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SLUG: 2-324525 Somalia/Unrest









HEADLINE: Somali Politicians Warn of 'Violent Conflict Looming'

INTRO: A group of Somali parliamentarians say they plan to complain to the U.N. Security Council about what they say is a violation of the U.N. arms embargo by the Ethiopian government. As Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi, they allege Ethiopia is supplying arms and ammunition to the militias of certain factions in Somalia.

TEXT: Member of Parliament Abdallah Haji Ali told reporters in Nairobi he and his colleagues are worried about what he calls "violent conflict looming," particularly in the southern and central regions of Bay and Bakool and the town of Baidoa in Somalia.

Mr. Abdallah attributes this looming violence to the Ethiopian government's alleged long-time support of factions operating in these areas.


"We condemn Ethiopian involvement and protest its military aggression against the Somali people by backing militias loyal to faction leaders allied or known to be allied with the Ethiopians. The Ethiopian government have supplied these militias (with) armaments, ammunition, and personnel. Units of Ethiopian regular troops are known, and can be confirmed, to have crossed deep into the Somali territory."

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Mr. Abdallah says there are at least four Somali ministers who have militias operating in the regions and who rely on support from the Ethiopian government.

Mr. Abdallah says Ethiopia's intention is not for one militia to defeat the other, but to prevent Somalia from becoming stable. He would not elaborate on why or how a destabilized Somalia would benefit Ethiopia.

Pounding the table to make his point, Mr. Abdallah maintains that Ethiopia's actions violate the arms embargo that the United Nations levied against Somalia in 1992.


"We have to petition to the Security Council as members of parliament. We are appealing to the Security Council. We are going to complain about Ethiopia to take its hands off Somalia."

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Ethiopian government spokesman Zemedkun Tekle denies that his government is supplying arms and other support to Somali factions and says his country wants Somalia to be stable and peaceful.


"Our position as the government of Ethiopia is very clear: we need to get a peaceful and strong central government in Somalia. Ethiopia has tried her best to get that kind of government in Somalia. There is no interest of Ethiopia to help one party than the other."

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Ethiopia is a member of the regional grouping Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, which spearheaded a two-year Somali peace process that brought together factional leaders, civil society leaders and others to end 14 years of anarchy and to form a new transitional government.

Ethiopia's involvement in the peace process was controversial, with many Somalis accusing their neighbor of manipulating the process for its particular ends.

Later, when IGAD proposed sending a peacekeeping force to Somalia, most Somalis balked at the idea of Ethiopian troops entering Somalia.

Many Somalis are still bitter about the Ogaden war of the 1970s, in which Somalia fought with Ethiopia over control of the Ogaden region. Ethiopia won that war, crushing hopes for leaders of the time to create a greater Somalia. (SIGNED)


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