Ethiopian troops gain new ground in Somalia

September 9th, 2009 | by addis portal |

(GIN)—Ethiopian troops are holding a strategic town in Somalia, say eyewitnesses, raising fears that the U.N.-supported government in Mogadishu is relying on unpopular foreign forces where its hold is weak.

Hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers reportedly entered the key town of Beletwein, the capital of Hiran region over the weekend but appear now to be retreating towards the Somalia-Ethiopia international border, witnesses said.

The development prompted the local governor to announce last week that his regional administration would no longer be part of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

Sheikh Abdirahman Ibrahim Ma’ow, the Islamist governor of Hiran region, criticized the U.N.-backed government at a recent press conference, saying it was weak and had “failed to implement Shari’ah law.” “Hiran region is not prepared for war,” he said, adding: “We do not support the presence of Ethiopian troops.”

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