Irish Foreign Minister in Ethiopia
Irish Foreign Minister, Mr. Michael Martin paid an official visit to Ethiopia from 30 June to 2 July 2010. During the visit, the Minister conducted fruitful discussions with high level Ethiopian Government officials, including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and State Minister Dr. Tekeda Alemu.
During the meeting with the State Minister, the two officials exchanged views on bilateral and regional issues. The Irish Foreign Minister commended the sound policies adopted by the Ethiopian Government which resulted in fast economic growth and major social development, particularly in the areas of education, primary health care, rural development, food security and other sectors. In this connection, Mr. Martin reassured the State Minister that Ireland would continue to assist Ethiopia in various fields despite the current budgetary and financial constraints his country faced. He also expressed his appreciation for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the recently held national elections in Ethiopia.
During the exchange of views on regional issues, the Irish Foreign Minister recognized the very challenges Ethiopia had faced due to security problems prevailing in the Horn of Africa. He also praised the Ethiopian Government as well as other stakeholders for bringing North-South Sudan political actors to Mekelle, Northern Ethiopia, for serious dialogue focusing on post-referendum issues which ultimately produced the Mekelle Memorandum. Sharing the wealth of his country’s experience in resolving such a protracted age-old conflict in Northern Ireland, Mr. Martin noted that greater sense of responsibility, wisdom and patience were needed to foster mutual trust and confidence.
State Minister Dr. Tekeda Alemu on his part expressed his satisfaction with the current Ethio-Irish bilateral relations. He underlined that Ethiopia valued and took its relationship with Ireland very seriously. He acknowledged that Irish development assistance policy was in harmony with Ethiopia’s development strategies and the development program being implemented by Irish Aid in various parts of Ethiopia proved effective and sustainable. He also commended the Government of Ireland for pursuing the principle that developing countries must be allowed to own and lead their development strategies. The State Minister added that Ethiopia highly valued the principled stand of Ireland on major international issues. In this regard, he recalled the firm and principled stand adopted by the Irish Government at the time of Ethio-Eritrea war during which Ireland unequivocally stated that Eritrea committed aggression and recognized Ethiopia’s right to self defense.
Ethiopia at the G-8 and G-20 Summits
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi took part at the G8 and G20 Summits, which were held in Canada from June 25-26, 2010 and from June 26-27, 2010 respectively. While the discussions of G8 Summit were organized around the theme of Accountability and Effectiveness in International Assistances, the theme of the G20 Summit focused on the global economic crisis and possible solutions for sustainable and balanced growth.
At both Summits, Ethiopia was encouraged by the organization and content of the discussions and the level of their relevance to Africa. Ethiopia positively views the increasing importance and recognition by the G20 leaders of the development need of Africa. In this connection, Ethiopia welcomes the consensus reached by the G20 leaders to raise the capital of Africa Development Bank by 200 per cent.
With regard to the outcomes of the Summit, Ethiopia is optimistic that the mechanism devised by the G20 leaders to tackle the ongoing global economic challenges will be effective. Despite the fact that much focus has been paid at the Summit on cutting deficits and reducing public debts in the developed countries, Ethiopia believes that the economic stability resulting from the above mentioned austerity measures will eventually benefit Africa and the developing world.
Ethiopia also hopes that the contractionary measures envisaged by some of the major industrialized countries would not harm the sustainability of the high economic growth rates in Africa. Moreover, it is Ethiopia’s conviction that ensuring the permanent and institutional representation of Africa at the G20 will enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the G20 as a truly global mechanism for international economic governance.
Ethiopia also welcomes the outcome of the G8 Summit, which reiterated its commitment to continue its support for development and a strong partnership with developing countries, particularly Africa. The 5 billion US$ pledge of additional funds that the G8 countries have made to mobilize over the next five years for improving maternal health and reducing child mortality in developing countries is worth mentioning.
It is hoped that the acknowledgment made by the G8 leaders at the Muskoka Summit of the high economic growth rates that had been attained in Africa immediately prior to the onset of the global economic and financial crisis would send positive signal about the African continent to the international business community.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister participated at the Summits following the invitation extended to him by the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper. Ethiopia, however, strongly feels that the participation of African countries should not continue to be on the basis of the will of the host countries. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi expressed hope that the issue will be settled at the AU Summit due to be held in Kampala.
