Somali peacekeepers want out: Zenawi

December 11th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) / December 11, 2008

African Union peacekeepers want to withdraw from Somalia as soon as possible, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Thursday. (more…)

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) / December 11, 2008

African Union peacekeepers want to withdraw from Somalia as soon as possible, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Thursday.

Meles told parliament in a surprise announcement that Uganda and Burundi, the only contributors to the AU force, wanted to withdraw their embattled peacekeepers ahead of Ethiopian troops, who are set to leave next month.

Uganda immediately issued a strong denial that it was withdrawing its troops, while an AU official in Burundi said the country had only Wednesday pledged to send another battalion to Somalia.

“They have already informed us that they would want to withdraw before we do, and we are only waiting for ships and planes to arrive in Somalia in order for them to pull out,” Meles told lawmakers in Addis Ababa.

“At this time, we are looking into every aspect of our withdrawal. The main issue now is to ensure that Ugandan and Burundese peacekeepers pull out safe and sound.”

Uganda’s deputy foreign minister Okello Oryem said he was “surprised” by Meles’ statement. “This is absolutely not true and this is contrary to everything we have said. Our position has always been that if Ethiopia pulls out of Somalia, we will increase our presence there,” Oryem told AFP.

“Uganda is prepared to increase its battalion if there is a need,” he added.

Neither country had given any hint that it wanted to withdraw its troops from the beleaguered AMISOM force, which numbers some 3,400. Withdrawal would leave Somalia’s weak transitional government at the mercy of a resurgent Islamic rebellion.

Ethiopia announced last month it was ending its two-year intervention in Somalia, where it sent some 3,000 troops in 2006 to prop up the government and clear the threat of an Islamic insurgency from its own borders.

That announcement caused panic within the African Union, whose under-equipped peacekeepers are meant to take over security duties but need more time to prepare, and get up to full operational strength of 8,000.

Addis Ababa subsequently said it was prepared to delay its pullout “by a few days” in order not to expose AU forces to an onslaught by the Shebab, the Islamist insurgents who control large parts of Somalia and have been closing in on Mogadishu in recent weeks.

A senior AU official told AFP after Meles’ statement that “we know that the Amisom soldiers have been worried since the announcement of the Ethiopian withdrawal.

“Our policy is to try to reinforce AMISOM, and to convince the contingents already there to remain. We haven’t yet been officially informed about this wish to withdraw by the two countries,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

The AU has meanwhile been scrambling to avoid a “security vacuum” in Somalia, and on Wednesday its chief Jean Ping called on the UN Security Council to authorise the deployment of UN forces in Somalia.

At least nine AU peacekeepers have been killed in Somalia since they were first deployed in March 2007.

Meles said in his speech to parliament on Thursday that “our decision will never be reversed no matter what the international community says or does.

“Even if they (the peacekeepers) change their mind and stay, or even if the international community fails to provide the necessary transport service, we will do whatever means necessary to pull out without postponing.

“Similarly, the AU has also informed us that it would want its troops out before our withdrawal if we were ever going to implement our decision. The AU asked for security and support in order to ensure the safe passage of the Ugandan and Burundese troops.”

The insurgent Shebab, the former youth and military wing of the Islamic Courts Union, has waged a bruising guerrilla war in the country, which has been without a functioning government since 1991.

  1. arena
    | #1

    AYE KINIGTOCH AHUN MIN YITEBES,MELES SIGEBANA SIWETA YAQIBETAL.ENDENANT GUGMANGUG AYDELEM WEYIM ENDE YENANTEW DR.BIRHANU TERARA LAY WETO LIYASIB DENEZ CHINQLAT YELEWUM .HE IS SMART.

  2. GOMORA
    | #2

    you arena pls go to school Iam fed up to read your dumen shit language.

  3. piedra
    | #3

    weyane arena beatekalay ye weyane jele yibdah

  4. bin
    | #4

    yemayreba leba meles ye ethiopia telat hinge wedag aydlem kimlam yedha lege teedin yasere behaset yasmsekre bewsht yasferde yemyreba ye ethiopia telat teddy afro is free
    teddy afro nice persin his loves cuntry and ethiopia meles is sutam bedatam yeshrmuta lg
    fiker yashenfal

  5. dawit
    | #5

    teddy afro is free and nice persin all ethiopian kings teddy afro free weyane leba
    meles leba koshasha wey yemayreba teddy afro kehulum kingt weyane 100/persent ye ethiopia lg new teddy afro enwdhalen teddy afro freefreefree

  6. | #6

    Why is these clique, the weyane gangs, his stooges, his Eritrean advisors/masters, and the few NGO beneficiaries of the poor of Ethiopia continue to make this beautiful nation and people as the joke of the jokes in the 21st century? is there no more good weyane left, other than those who are dead

  7. GOMORA
    | #7

    DEATH TO ANTY WOYANY

  8. arena
    | #8

    MELES KIMALAM,YE DIHA LIJ ALKEW OK YIHUNILH’YAW ABATIH ENA ENATIH YASTEMARUH BALEGIYE NEH ,YANTE ENKUA BALKIM DIHA MEHON AYASEDIBIM .
    EMYASEDIBEW YANTEW DR.BIRHANU AMERICA TERARA LAY WETOMELESIN YEMIQWEM YEMIFEKIR LIK ENDANTE MILAS BICHANEW .BY THE WAY MELES IS SMART

  9. arena
    | #9

    LE BIN MELS,YAW YANTW ANDNET ENA GINBOT 7 BETELEY DR.BIRHANU ENA DR.HAILEMARIAM YEMIREBU LEBOCH NACHEW OK.LONG LIVE TIGRAVY AND MELES

  10. Lema
    | #10

    No Shame – As usual KILET & Woyannie!

  11. bin
    | #11

    le arena selam new indat nehe i know meles is smart new begle melesn adnkwlw inde meles yale yelem woyanawhe gin metfo nahew ytigray hzb men
    aderge meskin hzb andand sewohe ye woyanan mtfo net snnager ke tigray hzb gar yklaklutal andnger lngerh ytigray hzb ye ethiopia hzb batekly yetebareke new meles smart new tenkol yseral gin lnegrh yemflgaw weyanan indmalwed new lelaw dr.birhanu menamen yemtlahew melesm yetkim sewhe nahew le ethiopia aytkmum igzabher yetebareke tiru meri yesten kingtyetbale leba hbret leba woyane leba yemitkem tifa ibakhe ina weyane ngh kingt ngh weym lela malet titen hulahnm le ethiopia tiru meri endistat fetarin melemen ysalal god beles ethiopia and hizbohan god beles teddy and lewnet yetaseru fikr yashenfal

  12. KOKOBAY
    | #12

    GOD BLESS MELLES ZENAWI ZEMENAWI. DEATH TO ANTI MELLES GROUP. JA HELP WOYANE.

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