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Somali Government Condemns Insurgent Moves to Annex Parts of Kenya

April 28, 2009
By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C
Voice of America
The new Somali government has sharply condemned threats of fresh attacks on neighboring Kenya by hard-line Islamic insurgent group al-Shabab. The group, which has refused to recognize President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government threatened Monday to annex parts of northern Kenya and implement Islamic Sharia law. Nairobi on the other hand has begun strong measures to counter such an attack by deploying extra troops to man the Kenya-Somali border and maintain the disarmament of residents in the province.

Somali cabinet minister Abdirashid Irro Mohammed told VOA that Mogadishu stands in unison with its neighbor to thwart the insurgent group's violent activities aimed at destabilizing the region.

"Really, we are very sorry and we condemn such actions. Kenya is our neighbor state and our brotherly country, and they have their own constitution. So there is no reason that al-Shabab should attack them and endorse the Sharia law. So here, that is a very bad action and we condemn it, and we do not accept those kinds of threats, Mohammed said.  "So I can say they (al-Shabab) are the enemies for all the region."

He said although the government is relatively new, it is determined to ensure stability.

"As you know our government has been formed in the last two months and still we are organizing our national security forces. And as soon as we will organize and establish and empower our national security forces, we will try... and we do believe that there would not be any longer that al-Shabab will attack Kenya or our government," he said.

Mohammed said that Mogadishu is getting its security agencies together to address some of the challenges posed by hard-line Islamic insurgents including al-Shabab.

"But still we are under preparation for our troops, and very soon we hope that we will establish and reorganize and recruit our national security forces like the military, police, national security. And as soon as these institutions will be established, we will control our country as well as we will protect the interest of our neighbor countries," Mohammed said.

He said since the formation of the new government, it has been the aim to negotiate with the opposition to forge ahead in resolving the country's problems.

"We are trying our best to reconcile with our people, with our opposition, and to open a dialogue. And that is why it is one of our major concessions to take one step forward with the reconciliation to take and to implement the Sharia law," he said.

Mohammed said the hard-line Islamic insurgents threatening the country's stability as well as neighboring countries are unlikely to be part of the Mogadishu government's reconciliation efforts.

"But al-Shabab, they are not dealing with our local authorities. They are getting orders from the outside Islamic world and really they are not interested whether we will implement the Sharia law or not. Because they are getting some investment, some financial support from the outside and they are getting orders from outside. That is why they want to disturb the whole region, particularly in Somalia," Mohammed said.

He said President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's new government is getting its act together to soon deal decisively with al-Shabab and other hard-line insurgent groups in the country.

"Really, we are going in that direction, and we are trying our best to recruit our national forces as soon as possible, and hopefully we will start to control terrorism in our capital Mogadishu very soon. As soon as we will hand over the responsibility of Mogadishu, as soon as we will take over Mogadishu, we will clean all the evils, and also we will spread over to the regions. So hopefully, we are trying our best to control for all of the country, and we will kick them out from all the region," he said.

Nairobi said recent abductions of several Kenyans at the border town of Mandera forms part of a wider scheme to force a reaction from the Kenyan government.

Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with close links to al Qaeda, al-Shabab officially informed Nairobi of its intentions to invade Kenya's Northeastern Province and make it part of their country and rule it with their religious laws.
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