Ethiopia has missed the deadline set out in a peace deal to withdraw its forces from Somalia, but has promised to go by the end of December. The recent agreement between the transitional government and Islamist opposition set Friday as the deadline.

A BBC reporter in the capital says the troops are still in their bases. “Our total withdrawal… will be by the end of this month, the prime minister has made it very clear,” Ethiopia’s London ambassador told the BBC.

Ethiopia went into Somalia two years ago to help government forces drive Islamist forces from the capital. But different Islamist forces have been gaining ground in recent months and now control much of southern Somalia once more.

The BBC’s Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says in the past two weeks the Ethiopians have been setting up bases in villages along the tarmac road between the capital and Baidoa – their possible exit road.

A small African Union peacekeeping force has indicated it may leave with the Ethiopians unless it gets reinforcements. Berhanu Kebede, the Ethiopian ambassador to the UK, said Ethiopia’s presence had given Somalis an opportunity to participate in political dialogue.

“The conducive environment we created has not been properly used both by international community and the Somalis themselves,” he said on the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

About one million people have fled their homes – many after fierce fighting in Mogadishu between Islamists and the Ethiopia-backed government forces.


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