdi Madar, Abdirahman Yusuf Arten , Warsan Shire, Mahamoud “Jango“, Faysal Anbalash, Ismail Aw-adan, Mahamed Jamac Kayd, Nimco Deggan, Nimco yasin , Ali Seenyo, Yusuf Dheere, Abdilahi Osman shafey, Said Ali Shire, Abdirahman Mahamed Abtidoon, Omar Haaji Bile, Mahamed Baashe, Abdikariim Raas, Martin Orwin, Aisha Luul, Mahamoud Shiekh Dalmar, Suad Armiye, Abdiaziz Ali Ibrahim “hildhibaan, Abdilahi Awed Iggeh, Rashiid Sheikh Abdilahi “Gadhwayne”, Mahamed Hassan “Alto” , abdilahi Awed Iggeh, and many more
The international aspect of the festival is an important part of our continued development and partnership work with artists and organisations in Somali speaking territories. Join us at the exceptional festival in order to celebrate and explore the uniqueness of Somali art and culture. For more information about the Festival’s Programme visit; www. kayd.org or call 07903712949. More information about the program or/and stall please email to festival manager ayan_mahamoud@kayd.org

Re-Published : Somaliland Electoral Laws


(Medeshi)
Somaliland Electoral Laws
A timely production and helpful resource for all those who are following the upcoming elections in Somaliland. Ibrahim Hashi Jama, former Chair of Somaliland Forum's Committee on Constitution, and editor of somalilandlaw.com, shares with us a great handbook.This handbook covers the laws and codes developed from 1993 to 2008 which were necessary for the electoral process.

The introductory chapters of the handbook explore the development of all these main legal instruments, including the basic laws (The National Charter of 1992 followed by the Constitution) that set up the governmental structures and the institutions which should be elected.REDSEA-ONLINE e-books is grateful to the author for his permission to post the book here for its readers. Version: 1.0 Filesize: 2.45 MBAdded on: 11-Feb-2009 Downloads: 137Download the complete book :
http://www.redsea-online.com/e-books/Somaliland%20Electoral%20Laws%20Handbook%20_I.J.Hashi.pdf

Price of light arms goes up in Somaliland


(Medeshi)
Price of light arms goes up in Somaliland
Hargeisa ( medeshi) the price of small arms has gone up in the recent months in Somaliland and the reason for the upsurge is not yet known. Retailers of small arms in Somaliland have told the local press that the increased demand for these weapons in the region has been widely noticed.
The arms dealers also said ''it has been the nomads who always used to get the bigger share of arms purchase, but in recent months the urban population have also been noticed to buying more arms, therefore, pushing up the price of small and light arms''.
Read article in Somali http://www.tvsomalilandeurope.net/

