[dehai-news] (BBC) Somali leader seeks military aid

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Tue Feb 03 2009 - 12:49:59 EST

Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Somali leader seeks military aid

*Somalia's new president has appealed for foreign military help to deal with
"extremists" against the peace process. *

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was making his first major speech - at an African
Union summit in Ethiopia - since being elected last week by Somali MPs.

The moderate Islamist used to lead an armed opposition movement ousted by
Ethiopian forces in late 2006.

His call came as Ethiopia denied its troops had returned to Somalia,
following their pull-out last month.

Ethiopian soldiers spent two years in Somalia, battling Islamist forces led
by Mr Ahmed.

Mr Ahmed was elected as part of a UN-brokered plan to try to form a unity
government and bring peace to Somalia for the first time since 1991.

But the hardline Islamist militia al-Shabab, which took advantage of
Ethiopia's pull-out to boost its control of the south, accuses him of
selling out to the West.

Al-Shabab - which last week seized Baidoa, the seat of the Somali
parliament, on the same day Ethiopia said its pullout was finished- has been
holding protests against the new president.

 Local officials meanwhile claimed Ethiopian forces had set up a checkpoint
in the Hiran region of central Somalia, some 20km (12 miles) from the

"The Ethiopian forces are violating the basic integrity of Somalia again,"
Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) commander Ahmed Osman Abdalla told AFP news

The Ethiopian government described the reports as false and said it had no
intention of returning to Somalia.

Information Minister Bereket Simon told Reuters news agency: "The army is
within the Ethiopian border. There is no intention to go back."

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