This AP Dispatch was Prelude to the Appearance of Puntland


ABEBE ANDUALEM, Associated Press

Dec. 24, 1997 1:58 PM ET

 (AP) _ Ethiopia accused Egypt on Wednesday of hijacking a peace process to end seven years of fighting in Somalia and claimed the agreement reached in Cairo by Somali factions could do more harm than good.

The government-run Ethiopian News Agency quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying the agreement signed Monday by 26 Somali faction leaders to form a national government and end fighting could create more divisions rather than help to achieve reconciliation.

Ethiopia, which had been conducting its own peace initiative for Somalia, apparently felt left out after Egypt and the Cairo-based Arab League invited 28 Somali leaders to Cairo where they came up with a deal after 41 days of negotiations at a hotel for Egyptian military officials.

All but two Somali factions signed the complex power-sharing deal and agreed to a national reconciliation conference in the central Somali town of Baidoa Feb. 15 which would name the country’s first national government in seven years.

“The Egyptian government has hijacked the Somali reconciliation process and as a result it has created more divisions within the Somali factions, thus seriously damaging efforts and gains of seven years of reconciliation among Somali faction leaders,” the agency quoted the diplomat as saying.

The diplomat was not named but his comments were believed to reflect views of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which often uses the news agency to communicate government opinion.

In Cairo, the Foreign Ministry made no formal comment. But a ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said:

“This is nonsense. We are not in the business of hijacking peace processes. These charges were not issued by the Ethiopian government, but by a Somali who is living in Addis Ababa … and the motives are clear.”

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Postscript, August 2015: The above was, in fact, based on my article to the Ethiopian main newspaper at the time, The Ethiopian Herald. The Egyptian dplomat in Cairo was right on the source of the information. Abdullahi Yusuf and General Aden Gabyow were still in Cairo, trying to get out of Egyptian diplomatic wrestling. That was December 1997 in Abdis Ababa. Two fateful nights for the future State of Puntland would follow from that AP despatch from Addis Ababa – Ismail H. Warsame

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