Uneasy calm has returned to the Somali
capital, Mogadishu after at least two weeks of heavy fighting between hard line
Islamic insurgents and government forces. The Islamic hard liners, including
al-Shabaab gained significant grounds after capturing two strategic towns
including the birth place of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
Somali administration has blamed neighboring Eritrea for providing logistics to
the insurgents to destabilize Somalia, a charge Asamara has sharply denied.
Al-Shabaab has refused to recognize the new Somali administration, vowing to eventually
take over the country through violence.
Abdushakur Warsame is the Somali
minister for Planning and International Cooperation. He told VOA the government
is in absolute command of the capital, Mogadishu.
is very calm and everything is under control of the government. And now we are
trying to finalize the preparation for defending the city and defending the
people against foreign fighters who are trying to overthrow the government," Warsame said.
He denied Islamic insurgents
are involved in various attempts to remove the new administration from power.
"There are no Islamic
insurgents; there are foreign fighters who are trying to overthrow the
government of Somalia and they are also a threat to the region," he said.
Warsame said the new
government is setting in motion plans to restore peace in the country after 18
years without an effective government.
"Our preparation is good and
everything now is in control and the government will soon capture and be in
control of the city," Warsame said.
Meanwhile, both Mogadishu
and Addis Ababa have denied a return of Ethiopian troops into Somalia to
support the new Somalia administration. There were earlier reports citing
Ethiopian troops crossing into Somalia where hard line Islamic insurgents
battled with government forces over the last two weeks.
Warsame described as
unfounded reports suggesting a return of Ethiopian troops.
"The information we have
gathered from sources in the region stated that Ethiopia has closed their
border and they have stationed quite a reasonable number of their forces on
their border. We don't have the information that Ethiopia has crossed into
Somalia," Warsame said.
He said Mogadishu has not
made a decision to ask Addis Ababa for help against insurgent attacks.
"We have not taken that
decision yet and now we have the African Union Peacekeeping Forces (AMISOM). I
think we have the capacity to protect the people against foreign fighters," he
Warsame said the new
government aims to take absolute charge of the city despite incursions by
opposition forces who want to violently wrestle power from President Sheikh
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's administration.
"Our priority is to control
the city and to take Jowhar… and we are trying to protect our nation against
foreign fighters," Warsame said.
Somalia has often accused
Eritrea of supporting hard line insurgents who aim to seize control of the
country, a charge Asamara denies.
Warsame said Mogadishu has
expressed its objection to what it described as Asmara's meddling in Somalia's
internal political dynamics.
"We have already addressed
the Security Council and we informed the relevant agencies of the Security
Council that Eritrea are supporting foreign fighters who are fighting inside
Somalia," he said.
Warsame said the government
is seeking cooperation from neighboring countries to help stabilize Somalia.
"We are now working together
very closely with neighboring countries particularly Kenya and Djibouti and
Ethiopia to try to control and work together in order to stop those who are
coming from countries into Somalia," Warsame said.
analysts claim the deadly clashes between forces loyal to the new Somali
administration and hard line Islamic Insurgents including al-Shabaab have left at least 175
civilians dead and more than 500 injured.
Described by Washington as a
terrorist organization, al-Shabaab has refused to recognize President Sharif
Ahmed's administration vowing instead to take over the country and implement
the hard line version of the Sharia law.
Forces loyal to President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed reportedly
control some parts of the capital, Mogadishu and a few other areas.
Sharif's new administration is the 15th attempt in 18
years to set up central rule in Somalia. Concerned Neighboring states,
including Ethiopia, and Western security forces express fear Somalia could
become a haven for al Qaeda-linked extremists.
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was formally the
chairman of the Islamic Courts Union that ran Mogadishu in 2006 before
Ethiopian troops, wary of having an Islamist state next door, invaded and ousted
them from power.
Somalia has been without an effective government for at
least 18 years after the overthrow of former President Mohammed Siad Barre
through a coup d'état.