ASMARA, Eritrea June 21 (Garowe Online) -
An Islamist hardliner has said that he will rise to become chairman of the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), a Somali opposition group founded in Eritrea last year.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, designated a terrorist by the U.S. government, told Arabic newspaper Asharq al Awsat that he will replace current ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
He accused Sheikh Sharif of being "too close the U.S. government," starting in January 2007 when Sheikh Sharif was apprehended by Kenyan police and later questioned by American officials at a hotel in Nairobi.
According to Sheikh Aweys, the current chairman of the ARS "violated" the opposition alliance's bylaws when he signed a peace pact with the Somali government on June 9th.
ARS members in the Eritrean capital of Asmara will convene in July to hold a meeting, where Sheikh Aweys is expected to be nominated to lead the opposition.
Sheikh Aweys, ARS defense secretary Yusuf Indha Ade and al Shabaab militants have all refused to recognize the June 9 agreement and vowed to continue the insurgency until Ethiopian troops leave Somali soil.
Sheikh Sharif and Sheikh Aweys were the leaders of the Islamic Courts movement, who ruled much of south-central Somalia in 2006 until being ousted by Ethiopian troops.
Source: Garowe Online