[dehai-news] (IslamOnline, Qatar) Somali Sharif From Ouster to Rosy Welcome


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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Tue Feb 03 2009 - 11:43:20 EST


Tue. Feb. 3, 2009

Somali Sharif From Ouster to Rosy Welcome

IslamOnline.net & News Agencies

ADDIS ABABA Only two years after celebrating his ouster, UN and African
leaders gave Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed a rosy reception and standing
ovation, while the new Somali president's former allies are branding him a
traitor and declaring war on his regime.

"All of us can take pleasure in the progress towards a peaceful settlement
in Somalia," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told the African Union (AU)
summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday, February 2.

"I count on your wise and visionary leadership," Ban said addressing Sheikh
Sharif, elected in a parliamentary vote on Saturday.

AU Commission chairman Jean Ping introduced him to the summiteers as
Africa's newest head of state, saying that "some shades of hope have
appeared in Somalia".

Sheikh Sharif stood up as the packed hall erupted in applause in a rare
standing ovation.

Following the opening ceremonies, he met the leaders of six neighboring
countries, including arch-foe Ethiopia, and agreed to work together for
peace.

Two years ago, Sheikh Sharif's Supreme Islamic Courts of Somalia (SCIS) was
ousted by invading Ethiopian troops, supported by regional and international
powers.

Prior to the invasion, they were in control of large parts of Somalia and
restored rare peace and security during a short six-month rule.

Sheikh Sharif's election has been welcomed by regional players as well as
the US, which backed the ouster of his SCIS, as a step towards bringing
stability to Somalia.

The Horn of Africa country has been without effective government since the
ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

More than 14 attempts to restore a functional government have since failed.

"*Traitor*"

Sheikh Sharif, who has vowed to reconcile with all warring parties, is
scheduled to fly to Mogadishu straight after the AU summit to put together a
unity government.

But just as former enemies turned friends, longtime allies took no less
dramatic positions.

"We cannot accept a secular constitution with which the new government wants
to rule our country," Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Hussein, leader of Al Shabaab
group told a protest in Baidoa, seat of Somalia's parliament.

Shabaab, which now control swaths of southern Somalia, staged protests
against Sheikh Sharif in Baidoa, which fell to their hands last week after
the Ethiopian pullout.

The group, which was once an affiliate of Sheikh Sharif's SCIS, mocked his
trip to arch-foe Ethiopia and rallied their supporters for war against his
new government.

"He is now with our number one enemy, Ethiopia," said Sheikh Hayakalah, who
heads the Islamic court in the Shabaab-held port of Kismayu.

"Imagine how Sharif, who was once our leader, deceived us," he charged.

"We shall fight the so-called government of Sharif in every place."

Sheikh Sharif's election is also opposed by the Eritrea-based opposition led
by Sheikh Hassan Aweys, who co-chaired the SCIS with Sharif.

Fearing a new bout of infighting in Somalia, the International Union of
Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has called on Somalis to rally behind their new
leadership.

"We call on our brother Hassan Aweys to cooperate with the new leadership,"
it said in a statement.

The IUMS proposed to champion a dialogue to heal the deep rift between
Sharif and other Islamists, saying it is ready to send a high-ranking
delegation for this mission.

"[Somalis need to] establish security and peace in the country and spare it
the effect of any more civil wars which only result in death and
destruction."

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