[dehai-news] (AFP) Somali Islamists step in to Mogadishu vacuum

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Fri Jan 16 2009 - 09:45:33 EST

Somali Islamists step in to Mogadishu vacuum

Jan 15, 2009

MOGADISHU (AFP) An Islamist faction took over positions left vacant by
Ethiopian forces in Mogadishu Friday, in violation of a UN-sponsored
agreement reached in Djibouti on the transfer of security responsibilities.

According to witnesses and officials, the forces of Abdirahin Ise Ado --
from the moderate wing of the Islamist-led opposition to the government --
now control key positions in the Somali capital.

"Our forces have taken control of areas deserted by the Ethiopians in order
to maintain security," said Ise Ado, a spokesman for the Islamic Courts
Union (ICU), at a press conference.

Residents told AFP his forces had taken over the former defence ministry, a
former pasta factory and a stadium, all positions Ethiopian troops only
withdrew from earlier this week.

"Islamists in dozens of vehicles took the former defence ministry building
after the Ethiopians left the Shirkole area. They were chanting 'Allah is
great'," eyewitness Hasan Farah Doyow said.

The ICU is an Islamist movement which briefly controlled large parts of
Somalia in 2006 before Ethiopian forces invaded and ousted them from power.

The ICU's military organisation engaged in a bruising guerrilla war against
Ethiopian and Somali government troops while its political leadership
scattered into exile.

It became part of an umbrella organisation founded in Eritrea called the
Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS).

One faction of the ARS has agreed to a peace process with the Transitional
Federal Government (TFG) under the auspices of the United Nations.

An agreement reached late last year in Djibouti provided for an Ethiopian
withdrawal and a gradual transfer of responsibilities to joint units
including TFG and ARS forces.

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