Thursday, May 31, 2012
Ethiopia on Thursday said it was yet to reach a decision on sending troops to Kismayo, Somalia a stronghold of rebel movement, Al Shabab.
Ethiopia has, since last December, had troops stationed in Somalia helping the Transitional Federal Government and an African Union peacekeeping force to paralyse the Al Shabab forces.
Ambassador Dina Mufti, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, confirmed to local media that there had been calls for Ethiopia to enter Kismayo, though a decision was yet to be reached.
"There are suggestions [for Ethiopia to enter Kismayo]. The peace loving people of the international community want Ethiopia to do the job. However, a decision has not been made," he said
Since their deployment in Somalia, the Ethiopian troops have taken control of several areas once controlled by Al Shabab and are waiting to hand over these to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
There are reports that Ethiopian troops are ready to launch an assault on the strategic town of Kismayo, the ultimate target of Kenyan troops who joined the battle against Al-Shabaab in Somalia last October.
Since entering Somalia, Ethiopia's military have succeeded in repelling Al-Shabab from two key cities of Beledweyne and Baidoa and other small towns in Bay and Bakool regions with the help of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government forces.
"Lately there are signs of hope because of the involvement of Ethiopia and other regional states in Somalia because the region is aware of the menace that comes from al-Shabaab, which is on the run," Mufti continued.
There are about 10,000 Amisom peacekeeping forces in Somalia, drawn from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.