CPA signatories reach agreement on Abyei – but much still needs to be done
The Government of the Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed an agreement on the temporary arrangements for the administration and security matters for the contested Abyei region on June 20th in Addis Ababa. The two parties agreed on the formation of a joint committee with equal representation from both sides to run a temporary administration. They accepted the redeployment of Sudanese military forces from the area, and agreed to demilitarize the Abyei region with the immediate deployment of an Interim Security Force composed of Ethiopian troops. The African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and Ethiopia, as the Chair of IGAD, played pivotal roles in encouraging the signatories of the CPA to reach this Agreement on Temporary Administrative and Security Arrangements for Abyei. The agreement was signed by Idris Abdel Gadir on behalf of the Sudan Government, and Pagan Amoum signed on behalf of the SPLM. Former President, Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AUHIP signed as witness. The agreement became effective as from the date signed and timelines on its implementation are attached as an annex to the agreement.
Under the temporary administrative arrangement, Abyei will be governed by a Chief Administrator (nominated by the SPLM), a Deputy Chief Administrator (the nominee of the GOS) and five heads of departments (three from the SPLM and two from the GOS). Their authority will be based on the Abyei protocol Paragraph 2.5. Their administration will provide necessary services, propose development and urbanization projects for the area and provide assistance to improve the lives of the people. The job of supervision and promotion of security and stability in the area is given specifically to the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC). This will be made up of four or more members, and the two parties will be equally represented and the AJOC will be co-chaired. The Committee will act on behalf of the President of the Sudan and the President of the South Sudan and the committee will be expected to report monthly to the two presidents on all political and administrative issues. The Presidents shall jointly direct the AJOC to deal with any matters related to Abyei. The administration would also be jointly financed by the two governments.
As regards security arrangements, the two parties have agreed temporarily to demilitarize the area of Abyei as defined by the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. According to the agreement, a Joint Military Observer Committee (JMOC) with equal numbers from both sides will be stationed at Abyei. This committee will set up a Joint Military Observer Team (JMOT) which will be unarmed but under the protection of the Interim Security Force of Abyei (ISFA). The Interim Security Force of Abyei will undertake all security issues within the Abyei region and will protect its borders from the incursion of all unauthorized forces as well as be responsible for supporting the Abyei police, protecting civilians from imminent threats, protecting monitoring teams, and facilitating and protecting those involved in humanitarian assistance. It will also monitor and verify all activity within the contested Abyei region.
The proposed mandate for the Interim Security Force of Abyei (ISFA) has been worked out between the SPLM, the NCP, the UN and Ethiopia. It is expected to be submitted to the United Nations Security Council for consideration and authorization shortly. This will expedite redeployment of the forces of the GOS and SPLM parties as well as the ISFA itself. The ISFA advance team will be dispatched to the Abyei area shortly to finalize deployment plans. Ethiopia committed itself to deploy a brigade as soon as possible after the two parties agreed. The command of the ISFA forces will remain under Ethiopian command and the force will be fully equipped to face any possible threat. Its promised deployment is a testimony to Ethiopia’s commitment to peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and to assist both parties to work towards friendly relations between neighboring states.
The international community has welcomed the agreement between the two parties and congratulated those who have contributed in the realization of the agreement. It has strongly urged the two parties to honour their commitments to withdraw all military forces from the contested Abyei region, establish the temporary administration and police force and fully cooperate with the United Nations and the Government of Ethiopia in the deployment of the peacekeeping mission. Recent reports make it clear that the recent fighting in the Abyei region has displaced thousands of people, destroying their assets and their livelihood. This agreement will allow the return of all displaced people to their places of residence and assist the Internally Displaced People to regain what they have lost. Equally, the agreement allows the right of pastoralists to access water and pasture for their cattle.
The signatories of the agreement now need to exert maximum effort to reach accommodation on the other post-referendum issues such as trade, oil, currency, citizenship and international agreements. The parties must resume negotiations on these issues. They must be concluded as a matter of urgency for the mutual benefit of both sides. The peoples of the two sides have more in common than differences. They are both fully aware of the cost of war and the necessity of negotiating, through principles of give and take, between the two states.
Somalia’s TFG gets a new Prime Minister
The Kampala Accord signed on June 9th between President Sheikh Sharif and Speaker Sharif Hassan also called for Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdillahi Formajo to resign. Initially reluctant, after demonstrations calling on him to stay in office, Mohamed Abdillahi Formajo stepped down last weekend: “Considering the interest of the Somali people and the current situation in Somalia, I have decided to leave my office,” he said in Mogadishu. The TFG Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Mr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas, a former lecturer at Niagara University, Canada, has been named as caretaker Prime Minister by President Sheikh Sharif. President Sheik Sharif praised Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, a Somali-American graduate with two masters’ degrees and a PhD from Harvard and from Vanderbilt University, for his “very clean” record. The President said he hoped that the new government would help improve ties with the international community which has been dismayed by the constant bickering among Somalia’s leaders. Abdiweli is from the Majerteen (Omer Mahamud) and his mother is from the Ogaden clan. The new Prime Minister promised that “our new government will continue implementing the policies of the previous government,” and building on the successes of his predecessor. In his inauguration speech he said his priorities would be security issues and the well-being of the security forces; fighting corruption; following the rules and regulations of the government; and bringing an end to the internal wrangles of the TFG. Farmajo, who was also present at the ceremony, called upon the public and the military forces to work with the new premier.
