Shaky peace accord in Somalia
Monday, the government and an opposition bloc signed a UN-brokered peace deal. But Tuesday, Islamist hard-liners said they would continue to fight.
The government and Islamist militias in Somalia, who have been waging an insurgency for more than two years, reached a peace agreement on Monday, even though violence had spiked in the capital city over the weekend, prompting fears that the fragile peace might not hold. A leader of the former ruling Union of Islamic Courts also said Tuesday that his group rejected the accord.Skip to next paragraph
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Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) chief Sheikh Sharif Ahmed signed the accord at the ceremony witnessed by the Arab League, the African Union, the European Union, the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The ARS is an opposition umbrella group dominated by Islamists and based in the Eritrean capital of Asmara.
While some Islamist leaders and influential clan leaders joined the talks, other hardline Islamists, insisting the mediation was biased, have maintained their call for an Ethiopian withdrawal before any talks.
Voice of America adds that the deal – which seeks to end 17 years of conflict – also "calls for a termination of all acts of armed confrontation, beginning in 30 days and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops within 120 days, but only after UN peacekeepers are deployed."
Thousands of Ethiopian troops have been stationed in Somalia since 2006, when Ethiopia invaded to oust an Islamist militia that had taken power in a coup. Somalia is now ruled by a transitional government that receives support from Ethiopia, CNN reports, adding that "the presence of Ethiopian troops trying to help defend a transitional government's hold on Mogadishu has united Islamic militant groups seeking to gain control of the city."
In 2006, the Islamic Courts Union – a militia group – ousted Somalia's transitional government from power. But the ICU was deposed in December of that year following Ethiopia's military invasion.
Since then, insurgent groups have been trying to destabilize the government.
Somalia's current transitional government is trying to maintain control of the capital, with the help of the better-equipped Ethiopian forces.
The violence has displaced more than 40,000 civilians who have taken shelter in dozens of makeshift settlements west of Mogadishu.
The Associated Press says Monday's deal "is an important step toward peace, but it remains to be seen if it will be respected by hard-line members of the opposition who have denounced those who took part in the U.N.-led talks in Djibouti."
Al-Shabab, the military wing of Somalia's ousted Islamic movement [the UIC], did not participate in the Djibouti talks. The State Department considers al-Shabab, or "The Youth," a terrorist organization.