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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Somalia Puntland cabinet dismissed in ‘No Confidence’ vote

 

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- State Parliament in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland voted Tuesday to dismiss the cabinet weeks after the region was flooded with fake currency notes leading to closure of business and demonstrations by traders.

In a vote of no confidence motion Tuesday, 47 legislators voted to dissolve the cabinet while only one voted against it.

Nine others abstained from the vote which now forces state president Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas to reconstitute a new cabinet.

The motion comes weeks after reports of mass circulation of fake Somali shilling notes in many parts of Puntland leading to high inflation rates.

Gas administration authorized printing of counterfeit Somali notes last year to pay salaries for soldiers who have mutinied on several occasions over delayed pay, a development which the central bank warned could negatively impact on the economy.

Puntland is the oldest regional administration in Somalia established in 1998. It maintains a semi autonomous status.

The region has been battling twin assaults from the Al-Qaida affiliate Al-Shabaab and the so called Islamic State which captured the ancient port town of Qandala late last year before it was pushed out by Puntland forces.

There was no comment yet from President Abdiwali Mohamed Ali, who is serving his last year in office ahead of elections in 2018.

The state constitution mandates the House of Representatives to submit a motion of confidence on the cabinet or individual ministers if the motion meets constitutional merits.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

UNFPA secures 8.5 mln USD to improve maternal health in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said Wednesday it has secured 8.5 million U.S. dollars from Sweden to accelerate high impact reproductive, maternal, new-born and adolescent health interventions in Somalia.

The UNFPA Representative Nikolai Botev said the funding comes at a critical moment when the UN agency is reaffirming its efforts to working towards achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health, realizing reproductive rights, reducing maternal mortality, and improving the lives of adolescents, youth and women.

“The grant from Sweden is another expression of strong confidence in the work that UNFPA is undertaking towards the betterment of the lives of the people of Somalia,” Botev said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

He said the funding from Sweden is fundamental in contributing to Somalia’s social and human development, particularly in the National Development Plan areas of health, youth, gender, resilience and capacity building in pursuit of the common goal of a better and healthier Somalia for all.

“We are enormously grateful for the Swedish contribution. It comes at a critical time and will be vital in helping the many Somali people, especially women and young people, whose lives have already been so traumatically disrupted by a number of adverse conditions, including the current drought,” said  Botev.

Botev reiterated UNFPA’s commitment to supporting increased availability and use of integrated maternal and new-born health services that are gender-responsive and meet human rights standards for quality of care and equity in access.

Millions of women in Somalia remain at great risk during pregnancy and childbirth.

Every year, one in 22 women dies prematurely due to pregnancy or childbirth related complications.

Most of these complications and illnesses are easily preventable and treatable. Strong political will and long-term financial commitment is urgently needed to address the high rate of maternal deaths.

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AU forces kill senior Al-Shabaab commander in southern Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Kenyan soldiers who are part of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) killed a senior Al-Shabaab commander and two of his bodyguards during a raid on his hideout in southern Somalia Wednesday evening, officials confirmed on Thursday.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) said Hassan Isaack Ibrahim alas Beila was killed in a joint security operation with Jubbaland Security Force (JSS) in Gelef town.

“The body of the Al-Shabaab commander killed was displaced in Dhobley town today. The troops recovered AK 47, one grenade and his personal phone,” a KDF official said.

Ibrahim was in charge of Gelef town and its environs. He is from Darasime sub clan of the larger Darood clan in Somalia.

The slain Al-Shabaab commander was responsible for most of the hijackings of miraa (khat) ferrying landcruisers along the Kenya-Somalia border.

The KDF official said Ibrahim was behind attacks of police posts along the common frontier especially in Diff, Hamey and general area of Dhobley.

The killing came hours after three Al-Shabaab terrorists were arrested in the Jubabland State during an operation conducted in Dhobley town.

Haybe Ahmed Abdullahi, Jubbaland State forces Commander for Dhobley town said the insurgents were planning to carry out explosive attacks in the town.

Abdullahi said that African Union forces’ Kenya Defence Force (KDF) helped them to defuse explosive elements in which they seized from Al-Shabaab fighters.

Dhobley town is located at the Somali border with Kenya and is one of the towns which have enjoyed relative peace in southern Somalia.

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UN, AU launch joint police patrol training in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations and African Union missions in Somalia on Tuesday launched a joint training program for police officers from Puntland and Galmudug states to carry out joint patrols in Galkayo, as part of a ceasefire agreement.

The UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said the trainees will also support ongoing initiatives to restore stability and the rule of law, and also act as focal points for rebuilding confidence and peace in Galkayo.

“The training aims to promote trust and confidence in Galkayo, by preparing a group of selected police officers to establish and implement joint police patrols in Galkayo, under a common command,” UNSOM Police Commissioner in Somalia Christoph Buik said in a statement released in Mogadishu.

The trainees will also support ongoing initiatives to restore stability and the rule of law, and also act as focal points for rebuilding confidence and peace in Galkayo.

The training is taking place under the auspices of the Galkayo Ceasefire Agreement signed on Jan. 1 by the Puntland and Galmudug State Presidents.

Under the agreement, patrol teams from both states would be trained to help enforce the cessation of hostilities between the two administrations.

Buik said the joint patrol teams would provide security to the Joint Ceasefire Committee members, while on visits to a buffer zone established between both sides.

According to the UN, at least 100 police officers who will oversee the implementation of the Galkayo Ceasefire Agreement are taking part in the inaugural joint training launched at Galkayo Community Centre on Monday.

“We are ready to ensure the implementation of peace in Galkayo,” noted Mohamed Hashi Abdi, the Vice President of Galmudug State.

“Somalis, we have to hold each other’s hands, support one another and tell our people that we are one as brothers and sisters,” he added.

Under the Galkayo ceasefire deal, leaders from the two states have also committed to withdraw troops and remove roadblocks, in order to allow free movement of people and goods.

Abdihakim Omar Amey, the Vice President of Puntland State said the joint police patrol is the beginning of the Somali integration process.

“We don’t want to miss this opportunity,” said Amey who added that Puntland was committed to spearheading the integration of the whole of Somalia, starting with the implementation of the Galkayo agreement.

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AU convoy hits landmine in southern Somalia, no casualties

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Africa Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy hit a landmine Tuesday morning in the Middle Shabelle region in southern Somalia but no casualties have been reported so far, a government official said.

Mahaday District Governor Abdullahi Mohamed Hussein told journalists that the convoy travelling in Burane area in Mahaday hit the landmine which is suspected to have been planted on the middle of the road.

“The AMISOM convoy hit a huge landmine in Burane and there was a heavy blast. None of the soldiers died,” said Hussein.

The governor said security agencies had identified two armed men who are suspected of planting the mine and are in hot pursuit of them. The militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Residents reported of a huge blast Tuesday. “There was a heavy blast in our village. We learnt AMISOM forces were the target,” Ahmed Abdi told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, authorities in the Lower Jubba region which borders Kenya have seized a vehicle with explosives which they say was destined for Kenya to carry out attacks.

“We seized a vehicle loaded with explosives heading to the Kenyan side to carry out terrorist attacks,” said Dhobley police commander Haybe Ahmed.

The police chief also noted the officers arrested two people who were in the car. Dhobley is at border with Kenya and has been subjected to Al-Shabaab attacks in the past.

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