There has been a mixed reaction to the take-over by Somali and Ethiopian troops of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. They drove out their Islamist rivals on Thursday leaving a power vacuum which many fear could lead to chaos in the capital and the south of the country where the Union of Islamic Courts had managed to bring a semblance of stability through Shariah law, which is widely practiced in Muslim Somalia.
The Islamist leaders have retreated to the southern city of Kismayu and are promising resistance. Ethiopian troops say they will stay until they are told to leave. Somalia depends almost entirely on the Ethiopian army – itself widely backed by Washington which some analysts say has major interests in the oil-rich region.
Thousands of people have been killed in the 10-day conflict. Many have been forced to flee their homes though no large-scale displacement has been reported. The United Nations has announced a resumption of humanitarian shipments to Somalia after aid flights were suspended temporarily during the fighting. The Somali parliament is expected to vote martial law on Saturday.