More Somali arms ban violations seen 

Published: Sunday, 16 October, 2005, 12:25 PM Doha Time

MOGADISHU: Less than a day after the UN Security Council condemned huge violations of a 13-year-old arms embargo on Somalia, Somali witnesses yesterday made fresh allegations of illicit weapons entering the lawless country.

Residents of villages around the town of Jowhar, the disputed seat of the Horn of Africa’s transitional government 90km north of Mogadishu, reported seeing truckloads of weaponry arrive there from neighbouring Ethiopia.

“Two heavy-duty trucks full of assorted weapons arrived in Jowhar early today,” said Mukhtar Ali, who lives in nearby Mahaday village, adding that the drivers had told residents they had come from the Ethiopian town of Gode.

“We know the drivers of the trucks and where they came from,” he said. “The weapons arrived from Gode.”

Other residents said the weapons belonged to Somalia’s embattled transitional president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed who has based himself in Jowhar over the objections of Mogadishu-based warlords who insist the government should be in the capital.

Officials in Yusuf’s camp could not immediately be reached to comment on the witness accounts but have in the past spoken openly about their efforts to recruit and arm security forces to help restore stability in the anarchic country.

They have also in the past unsuccessfully sought to have the arms embargo lifted to allow the deployment of foreign peacekeepers and creation of local police and military.

In Mogadishu, Omar Hashi Adan, a spokesman of government members and lawmakers opposed to Yusuf, immediately offered confirmation of the latest shipments and demanded enforcement of the arms embargo.

“We are appealing to the Security Council to be practical and honest and take action against Ethiopian arms shipment to Somalia,” he said. “It is a national and international security risk.”

“The international community is showing double standards by not dealing with Ethiopia’s continued violations of the embargo,” Adan said.

On Friday, after reviewing a report from an expert panel set up to monitor the 1992 arms embargo, the UN Security Council slammed continuing violations of the restrictions saying they were “a serious threat to the Somali peace process.”

The council also said the embargo, imposed a year after Somalia descended into anarchy with the ouster of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre, should be strengthened.

In its report, the expert panel said Ethiopia, Yemen and an unnamed third country in the Horn of Africa region were violating the embargo with increasing weapons shipments to the rival factions in the transitional government. – AFP