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04 Dec 2007 12:44
Ethiopia has warned that the world’s disinterest in sending peacekeepers to Somalia was dampening hopes of achieving peace in the shattered African nation.
Of the 8 000 peacekeepers the African Union pledged to send to bolster President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed’s weak government, only 1 500 Ugandan troops are actually on the ground.
“Deployment of a peacekeeping force was among the many pledges made by the international community. However, deployment of a contingent was not carried out promptly as was expected,” the Information Ministry said in a statement late on Monday.
“The lack of enthusiasm the international community has demonstrated on the issue is to some extent dragging back the promising efforts being primarily made by the TFG and people, as well as the Ethiopian government,” it added, referring to the transitional federal government.
Ethiopian troops helped sweep aside Islamist militants in January from much of the country they had briefly governed, but have since been embroiled in a deadly insurgency, mainly in the capital, Mogadishu.
Rebels recently dragged through the streets and spat on the bodies of Ethiopian troops, a grisly reminder of a similar treatment of United States special forces in 1993.
African nations gave pledges to contribute soldiers, but are yet to make good their word.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry called on the international community to facilitate efforts to restore durable peace in Somalia, where the last functional government collapsed in 1991 after the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
The escalating insurgency has seen United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon rule out sending any peacekeepers to the Horn of African nation, except for a “coalition of the willing.”
But the UN Security Council has encouraged contingency planning for the possible deployment of UN troops, side-stepping Ban, but giving no promises.
Previous peacekeeping forays by the UN and the US ended disastrously in the mid-1990s and the world turned its back, abandoning the country at the mercy of armed gangs.—Sapa-AFP
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