Somalia’s foreign minister says the government is in direct negotiations with insurgents as a step in stabilizing the lawless horn of Africa nation amid escalating violence.
Ali Ahmed Jama Gengeli told reporters in Mogadishu on Saturday that the government of President Sharif Ahmed would soon regain complete control of the country.
He said Mogadishu was set on moving forward with reconciliation plans with “rebel groups of Hezb al-Islam and al Shabaab… We are working closely with community groups and the country will be under government control soon.”
“Some of them have already joined the government and we hope our mission for broader reconciliation will be fruitful soon,” the minister said without elaborating on the names or number of new members.
Hezb al-Islam led by former Sharif ally, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, is more political than Al Shabaab, and both rebel groups, that began waging a war against the country’s new government almost from the start, have vowed to continue until the departure of African Union (AU) peacekeepers.
Although deadly clashes still erupt on a near daily basis in the conflict-torn capital, there has been less overall fighting since al Sabaab launched a military offensive against forces of the Transitional Federal Government on May 7.
Clashes have left scores of people dead this month alone, prompting a call by the Arab League on Thursday for troops from Arab countries to assist the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.
Renowned aid agency Oxfam said this week that the international community had failed Somalia by not doing enough to end the war in a country that has lacked an asserting functional government since 1991, when warlords toppled the regime of Siad Barre.