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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Somali traders boycott business over new government tax 

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Traders in Somalia’s largest market, Bakara, on Sunday boycotted business over what they termed as punitive tax measures imposed by the government.

Traders told Xinhua that they will keep off from the Mogadishu-based market until the federal government scraps the 5 percent mandatory sales tax it imposed recently.

“As you see the market has closed and we will continue until the government responds to our complaint about the tax,” Abdisamad Mohamed, one of the traders, told Xinhua.

“We are not refusing to pay taxes but this is heavy burden for our business,” Mohamed said. “We are requesting the government to take steps to lower it.”

Another trader, Shariff Abdullahi, said the imposition of taxes had stalled business as traders cannot collect their goods from the port in Mogadishu.

“We have imported goods from the port and we cannot pick them because of the taxes the government has imposed,” Abdullahi said.

However, Somali Finance Minister Abdirahman Beileh has maintained that taxes must be paid to enable the government to offer services.

Beileh told the media last week that the government had arrived at the decision and that it was not optional.

“Today I clarified the purpose of the sales tax and the importance of paying legally mandated taxes to the Somali people. The payment, collection and budgeted utilization of these funds is a must for Somali development,” Beileh said. “We must finance our future. This is the bottom line.”

Somali parliament late last year passed a 274 million U.S. dollar budget for 2018, and Beileh noted that the government would bolster efforts to mobilize domestic tax collection to finance the budget as the country seeks to cut dependence on foreign donors.

The government has not yet responded to the ongoing strike.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Al-Shabaab commander surrenders to Somali authorities

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- A senior Al-Shabaab commander surrendered to Somali authorities in southern Somalia on Friday, government officials said.

A local administrator in Gedo region, Isaaq Hussein Mursal told journalists that the militant commander Abdinor Moallim Hassan handed himself over to government officials in the Bardhere town in Gedo region.

“Abdinor presented himself to our officers in Bardhere town. He was carrying an AK-47 gun and six pistols,” said Mursal.

Mursal said the government was open to receive defectors from the militant group Al-Shabaab as part of the amnesty program announced last year.

Hassan’s surrender adds to several middle level and high profile defections by Al-Shabaab elements as Somali and African Union forces intensify their offensives against the militants.

This past week has seen several military operations in southern Somalia particularly Lower Shabelle region which remains one of the strongholds of the group.

Al-Shabaab leadership has not commented on the defection.

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Somali forces destroy Al-Shabaab bases in southern Somalia 

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali forces backed by African Union forces destroyed Al-Shabaab bases in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, the military said.

Lower Shabelle region military commander Ibrahim Aden Najah told journalists on Thursday that the forces raided the bases in Kurtunwarey and destroyed the bases used by the militants to attack Somali and Amisom forces.

The military officer said the forces were going on with operations in the regions to flush out the militants. Lower Shabelle region remains one of the strongholds of Al-Shabaab.

“We will not relent until we kick out all Al-Shabaab in the region,” added Najah.

Security forces Tuesday also destroyed explosives in Lower Shabelle region suspected to have been destined for the capital Mogadishu. They also destroyed an FM station run by Al-Shabaab.

The allied forces have ramped up offensives against the militants as the African Union forces continue with the draw-down which started with 500 troops last December.

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Somalia evacuates 11 migrants stranded in Libya

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The Somali government and the UN refugee agency on Saturday evacuated 11 migrants from Libya who had been held in areas controlled by militia.

Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia Mahdi Mohamed Guled who received the migrants in Mogadishu said the government is committed to bringing back refugees in some countries.

“Eleven migrants were brought from Libya and came here in peace, we are planning to bring 30 others from Libya soon,” Guled said.

He added that the government has returned prisoners and Somali migrants back from Ethiopia, Seychelles and India earlier.

Photos and videos of Somalis tortured in smugglers’ camps outraged the public in Somalia, prompting President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to order evacuation of Somali migrants allegedly enslaved in Libya.

The migrants thanked the Somali government for coming to their rescue and for bringing them back to their motherland after years of dangerous situation in Libyan.

“I was away for over two years. I passed through Ethiopia, Sudan and Libya. I was beaten, and robbed three times,” Mohamed Abdirahman Mohamud, one of the migrants, told reporters after landing.

According to reports, Libya’s Bani Walid is a hotspot for smugglers moving migrants from sub-Saharan countries to the coast, where they then board boats in dangerous sea journeys to Italy.

             

 

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