Uganda says it will send peacekeepers to back the transitional government in Somalia while Ethiopia – which helped drive out Islamist forces – says it is ready to bring its troops home. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been holding talks with the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. “The transitional government is our partner and we will have to discuss our withdrawal with them. But as I have made it very clear in Parliament, we are not going to be there indefinitely,” said Zenawi.
Alarm bells rang worldwide when the Union of Islamic Courts seized control of Somalia six months ago. The challenge now is to establish a real alternative. European Commission spokesman Stefano Manservi said: “Building a legitimate government and internal political dialogue is the best way to stabilise Somalia and fight against terrorism.”
“This,” he added, “should be combined with repressive action launched by Somalis themselves, not a foreign army.” While the US has pledged 12 million euros in humanitarian aid, armed gangs that terrorised Mogadishu before the UIC’s brief reign have returned. A government arms amnesty which ran out yesterday has had little success. Forced disarmament is due to begin tomorrow.