The TFG Parliament endorses the new Cabinet
The names of ministers announced by Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed were finally and officially endorsed by Parliament as the Council of Ministers of the TFG on November 27th. The process of voting held shed light on improved working relations between the President and the Speaker, even though some MPs still expressed reservations on the way the voting was conducted. There has been a growing fear that the Cabinet would simply not be able to get the required number of votes in the Parliament. 276 was the number of MPs needed for the quorum requirement. Two days before the session on Saturday, the Speaker made it clear he wanted to see the approval of the Cabinet, talking to leaders of groups in the Parliament. On Saturday when he convened the Parliamentary session there were a total of 343 MPs in attendance. Immediately the Speaker called for a vote on whether the approval of the Cabinet should be carried by an open or secret vote. Although the margin was small, the MPs made it clear they wanted an open vote.
Before the vote the Speaker announced that as some seventy two MPs had failed to attend Parliamentary sessions for more than a year, they had been stripped of their voting rights. This meant that the numbers required for a quorum on the vote for approval of the ministers fell from 275 plus 1, to 247, “since the total number of the MPs [with voting rights] dropped from 550 to 478”. The Speaker then took the vote for the approval of the Cabinet. 251 voted in favor with 92 votes against. Following this formal approval of the Council of Ministers by Parliament, the Speaker declared the closure of the session. The new ministers were then summoned to the State House to be sworn in. Their endorsement would remove one of the major hurdles that have been delaying the TFG’s efforts to accomplish the remaining tasks of the transitional period which ends next August. The new Cabinet is expected to speedily implement priority transitional tasks including creating a consensus of approval of the Government’s road-map for the transition, as well as establishing key commissions like those which will have to deal with a census, and elections. Other issues that have to be completed include the process for approval of the draft Constitution, the preparation and legislation of the budget, reform of the security sector, regaining the trust of international donors, and the mobilization resources from internal and external sources among others.
Meanwhile, fighting between Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a and Al-Shabaab in the remote village of Wara-dhumale, eighty five kilometers east of Gure’el town, an important Ahlu Sunna base, has been continuing. The fighting started over a week ago. Two trucks on an Al-Shabaab supply route from Mogadishu were ambushed and blown up, one carrying ammunition, the other food supplies. Both were destroyed and some 20 Al-Shabaab fighters killed. Al-Shabaab had been in the process of building up its forces for an advance against Ahlu Sunna positions but Ahlu Sunna forces were able to surround Al-Shabaab fighters in the area, cutting off their supplies and reinforcements. Some remain besieged, but hundreds of Al-Shabaab fighters have been killed. Sources on the ground have confirmed that among Al-Shabaab casualties have been a number of Al-Shabaab’s leading foreign officers, including two Americans, two Nigerians, two Pakistanis, one Afghanistan and five Kenyans. A number of senior Al-Shabaab Somali officials have also been killed or injured among them Hamza, Al-Shabaab’s Governor for Bay and Bakool regions, and Ali Hussein Sabriye, head of Al-Shabaab’s explosives unit. Both were from the Hawadle clan. Two other senior Al-Shabaab officers from the Ayr/Habr Gidir/Hawiye clan, Asad and Hassan Afrah, were also killed; Al-Shabaab’s governor for the Galgadud region was seriously wounded and is now hospitalized in Mogadishu.
Wara-dhumale is only a small village but it has a strategic position at the center of a triangle connecting Galgadud, Hiran and Middle Shebelle regions, where several sub-clans of the Hawiye, the Ayr, Hawadle, Murusade and Waes’le, all come together. Al-Shabaab had been trying to mobilize substantial forces in this area, drawing forces from Hiran and Middle Shebelle regions to make a last attempt to advance on Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a’s base at Gure’el. The plan appears to have been a complete failure, allowing Ahlu Sunna to demonstrate its determination and its competence in conflict as well as its ability to strengthen its own political and administrative organization. Its success should encourage the international community to assist Ahlu Sunna and support its struggle against Al-Shabaab and terrorism in central Somalia.
