"Both sides will now take the agreement back to their respective constituencies and carry out extensive discussions. The final agreement will be signed during the first week of March," it added.
Under the agreement, a national panel of ulemas, or Muslim scholars, will be formed to come up with a framework to "protect and preserve the traditional Somali Islamic faith", the statement said.
Sufism emphasises the mystical dimension of Islam and includes practices considered as idolatry by the strict Wahhabi sect followed by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab.Sufism is still dominant in clannish Somalia, where clan founders were often also Muslim saints, but its leading clerics have voiced concern that hardline Islamist groups such as Shebab were slowly eradicating it.Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa ('The Companions of the Prophet') took up arms in 2008 after Shebab started hunting down Sufi faithful and desecrating their holy sites, notably in and around the southern Somali city of Kismayo.The usually quiet group held its inaugural "war council" in Nairobi in November.Shebab controls around 80 percent of southern and central Somalia, and since his election a year ago President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and his administration have been pinned down in a small area of the capital.The conflict-wracked country's shaky government is planning a nationwide offensive against insurgents, which Shebab says will be met with all-out war. Related article: Sparing civilians key to Somali offensive
Source: AFP Global Edition