Somalia: Reconciliation Board calls for talks with Islamists

Published on Thursday 19th June 2008

Bloomberg: Somalia's national reconciliation commission is urging talks between the Islamist al-Shabaab militia and Somalia's transitional federal government in an effort to stem continuing violence in the capital, Mogadishu.

Talks with al-Shabaab are necessary if there is to be peace in Somalia, Mo'alin Muse, chairman of the commission, said in an interview broadcast on Mogadishu-based Shabelle Radio today.

Al-Shabaab grew out of the youth movement of the Union of Islamic Courts government that briefly controlled much of southern and central Somalia in 2006. The UIC was ousted by U.S.-backed Ethiopian troops in December 2006 and replaced by the Western-backed transitional federal government. Its fighters have since fought an insurgency against Ethiopian and government troops.

The transitional government signed a three-month cease-fire agreement on June 9 with the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, a moderate Islamist group that was opposed to the government.

Al-Shabaab rejected that agreement saying it won't agree to a cease-fire until Ethiopian troops withdraw from the country.

Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department designated al- Shabaab a terrorist group.