A Week in the Horn (08.01.2010)


  • Al-Shabaab attempts to internationalize itself; the need to act now on Somalia

    At the beginning of the week, there was heavy fighting at Dusa Mareb, in Galgadud region of central Somalia. The extremist opposition group, Al-Shabaab, made an attempt to retake the town from which it had been expelled by Ahlu Sunna wal-Jama’a just over a year ago. In recent months, Ahlu Sunna has increasingly become a major challenge to extremism in Somalia opposing both Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam and co-operating with the Government in a number of areas. Last week, it opened a congress in Abudwak, not far from Dusa Mareb, to choose a formal leadership and organize a proper structure as part of a process to pave the way for consolidating its place in central Somalia and lay down a foundation for it to reach full understanding and cooperation with the Government for action against Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

    Al-Shabaab’s attack on Dusa Mareb was apparently intended to try to disrupt Ahlu Suna’s congress as well as retake the town. It briefly succeeded in over-running the town but within a few hours Ahlu Sunna reinforcements chased Al-Shabaab out, causing it over 70 casualties and capturing numerous weapons. It has been suggested, by some US commentators, that Al-Shabaab has been trying to ‘encircle’ Mogadishu by infiltrating into central regions again. If so, the defeat at Dusa Mareb, in addition to denting Al-Shabaab’s morale, suggests it will need to rethink its strategy. Al-Shabaab’s attack was meant to be coordinated with Hizbul Islam forces from neighboring Hiiraan region but these never arrived.

    Al-Shabaab, following claims that hundreds of its fighters have completed military training in Mogadishu, has now announced it is planning to intensify its fight against the Government and in particular against AMISOM and its 5,200 troops in Mogadishu. AMISOM’s mandate from the AU is due to expire on January 17, and in today’s meeting the AU Peace and Security Council recommends its renewal. UN Security Council authorization for the mission, provided in Resolution 1872 (May 2009) also expires at the end of the month. The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss a report from the Secretary-General on Somalia at the end of the month. This is expected to provide an assessment of progress towards implementing a three stage approach to Somalia, including the possibility of a UN Peacekeeping Force. This, of course, is something that has been under consideration now for over a year.

    Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have previously threatened to launch terrorist attacks on Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and even further afield. Evidence for the growing internationalization of Al-Shabaab can be seen in recent terrorist attacks including its attempt to attack an Australian military base a few months ago, and the suicide bombing in Mogadishu last month carried out by a Danish resident of Somali origin; last week, another Somali with apparent links to Al-Shabaab attempted the murder of a Danish Cartoonist; and a Swedish artist received threats from Somalia. A Hizbul Islam spokesman in Hiiraan, Sheikh Shuriye Afrah, who claimed Ethiopian forces had been responsible for attacks on Hizbul Islam near Belet Weyne, said Hizbul Islam was now preparing to launch attacks into Ethiopia. Al-Shabaab has specifically offered to send reinforcements to Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen; two boatloads of arms arrived in Kismayo last week from Yemen.

    Now the World Food Program (WFP) has been forced to suspend much of its work in southern Somalia in the face of threats against its staff and unacceptable demands by Al-Shabaab. Last November, Al-Shabaab told WFP that it must remove women from all jobs within the organization. It also demanded a regular six-monthly payment, of US$20,000, to cover “security”. A little later it told WFP that it, and all those who worked for it, must cease operations on January 1st. In December, a WFP security officer was shot and killed in Belet Weyne, and faced by this ultimatum, WFP complied for the safety of its staff. WFP offices in six towns have now been closed and food supplies, staff and equipment have been moved to safer areas under Government or Ahlu Sunna control. According to WFP this has severely disrupted its ability to reach many of the most vulnerable areas of the south. An Al-Shabaab spokesman in Kismayo, Sheikh Ibrahim Garweyn, said he was delighted that WFP and “other spy agencies” had suspended their food distribution and other activities in Somalia. Despite the present drought and widespread food shortages affecting much of Somalia, Sheikh Ibrahim dismissed the current problems, claiming “we have great land and can grow our own crops”. Another Al-Shabaab spokesman in Mogadishu subsequently claimed Al-Shabaab had not asked WFP to leave nor had it demanded payments for “security”.

