By Tsegaye Tadesse
ADDIS ABABA, Dec 22 (Reuters) – The African Union called on the Woyanne regime in Ethiopia on Monday to delay a move to withdraw its forces from Somalia to allow for reinforcements, but
Ethiopia Woyanne said the decision was irreversible. Ethiopia Woyanne said last month it would pull its troops out by the end of the year despite fears in some countries that Somalia could descend into anarchy unless more peacekeepers are sent.
“We appeal to
Ethiopia Woyanne to consider phasing out withdrawal, until such time (when) more troops from Nigeria, Uganda and Burundi are deployed in Somalia,” the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the AU said in a statement at a meeting in Addis Ababa.
“The security situation in Somalia is alarming … piracy is escalating against the background of weakening leadership and insurgents control nearly all the country with the exception of Mogadishu and Baidoa.”
Ethiopia’s Woyanne minister of state, Tekeda Alemu, said: “The decision to withdraw troops from Somalia was a commitment made by the country’s authorities to parliament and will not be changed.”
About 850 Nigerian troops are expected to strengthen the 3,200 AU peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi, to prevent a security vacuum when the
Ethiopians Woyanne leave. The AU said they were expected soon but no concrete time has been given.
Feuding between Somalia’s President Abdullahi Yusuf and Nur Hassan Hussein, who he sacked as prime minister, has brought the weak transitional government to the brink of collapse.
The Council asked the ministers to consider extending the mandate of the AU force for an additional period of six months, with effect from 17 July 2008.
(Editing by Wangui Kanina and Elizabeth Piper)