than 300 delegates, including Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys,
have approved a constitution and central committee.
A spokesman said the
new movement will be called The Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia. It
aims to remove the Ethiopian-backed government by negotiation – or war.
"We have two-track options – first is the
liberation of Somalia through military struggle, the second is through diplomatic
efforts," said Zakariya Mahamud Abdi, spokesman for the Somali Congress.
The Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia (ALS) will have a 191-member central
committee that will function as a parliament with a 10-person executive committee
to be elected shortly.
The spokesman had a stark warning for Ethiopian troops,
heavily deployed in Somalia since they rescued embattled transitional government
forces last year.
"We warn Ethiopia to withdraw immediately. It is
now or never and in a few weeks they will not have a route to withdraw," Abdi
said. Key role Reporters at the Somali Congress for Liberation and Reconstitution
in Asmara say the alliance is unlikely to be Islamist-led as the opposition
is hoping to draw on the broad political support and fundraising opportunities
of the Somali diaspora.
But observers say it will be interesting to see if
a position is offered to the Islamist leader Sheikh Aweys, an architect of
the Mogadishu insurgency, who has been in hiding since the Islamic Courts’
Union was routed by the Ethiopian army last year. I
In an interview with the
Eritrean media, Sheikh Aweys, has dismissed US allegations that he is a "terrorist". "I
am a Somali nationalist fighting for a free and united Somalia," he
said "and this is considered by the US administration to be terrorism."
their defeat by Ethiopia’s vastly superior military force in December last
year, the Islamists have resorted to guerrilla tactics, launching daily hit-and-run
attacks on targets, mainly in Mogadishu.
The UN refugee agency says some
400,000 people have fled the fighting in the capital in the past four months
as a result of the surge in violence.
The Islamists, along with other opposition
leaders like Hussain Aideed, boycotted a reconciliation meeting sponsored
by the transitional government last month. Instead they chose to organise
a meeting hosted by Ethiopia’s arch-enemy, Eritrea, with the declared aim
of "liberating Somalia from Ethiopia".
US warnings Ethiopian Prime
Minister Meles Zenawi has said his troops will withdraw once African Union
peacekeepers arrive in Mogadishu.
But pledges by AU nations to contribute
troops to the planned 7,000-strong peacekeeping mission have yet to be honoured
and so far only 1,600 Ugandan soldiers have been deployed.
Just days ago,
a senior US official said the presence of Sheikh Aweys in Asmara was further
evidence Eritrea gave sanctuary to terrorists.
The gathering of further intelligence
could lead to Eritrea being named as a state sponsor of terrorism – followed
by sanctions, the official warned.