The cabinet of the Somali Government of National Unity has met over night in an emergency session to discuss the events that led to the closure Sunday of three private radio stations in the capital, Mogadishu. Journalists from Horn Afrik, Radio Shabelle and Radio Simba say Somali government troops stormed their premises Sunday and took computers, cameras and radio equipment.
Ahmed Abdi Salam is a former co-founder and director of programming for Horn Afrik. He is now the minister of information, youth and sports for the Somali transitional government. From Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, Ahmed told VOA the government did not order the closure of the radio stations.
“This was not a decision by the government. As you may already know, there has been fighting in the Bakara area (Somalia’s main business center) since yesterday between insurgents and the government forces. And today there has been widespread looting of private property and businesses. Some soldiers who were wearing government uniforms went into different businesses, including some of these stations and took some equipment. And so it’s part of the investigation we are conducting,” he said.
Salam said the stations were forced to close because some of their equipment were stolen by looters. He said the Somali Prime Minister convened an emergency meeting Sunday during which he instructed the ministers concerned to return the stations’ equipment as soon as possible.
“We’ve already asked the government forces to clarify the equipment taken from these stations and to be brought back. The Prime Minister called an emergency meeting of the cabinet this afternoon and he instructed the committee of ministers responsible to investigate this incidence and to find the way to reopen these stations and return their equipment,” Salam said.
Salam was co-founder and director of programming for Horn Afrik Radio, and during his tenure, the government repeatedly closed private radio stations. But he said he could not have ordered the closure of any private station.
“As I said, if there had been a decision from the government it would have been from my office. What I am trying to explain to you and to your listeners is that there has been a problem today in the Bakara Market, something that brought difficulties to the people, including the radio stations. So the government has instructed a committee of ministers to investigate and take appropriate action,” he said.