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Renegade Somali Lawmaker, Islamists Sign Pact


A Somali lawmaker acting on his own accord, and the nation's powerful Islamists, have pledged to end hostilities and resume peace talks, in what is seen as a symbolic gesture.

Somalia's renegade parliamentary speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden, and Islamist leader Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, Saturday signed an agreement saying they are committed to negotiations. They issued the statement after three days of talks in Yemen.

But the agreement is not expected to have any real effect because the Somali official is not authorized to negotiate on behalf of his government. That government rejected a peace plan he reached with Islamists in October.

Saturday's statement denounces any interference in Somali affairs by countries in the region. This appears to be a reference to neighboring Ethiopia.

The Islamists have vowed to attack Ethiopian troops who they say are in Somalia to help the weak interim government.

The Islamists' defense chief has said Ethiopian troops must withdraw from Somali soil next week or face attack. Ethiopia says it has sent only military advisors to Somalia.

Somalia's interim government has little power outside Baidoa. The Islamists have seized increasing amounts of territory since they won control of the capital, Mogadishu, in June.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.