Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Islamist leader says Somali talks a waste of time

Talks between Somalia’s interim government and the opposition in Djibouti are a waste of time and no tangible outcome can be expected, Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys said on Thursday.

Speaking from Asmara, where he lives in exile, the former army colonel urged his allies from the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) attending the peace talks to walk out.

”I don’t expect anything tangible to come out of the meeting,” Aweys (62) told Reuters. ”What two or three people have agreed upon in a short sitting cannot be of good to the public … It’s just a waste of time.”

Negotiations started at the weekend over Somalia’s conflict pitting government troops and their Ethiopian military allies against Islamist insurgents, remnants of an ousted Sharia courts group led by Aweys.

Asked whether his hard-line stance might cause a rift in the ARS, Aweys said it would actually strengthen the group and help them foster a united approach towards ending the conflict.

”I wish to tell my brothers from the alliance they should come back so that we can first agree together … The meeting was hastily planned and the main thorny issues are not addressed,” he said.

Aweys said dialogue could succeed only if Somalia was freed from ”Ethiopian occupation” and its people were able to enjoy freedom and justice.

‘Simple solution’

”The solution is simple. Our enemy, Ethiopia, should be removed. We have a responsibility to first throw them out then we can organise a national conference after attaining freedom,” the cleric-turned-politician said.

Most Somalis resent the presence of soldiers from Ethiopia, Somalia’s ancient rival. The government sought Ethiopia’s help to recapture the capital, Mogadishu, in 2006.

Aweys was one of those behind Somalia’s Islamic Courts Council, which defeated United States-backed warlords in mid-2006, seizing Mogadishu and much of the south before allied Somali-Ethiopian troops ousted them six months later.

Despite gaining some popularity for restoring law and order, the Islamists fell out of popular favour for imposing strict Sharia law, whipping drunkards in public and closing down cinemas and beauty parlours viewed as anti-Islamic.

Aweys urged the world to treat the Somalis, deprived of effective central rule since the 1991 ouster of a dictator, fairly. He indicated change was possible with the US president to be elected this year to replace George Bush.

”We would love America to be led by a man who would reduce the current problems in the world, who would ease the suffering of many oppressed people like us,” he said. — Reuters

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and get the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. For the latest updates and political analysis, sign up to our daily elections newsletter.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, a full year’s access is just R510, half the usual cost. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Eskom to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid load-shedding for elections

Stage four load-shedding rolled out to ensure the polls on Monday 1 November are energy secure

Khaya Koko: John Steenhuisen, please take a knee

The Democratic Alliance leader rebuking cricketer Quinton de Kock would be this election season’s greatest triumph

Paddy Harper: Will the Covid-19 cigarette ban come back to...

Flashbacks of nicotine deprivation and not poor service delivery may see a run on the polls on Monday

Eskom resorts to stage four load-shedding

Stage-four outages will continue until Friday after the loss of two units during the night, and three in total at Medupi, Kusile and Matla power plants tripping
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×