Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ethiopia and Kenya differ on Somalia

By NATION Correspondent

Kenya plans to help create an autonomous region on the border with Somalia as one way of stabilising the lawless country.

A leaked US embassy cable says the Jubaland region will provide a buffer zone and prevent the entry of refugees and illegal arms into the country.

However, Ethiopia is not enthusiastic about the plan, dubbed the Jubaland Initiative, because of its likely impact on its own Somali-dominated Ogaden region where rebels are fighting for autonomy.

Addis Ababa also doubts Kenya’s tactical capacity to carry out the plan given the strong presence of al-Shabaab rebels in Jubaland whose capital city is Kismayo. The rebels are opposed to a breakaway Jubaland.

Lack of confidence

In the cable dated February 2, 2010, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi expresses a lack of confidence on Kenya’s ability to succeed with the plan.

The plan is for Kenya to support Jubaland in the south-western most part of Somalia to follow in the footsteps of the breakaway Somaliland and gain autonomy.

Mr Meles told three high-ranking US officials of “negative regional impacts” in case the initiative fails.

A new regional authority of Jubaland was created two months ago by members of the communities in the Juba regions who want to establish an administration that will enable the region to have some normalcy and stability like Puntland and Somaliland in the north.