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Ethiopia Troops Will Not Deploy In Somaliland: Ambassador
HARGEYSA, Somaliland, September 1, 2007 – Ethiopia's envoy to the breakaway region of Somaliland, Ambassador Wubshet Demisse, has dismissed reports that troops from Ethiopia will deploy in the region.
Speaking to Haatuf reporters from his Hargeysa office, Amb. Demisse said Monday that his government has friendly relations with the government of Somaliland and does not wish to see instability spread to the region.
The Ethiopian envoy said Addis Ababa has relations with major political parties in Somaliland, and not just the ruling UDUB party of President Dahir Rayale Kahin.
He said his government would never interfere in the country's internal affairs and denied any involvement in the arrest of QARAN party leaders by Rayale’s government earlier this month.
Domestic and international rights groups have condemned the QARAN leaders' arrests, noting that the three men were "harshly" sentenced to nearly four years each.
Market talk in the Somaliland capital Hargeysa focused on rumors that President Rayale’s administration might deploy Ethiopian troops to the region if the opposition continues to expand.
Fears worsened when President Rayale visited Addis Ababa earlier this month to hold talks with senior Ethiopian officials, including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Rayale was joined on his trip by Gen. Nuh Tani, commander of the Somaliland army.
Opposition political parties are entangled in a row with the government, leading to parliament's recent rejection of two officials Rayale nominated to the elections committee.
The majority of seats in Somaliland's lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, are controlled by two opposition parties who cooperated in rejecting the president's nominees.
No nation in the world has recognized Somaliland as an independent country since the region seceded from Somalia in 1991.
Presidential elections are scheduled to be held across Somaliland next year.
Ethiopian troops deployed into central and southern Somalia late last year to support the country's interim government gain control, but there is neither peace nor control eight months later.
--Original Source: Haatuf Daily--