The African Union’s Executive Council meets in Kampala
The AU Executive Council held its 17th Ordinary Session on Thursday and Friday this week in Kampala, in advance of the forthcoming African Union Summit. The meeting was officially opened by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs of Uganda. During the opening ceremony statements were made by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, the Under Secretary and Executive Secretary of the UNECA, the Vice Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany and Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The current Chairperson of the Executive Council, Professor Etta E. Banda, Foreign Minister of Malawi, concluded the opening session. Every Head of Delegation who spoke expressed condolence to the People and Government of Uganda, and to those who lost their lives, in the recent terrorist attacks in Kampala.
Following the opening session, the Council considered its agenda. The Chairperson of the Commission presented an extensive report on the activities of the Commission. Issues relating to peace and security, in particular with reference to Somalia, to Ethiopia-Eritrea and to Djibouti and Eritrea, were discussed in depth. Development, the integration of the continent and the need for Africa to continue to speak with one voice in international fora, were also emphasized. It was noted that in respect to the current situation in Somalia, it was necessary to update the report of the Chairperson to incorporate the recent activities of IGAD, including the outcome of the meeting of the IGAD Council of Ministers held on 15 June 2010, of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 5 July 2010, and the meeting of the IGAD Chiefs of Defense Staffs earlier this week. Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya brought to the attention of the Council the fact that the war being waged in Somalia was not a war between the Government of Somalia and its opposition, but rather a war between the people of Somalia and international terrorists.
The activities of IGAD concerning Somalia were welcomed. Some Council members categorically condemned the terrorist acts waged against the people of Somalia. They emphasized that Africa should do more to assist the TFG and the people of Somalia. The Eritrean representative, however, argued that developments in Somalia should not be linked to international terrorism, suggesting that this would make the situation in Somalia worse. Eritrea further requested the withdrawal of all peacekeeping forces from Somalia. It also called for a reconciliation process in Somalia to include terrorists. This was rejected by the Council.
Djibouti briefed the Council on the recent agreement signed between Eritrea and Djibouti. The Council was informed that further negotiations are expected to be held in Doha. The Council welcomed this positive development and hoped it might be reflected in other areas of the Horn of Africa. Dr. Tekeda Alemu, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, described the agreement between Djibouti and Eritrea as a positive development. He suggested that those who facilitated that agreement might extend their role to other areas in the region. In a brief statement to the Council, Dr. Tekeda also expressed Ethiopia’s appreciation of the role the AU played in the recent Ethiopian elections. He thanked the AU observers for their professional and objective assessment of the conduct of the elections.
IGAD Chiefs of Defense Staffs meet on Somalia
A three-day meeting of the Chiefs of Defense Staffs of IGAD took place in Addis Ababa this week in advance of the AU Summit at the weekend. Representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda attended. The meeting followed the decision of the recent IGAD Extraordinary Summit to raise the strength of AMISOM forces in Mogadishu by another 2,000 troops to its authorized level of 8,000, and the visit of an IGAD military delegation to Mogadishu to evaluate the situation on the ground. The meeting, chaired by General Samora Yunus, Chief of Defense Staff of Ethiopia, was briefed by the Commander of AMISOM, the Director of EASBRIGCOM, and the representative of the UN Political Office for Somalia. It also heard from the Chief of the Defense Staff of the TFG of Somalia, and from the IGAD Facilitator, Kipruto Arap Kirwa.
Foreign Minister Seyoum, Chairman of the IGAD Executive Council, attended the opening of the meeting. In a keynote address he pointed out that the latest developments in Mogadishu had underlined the concerns that had led IGAD ministers to recommend the convening of this meeting. The Kampala terrorist bombings had also demonstrated the wider implications of the failure of the international community to take the necessary steps to deal with the international terrorist threat in Somalia. He suggested that if the UN had considered blue-helmeting AMISOM forces, it would have been possible to ensure the predictability, reliability and sustainability of resources to help build peace in Somalia and maintain it. Now, IGAD had to grapple with what was needed to be done to enable the TFG to lead a fight against international terrorism. Now, it was the task of the Chiefs of the Defense Staffs to come up with concrete plans on how to deploy the planned 2,000 more troops for AMISOM as quickly and effectively as possible. They also needed to discuss the creation of a unified command for TFG security forces and to bring TFG and other trained troops under a single command. Overall, the task for the meeting was to find ways and means to reverse the aggression of international terrorism. The struggle was now between the people of Somalia and international terrorism. Failure, said Minister Seyoum, was not an option for the region. Al-Shabaab terrorists, despite a total lack of popular support, had taken advantage of a near vacuum in security in Somalia, but they could not be allowed to succeed to impose themselves on the people of Somalia by force and through violence.
