Somali government loses support of key commander

Sheikh Ma'ow

Halkaan ka akhri

Sheikh Abdirahman Ibrahim Ma’ow, a member of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and de facto governor of Hiraan province, told reporters that he would no longer back the transitional federal government (TFG).

“The purpose of this press conference is to inform the society of our decision concerning the support we have hitherto offered to the Somali transitional government,” he said.

“As of today, we clearly state that we are withdrawing our backing and can no longer be considered pro-government,” he said in  Beledweyn, a town on the border with Ethiopia, some 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu.

Under his administration, the region had been hostile to the TFG but he rallied the new administration of fellow ICU leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, when he was elected Somalia’s president in January.

Over the weekend, Ethiopian forces entered Beledweyn and ousted insurgent forces from the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab group, in one of Addis Ababa’s most visible interventions since officially pulling out of Somalia in January.

Although he did not explicitly say he was breaking his alliance with the TFG over Ethiopia’s increasing military presence in the region, Sheikh Ma’ow made no secret of his irritation.

“I was out of the region when the Ethiopian forces entered Beledweyn. I was not aware and nobody informed me of their deployment,” he said.

“I am not happy with the intervention of foreign forces, particularly Ethiopian forces in Somalia,” he said, insisting that he would not join forces with the insurgency.

Abdullahi Hassan, a government security officer in the region, admitted that the divorce would leave the government in a difficult military situation in Hiraan province.

“The transitional government had been propped up by the Islamic Courts militia in this region, so the commander’s decision will be disastrous,” he told AFP.

Somali government troops and allied militia backed by Ethiopia have over the past two weeks been involved in a sweeping military effort against areas formerly controlled by the Shebab in southwestern Somalia.

Source: Channel-Africa

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