The Somali National Regional State and Puntland State of Somalia sign Memorandum of Understanding
The Somali National Regional State and Puntland State of Somalia signed an all encompassing Memorandum of Understanding on 28 June 2010 in Dire Dawa. This was done on the occasion of the visit by a high level committee of Puntland State of Somalia led by Vice President Abdi Samad Ali Shire. The Ethiopian side in the discussion was led by Dr. Tekeda Alemu, State Minister for Foreign Affairs. The delegations of both sides held extensive discussions on issues of mutual concern as well as on creating framework for collaboration in the fields of security, trade and combating illegal activities along their common borders.
In this regard, they agreed to establish a Joint Intelligence and Security Committee led by the officials of Puntland State of Somalia and the Somali National Regional Government at the highest level to ensure frequent and regular follow up and to achieve a level of response commensurate with the challenges in the areas. The committee will meet in the Somali National Regional State and Puntland alternately. The committee will establish, as it deems necessary, various sub committees including those at the border areas. The committees at the border areas will exchange information frequently. The committee held its meeting and drew up its terms of reference and plan of action.
The two parties agreed to exchange information at all levels to ensure the peace and stability of people as well as a smooth movement of goods and services and have agreed to appoint focal points for coordination. The two parties agreed to cooperate to control human and arms trafficking, money laundering and illegal drugs as well as control contraband trade and other illegal trade activities. They have designated Buhodle, Dhudub and Bokh as the three entry points for legal movement of goods and services. They also agreed all trade activities would be conducted in accordance with the laws and in line with the applicable guidelines.
Both sides agreed that there would be expanded cooperation most particularly in the economic, trade and security sectors between the Puntland State of Somalia and the Somali National Regional State. The two sides underlined that contacts that Puntland State of Somalia has with Ethiopia at the Federal level can not replace the indispensable and vital relationship of cooperation and diverse activities between Puntland State of Somalia and the Somali National Regional State. The two sides affirmed their commitment to cooperating in good faith with each other in protecting the interests of each other in the security area so that those who seek to undermine the two sides, most particularly through terrorist activities and extremism would not succeed. The two sides agreed to fight against the terrorist groups ONLF, Al-Shabab and other groups that are used as instruments to undermine the Region’s development endeavors and the peace and security of Puntland.
The high level Puntland delegation also visited the development endeavors of the people and government of the Somali National Regional State. It also attended a graduation ceremony organized for members of the United Western Somali Liberation Front, who were given training on Ethiopian Constitution, Foreign and Security and other policies of the Ethiopian government in the economic social and political sectors.
Somalia has a new cabinet line up
The Prime Minister of Somalia is expected to announce a new cabinet line up. The cabinet is expected to include five Ministers from Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama, as per the agreement signed between The Transitional Federal Government and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa on 15 March 2010 at the African Union Head Quarters in Addis Ababa. Minor changes are expected in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Security. Yusuf Ibrahim Dheg is expected to come back to take up the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Abukar Abdi Osman will take up the Defense Ministry. The Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdiqadir Ali Omar will remain on the post. The former Speaker Sheikh Aden Madobe will take up one of the Deputy Premier posts in addition to a Ministerial post of Seaport and Sea Transport. Ahlu Suna is expected to take the Ministry of Security and Pacification, National Planning and International Cooperation, Ministry of Education as well as Ministry for Reconciliation and Ministry of DDR. The total number of the cabinet members is expected to be 39.
In the meantime, the security situation in Mogadishou has been deteriorating over the last few days requiring close monitoring.
Somaliland votes a new president
Somaliland’s Presidential elections were conducted peacefully and the results have been announced last night in Hargeisa by the Electoral Commission. The elections were peaceful, and successful. The people of Somaliland conducted an effective election by any standard. The results announced by the Electoral Commission have indicated that Kulmiye party secured 266,906 votes, UDUB 187,881 and UCID 92,459. A smooth transition is expected since the parties are showing readiness to accept the results.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia issued a statement congratulating the People of Somaliland. The statement indicated that the people of Somaliland once again demonstrated their sense of responsibility and commitment to maintaining the peace and stability of the country as well as its on-going democratization. It also added that the Somaliland political parties had remained true to this high standard of citizenship demonstrated by their people. The statement further emphasized that it did not matter who had prevailed in the election. “The winners are the people of Somaliland and they need to be congratulated,” added the statement.
