An update on this story. And it will not bring peace; concessions never do. It only sets a disastrous precedent for more concessions — including ever stricter enforcement of sharia, as any laxity now becomes a political and military liability. “Somali MPs vote to establish sharia law,” from Reuters, April 18 (thanks to MrsJ):
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somali members of parliament voted unanimously on Saturday to implement sharia law across the country in a move aimed at undermining hardline Islamist rebels who have been waging a two-year insurgency.
The approval by parliament had been expected since March 10, when the cabinet appointed by new President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed also voted to establish sharia, or Islamic, law.
Experts say Ahmed’s move undermines guerrillas who have been fighting the government and questioning his Islamic credentials. It will also please wealthy potential donors in Gulf nations.
Osman Elimi Boqore, the deputy speaker of parliament, said 343 MPs attended Saturday’s session.
“All of them voted ‘yes’ and accepted the implementation of sharia,” he told reporters. “There was no rejection or silence, so from today we have an Islamic government.”
A “no” vote would likely give new meaning to “political suicide,” illustrating how pervasive Somalia’s problems are: No amount of money thrown at Somalia, or of wanting a free society for them, can make it happen if the people do not want it for themselves and possess the political will to change a government that thinks otherwise.
Ahmed is trying to restore stability to the country and hopes to have direct talks with rivals including the hardline al Shabaab rebels. A major donors’ meeting on Somalia in Brussels this week will also focus on the threat from Somali pirates.
Western security services say his failed state could become a base for militants linked with Al Qaeda. Ahmed was elected in January under a U.N.-brokered reconciliation process that is Somalia’s 15th attempt to set up central government since 1991.