News and Views:
The London Conference on Somalia
The London Conference on Somalia was hosted by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, and attended by representatives from over 50 countries, the UN, the AU and Arab League, and among those present were the UN Secretary General, the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, leaders of western and Arab states, and of Somalia’s neighbors, including Prime Minister Meles and the Presidents of Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya. Along with the Transitional Government of Somalia, there were representatives from Puntland, Galmudug regional administration and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a. There was also a delegation from Somaliland led by President Silanyo.
The conference took place at an opportune time with a series of successful military operations by the TFG and AMISOM and assistance from Ethiopia and Kenya and the agreements to produce constitutional changes and an acceptable post-transitional government (see following items). AMISOM has successfully established control of Mogadishu and pressure on Al-Shabaab in other areas is growing as it is forced out of other parts of the country including, this week, Baidoa. The high-level meetings last September in Mogadishu and in December and February in Garowe have consolidated the Djibouti process and the Kampala Accord. The meetings were attended by representatives of the TFG, Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a and the Puntland and Galmudug regional administrations. The result has been agreement on a roadmap charting a course to the end of the transitional period. The agreement was supported by the UN, and endorsed by the AU, EU, IGAD and Western governments including the US and the UK. With the TFG’s mandate ending in August, there are compelling reasons for the Somali political process to become broader and more representative.
There is full agreement that the security and stability of Somalia is crucial for both regional states and the international community. The UK Foreign Secretary called the conference “a moment of opportunity”, and Secretary Clinton noted that “for decades the world has focused on what we could prevent happening in Somalia, conflict, famine or other disasters; now we are focused on what we can build. The opportunity is real.” UK Premier, David Cameron, told the conference that the young people who took up guns for Al-Shabaab needed to be able to see that they could have a future in a prosperous and stable Somalia that “offers them what everyone want which is a job and a voice.” So the connection between military action and the political process were “two sides of the same coin”. He hoped the process would generate “new momentum”, and the praised the “extraordinary bravery of African and Somali troops.”
In his speech to the opening session, Prime Minister Meles said three recent events had convinced him the conference could become a real turning point for Somalia. One was the second Garowe conference which had come up with a clear roadmap charted by Somalis themselves for the post-August transition. Recent developments, including the liberation of Baidoa the previous day, had created an unprecedented opportunity to eradicate Al-Shabaab’s menace. He noted that “residents of Baidoa braved the risk of Al-Shabaab retaliation to come out in their tens of thousands to welcome their liberators.” Thirdly, the UN Security Council had decided to support the increase in the numbers of AMISOM. He was, therefore, “confident that the conference would play a vital role in mobilizing the necessary financial and logistical support for future AMISOM and humanitarian operations”. The Prime Minister, as the current chair of IGAD, stressed that violence and mayhem could and must be defeated. There could be no compromise with the hard-core of al-Shabaab and the things it stands for. He stressed that all liberated areas should be supported in their efforts to put in place local administrations and build up their capacity, urging the international community to help strengthen TFG capacity-building and to give its all-round support to the humanitarian efforts. A lasting solution must be found to the humanitarian crisis within the framework of a long-term development program.
The Conference on Somalia focused on seven key areas aimed to make Somalia and the region more stable. These were the political process, security, terrorism, piracy, stability, humanitarian issues and international coordination. The conference recognized that the Somali political leadership must be accountable to the Somali people and the international community’s role had to be limited only to facilitate Somalia’s progress and development in coordinating support. It agreed to inject new momentum into the political process, to strengthen AMISOM and help Somalia develop its own security forces, build stability at local level, and step up action to tackle pirates and terrorists.
Participants agreed that the Transitional Federal Institutions’ mandate ends in August 2012. They fully endorsed previous agreements: the Transitional Federal Charter, the Djibouti Agreement, the Kampala Accord, and the Roadmap to chart the way towards more representative government. They accepted the priority, expressed in the Garowe Principles, of convening a Constituent Assembly, and emphasized that this must be representative of the views of the Somali people of all regions and constituencies. Women must be part of the political process. The Conference agreed to provide incentives for progress and to act against spoilers to the peace process, and called upon all those willing to reject violence to join the peace process. It agreed to develop a defectors’ program to support those who leave armed groups.