Puntland (Somalia) : How diaspora funds Somali pirates

(Medeshi)
Puntland (Somalia) : How diaspora funds Somali pirates
Posted by africanpress on September 9, 2009
Mombasa (Kenya) – Somali pirates may be receiving support from foreign sources, including their kin in the diaspora, some of whom provide critical intelligence and other information on shipping expeditions along the Red Sea leading to an increase in the number of attacks on ships off the Somali coast.
The foreign connections also facilitate the acquisition of sophisticated equipment and other infrastructure to enable the pirates carry out their attacks, Col Victor Gamor, the military advisor at the United Nations Political Office of Somali (UNOPS) told a maritime security and safety workshop in Mombasa.
“The sophistication of the operation, for example the selected targeting of ships carrying lucrative cargo gives credence to the allegation that intelligence is passed on to the pirates from external sources,” Gamor said. Pirates, he said, now use GPS systems and satellite phones.
It is believed that they are plugged into international networks that feed information from the ports in the Gulf, Europe, Asia and back to Somali.
The pirates have graduated from being simple fishermen with small boats and ordinary weapons into high-tech operators armed with modern weapons travelling in expensive speedboats, said Gamor. As the crime has become more and more lucrative, it has attracted a widening network of players who are stationed in foreign countries, Gamor said.
Last year alone, more than 40 ships were captured along the Somali coastline. With ransoms ranging from $500,000 to $2m, the pirates made a big fortune. Some of the money went to fast cars, new houses and lavish wedding parties, according to Gamor, but a significant portion also went into the acquisition of sophisticated equipment.
One reason why pirates can now operate hundreds of kilometres out to sea is that they can afford faster, more robust boats and satellite tracking systems.
The campaign to curb the involvement of foreign actors in fuelling piracy in Somali is complicated by the absence of an effective central authority in Somali. Although the country has a transitional government in place, it does not have effective control over the entire national territory.
Somaliland, in the north west asserts its independence while Puntland, in the north east, exercises significant autonomy. While Somaliland, according to Gamor, appears in good measure to control piracy, the same cannot be said of Puntland.
In central and south Somali, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) controls a limited stretch of territory around Mogadishu, the capital.
The rest of the territory is under the control of the insurgent forces, or is highly contested, with territory constantly changing hands between the government and its allied forces, on the one hand, and hardline groups on the other.
Amid the chaos that exists in Somali, there is virtually no control of the flow of arms despite the existing international arms embargo, according to Gamor.
“Clandestine arm shipments by some foreign governments, accompanied by the influx of foreign fighters in the country have complicated the security situation in Somali,” Gamor said, adding that this is how some of the weapons find their way into the hands of the youth who engage in piracy.
“It is extremely difficult to break the communication network that fuels piracy in Somali without the support of a central government,” Gamor said.
The most effective way of dealing with piracy is by controlling their entry into the high sea, which can only be done if the FTG is able to secure the vast Somali coast with its isolated beaches. The long porous Somali borders make it possible to transfer the ransom paid to pirates, in dollars, most of which enters Kenya, according to Gamor.
Somali pirates are increasingly sailing further into the Indian Ocean from their bases in Puntland, in northern Somalia, due to the sophisticated equipment they have been able to acquire.
The largest vessel to have been hijacked in the history of piracy was the Sirius Star, a supertanker carrying two million barrels of oil which was hijacked last year 450 nautical miles (833 kilometres) southeast of Mombasa port, farther south than any previous attack.
“This incident is significant on two counts,” said International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Director Pottengal Mukundan.
“Firstly, this is the largest vessel to have been hijacked. Secondly, the distance from the shore would suggest a highly organised operation — this is not mere opportunism.”
Source.BusinessKenyaDaily

Somali Islamists cut off hands of 2 accused of theft in capital, lash another

(Medeshi)
Somali Islamists cut off hands of 2 accused of theft in capital, lash another
Mohamed Olad Hassan
September 9th, 2009
MOGADISHU, Somalia — A Somali Islamic court on Wednesday hacked a hand each from two screaming men accused of theft and lashed another accused of rape, officials and a witness said, the latest in a series of harsh punishments carried out in the country.
A witness said that masked men cut the hands off with large knives on a wooden table dripping with blood. The two were later taken to a hospital by medical staff, said the witness, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals.
A teenager was given 100 lashes after being accused of rape, the witness said.
Al-Shabab militia spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said the three men had admitted the charges against them.
Sheik Abdibasit Mohamed, an Islamic judge in northern Mogadishu, pronounced the sentences in front of a crowd of around 100 residents.
Four other men had their hands amputated in June after being accused of theft, one of several such incidents, and Amnesty International reported in October 2008 that a 13-year-old girl was publicly stoned to death by 50 militiamen after she had reported being gang-raped.
The Islamic courts were the birthplace of Somalia’s Islamist insurgency. Initially they enjoyed widespread support as judges handed down harsh sentences to control the crime and killing that had plagued the country since it dissolved into civil war in 1991.
But the amputations and stonings that have been carried out are not traditional punishments in Somalia.
Some Somalis have expressed fear that the courts may be influenced by stricter ideology as foreign fighters have flooded into the country to try to topple the weak U.N.-backed government. Its forces control only pockets of the capital and cannot even interfere with the public punishments carried out by courts linked to the insurgency.

