Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Somalia President Urges Resistance Movements to Enter Talks With the Transitional Federal Government

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
12:22 Mecca time, 09:22 GMT

Somali groups urged to join talks

Ahmed heads a government which does not control much of the country

Somalia's president has called on armed groups in the country to enter into a dialogue with the government for ending decades of fighting in the African nation.

Speaking at a press conference, Sharif Ahmed said his government welcomed dialogue with any party willing to hold talks.

"We regret there is war in southern Somalia with those who have formed an alliance against us and described us as infidels and apostates," Ahmed said.

"This war proves that their ideas are incorrect. We call on them to stop fighting... the government is ready to open the door for dialogue with all parties to end trouble in the country."

'Empty words'

But Hassan Mahdi Othman, leader of the opposition Somali Islamic party, said he considered Ahmed's reconciliation offer as empty words.

"This is political talk, with no specific objective, such as to seriously hold a dialogue," Othman told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

"Since he [Ahmed] came to power... he has been talking like that with no actions on the ground.

"We have proposed a [reconciliation] initiative before he did, and we have said that before holding any dialogue, foreign troops must leave [Somalia], the so-called interim government must be replaced, an extended conference must be held, and we have set other conditions," he said.

Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 when the overthrow of the government at the time plunged the country into chaos.

Sharif's UN-backed government is currently in place in Mogadishu, but it is struggling to restore order with anti-government fighters controlling large patches of the country.

Source: Al Jazeera

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