The conference emphasized the need for Somalia to fund its own public services and to tackle corruption. It welcomed the progress made in setting up a Joint Financial Management Board to increase transparency and accountability as suggested by the IGAD Summit last September. The initial members will be the TFG or any successor, the UK, France, the EU and the World Bank. It also noted that respect for human rights must be at the heart of the peace process and specifically added that journalists must be able to operate freely and without fear.
Expressing gratitude to those countries whose troops had served as peacekeepers and paying tribute to the achievements and sacrifices of AMISOM and other forces, the Conference welcomed the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2036 (see following item). It stressed that over time Somalis should take over responsibility for the provision of security and decide what security and justice arrangements they need. On piracy, participants noted the need for a comprehensive approach on land as well as at sea, and agreed to tackle the underlying causes of piracy. There should be no impunity for pirates and the conference reiterated its determination to prosecute the “kingpins of piracy”.
Since terrorism posed a serious threat to security in Somalia itself, to the region and internationally, participants agreed to work together to build up the capacity to disrupt terrorism in the region and to address its root causes. They agreed to work with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and other bodies to provide effective intelligence gathering, investigation and support for the Somali justice system.
Welcoming the success of some regions areas in establishing local areas of stability, the conference agreed to increase support to build legitimate and peaceful authorities, and improve services for these areas. Such efforts should promote local and regional cohesion, and converge with the national political process. It also agreed to expand programs to newly-recovered areas, promote effective and accountable local administrations, and build on the stabilization strategies prepared by IGAD and the TFG. It endorsed a set of principles to guide international support to local areas of stability, and agreed to continue funding these through existing programs. The conference also recognized the need for the international community to support any dialogue between Somaliland and the TFG or its replacement to clarify their future relations.
The conference was preceded by a separate meeting on humanitarian issues co-chaired by the UN and the United Arab Emirates. This agreed a set of conclusions, linking relief with long-term recovery. The conference itself said it would carry forward work agreed through the International Contact Group which recently agreed to restructure itself to become more effective. The participants suggested it should establish working groups on the political process, security and justice, stability and development. It welcomed the role of IGAD and the African Union, and the support of the League of Arab States, the European Union, and the Organization of Islamic Conference, as well as the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary General and the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) in facilitating progress in Somalia and the relocation of UNPOS to Mogadishu.
In conclusion the conference expressed the hope that a new era of Somali politics, supported by the international community, would bring peace in the country. It said it was determined to place the interests of the Somali people at the heart of all actions, and redouble the international community’s efforts to support the people of Somalia in their search for a better future for their country.
….. The UN Security Council authorizes an enlarged AMISOM
On Wednesday this week, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2036 (2012) requesting the African Union (AU) to increase the size of its peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM) from the previously authorized 12,000 to a maximum of 17,731. It also decided to expand the UN’s logistical support package to AMISOM and extend it to October 31st, to include reimbursement of contingent-owned equipment, including standard force enablers and multipliers with up to a maximum of 9 utility helicopters and 3 attack helicopters.
In addition to authorizing an increased force for AMISOM, the Security Council also clarified the Mission’s mandate by deciding that, in addition to the tasks set out earlier, AMISOM should establish a presence in the four sectors set out in the strategic concept of January 5th, and that it should be authorized to take all necessary measures in those sectors, in coordination with Somali security forces, to reduce the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups in order to establish conditions for effective governance country-wide.
The Security Council had before it the special report of the Secretary-General on Somalia of January 31st which harked back to the African Union Peace and Security Council communiqué of January 5th which had urged the Security Council to “expeditiously consider and authorize additional support” for AMISOM, a plea endorsed by the Secretary-General who said that the way ahead, while confronted with risks and challenges, represented a moment of historic opportunity “that we cannot let go by”.
The Security Council acknowledged that coordinated action in the region was critical for the peace, security and stability of Somalia. It once again called on other AU member States to consider contributing troops to help create conditions in which Somalia can be responsible for its own security. UN Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon welcomed the Council’s decision noting that the expansion was critical to provide support to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and degrade Al-Shabaab’s military capacity. The Secretary-General also noted that the military successes must be built upon through continued political progress in implementation of the roadmap for ending the transition. It requested AMISOM to expand its efforts to develop the capacity and effectiveness of the Somali security forces, demanded that all parties and armed groups take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and supplies, and that all parties ensure full and unhindered access for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid to persons in need.
