MOGADISHU, Somalia July 1 (Garowe Online) -
Some major towns in Somalia celebrated Somali Independence Day marking the 49th anniversary since the East African nation gained independence from European colonialism, Radio Garowe reports.
Events featuring public speeches, poetry and dance were held in different regions of the country. But in many major towns, there were no celebrations at all.
In Mogadishu, the national capital, an event marking Independence Day was attended by government officials.
Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed Osman "Dhagahtur" spoke briefly about the importance of Independence Day, followed by brief remarks from Somali police chief Gen. Abdi Qeybdiid who soon welcomed Yusuf Mohamed Siad "Indho Ade" to the microphone.
Attendees said Mr. Indho Ade, a notorious former warlord, was introduced by Gen. Qeybdiid as the "State Minister for Defense."
Indho Ade gave a long speech where he verbally attacked armed opposition groups Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, who are fighting to topple Somalia's interim government.
He accused the groups of links to Al Qaeda, while condemning Osama Bin Laden for "encouraging" Somali opposition factions to fight against the U.N.-recognized Somali government.
"Somalia needs peace and order and the government is ready, but there are groups who want to keep the country in war and this is unacceptable," said Indho Ade, who spent years fighting other warlords in major clan battles southern Somalia since the early 2000s.
In Puntland, a peaceful region in northeastern Somalia, Vice President Gen. Abdisamad Ali Shire attended an event at the State House in Garowe, the capital of Puntland.
The event was attended by Puntland government officials, civil servants, women's and youth groups, traditional elders and community leaders.
Vice President Shire told the attendees that July 1 marks a historic moment when the first national flag of Somalia was raised in Hargeisa, the country's second-largest city which is now the capital of the separatist republic of Somaliland.
Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed "Farole," the president of Puntland who is currently in the U.S., spoke at the event via telephone and encouraged Somalis to proudly celebrate Independence Day.
Meanwhile, major towns in Somalia including Hargeisa, Baidoa and Kismayo did not celebrate Somali Independence Day for political reasons.
Somaliland politicians are opposed to July 1, as that day marks the official merger of the British Protectorate of Somaliland in the north and the Italian colony to the south, forming the Somali Republic on July 1, 1960.
Somaliland separatists say the Act of Union was a mistake and unilaterally declared independence on May 18, 1991, as Mogadishu descended into violence.
But in towns such as Baidoa and Kismayo, which are controlled by Al Shabaab, there were no celebrations as the Islamist hardliners do not recognize Independence Day altogether.
Source: Garowe Online