Meles urges replacement of Somali PM

2010-09-30 09:09

Addis Ababa - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Wednesday called for the quick appointment of the Somalia premier after Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke resigned from his post earlier this month.

The Ethiopian leader met Somalia President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed here on Wednesday after Sharif recently named a caretaker prime minister to stand in before elections.

"Meles stressed the need to hold the election soon," the state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) said, adding that he "pointed out that the election... would help stop the unsolicited pressure being exerted by the Shabaab," referring to the extremist Islamist movement.

Sharif and Sharmarke had been at odds over a new constitution to replace the interim charter that expires in 2011. The president wanted a referendum on the issue, but the premier argued it was not possible due to lack of security.

Sharif also blamed his premier for failing to root out the al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels battling to overthrow the Western-backed government.

Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 to topple the Islamist movement that gave birth to the Shabaab movement that today controls about 80% of the country. It pulled its troops out in early 2009.

Meles said he would send the forces back in the "unlikely scenario" of peacekeeping troops from the African Union's mission in Somalia (Amisom), who are propping up the government, needing rescue.