Mortar raid greets Somali president

Mortars fired at presidential palace as Sharif Ahmed visits Mogadishu seeking unity.

    Supporters of Ahmed lined the road from the
    airport to the presidential palace [AFP]

    "The president has ordered the national army and African Union peacekeepers not to respond any fire. The situation is very calm," Mohamed Sheikh Nur, a journalist in Mogadishu, told Al Jazeera.

    'Broad government'

    President Ahmed had travelled to Mogadishu on Saturday - the first time since he was elected in a vote held in neighbouring Djibouti - for discussions on establishing a unity government in the Horn of Africa nation, which has not had an effective administration since 1991.

    Ahmed travelled to the presidential palace under the protection of government soldiers, local fighters and African Union (AU) peacekeepers.

    "My trip to Mogadishu is aimed at having consultations with elders, politicians and Islamic resistance groups," Ahmed said on his arrival.

    The road from the airport was lined with hundreds of people who welcomed him from Djibouti, where he had been after last week's AU conference in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

    Thousands killed

    Ahmed has said that he will look to create a broad unity government, potentially including groups opposed to a UN-backed reconciliation effort which precipitated the recent election.

    Ahmed, who led the Islamic Courts' Union when it controlled much of south and central Somalia in 2006 before being forced out by Ethiopian forces, is perceived as a moderate.

    But the UN-backed transitional government he now leads holds little real power.

    Opposition groups, such as al-Shabab, in the Horn of Africa country control many towns and large areas of Mogadishu.

    At least 16,000 citizens have been killed due to the conflict in the last two years and another one million people have been displaced.

    SOURCE: Al jazeera and agencies


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