In the resolution the Council reaffirmed its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, reiterated its full support for the Djibouti Peace Process and the Transitional Federal Charter, the Kampala Accord and the Roadmap to End the Transition, and welcomed the Garowe Principles. It stressed the need for further efforts to fight corruption, promote transparency and increase mutual accountability, as well as for a comprehensive strategy to address political, economic, humanitarian and security problems in Somalia and piracy. It noted that Al-Shabaab had joined Al-Qaeda and stressed that there could be no place for terrorism or violent extremism in Somalia.
The Security Council commended the contributors to AMISOM and welcomed Kenya’s decision to let its forces join AMISOM. It authorized it to take all necessary measures in coordination with Somali security forces to reduce the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups to establish conditions for effective and legitimate governance across Somalia. In addition to requesting the increase in AMISOM, it welcomed the support of AU partners including the bilateral support programmes and the African Peace Facility of the European Union. It stressed the importance of stabilising areas secured by AMISOM and Somali security forces to promote to promote reconciliation, law and order, the delivery of basic services and to strengthen governance at district, regional, state and federal levels. Coordinated action by all was critical for peace, security and stability in Somalia and recognized the importance of strengthening the capacity of regional and sub-regional organizations in conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict stabilization.
The resolution emphasized development of the Somali security forces was vital to ensure long term security and stability, and noted the important role an effective police presence could play in the stabilisation of Mogadishu. It demanded all parties and armed groups take steps to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel and supplies, and allow full and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid. It welcomed the determination of the international community to take measures against any actors engaged in trying to undermine the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia. It also decided that the Somali authorities should take measures to prevent the export of charcoal from Somalia. All Member States should prevent the direct or indirect import of charcoal from Somalia and the Council said the Monitoring Group’s mandate should be expanded to cover this.
The Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom said the resolution gave AMISOM the necessary troops and resources to help it capitalize on the gains made. It marked an important step for the London Conference which would consider a wider approach to Somalia. It was, he said, important that military action be undertaken carefully and contribute to the wider political strategy, aimed at increasing the areas of stability and helping the political process by helping Somalis outside the capital take part in that process. Expanding the areas outside Mogadishu in that way would put more pressure on Al-Shabaab. He also noted that capacity-building should be at the heart of the effort by the United Nations, AMISOM and other regional organizations.
The United States also welcomed the resolution but regretted that it did not include maritime support. It did however demonstrate the Council’s support for an African-led strategy in Somalia. The time for political progress was now. The US also expressed its support for cutting off of charcoal sales, one of Al-Shabaab’s main funding sources. Other speakers expressed their support for AMISOM and the new strategic concept developed jointly by the African Union and the United Nations. They also emphasized the need for all Somali parties to comply with the road map and to press ahead with its implementation to the goal of a united and functioning Somali State. A sound political strategy was necessary and elaborating a new Constitution would be a sound step in that direction.
…..and TFG, allied militia and Ethiopian forces take Baidoa
The Security Council Resolution came at an appropriate moment with further victories over Al-Shabaab this week. At the beginning of the week, Ethiopian, TFG forces and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a militia advancing from Luq in Gedo region took over several towns including Yukud, Buhol-Bashir, Kurteele and Qansax Omane on the road to Baidoa (Baydhaba), the capital of Bay region and a major Al-Shabaab stronghold. They then immediately moved on towards Baidoa, Somalia’s third largest city and an important strategic center. This was fully in TFG hands on Wednesday after Al-Shabaab forces precipitously retreated from the town which they had taken over after hard fighting three years ago towards Mogadishu 250 kms away. TFG forces and allied militia are now carrying out security operations to make sure that Al-Shabaab did not leave hidden explosive devices around.
Meanwhile Al-Shabaab leaders have reportedly been holding a high level meeting in Kismayo this week to discuss future operations and to receive two boat loads of weapons which arrived in the port on Tuesday. According to eyewitnesses at the port each boat provided some 12 truckloads of weaponry including small arms, ammunition, grenades, and anti-tank and anti-air missiles. An Al-Shabaab spokesman said the weapons came from “our friends who are very much pleased with the Jihad which is going on in Somalia.” He claimed Al-Shabaab would be getting many more such shipments. In addition to checking the weaponry as it was unloaded, senior Al-Shabaab leaders, including Sheikh Muktar Robow, Fuad Shongole and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, attended the meeting to discuss Al-Shabaab’s response to the attacks it was facing and to the losses it had taken. It was apparently decided to continue to fight in an organized manner rather than revert to guerrilla operations, and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was named as Al-Shabaab’s war leader for the southern regions, despite his almost entirely unsuccessful record as a military commander over the past twenty years.
