Article published on the 2008-10-27 Latest update 2008-10-28 09:40 TU
Islamist commander Sheikh Muktar Robow Abu Mansoor addresses a news conference in Mogadishu, October 27, 2008.
“We will respect this encouraging decision reached by the transitional government of Somalia and the ARS (Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia),” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wahide Belay.
But the deal faces opposition from hardline Islamists, who have been waging an insurgency against the Ethiopian soldiers stationed in Somalia.
“We will continue fighting against the enemies of Allah,” said Mukhtar Robow at a press conference in Mogadishu. “There will be no peace in Somalia until the Islamic Sharia law in practiced all over the country.”
Because the hardliners weren’t included in the agreement, the deal may be in trouble, says Timothy Othieno from the Overseas Development Institute in London.
“The al-shebab, their principal has always been that they want the Ethiopian troops out, and that would mean that they would be able to agree to a ceasefire – so by extension we would assume that Al-Shebab would agree to this agreement,” Othieno told RFI.
Under the deal, Ethiopian forces would withdraw from positions in Mogadishu and Beledweyne on 21 November, to be replaced by African Union peacekeepers. But there is no deadline set for the completion of the withdrawal.
This worries Othieno.
"Without a definite exit completion date for the Ethiopian troops, it's an open-ended agreement", he says.
A Somali police force of 10,000 is to be recruited and trained by the government and the ARS to aid the AU control the areas.
Ethiopian soldiers have been Somalia since late 2006, when they entered to oust Islamist militants who had taken control of much of the country. Since then they have faced a fierce resistance to their presence which is considered an occupation by much of the population.
Monday morning, government forces raided Islamist positions in Mogadishu sparking a firefight that killed two people.
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