The new Somali government has sharply
denied reports that unpaid soldiers of the national army have been selling
their weapons to hard line Islamic insurgents, including al-Shabaab. This comes
after President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed accused the insurgents of working
for other governments to destabilize the country following four days of
intensive fighting. The clashes have left at least 70 people dead and scores
injured. Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong ties
to Al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab has refused to recognize the new Somali government.
Irro Mohammed is a Somali cabinet minister. He told VOA that the new government
is doing everything possible to restore peace and stability.
that is totally false, and as I told you, the government has already made
payments for the months of April, May and June and already has paid the month
of April and there is no idea about the sale of weapons and the troops are
ready to defend the government of national unity," Mohammed
He said the government has
made provisions for national soldiers to be paid.
"They have got their salary
and there is no problem (selling of weapons)," he said.
Mohammed said the new
government is on course to restoring normalcy to the country.
"We are trying our best to
bring peace and stability in our country. And in one side we are going to open
a dialogue with our opposition whether they are inside or outside Somalia,"
He said the government aims
to bolster its security forces as part of its effort to ensure stability.
"On the other hand, we are
organizing and recruiting our national forces and we want to build our national
forces. Unless we get the national forces, we cannot maintain peace and
stability of the country," he said.
Mohammed said the government
has a two-prong approach towards maintaining peace and stability in Somalia.
"So, on one way we are
trying to do our best to deal with the opposition in a dialogue and on the
other side, we are trying to build our national force and to empower the
national security institutions," Mohammed said.
He said the government would
push forward with its plans to alleviating the suffering of the average Somali.
"We are very confident that
we can maintain and stay in Mogadishu and we can keep the government business
to continue," he said.
Mohammed said the hard line
Islamic insurgents want to cause chaos and make the country ungovernable.
"Really, they want to
disturb the whole situation and they are trying to attack certain positions for
our national forces and also the AMISOM (African Union Peacekeeping Mission in
Somalia) positions. So the president has declared to the national army and
AMISOM also to defeat this evil," Mohammed said.
He said the new government
would prevail despite the enormous challenge it faces.
"We have been in Mogadishu
within 90 days and still the government is trying to do its best to organize
the national resources, the national army and everything else," he said.
United Nations reports have accused neighboring Eritrea and Ethiopia, as well
as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Arab states of violating an arms embargo
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed led the Islamic
Courts Union in 2006 which controlled Mogadishu and much of the south and
brought a level of relative security not seen in Somalia in years.
Somalia has been without an effective
government since the overthrow of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991. After
overthrow however, clanism and extended family
loyalties and conflicts led to instability. But some political
observers see President
Ahmed's administration as the best hope in years to restore stability.
At the time of independence in 1960, Somalia was touted in the West as
model of a rural democracy in Africa.