By VALENTINE OBARA
Monday April 16, 2018
Aden Adde International Airport, Mogadishu. The Somali government seized $9.6 million in possession of the United Arab Emirates ambassador at the airport last week – Photo HOL
MOGADISHU – The Somali government has said it will utilise millions of dollars from United Arab Emirates seized last week at the Aden Adde International Airport for their intended purpose.
The country’s Foreign Affairs ministry acknowledged that there was a misunderstanding earlier between the two countries concerning UAE’s intention of transporting $9.6 million to the country, but it has since been clarified that the money was for military assistance.
“The UAE has explained the purpose of the said funds and the government will work together with the UAE on their utilisation. To this end, the FGS (Federal Government of Somalia) welcomes the international community’s support to Somalia’s security,” the ministry said in a statement to newsrooms on Monday.
The statement came hours after UAE announced its decision to halt its military training programme in Somalia which has been running since 2014 as part of international efforts to build capacity of the Somalia army.
Besides training, the Gulf nation said it has also been paying salaries for 2,407 Somali soldiers and building infrastructure such as training centres and hospitals in the war-torn country.
“The UAE has expressed its denunciation of the seizure incident which flies in the face of diplomatic traditions and ties between world countries and contravenes the agreements signed by both countries,” read part of the statement.
Last week, Somalia’s Defense Minister Mohamed Mursal, was quoted saying that the government will terminate the programme and take over its troops.
Somalia had raised suspicion over what the cash was intended for, claiming the UAE ambassador refused to let the bags be scanned at the airport.
There has been friction in relations between the two countries for some months now since Somalia refused to cut its ties with Qatar as proposed by UAE and Saudi Arabia based on allegations that link Qatar to terrorism.