…..and the Second National Constitutional Conference in Garowe
Meanwhile, the second phase of the UN-organized National Constitutional Conference was held in Garowe, the capital of Puntland, February 15th – 17th. Hosted by the Puntland State Government, the meeting was attended by the signatories of the Roadmap and members of civil society. Among those present were President Sheikh Sharif, Speaker Sharif Hassan, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, the President of Puntland , the President of Galmudug, the representative of Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a, Khaliif Abdulkadir Moallin Noor, and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Ambassador Mahiga, as well as representatives of the UN, the AU, IGAD, of Djibouti, of international aid agencies and ministers and representatives of the TFIs.
The meeting concentrated on finalizing the principles laid down at the first Garowe Constitutional Conference on the nature of federalism to be adopted, on the system of government and the design for elections, and the constitutional adoption process for the National Constituent Assembly. It agreed that the Garowe I Principles were not to be re-opened and any unresolved issues would be discussed by principals. It considered the Transitional Federal Charter, the Djibouti Agreement, the Kampala Accord, the Roadmap, Garowe Principles I and reviewed the Consultative Draft Constitution. It reaffirmed the unity of the Somali people and the political independence and territorial integrity of the Somali nation. These, Garowe II Principles, were to guide and direct the finalization of the draft constitution and the process of ending the transition.
The conference agreed a number of aspects for the establishment of the federal state agreed on in the Trasntional Federal Charter and reiterated in the Garowe I principles. So the participants recognized the Puntland state is a founding federal state and the Galmudug State as a state within the federation, calling on the TFG and the international community to provide it with all necessary assistance. They stressed that the criteria of new states should conform to the provisions of the Charter, based on two or more regions coming together, and noted that the creation of any state depended upon a sustainable regional reconciliation process. All states are obliged to ensure equal political rights, access and opportunities for all Somalis. The national government will include, but not be limited to, foreign affairs, national defense, national monetry policy, natural resources, wealth-sharing, citizenship and immigration. The status of Mogadishu within the federal structure will be decided by the new parliament.
With regard to the System of Government and Electoral System Design the conference decided to adopt a Parliamentary system as it provides more accountability of the executive to parliament. The primary task of the executive shall be vested within the Council of Ministers, led by the Prime Minister. The President shall be the Head of State and stand for the unity of the State. The respective powers of Prime Minister and President will be clearly enumerated in the Constitution. The Council of Ministers shall be drawn from within and from outside parliament.
Agreement on Operationalizing the Garowe I Principles gives details of the various bodies to be set up. The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) which will verify nominees for the Constituent Assembly and parliament will have 15 members (at least one third women) based on the 4.5 formula and include international actors as non-voting participants. The National Constituent Assembly shall have 1000 members based on the 4.5 formula with at least a third women. The rest should be chosen from a cross-section of society including youth, business, diaspora, religious and traditional elders, professionials and members of existing and emerging regional administrations.
The New Federal Parliament will have two houses, the Lower House of 225 members and an Upper House of up to 54 members based on the new configurations of future federal states. Recognized traditional elders, assisted by prominent civil society members will nominate two people for every seat and will be verified by the Electoral Commission. The women who will make up at least 30% of the Parliament will be chosen by civil society and respected women members of the clans. The choice of members for the Lower House will be based on the principle of proportionality under the 4.5 formula for the next four years. After that, democratic voting will replace it and voting constituencies be created. The Upper House shall come into effect no later than August this year, and after the first term memberhsip will be based on equal representation from established sub-national units. The aim is to balance the broad demographic base with the federal needs and to give equal opportunity for all Somalis in their country’s future and to end the nation’s problems.
The conference emphasized that the transition must end by August 20, 2012, and no delay or obstruction would be accepted. It said spoilers will be identified and named, and appropriate joint action taken by Somali and international stakeholders. The meeting recommended that a compensation package be provided to those Members of Parliament who do not become members of the next parliament. They also emphasized the urgent need for all parties to commence finalization of the draft constitution to be completed by April 20th, carry out the consultations and civic education about any remaining issues in the Consultative Draft Constitution and commence the formation of the relevant bodies, especially the Interim Independent Electoral Commission and the National Constituent Assembly. This was in accordance with the Transitional Federal Charter, the Kampala Accord, the Roadmap, Garowe I and Garowe II Principles. They agreed to hold the next constitutional consultative conference by the end of March in Mogadishu when the focus would be on fundamental rights and freedoms.
