Hailemariam Desalegn: Death of Ahmed Godane shows the beginning of the end for Al-Shabaab
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that Death of Ahmed Godane shows the beginning of the end of Al-Shabaab. In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, the prime minister reaffirmed his country is seeking a “win-win” relation with Egypt, saying that his country was seeking good relations with Cairo.
Anadolu Agency: Your Excellency Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, what does the elimination of Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane mean to Somalia and the region?
Prime Minister: I feel that, you know, terrorism is a global problem. And therefore, the death of the leader of Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, means a lot to Somalia, to the neighboring countries as well.
It is simply because this man was instrumental in destabilizing and terrorizing the Somali people as well as the neighboring countries. So now there is a chance for the Somali people to get peace and tranquility in Somalia and establish a strong Somali state, which can co-exist with its neighbors in a peaceful, friendly and neighborly manner, so that we can cooperate together having a very strong Somalia as a country.
So this is very important for the Somali people at first and then to the region also – and to the continent and to the global community. So we see it as a strong achievement.
AA: Can this be taken as the beginning of the end of Al-Shabaab in Somalia? How confident are you that Somalia constitutes a functioning state?
PM: First of all, this shows the beginning of the end of Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab becomes the weakest organization. And, besides, the Somali people will get a chance to liberate from the yoke of Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab has forced the Somali people to stay under the yoke. This is a chance for the people of Somalia to be free from Al-Shabaab. The Somali people will institute a functioning state from now onwards.
You know there is a plan in 2016 that the Somali people have to elect their own leaders. In order for this election to take place, the weakening or elimination of Al-Shabaab is important so that the people of Somalia will get a chance to elect their own leaders.
We will support strengthening of institutions of the government of Somalia. So I think this is the beginning of the end of Al-Shabaab influence in Somalia.
AA: Regarding South Sudan, the country’s warring parties are currently in negotiations that have proven to be very slow. What is the fundamental issue that is slowing them down?
PM: First of all, the process of the negotiations is slow. But the region, IGAD and member states have tried their best to bring this negotiation to an end as quickly as possible so that there will be peace and tranquility in South Sudan.
But we still have hope that the leaders will have commitment, strong commitment. What is lacking now is strong commitment from the leaders’ side, and especially from the leader of the opposition party.
We see that there is a lack of commitment. So I think that is an important issue to be addressed, because the people of South Sudan need peace and tranquility and they need stability. They need a good livelihood; they have been suffering for the last many, many years, and now the war has to stop.
And with that belief, we still urge the parties to the negotiation to complete the negotiation as quickly as possible.
AA: Do you see light at the end of the tunnel? I mean, could this problem in South Sudan be resolved any time soon?
PM:I think there is hope that this problem will be resolved as quickly as possible. But that needs strong commitment from both leaders – specifically, the rebels, because they are the ones who have not signed the recent protocol agreement.
AA: Ethiopia and Egypt are enjoying diplomatic rapprochement, which climaxed with the Malabo meeting in Equatorial Guinea between you and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. How are relations now?
PM: First of all, the relationship between Ethiopia and Egypt is a longstanding relation. We want to continue building on our good relations.
There has been, you know, misbehaving practices in previous regimes, like the Mubarak regime, the Morsi regime. They were, you know, trying to destabilize Ethiopia using rebel groups that are supported and nurtured by Eritrea.
And I think that was a failure. These leaders were wrong, because that harms the good relationship between Ethiopia and Egypt. But they failed. They could not succeed in their will to destabilize Ethiopia through various means. Read more