Somali Islamist president welcomed in 'enemy' land

But the al Shabaab spokesman for Kismayu, Yacqub, attacked the new president.

Somali Islamist president welcomed in 'enemy' land

African leaders on Monday welcomed Somalia's new Islamist president at a summit in Ethiopia, which occupied his country two years ago.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed enjoyed a standing ovation from African Union leaders in Addis Ababa, two days after he was elected to lead the Horn of Africa nation in a parliamentary vote.

But in Somalia, other Islamists declared jihad against Ahmed and mocked his trip to his former enemy, rallying their supporters for war against the new government.

Ahmed headed a sharia courts movement that brought stability to Mogadishu and most of south Somalia in 2006, before Washington's main regional ally Ethiopia invaded to oust them.

Ethiopia's army withdrew last month, clearing the way for Ahmed's election.

AU Commission chairman Jean Ping, opening the second day of the annual African Union summit, introduced Ahmed, saying "some shades of hope have appeared in Somalia". Ahmed smiled, waved and bowed in response to the applause.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed Ahmed.

"All of us can take pleasure in the progress towards a peaceful settlement in Somalia," he said in his speech. "I count on your leadership and wise and visionary leadership."

Elected in a U.N.-brokered peace process in neighbouring Djibouti, Ahmed, 42, will fly to Mogadishu straight after the summit to put together a unity government and face the criticism of anti-deal Islamist insurgents led by the al Shabaab group, who control swathes of southern Somalia.

"We shall fight the so-called government of Sharif in every place!" Sheikh Hayakalah, who heads the Islamic court in the Shabaab-held port of Kismayu, told a crowd on Sunday.

Al Shabaab grew out of the armed wing of the sharia courts movement but later split with Ahmed.

"He is now with our number one enemy, Ethiopia, and calling for more support from non-believers. Imagine how Sharif, who was once our leader, 'deceived' us and Islam," Hayakalah said.

The al Shabaab spokesman for Kismayu, Sheikh Hassan Yacqub, also attacked the new president.

"Sharif Ahmed is a traitor and we should fight him. Help us with your sons, weapons and wealth, so that we uproot this irreligious government of Sharif before it gets strong."


Reuters

Last Mod: 03 Şubat 2009, 11:24
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