In its closed sessions, the meeting reviewed the political and security situation in Somalia and the status of the TFG’s security forces, and considered recommendations for reorganizing and enhancing their capacity. It also deliberated on a number of related issues, strongly condemning the terrorist attacks in Kampala and underlining the need for a regional approach to address Al-Shabaab’s aggression. General Samora said the report of the meeting of the IGAD Chiefs of Defense Staffs would be submitted to the African Summit at the weekend, and that the meeting would provide the AU Commission with a plan of action for deployment for the additional 2,000 troops for AMISOM. AMISOM is currently a peacekeeping operation with limited rules of engagement. This contrasts with peace-enforcement operations which allow for greater use of force in situations where there is no agreed ceasefire and considerable violence. AMISOM has suggested that it should be given more freedom of action and, in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Kampala, there is considerable support for allowing the mission greater flexibility of response.
Ethiopia: “a valuable and important partner” for the US
On Thursday and Friday this week, US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, visited Ethiopia before going on to Uganda, where he will be attending the African Union Summit in Kampala. In Addis Ababa yesterday, Ambassador Carson held talks with Prime Minister Meles and Foreign Minister Seyoum. His discussions with Prime Minister Meles centered on bilateral issues and on regional concerns. High on the agenda was the international community’s role in assisting the TFG in Somalia and helping AMISOM. The recent IGAD Extra-ordinary Summit made it clear that IGAD would like to see much greater international support for AMISOM and for the TFG. Ambassador Carson expressed his condolences to the families of those who died in the Kampala bombings. He emphasized that these Al-Shabaab attacks showed how much of a threat the organization had become to the region, and underlined the need for the TFG to be strengthened in order to establish peace and reconciliation in Somalia. Another topic of discussion was the need for full implementation of the CPA in Sudan.
Ambassador Carson also met with Foreign Minister Seyoum. In a briefing after the talks, Minister Seyoum said their discussions had revolved around furthering bilateral relations and on ways to improve US-Ethiopian ties. Recalling his visit to Washington last November and the fruitful discussions he had with high level US Government officials, the Minister underlined the need to continue to build on what has been achieved in strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. Ambassador Carson stated that Ethiopia was a valuable and important partner for the US. He drew the attention of the Foreign Minister to the various Obama Administration Partnership Initiatives towards Africa and other developing countries from which Ethiopia is a beneficiary. With respect to security issues, Ambassador Carson stated that the US wished to have stronger relations with Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s security concerns, he said, were also shared by the United States.
On regional issues, the discussions focused on Somalia. Expressing appreciation to the Ethiopian Government for hosting a series of important meetings in Addis Ababa on Somalia over the previous weeks in advance of the African Union Summit in Kampala, Ambassador Carson said these would help refocus attention on the problems of Somalia. He expressed his appreciation to the Ethiopian Government for its commitment and the sacrifices it had paid to help resolve the problem in Somalia. Ambassador Carson assured the Foreign Minister that the United States would continue to work with IGAD and Ethiopia in the effort to defeat terrorist forces and bring peace and stability to Somalia.
The first meeting of the Sudan Consultative Forum in Khartoum
The Sudan Consultative Forum was set up in May following a request by the African Union Commission to the Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council. It is to serve as a coordinating mechanism for the Sudan peace process, and held its first substantive meeting on Saturday July 17 in Khartoum. Its purpose is to provide coordinated international support for implementation of the remaining provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), for an inclusive global political agreement to promote lasting peace, justice and reconciliation in Darfur, and for the democratic transformation of the Sudan.
Participants at last week’s meeting included delegations from neighboring countries: Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, and representatives of the permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America), of Norway and Qatar, of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Secretariat and of its Chair, of the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the European Union (EU), and the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC). The meeting was co-chaired by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, and the UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Alian Le Roy.