Somalia: Briton, Kenyan held over pirate swap

(Medeshi)
Somalia: Briton, Kenyan held over pirate swap
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali authorities say they will charge a Briton and a Kenyan over an alleged deal to swap three hostages for 23 suspected pirates imprisoned in the Seychelles.
Ahmed Ali Salad, governor of Mudug region in the semiautonomous region of Puntland, said the two security consultants would be charged in the coming days.
The Briton and Kenyan were onboard planes that carried 23 suspected pirates to Somalia from the Seychelles. The planes then picked up three hostages from the Seychelles who had been held by pirates since February.
The Seychelles government has denied organizing a swap but Somali authorities have insisted it was an unauthorized deal. They detained the two planes late on Sunday and released them Wednesday morning.

Somaliland – When Software Projects Destroy Countries

(Medeshi)
Innovation in Software
Somaliland – When Software Projects Destroy Countries
Source: Wikipedia
Somaliland is an autonomous region that is probably very much like your pre-conceived notions. Its 3.5 million people have struggled through warfare (many suffer post-traumatic stress disorder), the economy is “in early stages of development” and it has suffered greatly to gain recognised independence.
Few people know of its existence, fewer still care about its future. But we should. The Horn of Africa has seen great misery and human suffering over recent decades, and whilst it is a country that has many faults including widespread corruption, it is at least a better attempt at democratic, peaceful governance than anywhere else nearby.
Alas, the entire country is now at risk, thanks to a technical “solution” to a problem that never really was.
The current edition of Private Eye has in its column “From Our Own Correspondent” a story from Hargeisa that should make all involved ashamed of themselves. Emphasis throughout is mine:
Somalialand is the only place in the Horn of Africa that is democratic, stable and tolerant. Yet because of misplaced fears of the mushrooming of micro-states, we remain unrecognised by the international community, 18 years after declaring our independence. As a result the world keeps us at arm’s length and has instead forced on us consultants so greedy and inept that the very peace we now enjoy is under threat.
Elections in an impoverished, nomadic society are never easy, but our record of closely contested polls compares pretty well with our neighbours [Somalia, Ethiopia, et al]. Our friends faraway nevertheless thought that what we really needed was a state of the art biometric finger printing and facial recognition system to compile a voter’s roll. But an operation of such complexity – not to mention the $10m funding – could not possibly be trusted to us natives.
[...]
Alas, this model [...] has somewhat underperformed. Presidential elections have been postponed four times now and are 18 months late, and now we have the prospect of civil war as our politicians cannot agree on a way forward.”
It’s a stable country that has a reasonable record on electoral fraud prevention. Who then thought that an advanced biometric system was what this country needed?
I’ve left out from the Private Eye piece the criticisms of how NGO Interpeace are (mis-?) handling this, how Britain and the US are washing their hands of it, and the details of who is blaming who, but the error was there at the start: they placed the country’s future in a technology system that wasn’t needed. No doubt it was profitable for somebody.
This is a country with a GDP per head of $226 – the vast majority of the population are living on less than $1 per day. $10 million could have helped address woeful statistics such as only 25% of Somaliland adults are literate, and just 17% of children go to school. The funding could have even helped the 72% of the population without access to clean water get some new wells.
But it gets worse.
The nomadic culture that dominates Somaliland (any two citizens can work out how they are related by sharing their names and clans), is culturally sensitive to finger-printing. That of course makes a biometric database a fatally flawed model. The problem they are attempting to address – that people from neighbouring countries could vote – has been “solved” with a system that introduces new problems, that means not even all of those entitled to vote want to necessarily register.
To cap it all off, the people who went about delivering the system didn’t just do a bad job at implementation, but a thoroughly awful one. According to some sources on the ground:
The current voter list is neither accurate nor can it form the basis of a fair and transparent election. The only alternative is to go ahead with the election without voter lists.Interpeace stated in a controversial and a very contradictory press release dated July 25, 2009:
“The Voter Registration system was seriously abused during its implementation, with widespread corruption and systematic fraud, resulting in the failure to record the fingerprints of more than half of all registrants. In other cases, over 150 registrations were made with a single fingerprint at the same registration centre, or through photographs instead of in person.”
Say what? There are voters walking around with 150 polling cards, and others who got registered without ever actually turning up? That sounds like the kind of thing the project was meant to protect against. But the systems can spot all that and deal with duplicate registrations, right? Well, according to another source close to the action:
IT Professionals advised the hardware of the server should be upgraded and software to be reexamined to be fit to handle database of 4 million voters in Somaliland. The testing phase must include plan for next 20 years according to population growth rate.
They called for upgrade of both hardware and Software including the operation system, which should have latest security and performance tuning patches. The hardware upgrade should include Hard Disk, RAM and the Processor. They highlighted that majority of the data captured in the server are not in text [but in] binary format like picture and fingerprint, which needs massive storage area. RAM and Processor helps the server to boot and run quickly particularly during filtering the duplicates. [sic throughout]
Failures then, include:
The whole project has several fatally flawed assumptions under-pinning core choices
The money could have been put to more effective use elsewhere
The software was designed incorrectly and therefore its output is unreliable and can’t be trusted
The server infrastructure is under-equipped and under-managed so now they need to add more storage, more memory and increase processing power (and by the sounds of it, whack on a few service pack upgrades).
These are all failures we see in IT projects on a regular basis. If this were a new ERM or accounts platform we’d sit around the board room table, gravely shake our heads, talk about “lessons learned”, and put it all down as a bad job. We’d move on, avoiding the compulsion to try and “fix it” due to our own notions of “sunk cost”. This is in essence, like thousands of IT projects that have happened over the last few decades.
Except in this case, the consequences are more serious: the country now faces civil war.
As you go about your daily work rolling out technology to your clients and customers, you may not think that your potential failure to deliver will result in human fatality. However it will have consequences.
Iit’s important we think carefully as our industry takes a greater hold on the workings of civilisation and shapes ever more its potential, about what our lust for automation and control can do to lives if we fail to live up to expectations. Somaliland is an extreme – but sobering – example.
As an early supporter of NO2ID and long-term member of Liberty, Amnesty International, and others, I have heard enough stories about technology tampering with elections that even as an advocate of the power of software to improve society, I am perfectly happy that my native democracy requires nothing more than pieces of paper and some pencils to conduct an election. I sincerely hope that somebody decides it’s good enough for Somaliland too, before it’s too late.
The Vague War