    All this underlines the fact, whatever some western ‘experts’ on Somalia might still think, that neither Al-Shabaab nor Hizbul Islam have any intention of engaging in dialogue or of moderating their activities. Their policies have in fact been quite consistent in their determination to overthrow the Government of Somalia by whatever means possible and set up their own extremist regime in Somalia, an approach shared by their main foreign supporter in Asmara. The international community should now be in absolutely no doubt about the dangers of the terrorist threats emanating from Somalia. It is not too late for it to respond to these though time is certainly running out. In the last few days the office of Mr. Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister has been quoted as saying that both he and President Obama now believe that a larger peacekeeping force is required in Somalia and that they will support this when the issue next comes up at the UN Security Council.

    It would be premature to welcome this in light of the long and still continuing process of consideration of a UN peacekeeping force for Somalia. There is no doubt that in addition to speeding up consideration of a UN Peacekeeping force, the international community also needs to act urgently to strengthen the Somali Government and its allies, including Ahlu Sunna, to fulfill its promised pledges of assistance, and to provide training, logistics and finance, and diplomatic support to the Government. AMISOM must be strengthened and raised to its planned capacity of 8000 troops. The administration in the autonomous region of Puntland, coming under increasing efforts at destabilization by extremists and pirates, deserves concrete support from the international community. Equally, the international community needs to engage, support and assist Somaliland to hold a successful democratic and peaceful election, and provide for a smooth transition to ensure continued peace and stability there. The current situation in fact provides a critical, as well as an opportune occasion for the international community to engage fully with Somalia and create a real possibility to establish the TFG on firm ground.


  • The AU Peace and Security Council welcomes sanctions on Eritrea

    The Peace and Security Council of the African Union held its 214th meeting in Addis Ababa today. Among those present were the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Ahmedou Ould-Abdullah, the representative from the IGAD Facilitators Office and the Ambassador of the Arab League. The meeting was given an extensive briefing on the report of the AU Commission Chairperson on Somalia by Commissioner Lamamra, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security. He highlighted the political situation, the need for support and capacity building for the TFG, the recent Security Council sanctions against Eritrea, and the overall security and humanitarian situation as well as the deployment of AMISOM, force generation and support from AU partners. Noting that the TFG had shown its commitment to dialogue and reconciliation, he stressed it was imperative for the international community to demonstrate to the leadership of Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam that there would be a day of reckoning for the deaths, misery and suffering they had brought upon the innocent civilians of Somalia. He pointed out that their terrorist actions of suicide bombings, targeted assassinations, forced displacements of civilians and shelling of residential areas constituted crimes against humanity.

    Ethiopia is the current chairperson of IGAD, and Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Ambassador Kongit Sinegiorgis, also made a statement to the Council, stressing that the Djibouti Peace Process was the sole basis for continuous reconciliation efforts in Somalia and IGAD’s belief that the TFG was the fulcrum for all peace and reconciliation activities in Somalia. She paid tribute to the sacrifices of the AMISOM troop contributing countries, and welcomed the Security Council resolution 1907 imposing sanctions on Eritrea as giving a right signal to those who are opposed to peace and stability in Somalia. She did, however, note with regret that support by the international community for Somalia was “very, very minimal.”

    In its communiqué the Peace and Security Council reaffirms the AU support for the TFG and reiterates its strong condemnation of continued acts of terror against the TFG, the people of Somalia and AMISOM. It welcomes UN Security Council resolution 1907 against Eritrea and calls on the Sanctions Committee to urgently designate the relevant Eritrean military and political leaders to enable an effective sanction regime to be implemented. It also calls on the Security Council to act speedily on the Council’s earlier call for a no-fly zone and a blockade of ports to prevent the entry of foreign elements and of logistical supplies for the opponents of the TFG. It welcomed IGAD’s adoption last December of a Comprehensive Strategy for Somalia to support the Djibouti process and rebuild government structures and institutions. It underlined the need for support for AMISOM, calling on AU members, and the international community, to demonstrate increased levels of commitment to the overall peace process. It also reiterated its call to the United Nations Security Council to take the necessary steps for the UN to play a role commensurate with the gravity of the situation in Somalia. These included putting in place the necessary legal, budgetary and organizational arrangements and transforming AMISOM into a UN peacekeeping operation. In the meantime, it also decided to renew the mandate of AMISOM for a further 12 months as of January 17th.