The meeting heard presentations from the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), and representatives of the parties to the CPA provided additional information and clarification. The Forum received reports on the situation from the Joint AU-UN Special Representative for UNAMID, the Deputy Joint Chief Mediator, and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sudan. It was also briefed by the Chairperson of the AU High Level Implementation Panel on the Sudan (AUHIP) on its efforts in regard to the implementation of the CPA and for the promotion of peace, justice and reconciliation in Darfur.
The Forum reiterated its call to the NCP and the SPLM to strengthen their partnership and to work closely with other key Sudanese stakeholders to address urgently the key challenges of the critical final phase of the interim period of the CPA. Time is short. The stability and future of Sudan will depend on decisions taken in the next few months, on reaching agreement on the outstanding processes of the CPA, including the putting in place of necessary structures for the full implementation of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission.
The Forum welcomed the Mekelle Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached between the NCP and the SPLM on the basis of which negotiations on the post-referendum issues will be conducted. The AUHIP, assisted by the UN, IGAD and the IGAD Partners’ Forum (IPF) will facilitate this. Participants stressed the need for the parties to keep a clear sight of the objectives and on the necessity for a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The Ethiopian delegation emphasized that this was a defining moment for the future of the Sudan. Solutions were in the hands of the parties but they needed all the help they could get, from the AU, the AUHIP and from the Forum. It was important that initiatives should be coordinated and that there should be coherence among the various processes as with the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in Mekelle.
The Forum reiterated the need for an inclusive Darfur political process that would address all the key issues for the people including security, justice and reconciliation as well as social, economic and humanitarian issues. There was serious concern at the way the security situation had deteriorated since May, with significant loss of life and new population displacements. The meeting called upon the Government of Sudan and the armed movements in Darfur to respect the terms of the ceasefire. It stressed the need for urgent and concerted efforts to provide security in Darfur.
The Forum commended the AUHIP, UNMIS, UNAMID and the JCM, for diligent work in carrying out their respective mandates and for their cooperation in support of Sudanese political processes. It pledged to continue to provide coordinated support to all the parties to help deal with all challenges they face in the remainder of the interim period. These are processes which will shape the future of Sudan. The Forum is to meet every two months; the next meeting will be in October. The venue has yet to be announced.
A Chinese delegation in Addis Ababa
A high level delegation from the People’s Republic of China, led by Mr. Dai Bingguo, State Councilor with the Rank of Vice-Premier, made a one-day official working visit to Ethiopia on Tuesday this week. During his stay, the State Councilor made a courtesy call on President Girma Woldegiorgis and discussed issues of bilateral and common concern.
Mr. Dai Bingguo also met with Prime Minister Meles, and held lengthy discussions relating to bilateral, regional and international matters of common interest. Prime Minister Meles expressed his gratitude to the people and government of the People’s Republic of China for the all-round cooperation between China and Ethiopia in trade, investment and economic development, including the transfer of technology and basic skills to Ethiopians. He also thanked the head of the delegation for China’s engagement with Africa through the process of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Mr. Dai Bingguo reiterated the firm commitment of his country towards the development of Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. He expressed his appreciation of the steady economic and social growth of Ethiopia and promised to continue his support of Ethiopia, which he described as a trustworthy friend. The comprehensive discussions and the exchange of views covered current world economic developments and the relationship of China and Africa. Prime Minister Meles thanked the government of the People’s Republic of China for its whole hearted commitment to strengthen friendship with Ethiopia; Mr. Dai Bingguo took the opportunity to express his thanks to the people and the Government of Ethiopia for the hospitality he and his delegation had received.
Following the discussion, two agreements were signed on Economic and Technical Co-operation between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Both will be used in the implementation of China-aided projects. During his stay Mr. Dai Bingguo also visited the ETC national network operation center, and the construction site of the AU Conference Center which is being built by a Chinese company with financial aid from the Chinese government.