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ICG: Ethiopia risks pre-election violence in 2010


(Medeshi)
ICG: Ethiopia risks pre-election violence in 2010
Mon Sep 7, 2009
* Think tank says dissent, ethnic tension, rising
* Says "ethnic federalism" has increased competition
By Barry Malone
ADDIS ABABA, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Ethiopia could suffer ethnic violence next year ahead of its first national elections since a 2005 poll triggered street clashes following a disputed victory for the government, a think tank has said.
In a study released over the weekend, the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned of the potential for a violent eruption of conflict ahead of the election scheduled for May 2010 because of rising ethnic tensions and dissent.
"The international community must stop ignoring and downplaying these problems and encourage meaningful democratic governance in the country," the ICG said in a statement.
Ethiopian government officials were not immediately available to comment.
The 2005 elections were touted as Ethiopia's first truly democratic poll. But they ended in bloodshed after the government declared victory and the opposition cried foul.
Police and soldiers then killed about 200 people who had taken to the streets in protest. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused the demonstrators of trying to topple the government.
Rights groups regularly accuse his administration of cracking down on opponents. One party leader has been jailed and several former and serving military officers have been charged in recent months with plotting to oust Meles.
The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is made up of parties from all major ethnic groups.
It introduced a system of "ethnic federalism" when it took power in 1991, after a communist regime was toppled, with major ethnicities controlling the regions where they dominate.
The government says that gives all ethnicities equal power.
"Ethnic federalism has not dampened conflict, but rather increased competition among groups fighting for land, natural resources, administrative boundaries and government budgets," said Francois Grignon, director of the ICG's Africa Program.
"This concept has powerfully promoted ethnic self-awareness among all groups and failed to accommodate grievances."
The ICG called on donors who give money to sub-Saharan Africa's second most populous country -- which is one of the world's biggest recipients of foreign aid -- to put pressure on Meles' government. (Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Somaliland MPs scuffle over impeachment motion