  • International aid and assistance for Yemen, why not Somalia?

    The recent attempt to blow up a US North West Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, that is al-Qaeda in Yemen, has made Yemen the focus of international anti-terrorist activity. Britain and the US which temporarily closed their embassies in Sana’a have now announced substantial increases in assistance to Yemen. British aid to Yemen is due to more than double from this year; and the US has indicated it will be doubling its security assistance, currently standing at US $70 million. The US already provides substantial training and military equipment to Yemen, and the Yemeni Government has indeed had two recent successes on December 24 and December 17 against al-Qaeda units. The US and the UK have now agreed to fund the creation of a counter-terrorism police unit in Yemen as part of their efforts to fight terrorism there. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called a conference in London for the end of the month to discuss how to combat radicalism in Yemen. Prime Minister Brown said he wants EU foreign ministers to discuss Yemen at their next meeting at the end of January. All this must certainly be welcomed.

    Prime Minister Brown also said he would like the EU foreign ministers to discuss Somalia as well. Although there is an international obligation to co-operate against terrorism and terrorist activities, Somalia still seems to be something of an afterthought despite the self-evident growth of terrorist activity there in recent months. The recent actions of Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia have led to the deaths of hundreds of people in a whole series of terrorist atrocities over the last two years, most recently on December 3rd, when a dozen or so of the first doctors to graduate in Somalia for some twenty years were killed by a suicide bomber. There have been expressions of regret but little other positive identifiable reaction from the international community. Similarly, despite clear indications that Somali piracy and the activities in the maritime world are no more than a symptom of events on land, the international community has largely confined its efforts to escorting its own ships through danger areas.

    Inevitably, there has been concern in the developing world that a real double standard is in operation. When terrorist actions take place in other parts of the world, we certainly respond. We are very aware that there is an international obligation to assist in anti-terrorist operations. The contrast with the response to terrorist actions in say Ethiopia has been marked with a tendency not to take such actions seriously however many people are killed. Terrorist activities in the developing world are often seen as almost expected, not to be taken too seriously, and even ignored. There is no doubt this has weakened the overall international response to terrorism, and made it far harder to deal with it. Ethiopia, for example, saw the dangers posed by the terrorist actions of Al-Itihaad Al Islamiya inside Ethiopia in 1996-1997, and the potential links with other terrorist organizations outside the Horn of Africa. It sounded a warning right after 9/11 that al Qaeda might move its operations to Yemen and Somalia from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, following the sustained international financial and military crackdown against al Qaeda. It has frequently publicized the activities of Al-Shabaab, a known al Qaeda affiliate, for the last two years, but there has been little interest, and little response.

    It may be that the trend is now changing, following suicide attacks outside the Horn of Africa. There have been expressions of greater concern over the evidence that people from around the world have been appearing in Al-Shabaab camps in Somalia to be given training in terrorist operations, suicide bombings, assassinations, and other techniques. It is encouraging that the UN Security Council has at last recognized the threat posed by supporters of Al-Shabaab in Somalia, and finally imposed sanctions against Eritrea, but this can only be the first stage of dealing with the threat this training poses whether to the Horn of Africa, to Europe or to America. There does appear to be a double standard involved when one considers the lack of serious attention given to the actions of Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups in Somalia. If we are determined to deal with terrorism, and there can be no doubt that it is indeed an international scourge and a very real danger, then there is an obvious requirement for joint international action whenever and wherever it appears. Terrorism is terrorism wherever it occurs. A terrorist atrocity, a suicide bombing, an assassination, a roadside bomb or the targeting of innocent civilians is exactly the same whether it takes place in London, Washington, Baghdad, Addis Ababa, Mogadishu or Belet Weyne. There can be no distinction between any such activities. There is no such thing as domestic as opposed to international terrorism. All must be classified as terrorism.

