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Ethiopia: Winning the Peace in Somalia

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Tuesday his country’s troops may leave Somalia within a few weeks. He spoke a day after Ethiopian and Somali government forces drove rival Islamist movement from its last stronghold in Somalia. Meanwhile, an advisor to Mr. Zenawi has been explaining how Ethiopia hopes to win the peace in Somalia. Bereket Simon said the reconstitution of Somalia as a sovereign nation should be one of the objectives.

“We can say there are two objectives for all of us here. The first one is as Ethiopians we have the objective of defending ourselves from the attacks that were unleashed by the extreme forces in Somalia...Second objective is that of the Somali people and which concerns all peace-loving people around the world and every sensible country, that is the objective of bringing back Somalia into a statehood and to the world community in a very positive way, and the international community, the African Union, the UN and every other country who has interest in seeing Somalia being reconstituted should come and assist in this respect,” he said.

Simon said Ethiopian and transitional Somali government forces will soon achieve their objective of completely driving the Islamists out of Somalia. Once that is done, he said winning the peace should involve all Somalis.

“Winning the peace, as you might expect, it should be the task of the Somali people. No external force should assume the responsibility to bring sustainable peace to the Somali community. It should be all-inclusive. As you know, the Somali society is divided among many tribes. So all tribes should be equally and properly represented in the planning process and in the outcome. So we believe in order to make sure that sustainable peace is coming to Somalia, an all-inclusive process in forming a government should be observed,” Simon said.

He reiterated Prime Minister Zenawi’s earlier statement that Ethiopia will leave Somalia within a few weeks.

“When we came here, our objective is to stay for a short period, for days maximum. Now the situation has changed in a lot of ways. Mogadishu is under the control of the transitional federal government. So there is a formally internationally recognized government, and we will engage with the people. So depending on how the people of Somalia want us to act, we might extend, as our prime minister has said, we might extend our stay by few weeks. But we’re not there for the long run. It’s going only to be a very short while,” Simon said.