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Somali Legislators to Continue Work Despite Insurgents Threats


Somali parliamentarians say they will meet as soon as possible despite increasing threats from hard-line Islamic insurgents including al-Shabab. This comes after some parliamentarians expressed fear that attending parliamentary proceedings has become dangerous as a result of increasing armed attacks from insurgents. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for last week's attack during a parliamentary meeting that left at least seven civilians dead and scores injured.

Somali cabinet minister Abdirashid Irro Mohammed told VOA legislators will not be cowed into submission by the insurgents.

"As you know the Islamists are trying to disturb the whole situation of Somalia especially in Mogadishu. But there is not much happening, and the parliament can be able to sit and continue their business as usual, and I do believe they will sit as soon as possible," Mohammed said.

He described as unfortunate recent attacks by Islamic insurgents during parliamentary session killing several ordinary Somalis and injuring many.

"You know, at the last sitting they were trying to throw some artillery shells. And really they destroyed some innocent people around that area," he said.

Mohammed said the new government aims to protect the legislators as they continue their work.

"I do believe that our forces can protect our parliament and other government premises, and there is not much problem," Mohammed said.

He denounced insurgent attacks on parliamentarians.

"They are trying to disturb the whole situation, and they are trying to kill if they get some people, and that is useless, really. But we came here to sacrifice and to revive our government. Especially as you know, we have been a failed state for the last 19 years, so the people are exhausted, and there is no sense that they (Islamists) will continue the fighting and to kill one another," he said.

Somalia, has been without an effective government for the at least 19 years and the country has been on the brink of anarchy since 1991 when former President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and rival clans turned on each other.

Mohammed said the insurgents thrive in chaos and would continue to fight as they see the new government trying to bring some relief and normalcy.

"Those al-Shabab and other Islamic groups, they really want that there would not be any structure of political or any formation of government. But we are not afraid of them, and we are trying our best to continue our business. And we will rebuild our country, and we will recover," Mohammed said.

He said the new government would soon bolster the security agencies to make them effective to curb the escalating violence perpetuated by hard-line Islamic insurgents.

"We are going to recruit our national forces, and we are trying to empower our security institutions, and we don't have any problems. But we know that we have the enemy, but we will continue our reorganizing of national security forces. And we will empower our security such as the police, military, intelligence. And we will also organize and make awareness for our Somali people. And we have full support of the people on the ground," he said.

Mohammed said the new government is grateful for the contribution of the African Union Peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM) in helping restore security and stability in Somalia.

"I would really want to thank African troops, especially the AMISOM and the countries they came from such as Uganda and Burundi. And really, we are enjoying the best job that they are doing for the Somali people. And they protect our ports and seaports and also the presidential palace," Mohammed said.

He said there are enough Somali troops available to secure the safety of legislators.

"Our forces and national forces are enough to protect our parliamentarian compound," he said.

Mohammed said the new government would love to have all Somalis participating in its rebuilding efforts.

"As a government, we have a position that our door is open for discussion and dialogue. And we will like to reconcile with our people. And anybody who wants to join the peace process and to have discussions and dialogue with the government. We will like to accommodate all the Somali politicians, wherever they are. And we are going to talk to the opposition, whether they are inside and outside including Sheikh Dahir Awyes," Mohammed said.

Al-Shabab, described by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong links to Al-Qaeda, has refused to recognize President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's new government, vowing eventually to take over the country.

Meanwhile, mortars missed the parliament building last week in separate attacks on the parliament complex, where lawmakers were discussing the national budget. No politicians were reported hurt, but a mortar hit a police unit in the complex and killed an officer. Other mortars exploded in a nearby residential neighborhood, killing six civilians and wounding at least 21.

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