Following Mohamed Abdillahi Farmajo’s resignation, President Sheikh Sharif and Parliamentary Speaker, Sharif Hassan, held a meeting to discuss how best to realize the Kampala Accord and draw up strategies to deal with possible challenges. They agreed to brief the members of parliament about the Kampala Accord they had signed before a new prime minister is appointed. The President then held consultations with MPs from different clans. He invited Darod MPs for discussions regarding the nomination of a new Prime Minister and the need to work together for the implementation of the Kampala Accord. There was apparently some resistance to the nomination of the new Prime Minister, but the group finally accepted the President’s proposal. The President also met with MPs from the Digil and Mirifle (Rahenweyne) clans, and consulted with them as well as with the Hawiye and Dir MPs, and with MPs from the other clans which make up the 0.5 element of the 4.5 power sharing formula.
It was after these consultations that Mr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas was nominated as the new Prime Minister in a ceremony held at State House. The new Prime Minister will form his Council of Ministers after the Transitional Federal Parliament has approved his appointment. According to the Kampala Accord this must be done within thirty days. The political gymnastics over the selection of members of the Council of Ministers is expected to be unusually complex this time as the Council will only have a limited span – of just over a year. Under the Kampala Accord the elections have been postponed for a year and will have to take place by August 2012. Currently there is considerable speculation on possible choices.
The decision to change the Prime Minister was welcomed by many politicians and by some of the provincial administration. The Galmudug cabinet, for example, following a meeting in Galkacyo chaired by Galmudug President, Muhammad Ahmad Alin, to discuss the recent conflict between top TFG officials described the resignation of Muhammad Abdullahi Formajo as a courageous move, necessary to comply with the outcome of the Kampala talks. The Galmudug administration welcomed the progress that had been made under Farmajo’s premiership and particularly the recent victories in the fighting in Mogadishu. It also strongly warned senior government officials against any repeat of the recent disputes when it came to the appointment of the new Prime Minister and the endorsement of his cabinet by Parliament.
At the same time, there also appears to be some pressure developing from MPs who have been critical of the Speaker and of the Kampala Accord and who would apparently like to capitalize on the demonstrations against the Accord. Some former members of the Islamic Courts Union and others have been encouraging these MPs to demand a resumption of parliamentary sessions as soon as possible, with the intention of trying to attack the Speaker for his role at Kampala. There is strong suspicion that these critics are largely made up of people who are doing this to try and encourage the government to pay them off financially or by offering them ministerial positions.
There is, in fact, no doubt that MPs must now concentrate fully and completely on accomplishing the remaining transitional tasks during the next year. This is an absolute necessity if they do seriously want to help their country and the people of Somalia to address the challenges of the crisis that has been going on in Somalia over the last two decades. The completion of the transitional tasks is a necessity to build the basis of extricating the country from its current political, economic and social quagmire.
The African Union Ordinary Session convenes in Malabo
The 17th Ordinary Session of the African Union has started its meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, and is scheduled to last until July 1st when the Assembly of Heads of State and Government ends. Yesterday, June 23rd, the proceedings began with the 22nd ordinary session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the African Union which was officially opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. In his opening remarks, the Chair of the PRC highlighted the activities of the African Union over the last six months, as well as the program of work for the PRC over its two days of discussions. After its deliberations, the PRC will submit its recommendations to the African Union Executive Council (Ministerial Council) which will start its meeting at the weekend. The Executive Council which will meet from June 26th to June 28th will in turn provide recommendations for the Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments which will be convened on June 30th and July 1st. The theme of this Summit is “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Jean Ping, also spoke to the PRC, giving a summary of the activities of the Commission as well as the challenges that the African Union faced. In this regard, he emphasized the importance of the role played by the African Union in advancing its interest as a single entity. He hoped that Africa would continue to speak further with one voice to effectively address the challenges the continent faced in the areas of security, development and democratization. He underscored the need for vigilance and solidarity among member states in addressing these challenges so that the organization would not suffer the same fate as that of the Arab League in the international arena. Following Dr. Ping’s remarks, the guest of honour, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, welcomed participants to Malabo and wished them successful deliberations. He underlined the importance of African solidarity and of cohesion to address the challenges Africa faces in the 21st Century. During yesterday’s discussions, the PRC covered relations between the AU and the International Criminal Court (ICC), the double standard employed by the ICC and how best ICC members might seek to change the way the ICC is handling African issues.