An Indian business delegation in Ethiopia
Last week, a twenty-four person investors’ delegation from India visited Ethiopia. Accompanied by Ms. Genet Zewdie, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to India, the delegation was warmly received by a number of government officials including Deputy Prime Minister, Addisu Legesse, Ato Teffera Deribew, the Minister of Agriculture, Ato Tadesse Haile, State Minister of Trade and Industry, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The group was given presentations by various sectoral ministries and agencies, covering, inter alia, the country’s investment climate in Ethiopia, textiles, leather, agriculture and agro-processing, energy, as well as the progress of privatization and investment finance. A number of field trips were arranged to different areas of the country, including the Oromia, Afar, Southern Peoples, Amhara and Gambella Regional States.
The delegation showed interest in a wide variety of areas: agriculture; agro-processing; horticulture; rubber plantations; cotton cultivation, ginning and pressing; poultry; dairy production, processing and distribution; the development of integrated supply chain-based food-processing parks; leather and leather footwear; palm oil cultivation; vegetable oil refining; sugar cane development and the manufacture of sugar and ethanol; power generation; fertilizer production; textiles and home furnishings; infrastructure and mining.
India and Ethiopia, of course, have long-standing economic and commercial relations going back centuries, but business ties between the two countries, especially in the area of infrastructural projects including roads, power projects, telecommunications and water resources, have grown significantly in recent years with the opening up of the Ethiopian economy. Bilateral economic relations have been moving steadily forward with growing private sector investment from India, with nearly 400 Indian companies now having investment licenses and nearly 100 operational. Bilateral trade figures show exports in both directions have been increasing steadily. Trade is currently worth US$500 million a year but is expected to increase significantly following the announcement of a Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme (DFTP) by the Indian government during the India-Africa Forum Summit. Ethiopia was among the first countries to accede to the scheme. Ethiopian imports from India currently consist largely of primary and semi-finished iron and steel products, drugs and pharmaceuticals, machinery and instruments, manufactures of metal, food items, plastic and linoleum products, paper and paper products, rubber manufactured items, yarns and textiles, machine tools, glassware, cosmetics and electronic goods. Ethiopia’s main exports to India include raw hides and skins, pulses, raw cotton, spices, leather and scrap metal.
Eritrea’s PR efforts are no substitute for genuine overtures for regional peace
The Horn of Africa region has had the reputation for being a troubled neighborhood for far too long. There are, perhaps, a considerable number of reasons for this, but one very obvious factor detrimental to the prospects of peace in the region has been the all-too-negative role of the government of Eritrea which has consistently posed a distinct and formidable challenge to regional efforts to address the various conflicts that have bedeviled the Horn. Eritrea’s leaders have committed aggression against all their neighbors in a manner that defies ordinary notions of good neighborly relationships and normal inter-state relations. The government in Asmara has openly championed a series of destabilizing activities throughout the region, actively supporting armed opposition elements in other countries. It has continued to carry out these schemes despite mounting criticism and even pressure from the international community. Apart from these activities at various times in Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, Eritrea’s support for extremists and terrorists in Somalia and its declared opposition to the legitimate Transitional Government of Somalia as well as its most recent aggression against Djibouti, have drawn particular attention from the international community. One result has been Resolutions 1862 and 1907 of the United Nations’ Security Council. In particular, Resolution 1907 imposed targeted sanctions against the regime and its officials for, inter alia, Eritrea’s flagrant occupation of Djibouti territory; its arming, logistical and political support for extremist elements in Somalia; and, finally for its destabilizing activities throughout the region. Given this history, it was indeed altogether fitting and proper that the UN Security Council should finally take the action that it did, belated though it might have been.
Eritrea’s reaction to the Security Council action was all too predictable, displaying as it often does a continued aversion to behaving normally. Rather than making any effort to adjust their actions, Eritrea’s leaders have preferred to do everything they could to deflect the international community’s attention away from the destructive activities they have all-too-obviously been engaged in. True to form, the first reaction was flat denial of the accusations made against them, in spite of a mountain of detailed and incontrovertible evidence available. They have continued in this. An orchestrated media blitz, including a highly unusual number of interviews with President Isaias, was clearly intended to sidetrack attention in different directions, though it appears to have failed in its desired effect.
