The semi-autonomous administration of Puntland, northeast Somalia, has reacted to some of its religious people who very recently arrived in Mogadishu to wage a campaign of forming Islamic Courts in Bosaso, Puntland's main city, announcing they did not represent any of Punland's religious people.
Abdirahman Bangah , information minister of Puntland, has told Shabelle Radio in Mogadishu that it was never possible and acceptable Puntland religious people to come to Mogadishu and consult with Islamic Courts over political matters.
"If there are Puntland religious figures in Mogadishu, who are discussing about Puntland issues with Islamist, they do not represent anybody in Puntland", said Bangah. Adding that Puntland religious people always took part in the welfare maintenance of their community and administration.
The news comes days after Sheik Abdulkani Qorane, who has been leading Puntland religious team, had confirmed to Shabelle that they had arrived in Mogadishu to meet with the Union of Islamic Courts, conferring about the way the Islamic courts would reach and form an Islamic Court in Puntland in northeast Somalia.
Puntland previously banned airliners from Southern Somalia, Mogadishu in particular, from landing at its airport, fearing Islamists infiltration in the province.
Somalia had no effective national administration since 1991 when tribal warlords overthrew former president Siyad Barre
Somalia government casts doubts on Khartoum talks
The transitional federal government has on Friday set a condition before its participation in the next round of peace talks in Khartoum, Sudan on October 30 until the Islamists occupy southern port city of Kismayo.
Somali’s foreign minister Ismael Hure Buba told reports in Nairobi that his government would not attend at the talks in Khartoum, Sudan if the Islamic Courts do not withdraw its troops from areas they captured after the last peace deal signed in Khartoum September 4 2006.
He made his comments after US backed Somali Contact Group convened both interim government and Islamic Courts in Nairobi on Thursday in an effort to push forward the peace process to end the conflict in horn of Africa nation.
Western and African diplomats in the US formed contact group urged both sides to attend the scheduled third round of Arab League sponsored talks in Sudan on October 30. Analysts see it as the last chance of bringing peace and stability in Somalia.
“The government is ready to go Khartoum and negotiate with Islamists but they first pull out its militia from regions of Lower Juba and Middle Juba,” Buba said.
He accused Islamists of violating all Khartoum peace deals by invading new lands in southern Somalia and that would be in danger of the future talks in the region.
The hope of holding the peace talks in Khartoum in late October seems fading out in accordance with the deep divergence between powerful Islamists and the ghost government based in Baidoa city, 250km southwest of Somalia.
SOMALIA: War of words over Islamic Courts' role
An international forum trying to reconcile rival political groups in Somalia has urged the Islamic movement to refrain from further expanding its authority by military means and instead engage the transitional government in dialogue.
The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) took control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in early June and has since extended its authority in much of southern and central Somalia, challenging the authority of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which was set up in 2004 in a bid to restore law and order after 13 years without a national government.
The International Contact Group on Somalia (ICG), which met in Nairobi on Thursday, expressed concern over what it called "threats of militarisation of Somalia" and deplored violations of agreements reached during reconciliation talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, between the UIC and the TFG.
The two parties had, during the talks mediated by the League of Arab States, agreed to unite their forces and reconstitute the Somali national army and the national police force.
A third round of talks between the two groups is scheduled for Khartoum on 30 October and the ICG - which comprises Britain, Italy, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Tanzania, the United States, the African Union, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the United Nations, as well as eastern Africa's Intergovernmental Authority on Development - strongly urged both parties to attend the meeting.
"The security framework to be agreed under Khartoum III should include operational provisions for military disengagement and demobilisation," the ICG said in a communiqué.
Despite calls for dialogue, however, Somalia's interim president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, launched a scathing criticism of the UIC, saying its armed forces were led by a "jihadist wing ... under the banner of the black flag of the Taliban" and claimed that it was attempting to make Somalia a "safe [haven] for terrorism".
Yusuf urged the international community to help his government counter the threat posed by the Islamic movement and warned that his administration would have no choice but "to defend not only [ourselves but] also to liberate the masses under the ICU's [UIC] oppressive occupation".
The UIC for its part dismissed Yusuf's allegations as "beneath contempt".
Ibrahim Hassan Adow, the head of the Foreign Affairs Department, who led the UIC delegation to the talks, told IRIN that although they were disappointed "we were not surprised by it. It is a desperate attempt by a desperate man to garner sympathy and support."
Adow said such "malicious statements will not contribute to the reconciliation process. It is the same old cheap propaganda that our enemies have been propagating."
He said the international community should send observers "to see for themselves what is happening on the ground instead of depending on false and cheap propaganda".
Adow said, "Our aim has been and still is to restore law and order in our country."
Speaking to reporters after the ICG meeting, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Fraser also criticised the UIC, saying its continued expansion was in contravention of agreements reached in Khartoum. She said the TFG needed to be supported as the "legitimate mechanism for governance" in Somalia to prevent terrorists, who, she claimed, were already "residing" in the country, from entrenching themselves there.
Kenya's foreign minister, Raphael Tuju, said there was need for humanitarian help for the people of Somalia. "We believe that the international response to the problem in Somalia must put the issue of humanitarian intervention at the top of the agenda," he said.
The ICG also said it was committed to responding to the humanitarian needs of the people in that country.
Rivalry between the TFG and the UIC has heightened tensions in Somalia in recent months, forcing thousands of people to flee to Kenya.
An estimated 34,000 Somali refugees have arrived in Kenya since the beginning of 2006, with a dramatic rise in the number of newcomers in the past two months. About 130,000 Somali refugees have been living in the Dadaab area of eastern Kenya since 1991.
Islamists' Supreme Leader Sheik Aweys Denies Sending 30 Young Islamists to Somaliland
Union of Islamic Courts Judiciary Council supreme leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys has refuted the existence of a message letter that he had reportedly signed.
According to al-Sharqalawsat newspaper, Aweys denied he had sent a letter to 30 young men, known as "Shabab" to secretly penetrate in the secessionist government of Somaliland to create mayhem in Hergeysa.
Aweys stressed the letter was written in several internet websites to undermine the images of the Islamic Courts.
Somalia's Islamic Courts have taken control of central and southern Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu.
He pointed out the letter was fabricated by people he called the enemy of Somalia
The president of the breakaway republic of Somaliland Dahir Riyale kahin showed he was skeptical about the authenticity of the letter, pledging his administration would investigate the letter.
The news comes days after Somalia's Islamic Courts had denounced Somaliland for torturing local religious people for their belief.
Somalia had no central authority since 1991 when tribal warlords had ousted former president Mohammed Siyad Barre.