President Museveni visits Ugandan troops in Somalia; the UN Security Council considers strengthening AMISOM
Less than twenty four hours after the vote of confidence in the new council of ministers in Mogadishu, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda paid a working visit to the city, meeting with President Sharif Sheikh, and with the Speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and other ministers. President Museveni, who was accompanied by his wife, toured AMISOM camps in the city and held discussions with Ugandan officers in AMISOM. President Museveni, who was wearing combat uniform, said that he came to visit the Ugandan troops and had found their morale to be “very high”. He was quoted as saying that Somalia needed more troops. International support was not enough; the international community “did not take the Somali problem seriously enough.” Uganda with Burundi provides all of the just over 8,000 AMISOM troops now in Mogadishu. Another Burundi battalion arrived on Wednesday bringing AMISOM up to its mandated strength. Both IGAD and the AU have however made it clear they would like to see the ceiling for AMISOM forces significantly increased to 20,000.
On Monday, the UN Security Council reviewed the situation in Somalia. The UK held the Security Council Presidency for November, and its Permanent Representative, Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, said after the meeting that the Security Council had voiced its full support for the TFG and for the Djibouti peace process. He said that the Council “urged the TFG to remain united and redouble its efforts on reconciliation and the completion of the remaining transitional tasks, in particular the constitution-making process.” The Security Council discussed the measures needed to be taken to strengthen AMISOM and increase its numbers to 12,000. There was agreement on increasing the size of the AMISOM forces but before any such increase is finalized, the Council will need to decide whether the budget will be covered by assessed contributions or from the trust fund budget intended for this purpose.
The Security Council also heard reports from the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia and from the Chairman of the Monitoring Committee on Somalia and Eritrea. The Humanitarian Coordinator’s report made it clear the delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia remained “challenging but not impossible”. The report drew attention to the operating conditions imposed by Al-Shabaab and detailed the problems faced by Internally Displaced Peoples (an estimated 1.4 million). Two good rainy seasons, however, had meant the numbers needing emergency humanitarian assistance had dropped from 2.6 million to 2 million, that is just under 30% of the population. The report details the various strategies introduced to mitigate potential politicization, misuse or misappropriation of humanitarian aid, which generally appeared to be adequate. In conclusion, the report noted that humanitarian organizations remained involved despite the problems and that aid, though insufficient, was reaching those in need, most of whom resided in areas under the control of non-State armed actors, that is by Al-Shabaab.
The Chairman of the Monitoring Group Committee, reporting on the implementation of Resolution 1844, provided an overview of the Committee’s activity in the last four months. The Committee was working to provide more detailed and concrete evidence of violations of the Somali sanctions. In its October report, the Group confirmed the occurrence of a range of violations. The Group has now visited all the countries in the Horn of Africa as well as Egypt, Uganda and South Africa and several countries in Europe. It has written over thirty letters requesting information from member states and private sector companies. The Security Council welcomed the report and discussed the importance of following up the implementation of the sanctions regime.
The European Union – Africa Summit in Tripoli
The Third EU-Africa Summit was held in Tripoli on Monday and Tuesday this week under the theme “Investment, Economic Growth and Job Creation”. Dozens of Heads of State and Government from Europe and Africa converged on Tripoli. Ethiopia’s delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn. One prominent absentee was Sudan. Representatives of the Sudan made it clear that the Sudan government was disappointed by the EU pressure on Libya not to invite Sudan’s President Omar Hassen El-Beshir, and, according to Sudan’s Foreign Minister, President El-Bashir decided not to attend in order to avoid embarrassing Libya.
The EU-Africa forum is designed to address common challenges through their joint strategic partnership. To this end, the first and second EU-Africa Summits were held in 2000 and 2007 in Cairo and Lisbon respectively. The Cairo Summit dealt with issues of trade, debt, political issues, peace building, conflict prevention and development matters; the Lisbon Summit set in motion the partnership dialogue between Europe and Africa in a structured manner. The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, told the opening ceremony that what was important was what the EU and Africa could do together for the benefit of both continents, and Dr. Jean Ping, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that relations between the two continents had evolved considerably in terms of peace and security. He told the Summit that a peaceful world free from terrorism and piracy needed a prosperous Africa.
This third EU-Africa Summit in Tripoli mainly focused on six thematic areas of partnerships: Regional Integration, Infrastructure, ICT, Science and Private Sector Development; Energy, Climate Change, and Space; Millennium Development Goals, Agriculture and Food Security; Peace and Security; Governance and Human Rights; and Migration, Mobility and Job Creation. During the two days of deliberation, a number of leaders and representatives from both Africa and Europe delivered statements outlining the priorities of their governments.
