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Published On  Nov 27,  2011
   
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BACK AGAIN?

Seen in the picture are Meles Zenawi (left), prime minister and chairperson of IGAD, and Mahboub Maalim, executive secretary of IGAD, preparing for the closed session of the meeting.

Ethiopian troops are likely to head back to Somalia in the coming few weeks after two years since they withdrew ending its two and half years presence there. The Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) during its 19th extraordinary meeting of the heads of states of member countries held on Friday, 25, 2011, called upon Ethiopia to support Kenyan and the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Around 9,000 AMISOM soldiers, mostly from Uganda and Brundui, are on the ground fighting Al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group categorised by Ethiopia as terrorist group, trying to take over control of Somalia. They have been joined by Kenyan troops six weeks ago which went into the country claiming self defence. 

The call for Ethiopia to support these troops comes amid reports of sightings of Ethiopian troops in Somalia by many international news outlets. This was categorically denied by government officials.

“If we already had forces in Somalia, then it would not make sense for IGAD to call for our support,” Dina Mufti, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Fortune “We have heard of these allegations and still maintain that they are untrue.”

However, the call for help is likely to get a positive response. The type and duration of support is yet to be decided, according to Dina.

“However Ethiopia had never failed IGAD and will not do so now,” he told Fortune.

The heads of states also condemned Eritrea for supplying ammunitions to Al Shabab. This accusation has been coming from Kenya, the United Nations and Ethiopia. Although the UN Security Council has put a travel sanction on officials of Eritrea before, the IGAD has been calling for more stringent measures. Gabon has tabled a draft resolution that just does that. It calls for ban of imports on Eritrean minerals and also prohibits foreign mining companies from investing in the nation's mining sector. 

A ban on the two per cent diaspora tax paid by Eritreans working aboard is also called for in the draft. If passed this would be a big blow for the Eritrean government, whose list of enemies is growing by the day including the United State, whose state department recently issued a travel advisory to its citizens three weeks ago.


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