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Interim Somali Government May Reorganize


The interim government of Somalia is considering including Islamic leaders in the hope of finding a political solution to the looming crisis in the country. The conflict is being further fueled by the involvement of neighboring countries Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Somali legislators have handed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi, to the speaker of parliament.

The Transitional Federal government will meet to debate the motion on Saturday. The members of parliament behind the move hope that Islamist leaders, whose forces control the capital Mogadishu and much of the south of the country, may be enticed into fresh peace talks by the possibility that a member of their faction could replace Mr. Gedi as Prime Minister.

Radical cleric, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, leader of the group known as the Islamic Courts said his followers will not meet for talks with the Transitional Federal Government as long as Ethiopian forces remain in the country, regardless of changes to the government.

But there are believed to be splits within the Islamist faction between hardliners who are seeking to force the interim government from power by force, and moderates who are open to resuming peace negotiations.

Nairobi-based analyst Matt Brydon says he expects President Abdullahi Yusuf to back the removal of Prime Minister Gedi. He says if the transitional government seizes the opportunity to include Islamic leaders then this move could strengthen the cause of moderates, who wish to find a political solution to the crisis.

"I think what is important with the reshuffle is that a new government, if its broader based is likely to be more disposed to negotiation then the current one is, generally it's a step in the right direction," he said.

Ethiopia has acknowledged the presence of its troops in Somalia, but insists they are only there to protect their border against dissidents who have allied with the Islamists. Largely Christian Ethiopia has sworn to protect the secular interim government with force and have said they will not permit the establishment of an Islamic theocracy on their border.

Meanwhile media reports indicate Eritrea has sent a plane carrying weapons to aid the Islamic forces.

The United States and the United Nations have warned Ethiopia and Eritrea to cease interfering in Somalia. They fear that the bitter rivals are destroying any chance for successful peace negotiations in the Horn of Africa country.

Analyst Matt Brydon says Ethiopia remain the greatest threat to the crisis escalating towards war.

"What happens in Somalia is of direct national interest to Ethiopia," he added. "Whereas Eritrea can in some respects afford to cease and desist. Ethiopia will not, if it considers its national security to be at stake and the prime minister has made it clear, that he does believe that to be the case. The irony is that the more Ethiopia involves itself in Somali affairs the more they are likely to produce the opposite of the result their seeking."

Roughly 4,000 militia loyal to Deputy Prime Minister Husayn Aideed, surrendered control of the former presidential palace, Villa Somlia, to Islamic militias. The Islamists now have complete control of Mogadishu for the first time since their militias seized most of the capital in early June.

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