Ethiopia to leave Somali gov’t to its own devices

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Ethiopia which has between 10,000 and 15,000 troops operating in Somalia is reported to have addressed a letter to both the United Nations and African Union warning them about an intended pull out by the end of the year.

Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia two years ago to help the transitional government oust Islamists who had imposed Sharia law in most parts of the country.

Earlier reports indicated that the planned Ethiopian withdrawal from Mogadishu’s residential areas may be stalled following recent attacks by a rebel group that killed and injured several people in the capital, Mogadishu. The pull-out due to end by 29 December, was expected to take longer.

The announcement of the pull out made by spokesman, Wahide Belay, comes shortly after Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, warned feuding Somali President and Prime Minister to work together if not Ethiopia would pull out.

“Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin has stated that Ethiopia had decided to withdraw at the end of the year”, the spokesman confirmed.

Analysts have indicated that the pull out could lead to a breakup of the already divided Somali governent. These fears have also been expressed by several diplomats on the continent.

In a move to calm the escalating fears AU chief, Jean Ping, told reporters that Ethiopia will still be on the look out and won’t leave Somalia on its own.

“In spite of withdrawal of the Ethiopians, they will remain committed, just in the other side of the border, and they will intervene, and the African troops will remain there. The AMISOM will remain there and we’ll continue to ask strengthening of AMISOM by asking new troops and also financial assistance,” he said.

About 3,400 troops from AMISOM, the AU contingent, serve alongside the heavy Ethiopian contingent.

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