Somalia crisis talks in Ethiopia

December 21, 2008

The emergency meetings come after Ethiopia decided to withdraw its troops from Somalia by the end of December.

Islamist insurgents are gaining ground again after Ethiopia intervened two years ago to help government forces.

Different Islamist groups now control much of southern Somalia once more.

The Ethiopian troops and forces loyal to the interim Somali government are limited to parts of Mogadishu and the central town of Baidoa, where parliament is based.

Twin crises

The transitional government is in disarray, says the BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa, after President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed attempted to sack Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein – a move the prime minister and parliament rejected.

With the president facing impeachment, it is not clear how much of a government is left for Somalia’s neighbours in the East African regional grouping, Igad, and the AU to support, says our correspondent.

When the Ethiopian soldiers leave Somalia, the small African Union peacekeeping force will be on its own.

Only a tiny handful of countries answered a call from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send forces to help, and no-one has volunteered to fill a leadership role.

It is these twin political and security crises that the foreign ministers from the East African regional organisation Igad (Inter-governmental Authority on Development) and the AU’s peace and security council will seek to address at their meetings on Sunday and Monday.

About one million people have fled their homes, many after fierce fighting in Mogadishu between Islamists and the Ethiopia-backed government forces.

Some three million people need food aid – about one-third of the population.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991, when warlords overthrew President Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

Source BBC