10 February 2009

Somalia: Hawiye Elders Say Mediation Efforts Going Well

Somalia — Hawiye traditional elders say mediation efforts between Somalia's government and Islamist insurgents are going well after meeting with both the government and the Islamists, officials said on Tuesday.

The political spokesman of Hawiye Traditional Elders, Abdulahi Hassan Abukar Dhere said the leaders of a newly formed coalition of Islamist groups known as Hizbal Islam (Islamic party) has accepted their mediation efforts.

Hawiye Traditional Elders met Somalia's newly elected president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed on Sunday and said they would mediate between Somali government and the Islamist insurgents who opposed the peace process.

Hassan Mahdi, the spokesman of Hizbal Islam said they have welcomed the mediation efforts of the elders and talked the elders about many things.

The leader of Hizbal Islam, Sheik Omar Iman, who returned from two-year exile in Eritrea on Saturday, said they would continue fighting against African Union peace keepers and what he called "apostate" government referring to the Somali government.

The newly elected president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed extended a hand to the opposed factions and encouraged them to join his government.

The president is expected to announce a new prime minister and form a unity government.

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