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Somali leader rejects peace deal.

6/10/2008 8:45:55 AM

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, former leader of Somalia's Islamic Courts' Union, has rejected a new peace agreement between the country's interim government and its main political rivals.

Aweys, who is a member of the opposition alliance that signed the deal, on Tuesday called it "a trap" to derail armed Somali resistance against Ethiopian forces.

The Ethiopian-backed Somali government and some members of the opposition Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia (ALS) signed a cessation of hostilities accord on Monday at UN-sponsored peace talks in Djibouti.

But the deal faced criticism just hours after it was signed.

Speaking to Reuters news agency by phone from Eritrea, Aweys said: "We encourage the insurgents and the Somali people not to be tired of combating the enemy."

Earlier, the Somali leader, who holds no formal position in the opposition alliance, told Mogadishu-based Shabelle radio: "I do not believe that the outcome of this conference will have any impact on the resistance in Somalia.

"The aim of the meeting was to derail the holy war in the country."

Agreement terms

The United Nations had announced the terms of the Somali peace deal late on Monday.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, an aide to the UN envoy for Somalia, said: "We have a peace deal."

"They agreed on the termination of all acts of armed confrontation ... to come into force 30 days from the signing of the agreement for an initial period of 90 days, renewable."

Ould-Abdallah said the agreement also called for the UN to authorise deployment of an international stabilisation force.

Within 120 days, Ethiopian forces helping the government fight the Islamic Courts' Union remnant fighters would then leave, conditional on the deployment of sufficient UN troops, he said.

'Arm twisting'

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow, reporting from Nairobi, said some of the main sticking points between the two sides seem to have been overcome.

The presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalia was

a sticking point at the Djibouti talks [EPA]

He said: "There is ... [a] meeting to be held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 30, to discuss all other political issues that are pending."

"They have come back from the brink, and there has been a lot of arm-twisting to come to this point. But analysts have pointed out that this does not mean an end to the conflict in Somalia.

"Various groups have splintered, which means there may not be an immediate halt to the conflict."

Tense talks

The main sticking point in negotiations has been the presence of predominantly Christian Ethiopian forces on Somali soil - a mostly Muslim country, according to Ould-Abdallah.

He had persuaded teams from both sides to come twice to Djibouti in May and this month. But they declined to meet directly, until Monday's signing ceremony.

Meanwhile, clashes between Muslim fighters and Somali-Ethiopian forces killed at least 28 people over the weekend in Mogadishu.

The fighters are waging a campaign, similar to those in Iraq and Afghanistan, of roadside bombings, ambushes and assassinations.

The violence has triggered a humanitarian crisis that aid workers say may be the worst in Africa, with at least a million people displaced.

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Date:Nov 30, 1999
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