Somali gov’t, al-Shabab deny peace talks as president calls on militants to surrender
Both the Somali government and the al-Shabab militant group have denied having held peace talks, which comes after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had called on “brainwashed” young al-Shabab fighters to surrender to the government amid ongoing military offensives against the group.
The denial came from a senior government official Saturday after Abdulfatah Kasim Mohamud, a deputy defense minister, said the militant group had requested talks with the government. “We have not received any requests from the group,” National Security Adviser Hussein Sheikh Ali told the press. “The minister said he was misquoted.” He also said the Somali government’s position on al-Shabab has not changed. “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,” he added.
The militant group, on its part, has denied the existence of any talks with the Somali government. “I can confirm that there aren’t and can be no talks between us,” a militant official said. In the past, the group has expressed distrust in opening dialogue with the Somali government. In January 2018, the group’s official spokesperson, Ali Mohamud Rage, known as Ali Dhere, said dialogue is “more dangerous than the weapons of mass destruction.” Meanwhile, speaking at a mosque in the country’s capital Friday (6 January), Somali president, who last year declared an “all-out war” against the Islamist insurgents, called on the al-Shabab fighters to denounce the terrorist ideology before it is too late.