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Somalia gets $1.3b for economy, security

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World leaders have pledged to support Somalia’s new government and its security and economic reforms. However, the government has been tasked with using its support from citizens to deliver on its promises.

The three-day Somalia International Conference in London saw President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo’s government get new pledges of more than $1.3 billion to help improve stability in the country, mitigate against the famine that has affected 5.5 million people and free the country from the menace of Al Shabaab.

The United Kingdom has pledged $27 million, which will be spent over the next two years to provide training and mentoring to the country’s army and improving security.

The European Union — Somalia’s biggest donor — pledged that member states will this year invest $1.03 billion, which will bring total support to $4.5 billion till 2020.

This includes support for the African Union Mission for Somalia (Amisom), salaries for police, development aid, and $596 million for humanitarian assistance to tackle the devastating effects of the drought.

Amisom’s departure

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an additional $900 million for the drought-stricken country.

By the time of the conference, the UN had only realised 30 per cent of the $825 million target it proposed in March to mitigate against the effects of the drought.

But world leaders insisted that President Farmajo deliver on his promises and reminded him that Amisom will not be in the country forever — the African peacekeepers will start a drawdown in 2018.

“We are proposing today a new Partnership for Somalia through which President Farmajo will commit to the development of an inclusive and federal democratic state — and the international community will back him with better targeted support for jobs and livelihoods that can drive economic recovery,” said UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

After the first day of the conference on May 11, the delegation from Somalia were engaged in closed-door meetings with various partners to explain how the government is planning to take the country forward given the goodwill it is currently enjoying.

As world leaders emphasised the need for the country’s security forces — the Somali National Army and police — to take over the security of Somalia, President Farmajo asked the UN to lift the arms embargo to allow the country to arm itself with modern weapons to match those deployed by Al Shabaab.

“We are working with our partners and the Security Council to develop a clearly defined roadmap to the full lifting of the arms embargo. This will include the improvements we must make to our weapons management, command and control systems,” said President Farmajo.

Debt relief

The president’s other plea was for debt relief as the country struggles with a $5.3 billion debt. He said Somalia’s meagre revenue can barely cover the budget.

“Access to international financial institutions is restricted due to existing arrears. We have developed a roadmap to clear arrears and normalise relations with institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. This is an area that I will personally follow, to ensure that we are meeting our obligations,” said President Farmajo.

The country’s new Security Pact includes a UK commitment to train Somali forces in Baidoa, the UAE’s developing a state-of-the art training facility, America’s training and equipping of Danab Special Forces and Turkey working to train Somali officers.

Prime Minister May said Somalia must commit itself to a four-year roadmap on reforms that include clear co-operation between Mogadishu and regional states on security, political agreements on power-sharing that leads to a constitutional review, work towards a more fairer justice system, practical steps on how to tackle corruption, and a clear roadmap on how to achieve one-person one-vote in the next elections in 2021.

“In return, the international community will back these reforms with better targeted support such as investment in key areas such as the agriculture, livestock and fisheries sector as well as development finance,” said Ms May.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said Somalia must embark on a process of healing. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta asked for the deployment of an additional 4,000 troops to help liberate areas still held by Al Shabaab.

Somali News

Kansas Trio Convicted in Plot to Bomb Somali Immigrants

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WICHITA, Kan. — A federal jury on Wednesday convicted three men of plotting to bomb an apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and worshiped in Garden City, Kan., giving prosecutors a victory at a time when threats against religious and racial minorities are rising nationally.

“These defendants conspired to build a bomb, blow up a building and murder every single man, woman and child inside,” Tony Mattivi, a federal prosecutor, told jurors during closing statements.

The men, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein, all of whom are white, appeared stoic as the verdicts were read. They face up to life in prison when they are sentenced in June.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated for about seven hours over two days.

Defense lawyers tried to convince jurors that their clients were manipulated by the F.B.I., and had been unfairly targeted for exercising their rights to own guns and speak freely.

“He was a member of a militia. He loved his guns. This was a lifestyle,” Melody Brannon, a lawyer for Mr. Allen, told the mostly white jury. “The government tried to criminalize that lifestyle.”

The trial, which played out over about a month in Wichita, focused on a period before the 2016 presidential election when a paid F.B.I. informant infiltrated a militia group that prosecutors said included the three men. Prosecutors, who built much of their case around secret recordings that the informant made of the men talking, said that they planned to carry out the bombing on Nov. 9 of that year, a day after voters selected a president.

“They wanted to send a message to the people living there that they’re not welcome in Garden City, they’re not welcome in southwest Kansas, they’re not welcome in the United States,” Mr. Mattivi said.

