Somali Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Aidid has urged Ethiopia to withdrew its troops from his country to allow Somalis to decide their future, amid UN warnings that 124,000 civilians were forced to flee their homes in Mogadishu to escape endless fighting.
"Ethiopian troops must leave from Somali territory to let the Somalis decide their own fate," Aidid said in a brief interview broadcast on Eritrean state-run EriTV late Sunday, April 8.
Aidid, currently visiting Eritrea, Ethiopia's arch enemy, also voiced concerns that the raging confrontations between Ethiopian troops and tribal fighters and remnants of the Islamic Courts Union could disintegrate the country.
Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia late last year to overthrow the Islamic Courts Union, which managed to restore order and stability in war-battered Somalia, in favor of the weak, West-backed interim government.
Since arrival in Mogadishu, Ethiopian troops are targeted in near-daily attacks by motors and machine guns.
Several killed Ethiopian soldiers had their bodies dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, beaten and burnt by angry Somali men and women.
Independent analysts believe that any Ethiopian presence in Somalia was sure to provoke a response from the general population. Somalis traditionally view the military giant across their border as a rival.
Several times, from 1992 to 1998, Christian Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia to attack Islamic movements.
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report released Sunday, April 8, that about 124,000 civilians have fled violence-marred Mogadishu in the past two months.
"Most of the displaced have headed to the neighboring regions," said the report, adding that some left for the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.
UNHCR asserted that the majority of the people fled the capital after last month's heavy clashes between Ethiopian troops and tribal fighters.
Ethiopian and government troops had unleashed an all-out four-day offensive on the powerful Hawiya clan, which has largely controlled the Somali capital since 1991, using tanks and attack helicopters in densely populated areas.
At least 400 people were killed and 1,000 others wounded in the worst fighting in the past 15 years.
A senior European Union security official has accused Ethiopian and Somali troops of committing war crimes.
Pope Benedict said on Sunday recent violence in Somalia had dashed hopes for peace.
"The renewed fighting has driven away the prospect of peace and worsened a regional crisis, especially with regard to the displacement of populations and the traffic of arms," he said in his traditional Easter message.
Somalia has lacked an effective central government since the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
More than 14 attempts to restore a functional government in Somalia have since failed.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16