[dehai-news] (AFP) AU troops replace Ethiopians in key Mogadishu positions


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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Mon Nov 17 2008 - 09:02:49 EST


AU troops replace Ethiopians in key Mogadishu positions

1 hour ago

MOGADISHU (AFP) African Union (AU) peacekeepers have started moving into
positions usually manned by Ethiopian troops in the capital Mogadishu,
witnesses and an AU mission source told AFP Monday.

The rotation of the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is a key part of the
ongoing Djibouti peace process, which provides for a gradual pullback of
Ethiopian troops from the war-torn country.

"It's something we had planned because AU peacekeepers have to make sure
that the Djibouti peace deal is implemented and that is why we deployed our
forces around new locations in the capital," an AMISOM officer said.

The AU forces were from the Burundian contingent, which last month brought
the total number of African peacekeepers in the Somali capital to around
3,400.

The AMISOM officer did not provide details on the handover but witnesses
said they had seen peacekeepers replacing Ethiopian soldiers in southern
Mogadishu.

"I saw a convoy of AU peacekeepers entering the former military academy of
Jalle Siad where Ethiopians are usually stationed and they seemed to be
replacing the Ethiopian forces," local resident Abdulahi Mohamed said.

Witnesses also said AU convoys appeared to be moving towards the defence
ministry.

Ethiopian troops have already scaled back their operations in Somalia in
recent months, keeping only some troops to guard strategic positions and key
institutions of the embattled transitional federal government (TFG).

A deal reached late last month between the TFG and the main Islamist-led
opposition group calls for Ethiopian troops to pull out of areas in
Mogadishu and the central garrison town of Beledweyn by November 21.

Under the deal, the Somali government and the opposition Alliance for the
Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) are to assemble a 10,000-strong police force
to help the AU peacekeepers control the areas.

Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 to rescue the TFG and oust an Islamist
movement that had taken control of the most of the country.

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