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Somali ministers thrown out of hotels


The acting prime minister in Somalia's interim government on Sunday ordered ministers and members of parliament accommodated in hotels here to vacate and look for cheaper homes.

"Ministers, MPs and other delegates who are in hotels should vacate their hotels and seek houses as the government is ready to give them reasonable accommodation allowances," said Osman Jama Ali, the acting prime minister in the Transitional National Government (TNG).

He warned hoteliers that the government would no longer pay the bills of officials who continued staying in hotels. More than 300 government officials have lived in hotels in Mogadishu at an average cost of $25 a day since the formation of the TNG last August.

Formed at a conference in Djibouti of Somali politicians, exiled parliamentarians and civic leaders, the TNG is opposed by almost all of the warlords and controls little more than a part of the capital. Government officials can only stay in the part of Mogadishu under TNG control and would be risking their lives if they ventured into sections of the city under the control of warlords hostile to the government.

Hotels accommodating government officials and their entourage are heavily guarded. "The TNG will provide adequate security for the officials after they vacate the hotels," said Ali.

Some critics of the TNG have dubbed it "government of hotels". Abdullahi Yousuf Afrah, the manager of Hotel Ramadan which has been hosting some of the senior officials, told AFP that he had asked them to leave or start paying their own bills.

The TNG became the first central government in the Horn of Africa nation after a decade of clashes among rival warlords following the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in January 1991.


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