Somalia's new government has sharply
denied the administration is unraveling with increasing attacks by hard-line
Islamic insurgents in the capital, Mogadishu. President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh
Ahmed's government also denied reports that it is losing control to the
insurgents including al-Shabab.
The new administration has also vowed to take
absolute control of the city after the presidential palace and Africa Union
peacekeepers came under insurgent attacks. Al-Shabab, with strong ties to
al-Qaeda, has refused to recognize the new administration, promising to
overthrow the government through violence.
Abdi Kadir Walayo told VOA that the new administration would defend the country
with its last breath.
government is nearly three months old and is performing well. And as an
insider, I have not seen the government is struggling. The government is firm
and is standing as a rock," Walayo said.
He said despite increasing
insurgent attacks, the new administration would succeed where previous
governments have faltered.
"Although the insurgents are
fighting the government is ready to defend itself. The government is trying to
minimize the casualties of the civilians," he said.
Walayo said there are
indications that non-Somalis have been engaging in insurgent activities aimed
to destabilize President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government.
"You know the presence of
foreign fighters in Mogadishu is something no secret. Some officials from the
insurgents openly stated that there are foreigners fighting along their side,
and they are people who came from (other) parts of the world," Walayo said.
Meanwhile, the government also
said that hundreds of foreign fighters affiliated with the al-Qaeda
organization are taking part in the battles that the government forces are
fighting against Islamist rebels who seek to overthrow the government and do
not recognize its legitimacy.
This comes after a recent
instruction by the leader of al-Qaeda. Osama bin Ladin told supporters in
Somalia to overthrow President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government and
said despite bin Laden's calls to overthrow the new Somali administration, the
government would defend the country and restore peace and stability.
"This country belongs to
Somalis, and the Somali government is ready to fight until the last drop of
blood to defend its country," Walayo said.
He dismissed the terrorist
call as unfounded and an affront to the ordinary, well-meaning Somali.
"Bin Laden is not (a) Somali
and he has nothing to do with Somalia. And the valiant Somali people are ready
to defend their country," he said.
Walayo said President Sheikh
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government is open to negotiations with those who are
opposed to the administration.
"The government's policies
are based on the process started from Djibouti… and was based on reconciliation
and accommodation of those who were not part of that process," Walayo said.
He said although it wants to
negotiate with all Somalis to find a solution to the country's woes, the
administration would not coerce anybody in the process.
"The government's doors are
open, (but) there is an English saying, you can bring the horse to the water,
but you cannot force it to drink…," he said.
Meanwhile, a suicide car
bomber struck a camp for the Somali security forces in the south of the capital
Mogadishu, killing at least eight people including six police officers, and
wounded several others.
So far, no group has claimed
responsibility for Sunday's attack which comes as insurgent fighters and Somali
government forces have been engaged in two weeks of intense clashes which left
almost 150 people dead and nearly 500 others wounded, most of them civilians
caught in the crossfire. Nearly 50,000 others were displaced from their homes
in Mogadishu as a result of the renewed fighting.
Somalia has been without an
effective government for the last 18 years after former President Mohammed Siad
Barre was overthrown in a coup d'état in 1991.