Thousands riot in Somali capital

Two people reported dead in protests over inflation and currency devaluations.

    Hundreds of shops and restaurants closed after thousands of Somalis took to the streets [AFP]

    Cars and buses were damaged, and hundreds of shops and restaurants in the city closed their doors from fear of looters.
    Mohammed Omar Hussein, a local journalist, told Al Jazeera: "People could no longer endure [it], they said enough is enough.
    [Protesters] started from the north side of the capital, coming downtown. They were throwing stones and rocks and had clubs in their hands.
    "They were beating up the shop owners they came across ... if any shop was opened."
    Record inflation
    Although there are no official inflation figures, UN monitors say cereal prices have increased by between 110 and 375 per cent in the past year as central Somalia has endured its worst drought in recent memory.
    Currently, the Somali shilling is valued at roughly 34,000 to $1 - more than double what it was a year ago.
    The problem has been compounded by sharply rising world food prices and the UN has warned of a looming famine in the country.
    Somalia has been without any kind of real government since Mohamed Siad Barre, the former ruler, was ousted from power in 1991 by subordinates who then tried to carve up the country among themselves.
    Since then, the country's agriculture has withered to the point where Somalis rely on imports.
    With a transitional government backed by neighbouring Ethiopia focusing its efforts on fighting opposition forces, little control has been enforced on rampant counterfeiting of currency.
    The value of the country's legal tender has dropped so low that most Somalis must carry large stacks of 1,000 Somali shilling notes - the only denomination available - just to buy daily necessities.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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