By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Ethiopia wants the multinational African peacekeeping force to stay in Somalia, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said on Thursday.
"Ethiopia's stance on the issue of AMISOM’s [African Union Mission in Somalia] withdrawal is that the multinational force should stay in Somalia until the time comes when the militant group al-Shabaab is very much weakened," Meles Alem told journalists.
The multilateral African peacekeeping force was deployed in Somalia in 2007 to cope with the threat of al-Shabaab terrorist group.
The African Union has been calling for gradual reduction of the AMISOM force, leading to ultimate withdrawal and handing over the responsibility to Somalian military.
According to Meles Alem, al-Shabaab should be rendered “much weaker” and AMISOM should be staying until the insurgent group is no more a threat.
In October 2017, some 500 civilians in Mogadishu were killed by twin car bombs, indicating that the threat from Al-Shabaab is far from over. The incident was recorded as the worst of attacks in Somalia in recent years.
In June 2016, the African Union Commission Peace and Security Council resolved for gradual reduction of AMSIOM troops followed by total withdrawal leaving the responsibility to the Somalian National Army.
The decision has yet to be implemented.