somalia islamic law 248 88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Somalia's new government has approved the adoption of Sharia or Islamic law as the official legal system for the Horn of Africa nation. The measure still needs to be ratified by the country's parliament.
The cabinet, under the new prime minister, Umar Abdi Rashid Ali Sharamke, is hoping the move will appease Islamist organizations in the country, said a regional analyst at The Media Line. Several groups have refused to recognize the government and the new president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad.
The president was the head of the now defunct Islamic Courts Union, which acted as the umbrella organization for a variety of movements. However, as fighting intensified between ICU fighters on the one hand and Somalia troops backed by Ethiopian forces on the other, the ICU became fragmented.
As the head of the Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia, Ahmad entered negotiations with the previous government and signed a peace deal in neighboring Djibouti last year. That put him back at the heart of Somali politics but cut him off from his former Islamist colleagues.
Among those incensed by the deal was the A-Shabab movement, which continued fighting against the official forces in Somalia, while others fled for neighboring countries. A-Shabab does not recognize Ahmad or the new government.
Meanwhile, the ongoing fighting exclaimed more lives on Wednesday. Among those reportedly killed was a senior commander in the Somali army, 'Ubeid Muhammad Muhammad. He was one of at least four soldiers killed when his vehicle was targeted by a bomb.
Violence in the country, particularly in the capital Mogadishu, has claimed thousands of lives. Many civilians have been killed in crossfire as gunmen roam the streets. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in recent months.
The ongoing fighting in Somalia is nothing new. The population has become accustomed to warfare over the last two decades as warlords slugged it out with one another. The government has spent most of its time serving in exile, unable to function within the country.
The political vacuum, coupled with hunger and disease, has allowed lawlessness to rule. Pirates control Somalia's waters and Islamist and other factions the streets.
The current government hopes that with international help - which is not particularly forthcoming according to the TML analyst - it will be able to restore a semblance of normalcy, and is gambling that the introduction of Shari'a will go some way towards achieving that end.