Islamist chiefs call for revolt against Meles
Mogadishu(AP): A senior leader of Somalia’s Islamic radicals urged Ethiopians yesterday to revolt against their government, which he described as an oppressive regime led by an unpopular minority ethnic group.Tensions between Ethiopia, which backs Somalia’s weakened government, and the Islamic radical group that controls much of the south of the country have been mounting in recent months. So far they have avoided any direct clashes, though the rhetoric on both sides has been fiery, raising fears of a conflict that could engulf the Horn of Africa region.
“I dare you to come and fight us. Do not just run,” said Islamic leader Shaikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, directing his words at Ethiopia in an address before thousands of Somalis gathered in the capital, Mogadishu, to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
“We urge Ethiopian people, who are not part of this aggression against Somalia, to revolt and remove the oppressive regime led by [Ethiopia Prime Minister] Meles Zenawi,” added senior Islamic leader, Shaikh Sharif Shaikh Ahmad, at the same event.
In other towns, Somalia’s Islamic leaders made similar calls, threatening to drive Ethiopian forces from Baidoa, the only town the Somali government controls, some 250 kilometres northwest of Mogadishu.
Ethiopia, with almost half of its 77 million population Muslim, is fearful of a neighbouring fundamentalist state.