08/11/08 (B473) Shabelle / Le Porte-Parole des forces africaines du maintien de la Paix en Somalie affirme que des Groupes armées refusent de se plier aux conditions du cessez-le-feu signé à Djibouti. AU peacekeepers say groups want to fail peace pact (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

As the last days Djibouti peace pact appeared has came to effect African union peacekeeping forces have announced that there were armed groups wish for to violate the ceasefire agreement.

The spokesman of AMISOM troops Brigye Bohoku told Shabelle that armed groups design to stage attacks in areas in Mogadishu to show that the ceasefire agreement is not working.

“We received reports saying that some elements in Mogadishu want to attack areas in Mogadishu, we help the people of Somalia to get peace for their country, they tired of war and violence” Bohoku said.

He further said that they (AMISOM) support the move by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed who returned to Somalia to push for peace agreement between ARS and government.

“We give confidence, we support and help his move towards peace, because it’s helpful for Somali people to stop the protracted wars” He said.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh 44-year-old, who heads the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and chairs the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), flew in from Nairobi to Somalia’s Jowhar town to push forward the peace pact.

« The reason I came to you is to explain what we have achieved and the agreement we reached with the transitional government in Djibouti, » he later told a group of local officials, elders and traders in a hotel.

« We need you to support that agreement, which we believe serves the interest of the nation. »

On October 26, the wing of the ARS headed by Sheikh Sharif signed an agreement with their erstwhile foes from the Ethiopian-backed transitional federal administration to kick-start peace efforts.

It calls for an Ethiopian troop pullback and ceasefire to start this month and the activation of joint security units to gradually take over until UN peacekeepers are deployed.

Sheikh Sharif’s ICU currently controls the town of Jowhar, located 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Mogadishu, from which Ethiopian troops recently pulled out.

In 2006 the ICU took control of much of Somalia, triggering an invasion by neighbouring Ethiopia, which propped up an embattled transitional government and soon ousted the Islamists.

While the ICU’s political leadership largely fled to Eritrea, the movement’s military and youth wing, the Shebab, switched to guerrilla warfare.

The Shebab, which rejected the Djibouti deal, have relentlessly targeted Ethiopian troops, Somali government forces and African Union peacekeepers, and recently made substantial territorial gains in southern and central Somalia.

They have refused to negotiate with the transitional administration until a full Ethiopian pullout is completed.

In exile in Eritrea last year, Sheikh Sharif founded the umbrella opposition group ARS to push for an Ethiopian withdrawal, but he has emerged as the leading figure of the more moderate fringe among the Islamists.

« We need to fulfill our commitments and implement what we have agreed on behalf of you. So you must understand that responsibility and support us to live up to the huge task ahead, » he told his supporters Saturday.

Thousands gathered at the dusty Jowhar airfield to welcome him.

Heavily armed ICU fighters secured the town and patrolled the road linking the airstrip to the town centre. « We have tightened security and our forces are patrolling the entire region, » Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed, an Islamist official in charge of security, told AFP.

« All residents have gone out today to welcome the only leader they can believe will work for their safety. He is a great peace-loving leader who compromised for the sake of his ailing nation, » said Sheikh Mohamed Suldan, a local elder who helped organise Sheikh Sharif’s return.

The crowd waved branches and banners as he drove through town and chanted slogans such « Welcome home, father of peace! »

Among the by-standers was Halimo Ahmed, a mother of four. « We need peace and we support anyone who understands the value of peace. And that person is Sheikh Sharif, » she said.