7 May 2009

Somalia: Notorious Ex-Warlord Meets President, Five Killed in Fighting

A notorious former warlord in Somalia has met with interim President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed in the capital Mogadishu, where discussions included support for the new government, Radio Garowe reports.

Yusuf Mohamed Siad, notoriously known as "Indho Ade," visited the Somali President at the Villa Somalia presidential compound in Mogadishu on Wednesday, sources said.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, Interior Minister Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar, Justice Minister Abdirahman Janakow and Finance Minister Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.

On the other side, the self-styled chairman of a breakaway faction of Hizbul Islam, Sheikh Mohamed Hassan "Amey," and the group spokesman Da'ud Mohamud Abtidon accompanied Indho Ade during the face-to-face talks.

"The government has voted for Islamic law, which is what we have been fighting for," Indho Ade told reporters afterwards. "From today onwards, we will support and defend the government."

Indho Ade was asked if he met with Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the prominent opposition figure of the anti-government Hizbul Islam faction, led by Chairman Omar Iman.

"Yes, me and Sheikh Aweys met but we disagreed over politics," Indho Ade added.

Mr. Abtidon, the group's spokesman, said the Hizbul Islam faction is "preparing to join the government" while underscoring that the group would help the government in "ensuring the application of Shari'ah [Islamic] law, security cooperation including stopping targeted killings, and to finish current political disputes through dialogue."

Separately Thursday, fighting erupted among Islamist factions after a senior commander of Al Shabaab was targeted in an ambush, witnesses said.

At least five people were killed and a number of people wounded after pro-government Islamist militias attacked Al Shabaab militia commander named Qoslaye.

Witnesses said Qoslaye's vehicle was the target of gunfire, but he escaped safely and sped away. The vehicle was attacked a second time along 30th Avenue, witnesses added.

Mogadishu is teeming with Islamist militias who are deeply divided over the government of President Sheikh Sharif, who led the Islamic Courts movement in 2006.

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