TFG Prime Minister Abdiweli said at the end of the meeting that it provided a clear roadmap for the post August transition and a solid base for the international community to engage and assist Somalia. The conference was a major success because it was a Somali-owned process and because it allowed all Somali stakeholders to engage in the process constructively. He noted that the Somali crisis was first and foremost a political crisis and could only be resolved by political means through the reconstitution and renewal of the Somali state. Now there was a credible and adequate roadmap charted by Somalis themselves.
The results of the meeting were also welcomed by UN Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon, who said the results set out clear steps for ending the transition and putting in place a constitutional order. The stakeholders who took part deserved credit for reaching agreement, and he applauded the spirit of unity and commitment demonstrated by the Roadmap signatories and by those representatives from areas recently recovered from Al-Shabaab.
…..while Eritrea claims the answer to Somalia’s problems
On Monday, Eritrea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a press statement “A Comprehensive and Enduring Solution for Somalia: Eritrea’s Perspective”. It was timed to appear in advance of this week’s international London Conference on Somalia to which Eritrea was not invited. It is, of course, under UN sanctions partly because of its support for anti-government extremists and terrorists in Somalia in defiance of Security Council demands.
Eritrea’s perspective is ostensibly balanced and moderate in tone. It is defined as claiming that the experience of the past two decades has clearly demonstrated that “only Somalis can find an enduring solution for themselves…[and] clearly what is required is a Somali-owned and Somali-driven political process.” The statement goes into this at some length calling for Somalis to have the right to set their own agenda, to be allowed their political space to organize their own political arrangements, select their own representatives. It makes no reference, of course, to Eritrea’s own almost continuous interference in Somali political process after the collapse of the Islamic Courts and in the creation of the Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia in Asmara, its support for Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and its assistance to Al-Shabaab. It does however criticize, as usual, the efforts of other outside actors: military and counter-terrorism strategies are identified as consuming “disproportionate resources”; the military interventions of Somalia’s neighbors “complicate and worsen the situation”, intensify and prolong the conflict. Again, the statement makes no allusion to Eritrea’s own repeated involvement in providing aid and assistance to specific factions, deliberately complicating and worsening the situation and most certainly helping to prolong the conflicts. As so often, Eritrea seems to regard its own actions to have somehow been above criticism, and almost detached from reality, even when it has itself been playing at intervention at a significant level.
The statement does talk about the “scourge of piracy and terrorism”, arguing that the effective remedy for them will be a lasting and fair political settlement and a credible political process, but even there it makes no reference to Al-Shabaab or of its recent affiliation to Al Qaeda. It merely claims that interventions in the name of counter-terrorism have been counter-productive. It ignores the fact that any response to international terrorism can hardly be the focus of a single state. It requires concerted action against Al-Shabaab as indeed both the regional organization, IGAD, and the continental one, the African Union, have noted. The Eritrean statement make no effort to condemn Al-Shabaab’s activities though this is hardly surprising give its own support for the organization. Conversely it offers no support for the efforts of the internationally recognized government of Somalia. Indeed, Eritrea appears almost totally unaware of the help that the international community has provided for Somalia, dismissing it out of hand.
The government in Asmara does call for Somalis to unite under the umbrella of diversity and for the people to be allowed to partake in the whole peace process, but at the same time it continues to sponsor extremists. It ignores such developments as the Garowe conferences and the principles drawn up there to provide for new constitutional development on the basis of the representation of all communities, regions and existing states of a federal Somalia state and reflecting the diversity of Somali communities. Actions speak louder than words but Eritrea still refuses to take any lessons from its past failures and actions, or from international practice and norms. It still fails to refrain from disruptive activities in the region or from supporting terrorists as the United Nations Monitoring Group has made clear. The result has been the sanctions imposed by UN Security Council Resolutions 1907 and 2023, but the impact on Eritrean policy has been minimal.
The most surprising aspect of the statement is that the Eritrean government is apparently prepared to urge that Somalis should select their representatives and elect their leaders, and even to insist that the voice of the people should be respected. Certainly no one would disagree, but Eritreans themselves have not been so lucky as to see any such processes in Eritrea, whether election of leaders or the selection of their own representatives. As in other respects, what the Eritrean government demands for others, it does not offer to its own people. There is no democracy, justice or freedom of speech in Eritrea today.