Furthermore, the Ministry encouraged all concerned to respect the provisional results announced by the Electoral Commission. “If there are complaints, the proper legal procedures need to be followed,” the statement added. Full compliance to the rule of law is critical for Somaliland, for its peace and stability and for the success of its democratization. It assured the people of Somaliland that they can always count on the full support of the Government and People of Ethiopia as they continue to preserve their peace and stability and ensure the democratic process is protected.
The statement also conveyed the Government of Ethiopia’s tribute to the leaders of all political parties of Somaliland, “and in particular to President Dahir Rayale Kahin for his high sense of obligation to the people of Somaliland, their peace and democratization as well as to the leader of the winning party Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo for his magnanimity and for his commitment to rebuild on what has been achieved in Somaliland over the years.”
The 18th Ordinary Meeting of the Nile Council of Ministers conducted
The 18th ordinary meeting of the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) in charge of Water Affairs from the nine Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) member countries was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 26-27 June 2010 under the theme “Working together for a better future”. The meeting was successfully concluded.
The purpose of the meeting was to review the progress report on the implementation of the just ending budget year activities of the NBI and approve the work plan and budget for the financial year 2010/2011. The Meeting was attended by Nile-COM Members from Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Burundi was represented by its Embassy in Ethiopia; D R Congo was represented by the Chief of Cabinet of the Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism. The Nile-TAC Members, other senior government officers, Management and Staff of the NBI, as well as Representatives of Development Partners, attended the meeting.
The meeting was officially opened by Ambassador Teshome Toga, Speaker of the House of Peoples Representatives’ of Ethiopia, who welcomed participants to Addis Ababa and wished the Nile-COM fruitful deliberations. The Speaker noted that Ethiopia had been an active supporter and promoter of global and regional cooperation and as such was a founding member of the UN and OAU/AU, among others, and also continued to strongly support regional cooperation including the NBI process. He further noted that through the sub-basin programs and projects targeting poverty eradication, reversal of environmental degradation and promotion of socio-economic development, the NBI had realized many gains within a short time, and stressed that there would be further gains if we continued to cooperate.
Ato Asfaw Dingamo, Minister of Water Resources of Ethiopia and incoming chair of the Nile-COM, Dr. Mohamed Nasr El Din Allam, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt and outgoing Nile-COM Chair, Dr. Barbara Miller, Nile Program Coordinator at the World Bank, , and Ms Henriette Ndombe, Executive Director of the NBI Secretariat made their respective statements.
The meeting was preceded by the 31st Nile Technical Advisory Committee (Nile-TAC) meeting, which was officially opened, on 24 June 2010, by Mr. Abdoulahi Hassan Mohamed, Special Advisor to the Minister of Water Resources of Ethiopia. The Nile-TAC, having reviewed the progress report on the activities of the NBI and deliberating on its plan and budget for the financial year 2010/2011, which was submitted by the NBI Secretariat, prepared a report and submitted to the 18th Nile-COM meeting for consideration and approval.
The Nile-COM, accordingly, considered the report submitted to it during its meeting from 26-27 June 2010, and adopted the plan and budget of the NBI for the financial year 2010/2011 totaling USD 11,271,862. Based on the tradition of rotation within the NBI in alphabetic order, the chairmanship of the Nile-COM was transferred from Egypt to Ethiopia. Accordingly, Ato Asfaw Dingamo, Minister of Water resources of Ethiopia assumed office for a period of one year. Likewise, upon presentation by Egypt, Dr. Wael Khairy was appointed Executive Director of the NBI Secretariat for a period of two years effective 1st September, 2010 replacing the current Executive Director, Ms Henriette Ndombe who is from Democratic Republic of Congo.
Immediately before the adoption of the agenda of both the 31 Nile-TAC and the 18th Nile-COM meetings, Egypt and Sudan expressed their positions that “the signature by five States of the draft CFA has resulted in serious legal and institutional implications that threaten the very existence of the process of the NBI and its subsidiary action program centres”. Egypt and Sudan thus objected to the adoption of the agenda and to the discussion and approval of the budget and the action plan for the year 2010/2011, and insisted that addressing the legal and institutional implications of the signing of the CFA by certain States should be the only item of the agenda.
