First Published: 2006-12-29

 
Somali PM enters Mogadishu amid protests
 

Protestors, chanting anti-Ethiopian slogans, throw stones, burn tyres as Somali transitional PM enters capital.

 

Middle East Online

By Mustafa Haji Abdinur - MOGADISHU

Entering the Somali capital protected by Ethiopians

Ali Mohamed Gedi, the head of Somalia's interim government, on Friday entered Mogadishu amid protests by thousands over the presence of Ethiopian troops in the capital.

Gedi travelled into Mogadishu in a high security convoy, protected by about 100 Ethiopian soldiers, one day after the leaders of Islamic courts forces left the city.

Gedi's government, whose fighters forced the Islamic courts out with the help of the Ethiopian military, plans to enforce three months of martial law in a bid to reestablish order.

Looting and gunbattles erupted between rival clan-based militias erupted.

Protestors, chanting anti-Ethiopian slogans, threw stones and burnt tyres as the prime minister headed into the capital. Hundreds of Ethiopian troops, and tanks, were already in the city.

"Thousands of angry people have started a violent demonstration in the northern part of the city, particularly in Tawfiq and Suuqaholaha areas," said one resident Abdulsatar Dahir Sabrie.

Gedi said martial law was needed to disarm all the militias.

Speaking to reporters late Thursday in his home village of Mundul Sharey, north of the capital, Gedi said: "This country has been through a lot of anarchy, so to restablish order we will have to have an iron hand, especially with the private militia."

Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Mohamed Aidid said the parliament based in Baidoa is expected to endorse the move on Sunday.

The transitional government-Ethiopian alliance had been fighting the Islamic courts for control of the country since December 20. The conflict erupted after Ethopia rejected an Islamist demand to withdraw from Somalia.

Islamic courts fighters still held the southern port town of Kismayo, where one of their senior commanders vowed they would launch hit-and-run attacks across the country.

Dinari said Mogadishu elders had assured the government of their support, but uncertainty still prevailed in the town. Many Islamic courts fighters, who swapped their uniforms for civilian clothes and removed their turbans, roamed the streets.

Islamic courts fighters said their leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was in Kismayo about 500 kilometres (300 miles) south of the capital, where residents reported Ethiopian jets flying over the region, apparently on reconnaissance missions that raised fears of bombing.

"We will never surrender to Ethiopians and the government of (President) Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed," local Islamic courts’ commander Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal said from Kismayo.

"I assure you the Islamic forces are everywhere in the country and you will see the forces operating within days. What we will do is hit and run. We will ambush their convoys everywhere in Somalia."

Somalia fought wars against Ethiopia in 1964 and in 1977/78. But Ethiopia said its intervention was necessary as the Islamic courts were a security threat.

"We do not need and clearly we do not welcome Ethiopian forces here or anywhere in Somalia," said resident Muhamoud Abdi.

A correspondent saw Ethiopian tanks, more than 70 military trucks and hundreds of troops near Banadir Hospital in southern Mogadishu. Hundreds more vehicles were parked at the northern and western gates of the city.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme said it would resume humanitarian air operations to Somalia this weekend after the government lifted a ban on air flights.

Somalia disintegrated into lawlessness after the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. It was carved up among clan warlords, some of whom now back the government, and defied all international bids to restore functioning institutions of state.

There have been no independent assessments of casualties but Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi claimed up to 3,000 dead on the side of the Islamic courts, while the Islamists said they had killed hundreds of government troops.

The Ethiopian intervention in Somalia has received tacit US support, with Washington arguing that Addis Ababa had legitimate security.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli