NAIROBI, October 18 – Somalia’s government is breathing fire over a concerted decision by western nations to root out piracy along its coastline, without consulting them.
The Deputy Speaker of Somalia’s Parliament Mohammed Omar on Saturday said that a security move by western navies aimed at wiping out piracy on the massive Somalia coastline was ‘suspect’, because his country was not involved.
“Nobody knows how long they will stay at our coast and what they are going to do. Some of them may be having other aims to spoil our coast or to grab what we have within our coast,” he said at a Nairobi hotel.
“We welcome their efforts, but we are seeing it is not in a proper way. They must collaborate with the government in any step they want to take,” Mr Omar stated at a press conference in Nairobi, reiterating that his country is a ‘sovereign’ state and should be consulted on such matters.
The Deputy Speaker said that the ‘invasion of the country’s coastline’ was equivalent to anarchy, and defended that Somalia had the ability to secure its coastline if offered the necessary support.
Mr Omar went further and even alleged that some western states, which he declined to name, were funding pirate activities.
Criminal pirates on the Somalia coastline are reported to have seized more than 30 ships since January 2008, hurting trade between several countries, and prompting a European Union resolve to send troops to the coastline with the support of India, South Africa and the United States.
Just three weeks ago, pirates hijacked a Ukrainian ship carrying military hardware destined for Kenya and talks are on-going to dissuade the hijackers from demanding a Sh700 million ransom. The Kenyan government has said it will not pay the ransom and instead called for international help to secure the cargo and 20 crew members on board.
However, latest media reports from the Ukraine have revealed that the relatives of 17 Ukrainians on MV Faina have collected money for the ransom.
"The negotiations are ongoing. We still haven’t handed over the money but it’s all leading up to that," Olga Girzheva, the mother of one of the hostages, told Ukrainian media, without giving a final figure for the ransom.
Relatives told reporters that most of the ransom money had come from leading politicians including Viktor Yanukovych, a former prime minister who leads Ukraine’s main opposition party.
Russian, United Kingdom and United States navy ships are said to be surrounding MV Faina ship, which is currently harboured at the fishing village of Hobyo.
The rule of law has degenerated in Somalia for close to two decades since the collapse of its government in 1991 and the failure of successive peace efforts. A transitional government established in 2004 has been struggling to stabilise the state, but is continuously besieged by attacks from the Islamic Courts Union, which has seized major towns.
In Nairobi, Mr Omar was flanked at the press conference by Somalia’s Information Parliamentary Committee Chairman Awad Ashara, who blamed the international community for failing to provide humanitarian aid to people affected by the persisting conflict in that region.
“They are not caring for those who are dying there,” he said. “They are carrying it out (piracy mission) for their own interest because the trade of the East and the West has been endangered by the pirates.”
Mr Ashara further accused the western nations of illegal fishing in Somalia’s territorial waters and dumping waste there.