In response to the so-called legal and institutional implications of signing the CFA by five countries, Tanzania, supported by Burundi, D. R. Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda noted that while it was the sovereign right of the signatories of the CFA to do so and that the agreement had not yet been ratified to enter into force and create legal rights and obligations, it was not the appropriate forum for discussing CFA matters. The Nile-COM accordingly noted the objection of Egypt and Sudan and went ahead and adopted the agenda and approved the items as included in the various sections of that agenda.
In addressing the requests of Egypt and Sudan to deal with the legal and institutional implications of the signing the CFA by five countries, the five countries stressed that there is no way for them to go back to renegotiating the text of the CFA, which had already been concluded, and that the signed agreement could not be unsigned. However, the seven upper riparian countries agreed to hold an extra-ordinary meeting of the Nile-Com at a time and place to be decided in due course, to discuss what Egypt and Sudan called the legal and institutional implications of signing of the CFA.
Eritrea’s Information Minister has “no comment” on the Agreement with Djibouti
We have been commenting on the nature and implications of the deal Eritrea and Djibouti struck earlier this month to end their two-year border dispute. It was a move that caught most analysts by surprise because it was out of character for Eritrea to submit to a negotiated settlement of disputes resorting instead, as it often had, to belligerent posturing. We have also been remarking that the enthusiasm with which the news of Eritrea’s renewed good faith was received by the international community was perhaps a bit too optimistic. The lack of transparency with respect to the manner of the negotiations and the deafening silence of Eritrean officials regarding the agreement were indeed sources of scepticism, not to mention the fact that Eritrea has yet to commit itself to addressing the other two components of Resolution 1907.
It was clear that any decision by the international community to give Eritrea a clean bill of health must first take stock of the very issues that necessitated the resolutions in the first place. Eritrea must show unequivocally that it stands along the elements of peace in Somalia, not with extremists. It has to stop all its support to the likes of Al Shabab in their campaign of terror and destruction against the government and peoples of Somalia. At the very minimum, this would require that Eritrea recognize the TFG as the legitimate government of Somalia. Equally important, Eritrea has to stop all its destabilizing activities throughout the region. It was clear from the very nature of the regime that the mere signing of an agreement does not necessarily guarantee that Eritrea will desist from its destabilizing activities including against Djibouti.
UN Secretary General Ban Kin Moon, who is mandated to submit a report on the status of the implementation of the resolution soon, has recently made a statement with regard to the agreement in which he praised Eritrea for “taking steps in the right direction” while at the same time indicating that “Eritrea needs to do more” in order to fully satisfy the demands of the resolution. The Secretary General is right in insisting that Eritrea do more, but he should also emphasize that all the components of the resolution be fully met before sanctions are eased. In this regard, his remarks that Eritrea’s participation in the Istanbul conference amounted to a change of attitude towards the TFG and of readiness to play a constructive role in the region is naïve at best.
In fact, Eritrea has made it clear that was never its intention. In a letter the Eritrean permanent representative to the UN wrote in response to the Secretary General’s report, it has made it clear that Eritrea has not changed its position with regard to the legitimacy of the TFG or the peace process in the country, laying to rest whatever optimism people may have had in this regard. While he is at it, the Eritrean official also denied that his country had ever invaded Djibouti though ironically he confirms once again that his country signed the agreement with the facilitation of the government of Qatar, whose good offices, according to the official, “were first requested by Djibouti.” The subtext is all too clear: Eritrea did not ask for it. After all, the government still denies it ever invaded Djibouti territory. It is not at all clear if the government in Asmara sincerely believes the agreement means anything at all. Eritrea’s Information Minister’s response to queries from the Reuters news agency to say a word on the agreement was very telling: “no comment”. So much for Eritrea’s renewed good faith.
