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    Somali Government Signs Framework with Militia

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    NTDTelevision

    by NTDTelevision

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    The Somali government has agreed to bring one of the country's militia groups on board. The news comes ahead of an expected military push against Islamist rebels that threatens to topple the administration.

    Two insurgent groups have been fighting the Horn of Africa nation's government since the start of 2007, and the Western-backed administration has been hemmed into a few blocks of the capital Mogadishu since a rebel offensive last May.

    The group brought in, Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca, is made up of moderate Sufi Muslims who have been fighting the insurgent groups al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam in central Somalia.

    Somalia has a rich Sufi tradition going back more than five centuries. Sufis have been angered by the desecration of graves, the beheading of clerics, and bans on celebrating the birth of the Prophet imposed by the hard-line Wahhabi insurgents.

    Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke welcomed the agreement at a ceremony at the African Union offices in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

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    The government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed has already agreed to implement sharia law in the country. Prime Minister Sharmarke said the agreement with Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca was a blow to the extremists.

    According to Sharmarke, Ahlu Sunna would be given five, as yet undetermined, ministries and would appoint deputy commanders of the military, the police and the intelligence services.

    Somalia has had no effective government for 19 years and Western nations and neighbors say the anarchic country is used as a shelter by militants intent on launching attacks in east Africa and further afield.

    The Government says it will launch a major offensive but has yet to carry out the plan. Rebels have stepped up attacks in various parts of the capital this month.