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Somalia stops 40 MPs from leaving country

MOGADISHU, May 10 – Security officials at Mogadishu airport prevented more than 40 Somali lawmakers from leaving the country, officials told AFP Tuesday.

"Security officials at immigration stopped us from travelling after they received a letter from the interior ministry. This was an embarrassment," one of the lawmakers, Awad Ahmed Asharo, told reporters.

The lawmakers had been due to travel to Nairobi on Monday night to attend a workshop.

Sources said the travel ban could be connected to an ongoing row between President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan.

"Most of the lawmakers who were prevented from travelling are pro-speaker and I think the incident has links with the country’s political crisis," a security official at the airport told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Divisions within Somalia\’s transitional institutions, which were set up in Kenya in 2004 and whose mandates were due to expire in August 2011, are growing deeper.

Both parliament and the government have unilaterally prolonged their mandates and Sharif has said this would result in an automatic extension of his term in office.

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