Somali Leader To Open Airport

News and Press Release
Originally published
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- In a bid to boost the local economy and humanitarian relief efforts, faction leader Hussein Aidid agreed Monday to reopen an airport under his control.

Aidid's ministers said the decision to reopen the El-Ahmed airstrip at the Indian Ocean port of Merca, 60 miles south of Mogadishu, came after complaints from the local community.

Aidid is apparently worried that chronic unemployment, lack of business and relief supplies in his south Mogadishu stronghold might undermine his position.

He succeeded his father, Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid, who died of battlefield wounds Aug. 1.

The airport, which closed a year ago, is one of three airfields in Aidid's control. The first relief flight will land Wednesday.

Somalia has had no functioning central government since the 1991 ouster of late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

=A9 Copyright 1996 The Associated Press