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UN office’s road closure creates controversy within govt

Hiiraan Online
Sunday, October 18, 2015

MOGADISHU (HOL) - Having experienced several deadly attacks, the United Nations’ office in Mogadishu has requested the closure of the toll road leading to the Mogadishu airport on which the office locates to prevent further attacks targeting their headquarters, with the Somali security minister instantly approved the appeal.

However, defiant Mogadishu mayor Hassan Mohamed Hussein (Mungab) has dismissed the request which would see blast walls erected along the main road, vowing his administration would not agree to the minister’s endorsement.

Implementing his decision, Somalia’s security minister Abdirizak Omar Mohamed has instructed security officials to deploy troops on the road where labourers started laying concrete walls in the middle of the road, nevertheless, officials and soldiers from the mayor’s office reached the scene and immediately dismantled the barricades.

“The Mogadishu mayor hereby assures that he would not compromise on the closure of any road in Mogadishu, thus it’s the local government’s duty to open the closed roads because only Mogadishu mayor reserves the rights to close or open roads in Mogadishu.” said a statement from the Mogadishu mayor Sunday.

The mayor has also instructed security agencies to halt any attempts aimed at the closure of the city’s roads, an apparent reference to the security minister.

UN and other agencies offices, Mogadishu’s main hotel Jazeera are situated on the airport road which is the centre of the new controversy between Somali officials.

The United Nations hasn’t so far commented on the development.

Security experts say the dispute risks a protracted divergence among Somali officials which may pass onto top leaders’ circle.

“We call for the concerned entities to respect us with our duty. It’s our responsibility to collect taxes, build roads – therefore, we cannot thumbs up to a federal-level minister trying to destroy roads built by our Turkish brother.” He said.

As the Somali capital is recovering from decades of war, security remains a serious problem for aid workers and residents in the city with the Al-Shabab group continues to carry out flurry of attacks in the seaside city.

At least 15 people, including four foreigners were killed in an assault by militants on a UN office in Mogadishu in 2013.

The militant group has also carried out another suicide truck bomb on the nearby Jazeera hotel this year, killing at least 12 people.

Facing security challenges, the United Nations envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay has told the UN Security Council last year that the UN has taken measures to improve its own security. Planning for the UN Guard Unit, endorsed in February by the Council to protect UN personnel and facilities in Mogadishu, is underway, with the first deployments was deployed last year.


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