Mogadishu-16 th July 2012, The Office of the Prime Minister of Somalia (OPM) condemns allegations contained in news reports appearing in some of the media on a “leaked Monitoring Group’s report” linking The Office of the Prime Minister to alleged corruption and misconduct.
The Office of The Prime Minister maintains that the allegations are absolutely and demonstrably false. This deliberate misinformation is intended to tarnish the good name and integrity of the Prime Minister and also constitutes defamation and libel intended to maliciously harm the hard earned reputation of the Prime Minister.
The following are some egregious statements made in these media reports that may constitute defamation and libel and that if not retracted and apologized for could result in defamation and libel law suit:
1. “Monitoring group report provided evidence how the Prime Minister regularly sends letters to custom authorities requesting tax exemptions for companies or individual that he claims provide service to TFG.”
As a matter of fact SEMG report does not say so. It says as follows: “30. Both the Ministry of Finance and the OAG provide poor quality reporting of TFG expenses. Not all expenses are registered, and the Monitoring Group has obtained evidence demonstrating how the Office of the President and successive Prime Ministers send letters to custom authorities requesting import tax exemptions for individual or companies that have provided services or goods to the TFG.” Prime Minister Abdiwali Gaas categorically denies ever issuing tax exemption letters on behalf of individuals or companies under false pretenses, and cannot speak for successive prime Ministers.
2. “The report further alleges that another million from the Government of South Sudan is unaccounted and the Prime Minister’s office took its cut. The report alleges that “In early 2012, South Sudan donated, through Price Waterhouse Coopers, US$1 million to support TFG reconciliation efforts in Somalia’s newly liberated areas. A senior TFG official confirmed to the Somalia-Eretria Monitoring Report (SEMG) that the TFG did indeed receive the US$1 million from South Sudan.59 According to internal TFG documents obtained by the SEMG, the PM instructed the Finance Ministry to disburse the funds directly to individual government officials, MPs and political figures, including US$121,700 to his own office.”
The Prime Minister’s office clarifies that the said US$1 million donated to support TFG reconciliation efforts in Somalia’s newly liberated areas was in fact disbursed and spent on reconciliation efforts in newly recovered areas including Gedo, Bay/Bakool, Hiiraan and Central Somalia areas and evidence of such is available. Additional moneys were spent on political outreach to the regions as mandated under the Road Map protocols. The very fact that the SEMG acknowledges that this particular fund was channeled through Price Waterhouse Coopers demonstrates that the Prime Minister conducts government transactions in a transparent manner.
The Prime Ministers’ distinguished and outstanding contribution to Anti-corruption efforts on the national, regional and international levels is well recognized by Somalis and the following lend credit to those efforts.
The PMO takes great exception to the careless and irresponsible publication of false reports that can create wrong impressions and perceptions thereby misleading the Somali people. The PMO further notes that the media bear responsibilities of ethical journalism and as such must refrain from acts of defamation and libel that can cause harm to people’s reputation.
We urge media houses to liaise with the Office of the Prime Minister and authenticate stories relating to His office before going to print. We question the motive behind the publication of this “leaked” report before awaiting the conclusion and distribution of the final report and we call for the upholding of professionalism and objectivity in journalism.
H.E Abdiweli Ali Gaas reassures the Somali People and development partners of his personal commitment in ensuring transparent and accountable utilization of donor funds especially at this critical time in the history of Somalia.
Diraac Salaad Fagaase | Communication Director, office of the PM | firstname.lastname@example.org