Tuesday, November 11, 2008


More than 100 Somali MPs claim they are stranded in Nairobi because the organisers of a recent regional conference failed to pay for their travel back to the war-torn country.

Their continued presence in Kenya makes it likely that crucial deadlines set at the conference will not be met.

Some of the MPs interviewed told the Nation on Monday that when they travelled to Nairobi at the end of October for a meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), they were assured that the seven-member regional body would cover their transportation and hotel costs.

Two weeks later, they are still staying at various hotels waiting for money to settle their bills.

“We were brought here by Igad, and they are supposed to return us,” said Awad Ahmed Ashareh, an MP in Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

“Igad did not respect us, so we must pay out of our pocket,” said Musa Wahgarad, another MP. “They left us here on our own.”

“It is every man for himself,” complained Sharif Safi, an MP who even had to pay his own hospital bill at Kenyatta National Hospital after becoming ill.

But a spokesperson for the Igad secretariat in Djibouti said they were not responsible for paying the Somali MPs.

“That is absolutely not true,” she said, adding that “they just feel like staying longer in Nairobi.”

Calls to Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which also helped organise the Igad summit, were not returned.

At the summit, which took place at Kenyatta International Conference Centre on October 28 and 29, top regional leaders scolded the Somali government for failing to achieve important reforms, like drafting a new constitution and passing electoral and administrative laws.

In a communiqué signed by presidents Kibaki, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Ismael Omar Guelleh (Djibouti), the politicians were given 15 days to appoint a new Cabinet and establish a new administration for the Banadir region, which includes Mogadishu.

Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi and Sudanese vice-president Salva Kiir also signed the timetable.

If the conditions are not met, they all warned, “it will not be business as usual”.

The 15-day deadline will expire on Thursday. MP Osman Adam Dubow estimated that up to 200 of his colleagues are still in town.

A group of MPs met on Monday at the Laico Regency Hotel with the speaker of the Somali parliament, Adan Sheik Mohamed Nur.

According to sources, the speaker pledged to discuss the matter with the Somali foreign affairs ministry.