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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Somalia: ARS Central Committee conference opens in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti July 19 (Garowe Online) - The Central Committee of the Somali opposition movement – the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) – met on Saturday in the Republic of Djibouti, Radio Garowe reported.

The meeting in Djibouti City was attended by 106 ARS members, including Chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Central Committee head Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, according to ARS information secretary Saleban Olad Robleh.

Several foreign ambassadors attended the opening ceremony as observers, including the Djibouti-based ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and France.

Sheikh Sharif spoke to conference attendees about a recently concluded reconciliation process held in Sana'a, Yemen, where Islamic Courts factions agreed to 'acknowledge' the Djibouti peace accord signed between the ARS and the Ethiopian-backed Somali transitional government. [ Full story]

He detailed one of the sticking points at the Yemen reconciliation talks among Somalia's Islamists, saying that a 13-member special committee ruled that it is acceptable as long as "most of the UN peacekeepers will come from Muslim countries."

However, Sheikh Sharif acknowledged that some of the UN peacekeeping soldiers – who will replace Ethiopian troops deployed across Somalia – will come from non-Muslim nations.

Also, the ARS Central Committee chairperson, Sharif Hassan, told attendees that the three-day conference will focus on what successes the ARS has reached and what challenges remain ahead.

Foreign ambassadors were allowed to briefly address the conference, with their comments centered on support for the UN-brokered Djibouti peace accord.

So far, no official among the Eritrea-based ARS faction has publicly accepted the outcome of the Yemen reconciliation process among Somali Islamists.

But unconfirmed reports told Radio Garowe that Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, leader of the Eritrea-based group, has already rejected the Yemen process on grounds that Somalia does not need any foreign troops.

Source: Garowe Online

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