From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Feb 18 2009 - 16:31:51 EST
Somalia: PM Calls for Talks With Al Shabaab As Ethiopia Troops Re-Enter
18 February 2009
Djibouti - Somalia's newly appointed Prime Minister, Mr. Omar Abdirashid Ali
Sharmake, has called for peace talks with Islamist hardliners, as Ethiopian
troops re-entered parts of the country, Radio Garowe reports.
Prime Minister Sharmake told reporters in Djibouti City that he is
"confident" that hardliners who have rejected the new government can be
convinced to negotiate.
"I will sit down with Al Shabaab, because I don't see any reason for them to
continue fighting," said the Prime Minister, who has pledged to form an
inclusive and effective government to rescue Somalia from 18 years of civil
Al Shabaab hardliners have declared a new war against the 'unity government'
led by moderate Islamist President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, accusing the new
government of being a puppet of Western interests.
Prime Minister Sharmake, who is the son of a democratically elected
president who was assassinated in 1969, has promised to improve security and
restore the public's confidence in the new government.
Ethiopian soldiers backed by armoured trucks re-entered parts of Somalia
Wednesday, raising concerns about Ethiopia's continued incursions onto
Residents in Bakool region along the Somali-Ethiopian border have reported
that Ethiopian troops had entered border villages where tensions have been
growing recently between al Shabaab guerrillas and a pro-government militia.
It is not clear why the Ethiopian force re-entered parts of Somalia, but the
move comes on the heels of public statements from Ethiopian Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi, who has repeatedly threatened to send soldiers back to Somalia
if unspecified "threats" to Ethiopian security emerged.
Al Shabaab militants came to fame while leading a popular two-year
insurgency against Ethiopia's invasion of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
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