Page last updated at 20:29 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Sharia imposed at Somali MPs base

Islamist fighters pose with their equipment in a Mogadishu football stadium on 16 January 2009
Islamic fighters took over Baidoa on Tuesday

Islamist rebels have declared Sharia law in Baidoa, a day after seizing the central Somali city, a stronghold of the country's transitional government.

Al-Shabab militants took over hours after Ethiopian troops pulled out.

The African Union said Ethiopia may send troops back into Somalia if the Islamist fighters grow too powerful.

Somali lawmakers, in neighbouring Djibouti due to the insecurity at home, meanwhile extended by five days the time needed to elect a new president.

Sheikh Muktar Robow Mansoor, of al-Shabab, told a rally in Baidoa on Tuesday how the movement, which means The Youth, intended to govern.

'Fight anyone'

"We are informing all Somalis we want to rule with justice, and the almighty Allah's sharia law," he said.

"We are informing Somalis we will not accept any man-made constitution. We will not accept it. We shall fight with anyone who opposes it."

The Ethiopians told us that they are going to secure that border, they are going back and to secure the borders
Jean Ping
African Union Commission

On Monday, al-Shabab took over the airport, parliament building and president's home in Baidoa.

They moved in as the last Ethiopian troops pulled out, two years after intervening in an effort to stamp out the Islamist insurgents.

The BBC's Yusuf Hassan, in Djibouti, says it is not clear if the Somali lawmakers will be able to return to their base in Baidoa.

The African Union's top diplomat, Jean Ping, said events in the city would have little impact on the political process, adding that Ethiopian troops might return to Somalia.

"The Ethiopians told us that they are going to secure that border," he said. "They are going back and to secure the borders."

On Tuesday, MPs agreed to delay by five days an MPs' vote to choose the next president.

The deadline for picking a successor to Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who quit last month, was to expire on Wednesday.

Somali legislators have already expanded parliament to bring in some 200 moderate Islamists, as part of a UN-backed peace process.

But the al-Shabab, which is on Washington's list of terrorist groups, has refused to take part in the peace talks.

Some 16,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict and a million more have been forced from their homes.

The Horn of Africa country has not had an effective national government since 1991.

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