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Somali Opposition Interested in Unity Government


Tuesday, January 13, 2009
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The Alliance of Re-liberation of Somali (ARS), a Somali opposition group based in Djibouti, is now ready to give obeisance to the international community and unite with the backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

“We are ready to fulfill the Djibouti agreement … we don’t see any reason to postpone or further delay to establish the long awaited unity government”, Sharif Hassan Sh.Aden, ARS central committee chair told Mshale when he visited Minnesota in December

On June 9, 2008, representatives of the ARS-Djibouti faction and Somalia’s TFG signed a peace accord under the auspices of the United Nations where they agreed on a ceasefire and establishing a unity government.

“The majority of Somalis view the Djibouti agreement as an opportunity but incomplete and are willing to give a chance with the exception of few individual with personal interest”, says Sharif Hassan.

“Anyone that opposes these efforts is obviously not interested in giving Somalia and Somalis a chance and don’t want to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous Somalia … I am confident that Somalis will reject them”, Sharif Hassan said.

The ARS was found September 2007 in Asmara, Eritrea in opposition to the Ethiopian occupation. The following year the Alliance split into two factions: one continues to reside in Asmara where the other is now based in Djibouti. ARS is made up of the Diaspora Somalis, former MPs who left the parliament in protest after Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia, civil society and members of the Union Islamic Courts.

Somalis are skeptical of Ethiopia’s promise to withdraw its troops from Somalia.

Ahmed Farah, a Somali living in Minnesota is one of these skeptics: “ [Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles] Zenawi is buying time and wants to further manipulate the situation … contrary to his announcement, his troops are taking over more cities and killing more Somalis. “

However, Sharif Hassan is positive that Ethiopian troops will withdraw from Somalia sooner, rather than later, “Of course, I understand the frustrations. After number of deadlines for their withdrawals, we are all skeptical but we must be hopeful to stay on the course… the international community is now asking Ethiopia to withdraw its troops … we know if they leave, Somalis will come together and easily solve their problem.”

Since the first UN mission to Somalia failed in the early 1990s, the role of the United Nations has been constrained to limited humanitarian aid. However, in the recent past , the international community has began to actively engage in working towards a peaceful resolution to the decades-long crisis in Somalia. This international attention can widely be attributed to piracy off the coast of Somalia and Al-Shabab, a group that has recently designated as terrorist by the US state department.

The US, Great Britain and France, and other countries are directly involved in Somalia: international marines are now in Somalia in an attempt to fight piracy. The Huffintongpost reports that the “international naval force under American command will soon begin patrols to confront escalating attacks by Somali pirates after more than 100 ships came under siege in the past year”.

Sharif Hassan stressed the importance of the unity government, “For all that care, Somalis and the international community, this is an invaluable opportunity … should this pass, I am afraid that we will never see stability in Somalia”.

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About Mohamed Hassan

Mr Hassan is a recipient of the 2006 Hennepin County Government Management, Administration and Policy (MAP) Fellowship and the 2007-2008 Hubert H. Humphrey Policy Fellowship. He has a B.S. from Metropolitan State University and M.A. from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.

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