In conclusion, the statement adds that even a Somali-owned political process still requires assistance but this help can only come from “an honest external facilitation process” and to be successful such a facilitation group must be made up of representatives of countries and organizations that do not have any vested interests in Somalia and are acceptable to all key Somali actors. The statement provides no specific suggestions for this group, but there can be no prizes for guessing which country the Eritrean Foreign Ministry has in mind!
In sum, this statement is a classic example of Eritrea’s unjustified assumption that it, and it alone, is in the right and all others in the international community are in the wrong. Despite all evidence to the contrary, it refuses to accept that it ever makes mistakes, or that others might be in the right. It remains loudly arrogant and certain of its own faultlessness, taking its tone of high-handed assuredness and conceit from the interminable sermons delivered by President Isaias at every available opportunity, lecturing the rest of the world on its evils, not least the failure to understand his own intellectual brilliance. The word hypocrisy springs to mind.
Global Counter Terrorism Forum Horn of Africa Region meeting
The inaugural meeting of the working group for the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, Horn of Africa, was held earlier this month in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. More than 100 participants from thirty countries including Ethiopia, from the Forum, the UN, partners, countries in the region, regional and civil society organizations took part in the meeting to deliberate how best to counter terrorism.
Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Bernard K. Membe who opened the session noted that terrorism was a transnational problem and it required transnational approaches like the Forum to counter it. He said that the situation in Somalia had attracted international terrorists to the region thus posing threats to regional peace and security as well as to economic and social development. He recalled the 1998 attack on the Embassy of the United States of America in Dar es Salaam and stressed that not a single country was immune to the attacks of international terrorists. He expressed his belief that concerted joint efforts to share information, intelligence, skills and best practices could be used to facilitate the efforts of countries in the Horn of Africa and across the entire international community to counter terrorism.
Participants at the three day meeting highlighted the intricacies and cross-cutting nature of the region’s problems. These necessitated multi-layered responses and a holistic approach to terrorism. They expressed their full commitment to deal with the scourge of terrorism and provided briefings on the administrative and legislative measures taken in their respective countries in this regard. Ethiopia noted that it had adopted an Anti-Terrorism Proclamation over two years ago, in 2009, to protect the right of the people to live in peace, freedom and security from the threat of terrorism. It acknowledged the regional and global impact of terrorism, and had identified and named several national and international terrorist groups in a bid to curb and foil their terrorist activities. The country was actively engaged in counter-terrorism activities in order to ensure peace and sustainable development both in Ethiopia and in the Horn of Africa. The next GCTF Horn of Africa Region working group meeting is scheduled to take place in the second half of the year.
President Yayi hosts a consultation summit in Cotonou
On Saturday last week, President Boni Yayi of Benin, the current AU Chairperson, convened a mini-summit in Cotonou to consult with his peers on preparation of a roadmap of priority issues to be undertaken during his Chairmanship of the AU, on the setting up of various mechanisms to manage crisis situations prevailing in Africa, the fast-tracking of the issue of continental integration, the relationships between Africa and its international partners and Africa’s participation on major issues of global governance. Ethiopia’s delegation to the meeting was headed by Prime Minister Meles, and attending heads of state included the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Togo and South Africa.
Opening the meeting, President Boni Yayi said that it would be the first of the regular consultation meetings that he planned to organize during his Chairmanship, and he thanked leaders for responding to his invitation. In his remarks he noted that Africa was one of the richest continents and its minerals, its oil and its agricultural resources were among the most important reserves in the world. In terms of human resource, the President noted that by the year 2050 Africa would have a population of about 1.8 billion people with more than 60% under 30 years of age. In this regard, Africa was, he said, the continent of hope and opportunity. However, there was a lack of unity in the continent in the search for peace, stability, prosperity and development. There was, he emphasized a need to address this contradiction, to fight “Afro-pessimism”.
In this context, President Boni Yayi emphasized the importance of reinforcing the unity of Africa and enhancing its reactive capacity in order to address the multifaceted challenges confronting the continent. He stressed the need to improve mechanisms of conflict prevention, of management and resolution. He pointed out that it was essential to coordinate Africa’s strategic partnership with the rest of the world and to enable Africa to speak with one voice on issues of global concern such as climate change and others. President Boni Yayi said that the outcome of this consultation exercise would define the actions to be undertaken over the next 11 months of his Chairmanship.
The leaders deliberated on the agenda of the meeting in closed session, and since the occasion was one of informal consultation, no official communiqué was issued. Media reports, however, note that President Boni Yayi will now be travelling to a number of countries in Africa to address issues of peace and security in the continent, among them the current stalemate in the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan and the issue of the spread of arms in the Sahel region.
Responding to humanitarian needs
According to the February Early Warning and Response Analysis, Ethiopia had better meher crop production last year than in 2010 in most of the meher (main harvest) producing parts of the country. The analysis said by mid-February the meher harvest had been collected in most parts of the country and the result was improved general food security and nutrition in most regions. The report also noted that the southern and south-eastern pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of the country were showing improvements in livestock body conditions, conception rates and milk production in February as a result of better water and pasture availability following the satisfactory performance of the seasonal rains. There were however still some pockets in southern and south-eastern parts of Tigray, the North Wollo and Wag Himra woredas of Amhara, and parts of the East Hararge, West Hararge and West Arsi woredas of Oromia, where last year’s rains had been poor. Water and pasture also remained short in a few areas of the Degahabur, Fik, Jijiga, Shinile and Afder zones of Somali Regional State; in the Arsi, Bale, East and West Hararge zones of Oromia; in the South Tigray zone of Tigray and in most of Afar regions. The Government and a number of humanitarian agencies are now launching the first round of humanitarian assistance this year, providing the dispatch of relief food aid, trucking water and supplying health support in the areas covered by the Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector, currently targeting 3.2 million people.
The belg/gu/ganna (mid-February to May) rains are expected to perform better this year than last though they may have a delayed start. Equally, the government and its partners are better informed and prepared to deal with possible water shortages in the chronically water insecure southern and south-eastern pastoralist and agro-pastoralist areas, or with any delayed harvest or extended lean seasons in the belg cropping areas of the Southern Regional State or the eastern parts of Amhara, Oromia and Tigray Regional States. At the same time the government and NGOs are responding to the needs of the nearly thirty thousand Kenyans who have fled across the border into Moyale woreda in Borena zone, Oromia, and Moyale woreda of Liben zone, Somali Regional State. Following implementation of programs to boost agricultural and industrial productivity, the country’s national emergency food reserve provision is 400,000 tons. By the end of the current Growth and Transformation Plan, the government intends to have doubled agricultural productivity and increased the emergency food reserve to 3 million tons.
News and Views
Another name on the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee list
On February 17, the name of Ali Ahmed Nur Jim’ale, a prominent Somali business man, was added to the list of individuals and entities subject to a travel ban and an assets freeze by the United Nations Security Council’s Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee. Jim’ale, who played a prominent role in the former Islamic Courts Union, has been identified as one of Al-Shabaab’s chief financers by sources in Mogadishu. According to the Committee, he has also provided major funding and political support for Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is himself listed by the Committee. Jim’ale’s companies, including Hormuud Telecommunications are identified as engaged in providing key material and logistical assistance to Al-Shabaab, including the provision of weapons, and ammunition as well as fighters. Meanwhile, a senior US State Department official was quoted this week as saying that the US was considering the possibility of imposing sanctions on those blocking political progress in Somalia, referring to “possible travel restrictions and visa bans on individuals who serve as spoilers in the political process”. He did not identify potential prospects further but Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Berhane Gebrechristos, said at the end of last week that Ethiopia would also like to see tougher sanctions on Eritrea in a bid to pressurize the Eritrean regime’s continued support for rebels and extremists. He said Ethiopia will push for stronger UN sanctions to impact on Eritrea’s mining industry as well as further measures to restrict the activities of the regime’s leaders. Ethiopia, he emphasized, had always looked for peaceful relations with its neighbor. It wanted additional sanctions to change the behavior patterns of the regime in Asmara and put a stop to its support for Al-Shabaab and to its continuous efforts at destabilization in the whole region.
