African Union’s Panel of the Wise over the weekend called on the United Nations
to form a stabilization force to further what it called the cause of peace in
Somalia. The appeal came a day after Ethiopia announced it would withdraw its
troops from Somalia at the end of this year.
The panel reportedly said the absence of the
stabilization force would create a security vacuum that could seriously
undermine the efforts towards lasting peace and reconciliation in Somalia.
Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia in 2006 to support an embattled Transitional
Federal Government against Islamic insurgents.
Ethiopian-born Getachew Metaferia is professor of political science at Morgan State University near
Washington. He told VOA the Ethiopian troop deployment in
Somalia was doomed to fail from the start.
of all, the Ethiopian government sent troops into Somalia without any debate
and discourse within Ethiopia, specifically in the parliament. So it was
not clear as what the objective of sending to Somalia was. So my reaction is
first of all, why send troops to Somalia? What happens in Somalia is not an
immediate threat to Ethiopia. So it is bewildering to say the least,” he said.
In announcing the troop pull
out, Ethiopia said last Friday that the international community failed to
support its troops.
But Professor Metaferia said
Ethiopia did not clearly think out the consequences before going into Somalia.
“The parliament discussed it
but not very seriously. The opposition groups in the parliament were opposed to
the idea of sending troops to Somalia. About three opposition parties said the
best thing Ethiopia can do is that if there is any threat, put Ethiopia army on
the Ethiopian border on the Ethiopian side and look on what is going on in
Somalia. So they did not see the wisdom of sending the troops,” Metaferia said.
Metaferia said he does not
see any immediate domestic political threat to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
because he said the prime minister controls almost every aspect of Ethiopian
“In a normal political
environment where there is checks and balances, where the media has a say,
where civic organizations do have a say, it could have some negative impact on
the prime minister. But the prime minister controls every aspect of life in
Ethiopia. He can silence political parties and he can silence the media. So I
don’t see an immediate threat to the prime minister. In other democratic
societies, that could have called for a vote of no confidence and he could have
been removed from office,” he said
Metaferia said he even heard
one time that Prime Minister Zenawi had threatened those opposition groups that
raised questions about the wisdom of Ethiopian troops going into Somalia.
He sending a stabilization
force to Somalia to fill the vacuum after Ethiopian troops leave is not the
panacea to bringing about peace in Somalia.
“First of all, there needs
to be peace. To bring peace to Somalia, the different functions of religious
and political groups and civic organizations need to come to a roundtable and
discuss, iron out their differences. Once they have made peace, then it’s
possible to send in the peacekeepers,” Metaferia said.
addition, Metaferia said neighboring countries like Eritrea and other regional
countries need to keep their hands off Somalia and give Somalis the opportunity
to discuss among themselves.