(Medeshi)
Somaliland MPs scuffle over impeachment motion
Tue Sep 8, 2009
By Husein Ali Noor
HARGEISA (Reuters) - Politicians traded blows in Somaliland's parliament on Tuesday after officials agreed to debate a motion to impeach the president of the breakaway enclave over election delays.
Two members of parliament started fighting, then the mayhem spread to other parts of the floor and one lawmaker pulled a pistol before police burst in and ordered the rowdy politicians out of the chamber, eyewitnesses said.
Lawmakers have immunity and are not searched on their way into the building. The pistol was quickly grabbed by other legislators and not fired.
Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with other parts of Somalia since the Horn of Africa nation plunged into anarchy in 1991. But persistent delays to presidential elections have worried rights groups and angered opposition politicians.
A poll set for July was put back to September 27. But the electoral commission postponed the election again this week due to worries about whether a vote could be held in the current political climate amid disputes over new electoral lists.
The motion to impeach President Dahir Riyale Kahin was presented on Saturday and the legal advisor to the lower house told lawmakers on Tuesday the move was legal -- sparking an angry response from ruling party politicians.
Somaliland is governed by an opposition-led house of representatives elected by the people and an upper house made up of clan elders. The House of Elders has twice extended President Kahin's mandate and it is now due to expire on October 29.
The polls are seen as a test for the former British protectorate, which has been clamouring for international recognition since declaring independence after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.
Human Rights Watch said in July that all the gains made by Somaliland to build stability and democracy risked being lost if the government continued to undermine the law.
It said then that if the September 27 elections were delayed it could prove disastrous for democratic rule in Somaliland.
The government has called the report, "Hostages to Peace", an unfair slur and said this week it was not afraid of the impeachment motion, nor of holding an election.
"We know that the election is near and that the impeachment motion is aimed to obstruct elections, destroy the country and encourage Somaliland's enemies," Finance Minister Husein Ali Duale, a close ally of the president, said on Monday.
The chairman of the house said the lawmaker who took out his pistol would be disciplined and parliamentarians would resume their duties on Saturday.

UK Airline bomb plot: three guilty

(Medeshi)
UK Airline bomb plot: three guilty
Updated on 07 September 2009
By Channel 4 News
Three men - Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussein - are found guilty of conspiracy to murder by blowing up planes in 2006.
But the jury at Woolwich crown court found Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan, and Waheed Zaman not guilty of the airliner plot. The jury failed to reach a verdict on Umar Islam.
Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussein were today found guilty of conspiring to murder thousands in an unprecedented airline bomb plot.
Read More from Channel 4 News






Pirate-plagued Somalia trains 500 navy recruits

(Medeshi)
Pirate-plagued Somalia trains 500 navy recruits
By MOHAMED SHEIKH NOR (AP)
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Pirate-plagued Somalia took a step toward policing its own shores with the graduation of its first 500 naval recruits Tuesday. Officials hope the men will form the backbone of the country's first naval force for nearly two decades, but said they need international funding to make it a viable force.
Somalia currently relies on international warships to police its lawless shores, where the U.N.-backed government is fighting Islamist insurgents and clan-based militias fight each other. The chaos provides a perfect refuge for pirates who prey on vessels passing between Asia and Europe — one of the world's busiest trade routes.
Japan, America, Germany, China, Canada and other nations have sent warships to the Gulf of Aden but there are not enough of them to cover the danger zone. The pirates have expanded their operations hundreds of miles offshore in the Indian Ocean. Last year pirates captured over 100 ships and attacks have increased this year. Foreign navies are reluctant to tackle the pirates on land for fear of getting sucked into the bloodbath of Somalia's 18-year-old civil war.
Somalia's new naval commander, Admiral Farah Ahmed, said the new batch of recruits who graduated Tuesday are the first tranche of a new force responsible for tackling piracy. Each man will receive $175 a month and the force will be armed with tanks, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. He said the navy will set up bases in the ports of Bosasso, Berbera and Kismayo, and its headquarters in the capital of Mogadishu. The scheme is currently funded by the Somali government but Ahmed says members of the international community have also pledged funds.
The new force faces several challenges. The port of Berbera is in Somaliland, a relatively peaceful area in the north that has declared its independence from the government in the chaotic south. The impoverished areas around Bosasso are pirate havens, where the influx of money from the gunmen has made them wildly popular. Kismayo in the south is in the hands of Islamist insurgents who have vowed to topple the U.N.-backed administration and there is daily fighting in the capital of Mogadishu.
The force also has only a dozen boats so far — pirate gangs have used more in a single attack. And although donors all agree on the need for a Somali coast guard, they have so far been reluctant to release funding for more recruits and equipment after a previous scheme to train Somali police was dogged by widespread corruption and desertion.
Many private military companies have expressed an interest in training the new Somali navy but European naval officials have expressed fears that new recruits might simply end up as better trained pirates.
But Ahmed is optimistic.
"We are hopeful that in future we will get warships so we can chase the pirates out of our coast," he said, adding he eventually hoped to have 5,000 sailors under his command.

