Somalia’s newly confirmed cabinet ministers are beginning their third day of work Wednesday in the violent-plagued capital of Mogadishu after arriving over the weekend, marking the official relocation of the new government from Baidoa to the national capital. Abdirazak Ashkii is Somalia’s minister for reconciliation. He old VOA that Mogadishu is relatively safe despite reports of frequent mortar attacks from Islamic insurgents.
“We all are in Mogadishu right now and we received a huge welcome from our population here in Mogadishu. Mogadishu is relatively safe. There are of course some problems. But generally Mogadishu is safe,” he said.
Ashkii said the new cabinet is representative of the Somali people even though Prime Minister Nur Adde had reported hinted he would change the 4.5 Formula, a clan-based governance system that tries to distribute political power among Somalia’s various clan groupings.
“We’re trying actually in 2009 to make a general election whereby those elected can come and rule this country, and 4.5 should not be in place because it’s not fair, should I say that and it’s should be based on a tribe basis. It has to be a modern Somalia and those who can lead can come out and actually be elected,” Ashkii said.
He said the new government is prepared to negotiate with those who are blamed for the attacks on Mogadishu.
“Everywhere we always say and I am saying now that this government is willing to negotiate with those who have different opinion against us, whether they are inside or outside the country, we are willing to negotiate with them; we are willing sought out our differences; we are willing to bring together this country. And hopefully they will understand that there is no time to lose, there is no time to fight; there is no time fight. We want to sit down together on the table like a civilized people and sought out our misunderstanding,” he said.
Somalia is expected to be high on the agenda of next week’s African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Ashkii hopes the African Union and the international community would fulfill the promises made to Somalia.
“We need a peace force and peace making troops within the African Union and international we also like to do that. This is a very important country in the Horn of Africa and we need to have the support from the international community economically. So I wish they would implement the promise that they have made on several occasions,” Ashkii said.
He said Somalia is not satisfied with the current level of the international community’s commitment to peacekeeping. Ashkii said Somalia was expecting about 8,000 peacekeeping troops. Instead it has so far received about 1,500 troops.