Somali independent radio manager ‘in hiding’ 

Radio+PIX

Radio Shabelle has long had a fractious relationship with the government. PHOTO | BBC 

The manager of the independent Shabelle radio station in the Somali capital has told the BBC he is in hiding after the authorities took it off air.

Mohamed Musa said soldiers stormed the radio’s office on Friday, arresting about 20 staffers, three of whom are still in custody without being charged.

“I’m in hiding in Mogadishu…. I keep moving, it’s really very scary.”

When the station started broadcasting again on Tuesday, the office was raided again and all equipment removed.

Mr Musa denied accusations that the station was spreading hate messages.

The UN-backed government issued a statement saying that the station had been unprofessional by spreading disharmony amongst Mogadishu’s clans.

There has been tension in the capital following the government’s recent disarmament programme, which has seen the militias of clan leaders disarmed.

Mr Musa said Shabelle had not broadcast either for or against the disarmament.

“We are not on the side of government, we are not on the side of opposition, we only tell the people the truth,” he told the BBC.

Media organisations have condemned the arrests and been shocked at the heavy handed approach of the government.

There have been calls for the detainees to be charged in accordance with the constitution, which only allows for 24 hours detention without charge.

Resettling refugees

Mr Musa admitted Shabelle had a fractious relationship with the government, which evicted it from a state-owned building last year.

He said he believed there was a warrant out for his arrest and he was concerned for the safety of his colleagues who remained in detention, fearing they were being maltreated.

Meanwhile, Somalia’s neighbours in the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), want the government to create better opportunities for resettlement of Somali refugees.

They were speaking at a meeting on the question of the refugees held in Addis Ababa which was attended by Somali prime minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed together with representatives of the AU and UNHCR.

Somalia’s neighbours together host nearly one million Somali refugees while another one million Somalis remain displaced internally within Somalia itself.

Many of these refugees are of long-standing having fled Somalia decades ago immediately after Siad Barre’s regime imploded in 1991.

Igad remains concerned by continued attacks by the Al-Shabaab terror group within Somalia and elsewhere in the region.

However, Somalia officials pointed out the emerging signs of stability especially in the areas liberated by the AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) in conjunction with the Somali National Army.

Igad specifically wants the Somali players to work on expedited state formation and make real progress towards holding elections in 2016.

Additional reporting by ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu

Source: Africa Review

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