[dehai-news] Afriquejet.com: 'Ethiopia ready send troops back to Somalia'

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Jan 27 2009 - 15:21:51 EST

'Ethiopia ready send troops back to Somalia'

Addis Ababa - 27/01/2009


Ethiopia is ready to send its troops back to Somalia if the occupation of
the seat of parliament in Baidoa by Islamic group Al Shabab continues over
the next few months, African Union Commission chief Jean Ping said here

Ethiopia has completed its troop's pullout from Somalia and Ping said the
situation in Somalia remained less serious than initially expected,
following the troops' withdrawal.

The Somali opposition group, the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia
(ARS), has taken over the positions previously occupied by the Ethiopian
troops, Ping told journalists.

"We have reason to be optimistic. We saw the ARS troops occupy positions
left vacant after the Ethiopian withdrawal. This was not expected, we have
seen the Djibouti agreement is being implemented on the ground. This is why
we are optimistic," Ping said at a news conference.

Ethiopian Communication Affairs Minister Bireket Simon said that he had no
information on the Ethiopian government's intention to re-enter Somalia
after its troops withdrawal.

However, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told a news conference
earlier that he would be very surprised if the Al Shabab did not attempt to
take advantage of the Ethiopian troop's withdrawal and try to take over the
areas and other positions left vacant after the pullout.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is heavily under-funded. The
AU chief said discussions were underway to deploy a United Nations
Peacekeeping Mission on the ground in Somalia.

The decision to deploy the mission was delayed until June to allow the
United Kingdom and the French to consider their positions on the same.

The two states, Ping said, however, agreed in principle to finance the
AMISOM operations in Somalia to enable it police the Somali territory

The Shabab group effectively took control of Baidoa on Monday, several hours
after the last convoy of 3,000 Ethiopian troops left the city, which has
served as the seat of parliament and also houses the presidency, vacated by
the former President Abdullahi Yusuf, who has sought refuge in Yemen.

Ping said the African Union troops had not been occupying the entire Somali
territory and were not in Baidoa when the Islamist militants took control of
the regional state.

"We were not occupying the entire territory. The fact that Baidoa is
occupied is not a shock to us. This was expected from the Ethiopian
withdrawal," Ping said. "Ethiopia has said it would take action (to root out
the militants) if the situation lasted," the AU chief said.

Meanwhile, Yemen has agreed to finance the training of 10,000 Somali troops
on the ground to make them professional and take measures to stabilise the
country after 18 years of war.


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