Somaliland parliament fight

(Medeshi
Somaliland parliament fight
Somaliland politicians began punching each other in parliament after officials announced a motion to impeach the president could be debated.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
A BBC reporter in parliament says some MPs began muttering, then shouting and it quickly descended into a fist-fight as the politicians exchanged punches.
Eyewitnesses said one MP drew a gun, but no shots were fired.
Analysts say relations between the political parties have been acrimonious since the delay of presidential polls.
Opposition provoked
The BBC's Ahmed Said Egeh in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, says police had to enter the chamber on Tuesday morning to restore order.
The election was supposed to be held on 27 September but it was postponed because of a new voters' registration list - the first one to be compiled since Somaliland was formed in 1991.
There were complaints about irregularities in its composition, so the vote was delayed by the electoral authorities.
However, Somaliland's two opposition parties are adamant that the election should go ahead using the list.
President Dahir Riyale Kahin's government has suggested the vote go ahead at a later date without a voters' registration list - which has provoked the opposition to start impeach proceedings.
Somaliland, which is not recognised internationally, has formed its own hybrid system of governance consisting of a lower house of elected representatives, and an upper house which incorporated the elders of tribal clans.
Source: BBC, Sept 08, 2009

United States of East Africa


(Medeshi)
An East African Federation
Big ambitions, big question-marks
Sep 3rd 2009 LAMU
From The Economist print edition
The idea of a United States of East Africa is less far-fetched than it was
WHAT exactly is “East Africa” these days? Certainly, the parts of old British East Africa—Uganda, Tanzania (first a German colony) and Kenya. They have trodden very different paths since colonial days. Uganda has had coups, turmoil under Milton Obote, bloody convulsions under Idi Amin, and long spells of civil strife. Under Julius Nyerere, an incompetent or saintly authoritarian (depending on who you ask), Tanzania strove for a socialist ideal that kept its people plodding and poor but united and peaceful. Kenya was more dynamic and worldly, but more violent and corrupt. It may now be the least stable of the trio.
In 1967 these three founded the East African Community (EAC) with a view to federation. Little progress was made; the EAC collapsed in 1977, to general rejoicing among Kenyans, who reckoned they were carrying the other two. In 1999, however, the project was revived. In 2007 it even expanded to include Burundi and Rwanda. Many still doubt whether a European Union-style federation can ever be achieved in the region, despite the EAC’s promise to create a single currency by 2015 and to make a customs union work. But recent developments have made further integration more likely.
Tanzania has usually been the one to put the brakes on the EAC, fearing it will be overrun with land speculators and better-educated Kenyans and Ugandans. But Tanzania’s president, Jakaya Kikwete, now says his people should stop moaning and prepare for a common market. The head of Tanzania’s tiny stock exchange reckons there could be a single east African version in a few years. Work is already under way to create a common trading system.
If Tanzania has lagged behind, Uganda has usually encouraged the federal idea, not least because its president, Yoweri Museveni, has long nurtured a wish to end his career as the EAC’s first president.
Paul Kagame, president of tiny, landlocked Rwanda, is also keen to press ahead. His recent rapprochement with Congo, Rwanda’s vast, ramshackle neighbour to the west, was made in the hope of increasing trade via the fledgling EAC’s market. He is now intent on adding value to Congolese raw materials and shipping them to the world market through the EAC, too.
Congo’s government seems willing. China, by some counts the biggest investor in the region, plainly wants Congo’s timber, iron ore and other minerals shipped across the Indian Ocean via the EAC.
For that and other reasons, Kenya, for its part, wants to build a new deep-sea port near the island of Lamu, close to the border with Somalia. Kenyan officials have so far brushed aside concerns for the mangrove swamps and nearby marine sanctuary. They say the port, refinery and new city will be built on the mainland to preserve Lamu’s heritage and tourist industry. The hope is for roads and railways to Mogadishu, Addis Ababa and Kigali and a pipeline bringing in Ugandan and south Sudanese oil. Funds would flow in from Kuwait and other Arab investors. This would link up east Africa as never before, and a single currency and a customs union would then make much more sense.
And why should an East African federation stop with the club’s existing member countries? If defined by the area in which the lingua franca of the Swahili language is used, the range of lorries heading out of the Kenyan port of Mombasa, and the magnet of Nairobi as a hub, east Africa spreads into Ethiopia and includes a chunk of Somalia, a swathe of east Congo, a strip of northern Mozambique and all of southern Sudan, which could become an independent country in 2011, if its people vote in a promised referendum to secede.
The EAC already has 126m people. If it expands, it could add as many as 120m more to that number, making it more than twice as populous as Africa’s 28 smallest countries combined—enough, its backers argue, to make a bigger EAC very attractive to foreign investors. The EAC says it would negotiate better deals with the rich world than individual African countries can.
Local businessmen are still sceptical. They argue that the EAC’s dream of federation could be botched by a trade row, tribal violence or strangled at birth with red tape by venal politicians and bureaucrats. So the mood is mixed. Could east Africa take off as a regional trading bloc? Or will the idea disappointingly fizzle once again? An early test of the EAC’s earnestness will be to see if it can get its member countries jointly to look after Lake Victoria, a common resource that scientists say has been overfished and poisoned by the sewage running off its overpopulated shores.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Somalia, neighboring Seychelles clash over pirates

