Somalia President opens to talks with Al-Shabaab

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At the Oslo Forum 2024 in Norway, President Hassan expressed his willingness to engage in dialogue with the rebels.

Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has reiterated that the Horn of Africa country should negotiate with the Al-Shabaab terrorists instead of pursuing a military-only strategy against them. 

At the Oslo Forum 2024 in Norway, Hassan expressed his willingness to engage in dialogue with the rebels.

Participants at the forum reflected on peace efforts amid escalating conflict and geopolitical polarisation, under the theme "Mediation Against All Odds."

"We believe the end game with Al-Shabaab is through negotiation. When is when they're ready. The Somali government is ready, yesterday, the day before yesterday," proclaimed the Somali leader, whose country has bounced back to the United Nations Security Council after decades of being on the agenda of the global security body.

He added, "We are looking forward to them being ready for that, and when they're ready, we will negotiate."

"That negotiation might take some time but at least it will create a newer.... (inaudible)... but Al-Shabaab, as of now, as we sit in Oslo, we don't have that indication from them," he said.

He urged the group to change its behaviour and embrace mediation for lasting peace in the conflict-ridden East African Community (EAC) member state.

"Al-Shabaab needs to change their behaviour, and whoever can convince them to change their behaviour, I think they have to take that action," said Hassan Sheikh.

This is not the first time the Somali leader has shown a willingness to engage the militia that have maimed and killed innocent citizens in Somalia and neighbouring countries.

Last year, President Hassan stated that the Mogadishu government would only negotiate with Al-Shabaab after the group was militarily defeated.

However, Al-Shabaab, he said, cannot be defeated by military force alone and that the government had adopted a multi-pronged strategy, including military, religious, and economic measures.

He added that the government was further ready to provide an opportunity for young Somalis fighting for Al-Shabaab to return to their country and live peacefully.

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