Ethiopia is a critical partner and is the current chair of Igad, leading high-level discussions on South Sudan. Ethiopia contributes troops to peacekeeping operations in South Sudan as well as Sudan.
We discussed the efforts of Ethiopian troops to stabilise Somalia, prevent terrorism and elements from Al Shabaab and ISIS coming into their country. We also talked about internal domestic challenges that face Ethiopia and Somalia, based on ethnic divides, land tenure problems, government procedures and local practices.
There is concern about Ethiopia’s internal stability. What was your impression on the state of the leadership within the ruling EPRDF?
I deferred to Prime Minister Hailemariam and his government on the details of what our discussions were. We talked about domestic issues like challenges in Somalia.
Ethiopia has a high population growth, with 70 per cent of the population under the age of 30, which means increasing unemployment among the youth. We discussed how we could partner to create jobs, support healthcare, education and investment.
It is only a temporary suspension that affects about 10,000 troops and is meant to enhance better accounting. We continue to provide assistance to specialised groups within Somalia.
This is part of our efforts to review how we can form a coherent and effective Somali national army that integrates all groups, military and militia in the regional states.
We have discussed this issue with the Somali government as we establish how to work with the AU, Amisom, the UN, and countries that provide troops like Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and Burundi.
The national army needs to be trained, and fully coherent under a unified command.
At the Somalia conference in London last May, we agreed that transparent, open accounting practices and financial institutions are critical. These are the same issues we face in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under Monusco.