    Certainly, the international community has failed to provide any real co-ordination and co-operation to deal with terrorism. We are paying for this failure today. If we are to deal with terrorism effectively, we need to provide a systematic and integrated international response, which will pre-empt any terrorist activity effectively or react to it as necessary, anywhere in the world. The developed world must accept that it has a responsibility to help deal with terrorist activity in the developing world and stop confining its interest to its own backyard. For many years, the world stood and watched events in Somalia; efforts to deal with the growth of terrorism in Somalia were minimal. The result was that Somalia grew into the dangerous incubator of terrorism that it has now become. There is today continuous and growing terrorist activity in Somalia and in the region – with Al-Shabaab offering support to al Qaeda in Yemen and threatening other countries in the Horn of Africa and in Africa and even more widely. Real progress against terrorism today will only take place if we all accept that terrorism is a real and immediate international problem. Terrorism is terrorism wherever and whenever it occurs. Terrorism in Somalia needs an immediate international response just as much. Resolution 1907 is a good beginning.


  • Eritrea’s regime remains prey to dangerous delusions of grandeur.

    Following the imposition of mandatory sanctions on Eritrea’s government by the UN Security Council, Eritrea’s leader has once again been making bizarre and outrageous allegations against third parties, deliberately distorting the reality behind Eritrea’s current predicament. In a by now characteristic diatribe against any and all who disagree with him, he called the sanctions imposed on Eritrea’s leaders, “shameful, misguided and illegal.” The one thing, incidentally, they cannot be under the UN Charter is illegal. Although the President of a country found liable for violation of the United Nations Charter in starting the war against Ethiopia in May 1998, he still has the temerity to call the sanctions imposed on Eritrea “a manifestation of failed adventurous policies”.

    In addition to devoting a considerable element of his New Year’s interview speech to attacking Ethiopia, in his usual self-contradictory manner, the President also claimed that the sanctions were not the ‘handwork’ of Ethiopia which he labeled a ‘servant entity’. He reserved responsibility for masterminding the imposition of sanctions to the US Administration, and more particularly to US intelligence agencies. He even went as far back as 1998 to blame these agencies as the instigators of the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict. He also detailed what he claimed were numerous acts of conspiracy woven by Eritrea’s enemies over the last eleven to twelve years intended, he said, to impede Eritrea’s economic, development and investment programs and its efforts to achieve food security. “Mercenary agents”, he added, were deployed to block the flow of foreign currency into Eritrea and to prevent it forming alliances with others.

    According to the President of Eritrea, Uganda in drafting the sanctions resolution was acting at the bidding of others merely to give ‘the false impression that Africa’ was behind the Security Council resolution. The fact, of course, is that the resolution was specifically called for, unanimously, by the African Union Summit at its last meeting in Sirte, Libya. The resolution for sanctions against Eritrea’s Government will indeed go down in history as an exemplary collaboration between a regional organization and the United Nations as envisaged under the Charter of the United Nations. Under Chapter 8 of the Charter, regional organizations like the African Union are expected to play a crucial role in the maintenance of international peace and security. This resolution makes the point very clearly. Consistent with its record in taking firm decisions on matters of peace and security affecting the African continent, the AU decided on the unprecedented step of calling on the Security Council to take action against one of its members. The resolution is a fitting tribute to the courage of the AU and its determination to take a firm stand when an irresponsible member refused to listen to the voices of reason and continued with its acts of destabilization in the Horn of Africa.

    True to form, Eritrea’s President did not stop at detailing his wild conspiracy theories. Apparently dreaming of escaping responsibility over accusations of his support to extremists in Somalia, he deliberately misrepresented the Security Council resolution and its intentions. The sanctions have been imposed on the Eritrean regime as a measure of last resort after it persistently rejected all efforts to make it see reason. It not only refused to accept any suggestions to alter its policies and all the efforts of regional organizations and others, in deliberate and arrogant defiance, it even hosted terrorists listed by the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee. Eritrea even boasted that it supported these elements and went so far as to call for attacks against the Security Council-mandated African Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia, AMISOM.

    The Eritrean Government hasn’t merely been accused of not recognizing the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia as Eritrea’s leader suggested, deliberately trying to confuse his own population. It is being held responsible for calling for, and encouraging, the actual destruction of a Government recognized and supported by the United Nations, the African Union, IGAD, the Arab League, the OIC and the rest of the international community. Despite the views of almost everybody else, and in a breathtaking display of arrogance, Eritrea’s President still persists in proclaiming that he, and he alone, holds the virtue of wisdom in this matter. This, it might be remembered, is leader of a country that has no common border with Somalia. Yet he still thinks he alone can see the merit of arming and organizing murderous extremist groups with direct connections to international terrorist organizations. The support of Eritrea’s regime to these extremist groups is not ‘a fabricated ploy’ as Eritrea’s President might wish the world to believe. It has been established in detail and with incontrovertible evidence by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Sanctions, and, indeed, out of the mouths of Eritrean officials themselves.

