The Somali government has reached an agreement with a faction of militia in the central part of the Horn of Africa country on their integration into the army, Radio Mogadishu reported on Wednesday.
Citing the government, the state radio said the agreement involved the Sufi group of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama in central provinces.
Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon is currently visiting the central province of Galgadud, where the Sufi group of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama (ASWJ) has maintained control for the past couple of years after Al-Qaida linked Al-Shabaab fighters were ousted.
“After hours long meeting between Somali government delegation led by Prime Minister Shirdon who is on a tour to the region and leaders of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama in central Somalia have resulted in an agreement that the forces of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama be fully integrated into the armed forces,” the radio said.
The ASWJ, which is allied with the Somali government, has been fighting Al-Shabaab fighters in Galgadud for three years and has managed to retake a number of key towns in the region.
The Somali government is moving to resume administrations in the southern and central provinces of Hiran , Bay and Bakool under a federal system of governance.
The government wants to do the same in Kismayo, capital of the Lower Juba region in southern Somalia. The region was retaken from Al-Shabaab fighters by allied government forces and African Union peacekeeping forces from Kenya last year.
The agreement with the ASWJ is seen as a major step for the Somali government to spread its authority outside the capital Mogadishu.