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Tuesday, 29 August, 2000, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Kenya's 'Little Mogadishu' celebrates
Djibouti celebrations
Somalis celebrated in Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia
By Alice Muthengi in Nairobi

The busy streets of Nairobi's Eastleigh suburb almost came to a standstill over the weekend, following the annoucement of Abdulkasim Salat Hassan as president of Somalia.

On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of Somali nationals sat grouped around their radios, many of them chewing khat, as they followed news of the Somali presidential elections which were held in neighbouring Djibouti.

Eastleigh over the years has come to be known as "Mogadishu Ndogo" - Swahili for "Little Mogadishu".

Thousands of Somali nationals have lived here for the last 10 years, after fleeing from civil war in their own country.

Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
Abdulkassim Salat Hassan: To head Somalia's Government
Men and women spend their days in nearby lodges, now converted into shopping centres to sell cheap wares brought into the country from Mogadishu.

Eastleigh is one place you can buy cheap goods brought from Somalia - including guns.

But as the election results were announced, the traders halted their businesses to join in the celebrations.


Waving the Somali flag and green twigs, and chanting happy tunes, thousands of Somalis marched through Eastleigh, before congregating at the Pangani open ground.

You can never be happy as a refugee - we all want to go back

Osman Ali
The march was part of a wider celebration to welcome the election and swearing in of President Hassan.

Every Somali is happy about the turn of events - even those of Kenyan citizenship.

Many have come from Kenya's north-eastern province to "Mogadishu Ndogo" to join in the celebration.

Everyone is tired of the war.

"It's time we forgot all this, said Hussein Bulahayo, a citizen of Kenya who came all the way from Garissa.

"The warlords have lost it this time - we're tired."

Ready to return

Most are anxious and willing to go back home, even when they know things will not be easy.

Osman Ali says he is ready to catch the next flight out to Mogadishu.

Somali militia
Somalis say they have had enough of war
"You can never be happy as a refugee - we all want to go back'' he said.

Most Somali nationals stayed awake in anticipation of the results.

Fatma Jumale, who came to Kenya in 1995, said the news was "the best thing in my life".

Peace process

A transitional parliament sitting in Arta in neighbouring Djibouti on Saturday elected Mr Hassan, 58, a former minister under the late Dictator Siad Barre , who was ousted in 1991.

The 245-member parliament was set up by a peace conference in Arta as part of a peace initiative led by the tiny Red Sea nation.

The conference which begun in May brought together 1,000 traditional elders from all the major clans to iron out their differences.

The process has, however, been opposed by some Somali militia leaders including Hussein Aideed and Muse Sudi Yalahow. Opposition has also come from the regional leaders in Somaliland and Puntland.

Many however are optimistic that Mr Hassan will restore order.

"The warlords have previously had the backing of people , but now everyone is tired of the war," said Osman Ali.

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See also:

28 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia's new leader sworn in
26 Aug 00 | Africa
Old hand Hassan is new president
24 Jul 00 | Africa
Government-in-exile for Somalia?
09 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia talks money runs out
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