    The futile attempts of Eritrea’s President to find scapegoats for his quandary, a predicament of its own making, are even more blatant in regard to Eritrea’s dispute with Djibouti. Here again, Eritrea’s President alleges that the dispute was concocted by others. He apparently thinks that after invading and illegally occupying areas peacefully administered by a neighboring country the matter can be resolved merely by ‘mutual understanding and even arbitration.’ The belated Security Council sanctions on this matter are neither exaggerated nor a case of blackmail as the Eritrean President alleges in a blatant effort to distract attention from his own obviously aggressive conduct. Such claims only demonstrate that Eritrea’s regime is incapable of reforming its conduct. In short, it still thinks that it can continue with its policy of ‘shoot first and talk later’ at least as long as the victim does not complain. If the victim of its aggression raises objections, tries to contain or resolve the dispute peacefully or even raises the matter with the AU or IGAD as Djibouti did, then the Eritrean regime treats such action as a hostile act and reacts hysterically. In this case, it refused to heed appeals by the African Union, IGAD or the Arab League. It persistently refused to accept fact-finding missions from these bodies or from the UN, and ignored a resolution of the Security Council demanding Eritrea withdraw from areas it had occupied, recognize the existence of its border dispute with Djibouti and settle the issue peacefully. To respond to mediation efforts by calling the Government of Djibouti a “tool for destabilizing regional peace in order to secure handouts from Washington” was hardly helpful. The Eritrean leadership and its President really should know by now that they can’t persistently act outside international law without any cost. Now is the time that they are being held responsible for their own actions.

    Eritrea’s President knows full well that his lengthy, largely irrelevant and paranoid diatribe will have no impact on the international community, which is demanding compliance with the resolution not the lame excuses, insults and diversionary tactics he has offered. His purpose, of course, is to try to rally support from Eritrean nationals, particularly those in the Diaspora on whom he has been counting to keep his machinery of oppression oiled and afloat in recent years, however inadvertently or unwillingly. The Security Council resolution now makes such funding of Eritrea’s war machine, either by Eritrean nationals or by other parties, illegal. Anybody violating the sanctions now becomes criminally liable. Eritrea’s President can no longer continue with his efforts to manipulate fear of external threats to get support. Indeed, the continued influx of young people to Ethiopia and the Sudan show just how desperately the Eritrean people are trying to free themselves from the brutal tyranny which holds their country in thrall.

    The sanctions imposed by the Security Council under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter are binding on all members of the United Nations. Eritrea’s President may call the United Nations “an outdated entity whose structure and organizational set up do not correspond with the 21st century”, and claim it is responsible for most of the world’s problems, but at the end of the day, the Eritrean leadership has no choice but to comply with the demands of the Security Council. It must show demonstrable compliance with the Security Council resolution and convince the Sanctions Committee of the Security Council of its return to compliance with the Charter of the United Nations without any prevarication. The sooner it does so, the greater the benefit to Eritrea and to the Horn of Africa.


  • Ensuring the integrity of the upcoming elections: challenges within and without

    In five months, Ethiopians will go to the polls to cast their votes in the 4th national and regional elections to elect representatives to both the Federal and Regional Parliaments. Registration of candidates began on December 25th and carries on until February 2nd when financial subsidies will be allocated to the parties on the basis of numbers of registered candidates. Although election fever is so far muted, major developments have already shown the desire of all Ethiopians not to have any repeat of the aftermath of the 2005 elections. In an unprecedented move, the EPRDF and four other opposition parties reached a ground-breaking agreement, rightly called historic, especially when one looks back at the track record of Ethiopian political parties and their behavior not so long ago, for an election Code of Conduct to be the guide to determine all aspects of the up-coming elections and to make these elections and their outcome, peaceful, fair and acceptable in the eyes of the electorate. That Code, subsequently supported by 60 other political parties, has now been promulgated into law by the House of People’s Representatives. Only the Ethiopian Federalist Democratic Unity Forum has yet to sign up to the Code, though it is, of course, bound by its provisions now that the Code has become law.

