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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Somalis protest over bank notes
President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan has appealed for calm
By Hassan Barise in Mogadishu

Violent demonstrations in the Somali capital Mogadishu over the refusal of businesses to accept old bank notes has left one person dead and several others injured.

The protest which involved tens of thousands of people including women and children, began about 0900 and then gained momentum as the morning wore on.


The price of a cup of tea has doubled virtually overnight A few days ago it cost 500 shillings now it is 1,000

Businessess argue that the notes are old, worn out and worth very little.

But the government of President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan has ordered shopkeepers to accept the notes as legal tender.

THe president said: "I have ordered the police and the appropriate courts to take the necessary measures against those who try to destabilise the country by not accepting these notes."

Stone throwing

The smallest denomination businessess will take is the 1,000 Somali shilling note, worth less than five US cents.

During the demonstration, hundreds of shops and restaurants on the main Soddonkah road closed as the demonstrators threw stones at the buildings.

Traffic came to a halt after several buses and cars had their windshields smashed.

The angry people said the refusal of shops to accept the 500 Somali shilling note had led to inflation and high prices.

The price of a cup of tea has doubled virtually overnight. A few days ago it cost 500 shillings, now it is 1,000.

When they reached Bakara market, the country's biggest trading centre, security guards began firing warning shots.

War-zone

The market itself descended into chaos as business people feeling threatened and afraid of a possible looting spree, brandished their weapons.

Mogadishu (archive shot)
Mogadishu resembled a war zone on Tuesday

Mogadishu looked more like a war-zone, covered with huge palls of smoke as demonstrators started burning tyres and rubbish along the main roads.

The trouble was indeed widespread as protesters made their way to where the president lives and works.

Luckily for him, he was out at the time.

Demonstrators were fired at and nine ended up in Medina hospital, including a boy and a girl.

One victim, a man selling bananas from a wheelbarrow, has subsequently died from his wounds.

Crisis talks

The president, who spoke briefly on government radio, appealed for calm.

Businesspeople and money changers are now expected to attend an emergency meeting to discuss ways of tackling the current currency crisis.


Talking PointFORUM
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See also:

29 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia's new civilian leader
30 Jul 01 | Africa
Kenya bans trading with Somalia
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