Ethiopia agrees to Somalia pullback deal
Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday vowed to comply with a UN-sponsored deal signed a day earlier by rival Somali factions for a phased withdrawal of Ethiopian troops in Somalia.
“We will respect this encouraging decision reached by the transitional government of Somalia and the ARS [Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia],” said Wahide Belay, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
The agreement is in line with the Ethiopian position on orderly troop withdrawal,” he said.
The Somali government and moderate Islamist opposition, the ARS, on Sunday agreed to implement a dormant ceasefire reached in June, paving the way for pro-government Ethiopian troops to pull back from the country.
According to the agreement reached at UN-mediated talks in Djibouti, Ethiopian forces are to start pulling back from positions in Mogadishu and the garrison town of Beledweyne on November 21, leaving the areas under control of African Union peacekeepers.
According to the deal, the Somalia government and the ARS are to assemble a 10 000-strong police force to help the peacekeepers control the areas.
“We have stated that our government will implement agreements reached between the two sides,” Wahide said.
The accord does not say when the Ethiopians will complete their pull back from Somalia, where they are regarded as occupiers.
Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in late 2006 and helped oust Islamist militants who had taken control of much of the country.
Since then, the insurgents have waged a guerrilla war, saying they would only meet the government for peace talks after Ethiopian troops pull out of the country.
Somalia has lacked an effective government since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre touched off a bloody power struggle that has defied numerous attempts to restore stability. - AFP.