EDITH M. LEDERER
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- U.N. experts monitoring the partial lifting of an arms embargo on Somalia are accusing the government of "high level and systematic abuses" which have allowed weapons and ammunition to get into the hands of clan leaders, warlords and al-Qaida-linked militants.
The experts recommended that the U.N. Security Council re-impose a full arms embargo when the 12-month partial suspension ends in early March. As a possible alternative, it said the government must be subject to enhanced notification and reporting requirements for arms deliveries, "if not a partial tightening."
A letter from the experts monitoring sanctions against Somalia and Eritrea, obtained Friday by the Associated Press, details a number of incidents of weapons being diverted from the government -- including one to a leader of the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab.
A call to Somalia's U.N. Mission seeking comment was not answered.
Somalia has been trying to establish its first functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and turned on each other, plunging the impoverished nation into chaos. Al-Shabab rebels were ousted from the capital, Mogadishu, in 2011 and have been pushed out of other key cities but they are not yet defeated.
The government, led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, controls only small parts of the country and is struggling to provide security and battle corruption.
The monitoring group said the Somali government denied them access to several arsenals, and in the ones they visited they found discrepancies between lists of delivered weapons and ammunition, and what was actually in the warehouses.
Individuals from president Mohamud's Abgaal sub-clan "appear to be dominating the procurement of weapons as well as their distribution" from army stockpiles, the experts said.
"In addition, the monitoring group has also obtained documentary evidence corroborating information that a key adviser to the president, from his Abgaal sub-clan, has been involved in planning weapons deliveries to al-Shabab leader Sheikh Yusuf Isse 'Kabukatukade,' who is also Abgaal," the letter said.
The monitoring group said that the government's security policy "is being captured by clan and sub-clan politics" and as a result, it said, "weapons distribution along clan lines for the purpose of prosecuting clan warfare is ultimately reducing the prospect of a cohesive strategy by the (government) against al-Shabab."
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