Somali, Ethiopian defections to Eritrea?

Eritrean state radio reports that fifty-three weyane (Ethiopian) soldiers, including officers, have defected to Eritrea over the last few months. The soldiers are said to include three lieutenants, a second lieutenant, a sergeant, four corporals and 14 lance-corporals, who all object to Ethiopia’s Somalia intervention and the regime’s ethnic favoritism. Eighteen of the defectors are said to be ethnic Oromo, 15 Tigrayans, 15 Amhara and the remainder from the Gurage and southern Ethiopian peoples. The Ethiopian regime is dominated by members of the Tigray ethnic group. (Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea, Asmara, in Tigrinya, via BBC Monitoring, June 11) Ethiopian state television, in turn, reports that a small guerilla group in the pay of sha’biyyah (Eritrea’s ruling party) operating in Teru District in Ethiopia’s northeastern Afar Region has surrendered peacefully to government forces. (Ethiopian TV, Addis Ababa, in Amharic, via BBC Monitoring, June 21)

Meanwhile, Prof Isma’il Mahmud Hurre “Buba”, education minister with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, speaking from Nairobi, strongly denied reports that he has defected to the exile government formed by the Islamic Courts Union and dismissed Somali parliament members in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital. Isma’il Buba, from a clan in northwestern Somalia, had formerly served as foreign minister in the TNG. Prime Minister Prof Ali Muhammad Gedi removed him from the ministry several months ago. (Somaliweyn, Swedish-based Somali website, via BBC Monitoring, June 20)

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