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Three wounded as anti-president protests turn violent in Beledweyne town

Hiiraan Online
Saturday, March 26, 2016

BELEDWEYNE (HOL) – Three people were wounded in the central Somali town of Beledweyne after police opened fire into a crowd protesting against efforts by Somali president to form of an interregional state with the neighboring Middle Shabelle region.

Witnesses said that clashes broke out Saturday after police tried to disperse demonstrators chanting anti-president’s slogans who approached a government center in which Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was meeting local elders, ignoring to stay away and hurled stones at soldiers.

Protesters accused the president of fuelling division among the people in the region.

Mr. Mohamud’s visit in the region comes after multiple attempts by his government to end the political stalemate related to the proposed state formation hit the rocks after Hiran’s traditional elders pushed back a last ditch attempt Somali leaders including a ministerial delegation in the region to secure their endorsement for the initiative.

However, local elders said that their meeting with the president which aimed to bring to an end to the protracted stalemate could not achieve a breakthrough, saying that the president walked out of the meeting hall without providing an answer.

“We have raised three issues with the president including reconciliation, fair power sharing and holding the state formation’s conference in Beledweyne,” Ugas Hassan Ugas Khalif, the chieftain of Hawadle clan told HOL soon after he paid visit to the town’s main hospital where victims wounded in the protests were being treated.

The region’s council of elders earlier boycotted to attend the state formation conference which was held in Jowhar, the regional capital of Middle Shabelle region late last year over ‘broken promises, concerns Somali prime minister said his government would try to address.

Despite criticism by elders that the government mishandled the initiative, citing vagueness in running the process which they said fell short of their expectations, Somali government promised of ensuring a ‘fair’ and ‘comprehensive process, in an effort to form an ‘inclusive’ regional state.

However, political analysts remain pessimistic that the ongoing efforts would bring an immediate solution, pointing out complexities surrounding the proposed state's formation process, given lack of consensus, mistrust and rivalry among clans in the two regions.


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