Ongoing Islamic Conference Discusses Future of Somalia
By Peter Clottey Washington, D.C
16 February 2009
Somalis living in the capital, Mogadishu are expressing optimism that ongoing talks among different Islamic groups in the country about the future of the country would yield positive results. The conference, which was instigated by new President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and is being attended by both moderate and hardliner Islamic groups operating in the country ends Monday. Discussions are largely focused, among other topics, on the new government and the implementation of Sharia law. The conference also condemned ongoing insurgent attacks on ordinary Somalis by Islamic hardliner al-Shabaab. But al-Shabaab, which has been excluded from the ongoing talks, denounced the meeting and promised more attacks. Described by Washington as a terrorist organization, al-Shabaab has vowed never to recognize the new Somali president and his chosen prime minister.
Djibril Ahmed is a political analyst. He told reporter Peter Clottey there are strong indications that Somalia might be tilting towards an Iranian-style government.
"The ongoing conference has a lot of scholars from overseas as well as scholars from this country. And they are trying to interpret the current situation we are in now, and the conference will end on Monday. As you know the new President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed appointed this group to come out and discuss the situation in the country. But we don't know if we are going to have a system like the one they have in Iran. As you know in Iran there are three powers: the government and then the Islamic powers," Ahmed noted.
He said the conference has condemned some of the activities of Islamic insurgents, including the dreaded al-Shabaab.
"This group that is meeting here denounced some of what al-Shabaab has been doing but at the same time they gave some suggestions to the government to change a lot of things like the United Nations or the African Union have to go. So, we don't know if we are going to have the same style of Iran that there would be a Council of Islamists. So that could be another power that we would have to face," he said.
Ahmed said the new president has a lot of challenges to contend with in the coming years.
"The question we are facing here is that Sheikh Sharif himself came to power with four point five (constitutional provision) but this group wants a change to the constitution. They don't believe in the constitution so the president has big, big challenges ahead of him," Ahmed pointed out.
He said the ongoing Islamic conference is proposing an imposition of the Sharia law across Somalia.
"That is the big question everybody has been asking because there seems to be too many things going on that I don't know how it is going to be possible. But this group wants the country to be ruled by the Sharia law. So that means the constitution has to go out of the window, but we are yet to know whether Somalis would accept it," he said.
Ahmed said it seems most Somalis are not against the full implementation of the Sharia law.
"Most of the Somalis or a 100 percent are Moslems and don't seem to have problems with the Sharia law. But the problem is the government itself is based on the four point five (provision in the constitution) and the constitution which brought the TFG (Transitional Federal Government). So, the question that arises here is those two would not go on the same page," Ahmed pointed out.