[dehai-news] (AFP) US welcomes Somalia's new Islamist president

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Sat Jan 31 2009 - 15:58:14 EST

US welcomes Somalia's new Islamist president

Saturday, January 31, 2009
NAIROBI (AFP) - The United States welcomed moderate Islamist cleric
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's election as Somali president Saturday and
vowed to support his efforts to restore stability in the Horn of Africa
In a statement issued by its embassy in Nairobi, the US government
congratulated the former opposition leader on his victory.
"President Sharif has been a strong proponent of the Djibouti process
and has worked diligently on reconciliation efforts in Somalia," it said
referring to UN-sponsored peace talks in Djibouti, where Saturday's vote
was held.
"We urge President Sharif to reach out to the broad spectrum of Somalis
who reject violence and extremism in forming a new government," the
statement said.
Outgoing prime minister Nur Hassan Hussein, long a darling of the
international community, pulled out of the race after the first round.
"The United States looks forward to cooperating with President Sharif
and his broad-based government on these efforts to establish democracy
and achieve peace in Somalia," the US statement added.
Sheikh Sharif is also the head of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an
organisation that briefly controlled large parts of Somalia in 2006.
The ICU's leadership was sent into exile when Ethiopia -- the previous
US administration's top regional ally -- launched a military invasion
into Somalia to remove what it saw as extremist Islamic rule on its
Sheikh Sharif then formed an Islamist-dominated opposition umbrella
group and last year led its more moderate wing into peace talks with the
transitional government, then headed by Hussein.

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