MOGADISHU (HORN OBSERVER) At a black market, in Mogadishu, a group of men negotiated the price of two AK-47 rifles on Saturday. The buyer, who only shared his initial as Ahmed, said the price was much higher than it was sold five months ago.
Ahmed eventually bought and paid $1,400 for each of the two guns.
“Five months ago an AK-47 gun was only $700. Now it’s double that price,” he told Horn Observer.
The arms market is not only this one. Horn Observer had access to a house currently used as a small arms and ammunition market in Mogadishu.
For instance, a PKM, a Soviet-designed heavy machine gun costs $15,000 and a 9mm Browning Long (Belgium design) pistol costs $2000.
One arms dealer we met there acknowledged that there was a sharp rise of the price of illicit arms in the country. He attributed this to two factors: decline in arms imports and an increase in domestic demand for weapons ahead of the federal parliamentary and presidential elections projected for later 2020 and early next year.
“We receive a lot of demand every day from different customers. The most commonly used weapons are AK-47s, PK-Machine guns, RPGs [a shoulder-fired missile], pistols and various types of ammunition. Many people want to arm themselves before the election,” the arms dealer who declined to give his name said.
Horn Observer has met with another man who identifies himself as a broker for arms buyers and traders. He agreed to use only his initial ‘Yusuf’ for this report out of fear for his safety.
“Normally there used to be more supply of arms before. Now there are no new weapons entering into the market, as suppliers from Yemen have dwindled, while domestic demand for purchase of weapons has increased over the past six months. Government soldiers are the only suppliers now. So prices have gone up,” Yusuf said.
Yusuf said that up to four clan political leaders have purchased various weapons in the past three months pointing the fear that political campaigns, if not managed in a consensus way, could spiral into violence.
“This election is different from the first ones. First, this will be close contested election. The incumbent president Mohamed Farmaajo is trying to block other candidates from contesting while opposition politicians started to mobilise their clans to be ready for action if needed,” Yusuf adds.
“Each clan wants to ensure that their allocated seats in the parliament are not stolen or interfered and they are ready to protect against that,” he adds.
Yusuf confirmed to Horn Observer that Gedo, Galgadud, Middle Shabelle, Hiiraan and Baidoa which fall under Jubbaland, Galmudug, HirShabelle and South West State are the main destinations for arms sales in Mogadishu.
“Because these are sensitive areas with local elections commenced or going to commence and there is a clan hostility,” Yusuf told Horn Observer.
A Mogadishu-based security analyst, Hassan Nur said some of the statements recently made by opposition politicians and government officials regarding the parliamentary and presidential elections had raised serious security concerns and consequently made clan militias to be arming.
“Somalia is a fragile country where the power of clans is more important than the power of the government. If any clan feels oppressed or its members intimidated, the only option open for them is to seek violence for their rights. It is a very dangerous fact,” he said.
The biggest fear right now, according to Nur, if the leaders of federal government proceed with their own unilateral decision on the elections or attempt to extend the term, it could lead to a new cycle of inter-clan war, which on the other would become an opportunity for al-Shabaab terrorist group.