MOGADISHU:The spiritual leader of the Union of Islamic Courts has said that an upcoming national reconciliation conference has no chance of success since Somalia is under Ethiopian military occupation.Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys told the Asharq al Awsat newspaper that no peace will be realized in Somalia as long as Ethiopian troops are occupying the country.
Aweys said the international community needs to give the Somali people a chance to resolve their own problems without foreign interference and appealed to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to withdraw his forces from Somalia.
The Islamic Courts leadership is not satisfied with the Somali transitional government’s plans to host the reconciliation “conference of clans” in Mogadishu next month, according to Aweys. The government is planning to host the June conference with 1,325 delegates from across Somalia.
“No one can stop me from sitting across the transitional president [Abdullahi Yusuf] to prevent further Somali bloodshed…but the condition is that the president must relinquish his need for Ethiopia,” Sheikh Aweys said.
He refused to negotiate directly with the Somali government, saying that the government lacks power and the authority to make its own decisions.
Aweys, a former prisons colonel, led the Somali Islamists during their six-month rule of Mogadishu and much of south-central Somalia, until Ethiopia-backed Somali troops dislodged them from power in December 2006.
His appointment as Islamic Courts legislative chief sent shockwaves from Addis Ababa to Washington, D.C., and analysts believe its one of the primary reasons the U.S. government gave the green light for Ethiopia’s military intervention last December.
Aweys claimed that he is “somewhere inside Somalia” during his interview with Asharq al Awsat. Somali officials said he and other high profile figures, such as his Taliban-trained protégé Adan Hashi Ayrow, are being hunted for by Somali-Ethiopian troops.
Source: Garowe Online