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IRIN Update

SOMALIA: Faction leader on Libyan agreement

Faction leader Husayn Haji Bod called a press conference in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday to qualify reports that he had signed an agreement with the new Somali interim president in Libya.

He said what had been agreed to "was not new", the 'Qaran' newspaper said. He told local journalists that the agreement that was signed in the presence of the Libyan leader was "merely an affirmation of what our delegation promised the Yemen president" which was to resolve Somalia's problems through talks.

Husayn Bod was part of the delegation of faction leaders led by Husayn Aydid who met interim president Abdiqasim Salad Hasan in Libyan brokered talks.

During the press conference, Bod said he thought the new president would not set up a government before holding talks with faction leaders.

Mogadishu faction leaders who oppose the new government nevertheless still see senior government positions, like the prime ministership and cabinet posts, as bargaining cards, diplomatic sources told IRIN.

SOMALIA: Demobilisation fails to hit target

The new Somali National Security Committee said demobilised militiamen would officially begin working in various parts of Benadir region, Mogadishu, early next month, local newspaper 'Xog-Ogaal' said on Tuesday.

The security committee told local journalists that 1,300 militiamen had been demobilised and 100 'technicals' - jeeps mounted with heavy machine guns - had been "recovered". According to the committee, this is less than half the number targeted, which is 4,000 militia and at least 150 'technicals'. Demobilisation would continue until the required number was recruited, said the committee.

Meanwhile, fighting broke out between two militia groups around Eel-Macaan port in north Mogadishu on Tuesday. The fighting reportedly erupted after militia managing the port refused to pay former militia guards their dues, 'Xog- Ogaal' said. According to local newspapers, the fighting included many different types of weapons and resulted in one person killed and another wounded before it died down.

SOMALIA: New government wants Arab assistance

Speaker of the newly constituted Transitional National Assembly Abdullahi Deerow Isaq has called on Arab states to provide urgent assistance to the new government. In an interview for Shariqah radio, United Arab Emerates, Deerow said that after years of suffering "Somalis expect nothing short of a large amount of aid from Arab states", the Somali newspaper 'Ayaamaha' said on Wednesday.

He said Somalia was an "Arab and Islamic country" and that it was "incumbent" on Arab states to help. During the ten years of civil war, Somalis have expressed frustration that Arab states did not give more support.

In an interview with IRIN in August, chairman of the Islamic courts Hassan Sheik Mohamed Abdi said Arab countries "never did enough for Somalia" and that there was a "misunderstanding" among the Arab countries about how to solve the Somali problem.

New Interim President Abdiqasim Salad Hasan visited Saudi Arabia and Libya after his election, pointing to an eagerness to forge links with Arab countries.

SOMALIA: Government reshuffle affected

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, leader of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, has resuffled his cabinet and reorganised some of his government posts.

New appointments include a minister of international relations and planning from Sanaag, as well as the removal of a former cabinet minister from Sanaag.

The pro-Somaliland administration newspaper 'Mandeeq' reported earlier this week that the reshuffle affected three ministers and was designed to improve relations with neighbouring Somaliland, which counts Sool and Sanaag within its borders of a self-declared independent state. But political and humanitarian sources told IRIN that the reorganisation by Abdullahi Yusuf only affected one minister from Sanaag and had nothing to do with "appeasing the Somaliland government on the Sool and Sanaag issue".

SOMALIA: Asylum seekers denounce detention centres

Three Somali asylum seekers have asked Australian immigration authorities to send them home in preference to staying in immigration detention camps.

The Somalis told the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs that they were afraid for their mental and physical well-being to stay in the Australian camps, which they described in a letter as a "terrifying, traumatising, prison- like environment", news agencies reported.

Church and human rights organisations have criticised Australia's policy of detaining all illegal asylum seekers while their cases are considered.

The request by the Somali refugees is the latest in a series of complaints about the detention centres, which can house refugees and asylum seekers for years at a time, often in remote locations, while their case are slowly processed, reported Reuters.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock defended the camps and told Reuters that the conditions were adequate. He said the government was prepared to take up the Somalis on their request to go home, but questioned the motives of the request: "There is some doubt whether their offer to return home has been made in good faith... if they do wish to return home, that will be facilitated", Reuters reported.


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