Somalia: ARS leader rejects peace talks

Published on Wednesday 14th May 2008

Somalia: A former warlord allied to Somalia’s collapsed Islamic Courts movement has rejected peace talks that opened in Djibouti Monday.


Yusuf “Indho Ade” Mohamed Siad, one of the country’s most notorious warlords, told a Mogadishu radio station Tuesday that delegates at the Djibouti talks “do not represent the opposition.”

“The Djibouti Conference is intended to destroy the Asmara Alliance, and this is not acceptable,” said Indho Ade, who now holds the post of defense secretary for the Eritrea-based Somali opposition group, the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS).

The ex-warlord said the delegates in Djibouti who are planning to meet with Somali government officials “cannot speak on behalf of the Asmara Alliance,” while warning the international community to be cautious of such “self-appointed opposition members.”

The United Nations is sponsoring the Djibouti-based peace talks between opposition leaders and the Somali government, with ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed openly saying a delegation from the ARS is in Djibouti City to meet with UN representatives, agency report said.

“We [ARS] do not want to talk with Somali government officials, because they have committed many crimes,” Mr. Indho Ade said.

Although the Djibouti talks have officially started, there has not been any face-to-face meeting between the two Somali sides yet.

The ARS was established in Asmara in September 2007 as a united front against Somalia's Ethiopian-backed interim government. The ARS, which is dominated by Islamists, also includes former government officials and Diaspora activists.

Mr. Indho Ade was a warlord who ruled the fertile region of Lower Shabelle using brutal clan militias, who murdered and subjugated the local population at will for five years.

He played a key role in the initial military success of the Islamic Courts, who expelled warlords from Mogadishu, and he was later appointed as the movement's defense chief.

In December 2006, the ex-warlord issued a seven-day ultimatum for Ethiopian troops to leave Somali soil or face jihad, while calling on Muslim foreign fighters to join the war.

When the Ethiopian army began its advance on Islamist-led Mogadishu, Mr. Indho Ade and Islamic Courts chief Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys fled Somalia, as thousands of young men fought a costly war against Ethiopia's superior armed forces.