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Demonstrators Flood the Streets of Mogadishu

Thousands of Somalis rallied today in the capital Mogadishu opposing the introduction of foreign peacekeepers. Today’s demonstration was organized by the Islamic Courts Union, who currently control the capital. It came a day after Somalia’s transitional government approved the deployment of foreign troops to the country. Mohammed Dore is the news editor of our Mogadishu affiliate, Hornafrik Radio. He discussed today’s rally with Voice of America English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje.

He says “The demonstration took place at the biggest stadium in Mogadishu and the security has been heavily guarded by the Islamic militants. And there were two demonstrations in the stadium, one for men and one for women.”

Dore says that the transitional government’s approval of foreign peace keepers poses problems to the ongoing negotiations. “...the approval of the foreign troops to come here to Somalia really is affecting greatly the negotiations between the government and Islamic courts. Today the chairman of the Islamic courts…told the protestors that Islamic Courts will never accept…foreign troops. And he said we will never have any dialogue with the government until it leaves its ambition of international peacekeeping forces.”

He says Mogadishu residents are divided as to which group they support. “Mogadishu residents are divided into two parties. Some who really support the parliament and government…and some who are loyal to the courts…” He also says that some welcome the Islamic courts, while others are unsure of how to view the latest events.

As for the reaction to the Islamic courts extending their power throughout Somalia, Dore says it is difficult to understand how people feel, especially in light of the capture of Jowhar. He says many viewed Jowhar as a peaceful place and some believe that the latest actions will cause increased instability in the region.

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