    Last week, the parties also agreed another controversial issue, the allocation of airtime for the contesting parties during the campaign. It took three days of intense negotiations to agree a formula for media usage. This is based on the size of current representation in Parliament and the number of candidates each party is putting forward, with a final 25% of time to be shared equally between all parties. There are still some details to be ironed out over the transmission of policy debates. Live transmissions dramatically changed the face of electoral politics at the last national and federal elections. They were, however, also characterized in part by unverified allegations and counter-allegations as well as highly personal attacks on the character of some participants. This time it can be expected that the Code of Conduct will deal with any concerns over the discipline and structure of the debates.

    All this raises expectations that Ethiopian political parties have at last departed from their old habits of excessively rancorous relationships, and now understand and accept how political discourse should be handled. There is no doubt the country has come a long way from the earlier attitude of hard-line political parties effectively bent on destroying themselves. We can realistically see the appearance of a flourishing democratic system dawning in Ethiopia, but that doesn’t mean we can, or should, relax our vigilance. We need to remain prepared to respond quickly and decisively to any challenges to our efforts at democratization and to the building of a stable democratic system in this country. Some of these challenges have emanated from home-grown terrorist elements which have tried to change the course of events inside Ethiopia, refusing to be a part of the process of democratization. The most recent episodes of this kind were the attempts at a violent challenge posed by Ginbot 7, and other advocates of “color revolutions.”

    The latest gambits by such groups, attempting to pose direct challenges to democratization and create a threat to a stable democracy, have been encouraged, supported, and even managed, by the Government of Eritrea which has been doing all it can to try to derail the democratization process in Ethiopia. The Eritrean leadership, of course, has resolutely set its face against any form of elections or democratic development, with the President saying firmly that elections have nothing to do with democracy, that the people of Eritrea do not want elections or political parties and that he personally did not believe either of these were likely to appear in Eritrea for many years, possibly not even in his lifetime. Eritrean government involvement in efforts to destabilize Ethiopia’s electoral process is no surprise to those who follow events in and around Ethiopia, and the Horn region in any detail. One only has to look back at what has transpired over the last decade and a half and at the wars of aggression unleashed by Eritrea against the countries of the Horn and indeed across the Red Sea, in Yemen.

    Several of these previous attempts of the Eritrean regime to destabilize its neighbors ended with Eritrea being given some hard lessons, but it seemed to have learned little. It has continued with its old behavior, forcing, IGAD, then the African Union and finally the United Nations Security Council to tell Eritrea’s leaders, unambiguously, that they cannot be allowed to continue to wreak havoc in the countries of the Horn, and more especially in Somalia and Djibouti. This reaction by the international community towards the intransigence of Eritrea’s President has taken far too long to evolve, but it has now culminated in the imposition of sanctions against Eritrea’s leadership by the Security Council. It followed repeated calls by the international community requesting President Issayas to desist from activities that were a clear and present danger to the stability of the whole region.

    The destabilization strategies of the Eritrean regime against Ethiopia, and other states, were summed up in paragraph 15 of the Security Council resolution: “…providing support from Eritrea to armed opposition groups which aim to destabilize the region; harboring, financing, facilitating, supporting, organizing, training, or inciting individuals or groups to perpetrate acts of violence or terrorist acts against other States and their citizens in the region”. These include former elements of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, the most intransigent group of which, Ginbot 7, has committed itself to change the constitutional order in Ethiopia by violent means. There is credible evidence that there have been frequent contacts between the Eritrean regime and Ginbot 7 in recent months, and it now appears it is being used as a platform by the Eritrean regime to try to continue with destabilizing activities in the run-up to the elections. The Eritrean Government has also made it clear that it is trying to bring together a number of the Ethiopian opposition groups which support armed struggle and terrorist activities.

    While this Eritrean Government strategy is hardly new, it is inevitably of some concern as federal and regional elections approach. It makes it all the more important that the elections are held in a manner that does not give surrogate extremist groups any room or any opportunity to obstruct the holding of a peaceful, transparent and credible election. The Code of Conduct and the agreement over media access are an excellent start.


Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs