"But all those things have failed. So my conscience simply won't allow me to be part of a failed parliament," he said. "Members can't operate freely. They don't have the security to move around, nor the money to survive."
Pay for the parliamentarians is a sore point. Members say the United Nations Development Program for Somalia should be paying them, and that they have not received their full salaries for almost a year. Deputy speaker Mohamed Omar Dalha said the European Union pays parliament's salary through the UNDP. But Marie Dimond, UNDP-Somalia's deputy country director, said the money is a "support measure" for the government."Salary payments are first and foremost a government responsibility," she said.When parliament does meet it passes laws — albeit ones that can be enforced only in the small area the government controls — and approves Cabinet appointments. Members last met in December.Earlier this week al-Shabab fighters visited a school near where parliament was to meet Thursday and warned teachers not to hold class, said Abdulahi Jamal, a teacher."I was too afraid to open my shop this morning," said Ahmed Mo'alin, a shop owner at Mogadishu's Bakara market. "If the parliament session had opened, the insurgents would have attacked, and then the retaliatory fire could have hit us."It's not clear when the session will be rescheduled.Dalha said unidentified gunmen have killed nine members of parliament and injured 13 others during the last five years. Many members prefer to live in safer environs in the U.S., Europe, Gulf states and African capitals like Nairobi in Kenya and Kampala, Uganda."We parliamentarians are at risk, at grave risk," Dalha said. "We are targeted for being part of the government, and the government has no strong forces to protect us."Muhumed reported from Nairobi, Kenya.