(Medeshi)
Somalia, neighboring Seychelles clash over pirates
Sep 7, 2009
By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, AP
MOGADISHU, Somalia (Map, News) -
A dispute erupted between authorities in Somalia and the Seychelles Monday after the island nation released 23 suspected Somali pirates in what appeared to be a trade for hostages from the Seychelles.
Authorities in the Seychelles denied that they had agreed to swap the captured pirates for the three freed hostages.
Somali officials nonetheless stopped the former hostages from returning to the Seychelles Monday, saying Somalia had been deceived by Seychelles authorities.
The 23 prisoners had been captured by international warships and held on piracy charges in the Seychelles, which sits southeast of Somalia's coastline.
The Seychelles government said it was releasing the 23 suspects because it lacked evidence needed to prosecute them.
Ahmed Elmi Karash, the aviation minister in Somalia's semiautonomous northern region of Puntland, said the 23 suspects disembarked from two planes late Sunday and the three former hostages boarded. The planes were detained by Somali officials while refueling. The planes' seven crew members also were held.
The governor of Somalia's Mudug region, Ahmed Ali Salad, said the planes' crews misinformed Somali authorities, claiming they were carrying humanitarian supplies.
The Seychelles authorities said the simultaneous repatriation of their three citizens - held hostage since their yacht Serenity was seized in February - was simply a cost-effective way to use the planes and did not imply a swap. The hostages' yacht sank in poor weather after their capture.
"The release of the Seychellois hostages is not related to the repatriation of the 23 Somali men this weekend," said Minister Joel Morgan, who leads Seychelles government efforts on piracy. "An exchange of Seychellois and Somalis did not take place."
He added that no ransom was paid.
It is almost unheard-of for pirates to release sailors without a cash payment.
Morgan said the two governments were in contact and the situation would soon be resolved.
Pirates captured more than 100 ships last year and attacks off Somalia are expected to increase dramatically in coming months as the monsoon season ends.
Warships from Japan, America, Germany, Portugal and other nations are patrolling the water off Somalia to combat piracy. When the warships capture suspected pirates, the prisoners are often delivered to nearby Kenya or the Seychelles for trial.Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Somaliland postpones elections again

