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Opposition: Somalia doesn't need more peacekeepers

   This is an Aug. 21, 2006 file photo of hard-line Somali opposition leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys.   Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys said on Thursday Jan...
   This is an Aug. 21, 2006 file photo of hard-line Somali opposition leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys.   Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys said on Thursday Jan...

SOMALIA ISLAMIC LEADER

This is an Aug. 21, 2006 file photo of hard-line Somali opposition leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys. Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys said on Thursday Jan...

SOMALIA ISLAMIC LEADER

This is an Aug. 21, 2006 file photo of hard-line Somali opposition leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys. Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys said on Thursday Jan...

A hard-line Somali opposition leader said Thursday that the international community should stop calling for more peacekeepers in Somalia, and urged the African Union force now there to leave the country.
Eritrea-based Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, designated a terrorist by the U.N., said there has been no violence in the Somali regions that have not had foreign troops _ playing down years of clan-based fighting around the country since the last functioning government was overthrown in 1991.
Aweys, leader of a faction of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, spoke as the last Ethiopian troops left the Somali capital as part of their gradual pullout from the country. Ethiopia officially handed over security duties Tuesday after a two-year deployment.
The United States has circulated a draft resolution calling for a U.N. peacekeeping force to be deployed in Somalia to replace the small African Union force made up of 2,400 Ugandan and Burundian troops.
"They should stop the military interference in Somalia _ especially the U.S," said Aweys, speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from the Eritrean capital, Asmara.
"Look at the areas in Somalia where there is no foreign troops. There is no fighting. People are living harmoniously together," said Aweys, in comments that were moderate compared with previous calls for attacks on any future peacekeepers.
The last U.N. peacekeeping force in Somalia included American troops who arrived in 1992 and tried to arrest warlords and create a government. That ended in October 1993, when fighters shot down a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter during a battle that killed 18 American soldiers.
Aweys, who denies he is a terrorist, had called for an Iraq-style Islamic insurgency when he and his Islamic umbrella group at the time were driven from power two years ago with the help of Ethiopian troops.
Aweys said he did not think rival Islamic groups will turn against each other now that their common enemy, the Ethiopian troops, are leaving.
"They have learnt from past lessons of clan-based factions who, whenever they succeed, fought over the spoils," Aweys said. They know that no faction will be all able to control it all, "hence the need to work together," Aweys added.
Aweys went to Eritrea with other Islamic leaders and dissident lawmakers to form the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia when they were ousted from their southern Somalia strongholds and the capital in December 2006. Eritrea and Ethiopia have an unresolved border dispute, over which they have fought a war.
Aweys is adamant he will not talk with the Somali government because he sees them as allies of the Ethiopians.
He said the peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi have not brought any change to Somalia and charged they, as well as the Ethiopians, have killed civilians.
The African Union force has always denied deliberating targeting civilians, saying they have only fired to defend themselves.
"The AU peacekeepers have to return to where they came from. What they are doing in Somalia?" Aweys said.
The AU force has a limited mandate to guard key government installations such as the port and airport.


Updated : 2021-05-08 21:47 GMT+08:00