On the partnership on Peace and Security, the Summit acknowledged that significant strides had been made compared to other thematic areas. In the discussion on conflicts in Africa, the Summit gave particular emphasis to the ongoing conflicts in Somalia and the Sudan. In its final declaration it emphasized the urgency and importance of implementing “in a timely, peaceful and credible manner” the referendum on South Sudan “whose results should be accepted by all”. All those who spoke called for concerted efforts to bring about peace and security in the continent, and the final declaration “firmly condemned all unconstitutional changes of governments”. Governance and Human Rights issues were given emphasis by some participants, and President Mugabe of Zimbabwe used the occasion to criticize European partners for their “double standard approach”. He urged them to refrain from using human rights and governance issues to dictate policies to African Governments.
After extensive discussions, the Summit adopted the 2nd Plan of Action and the Tripoli Declaration which also included a commitment to concluding the Economic Partnership Agreements, currently deadlocked over concerns of some countries that the EU is asking for the removal of barriers while doing too little to help assist in development of their economies. The European Union Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, told reporters that the EU was now committed to use flexibility in addressing these concerns. The Action Plan will, inter alia, aim to enhance political dialogue, facilitate the full operation of the African Peace and Security Architecture, and contribute to the mobilization of predictable funding for AU-mandated peace support operations. The venue and date of the next Summit which is expected to be held in Europe has yet to be decided.
In the margins of the Summit, the African Union Peace and Security Council, meeting at Heads of State and Government level, held its 250th session. The Council was briefed on the current peace making progress in the Sudan by the Chairperson of the AUHIP, Thabo Mbeki, by the Joint Representative of UNAMID and the representative of the Qatari Government. Kenya, as the chair of the sub-committee on the Sudan, submitted the Communiqué adopted by IGAD Heads of State and Government at their 16th Extraordinary Summit meeting on 23 November. In a press statement, the Council assured the Sudanese Parties of Africa’s full solidarity and support, and welcomed the IGAD communiqué, commending IGAD for its commitment to peace and security in the Sudan. It also expressed the AU’s confidence in the leadership of President Omar Hassan El-Bashir and First Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit to lead the Sudan into a new era of peace, regardless of the outcome of the referendum in January next year.
Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in India
A high level Ethiopian delegation led by Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, arrived in India on a visit on November 30th. The delegation included Ato Ahmed Tusa and Ato Ahmed Shide, the State Ministers of Trade and Finance, and of Economic Development respectively. Other officials from Ethiopia accompanied the delegation which will be spending several days in India.
The occasion of the visit is the first meeting of the India-Ethiopia Joint Ministerial Commission which took place on Wednesday and Thursday at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. The Indian delegation was led by Mr. S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs and included other officials from the Ministry of External Affairs and involved ministries. The two sides exchanged views on a number of bilateral and international affairs, making a comprehensive review of bilateral relations in trade, investment and cooperation covering such areas as science and technology, education, justice and other issues. A number of agreements have been signed. India is currently one of the largest foreign investors in Ethiopia with committed investments of over 4.4 billion dollars. It offers 40 scholarships for Ethiopian nationals in Indian universities and a hundred short term training courses under its capacity building program. Views were also exchanged on the India-African Forum Summit and the need for the implementation of decisions taken during the first Summit held in New Delhi in April 2008. The second Summit is due to be held in Africa next year.
During his visit Ato Hailemariam also met and held talks with Dr. Karan Singh, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Department of the National Congress Party, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Anand Sharma, and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. He visited the Indian Diplomatic Training Academy and held discussions with officials there. The Deputy Prime Minister also spoke at the Indian Council of World Affairs and to African Ambassadors and diplomats residing in New Delhi, and held meetings with business leaders representing various companies in Ethiopia, exchanging views on trade and the investment opportunities available in Ethiopia, and assuring them of the full support from the Ethiopian government for those involved in the country.
IGAD Ministers for Women and Gender Affairs meet in Addis Ababa
The 6th meeting of IGAD Ministers in charge of Women and Gender Affairs was held in Addis Ababa this week. It was preceded by a two day meeting of Gender Experts who noted the major achievements of the Gender Affairs program over the last two years, including the Situational Assessment on the Participation and Representation of Women in Decision Making Positions, commissioned in December last year; the IGAD Women Parliamentary Conference held in Addis Ababa in December 2009; a workshop to validate a Regional Strategy for Enhancing Representation of Women in Decision Making held in June in Nairobi; and the activities of the Gender Project Officer. The Gender Experts’ meeting also considered country situation reports and discussed the establishment of a Gender Peer Review mechanism. The experts’ report was considered and adopted by the Ministers who issued a Declaration at the end of their discussions on Monday and Tuesday.