(Medeshi)
Somaliland postpones elections again
Monday, September 07, 2009
Dahir Riyale Kahin has been in power since May 2002
HARGEYSA (AFP) - The electoral commission in Somalia's northwestern breakaway state of Somaliland announced Monday that a presidential election due at the end of the month had been indefinitely postponed.
The commission said the election would not be held as scheduled on September 27 and that a new date would be decided at a later stage.
"Considering the political situation in the region and the need for a broader solution, we have decided to delay the election date," the statement said.
After much bickering, the incumbent regime of President Dahir Riyale Kahin and the two main opposition parties agreed the polls should be delayed following a mediation by the council of elders.
The election has already been delayed twice, notably over a disagreement concerning the territory's voters' register.
In July, Riyale and the electoral commission decided to discard a biometric register that had taken two years to set up, prompting fierce protests and threats of boycott from the two main opposition groups.
"It will not be possible for the elections to be held at this point when the political parties in the country are still failing to reach an agreement," the commission's statement explained.
Riyale, who was born in 1952 and has been in power since May 2002, is seeking re-election but faces a stiff challenge from Faisal Ali Warabe, of the Justice and Welfare Party, and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, of the Development and Solidarity Party.
A former British protectorate, Somaliland united with Italian Somalia in 1960. It unilaterally broke away and announced independence 10 months after Somali strongman Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.
Somaliland, which has been more stable and economically viable than central and southern Somalia in recent years, is seeking international recognition as an independent state.
Source: AFP, Sept 07, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Eritreans and Ethiopians Nabbed in Costa Rica Seek New Life

(Medeshi)
African Migrants Nabbed in Costa Rica Seek New Life
By Nuria Segura
SAN JOSE – A total of 41 African immigrants, some of them professionals, who risked their lives crossing the Atlantic in search of a better life, found themselves detained in Costa Rica on Friday waiting to be accepted as refugees so they can get a fresh start.
This is a phenomenon repeated more and more often in countries like Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which the authorities of those countries attribute to people-trafficking rings that promise to take undocumented migrants to the United States or Canada, only to leave them stranded on these tropical coasts.
Costa Rican authorities believe that these 41 Africans were brought here by traffickers to whom some paid as much as $7,500, while defenders of human rights recall that they come from areas shattered by wars and conflicts.
The Ethiopian “D.G.” arrived on June 25 in Costa Rica on a boat from Venezuela, he told Efe. He and three other Africans came ashore in the Caribbean province of Limon, at the end of a week when authorities found 28 other Africans stranded in different parts of the country.
“The crossing lasted about eight days of constant sailing, without food through choppy seas with giant swells. We crashed, the boat’s motor failed and we were adrift for days,” the Ethiopian said, adding that he thought they were going to “lose their lives.”
The 41 Africans are sharing small cells with other illegal immigrants at a detention center in San Jose.
Nine of them were deported from Nicaragua, since the procedure used by authorities in the region is to send illegals back to the last country they came from, so that repatriation of Africans is not unusual from Panama to Colombia, or from the latter country to Venezuela, for example.
Now the 23 Eritreans, 9 Ethiopians, 8 Somalis and 1 Guinean are hoping to be given refugee status that will allow them to live legally in Costa Rica.
The director of the detention facility, Julio Aragon, told Efe that all the immigrants were undocumented, “which gives the idea that they were victims of a people-smuggling ring, because in such cases the criminals destroy the victims’ documents to control them.”
The official also speculated that the ring could be based on the Honduran coast.
“That would explain why they haven’t been able to reach their destination, because of the current political situation in Honduras (scene of a recent coup d’etat), and they see a chance to stay here and live in Central America,” Aragon said.
The director said that in most cases immigrants flee their own countries because of war or because “they persecute them for their religion, beliefs or force them to join the army.”
The Ethiopian said that on April 30 he left his native land on a bus to Kenya because he supported a political party in opposition to the government.
From Kenya he went to Sudan, from there to Spain to fly to Caracas, where he went down to Venezuela’s Caribbean shore to find a boat to Costa Rica.
“Though there are cultural and language barriers, I hope to find my kind of work in Costa Rica – I graduated in company management,” the young man said, adding that he didn’t mind “starting from scratch.”
Claire Lecaudey, area director for the ACAI consultancy, which works for the U.N. Refugee Agency, told Efe that it is important that these people be given refugee status “because they all come from countries in conflict and deporting them would be the worst thing for them.”
She said that they are in detention because they entered the country illegally, but that they will be released “when their status is normalized.”
That could take a maximum of three months, during which time the migration authorities must determine if they are to be granted refugee status. EFE