Wednesday, September 11, 2013

■ SOMALIA: Minister of Transport implicates own President in Mogadishu airport deal scandal.

A huge scandal is brewing in Somalia over allegations by the Minister of Information, Post, Telecommunications & Transportation, Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi, that the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and the wife of the prime minister, Asha Haji Elmi, are the primary benefactors of a contract controversially awarded to Turkish firm, Favori LLC, for the management of Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport. 

In a letter to the UN's Coordinator of the Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea, Jarat Chopra, dated August 25 and published in the Somali press, Mr Hersi uncategorically states that he and his colleagues had been "relentlessly bullied" into accepting the Favori LLC contract and claims the President, through his firm, Alkheyraat, has a vested interest in the consortium.
"The sponsors of this scandal who happen to be most powerful individuals in the government namely the president whose company Alkheyraat is stake holder in Favori and the prime minister's wife Honorable Asha who got Lions share from the $1.8 million Dollar premium bribe paid by the Turkish company are relentlessly bullying me and my colleagues to kick out SKA the western company currently managing Mogadishu airport and enforce airport's immediate hand over to Favori on September the 15th ignoring the fact that SKA has 10 agreement with Somali government and hugely invested the airport."

Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi's letter to Jarat Chopra
[Click to enlarge]
Mogadishu has not, as yet, issued an official comment on the development or the letter.

On Monday, the Chairman of Somalia’s Parliamentary Committee for Transportation, Mr Osman Aden Dubow, also rejected the agreement between the Federal Government and Favori as "illegal and unconstitutional."

The Shabelle Network reports that Mr Dubow denounced the secretive nature of the alleged agreement as "full of loopholes" and "unacceptable to the Somali people" adding that it is part of his committee's responsibility to act as a watchdog in order to prevent the implementation of any agreement that had not obtained prior approval from the Somali parliament.

The committee cited Favori's inexperience with airport management and said the contract was awarded without merit. Favori was formed on January 14, and just ten days later paid the Somali government a royalty fee for the airport contract, Dubow said. 

The incumbent firm responsible for the airport's management, SKA Logistics, is reportedly considering legal action should the Favori LLC contract be enforced on September 15 as previously reported. The Dubai-based firm was awarded a 10 year concession to manage and upgrade the airport in 2010.

The controversy over the airport agreement now threatens to tarnish the image of the Federal Somali government, just days ahead of the much anticipated “New Deal For Somalia” conference to be hosted by the European Union in Brussels.