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Somalia’s Government to Soon Sign State of Emergency Law

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is expected to soon sign into law a state of emergency approved by parliament. This follows the recent escalation of violence perpetrated by hard line Islamic insurgents who have vowed to overthrow the government.

The state of emergency, approved Wednesday, gives President Ahmed special powers to make decisions without consulting the legislature.

It will last for the next three months as the government struggles to wrestle control from the Islamic had liners, including al-Shabab.

Abdi Kadir Walayo , the Somali government spokesman told VOA that neighboring countries are concerned about the violence spilling over into their territories.

"This was a long process and it passed through the Council of Ministers and it was subject to the approval of the parliament. And yesterday the parliament unanimously adopted the state of emergency, which is subjected to be ratified by the president soonest," Walayo said.

He said the government is determined to quell the insurgency.

"The president has the liberty to exercise the emergency (powers) to contain the menace of the opposition armed groups… it will also improve the security situation in the country (and) I hope it will end in the next three months," he said.

Walayo said Somalia's neighbors are concerned about the potential overflow of the ongoing violence.

"You know our neighboring countries are really worried about the spillover of these people (insurgency)… they have an agenda to express what they call fundamentalism in this part of Africa," Walayo said.

He said the insurgents are using Somali territory as their base to launch insurgencies across the horn of Africa region.

"They want to use Somalia as the springboard because they see Somalia as the green ground because of the weakness and nearly 20 years old civil strife," he said.

Walayo said the insurgents are incapable of seizing total control of the entire country.

"This kind of tug of war exists for the last 20 years and no part has the possibility of capturing the whole country. It is just an ambush by the insurgents and they have no ability to capture the country," Walayo said.

He accused the insurgents of cowardly attacking innocent civilians.

"Now what they are doing is only of some urban guerrilla warfare, which is hit and run and it is not a full-scale war. It is just and assault and ambush and they make a lot of noise…and as I told you before they are losing ground," he said.

Walayo said the government is determined to ensure that the insurgents do not succeed in their objectives to overthrow President Ahmed's administration.

Meanwhile, a group of Somali elders led by former President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan is attempting to broker a ceasefire deal between the beleaguered government and the hard line Islamic insurgents.