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Zenawi: "Ethiopian troops would begin leaving Somalia This Tue.. "


Addis Ababa: In a press conference he gave at his office, Meles said the Somali people would take a crucial role in stabilizing their country. “I don’t bank on the power of individuals or groups. I bank on the power of Somali people. They are capable of stabilizing their country,” said Meles when asked about the power of the Transitional Government of Somalia (TFG) to stabilize Somalia after the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.

Meles also said that Somalia would not move in the same direction to Afghanistan and Iraq. The situation in Somalia is completely different, he said.

Meles hoped that Ethiopian troops would begin leaving Somalia This Tuesday. “We still keep our timeline as it has been. We will not wait for some peacekeeping operation to replace our troops,” Meles said.

The Premier also dismissed rumors about conflicts between Ethiopian troops and residents of Mogadishu. “Not a single soldier has been killed or wounded since we have been in Mogadishu.”

According to Meles, Mogadishu has been stabilized for its elders and residents have taken a leading role in the stabilization process.

“The Somalis have shown that they can very quickly stabilize their cities. I believe Mogadishu today is less violent than many African capitals,” he said.

With regard to the current air strike of the United States against Islamists in southern Somalia, Meles said it was a target of opportunity, and there were no civilians killed in the operation.

According to Meles, the United States action that targeted terrorists that are alleged to be al-Qaida members was carried out on the consent of the TFG.

Asked about whether the American intervention would complicate Ethiopia’s mission as well as the peacekeeping operation to be deployed by the international community, Meles said the operation so far has not put Ethiopia in an uncomfortable situation and would not hamper the peacekeeping forces to be sent in Somalia.

“To the extent that the Americans keep their operation limited to such target of opportunity and the target is precisely a well-defined terrorists target, I have no problem with it,” the Premier said.

source: Ethiopia News Agency

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