The men, who called themselves “the Crusaders,” were arrested about four weeks before Election Day and charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against rights, which the Justice Department considers a hate crime. Mr. Wright was also charged with lying to the F.B.I. The three men were found guilty on all counts against them.

The trial came amid a national escalation in threats against religious and racial minorities, especially Muslims, according to the F.B.I. and organizations that monitor hate crimes.

“It is now approaching the level of hate violence against the same communities that we saw in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT: South Asian Americans Leading Together, a national advocacy organization.

Prosecutors portrayed the Kansas defendants as aspiring domestic terrorists who joined a militia and decided to bomb the Somali apartments after considering other attacks — on elected officials, churches that helped refugees and landlords who rented to immigrants.

Defense lawyers, who criticized the F.B.I.’s investigation throughout the trial as government overreach, suggested that their clients had merely engaged in idle talk inspired partly by the 2016 election. Expletive-filled recordings of the men played before the jury contained repugnant, bigoted language, the defense lawyers said, but not evidence of a federal crime.

“It is not morally right to hold such hate, but it is not legally wrong,” said James Pratt, a lawyer for Mr. Stein, who acknowledged that his client referred to Muslims as “cockroaches.” Mr. Stein referred to himself, the recordings showed, as an “Orkin man,” referencing the pest extermination company.

“We all have the right to hate,” Mr. Pratt added.

A bombing never took place, and no one was physically injured in Garden City, a point defense lawyers emphasized to jurors. They said the men lacked the ability or commitment to carry out such an attack, and that the F.B.I.’s paid informant helped steer the plot and suggested targeting the apartments.

Garden City is a racially diverse place about 200 miles west of Wichita with around 27,000 residents. Many Somalis and other immigrants have moved to the area in recent years to work at a nearby meatpacking plant.

The apartment complex that prosecutors say was targeted is a center of Somali life in Garden City. Many refugee families live in units of the complex; others come to pray in a makeshift mosque inside one unit.

Moussa Elbayoumy, who chairs the board of the Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the verdict affirmed his faith in the justice system.

Many Muslims he talked to in Garden City had not followed the trial closely, Mr. Elbayoumy said, but had hoped for convictions.

“The instance was troubling, was concerning. People were afraid,” Mr. Elbayoumy said in a phone interview. “But after that, they put this behind them and moved on with their lives.”

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What’s triggering tension between Somalia and the UAE? | Inside Story

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Somalia has been in conflict for much of the past 25 years. But the horn of Africa nation has been showing signs of recovery.
And that’s provoked interest from many regional countries including the United Arab Emirates.

The Gulf nation has been conducting a military training programme and running a hospital in the capital Mogadishu.

But, the UAE’s government has now abruptly ended its involvement on both those fronts after a series of recent diplomatic disagreements.

So, why are the UAE and other regional countries interested in Somalia?

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Somali News

AMISOM asks for more police officers in Somalia

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DAILY MONITOR — KISMAYO- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has asked partners states to contribute more police officers to expand its operations in the war-torn country.

The call was made on Tuesday by Ms Christine Alalo, the acting AMISOM police commissioner while receiving 145 police officers from Sierra Leone.

The deployment of the force from Sierra Leone brings to 160 the number of police officers from Sierra Leone.

“We expect other police contributing countries to do the same because we are expanding our operations. We are moving away from Mogadishu,” Ms Alalo said.

Apart from Sierra Leone, other police contributing countries in Somalia are; Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Ghana.

Early this month, over 500 Ugandan Police Officers sat for interviews that would see successful ones join police operations in Somalia.

Ms Alalo said since police operations will be extended to other federal states and districts, it is inevitable to increase the number of police units.

Between 2015 and 2016, AMISOM trained 600 Somali officers in Jubbaland, but Ms Alalo said that number has to be reinforced.

Meanwhile, the AMISOM Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mustafa Solomon Kambeh, said the police officers would be deployed in Jubbaland and Kismayo.

Mr Kambeh doubles as the Contingent Commander of the Sierra Leonean FPU in Mogadishu urged the forces to stick to the AMISOM mandate of pacifying Somalia and its regional states.

The Formed Police Unit is charged with public order management, protection of facilities and support to police operations that require a concerted response.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution adopted in 2017 approved an increase to a maximum of 1,040 police officers serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

AMISOM is committed to redoubling its efforts to train and recruit more police officers during the transition period as it prepares to hand over security responsibilities to the Somali security forces as stipulated in the Security Council Resolution.

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