Somalia + 1 more

Somalia: Vacate Kenyan hotels, MPs told

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

NAIROBI, 8 June (IRIN) - Hotels in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, have given members of Somalia's transitional government up to Wednesday to vacate the rooms they have occupied for almost three years, a Member of the Somali Parliament told IRIN.

"We have been given a deadline of 10:00 a.m. today [Wednesday, 07:00 GMT] to vacate our rooms," the MP, who requested anonymity, said. "It is a bit embarrassing, but we are doing it."

Another member of the Nairobi-based Transitional Federal Parliament, Khalid Omar Ali, who is a minister in the president's office, said the quit notice was not a surprise.

"All MPs and government officials were informed beforehand," Ali said.

He added that they had been given enough money to pay their bills until next week, when they are expected to relocate to Somalia.

Kenya's ambassador to Somalia, Muhammad Abdi Affey, told IRIN: "All Somali MPs and government officials must start leaving Kenya by 14 June. Where to go in Somalia is a decision for the Somali government."

However, Affey said the Somali officials, whose accommodation was being paid for by the international community, were not being kicked out of the country.

"This is an arrangement between the Somali government and the international community," he said. "We are their friends and we wish them well."

The move was a government decision and "part of an ongoing process to return to Somalia", Somali government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said.

"It is just a culmination of months of preparations," he said. "We will start flying out of Nairobi by Tuesday."

Dinari added that an earlier decision to relocate temporarily to the towns of Jowhar and Baidoa in south-central Somalia "still stands". However, he said, "the prime minister will be based in [the capital] Mogadishu".

The new government, which includes several faction leaders, could not relocate sooner because of security considerations. However, it has come under increasing pressure from the Kenyan government and western diplomats to do so.

Interim Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi have said the government cannot function in Mogadishu until the city is pacified and secured.

However, former faction leaders and current cabinet ministers such as National Security Minister Muhammad Qanyare Afrah, Commerce Minister Muse Sudi Yalahow, Housing and Public Works Minister Usman Hasan Ali Atto and the Religious Affairs Minister Omar Muhammad "Finish", hold the view that Mogadishu poses no immediate threat to the functioning of the interim government.

At least 100 members of the 275-strong parliament, led by Speaker Sharif Hassan Shaykh Aden, are in Mogadishu in an attempt to stabilise the city. They have been convincing faction leaders to disarm and encamp their militias.

The first operation to rid Mogadishu of illegal roadblocks manned by armed militia began on Tuesday, in a move aimed at restoring security to the war-torn city.

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