Ethiopia has not yet responded to a Somali proposal of ceasefire talks to end the war in the Ogaden desert, but diplomatic observers in Addis Ababa quoted by Reuters News Agency expect Ethiopia will reject the offer.
Ethiopia has not yet responded to a Somali proposal of ceasefire talks to end the war in the Ogaden desert, but diplomatic observers in Addis Ababa quoted by Reuters News Agency expect Ethiopia will reject the offer. Earlier this week the country's leader, Lt. Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, condemned the Western press for what he called a "clearly hostile, anti-Ethiopian campaign."
SYNOPSIS: Colonel Mengistu was speaking at an international press conference in Addis Ababa on Sunday (18 September). It was the first he'd given since his government came to power three years ago.
The Ethiopian leader attacked the Western press for it's repeated allegations that his military government was a fascist regime, not popularly supported by the people. He maintained that his government was marching towards the goal of full democratic rights for its people, and that the time when this would come about was "not too distant".
Colonel Mengistu also condemned the press for what he called its "acceptance" of the Somali contention that fighting in the Ogaden was being done by the Western Somalia Liberation Front, rather than by regular Somali forces.
He again declared that the Western Somalia Liberation Front was "non-existent and fictitious" and insisted that Ethiopia was facing regular Somali troops in the war now raging in the disputed Ogaden region.
Colonel Mengistu accused the Somali government of committing aggression against Ethiopia. He said it was "undeniable" that Somalia had violated the basic principles of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. He said both organisations risked the same fate as the League of Nations if they did not take action to halt the "aggression".
Meanwhile the Somalis have reportedly been talking of peace. In Rome on Tuesday (20 September) a Somali Republic official, Dr. Muhammed Aden told newsmen about the terms on which ceasefire talks could be based.
Dr. Aden, an envoy of Somali President Muhammed Siad Barre said the Western Somalia Liberation Front was ready for immediate talks, but would not negotiate the sovereignty of the disputed territory. He told the news conference that the Front and Somalia would only agree to a settlement based on the self-determination of the Somali-speaking inhabitants of the Ogaden. He said the Front was calling for negotiations to avoid a direct conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia, and it had invited what he called "the democratic forces" of Ethiopia to discuss a solution. Dr. Aden said Ethiopia's leader, Colonel Mengistu, was "incapable" of facing the situation, but did not say that the Front would refuse to negotiate with the present government.