From: Yemane Natnael (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Dec 11 2008 - 10:29:21 EST
Pro-peace Islamist opposition figure returns to Mogadishu
10 Dec 10, 2008 - 10:21:42 AM
MOGADISHU, Somalia Dec 10 (Garowe Online) - The chairman of a fractured Somali opposition coalition returned home to Mogadishu on Wednesday, commemorating the end of a two-year exile spent in Eritrea and Djibouti, Radio Garowe reported.
A 20-member delegation led by Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) Chairman, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was warmly received in Somalia˘s capital by hundreds of supporters who lined Mogadishu streets, waving and chanting.
A joint security force led by African Union peacekeepers, including Somali soldiers and Ethiopian troops, established security patrols in different parts of Mogadishu as Sheikh Sharif˘s delegation arrived.
Mohamed Osman "Dhagahtur," the disputed mayor of Mogadishu, was at the airport to welcome Sheikh Sharif's delegation to the capital.
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh AhmedSpeaking with the media briefly at the airport, Sheikh Sharif said the Djibouti-based ARS faction˘s visit to Mogadishu is part of ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts to restore order in the Horn of Africa country torn apart of 18 years of conflict.
He declined to answer reporter˘s questions but indicated that an official press conference will be held in Mogadishu soon.
Mogadishu residents expressed different views regarding Sheikh Sharif's return, with many supporters lauding his trip as a successful part of the peace process.
But others worry that Islamist hardliners, who have refused to recognize the Ethiopian-backed Somali interim government, will reject Sheikh Sharif as a power-hungry politician and continue the bloody insurgency.
In November, Sheikh Sharif's ARS-Djibouti faction inked a controversial power-sharing deal with interim Somali Prime Minister Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein.
That deal has been rejected by Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, the Eritrea-based ARS faction led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, and by Al Shabaab hardliners who control key towns in central and southern Somalia.
Source: Garowe Online
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