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Egypt's Grand Imam Calls for Reconciliation, Peace in Somalia


Egypt's most prestigious cleric, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, on Monday called on Somali factions to seek ways of ending war and realizing national reconciliation and peace, Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported.

The civil war has destroyed state institutions and the economy of Somalia and resulted in displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, who face oppression and tyranny, Tantawi said in a message to Djiboutian Foreign Minister Ali Abdi Fareh.

Djibouti is hosting a Somali reconciliation conference. A group of influential people exploited the war for more influence and wealth at the expense of innocent children and women, Tantawi said, adding that such chaotic situation would provide foreign powers with the opportunity to tear up Somalia for their expansionist interests.

"Sincere Somalis and their Arab and Muslim brothers should cooperate in order to achieve the peace aims," he stressed. Somalia has been in division since 1991 when the former president, Siad Barre, was toppled.

Djiboutian President Ismael Omar Guelleh proposed last year an initiative, calling on the Somali warlords to disarm, turn their factions into political parties, and to submit to the authority of a formal legal system.

Under this peace plan, a Somali reconciliation conference opened in Djibouti on May 2. Some 460 representatives of the civil society, including university professors, intellectuals, writers and tribal leaders took part in the gathering.

Representatives of the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, the European Union, Egypt and the United States also attended the conference. The Grand Iman described the Somali peace conference as "a precious opportunity for Somalia and its people to pass out of the debacle."

"We appreciate the efforts exerted by Djibouti for this noble end. All Arab and Islamic countries must support Djibouti in order to achieve this aim," Tantawi said. Al-Azhar is Egypt's leading Muslim authority and the highest seat of Sunni Islamic studies in the world.



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