Islamist fighters attack Somali parliament session, leaving seven dead

08:16, May 17, 2010      

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Heavy fighting broke out on Sunday in the Somali capital Mogadishu after Islamist fighters launched mortars at the parliament first session in months, leaving at least seven dead in the fire exchange.

The Somali parliament held its first session Sunday after almost five months because of technical and logistical hitches. The meeting on Sunday is seen as crucial as differences over the parliament leaderships have been lingering since the Somali parliament held its last session in December 2009.

The lawmakers were expected to debate the speaker's term of office, a government accountability motion and the current security situation of the war-torn Horn of African country.

The Speaker of the Somali legislature, Sheikh Adan Madobe, told reporters on Satarday that after inaugurating the newly renovated former Somali national Assembly in the government controlled part of the capital Mogadishu that lawmakers would sort out any political differences they may have through "legal channels".

Many lawmakers have been arguing that the term of office of the speaker have ended last August when the term of the former Somali government would have ended before it was extended in the Djibouti peace process that led to the accommodation of former opposition members into the government and election of the current moderate Islamist President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

There has been numerous attempts by top Somali government officials to ease the growing tension within the Somali parliament but such effort seem to have failed to quell the raw over the speakers term with some MPs insisting on a vote of no-confidence during the meeting on Sunday.

The 500-member Somali legislature is made up of members from the previous government lawmakers as well as new members, roughly half, from the former opposition alliance known as the Alliance for the Reconstruction of Somalia (ARS).

The two sides have been joined as a result of the Djibouti peace process in 2008 which led to the election of the Islamist- leaning Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in early 2009.

The new government has since been fighting deadly insurgency waged by radical Islamist groups who boycotted the Djibouti peace process and vowed to topple the internationally recognized Somali government and establish an Islamic State in the war weary East African nation.



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