The Ethiopian government said Monday (December 22nd) it was ready to boost troop levels in Somalia to replace soldiers from Sierra Leone, which began withdrawing its forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) last week.
The contingent of 850 soldiers from Sierra Leone began departing Somalia after a 20-month posting in the country.
AMISOM said the troops would not be replaced from Sierra Leone until the Ebola outbreak in the West African nation, which has the largest number of recorded cases of the virus, was contained.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said his country could help take their place.
“If there is a request from the African Union, Ethiopia is ready to replace any contingent that leaves Somalia,” Desalegn told reporters, adding that Ethiopian troops were already operating in “more than 60 percent of Somali territory”.
He also said Ethiopia was concerned over the “squabbling” between Somalia’s leaders.
“We hope this squabbling will not continue,” he said, stressing the focus needed to stay on eradicating al-Shabaab.
“Al-Shabaab [is] a threat to Ethiopia. Incidents have not happened in Ethiopia not because al-Shabaab is not threatening us, but because we are vigilant,” he said. “We are following very carefully all the movements of al-Shabaab in Ethiopia.”