Middle East
Somali Islamic leader in Yemen
Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is a senior leader of the defeated Union of Islamic Courts.
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2007 23:23 GMT
Washington views Ahmed as a moderate member of the UIC [AFP]
Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a senior leader of the defeated Somali movement, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), has arrived in Yemen where officials said he would be allowed to stay.
Ahmed turned himself in to Kenyan forces at the Somali border in January after the UIC was routed by the interim Somali government backed by Ethiopian troops and the US.
Ahmed has since been in police custody at a Nairobi hotel.
The US views Ahmed as a moderate within the UIC who could help with national reconciliation in Somalia.
"He can stay as a guest and any request for asylum will be dealt with later," a Yemeni official said, adding that Ahmed was in the capital, Sanaa.
The website of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling party said Yemen was hosting Ahmed as part of an accord between the governments of Yemen, Somalia and Kenya.
The agreement is part of "Yemen's efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Somalia and re-establish security and stability", a statement on the website said.
"Sheikh Sharif is a national Somali figure... who is convinced that dialogue is the best way of resolving the conflict in Somalia."
Some of his aides arrived in Yemen in early January, after the UIC was routed.
Since their defeat, the UIC have scattered to southern Somalia, and across to Kenya, some vowing a long guerrilla war.
Yemen, which has cracked down on Islamic hardliners in the country since the September 11 attacks, lies across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia and refugees often land on Yemeni shores.
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