A 296 km Ethio-Sudan power transmission line completed
The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) has announced that it has completed the construction of a 296km long, 230kV power transmission line between Ethiopia and Sudan. The line connects the Ethiopian towns of Bahr-Dar and Metemma with the Sudanese border town of Gedaref, and so to the power grid of Sudan. The line, constructed with $41million funding from the World Bank, will transmit an initial 100MW of electricity from Ethiopia to Sudan. The project, in addition to contributing to Ethiopia’s foreign currency, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions utilizing Ethiopia’s surplus hydro-power. It may be recalled that the $65 million dollar Ethio-Djibouti power transmission line project, largely financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), was launched in October last year to increase infrastructural interconnectivity. Since then, Ethiopia has been exporting electricity to Djibouti on a trial basis. Ethiopia is also planning to export another 400MW of hydropower-generated electricity to Kenya by 2016.The government plans to generate a total of about 10,000 MW of electricity within the next ten years, to expand the country’s interconnectivity with neighboring countries and other nearby destinations.
SNNPR plans to benefit a hundred thousand pastoralists
The Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) Regional State, as part of the Government’s resettlement plans, is working to resettle 103,000 members of pastoral communities this budget year. The regional administration has now finalized the registration process based on the full consent of the communities involved. The beneficiaries of the current resettlement program, all volunteers, are pastoralist communities in sixteen identified villages in Southern Omo and Bench Maji zones. An irrigation pipeline capable of developing 1,000 hectares of land for agriculture has been completed, and some 315 water pumping generators have been purchased for agricultural activities. The program also includes the construction of schools, health posts, and veterinary clinics and grinding mills in addition to facilities for the kebele administration and police stations. The program is carefully designed to assist the volunteers to adapt to a settled way of living and have proper access to basic socio-economic benefits. Last year, the region resettled close to 11,000 pastoralists, all of whom have adapted successfully to a settled way of living. The region’s plan is part of the Government’s larger resettlement program, a carefully drawn up strategy to ensure pastoralist areas of the country benefit from development. In all cases, the beneficiaries are being provided with the necessary socio-economic infrastructure.
Lamu port joint project a reality, says Kenya’s Prime Minister
Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, has declared that the construction of Lamu port is now a reality. He has urged the provincial administration not to authorize any land sales in the area intended for the project. Speaking in Lamu where he led ministers, other officials and technocrats from the Cabinet Infrastructure Committee on a tour of the proposed port site, the Prime Minister said the port is the most serious project to be undertaken by the government since independence. It is scheduled for commissioning next week as a joint project of the Governments of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. Mr. Odinga noted that the project was already changing the lives of people and economics in the planned port site in Lamu West, even before any building has started. He said the government was looking at a project with the capacity of the port of Dubai which would provide large scale improvements for the lives of all Lamu residents. He appealed to people to support the project and drop objections over the loss of land. He said the area they were talking about was no more than a “drop in the ocean” compared to the benefits they would get, benefits which would far outweigh the monetary compensation being asked for. The Prime Minister admitted the region had been “sidelined” in the past, but that, he said, was a reason for residents to support the project. He said the government had considered other areas for the new port but it had chosen Lamu specifically for this reason.
Khartoum and Addis Ababa plan to boost ties
Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and the capital of neighboring Sudan, Khartoum, on Tuesday this week launched an annual action plan to consolidate links between the two cities. Addis Ababa and Khartoum were twined in December 2010. The plan was signed in Addis Ababa by the head of the Mayor’s Office and Cabinet Affairs of the Addis Ababa’s administration, Motuma Mekasha, and the Minister of Planning and Physical Development of Khartoum State, Al-Rasheed Osman Faqiri. The two parties also agreed to commit themselves to strengthen diplomatic ties and promote economic, social and cultural relations between Sudan and Ethiopia, and expressed their readiness to jointly work to promote better cooperation and understanding, and facilitate exchanges of best practices and experiences mutually beneficial for Ethiopian and Sudanese peoples. Al-Rasheed Osman Faqiri said Khartoum is keen to share Addis Ababa’s common values and experiences in housing development projects, in decentralized administration and on chambers of commerce. The two sides noted that the ‘sister city’ program would allow them to carry out various exchanges and other projects that would allow them to consolidate government to government relations. Cooperation between the twinned city governments would allow further contacts covering the areas of science, technology, health and education, and cultivating economic and trade ties. The signed action plan agreement comes at the time when Addis Ababa is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its foundation this year. Addis Ababa City Mayor’s Office External Relations Head, Almaz Mekonnen, has already announced that trade fairs will be organized both in Addis Ababa and Khartoum, and a cultural group from Khartoum will stage cultural show in Addis Ababa as part of the celebration.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs