The office of the president of Somalia's transitional federal
government says there have been misleading reports regarding an
agreement President Abdullahi Yusuf signed last month with a private
French military company. As VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu reports from
our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi, the firm says it has been given an
exclusive, three-year mandate to provide maritime security and to train
a Somali presidential guard unit. But President Yusuf's office says he
has not signed any such deal.
President Abdullahi Yusuf's chief
advisor, Abdirizak Adan Hassan, tells VOA that the Somali leader has
given the French company, Secopex, approval to pursue a contract to
boost security off the Somali coast, create a coastal intelligence
unit, and to train the president's bodyguards.
But Hassan says President Yusuf has not given Secopex exclusive rights to carry out those projects in Somalia.
happened was, this security company approached us and the attitude of
the president was, 'You know, we cannot go into a contract with you,
because we cannot pay you. As long as you can get your own payment and
contract from the rest of the international community - mainly the U.N.,
the U.S., the French government - as long as they select you and give
you the contract and the go-ahead, we do not mind. When you get their
blessing, get back to me. That is when I can say yes or no,'" he said.
Yusuf met Secopex executives during his visit to Paris last month. The
visit was, in part, to thank the French government for its help in the
release of hostages aboard a hijacked French luxury yacht off the coast
of Somalia in April. After a weeklong stand-off, elite French troops
rescued all 30 crew members and captured six Somali pirates.
who accompanied the president to France, says Mr. Yusuf made clear to
Secopex that it would have to bid for the contract, estimated to be
worth between $75 million and $150 million annually for the next three
"We just cannot give to one person," he added. "We have
to see different specializations and see which one is more appropriate
for the job."
The maritime Indian Ocean Newsletter reports the
agreement is not binding in that it does not oblige the Somali
government to pay for Secopex's services. The newsletter says it has
documents that show that the agreement signed in Paris gives the French
company an exclusive 36-month mandate to carry out its project.
an interview with the Agence France Presse news agency last week,
Secopex's chief executive, Pierre Marziali, also spoke as if his
company had secured the contract.
He told AFP that Secopex
will be conducting an audit of existing facilities in Somalia to
determine the contract amount, and that the successful rescue of the
yacht's crew had played a part in the signing of the deal with the
Founded in 2003, Secopex is composed of
specialists from elite French military units and other government
security agencies. It specializes in providing private military
services to sovereign states.
The office of Somali Prime
Minister Nur Hassan Hussein declined to comment about the deal, saying
the matter was still under discussion.
More than 30 pirate
attacks have been recorded off the Somali coast this year. Earlier this
month, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution
authorizing foreign warships to enter Somali waters with the consent of
the government to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea.