The African Union Mission in Somalia
(AMISOM) says it has heard reports that hard-line Somali opposition
leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys arrived Thursday in Somalia's capital,
Mogadishu. Aweys, who has been accused
of having links to al-Qaida, had been living in Eritrea's capital, Asmara,
after Ethiopian troops drove him and his supporters from their strongholds in
southern Somalia and Mogadishu.
His faction of the Alliance for the
Re-Liberation of Somalia is a member of the Islamic Party, which has been
opposed to the new government of President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed.
Barigye Bahoku is spokesman for the African Union Mission to Somalia. He told
VOA AMISOM would welcome Aweys' return but is anxious to
know the message he's bringing to the Somali people.
Union Mission for Somalia has received the same information that Sheik Dahir
Aweys has returned to Somalia, and we believe that's a step in the right
direction because this country is for all the Somalis. And every opinion, every
idea, especially at this stage matters. So I think what remains to be done or
what remains to be seen is the message that Sheik Dahir Aweys will bring the
people of Somalia. If he is coming back with a message of peace, with a message
of stability, with a message of reconciliation for all the people of Somalia,
that will be great," he said.
said AMISOM's mission has been about creating an atmosphere where all Somalis
would feel comfortable to discuss issues affecting their country.
AMISOM, that's what we have been working for, that's what we have been
struggling for to ensure that all the Somalis can sit, have dialogue about
their problems and indeed agree to resolve their long-standing conflict by
dialogue as opposed to violence," Bahoku said.
Security Council resolution has designated Aweys as a terrorist, but he has
repeatedly denied having ties to international terrorists.
Bahoku said there was always
a way out of what he called the dilemma of Somalia.
"As AMISOM, our view will be
that any means available at bringing back peace to the people of Somalia should
be taken advantage of, should be exploited maximumly. That, however, does not
mean that people, for example, who have committed crimes against humanity,
crimes against individuals cannot be brought to book," Bahoku said.
Aweys' faction of the
Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia is a member of the Islamic Party,
which is opposed to the government of President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed.
Obsevers say his return to Mogadishu
could be an indication he may want to reconcile with Ahmed.
Bahoku said President Sheik
Ahmed has been reaching out to his foes since the signing of the Djibouti
Agreement last August.
"This country has been
without stability, has been without peace, has been without law and order for
over 18 years or about 18 years. And as a result of that, so many factions have
come out, and therefore the approach of reconciliation, the approach of bringing
everyone on board is an approach that should be applauded," Bahoku said.
He said AMISOM might
consider meeting and talking to Aweys, although it is not their mission to meet
"As AMISOM, our law is not to
surely meet with individuals or to arm up any individual. Our law is to create
an environment where all the individuals, where all the groups in this country
can feel confident enough to discuss their conflict, to discuss their problems.
So yes we may think about talking to him, about approaching him, but surely
that wouldn't be a priority for us," Bahoku said.