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Ethiopia to pullout Somalia after guarantying safe departure of AU troops - PM

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By Tesfa-alem Tekle

December 12, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopia on Thursday said that its troops will be home from their controversial two-year military mission within weeks after they ensured AU forces from Uganda and Burundi leave Somalia safe

"AU peace keepers from Uganda &Burundi have told us that they want to pullout before Ethiopia does," Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament.

"At This point we are only waiting for ships and planes to arrive Somalia and do the transporting for the AU forces” he said adding “there won’t be any more time to spend for our troops then after."

When asked if Ethiopia will delay promised pullout by end of year if AU peace keepers delay withdrawal by any means, he further said.

"We have responsibility to safe guard their peaceful pullout with our time table but if the AU forces change their current stand to pullout ahead of Ethiopia or if the international community failed to provide necessary security &transportation support needed then we will take our own measures," Meles added but didn’t mention what measures will be taken.

Meanwhile the Ugandan ministry of foreign affairs have rejected Meles’s comment over nation pullout from Somalia it instead said it wants to deploy more troops to the war ravaged Somalia.

The prime minister also has assured that the main objectives of the military mission are accomplished successfully but warns to carry out action when it is believed necessary.

"Our main mission was to defuse the plan orchestrated by Eritrea, accompanied by Al-Shabab, and anti-peace elements in Ethiopia, he said. "We have defused it in a way that it cannot come again. That is, if we feel there are signs it is coming back again, we can take action.

"Our troops will be deployed in Ethiopia borders so if there are any series threats we take action" he said.

There are threats that the pullout of all forces could put the nation in to the hands of the Islamic militants who are controlling most of the southern and central part of the nation.

On the other hand the pullout is believed to push UN to act swiftly.

(ST)

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