The speaker of Somalia’s parliament has asked legislators living abroad to return to Mogadishu within two weeks or face disciplinary action, the deputy speaker said.
Nearly half of Somalia’s 439 members of parliament are sheltering in the safety of capitals around the world to avoid the near-daily violence back home. Some of them have become citizens of their host countries.
“The issue of safety is not reasonable because each member took an oath knowing the risks of working inside Somalia,” deputy speaker Mohamed Omar Dalha told Reuters at a seminar on Somalia’s constitution in neighbouring Djibouti.
“Were they expecting a red carpet reception? We cannot accept poor justifications like that. The speaker has recalled them and if they do not come back in the given time of two weeks, the disciplinary committee will take steps going forward.”
A former legislator said at least 47 of the sitting MPs were seeking asylum in Europe alone.
“Forty seven parliamentarians left the country for official visits to Europe and then sought asylum there. Their absence exceeding the timeframe allowed has paralysed the parliament,” Ali Bashi Haji Mohamud told Reuters.
The speaker was still sending them their salaries and allowances, he said.
Since the beginning of 2007, clashes between pro-government militia and al Shabaab, an Islamist rebel group, have killed 19 000 Somalis and displaced 1.5 million.
Al Shabaab, which is branded by Washington as an al Qaeda proxy in the region, wants to enforce a strict version of Islamic sharia law in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation that has had no functional central government since 1991.
Yesterday, al Shabaab leaders told schools in the town of Marka, 90 km (55 miles) south of Mogadishu, to fly the group’s black flag in their compounds and to separate boys’ and girls’ classrooms.
Pic: Somali President