Meles Zenawi: Ethiopian pullout? Not so fast, rebels!

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Thursday his troops were not hurrying to leave war-torn Somalia. “There is no rush to complete the withdrawal. Our troops would not withdraw in undue rush,” the Prime Minister told a news conference in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian troops in Somalia have been pulling out of their main bases in Mogadishu, leaving the Horn of African state in a situation of complete fear.
Fighting in the country continues to worsen and the Somali-based militias, which supported the dreaded Al-Shabab militia, are turning against it.

Somalia, which has not had a stable government for the last 17 years, remains tense following the intended withdrawal of some 3,000 Ethiopian troops.

Rebels will have to wait

Meles said while his troops are withdrawing, they would remain alert to the potential dangers from the Somali-based militia groups.

The increasing security risk in Somalia has lately seen the emergence of new militia groups, which have turned against the Al Shabab, a group linked to the dominant international terror network, the Al Qaeda.

“I wish I had the magic wand to transform the situation in Somalia,” the Ethiopian Prime Minister said in response to journalists’ questions on whether the presence of the Ethiopian troops in Somalia had created new tribal-based militia groups.

Somali gov’t should have taken control

He said the tribes supporting Al Shabab were disillusioned with the main alliance and had turned against it. “We cannot tell you that we are fighting back, but I can tell you that we did not create the groups,” he said.

“We created a situation for the transformation of Somalia long enough for the leaders, the Somalis themselves to take control, we are not blaming them at this time,” he said.

Ethiopia invaded Somalia, ousting an alliance of tribal warriors within days of its arrival and took control of Mogadishu and other key installations.

Waiting for government control

Meles said his prediction was that his troops would have stayed for days before returning home, but decided to stay longer to give the government there a chance to organise itself and assume full territorial control of the country.

“Our role there was not to create order, that is the role of the Somalis themselves. We went there to neutralise clear and present danger that were posed to us by the triangular threat of Eritrea, the Al Shabab and the Ethiopian opposition,” Meles explained.

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