Martial law declared in Somalia

Saturday, January 13, 2007 

Somalia's parliament has voted to declare three months of martial law after the rout of Islamist forces.
MPs sitting in the provincial town of Baidoa voted 154 to two to ratify Prime Minister Ali Mohamad Ghedi's plan to restore order in the war-ravaged state.

The government regained control after a campaign led by Ethiopian troops which also saw US air attacks on militants.

Meanwhile, nine people have died in clashes between rival clans in a town in central Somalia.

Residents say at least nine people were killed in the settlement of Biyo-Adde when fighting broke out in a local market.

The transitional government says it has sent police from its headquarters in nearby Jowhar.

Martial law 'necessary'

Correspondents say the government is trying to assert its authority over clan disputes and re-emerging local warlords two weeks after the Union of Islamic Courts militia was ousted from central and southern Somalia.

The government says the last Islamic Courts base at Ras Kamboni is now in government hands and operations are continuing to hunt down Islamist militiamen.

Martial law will allow the president to issue decrees on matters of national security, bans unlawful demonstrations and outlaws the spreading of propaganda.

A government statement, quoted by news agency AFP, said the vote would give it the right to take "all necessary actions to enforce security in the country".

Lawmakers opposed to the motion said too many people have arms in Somalia and it would be dangerous to impose martial law in such a situation.

Earlier this week the US launched air strikes against Islamists, who they accuse of harbouring al-Qaeda members suspected of carrying out attacks against US embassies in East Africa.

The Islamists denied they were sheltering senior al-Qaeda operatives and the strikes were condemned by some regional powers, and humanitarian groups.



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