The Ministers noted their concern with the marginalization of women in decision making positions, the lack of integration of gender in the new aid modalities, women affected by HIV/AIDS, the low coverage of reproductive health services as well as the high prevalence of harmful traditional practices that continue to jeopardize the health and well-being of women in the IGAD region. The Gender Experts made recommendations in all these areas and the Ministers committed themselves to implement their suggestions. They reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the IGAD Gender Policy and Strategy as well as to all gender equity and equality principles in regional and international protocols, and to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. They called upon development partners to support their initiatives. The Ministers also gave unreserved support to realize the Regional Strategy for Enhancing Representation for Women in Decision Making Positions, aiming for this to reach 50/50 by 2015; to develop a monitoring system to implement IGAD’s gender policy; and to the Gender Peer Review Mechanism. They also resolved to commit member states to additional funding towards implementation of MDG programs and to get the IGAD Secretariat to initiate a policy framework on gender and climate change. It was agreed that these commitments should be presented to the 13th IGAD Summit.
In a speech at the conclusion of the meeting, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs, Mrs. Firenesh Mekuria, welcomed the bold resolve and the commitments shown in the Declaration. She noted that the Declaration raised a number of questions over which policies, laws, systems, institutions and practices had to be overhauled in order to achieve the results they wanted; what capacity was needed on the ground and who would partner such actions. Addressing gender equality, she added, was first and foremost a political issue because it meant the necessity to address the foundations of social, political and economic power.
IGAD conference on regional challenges and prospects for peace and security
2010 was declared Year of Peace and Security in Africa by the African Union at its Tripoli Summit in August last year. As part of the year’s activities, IGAD organized a conference on “Challenges and Prospects of Peace and Security in the [IGAD] Region” in Nairobi, November 25th to 27th. The Conference was attended by representatives from the IGAD states: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Eritrea continues to suspend itself from the regional organization. Also participating were scholars from the region, representatives of the African Union, IGAD’s Conflict Early Warning Units (CEWERU), specialized offices and secretariat, and of IGAD development partners through their respective embassies.
The conference was energized by initiatives to encourage peace in Africa in general and peace and stability in the IGAD region in particular. A number of papers were presented and discussed, most reflecting on ways to improve the efforts to bring to an end the scourge of armed conflicts and political crises in the Horn of Africa. The meeting concluded with a declaration emphasizing the various issues that had been considered.
The conference appreciated gains made over the recent years towards peace and security in the region but emphasized that any progress made needed to be enhanced to deal with the currently emerging security concerns threatening peace and stability. It noted with deep concern challenges related to governance and the immediate threats posed by terrorism, drug trafficking, the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, piracy and other associated issues, as well as the long‐term challenges arising from these threats and from enduring poverty and instability in the Region.
Participants emphasized the roles that can be played by women, civil society organizations and the media in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace‐building. They reflected on the experiences of IGAD countries in conflict prevention and resolution, the lessons learnt from past experience including the peace processes in Somalia and Sudan, as well as the importance of harnessing indigenous knowledge for conflict prevention and resolution and of institutionalizing mediation efforts. They noted the importance of the intended contribution of the Regional Economic Communities to the implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).
The meeting discussed the need for collaborative approaches to peace and security threats in the Region, and agreed that the achievement of lasting peace in the Region and in Africa required closer coordination and consultation at all levels. It encouraged IGAD to organize events which could create a common understanding of the peace and security issues in the region and provide space for joint reflection and discussion on the issues. It advised IGAD to consider creating regular forums of stakeholders, including policy makers, academics, CSOs, the media, and regional peace, security and mediation officials for regular discussion and exchanges of views.
The conference requested IGAD to collaborate with other institutions in the region and more widely on peace and security issues. It proposed the establishment of a Mediation Support Unit as part of an effort to institutionalize and professionalize mediation in the IGAD Region. It called on IGAD to work hand-in-hand with the Nile Basin Initiative to deal with conflicts arising from shared resources. It underscored the need for IGAD to remain engaged with the peace processes in Sudan and Somalia and to draw lessons from the repeated efforts to bring about peace particularly in Somalia, in order to re-invigorate existing processes. The meeting also called on IGAD to promote the inclusion of peace and conflict studies in school curricula in IGAD member states, and to institute a process of documenting and promoting traditional and indigenous conflict resolution systems in the region.
