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Ethiopian Airlines Security Staff At Hargeysa Airport Demand President Dahir Rayale Kahin And His Delegation Be Searched
Hargeysa, June 2, 2007 (SL Times) - Chaos ensued at Egal international Hargeysa airport today, as President Dahir Rayale Kahin was about to leave the country for Europe [Norway and Sweden] on an Ethiopian airlines flight bound for Addis Ababa was delayed, when the airline's security staff at Hargeysa airport insisted on searching the president and his delegation travelling with him to Europe.
The president’s delegation comprised of the first lady, Huda Barkhad Adan, the minister of Foreign Affairs, Muhammad Duale, the presidential spokesman, Saeed Adani and the personal secretary of the president, Hassan Dahir.
The Addis flight was delayed for more than 1 hour as Hargeysa airport and Somaliland government officials argued with the Ethiopian airlines security staff over the security screening of the president and his delegation.
The Ethiopian airlines security staff at Hargeysa airport maintained that the airline has a strict security and screening arrangement in place with Somaliland's ministry of Aviation and Transport, an agreement whereby the airline security staff conduct’s its own security screening on all passengers travelling on their flights from Hargeysa and said that no person is exempt from its security screening. Nevertheless, this did not stop the Somaliland officials from summoning the Ethiopian trade mission ambassador in Hargeysa, Ambassador Demise Webishet to the airport.
The Ethiopian Ambassador made it plain to Somaliland officials that he has no authority over the airline security staff, nor can he intervene in the airlines business and security arrangements. Sources at Hargeysa airport told SL Times that the ambassador, however, proposed to the Ethiopian airlines security staff to exclude the president and the first lady from their security screening.
SL Times was told by officials at Hargeysa airport, who declined to be quoted, that “the Somaliland government and airport officials contacted the Ethiopian airlines headquarters in Addis Ababa to protest to the airline's treatment of Somaliland’s head of state and his delegation at Egal international Hargeysa airport and said these security measures go against all international conventions and treaties concerning the treatment of heads of states and their diplomatic corps."
However, Ethiopian airlines in Addis Ababa defended its security measures, and said, "all passengers wanting to travel on their airlines must comply with these measures.”
Somaliland government officials, eventually, compromised with the Ethiopian airlines security staff at Hargeysa airport to omit the president and the first lady from the Ethiopian airlines security staff’s body and luggage search, but agreed to the screening and body search of the presidential delegation and their luggage; among these was said, according to SL Times sources at the airport, the minister of Foreign Affairs, Muhammad A Duale.
Somaliland Times contacted this evening the minister of Aviation and Transport, Mr Ali. M. Waran-ade for confirmation of today’s events relating to the security screening of the presidential delegation and their luggage by Ethiopian airlines at Hargeysa airport.
The minister confirmed that “the president and his delegation had a problem with the Ethiopian airlines security staff at the airport.” In addition, the minister said, “this unfortunate incident should not have taken place and that his ministry will send an official complaint to the Ethiopian airlines and the Ethiopian government in regard to today’s events”. Moreover, Waran-ade added that “if the airlines do not conform to the international conventions and treaties governing the treatment of diplomatic corps and travelling heads of states, his ministry and the government of Somaliland will take a stern action”. The minister stopped short in stating what stern action this imply's to.
SL Times asked the minister of Aviation and Transport, Mr Ali. M. Waran-ade whether, "it is true that his ministry had an agreement with Ethiopian airlines to conduct its own security ‘body and luggage’ search on all passengers travelling on its flights from Hargeysa?" The minister denied such an agreement existed and said, "if Ethiopian airlines claim’s that my ministry made such agreement with them, then, they should produce this agreement for us to see.”
The minister emphasized that “the Ethiopian airlines security staff, not once, did they want or tried to screen and search the president and the first lady’s belongings, nor did they, search the Foreign minister, Muhammad A Duale or his luggage.” Nevertheless, the minister confirmed to SL Times that luggage belonging to the president’s spokesman, Saeed Adani and the personal secretary of the president, Hassan Dahir was searched by the Ethiopian airlines security staff at Egal international Hargeysa airport prior to the presidential delegation’s flight departure left for Addis.
Source: Somaliland Times