Some Somalis hope for future as Ethiopian troops withdraw

Some Somalis expressed hope for the future on Wednesday after Ethiopian troops quit bases in Mogadishu.

Some Somalis hope for future as Ethiopian troops withdraw

Some Somalis expressed hope for the future on Wednesday after Ethiopian troops quit bases in Mogadishu.

Some analysts hope it could be positive, removing forces seen by many Somalis as occupiers and spurring more moderate Islamist factions to get involved in forming a new, inclusive government.

"No Somali wants the Ethiopians to stay, but there will be chaos whether they withdraw or not," Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf, spokesman of Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca, a government-allied Sunni Islamist group, told Reuters.

Others say the withdrawal of an estimated 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers supporting the U.N.-backed interim government could leave a power vacuum. They forecast more violence between rival armed groups who have been fighting the administration for two years.

He said rivals like al Shabaab and militants backed by Somali exiles in Eritrea planned to fight the government and moderate groups like his if they tried to form a power-sharing administration.

Sheikh Hassan Yacqub, an al Shabaab spokesman in Kismayu, a strategic southern port seized by the group in August, said he doubted Ethiopia would withdraw completely from its neighbour.

"If they do pull out it will be due to Islamists' attacks, not requests nor negotiations. We shall continue fighting them until there is no single Ethiopian in Somalia," he told Reuters.

Meanwhile there is serious humanitarian disaster because of security problem amid gunfires between government forces and rival armed grıups and also foreign troops.

Pitched battles between rival Islamist factions -- al Shabaab and Ahlu Sunna -- have killed more than 50 people in the central Galgadud region in recent days.

One million people have been forced from their homes, triggering a humanitarian disaster when fighting has killed more than 16,000 civilians since the start of last year.

Humanitarian disaster has been worsened by drought, hyper-inflation and high food and fuel prices.

Asha Farah, a mother-of-four, said it was too early to consider taking her children back to their ill-defended home.

"Those who have concrete houses can go back, but there's no hope for families with houses made of iron sheets like us," she said by telephone from a squalid camp for displaced people at Elasha, on the outskirts of the bombed-out coastal city.

"I don't see any reason for happiness. The ones who have been causing chaos are still alive and perhaps will breed more."

Aid workers say about 50,000 civilians have fled the area, and the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA says many of those people had already been uprooted once by the fighting in Mogadishu.

The African Union (AU) has been desperately trying to strengthen a small peacekeeping mission of 3,500 troops from Uganda and Burundi. But despite pledges of extra battalions from those two nations and Nigeria, they have yet to deploy.

Reuters
Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2009, 12:43
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