Further developments toward the formal establishment of an Islamic state in Somalia, from AP:
NAIROBI, Kenya – An Islamic cleric accused by Washington of collaborating with al-Qaida said Monday he will only support a government based on Islam in his new role as head of a militia that controls Somalia’s capital and much of the country’s south.
“Somalia is a Muslim nation and its people are also Muslim, 100 percent,” Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys told The Associated Press in his first comments to the media since being named head of the Islamic militia over the weekend.
The militia defeated U.S.-backed secular warlords and seized Mogadishu and much of the south this month. Last week it struck a mutual recognition deal with the largely powerless U.N.-backed interim government.
Aweys, who is on a U.S. list of people with alleged ties to international terrorism, was appointed leader of the militia Saturday, replacing a more moderate cleric who agreed to negotiate with the interim government.
None of the militia leaders who voted for the surprise change in leadership has publicly explained the reason for it. The State Department has not commented.
The Islamic militia also changed its name from the Islamic Courts Union to the Somali Supreme Islamic Courts Council.
“Any government we agree on would be based on the holy Quran and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad,” Aweys said in a telephone interview from his home in central Somalia.