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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 17:04 GMT
Somali factions want bank assets freed
Al-Barakaat sign
Al-Barakaat was Somalia's biggest employer
Warlords and the Transitional National Government in Somalia have issued a joint call for an end to the freeze on the assets of the al-Barakaat bank.

The freeze was imposed after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, after it was accused of helping terrorist groups finance their activities.


The freezing of al-Barakaat's assets worldwide led to increased insecurity and collapse of economic activities in Somalia

Musa Sudi Yalahow, Faction leader
Before the ban, al-Barakaat was Somalia's largest employer, while hundreds of thousands and probably millions of Somalis depended on it to transfer money throughout the world.

The call was issued in the Kenyan town of Eldoret, where Somali groups are trying to draw up a new federal constitution.

Two weeks ago, the groups agreed a truce for the duration of the talks.

Since then, little progress has been made, amid arguments about how to reduce the number of delegates in Eldoret.

Donors budgeted for 350 delegates but more than 1,000 turned up.

No terror link

Al-Barakaat was the largest company in Somalia, with interests in telecommunications, banking, postal services and refreshment.

"We appeal to the governments of the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to defreeze assets of al-Barakaat Bank in their countries to enable us to curb widespread insecurity and worsening economic conditions in Somalia," faction leader Hassan Ali Atto told the French news agency AFP.

Faction leader Osman Ali Atto
Warlords and the government are in rare agreement

The US withdrew its freeze on al-Barakaat's assets in August, after it was proven that the bank had no link to terrorism, AFP reports.

But 90% of the bank's assets are in the United Arab Emirates, which has not withdrawn its freeze, according to a statement signed by TNG Prime Minister Hasan Abshir Farah and several warlords.

"The freezing of al-Barakaat's assets worldwide led to increased insecurity and collapse of economic activities in Somalia as thousands employed by the bank had to stop work, while those that received money from relatives and friends abroad can no longer survive," another faction leader Musa Sudi Yalahow said.

Descent into chaos

The peace talks have the backing of the international community, which has threatened to impose sanctions on groups opposing an agreement.

Mogadishu
The transitional government has little control outside Mogadishu

Somalia has had no effective central government since President Mohamed Siad Barre was deposed in 1991.

The transitional government was established in August, 2000, but has little control outside the capital, Mogadishu.

Fighting between rival clans and warlords has plagued Somalia and all previous ceasefires have collapsed.

The latest agreement has the backing of Somalia's neighbours, the United States, the European Union and the Arab League.

Talks are planned to continue until the end of the year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mohammed Adow on Focus on Africa
"This agreement includes all the warring factions in southern Somalia"

Politics

Terrorist haven?

RESOURCES
See also:

08 Nov 01 | Africa
26 Sep 01 | Africa
22 Jan 02 | Africa
24 Oct 02 | Africa
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