The Ethiopian Head of State, Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, has, according to Addis Ababa Radio, pledged to come to Kenya's aid if it is threatened by Somalia.
The Ethiopian Head of State, Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, has, according to Addis Ababa Radio, pledged to come to Kenya's aid if it is threatened by Somalia. The pledge was delivered on Monday (29 January) at a dinner given in honour of visiting Kenyan President, Daniel Arap Moi.
SYNOPSIS: Earlier that day, President Moi and a delegation of eighteen Ministers and officials had arrived in the Ethiopian capital. Addis Ababa, on a three-day visit. Within hours, they had sat down to their first round of talks at the National Palace of International Affairs.
The topic of Somalia's ambitions towards both countries was high on their agenda. Somalia has expressed the wish to create "Greater Somalia", which includes parts of Ethiopia and Kenya.
On Monday night (29 January), the banqueting hall of the National Palace was the venue for the state dinner. With Soviet and Cuban aid, Ethiopia last year defeated Somali troops in the Oganden Desert region of eastern Ethiopia, where the ethnic population is largely Somali. Colonel Mengistu made his pledge in these words: "Revolutionary Ethiopia shall not remain a silent spectator in the event of any threat directed against Kenya by the expansionist government of Somalia."
The Ethiopian leader said peace and security in the Horn of African could only prevail when the Somali government in Mogadishu publicly and unconditionally renounced what he called its expansionist designs over Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. Since Ethiopia and her Communist allies overcame the Somalis, the Somali President, Mohamed Siad Barre, has denied that he has any design on the territory of other nations. However, Somalia has continued to support guerrilla movements in the Ogaden region, and last week formally enshrined such support in her new constitution.
After Colonel Mengistu's speech -- a toast to solidarity. Ethiopia and Kenya had a joint defence pact, but this was before the late Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in a military coup in 1974. In the past five years, Ethiopia has committed itself to "revolutionary" Marxism.
President Moi referred indirectly in his speech to Somali support for guerrilla activities. He said Kenya and Ethiopia put great importance on the sanctity of borders of African States. This, he said, was a principle of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). If it was not adhered to, it would be a serous backward step for the entire continent at a time when unity and co-operation were needed. In the mid-1960s Kenyan security forces fought a sporadic was against Somali insurgents operating in his northern border regions. The Kenyan press still accuses Somali raiders of poaching, looting and rustling livestock in the north-eastern region.