Saturday, July 29, 2006

Abdullah Isaaq Deerow, Somali Minister for Constitutional and Federal Affairs Shot Dead in Baidoa

Friday July 28, 10:24 PM

Somalian minister killed as government plunged into crisis

An unknown gunman has shot and killed Somalia's constitutional and federal affairs minister in the provincial town of Baidoa, just a day the Somali government was plunged into crisis when 18 ministers quit over its policies.

Abdalla Derrow Issak was shot three times as he left the mosque after Friday prayers in the temporary government base in Baidoa, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu. He died as passers-by rushed him to hospital, witnesses said.

"Allah shall forgive him, Abdalla passed away after he was shot by an unidentified gunman," one of his relatives told AFP on Friday.

Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden mourned the minister as a "peace-loving" Somali and vowed that the government, which is largely regarded as weak and defenceless, would deliver justice to the criminal. The motive of the killing remained unclear.

"This is an unacceptable crime that is against our efforts to deliver peace in Somalia. I am deeply hurt and saddened by this cold-blood murder. We lost Issak physically, but he will remain in our heart and mind for the rest our lives," Aden told AFP.

"The government will investigate (this incident) and show its responsibility that criminals will not go unpunished," he added.

Police said they had arrested a suspect, believed to be the killer.

"We arrested a man after tips from Baidoa people, who were at the scene of the murder," said Colonel Ibrahim Gabbow, the police commander for Bay region, where Baidoa is the capital. "We arrested him because his physical profile fitted the one we were given by the public."

The killing came as Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi prepared to face a motion of no-confidence, and his government tried to downplay the mass resignation of 18 ministers.

Deputy Information Minister Salad Ali Jeeley said Gedi would replace the ministers, who quit on Thursday protesting a decision to deploy Ethiopian troops to protect the fragile government from an advance by Islamic militia.

"The resignations will not undermine the performance of the government, which is committed to serve the interest of the Somali people," Jeeley told AFP from the temporary seat of government in Baidoa.

"All those who resigned will be replaced as soon as possible," he added.

Jeeley said the prime minister was in consultation ahead of a weekend debate on a vote of confidence, which seeks to throw out the 18-month-old government that has been unable to exert control across the shattered Horn of Africa nation.

"The government will defeat the vote of no confidence set for debate on Saturday. I am confident that the motion will be thrown out," Jeeley added.

Last week's deployment of Ethiopian troops in Baidoa and outlying outposts to bolster the fledgling government's weak defences from a feared attack by powerful Islamists, who control the capital Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia, has split the transitional parliament.

It has also prompted the United Nations, the United States and western countries to warn that any interference by Somalia's neighbours -- notably arch-foes Ethiopia and Eritrea -- might scupper efforts to achieve lasting peace in the country.

The Islamists have refused to participate in Arab League mediated peace talks with the government planned for Khartoum on August 1 and 2 until the Ethiopian troops have withdrawn.

In Mogadishu, a second plane, believed to be carrying weapons from Eritrea landed at the city's airport, stoking fears of an allout war, according to witnesses.

"A heavy cargo plane landed at Mogadishu airport. It is believed to be carrying weapons," said Mogadishu resident Ahmed Hassan. His account was confirmed by several other witnesses.

Like the first plane that landed on Wednesday, the second one bore the emblem of Kazakhstan -- a gold emblem on a blue background -- a former Soviet state that frequently charters its planes, they said.

In December 2004, the 275-member clan-based parliament passed a motion sacking Gedi and his government, arguing that he was illegally in office and his appointment had violated the transitional charter. But President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed later reappointed him.

The government, formed in Kenya late 2004 after more than two years of peace talks, was seen as the best chance for the Horn of Africa nation to win a functional administration since the ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Since then more than 14 internationally-backed initiatives have failed to yield a government and analysts have blamed it on a bunch of unruly warlords who got arms and other forms of support from neighbouring countries contrary to an existing UN arms embargo.

Riots as Somali minister killed

Riots have broken out in the Somali town of Baidoa after a minister in the transitional government was shot dead.

Minister Abdallah Isaaq Deerow was killed outside a mosque in Baidoa, where the government is based.

On Thursday, at least 19 members of the transitional government - which controls only a small area - resigned.

In another development, a second cargo plane has landed in Mogadishu, fuelling allegations that the Islamic forces who control the city are receiving arms.

Mr Deerow, minister of constitutional affairs, was killed after Friday prayers at the mosque.

Later on Friday, hundreds of people took to the streets of Baidoa in protest at his killing, burning tyres and looting shops.

Mr Deerow was not among the group of ministers who resigned on Thursday.


