Somali Islamist leader: Our problem 'Ethiopia's occupation'

An exiled leader of Somalia's Islamists has said any talks with government officials would be fruitless before Ethiopian occupation is removed in response to new PM's call for talks.

Somali Islamist leader: Our problem 'Ethiopia's occupation'
"Our problem is not with the old prime minister or the new prime minister. Our problem is Ethiopia's occupation," Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who is now chairman of the opposition Alliance For the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) said.

Ahmed's Islamist courts' movement ruled Mogadishu for six months last year, until it was ousted by Ethiopia's army backing forces from the interim Somali government.

"If the Ethiopian occupation is removed then everything is possible. But before that, it would be fruitless to speak about talks between the prime minister and the opposition," Ahmed added in an interview in Eritrea late on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein has had a rocky start since being appointed at the end of November and naming his cabinet at the weekend. Five ministers have already quit, in a blow for plans to unify a government.

Hussein took over from former Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi, who resigned after a long feud with the president that frustrated their Western backers.

On Tuesday, a security official said President Abdullahi Yusuf — a long-surviving liver transplant patient — was in "serious condition" in a Nairobi hospital.

But his doctors played down the health threat.

Eritrea, backs Sharif's ARS movement, which is an umbrella Somali opposition group of Islamists, former parliamentarians and diaspora members.

Islamists have led an insurgency against the government and Ethiopian troops throughout 2007.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Aralık 2007, 15:03