April 16, 2011 ·14 Comments
MOGADISHU — Three people were killed and a further five injured in Mogadishu on Friday after a pro-U.N. demonstration turned violent between government forces.
Eyewitnesses in the city said gunmen loyal to Somalia’s embattled interim-President opened fire on crowds of people marching through Bondhere District in Mogadishu. Several hundred protesters rallied in front of some government controlled buildings in support of a recent U.N.-backed meeting held in Nairobi. They chanted slogans supporting the outcome of the consultative meeting hosted by Augustine Mahiga, the U.N. envoy on Somalia.
They were stopped and ordered to return to their homes by TFG troops but another faction of the disorganized and disloyal Somali forces travelling with the crowds disobeyed. Shortly after a heated encounter, the two sides began exchanging gunfire, this left one soldier and two civilians dead and five seriously wounded. Panic set in and protesters fled the scene.
Sources in the war ravaged Somali capital say the demonstration was organized by Sharif Hassan S. Aden, the speaker of the interim-parliament. Mr Aden and the interim President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed are deadlocked in a dispute over several key issues including Tuesday’s U.N.-backed meeting and a recent parliament term extension for three years.
Sheikh Sharif urged all Somali leaders to boycott the consultative conference while he says the term extension by the Somali parliament was illegal. Strangely enough, in late March the interim president extended the government’s transition period scheduled to expire on August this year for another year. He argues his fragile government needs one more year to flush out the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab rebels and prepare the country for an election. This did not go unnoticed by the international community whose funding is the lifeblood of the government.
The Somali leader believes that a number of factions are trying to oust him from office including Mr Aden, Mohamed Habeb, a powerful warlord in Mogadishu, Abdirahman Farole, Puntland leader, members of Ahlu Sunna and Dr Mahiga.
Ahlu Sunna, a paramilitary Sufi group said after Tuesday’s meeting in the Kenyan capital that they would be happy to replace the interim president with one of their own. While the Puntland leader is ready to use $8 million he made from piracy ransoms for his election. Mohamed Habeb, who was released from a prison cell not long ago over the killings of civilians, threw his weight behind the Nairobi event.
In an effort to strengthen his weak government, the Somali leader embarked on a diplomatic tour that took him around East Africa to seek support from regional neighbours. He first flew to Uganda and Burundi, the two countries providing him with a force of 9,000 to secure important institutions. On Thursday he was off to Addis Ababa, where Prime Minister Meles pledged full support including military if needed. Sheikh Sharif said the meeting with the Ethiopian leader was fruitful. Hours later, he flew to the Tanzanian capital, where he met with President Kikwete. Unspecified bilateral issues were discussed.
Mr Ahmed said on Tuesday the UN was trying to force him out and requested that the factional groups withdrew from the event. Furthermore, he argued the meeting should be held in Somali soil. So far he has the support of some of the tribal leaders of Southern Somalia’s most prominent clans.
Analysts believe Sheikh Sharif will receive military support from Ethiopia, Burundi and Uganda should any of the groups tried to remove him by force. The Ahlu Sunna group is also expected to split into two, pro-Ahmed camp and pro-Aden. The group has already isolated some of the Somali tribes in central Somalia, with reports there are already clashes between Ahlu sunna fighters and tribal militants in the town of Balanbal in Galgadud. Two weeks ago, more than 150 fighters defected from the Sufi group and joined the rival Shabelle Valley administration.
Various regional analysts have repeatedly questioned the stance and motives of the UN with regard to Somalia. Far from stabilising the situation there are suspicions that their is an “instability agenda”.
The deadly protest comes hours after the Banadir District administration prohibited any demonstration and political gatherings in hotels and public places in Mogadishu. The interim Parliament speaker is believed to have invested $50,000 on the event and was executed by Mohamed Habeb.
(Report by Hassan Jama, editing Mark T. Jones)
Somalilandpress | 16 April 2011Follow @somalilandpress