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Africa Parliament Says Ethiopia To Fail In Somalia
By Bate Felix
JOHANNESBURG, May 11, 2007 – Ethiopia's efforts to stabilize Somalia are unlikely to succeed and African countries should live up to their promises to send peacekeepers there, a continental advisory body said on Thursday.
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) also said in a report that Ethiopian military support for Somali government forces against Islamist insurgents was "doomed to failure".
Backed by Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes, Somali forces ousted rival Islamist leaders in January and are trying to secure the capital after a surge of bloody fighting.
Fighting between Ethiopian-backed government forces and insurgents has killed at least 1,300 people since February. Just days ago, it declared victory, but is still wary of guerrilla-style attacks.
The PAP only advises the African Union (AU) and has no decision-making powers.
But its conflict resolution committee's recommendation that Ethiopian troops should withdraw from Somalia drew strong criticism from Ethiopian delegates to a session in Johannesburg.
"There seems to be great variance with what the report said and what is happening on the ground," said Ahmed Hassen, an Ethiopian member of the parliament.
The interim Somali government, set up in 2004, is determined to restore central rule to the Horn of Africa country for the first time since warlords toppled dictator Siyad Barre in 1991.
The PAP report suggested the transitional government and its Ethiopian allies were trying to use the issue of Islamic insurgents to gain U.S. backing.
"The Islamic Courts issue was always largely deployed by Ethiopian and the Transitional Federal Government as a way of winning U.S. approval," it said.
"This was the way in which Somalia's domestic power struggles could be internationalized".
PAP criticized the AU for not delivering on promises to send peacekeeping forces to Somalia. So far only Uganda has sent a 1,500-man contingency that began patrolling Mogadishu in recent days after a lull in fighting.
"At present, it is apparent to everyone that for all the labeling the current deployment is a Ugandan rather than an AU mission, and there is no sign of command or control being exercised from the AU," the report said.