A week ago, the Washington Post quoted Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as saying that his government made a wrong political calculation when it intervened in Somalia. The Post said Prime Minister Zenawi told Ethiopia?s parliament that his government incorrectly assumed that breaking up the Islamic movement that took control of Somalia in June 2006 would subdue the country.
Bereket Simon is advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He told VOA ty The Washington Post misunderstood what Prime Minister Zenawi might have said.
?He hasn?t said it, and we don?t believe that we have made mistakes. We have made a very perfect decision to enter Somalia. It has brought about relative peace; it has paved the way for future stability of Somalia and bringing it back to statehood. That?s what we have done, and we don?t regret that,? he said.
Simon also said the Post article misquoted Prime Minister Zenawi when it said that his government incorrectly assumed that breaking up the Islamic Movement that took control of Somalia in 2006 would subdue the country.
?No. He didn?t say breaking up the UIC (Union of Islamic Courts) was a mistake. He only said that entering into Somalia was a necessity caused by circumstances which the UIC initiated. And then he has clearly told the parliament that some of the clan leaders didn?t live up to our political expectations. That?s what he said, and this Washington Post journalist who is bent on lying simply to distort the facts,? Simon said.
He said the Ethiopian government expected the clan leaders to realize that the only way out was a peaceful way through which they could be incorporated into the new government. But Simon said some clan leaders expected more to the surprise of the Ethiopian government.
The Washington Post article also quoted businessmen and civil society leaders in Mogadishu who said they had been unjustly labeled as al qaeda, and their homes and offices ransacked by Ethiopian troops.
But Simon said the Ethiopian army has a track record as a disciplined army.
?That?s not in the nature of our army. This is a disciplined army which has gone to many peacekeeping missions in Rwanda, Burundi and Liberia and has successfully done its job. We have no negative track record in our peacekeeping mission. That is in the records of the U.N.; that is in the records of the international community. We have a disciplined, mission-oriented army which doesn?t indulge in such a frivolity,? he said.
Simon said the Somali Transitional Federal Government is working hard to ensure that the planned reconciliation conference takes place as scheduled.
?In order to do this, it has called every clan and sub-clan to elect their representatives, and they have started electing their representatives. In the meantime, the government is engaged in collecting weaponry that has been in the hands of terrorists and in the hands of civilians because without making sure that the weapons are collected, it is impossible to ensure sustainable peace,? Simon said.