Somali president accuses world of balking at aid

Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:57pm EDT
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By Mahmoud Habboush

(Reuters) - Somalia's president on Wednesday accused the international community of refusing to fund the creation of local security forces capable of tackling piracy and al Qaeda-linked militants and urged them to pay up.

"The international community spends millions of dollars (because of piracy) and when you ask them to contribute to building forces on the ground they evade our request," Sheikh Sharif Ahmed told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a conference on piracy in Dubai.

Somalia has been mired in civil strife, grinding poverty, Islamist militancy and maritime piracy since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, leaving the African nation without an effective central government.

Ahmed said he thought international donors such as the United States were reluctant to contribute funds because they were concerned that the money would be embezzled and said he was willing to allow them to pay and train such forces themselves to allay such fears.

"If they (donors) are willing to help ... we can give them the chance to come and do the training, to give salaries to soldiers by themselves," he said.

Ahmed's complaint came as it was announced that the United Arab Emirates has pledged to donate $1 million to help build a Somali coast guard. Anwar Gargash, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, confirmed the news to reporters.

Piracy is just one of many problems plaguing Somalia. Ahmed's Western-backed government has been fighting al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants who still control large swathes of the country and want to impose sharia law.

Ahmed, who survived an assassination attempt by al Shabaab militants last month, has pledged to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates in the war-ravaged country.   Continued...