SomaliPress.com

Somalian President Sharif Fires Military Chief After Missing Weapons Scandal

Published on Wednesday 8th September 2010 Somalian President Sharif Fires Military Chief After Missing Weapons Scandal

The president of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Sheikh Sharif Ahmed fired the country's top military chief Monday due to allegations that he 'sold weapons' illegally, Radio Garowe reports.

According to inside sources, Gen. Mohamed Ghelle Kahiye was accused by TFG President Sharif of being "responsible" for tons of weapons missing from the government's military facilities in Mogadishu.

"The President fired the military chief and several subordinates, after a scandal surfaced linking him [Gen. Kahiye] directly to tons of weapons missing from military facilities," said a senior military official in Mogadishu speaking on condition of anonymity.

Government investigators found that Gen. Kahiye and a number of his staff and subordinates were involved in the missing weapons scandal, which included reports that the weapons were sold to anti-government forces, such as Al Shabaab militants.

Since President Sharif's election in early 2009, the U.S. government has provided direct military aid to the TFG by donating tons of military equipment to the besieged interim government in Mogadishu, backed by more than 6,500 African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM).

Mogadishu's residents have often accused AMISOM troops of shelling civilian areas, a development Al Shabaab and other militants have exploited to turn the public against the government and its AMISOM allies.

President Sharif is expected to appoint a new military chief soon, the sources added.

Meanwhile, hundreds of TFG troops in the few areas under government control have mutinied due to "nonpayment of salaries," according to local reports.

Residents said TFG troops stopped the flow of traffic along several roads including the strategic Maka al Mukarama Road that connects the presidential palace Villa Somalia to the city's airport, which is a major base for AMISOM peacekeepers.

The troops withdrew to their bases later Monday, but President Sharif has not spoken publicly about the mutiny.

Somalia's interim government, created in 2004 and renewed in 2009, has failed to bring law and order to Mogadishu. Much of southern Somalia remains firmly in the hands of Al Shabaab and allied militants, like Hizbul Islam.

The Islamist groups, some of whom are affiliated with Al Qaeda, have vowed to continue the insurgency that began in 2007 until they overthrow the Western-backed TFG and install an Islamic government in Mogadishu.

In northern Somalia, the sub-national governments of Somaliland and Puntland function independent of Mogadishu and have brought a measure of security and governance to the regions they administer.

Somalia's last effective national government collapsed in 1991, setting of a civil war and dividing the country deeply along clan lines to date.

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