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Government signs deal with Islamists on troop withdrawal

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-10-26

The Somalian government and Islamist opposition groups have agreed that Ethiopian troops will leave Somali territory by the end of the year. The troops originally deployed in 2006 to help rout Islamist forces.

Ethiopian troops are to pull out of Somalia by early next year under a deal signed Sunday in Djibouti by the Somali government and the Islamist opposition, a UN spokeswoman said here.
   
The accord was signed by the government and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) at UN-sponsored talks in Djibouti, said Susannah Price, spokeswoman for the top UN envoy to Somalia.
   
Both sides agreed that Ethiopian troops would initially pull out of areas in Mogadishu and the central town of Beledweyne on November 21, leaving them under the control of African Union troops in Somalia (AMISOM).
   
The agreement said that "the second phase of Ethiopian troop withdrawal should be completed within 120 days," though Price was unable to say when exactly the 120-day countdown would begin.
   
Sunday's agreement resurrected a June 9 ceasefire deal agreed between the government and ARS, an opposition umbrella group dominated by Islamists and based in the Eritrean capital of Asmara.
   
Its implementation had been delayed after fighting flared up across the Horn of Africa nation.
   
A string of previous peace initiatives and truce deals have failed to stabilise the country, which has been plagued by an uninterrupted civil war since the 1991 overthrow of president Mohamed Siad Barre.
   
Ethiopian forces have been in Somalia since they deployed alongside beleaguered Somali government troops in 2006 and succeeded in ousting Islamists from south and central Somalia where they had imposed Sharia law.
   
Islamists insurgents have waged a guerrilla war since then, which according to international rights groups and aid agencies has left thousands of civilians dead and displaced hundreds of thousands, mainly in the capital Mogadishu.

Date created : 2008-10-26

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