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Somalia: a failed state?

Video by Gulliver CRAGG

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2008-11-21

Somalia's transitional government has very little real authority. And Ethiopia, which props it up with thousands of troops, is getting impatient with its bickering. Meanwhile, Islamist militants are again closing in on the capital.

Experts and military personnel have been saying that policiing the seas to stop pirates simply won't work as long as Somalia remains a lawless country.

It's been without an effective government since the fall of Siad Barre 17 years ago.

Ethiopia has been propping up the country's Western backed transitional government, but is becoming increasingly impatient with its infighting and ineffectiveness.

On Tuesday, November 18, it went so far as to threaten action against some of the country's politicians, saying it was not prepared to continue propping up Somalia's interim government "indefinitely" and urged leaders there to embrace a peace process to stop 17 years of conflict.
 

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf's government has been unable to stop a two-year insurgency by Islamic militia, despite  backup from thousands of Ethiopian troops.
 

U.N.-brokered peace talks in Djibouti to end the war, which  has created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, have been rejected by Islamist hardliners, while a spat between Yusuf  and his prime minister has further hindered the process.
 

"If they fail to grasp this historic opportunity, we cannot  help them by taking the responsibility on their behalf," Seyoum  Mesfin, Ethiopian foreign minister, told a regional meeting.
 

"I would like to reiterate unequivocally that Ethiopian  troops are not prepared to continue paying heavy  responsibilities indefinitely... It is crucial to send the right  message to Somali leaders at this critical time," he told fellow  foreign ministers from around the region.
 

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting of ministers  from the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) a  regional body spearheading the peace process, called for  sanctions and travel bans on Somali leaders seen as obstacles to  peace.
 

"The ministers called on IGAD heads of state to consider  withdrawing political recognition and support to anyone in the  Somali leadership who is an obstacle to resolving the Somali problem," the communiqué said.
 

The U.N. plan foresees the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.  Addis Ababa welcomes that and wants to pull out, but not if that leaves the government at the mercy of the Islamists.
 

During the meeting, Seyoum said Kenya had pledged to send a  battalion of troops to boost an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force. There was no independent confirmation from Nairobi.
 

"Kenya's decision is a great commitment," Seyoum said at the  end of a day-long meeting to discuss the Somalia crisis.
 

Some 3,000 peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are in the  capital Mogadishu, short of the intended 8,000-strong AU mission.
 

Date created : 2008-11-20

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