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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Creditor shuts Somali parliament
By Hassan Barise
BBC, Mogadishu

President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
The president had promised to pay up

Somalia's parliament has been forced to shut temporarily because it has failed to pay its rent.

The national transitional government, set up in 2000, owes a year's rent for the building being used by parliament.

Police at the parliament - where many documents are stored - have been told to leave by the proprietors who are now guarding the building.

We've always been told to wait, and the money would come and you will be paid
Hassan Dahir Hashi, driver

The government should pay $1,400 a month for the property, Mohamed Hassan Idleh who manages the building told the BBC.

"We won't let anyone into the building until we're paid. We've raised the issue several times, but nobody seem to care what we were talking about," he said.

The drivers of the 29 buses that transport MPs from their houses to the parliament have also stopped working because they have not been paid for one year.

Critical time

"We've always been told to wait, and the money would come and you will be paid," said Hassan Dahir Hashi, representative of the drivers.

"Lately, after the government got some money, we were told we would get three months' pay but it never materialised."

MPs, who also had not been paid for a year, reportedly received $1,000 each recently.

Soldiers too are said to have been paid.

The closure of the parliament's buildings comes as it was due to discuss Somali peace talks held in Kenya.

The government's term ends in August but the Kenya negotiations are expected to come up with another government before that time.

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Country profile: Somalia
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