Islamic leader says Ethiopia has sent troops to back up his rival
1. Armed men in street
2. Heavy machine gun on vehicle
3. Young boy at wheel of machine gun vehicle
4. Soldier with machine on shoulder with journalists in background
5. Wide shot of press conference room
6. SOUNDBITE: (Somali with English translation) Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Chairman of Islamic Courts Union (translator's version):
"And, as we aware of it, just a few hours back then we have our sources that there are Ethiopian troops just past the border of Somalia and coming in."
7. Young boy with gun
8.SOUNDBITE: (Somali with English translation) Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Chairman of Islamic Courts Union (translator's version):
"We are so assuring to you that we are not terrorists, we have no relationship with the terrorists, we are not, we are not and that's what concerns us."
9. People mingling around closed shop
The leader of the Somali Islamist group that controls most of southern Somalia promised on Saturday not to attack the weak transitional government that represents his only challenge to power, while reporting that Ethiopian troops have moved into the country to protect his rival.
An Ethiopian official denied Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's claims, but said his government has massed troops along the border and have been monitoring the Islamic militants advance across the country.
Ahmed, the Chairman of Islamic Courts Union, said 300 Ethiopian troops had entered the country on Saturday through the southwestern border town of Dolow.
He said Ethiopian troops had crossed the border to support the transitional federal government.
Ahmed also held out an olive branch to the transitional government, which is currently based in the only town it controls, Baidoa, 250 kilometres (155 miles) northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.
Ahmed's Islamic Courts Militia captured Mogadishu last week.
The Islamic Courts leader said he was willing to negotiate and work with the transitional federal government even though they did not come from the popular support of the Somalia people, noting it was formed through international mediation in neighbouring Kenya.
Ahmed said the transitional government was selected by enemies in neighbouring countries.
Ahmed was referring to Ethiopia, which has previously intervened in Somalia to prevent Islamic extremists from taking power.
Ethiopians were also key power brokers in forming President Abdullahi Yusuf's transitional Somalian government in 2004.
Yusuf was their preferred candidate for president.
Yusuf, himself a former warlord, had asked for Ethiopian troops to back up his government in 2004.
In a statement on Saturday, Yusuf said he was willing to hold talks with the Islamic Courts Union if they agree to mediation by Yemen.
He said they must stop their advance and agree not to enter any more towns than they have already and they must recognise the legitimacy of his government and the constitution.
Ahmed said he had placed no conditions on talks with Yusuf, nor would he agree to any.
The Islamic Courts Union, which the U.S. accuses of harbouring al-Qaida suspects, is behind the militiamen that have swept across southern Somalia installing clan-based, religiously oriented municipal administrations.
Ahmed denied on Saturday that any foreigners were involved in the Islamic courts or that any one in the courts had ties to al-Qaida.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Yusuf's government is supported by Somalia's neighbours, the United Nations, the U.S. and the European Union.
You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metad....ata/youtube/2b387ffc
Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork