Somali region won’t end deal with contractors
NAIROBI, Kenya — A semiautonomous regional government in Somalia yesterday defied the central government’s decision to end relations with a private security company linked to the founder of Blackwater Worldwide, underscoring the weakness of the authorities in Mogadishu.
Somalia’s minister of information, Abdulkareem Jama, insisted yesterday that the decision to end the relationship with Saracen International applies to regional governments.
“The decision is binding on all Somali territories. That will apply to all parts of Somalia,’’ said Jama.
But Abdirizak Ahmed, the head of the counterpiracy program in the semiautonomous northern region of Puntland, said it does not necessarily recognize the authority of the federal government to make that decision.
Saracen International has begun training forces in Puntland, whose administration has been distancing itself from the Mogadishu-based government, saying it hasn’t delivered security and services.
“I don’t think the decision they have made will change anything in Puntland,’’ Ahmed said. “I don’t think it will have an impact on the relationship Puntland has with Saracen . . . it’s not a [national government] issue.’’
Other Puntland officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Last week the Associated Press reported on links between Saracen International and Erik Prince, who founded Blackwater Worldwide. Killings by Blackwater guards in Afghanistan and Iraq — including a 2007 incident in Baghdad in which 14 Iraqi civilians were shot dead — raised global concerns over the lack of accountability of private security contractors in war zones.