Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Somali warlords threaten to shoot down planes

Warlords in control of the lawless Somali capital threatened on Friday to shoot down planes that obey a new directive from the war-shattered nation's transitional government not to use airports they run.
Mogadishu warlord Musa Sudi Yalahow, who serves as trade minister in the splintered administration, said the bar on flights into the airstrips was an illegal attempt by embattled President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed to undermine his foes."This is aimed at undermining Mogadishu," he said.
"Any plane which diverts its flight because of this announcement will be punished. Our anti-aircraft weapons will not be silent and any plane that undermines it will be downed.""This is not to attack anybody, but is aimed at protecting the value of the Somali capital and to protect the interests of the people," said Yalahow, who added he spoke on behalf of other Mogadishu-based warlords opposed to Yusuf.
He did not explain how they would shoot down aircraft that avoided the territory they controlled.The threat came after Yusuf's faction of the government -- which is based in Jowhar, about 90km north of the capital, for security reasons -- announced it would no longer allow flights into two warlord-controlled airports.The ban affects Mogadishu's Daynile airport on the outskirts of the capital and the El-Ahmed airport in Merka about 100km south and takes effect on November 1, officials said.The transport ministry, under control of Yusuf's allies, said it had taken the move as part of efforts to boost the penniless government's near-non-existent tax base, as revenue from the airstrips in question currently goes to warlords.
"The ministry of transport has ordered flights not to land at the Daynile and El-Ahmed airports," it said in a statement released in Jowhar and sent to authorities in neighbouring countries."Instead, flights will be diverted to other airstrips at which the government is able to collect tax," it said.An official in Jowhar said the notice had been sent to civil aviation authorities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen and United Arab Emirates from where most flights into Daynile and El-Ahmed depart.The official said the five other nations had agreed to enforce the ban as part of a broader package of measures aimed at strengthening the fledgling government.
Somalia has been without a functioning central administration since the 1991 ousting of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre.Yusuf's government is the latest in more than a dozen attempts to restore stability to the nation, but a dispute over the seat of the administration has left it virtually powerless.
Source: Mail & Guardian Online


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