By: Zakeriye Ahmed, Horndiplomat correspondent
Somalia’s government and Al-Shabab militants have denied the existence of any talks between them, hours after Somalia’s deputy defence minister, MP Abdulfatah Kasim Mohamud, told the local media that Al-Shabab militants had requested negotiations with the government.
On Saturday, Somalia’s deputy defence minister Abdulfatah Kasim told the local media in Mogadishu that the Al-Shabab militants group had requested to open talks with the government. “There are two groups in Al-Shabab, the first one is foreigners, and the second is Somalis, who have a chance to open up discussions, but the foreigners who invaded our country have no right for talks, and the only option for them is to return to where they are from.” He added.
Al-Shabab militants immediately denied that the group asked to open negotiations with the government, and they also eradicated the possibility of talks with Somalia’s government.
“I can guarantee you that there is no dialogue between us”, an official from the Al-Shabab information department, whose name wasn’t published, told the group’s affiliated media.
On the other hand, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s national security advisor Hussein Sheikh Ali told VOA Somali service that the deputy defence minister said he was misquoted. “We have not received any requests from the group,” Hussein added.
Hussein Sheikh Ali said that the government’s position on Al-Shabab militants has not changed. “Our policy towards talks with Alshabab remains the same,” he wrote in a message via WhatsApp.
“We aren’t negotiating with them as a group. However, individuals who wish to leave the group will undergo a thorough process to defect and be eligible for government amnesty formally,” Hussein added.
The president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has called on young Al-Shabab fighters to surrender to the government and return to their people and religion, addressing the people after Friday prayer in the presidential palace of Villa Somalia’s mosque.
Somalia’s armed forces and the local militia of Macawisley seized strategic towns from Al-Shabaab militants in the central part of the country, including Aadan Yabaal.
President Hassan and his Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre visited the Eritrean-trained Somali troops at Mogadishu’s General Gordon military camp. They told them to be prepared to join the ongoing war against Al-Shabaab militants.