Jason McClure’ Cold-War mentality
The successful completion of the May 2010 elections in Ethiopia has certainly been received with a high level of enthusiasm by the great majority of the Ethiopian population. The widespread rallies that millions of people in different parts of the country made in the aftermath of the peaceful conduct of the election were clear indications of the amount of enthusiasm the results had generated. But then again, this was not entirely surprising after all; it was in large measure a reflection of the extent to which the peoples of Ethiopia take the process seriously and the manifestation of the unflinching resolve of Ethiopians to own the process. There also appears to be a near unanimous agreement among various stakeholders in the political process to view the results of the election in a favorable light irrespective of the relative performance of the contending parties. Even the staunchest of the government’s detractors within the opposition seem to have come to terms with the assessment that the results are as much reflections of the incumbent’s track record in development as they are the result of peoples’ disenchantment with the zero-sum politics of the opposition. To the extent that the rather wide margin by which the incumbent won the election is relevant, it is in the unequivocal message it sends to both the winners and losers alike that the mandate of the peoples of Ethiopia can be won only by a proven commitment to improving their lots through hard work than by mere sloganeering and propagation of hate. The reason why most gloomy predictions by too many western pundits of a post-election Armageddon rang abysmally hollow has everything to do with the commitment and vigilance of the peoples of Ethiopia to see their will respected. Those who might doubt the sincerity of the peoples’ resolve for democracy and good governance are certainly in for disappointment.
Jason McClure of Bloomberg news—along with the coterie of interest groups he represents, of course—is one such people. He has long since crossed swords with sworn detractors of the whole economic and political developments in the country and has seldom missed an opportunity to paint the government of Ethiopia in the ugliest of light possible. His almost daily doodles on the web have always been selectively negative. In a recent report he wrote to the Newsweek (June 18, 2010), presumptuously entitled “why Democracy Isn’t Working”, he has once again engaged in yet another mud-slinging campaign against the Ethiopian government. In a style typical of his previous reports, he draws pervasive conclusions on the basis of one or two observations colored by his own bias. While his latest article is supposedly meant to show the trend throughout Africa towards what he calls ‘a new age of authoritarianism’, its main thrust, however, is an unmitigated campaign to discredit the recent political developments in Ethiopia particularly the results of the election. Mr. McClure’s penchant for hyperbole and downright fabrication is quite phenomenal. His visceral hostility to the government of Ethiopia coupled with his proclivity to offer his services to anyone out to get the government has rendered his judgment all too skewed apparently beyond repair. His explanation as to why hundreds of thousands of people in the capital went out on a rally in support of the EPRDF, for example, was an outright lie that would put even the most ardent of the government’s detractors to shame. People, he tells us, “were paid the equivalent of a day’s wage for a few hours of shouting against Human Rights Watch”. What this shows of course is the extent to which he is willing to go to tarnish the government’s image even if he has to fabricate the most outrageous of lies. But more importantly, such remarks also betray his deep-seated contempt for the people who took it upon themselves to go out in droves to express their desires to have their will respected by the likes of Mr. McClure.
It is not for the first time that Mr. McClure got involved in an out and out smear campaign against Ethiopia. He has in several occasions colluded with the most rejectionist elements of the opposition in trying to create—even succeeding to do so—a media circus contrived to muddy the waters of the electoral process long before campaign had been properly begun. In his latest report too, he cites dubious sources to make his mendacious claims plausible. It is difficult—even unnecessary—to respond to every mendacious allegation that Mr. McClure makes in his recent article. That would be a tall order. But one inescapable conclusion is that his is a mentality that belongs in the cold-war era, putting as it does higher premium on using any leverage that comes with aid to effect changes in the political structures of recipients for the sake of serving narrow ideological interests. His view of democracy for instance leaves no room whatsoever for the natives to manage their own affairs. It has to be consonant with some pre-packaged matrix to be dictated by the ideological high priests of the orthodoxy Mr. McClure’s handlers preach.
Clearly, Mr. McClure has been frustrated by the generous outpouring of public support to the incumbent as displayed in the rallies by millions of people throughout Ethiopia and more particularly in the capital. These developments certainly run counter with the kind of Armageddon scenario the likes of HRW would have us believe the country would be unless the opposition won. His involvement in reporting about the state of democracy in Ethiopia is apparently informed by his fancying himself as having the central role to play. If that sounds too much of an overreach a foreign correspondent can ill afford, Mr. McClure would accept none of it. His zeal to denigrate every development—however positive, borders on the messianic. But his frustration is likely to continue to mount—and along with it his hysterical postings—with each passing day as Ethiopia marches triumphantly along in its fight against poverty.
One final statement is in order. McClure is a disgrace for journalism. Though he insinuates in his article that there is no free press in Ethiopia, he probably has never enjoyed as much freedom to write as he wished as those reporters in Ethiopia writing for Fortune, the Reporter and the Capital.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs