The Second Africa-Arab Summit held in Sirte, Libya.
On Sunday (October 10th.) the Second Africa-Arab Summit took place in Sirte, Libya, more than three decades after the first such summit was held in March 1977 in Cairo. The Chairperson of that first Africa-Arab Summit, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, also addressed this meeting, as did Colonel Muammar Ghadafi, Current Chairman of the Arab Summit, Mr. Ali Bongo, President of Gabon and Vice Chairman of the African Union, Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. More than 60 African and Arab leaders attended.
Given the geographical, historical and cultural ties of the member states of the two regions (nine of the twenty-two member of the League of Arab States also belong to the African Union), the Summit agreed to reactivate the cooperation agreement reached during the first Africa-Arab Summit and to elevate it into a partnership strategy. As adopted by the Summit, this strategy provides long-term guidance to African and Arab countries and their regional institutions for the achievement of common objectives. The strategy defines the principles, objectives and areas of cooperation as well as implementation and follow-up mechanisms. These will involve a joint council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs to meet every 18 months and a Commission of Africa-Arab Partnership to provide an executive arm for the Summit, as well as various sectoral committees. A detailed Six-Year Action Plan (2011-2016) for priority areas was also produced: this covered cooperation in politics, peace and security; economic and financial issues, agriculture and food security, including climate change, and socio-cultural fields.
The strategy envisages upgrading the Africa-Arab political dialogue at all levels to foster a strong and sustainable region-to-region partnership, with the African Union and the League of Arab States providing essential institutional support. This should lead to the realization of durable peace and security in the two regions and more widely. In the economic field, the strategy aims to intensify Africa-Arab cooperation in finance, trade and other developmental fields on the basis of solidarity, interdependence and mutual benefit. It calls for the promotion of physical infrastructure as a prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable development, increased productivity and increased trade flows as well as inter-regional tourism and other people-to-people exchange. The strategy plans to build on the experiences of the two regions in linking bilateral and regional power grids. It will also provide for support and investment in the agricultural agenda of Africa, as set out in the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program, and in similar Arab programs.
The Summit adopted a Declaration enumerating areas of common interest regionally and internationally. It pronounced its support for the struggle of the Palestinian people and their inalienable right to self-determination. It expressed its concern over the continued acts of violence and terrorism in Somalia targeting civilians regardless of excuse or justification; it reaffirmed its full support for the Somali Federal Transitional Government (TFG), for the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability of Somalia and for the efforts to achieve national reconciliation. It welcomed the signing and implementation of the agreement concluded in Addis Ababa on March 15th between the Somali TFG and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a, and the TFG’s agreement with Puntland on April12th. At the previous day’s Extraordinary Arab Summit it was agreed to provide the TFG with US$ 10 million a month to enable it to operate state institutions and implement programs for security, stability and reconciliation.
The Summit expressed its appreciation of the role of AMISOM. It reaffirmed the need to support its deployment to contribute to maintain security and stability; it affirmed the importance of support to AMISOM and for increasing the size of AMISOM in accordance with the resolution adopted by the AU at the Kampala Summit. It reiterated the call for the international community and the UN Security Council to mobilize resources necessary to meet the challenge of Somalia and start planning for a new and enlarged stage of deployment for AMISOM.
On Sudan, the Summit affirmed the importance of completing negotiations for the post-referendum arrangements in South Sudan, in light of the Mekelle Memorandum of Understanding signed in June, and the outcome of the IGAD Summit of March, both of which underlined the need to ensure the full implementation of the CPA to ensure peace, close North-South cooperation, and protection of the rights of all Sudanese people regardless of the results of the Referendum on self determination which should be conducted with full transparency. On Darfur, the Summit expressed satisfaction with regional and international support for the ongoing peace negotiations.
The Summit also agreed to establish an Africa-Arab Fund for Disaster Response in an effort to jointly provide for natural or man-made calamities. The fund is expected to be financed from the budgets of the African Union and League of Arab States, as well as from contributions from African and Arab countries, civil society, private sector and partners.
The Summit underlined the fact that cooperation between Arab and African Countries can play an important role in bringing about sustainable peace and security in the region. The new strategy and its follow-up mechanisms should allow full implementation of the partnership in investment and trade by utilizing the potential that exists between the two regions. Given the current global financial and economic crisis as well as the crisis of food, a stronger partnership in investment, particularly in the agriculture sector, can be expected to contribute largely toward attainment of food security and sustainable development in the two regions. Full implementation of the agreed strategy and action plan can be expected to greatly benefit both regions, but both need to make sure that the agreements reached at the Summit are adhered to, and follow-up mechanisms implemented, unlike the case after the 1977 Summit.
The African Development Forum’s 7th session in Addis Ababa this week
This week the African Development Forum has been holding a week-long session in Addis Ababa on the theme of “Acting on Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa.” The Forum was created in 1999 by the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission to address development challenges in Africa and to establish a consensual Africa-driven development agenda for the continent. The meeting, the Forum’s seventh session, ended today, adopting a consensus statement covering key challenges and opportunities, and harnessing the means of response to climate change. This covered, inter alia, governance and leadership, awareness raising, the financing of adaptation and mitigation activities, science, technology and innovation, climate data and information, capacity building, and climate risk management, and Africa and international climate change negotiations, as well as various necessary sectoral actions dealing with climate change and infrastructural, social, and human development and governance, peace and security, and ecosystem sustainability. A final section detailed the way forward.
At the opening of the Forum, welcoming statements were made by UN Under-Secretary-General, Abdullahi Janneh, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Jean Ping, and the Forum was officially opened by President Girma Wolde Giorghis. The President noted that global warming might be a global phenomenon but “Africa was feeling the heat more than another other part of the world”. He appealed to the world to recognize this and take urgent action. Failure to do so would be a major injustice to millions of people in Africa who through no fault of their own are paying a heavy price for climate change. African leaders are fully aware of the magnitude of the threat posed by climate change and of the urgent and decisive response needed, of the need for collective, meaningful and durable action. The Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSOC) had provided the united political voice necessary for climate change negotiations. The President said it was important for industrialized countries to subscribe to ambitious cuts in green house gas emissions. President Girma noted that Africa had already made heavy sacrifices to adapt to climate change. Millions had succumbed to famine and malnutrition caused by severe droughts induced by climate change. All across Africa, pastoralists were losing their livestock-based livelihoods; the private sector was in desperate need of sustainable energy sources. This was the reality against which the Forum was holding its discussions.
Prime Minister Meles also took part as a panelist on the Forum’s High-Level Leadership Dialogue, under the theme: Governance and Leadership Response to Climate Change. The panel was chaired by Dr. Jean Ping and other panelists were Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana; Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway; and Mr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. In his remarks, Prime Minister Meles suggested that the forthcoming conference at Cancun and the next one in South Africa would be “a total flop”. He said that at the international level there was a leadership crisis on environmental issues, though he was optimistic that the US$100 billion that developed countries had pledged in climate adaptation assistance for developing nations would be forthcoming. However he also emphasized that this figure is only feasible if leaders from the developed countries responsible for most of the climate change were willing to face up to their responsibilities. This funding was not to be given as aid – it was a “down payment on reparations” to a continent suffering from problems it did not cause. Africa did not cause climate change and was paying for crimes it did not commit.
The Prime Minister noted that proper carbon pricing would be enough to raise these funds; and this is where the challenge of leadership lies. The developed world had yet to educate its citizens adequately about climate change, though he appreciated the attitude of the United Kingdom and Norway. Not all NGOs, for example, seemed to realize the seriousness of the problems and some were even opposed to major developments on alleged environmental grounds, apparently wanting certain areas to stay pristine and undeveloped. The Prime Minister said the impact of climate change was raising the cost of development in Africa; and it was important to enlighten people in developed countries about its impact – there could be no separation in Africa between climate change and development.
Peace Accord signed between the FDRE Government and the ONLF
The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the leaders of the Ogaden National Liberation Movement (ONLF) have signed a peace agreement providing for the termination of the ONLF‘s 18 year-long insurgency in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia. The signing of the agreement was the culmination of a series of negotiations between the two sides over several months. It has been welcomed as a landmark to pave the way for further consolidation of the overall political and economic development in the region by removing the major stumbling block that has, for nearly two decades, denied the region the full measure of socio-economic development and good governance that other regions of the country have been able to carry out. Dr Shiferaw Tekle Mariam, Minister of Federal Affairs, signed the agreement to represent the government, while the ONLF was represented by Engineer Salahudin Abdurrahman Mao’w, current chairman of the organization. Speaking during the occasion, Dr Shiferaw hailed the decision of the ONLF leadership to lay down their arms as “bold and courageous” and reiterated the government’s readiness to do everything in its capacity to see that the ONLF leaders and their followers are rehabilitated and given every opportunity to contribute to the overall development in the country in general and in the Somali Regional State in particular. He pointed out that the government will be giving amnesty to all ONLF members that are currently serving prison sentences for atrocities committed in the last 18 years. He expressed his hope that other groups inclined to make similar gestures for peace will be treated in the same way.
Speaking on behalf of the ONLF, Engineer Salahudin expressed his thanks to the Federal Government and to the Government of the Somali Regional State for giving the all necessary support to facilitate the peace process. He expressed regret at the loss of life and destruction of property as well as the missed chances for enhanced development following the insurgency waged by his organization. He promised to do everything possible to contribute to the sustainability of the peace accord and to work genuinely together with both the Federal and the Regional governments to make sure that the peace is not disrupted by any agents of destabilization who might still harbor illusions that war is the solution to resolving political differences. More specifically, addressing the few remnants of the ONLF abroad who are still serving the agenda of the government of Asmara, he warned them that the people of the region were fed up with the insurgency and that any further attempts by such elements would be crushed immediately. He called on members of the Somali Region’s Diaspora to withdraw any support from such elements and to encourage them to join in the current successful peaceful process. He expressed his hope and expectation that the development activities so prevalent in other regions of Ethiopia would now be able to gather momentum in the Somali region. Engineer Salahudin expressed an apology to the peoples of the region and of Ethiopia for the destructive activities and atrocities perpetrated by the ONLF in the past and promised to do everything possible now to meet and satisfy the aspirations of the people of the region through peaceful means and civilized dialogue.
Also speaking on the occasion was Ato Abay Tsehaye, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister. Ato Abaye expressed his appreciation for the heroic decision taken by the ONLF leadership, in opting for peace and renouncing violence as a means of achieving political ends. He pointed out that ONLF’s cause had only been confined to a limited portion of the people of the region and even that limited support had collapsed once people had realized that the ONLF’s agenda was not in their interest. He emphasized the role of the people of the region, of the Ethiopian Defense Forces and of the Regional Government in creating a conducive environment for the signing of the peace agreement. He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensure the viability and sustainability of peace in the region and its determination to consolidate the gains made so far in economic development and good governance. He reiterated again that anyone who had illusions about the use of violence as a means of achieving political ends would be better advised to follow the footsteps of the ONLF. The people of the region, he emphasized, have clearly rejected violence. The government will do everything in its power to prevent any further attempt to disrupt the peace in the region.
Similar remarks were also made by the Somali Regional President, Abdi Mahamoud Omar, and by representatives of the ONLF from Europe and North America as well as clan leaders and elders representing a cross section of the region’s population. Referring to Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman, the former head of the Somali navy, and a group of former Somali army generals, all now based in Eritrea, speaker after speaker emphasized that anyone who threatened to continue any insurgency was only advancing an outside agenda with no relevance to the people of the region. All speakers were in complete agreement that violence had no place in the region.
Democracy in Eritrea? Three generations away says President Isaias
Last week, we commented briefly on President Isaias’ version of Eritrea and of his remarks to the cabinet that Eritrea had registered success in all areas of endeavor. He even claimed his government had succeeded in creating an excellent atmosphere for the media and for Eritrea’s justice system to flourish. Eritrea currently ranks at the bottom in almost all classifications of government relations with the media and in operation of its system of justice.
This week, in what appears to be another effort to sell his version of Eritrea, he makes the same points in an interview with a Swedish journalist. Once again, he stresses that Eritrea “does not want assistance” and he does not want Eritrea to be crippled like “so many countries in [Africa].” Oddly, despite his insistence on self-reliance, he is also prepared to admit to receiving assistance from the EU, though “not much”. It doesn’t seem to matter that the International Food Research Institute reported only this week that levels of hunger in Eritrea are now ranked as “extremely alarming.”.
Another of the topics raised during the interview relates to the UN imposed sanctions. As usual, President Isaias blames everything on the US and its servants. The interest of almost every country in the world when dealing with Eritrea is to promote a US agenda to destabilize Eritrea. The fact that Sweden complains about the imprisonment of one of its nationals, a journalist, for years without charge or trial or any process of law, is defined as part of Sweden’s efforts to do the US bidding in America’s crusade against the Eritrean government. The UN imposed sanctions on Eritrea because the US “hopes that Ethiopia will be able to benefit from Eritrea getting punished.” In what then appears to be an attempt to claim some sort of solidarity with other alleged “victims” of US policies, real or imagined, President Isaias then adds that the US doesn’t necessarily have any particular interest against Eritrea. It is merely part of a wider US agenda “for Africa, the Middle East, Oil and so on.”
President Isaias argues that any suggestion that Eritrea is isolated is no more than a fiction peddled by – the US government and “many US lobby groups” because Eritrea doesn’t take their orders. The evidence for this can be seen in the fact that more Eritreans than ever have spent their holidays in Eritrea this summer. Isolation appears to be more about Eritreans on holiday than having a mutually beneficial relationship with the international community, or indeed about the numbers of Eritreans who leave annually, fleeing across the border into Sudan or Ethiopia. President Isaias is carefully circumspect about the possibility of improving relations with other countries though he offers some sort of pseudo-philosophical explanation of relationships in general. In this context, President Isaias provided his own method to resolve the Middle East crisis, something he says the US will never be able to do. He claims no so-called ‘two-state’ solution will work and the only option is for Palestinians to become part of what he calls Trans-Jordan. He has been offering his advice to all stakeholders, but to no avail. Interestingly, his comments explain a lot about the way he conducts diplomacy and the haphazard way he makes or breaks relations. Eritrea does not recognize the state of Palestine apparently because the former Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, used to have relations with Ethiopia under Mengistu; and revealingly, President Isaias also admits he quarreled with Arafat on a few occasions.
During the interview, President Isaias also adds a few additional remarks on his vision for Eritrea. It is no longer the old idea of likening Eritrea to Singapore. That dream has long since been shattered. Now that there is talk about mineral finds in Eritrea, he would prefer Eritrea to be “like Norway”, a country where the resources will be used without putting future generations at risk – “using resources responsibly” as he puts it, and certainly it would be difficult to disagree with such a sentiment. In this context, however, he is emphasizing that Eritreans should believe that tomorrow will have so much to offer that they should not worry about the current lack of democracy or good governance or indeed the prevalence of hunger. Indeed, he once again reaffirmed his commitment to postponing any semblance of democracy for the people of Eritrea. Eritrea, he said, is in the process of nation-building and it is impossible to see how the idea of democracy can be readily applied in the foreseeable future – or to be more specific, not before another three generations have passed!
Core principles of Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy: Ethiopia-Kenya relations
Ethiopia’s neighbors have always been a foreign policy priority because of obvious historic, geographic and strategic considerations. Ethiopia knows that it has an enormous amount in common with all its neighbors. The historical connections and the common borders it shares, as well as long-standing links, cross-border ties and the normal cooperation among the peoples of the Horn of Africa over many centuries are the bedrock of the good relations that exist between Ethiopia and its neighbors.
It is no surprise that Kenya is one of the countries with which Ethiopia enjoys excellent relations of cooperation and bonds of close friendship. Indeed, Ethiopia has always attached great importance to its relations with Kenya and its people going back many years, though formal relations date to 1954 when Ethiopia established an Honorary Consulate General in Kenya. Ethiopia appointed its first Ambassador to Kenya in 1961, and six years later Kenya opened an Embassy in Addis Ababa. Earlier, during the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, Ethiopian forces were able to operate across the common border, getting medical and other supplies from Kenya. Similarly, during the Mau Mau liberation struggle for Kenya’s independence, Kenyan fighters were able to operate from Ethiopian territory.
After Kenyan independence, the personal friendship between President Jomo Kenyatta and Emperor Haile Selassie cemented existing ties and both countries embarked upon joint co-operation in a number of areas, notably in working towards the realization of the principles of ‘non interference’ in the OAU’s Charter. In fact, the Ethiopia-Kenya boundary was initially defined in 1907, and this was used as a legal base for a detailed boundary description in 1947, and then demarcation, carried out 1950-1955. After Kenya’s independence a Joint Inter-Ministerial Consultative Committee reviewed the work, and the boundary was formally agreed by a treaty signed in 1970.
The close links between Ethiopia and Kenya have been particularly visible in the way the two countries have constantly supported each other’s positions in international forums in many different areas. Ethiopia and Kenya share a common understanding on such issues as cross-border terrorism, piracy, regional integration under the umbrella of IGAD and the prime importance of peace and security in the Horn of Africa and beyond. Their common involvement in IGAD provides a significant indication of the strength of their relationship. Both countries have consistently demonstrated their common interests through the organization, their support for revitalizing IGAD and for ensuring that it provides the basis for one of the AU’s Regional Economic Units.
In particular, Kenya and Ethiopia have worked together to bring lasting peace in Somalia and showed their commitment by organizing several Somali national reconciliation meetings. During their respective chairmanships of IGAD, they played a major role in brokering the peace deal between the south and north Sudan, and the signing of the CPA, ending the longest war in Africa, as well as providing for the reinstitution of the TFG in Somalia. Both Ethiopia and Kenya have been the target of Somali irredentism at various times. Both countries play a significant role in UN peacekeeping operations.
Ethiopia and Kenya have also cooperated closely over cross-border problems. One important element of IGAD for both Ethiopia and Kenya is the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN). This has been successful in organizing and expanding community-led peace initiatives in areas all along the border, including the Maikona and Dukana Peace Accords that have improved the relations between the Borana and Gabbra communities of the two countries. Since these were instituted in 2008/9, they have significantly reduced violent incidents among these communities while enhancing peaceful interaction and resource sharing. Other communities along the border have expressed their commitment to adopt similar accords, pledging to work towards living peacefully and sharing resources both internally and along the border. Committees are being set up within the framework of CEWARN to be tasked to follow up peace and security issues.
These activities underline the close people-to-people relationship that exists between Ethiopia and Kenya going back over many years. Links have never been solely based on government ties. In fact, government relations and cooperation has always been characterized as cordial and strong, and the relationship and the attendant cultural understanding that exists between the two peoples have a very solid foundation. Current cooperation that exists between the two countries range from political to economic and cultural matters. The biannual Joint Ministerial and the annual Joint Border Commission meetings, held alternatively in each country, provide opportunities to exchange views on issues of common concern. There have been numerous exchanges of high-level visits.
Cooperation has been strongly encouraged by these bilateral contacts. Both countries have embarked upon a number of joint development programs in road construction, commerce and trade and other areas. Ethiopia has been exploring the possibility of using Mombasa as a port, and is taking a keen interest in the discussions about the creation of a new port at Lamu and the possibilities of rail links with other areas. One major new project has been the development of the Omo River valley which alarmed some conservationists in Kenya, worried about the impact on Lake Turkana. In fact, the series of dams in the Omo Valley, in particular Gilgel Gibe III, will generate nearly 2,000 MWs of hydro-electric power. A significant amount of this will go to Kenya, and as Kenya’s Environment Minister recently said “Gilgel Gibe III should brighten not threaten out future.”
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs