31 May 2012

Somalia: Corrupt Officials Sell Invites to Civil Society Conference

For years, donor countries have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Somalia, hoping to stabilise the country. Over the past year, Turkey has ... ( Resource: Turkey Hosts Somalia Conference

Mogadishu — Over 60 people were taken to a Somali civil society conference in Turkey after paying sums of up to $ 10,000 to Transitional Federal Government (TFG) officials, Garowe Online reports.

According to TFG sources, over 60 people bought at up to $10,000 USD, invites to attend the Somali civil society conference in Istanbul, from corrupt TFG officials. The invites were supposed to be given to top civil society members in Somalia but instead was sold to the highest bidders.

The six day Somali civil society conference is being attended by 135 traditional elders and 165 Somali civil society members who were invited to the conference held in Istanbul, which opened on Sunday and is scheduled to end by June 2nd. However the conference was marred by controversy after the list of the Somali civil society members invited was leaked.

The TFG, Puntland and Galmudug expressed objections with how and what basis, the members who attended the conference were chosen and the absence of top Somali civil society groups and members. TFG State Minister of the Constitution Abdullahi Hoosh Jibril said on Tuesday that the conference was missing "mainstream civil society groups."

A source in the TFG told GO, that officials have been selling the invites to highest bidders who according to the source, are people looking to pass through Turkey with plans to enter Europe illegally.

Last October TFG officials were accused of selling scholarships after Turkish officials took an exam of secondary students in Somalia .According to education officials, some students who were awarded scholarships were left behind, in their place people who paid corrupt officials large sums of cash were taken to Turkey.

TFG officials who spoke to GO, said that Turkey has some onus in the corruption, because of their lack of consultation with the appropriate government organs. According to a joint press statement by Puntland and Galmudug governments, Turkey did not consult with regional governments as well as top TFG officials when it selected 165 members of the Somali civil society to convene in Istanbul.

At the conference a wide range of issues such as the impact of current development projects and Al Shabaab will be discussed. "It is heartbreaking that some people who do not really care about issues concerning Somalia are attending an important conference on behalf of the Somali civil society," said Puntland government spokesman Ahmed Omar Hersi.

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