Core Principles of Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy: Ethiopia-Nigeria relations
Ethiopia and Nigeria had long-standing relations even before Nigeria became independent in October 1960, and Ethiopia opened an embassy in Lagos in 1961. Now, of course, the embassy is in Abuja. Two years later Nigeria reciprocated, opening its embassy in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia and Nigeria have common interests in the consolidation of their bilateral relations. The two most populous countries in Africa with a combined population of well over 200 million, they are both multi-ethnic, multi-religious, federal democracies. Both are working to ensure democracy, good governance and sustainable development. From their earliest diplomatic dealings they have enjoyed warm bilateral relations and this has been encouraged by the visits of Prime Minister Meles to Nigeria in 1996 and of President Olesgun Obasanjo to Ethiopia in 2006. These, and other visits, have provided the basis for building up of cooperation in political, social and economic spheres as well as in trade, culture, investment, education, agriculture and other fields.
Ethiopia and Nigeria signed an agreement in June 2000 providing for Nigerian teachers for various universities and high schools in Ethiopia, and since then Ethiopia has been the leading beneficiary of Nigerian technical aid corps teachers. This has been particularly helpful in the Ministry of Education’s efforts to expand the number of universities throughout Ethiopia, bridging a gap with the provision of highly experienced teachers from Nigeria. It has been an excellent example of South/South relations. Earlier, under the late Emperor Haile Selassie, Addis Ababa University, one of the oldest in Africa, welcomed a number of Nigerian students during the liberation period. Similarly, in the early 1960s, a number of Nigerian military officers joined the Harar Military Academy, and more recently staff from the Nigerian Defense College have visited Ethiopian Defense Colleges to share experiences in the field of military hard-ware maintenance, pilot training and related military facilities. Ethiopian officers have made reciprocal visits.
During his visit to Ethiopia in 2006, President Obasanjo met with officials of the Ministry of Education and of Addis Ababa University. He also spoke to a joint session of Ethiopian and Nigerian business communities and encouraged them to become actively involved to bolster trade and investment relations. Agreements were signed to foster ties in trade “on the basis of equality and mutual benefit”, culture and tourism as well as a mutual recognition agreement on standardization. The visit was of great importance in the efforts of Ethiopia and Nigeria to work together in bilateral, regional and international issues. Both counties committed themselves to promote harmonious development and diversification of products to improve trade and investment links. They also agreed to arrange familiarization tours for culture and tourism professionals to benefit from each other’s expertise. An Ethiopian cultural troupe was in Nigeria in October to participate in Nigeria’s 50th anniversary celebrations and met with Nigeria’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation. A high level Ethiopian delegation, led by the former speaker of the House of People’s Representatives, attended the celebrations.
The first meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission also took place in 2006, and a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation was signed between the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs and various other agreements were signed at the end of the meeting in Addis Ababa. These agreements were hoped to provide the means for a framework for improving conditions for economic, industrial and technical cooperation, but progress has been more limited than expected or hoped.
On continental issues, Ethiopia and Nigeria have been and are working closely together to strengthen the Africa Union and its various organs. The Abuja Treaty, establishing Regional Economic Communities, is a clear testimony that both countries have been working successfully in their respective regions to consolidate the regional communities as founding blocks for further continental integration. Both are committed to the consolidation of the African agenda and the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment as they have demonstrated by their efforts within the framework of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). Both countries agree that sustainable development and democracy are unthinkable without the prevalence of peace and stability in Africa, and both have taken a number of initiatives to this end, working closely together as partners for peace and stability in Africa. Another example of this has been their respective support for peace keeping. Both have been, and continue to be, deeply involved in UN peace keeping operations in Africa and elsewhere.
Writing on the Core Principles of Ethiopia’s Foreign Police: Ethiopia-France relations in A Week in the Horn (26.11.2010) we said the last visit made by a French President to Ethiopia was by Charles de Gaulle in 1966. In fact, President Georges Pompidou also visited Ethiopia in January 1973. Our apologies for the omission.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs