(AFP) – Mar 13, 2009
KAMPALA (AFP) — Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on Friday defended plans to implement Islamic law in his war-wracked country, saying it was aimed at appeasing militants opposed to his government.
"The purpose of this decision is to ensure that he who claims that he is fighting to have sharia no longer has a reason to fight," he told reporters in the Ugandan capital, where he met President Yoweri Museveni.
"Sharia does not allow for blood to be shed for political reasons. So that door is closed."
Hardline Islamist militia fighting the government have insisted on implementation of Islamic law, or sharia, which they have imposed in areas under their control.
The Somali cabinet on Tuesday agreed to introduce Islamic law which is to presented to parliament for approval.
"Sharia is something that everyone is Somalia believes in and lives by," Ahmed said. "And it has been in existence not only for years, but especially in recent years in Somalia it has been in practice."
Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, was the top official in an Islamist movement toppled by Ethiopia-backed Somali forces in early 2007.
When in power in 2006, the Islamists introduced a strict form of sharia and carried out executions, shut cinemas and photo shops, banned live music, flogged drug offenders and harassed civilians, mainly women, for failing to wear appropriate dress in public.
They also banned foreign music, romances between unmarried teens, all commerce and public transport during prayer times and decreed that Muslims who do not pray daily can be punished by death.
Ahmed was elected president on January 31 following United Nations-brokered reconciliation talks and pledged to reach out to the hardline groups.
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