Somali Warlord Steps up Attack on New President
Somali warlord Hussein Mohamed Aidid on Sunday accused President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan of violating both an agreement and an arms embargo and said his faction and political allies will not deal with the new government.
"Salat violated the letter of understanding between me and him in Libya last month, when he pledged to speak to faction and political leaders in Mogadishu before claiming the country's presidency and declaring the so-called government and announcing cabinet members," Aidid told AFP by telephone.
Aidid accused Salat, who last month became the Horn of Africa country's first head of state in almost a decade, of violating a UN arms embargo and importing weapons to fight his rivals inside Somalia.
"Every faction in Mogadishu is well armed and has the right to protect its fiefdom from new warlord (Salat), but more weapons are due to arrive in Mogadishu on Sunday to fuel further hostilities," Aidid said.
Government spokesman Idris Hassan Dirye confirmed Sunday the arrival of weapons and military uniforms from Yemen, but said they will be "used for the new police force in the Somali capital and not to fight against any faction."
Salat was appointed president by a transitional parliament in neighboring Djibouti after a peace conference initiated and hosted by President Ismail Omar Guelleh.
He later nominated Ali Khalif Galaydh as his prime minister. Galaydh on Friday appointed a cabinet amid renewed opposition from clan faction leaders.
Most armed Somali factions in Mogadishu, with the central southern Somali Bay and Bakol regional strongman Hassan Mohamed Nur Shatigudud, have rejected the conference and its outcome outright.
Salat, who has declared that "the day of the warlords was over," depends for security on rag-tag freelance militias and notorious battle-wagons of the kind used by warring clan militias until his police force is inaugurated.
Somali militias easily change allegiance from one group to another for opportunistic or clan reasons.
Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, another warlord who also has considerable military strength in Mogadishu, said on Saturday that Salat had no mandate to send any of his supporters to his territory to avoid renewed bloodshed.
"The Djibouti government-appointed administration would ignite renewed violence in Somalia. If Salat's men attempt to disarm anybody in areas under my control, then they would face the consequence," Qanyare warned.
Mogadishu, which has been divided since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991, is currently controlled by opposing warlords backed by armed militia capable of disrupting plans to unify it.
The city's main sea and airport has been closed since 1995 and at the mercy of artillery fire from rival warlords.
Salat's administration enjoys support from the outside world, but leaders of the breakaway Republic of Somaliland in the north, and the neighboring autonomous state of Puntland, accounting for more than half of the country's territory, have also strongly rejected the Djibouti initiated peace process and its outcome.
The leaders of Somaliland and Puntland do not have international recognition – MOGADISHU (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)