Ministers demand confidence vote

Somalia's transitional federal government (TFG) has been thrown into disarray after 22 ministers signed a letter demanding a vote of confidence in the government.

"We have given the letter requesting the confidence vote to the speaker of parliament [Sheikh Aden Madobe] this morning [11 October]," said Justice Minister Hassan Dhimbil Warsame.

Twenty-two out of 30 ministers signed the letter, he said.

Warsame said the ministers took the action "after it became very clear that this government was not up to the job and has failed to deliver what the Somali people wanted".

Ali Jama Jangali, the livestock minister, said the group had come to the conclusion that "this government has failed and we now want the parliament to render its verdict". He spoke to IRIN by telephone from the town of Baidoa, 240km northwest of the capital Mogadishu, where parliament sits.

Jangali said the government was tasked to draw up a constitution, carry out a census and set up functioning regional administrations before the end of its mandate in 2009.

"The government has failed miserably in all these areas and more," he added.

A member of parliament who requested anonymity told IRIN that Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi "was in serious trouble, given that a majority in his own cabinet is lobbying for the no confidence vote".

He said Gedi will need 139 votes out of the 275-member parliament to survive. "I honestly don’t see how he will marshal such numbers."

A member of parliament close to Gedi said those pushing the motion were "wasting their energy", adding that the government was not worried about it. "The government is confident it [the motion] will fail," he said.

The uncertainty is creating confusion within the Transitional Federal Institutions, said the MP. "We need this resolved once and for all. It cannot go on like this."

Meanwhile, in Baidoa, a number of people were killed when a car bomb exploded on 10 October. Local sources said the target was an Ethiopian military base close to Bakin Hotel where Gedi, the prime minister, was staying.

"No one knows the exact number of people killed. The Ethiopians don’t allow anyone into their camps," he said.

The Mogadishu-based Simba Radio on 10 October aired a broadcast by an insurgent commander claiming responsibility for the explosion. The radio station was closed on 11 October by government forces, which also arrested the head of the station, Abdullahi Ali, and a journalist.

Somalia has had no functional central authority for the past 14 years, following the collapse in 1991 of the government of Muhammad Siad Barre. Civil war erupted soon after Barre was toppled, as various factions and rival warlords fought for power.

The regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development - comprising Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia - sponsored talks between various Somali clans and factions, culminating in the establishment of the TFG in October 2004.

ah/mw