Somali rulers take elders to task

MOGADISHU - The mayor of the Somali capital yesterday accused influential clan elders of fomenting violence in Mogadishu as the government struggles to exert control across the shattered Horn of Africa nation.

MOGADISHU - The mayor of the Somali capital yesterday accused influential clan elders of fomenting violence in Mogadishu as the government struggles to exert control across the shattered Horn of Africa nation.

Mohamed Omar Habeb, a former warlord in central Somalia, said the dominant Hawiye clan elders had failed to stem the road-side explosions and assassinations of government officials carried out by unruly Islamist and clan fighters.

"These elders are fighting the government and will be held responsible for the deaths of government workers.

"We are responsible for the security of the people and we will punish these elders," Habeb said.

"We do not want to be killers like them, but we will act responsibly and carry out our mandate," he said, after Ethiopian forces had killed a civilian and wounded two others after a road-side explosion in southern Mogadishu.

Habeb said the elders recently met with President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and gave false promises to work to restore security in Mogadishu.

"Violence has limits and we will never tolerate the killing of our people," Habeb said.

But the elders dismissed the accusations and instead called on the government to ensure security in the capital.

"These accusations are unfounded and it is the responsibility of the government to restore peace in Mogadishu," said Abdi Haji Iman, a spokesman for the elders.

The elders have played a key role in brokering peace in Somalia since 1991, when the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre's Draconian government touched off deadly power struggles that have defied numerous attempts to restore a functional administration.

Ethiopian and Somalian forces seized control of the capital in April after weeks of clashes with Islamist insurgents that claimed at least 1500 lives, mainly civilians. - Sapa-AFP

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