The resignations were prompted by some ministers' dissatisfaction that Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi had failed to make progress in talks with the Union of Islamic Courts, which controls Mogadishu.

Public Works Minister Osman Ali Atto said he came back from the capital to the government's base with an agreement from the Islamic courts that fresh talks be held.

But he said that Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi was "an obstacle to progress" and had refused to listen.

Some MPs are planning a motion of no confidence in the government.

They are opposed to the deployment of foreign peacekeepers and the presence of Ethiopian troops who are in Baidoa with the blessing of the transitional goverment.

More resignations are expected and observers say that the transitional government is looking increasingly fragile.

President Abdullahi Yusuf's government has little influence outside its base in Baidoa, but has the diplomatic support of the United Nations and the African Union (AU) and the strong backing of neighbouring Ethiopia.

Many Somalis, including the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) which controls much of southern Somalia, are opposed to the presence of Ethiopian troops on Somali soil.

Mystery flight

The arrival of a second flight at Mogadishu airport amid strict security has fuelled speculation that the Islamists are receiving weapons in violation of a UN arms embargo.

According to witnesses, the aircraft that touched down in Mogadishu was an Iluyshin-76 - a massive transport plane capable of carrying more than 50 tons of cargo.

Troops loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts in control of the capital chased away onlookers, although at least six trucks were seen loading cargo from the aircraft.

The plane is the same one that touched down in Mogadishu on Wednesday and credible sources said that flight originated in Eritrea carrying anti-aircraft guns, uniforms, AK47s and several senior Eritrean officers.

Both Eritrea and the Mogadishu authorities have denied the claim.

The flights have raised fears amongst security sources and diplomats that the rivals in Somalia are now preparing for open conflict, the BBC's Peter Greste reports from Nairobi.

Both Ethiopia and Eritrea have been warned not to interfere in neighbouring Somalia by the United Nations and United States.

There are fears that Somalia could end up a battleground between Ethiopia and Eritrea - who fought a two-year border war between 1998 and 2000.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/28 15:19:13 GMT


Press Release - U.N. News Center

Jul 28 2006

The senior United Nations envoy to Somalia appealed for calm today in the strife-torn African country after gunmen assassinated the country's Minister for Constitutional and Federal Affairs Abdallah Deerow Isaaq outside a mosque, and he announced he will attend an urgent regional meeting called to discuss the worsening situation.

"I am appalled by this act of violence against a minister in Somalia's Transitional Federal Institutions. I offer my condolences to Mr. Isaaq's family and appeal for calm in what is already a turbulent moment in Somalia's recent history," said François Lonsény Fall, the Secretary-General's Special Representative. Mr. Isaaq was killed in Baidoa.

On Monday Mr. Fall will attend a meeting of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called by Kenya's Minister of Foreign Affairs to "address the unfolding crisis in Somalia," the UN said. IGAD Member States are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

The meeting has been called to consider recent Security Council statements on Somalia, as well as an IGAD and African Union report on an Assessment and Reconnaissance Mission to the country earlier this month.

Yesterday, Mr. Fall wrote to the chairman of the Executive Council of Islamic Courts to reiterate his call for a resumption of peace talks with the Transitional Federal Government. He also stressed the UN's commitment to pursuing all avenues for peace and reconciliation through dialogue in Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since President Muhammad Siad Barre's regime was toppled in 1991.

Somali minister shot dead

Friday 28 July 2006 12:53 PM GMT

An Islamist militia controls large areas of Somalia

A minister in Somalia's transitional national government has been shot dead in a new blow to the country's internationally recognised but virtually powerless administration.

Abdallah Deerow Isaq, the Constitution and Federalism Minister, was killed as he left Friday prayers in the town of Baidoa - seat of the fragile interim Somali government.

"It looks like an organised assassination," Mohamed Abdi Hayr, the Somali information minister said.

"So far we do not know who did it. They shot him as he was leaving the mosque then ran off. Police are chasing the gunmen."

The government was formed in 2004 as the 14th attempt to restore central rule to Somalia since the 1991 overthrow of military ruler Mohammed Siad Barre.

It has been unable to halt the rise to power of the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia - an Islamist militia that took control of the capital Mogadishu and other towns in June.

Deerow was not among the 18 ministers who resigned from the administration on Thursday, complaining about the government's inability to stabilise the African nation.

Also on Friday, fighters loyal to the Islamist group closed roads around the capital's airport and chased away onlookers while a large cargo plane was unloaded of unidentified cargo.

A similar aircraft landed on Wednesday, and officials from the transitional government accused Eritrea of sending arms to the militants.

Local people said several trucks came to collect the delivery from the airport.

"The Islamists are arming themselves and now we have to wait for fighting," said Abdullahi Ali, a local man.

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