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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
New UDA leadership is appointed
UDA flag
The loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association has appointed a new leadership in north Belfast.

The move comes five weeks after it expelled Andre and Ihab Shoukri.

The UDA in north Belfast said it had formed a new interim leadership which has been approved by the organisation's so-called 'inner council'.

Andre Shoukri faces blackmail, intimidation and money laundering charges. Ihab Shoukri is charged with UDA membership. Both deny the charges.

A close associate of the brothers, who was also expelled, had taken over as leader of the organisation in the area in recent weeks and there had been concerns about a potential feud.

BBC Northern Ireland home affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney said: "This statement indicates that the majority of UDA members in north Belfast have backed the decision to expel them and leaves the Shoukris and their supporters isolated."

The Shoukris were expelled in June after a bitter fall-out with the rest of the UDA leadership.

The UDA's ruling body, its 'inner council', said it had expelled a number of members in north Belfast, but did not name anyone.

However, loyalist sources said those expelled included the two brothers.

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