Sunday, 1 February 2009

Somali pirates hijack another ship

The German military said there were two more suspected hijack attempts by pirates on Thursday

Somali pirates have hijacked a German-owned tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the Gulf of Aden, a maritime officials said.
"The MV Longchamp was hijacked this morning with a crew of 13 - twelve Filipinos and one Indonesian," Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme said on Thursday.
It was not clear where the tanker, which was flying the Bahamas flag, was headed.
The tanker has a capacity of 3,415 tonnes, Mwangura said.
Piracy havoc
Pirates have been causing havoc in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, hijacking dozens of ships last year and demanding tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments.
Hamburg-based ship operator Bernard Schulte Shipmanagement confirmed the hijacking. It said no ransom demands had been made.
"The master was briefly allowed to communicate with us and it appears that all crew members are safe," it said in a statement.
Piracy in the Gulf of Aden has prompted some shipping firms to take an alternative route via South Africa instead of via the Suez Canal.
The alternative shipping route has lowered the frequency of hijackings, but there have still been three boats captured this month.
The German military reported there were two more suspected attempts by pirates to attack ships in Gulf of Aden on Thursday.

Timeline: Somalia

A chronology of important events and developments

July 1, 1960: Somalia gains independence. The country is created through the merger of the British Somaliland Protectorate and Italian Somaliland.

1963: Somalia breaks diplomatic relations with Britain, amid border dispute with Kenya.

1964: Fighting breaks out over border dispute with Ethiopia.

1967: Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke beats Aden Abdullah Osman Daar in elections for president.

1969: Shermake is assassinated.
October 21, 1969: Major General Muhammad Siad Barre seizes presidency in a bloodless coup.

1970: Barre says that Somalia is a socialist state. He begins a process of nationalising the country's economy.

1974-75: Somalia is blighted by severe drought, causing widespread starvation.

1977: Somalia invades the Ethiopia's Ogaden region, which is home to hundreds of Somali people.

1978: Ethiopian forces, backed by Cuban troops, push Somali soldiers out of Ogaden.
Barre turns to the United States after expelling Soviet advisers from Somalia.

1981: Barre prevents Mijertyn and Isaq clan members from holding posts in government. He fills the vacant positions with people from the Marehan clan.

1988: Somalia reaches a peace accord with Ethiopia.

January 1991: Barre's government is forced from power, promoting factional fighting.
November 1991: A power struggle breaks out between rival clan regional commanders, Mohammed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohammed.
Soon the government collapses and fighting breaks out between rival leaders. Thousands of civilians are killed in the violence, while thousands die of starvation because food aid cannot reach them due to the clashes.
Somali government soldiers have struggled to maintain order in the country [AFP]1991: Somaliland declares unilateral independence from Somalia.

February 1992: Rival commanders sign a UN-sponsored ceasefire but fail to agree on monitoring provisions.
The UN deploys 500 soldiers in Mogadishu as part of United Nations Operation in Somalia (Unosom) which is intended to observe the ceasefire. Fighting continues to escalate.
December: A contingent of US marines lands near Mogadishu, under a UN peacekeeping mandate to assist in the delivery of humanitarian aid. The soldiers are also tasked with restoring order. 1993: US forces target powerful Somali leader Muhammad Farah Aidid. About 2,000 people are killed in clashes between the US marines and Aidid's forces, many of them civilians.
Seventeen US army rangers are killed when their helicopters are shot down in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

March 1994: The US ends its mission in Somalia.

March 1995: UN peacekeepers leave Somalia. Their mission is a failure.

1996: Aideed dies and is succeeded by his son, Hussein.

1998: Puntland region declares that it is autonomous from Somalia.

2000: Abdulkassim Salat Hussein becomes president of Somalia. Ali Khalif Gelayadh, the country's prime minister, announces a new government.

October 2004: Ethiopian-backed regional commander, Abdullahi Yusuf, is elected Somali president and head of a new transitional parliament.

June 5, 2005: Fighters loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) defeat US-backed leaders and take control of Mogadishu.

March-May 2006: Dozens of people are killed in fighting between rival armed groups in Mogadishu.
September: Transitional government and the Union of Islamic Courts hold peace talks in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.
December: UIC loyalists flee Mogadishu in face of joint offensive by Ethiopian and Somali government forces. The joint force captures the city.
Al-Shabab has led a campaign against the government in recent months [AFP]January 2007: Union of Islamic Courts loyalists flee Kismayo, their port stronghold. Interim government puts state of emergency in place.
April: More than 320,000 Somalis have left their homes in Mogadishu since February amid fierce fighting, the UN says.
November: Nur Hassan Hussein is appointed as prime minister after his predecessor, Ali Mohamed Gedi, resigns.

May 1, 2008: US air raid kills Aden Hashi Ayro, leader of al-Shabab, an offshoot of the Union of Islamic Courts.
August 18: Somalia formally signs a peace deal with some opposition figures, but the pact is rejected by some groups.

August 22: Al-Shabab fighters seize Kismayu, a strategic southern port, after fighting that kills 70 people.

November 14: President Yusuf admits that insurgents control most of the country, raising the prospect his government could completely collapse.

December 14: Yusuf announces that he is sacking Nur Hassan Hussein, the prime minister, and the interim government.
December 15: The parliament votes in a special session in favour of keeping Hussein and his cabinet in office.
December 16: Yusuf appoints Mohamed Mohamoud Guled as prime minister, ignoring the parliament's vote in favour of keeping Hussein as prime minister.
December 24: Mohamed Mohamoud Guled resigns.
December 29: Yusuf resigns, saying that Sheikh Aden Madobe, the parliament speaker, will take over as interim president.

January 2, 2009: Ethiopia says it has started pulling its troops out of Somalia.
January 26: Last group of Ethiopian soldiers leave. Fighters from al-Shabab move into Baidoa, the seat of the transitional government.January 30: Somali MPs elect Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed new president of Somalia in neighbouring Djibouti.Janurary 31: President wins elections with 293 votes against 126 votes for his challenger, and is sworn in.

By Samira

New Somali president sworn in

Ahmed easily won the parliamentary run-off vote against the son of Siad Barre [Reuters]

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has been sworn in as the new president of Somalia just months after his Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed a peace deal with the transitional government.
The ceremony in neighbouring Djibouti on Saturday came after Ahmed, who also led the Islamic Courts Union, won a run-off parliamentary vote.
The new president's Islamic Courts movement ruled Mogadishu and most of southern Somalia for six months before being ousted by the Ethiopian military at the end of 2006.
Ahmed easily defeated Maslah Mohamed Siad, the son of ex-president Mohamed Siad Barre, in Saturday morning's second round of voting, winning 293 votes to Siad's 126.
"My government will bring an adequate plan to overcome the difficulties the nation is facing," he said in a brief inauguration speech.
"I will deal with the humanitarian situation in the country and give priority to those who have been displaced by war."
Mohamed Nur, a Somali journalist based in Mogadishu, told Al Jazeera that people had taken to the streets to celebrate their new president.
"They think he is the best leader ever [to be] chosen as president of Somalia since 1960, when the country gained independence," he said.

Ahmed's other main rival, Nur Hassan Hussein, the prime minister, pulled out of the election after the first round.

The Somali transitional parliament held both the presidential vote and the swearing-in ceremony in Djibouti due to instability in its home country.
Ahmed vowed to form a broad-based government and invited all armed groups in the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation to join the UN-sponsored reconciliation effort.
After being elected, he said he would reach out to former government leaders as well as to al-Shabab, the former armed wing of the Islamic Courts movement.
"Very soon, I will form a government which represents the people of Somalia," Ahmed said after being elected. "We will live peacefully with East African countries and we want to co-operate with them."
"I am extending a hand to all Somali armed groups who are still opposed to this process and inviting them to join us."
Al-Shabab has vowed to carry on fighting and already controls much of south and central Somalia, as well as large areas of Mogadishu, the capital.AU summit
After the swearing-in ceremony, Ahmed was expected to fly to Ethiopia for an African Union (AU) summit before returning to Somalia to put together his government.Abdirahman Abdi Shakur, an adviser to the president's party, told Al Jazeera that security was one of the main issues Ahmed would seek to tackle. "I would say that there will be huge challenges and at the same time opportunities," he said.
"We are finally seeing progress from the hard work by all sides to create an inclusive parliament"
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, UN's special envoy for Somalia
"Our approach is reconciliation not confrontation and we try to speak to everyone wherever they are in our country."
Abdullahi Yusuf, the former Somali president, resigned on December 29 after he was accused by the international community of being an obstacle to peace.
As part of an agreement brokered by the UN between the opposition and the transitional government, parliament was expanded to 550 seats, with 200 members of Ahmed's ARS group being sworn in earlier in the week.
Another 75 seats are still to be filled by other opposition and civil society groups, as part of an effort to bring former opponents into the government.

Election hailed
The parliament voted on Wednesday to extend by two years the term of the transitional government. Its original term of five years would have ended in seven months.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN's special envoy for Somalia, praised Saturday's "transparent" presidential vote.
"We are finally seeing progress from the hard work by all sides to create an inclusive parliament," Ould-Abdallah said in a statement.
"It is up to you, the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters to prevail on your children, your young brothers and friends to stop the violence. For the last 20 years, it has not helped any group to win lasting victory."
Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when Mohammed Siad Barre was forced from power.