Eritrea’s position with regard to its dispute with Djibouti was particularly telling. It consistently denied aving conthe very existence of any ‘bona fide’ dispute with Djibouti, denied the presence of its troops across the Djibouti border, and refused to accept a fact-finding mission from the UN. Then the Emir of Qatar announced that Eritrea and Djibouti had indeed agreed to resolve their dispute following mediation by Qatar. As we have noted before the negotiations have been shrouded in opacity, and Eritrea has yet to come forward publicly confirming that they did indeed take place. Despite the mediation announcement that Eritrean troops had withdrawn from the previously occupied areas, and the fact that Qatar troops are now acting as observers on both sides of the border, Eritrea has continued to refuse to assume responsibility for its aggression against Djibouti much less issue any statement. Despite this there has been a highly enthusiastic response from the international community to the agreement. However, it still remains to be seen if the regime in Asmara will in fact make good on the terms. On past record, it has to be said this seems unlikely.
Similarly, acting true to form, the government of Eritrea has recently been pestering the Security Council to lift the sanctions imposed on it under Resolution 1907. It has claimed that the signing of an agreement with Djibouti, even without public acceptance or acknowledgement of responsibility for its actions, amounts to its full compliance with the demands made in the Resolution. This of course ignores the more significant elements of Resolution 1907, relating to Somalia and regional destabilization. In fact, Eritrean officials have been making strenuous efforts to shift attention away to wholly unrelated issues, straining every nerve to dilute the significance of Resolutions 1862 and 1907 by trying to sidetrack the Security Council into totally unrelated issues. In a classic case of reductio ad absurdum, they have been trying every trick to try to persuade the international community to believe that all Eritrean misbehavior, however egregious, was meant to draw attention to an entirely different issue. The government of Eritrea would have the world believe that everything that it has done, its aggressive foreign policy, its support for terrorism and extremism in Somalia, its invasion of Djibouti, and its arming of violent opposition in Ethiopia for example, has been the result of the UN Security Council’s failure to address Eritrea’s dispute with Ethiopia, and of Eritrea’s “frustration” with the international community. Such claims, however bizarre, are in keeping with the behavior pattern of Eritrea’s leadership.
In fact, Eritrea’s leaders are now pressing the UN Security Council to lift sanctions even though Eritrea still fails to admit to its responsibility for the instigation of the dispute with Djibouti and it is far from clear if the agreement will hold. Indeed, Eritrea still appears to be denying any such dispute actually took place. It appears to be banking on the possibility, if not the likelihood, that the international community enthused by the possibility, however implausible, of Eritrea’s ‘renewed good faith’, will be oblivious to the remaining two aspects of the Resolution demanding that Eritrea stop its support for extremism and terrorism in Somalia, and desist from destabilizing activities throughout the region. In fact, despite the UN Secretary General’s rather optimistic interpretation of Eritrea’s participation in the Istanbul conference on Somalia, the government of Eritrea has continued to hold to its entirely negative line towards peace and stability in Somalia. In what can only be called a deliberate snub, typical of Eritrea’s leaders, Eritrea has even gone so far as to remind the UN Security Council in so many words that Eritrea has never changed its position on Somalia. In other words, Eritrea’s position continues to fly full in the face of the demands of Resolution 1907. It is clear its rejection of the TFG, and its support to the opposition, continues without change.
Similarly, Eritrea’s support to armed opposition elements throughout the region has not stopped, whether in Ethiopia, Djibouti or Somalia. Nor is there any indication that the Eritrean government seems prepared to demonstrate any willingness to stop this in the immediate future. Rather, indeed, the reverse. It has to be said that it would appear counter-productive in the extreme for the international community to read too much into the message that Eritrea has been trying to propagate. It should not be taken in by such a half-baked public relations effort or consider it as even partial compliance with Resolution 1907. It must be repeated: Eritrea’s dispute with Djibouti was only one aspect of Resolution 1907. Eritrea’s support for extremism and terrorism in Somalia and its efforts to destabilize the region still need urgent attention from the international community. The recent bombings in Kampala are a stark reminder of how destructive complicity with rejectionist and terrorist elements in the region can be, and how dangerous to international peace and stability. They underline just how crucial it is for the international community, and more particularly the UN Security Council, to ensure that all its efforts to ensure peace, including Security Council Resolutions, are implemented in full.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs