[dehai-news] VOA: Somali Council of Ministers to Discuss Implementing Sharia Law

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Mar 10 2009 - 07:34:12 EST

Somali Council of Ministers to Discuss Implementing Sharia Law

By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C
10 March 2009


Somalia's council of ministers is expected to be meeting Prime Minster Omar
Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke today to discuss ways of implementing Sharia law.
The move is expected to weaken Islamic hard-liner insurgent groups,
including al-Shabab. Described by Washington as a terrorist organization
with links to al-Qaeda, al-Shabab has refused to recognize the new unity
government, threatening to take control of the country and fully implement
Sharia. President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed recently agreed to institute
Sharia in response to rebel demands. The fundamentalist code generally
demands a separation of unrelated men and women, bans music, requires women
to envelop themselves in public and demands that men wear beards. Council of
ministers member Abdirashid Irro Mohammed tells reporter Peter Clottey that
the application of Sharia will take the country a long way toward ending
ongoing bloodshed.

"Today we have a meeting with the prime minister as council of ministers,
and I think the agenda will be the performance of the 90 days of our
government. And we will also discuss how we will apply the sharia law,"
Mohammed pointed out.

He said discussing the implementation of Sharia law is new to most of the
members of the council of ministers.

"Hopefully, this is new for us, although we are Islamists. But we need to
discuss seriously as council of ministers the way that we can apply the
Sharia law. We will discuss the modalities we can use, whether in the
stricter sense or the way it has been implemented in other Islamic worlds.
But if we will accept as council of ministers the ways to implement the
Sharia law, then we will send it to parliament. Then parliament will also
have it take on discussions and deliberations to either accept or reject our
proposal. But hopefully parliament will approve of the proposal to implement
the Sharia," he said.

Mohammed said the discussion on ways to implement the law aims to end
escalated insurgent attacks.

"The reasons why we are going to apply the Sharia law are two things. First
of all, the Somalis have been fighting for a long time, and we will like to
stop the bloodshed because our opposition from the Somali community in and
outside Somalia are requesting for the implementation of the Sharia law. And
that we will hope as soon as we approve of it, the opposition will join the
government, and the bloodshed will be over," Mohammed noted.

He said the government is also taking a cue from average Somalis who have
been appealing for the implementation of Sharia.

"The other reason why we are going to apply the Sharia law is that you know
as we are all Somalis and our community is requesting and asking the
government leaders every time that one day there will be an application of
the Sharia law. So we have to work with the demands and request of our
people and that is the second idea that we are going to apply. And it is a
demand of our people," he said.

Mohammed said there is an agreement between the government and the
opposition that once Sharia is implemented, the other opposition forces will
team up with the government in its effort to ensure a stable Somalia after
at least 18 years of ineffective rule.

"I think most of our opposition forces, especially the hard-line one, have
an agreement with our leaders like the president and prime minister that
they will join the peace process as soon as the government implements the
Sharia law, except al-Shabab. For us, we are thinking about local issues,
but al-Shabab is always connected with the international Islamic policy and
I think most of the group's leadership are not Somalis and are from
outside," Mohammed noted.

He said the new Somali administration will take full liability for the
implementation of Sharia law.

"The Sharia law and the implementation of our religion is the responsibility
of our government, and the government will take the responsibility of the
Sharia law. And the government will also take responsibility of the whole
Islamic religion and for the Somali religion," he said.

In February, Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed accepted a proposal by
local and foreign religious leaders for a truce with hard-line Islamists and
the implementation of Sharia. The religious leaders mediated between the
government and its foes that escalated their onslaught against the new
president, who was elected on January 31.

The hard-line al-Shabab militia and other Islamist fighters have waged
battles against the government and its allies and vows to fight on until all
foreign forces in Somalia withdraw and Sharia is imposed.

So far, African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) whom insurgents also repeatedly
attack are the only foreign troops in the country since Ethiopian soldiers
pulled out last month.

Meanwhile, an opposition leader has accused President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh
Ahmed as an "Ethiopian stooge, a traitor to Islamists."


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