Somali MPs seek contract inquiry

Prime minister urged to explain deals with security contractors in strife-torn nation.

    Security remains tenuous in Somalia despite numerous attempts to broker peace and halt the violence [AFP]

    Somalia's interim parliament has called on the prime minister to explain a series of contracts given to foreign security firms operating in the country.

    They also called on Mohamad Abdullah Mohamad on Thursday to suspend the deals until they can get more information as to what exactly they involve. 

    Abdiwali Mudey, the deputy speaker, said Mohamad entered into contracts without seeking parliamentary approval.

    Mudey also said that parliament gave Mohamad a month to investigate the contracts.

    One of the contracts debated on Thursday concerns Saracen International, a Uganda-based company.

    It is commissioned to train VIP bodyguards and other special forces. Another security firm recognised in the country is SKS of Dubai, with a 10-year contract to manage Mogadishu's airport.

    Western officials have acknowledged that a number of other private security contractors have begun operating in Somalia.

    Saracen has also been accused of involvement in a controversial programme to train and fund anti-piracy forces in Somalia. The company's chief executive has denied this and says it is another company with the same name.

    Last week, Somalia's information ministry issued a news release about the government's involvement with Saracen.

    "The funding of these activities is provided by some Muslim countries that have no interest but to help the people and government of Somalia overcome the difficulties they faced for the last 20 years," the statement said.

    It did not disclose which countries they were.

    Somali politicians have also accused Mohamad and the president of making secret deals. Separately, UN officials have raised questions about whether some of these contractors might be helping organise and arm new pro-government militias, possibly violating the UN arms embargo on the country. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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