Saturday, 19 September 2009

MPs accuse Finance Minister of corruption

MOGADISHU, Somalia Sep 19 (Garowe Online) - A group of lawmakers in Somalia have publicly criticized the Horn of Africa country's finance minister, accusing him of mismanaging public funds and taking steps to "destroy" the interim government, Radio Garowe reports.

The group of lawmakers included: MP Abdullahi Ahmed Afrah, MP Farah Ali Abdi, MP Mohamed Ali Omar, MP Ali Yusuf Osman, MP Dahir Abdulkadir Muse, and MP Shukri Haji Ahmed.

MP Afrah, who spoke at a Saturday press conference in Mogadishu on behalf of the lawmakers, said Finance Minister Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden has taken steps to destroy the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

MP Afrah
"The Finance Minister illegally misuses the small income collected at the port and airport in Mogadishu," said MP Afrah, who is a member of the TFG parliament's financial accountability subcommittee.

Further, the lawmakers accused the Finance Minister of "directly mismanaging donor funds," particularly financial donations from Arab countries that support the TFG in Mogadishu.

"Government funds are not deposited at the Central Bank and there is no paper trail for accountability purposes," MP Afrah added.

No 2009 budget

The group of lawmakers said Finance Minister Sharif Hassan has not presented the 2009 budget to the TFG parliament.

"Sharif Hassan is currently leading an illegal process to mint Somali Shillings without parliament approval, which will have a negative impact on our [Somali] economy," MP Afrah said. READ: Somalia govt to mint new currency, parliament demands approval

Further, the Somali MPs accused the country's Finance Minister of entering into a controversial agreement with Kenya, whereby imported products from Kenya are taxed in Nairobi before arriving in parts of south-central Somalia.

According to the MPs, this scheme, which does not include imports to regional authorities in Somaliland and Puntland, is led by "relatives" of Finance Minister Sharif Hassan.

Controversy over Puntland

"[Finance Minister] Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden is the most influential member of President Sheikh Sharif's government, and any Minister who disagrees with him gets fired," said MP Afrah, who spoke for the group of MPs in Mogadishu.

He specifically noted Prof. Mohamed Abdi Gandi and Mohamed Abdullahi Oomar, the former ministers of defense and foreign affairs for the TFG, respectively.

The group of MPs, who issued a strongly-worded statement referring to the Finance Minister as "Sharif Sakiin," or Sharif the Razor Blade, said he plans to derail last month's agreement between the TFG and the Puntland State government in northern Somalia.

"Sharif Hassan is directly involved in a scheme to create friction between the TFG and Puntland, which is rooted in the agreement Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid [Ali Sharmake] signed [with Puntland] which called for the establishment of a Somali naval base in Puntland to fight pirates," said MP Afrah, who was reading aloud the written statement.

The Finance Minister was accused of "using Fisheries Minister Abdirahman Ibbi" to ink an anti-piracy cooperation deal with neighboring Djibouti, a move that angered Puntland President Abdirahman Farole. READ: Puntland leader criticizes federal govt ministers

The written statement included a brief political history of Sharif Hassan since his rise in Somali national politics in 2004, when he was elected as the TFG parliament's first Speaker.

He later joined the Islamist opposition and rejoined the TFG again in 2008, when Sheikh Sharif's Islamist camp signed a peace deal with the TFG. He was appointed as Somalia's Minister of Finance when Sheikh Sharif became Somali President in January 2009 at the conclusion of UN-brokered talks in Djibouti.

Source: Garowe Online

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