Ethiopia's ambassador to the UN, Abdul Mejid Hussein, has rejected the possibility of a "greater Somalia", along with other senior political leaders from Ethiopia's Somali National Regional State.
"There should be no ambiguity on the issue of being Ethiopian," Ambassador Hussein, former head of the Somali People's Democratic Party (SPDP), told a press conference in Addis Ababa on Tuesday. "The vision of the new Ethiopia is one that Somalis in Ethiopia should be very clear about, and there should not be any confusion about being part of what is being called the greater Somalia."
"We are not part of a greater Somalia," he stressed. He was speaking after Somali faction leader Hussein Aideed was accused of calling for a greater Somalia. In a recent interview with IRIN, Aideed said he wanted to "bring back" Ethiopian and Kenyan Somalis, otherwise "you have a population divided who are in the same family".
Ambassador Hussein said Aideed was a guest of Ethiopia. "He is welcome of course, so long as he does not interfere in our affairs...Those who still believe that they would like to join Somalia can do so constitutionally, they can do so peacefully, we have no objection to that."
But he said the SPDP – which holds power in Ethiopia's Somali state - had "voluntarily" agreed to be part of Ethiopia, stressing that the Somali people in Ethiopia had their rights enshrined in the constitution. "So nobody has forced us, we have our own MPs who have continued to support our position, and the programme of this party is not for secession," he stated.
Hussein had been called in to an emergency meeting of the political party to help iron out "squabbling" within the SPDP. He said in-fighting had led to the "paralysis" of the party and the government in the state. The Somali National Regional State – also known as Zone Five – is one of the largest areas in Ethiopia.
[See also IRIN story 'Somali state officials vow to "rectify" mistakes']
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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