Among the meetings taking place on the sidelines of the Summit, IGAD is expected to convene at ministerial level and address the issues of Sudan and Somalia and other matters critical to the region. The Executive Council at the weekend is expected to welcome the agreements reached between the SPLM and the NCP on Abyei. It is also expected to welcome the Kampala Accord and the nomination of a new Prime Minister of Somalia. It is anticipated it will call for the speedy establishment of a new cabinet in Somalia and will urge the Transitional Federal Parliament there to endorse a new cabinet quickly and move rapidly on with the remaining transitional tasks, to enable the TFG to consolidate the recent gains in security.
More Ethiopian citizens evacuated from Yemen
This week the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with the International Organization of Migration (IOM) has began the evacuation of some 1900 Ethiopian citizens trapped in Yemen by the escalating violence there. The first 277 arrived by chartered aircraft on Monday this week and another 277 flew into Bole International airport in Addis Ababa on Thursday. A third group of 277 is expected to arrive tomorrow, June 25th. These are people who have registered for evacuation from Harad and the process will continue all next week. The IOM said the first group of evacuees included 34 women and 115 children. Earlier, in April and May, the government organized the evacuation of 1580 Ethiopian citizens from Yemen. It is now dealing with the registration of another thousand more in the capital Sana’a and these are expected to be evacuated shortly.
Yemen has long been a center for both legal and illegal transit for people from the Horn of Africa looking for work and as a stepping stone en route to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and to Western Europe and the US. It has also become a major route for human traffickers shipping people across the Gulf of Aden, a majority fleeing the violence in Somalia. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates there are about 200,000 refugees in Yemen, but the Yemeni government believes there may be as many as a million in the country. Over 25,000 Somalis are registered in Sana’a and another 6,000 or so more from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq and other countries according to International Relief and Development.
The conflicts in Sana’a and sharply rising prices of food and fuel have made the cost of living intolerable for many of the refugees and non-Yemenis there. With President Ali Abdullah Saleh still in Saudi Arabia for treatment for injuries received from an attack on his offices earlier this month there are fear the country may be about to descend into civil war as rival political, clan and religious groups fight for power.
This repatriation process for Ethiopians from Yemen follows the successful return of nearly 200 Ethiopian citizens from Libya in April following the outbreak of civil war there. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs originally set up a Task Force to deal with the possible evacuation of Ethiopian citizens from areas of violence at the time of the Tunisian uprising. It drew up contingency plans to deal with repatriation in a number of countries should this become necessary as it did in Libya and now in Yemen. The Task Force includes officials from the relevant departments of the ministry, and consular offices, as well as from Immigration. It is in constant touch with the Ethiopian embassies and consulates in the countries where these problems have emerged.
A new development cooperation programme with France
On Wednesday this week, France and Ethiopia signed agreements providing for €337 million worth of assistance for the implementation of the Growth and Transformation Plan. Eighty percent of this is to be provided in the form of loans and twenty percent (€70 million) as grants. The agreement was signed on behalf of the Governments of Ethiopia and France by the Finance and Economic Development Minister, Ato Sufian Ahmed, and by the French Ambassador to Ethiopia, M. Jean-Christophe Belliard. The agreement covers the period 2011 to 2013 and amounts to increasing French aid six fold. The French embassy underlined the point that this support demonstrated that France considered Ethiopia a major country in terms of its development potential. Under the agreement, the major focus will be on energy and urban infrastructural projects. The French Development Agency will develop projects in Addis Ababa and a number of other cities; in Addis Ababa, these will include water, and sanitation, management of solid waste and urban transport. The Agency will also be involved in support of network management and energy diversification including geothermal and wind projects. Important support will also be given for the building of the Ethiopian Kenyan power inter-connection. The French Development Agency is also involved in assisting in the government’s agricultural strategy and in supporting various private sector activities.
The development cooperation program under the Partnership Framework Document 2006-2010 ended last year but its objectives have now been renewed, with a similar focus on water and sanitation, development of urban infrastructure and the traditional aid for culture and education. Within the framework of the implementation of the projects, France is committed to directing its assistance to sectors that promote economic and human development, particularly environmentally friendly projects aimed at sustainable development, and focusing its assistance on increasing the added value of projects. It will work towards improving food security, promoting good governance and the rule of law, capacity building and fostering the implementation of innovative financing.
Ethiopia values its relations with France greatly, and views France as one of its most important partners for economic cooperation. Since 2000, Ethiopia has been part of the French Priority Solidarity Zone of development assistance. France’s official development assistance to Ethiopia in 2004 amounted to €9.8 million, but under the development cooperation program for 2006-2010, a total of €79 million was allocated. The main areas of cooperation included agriculture, urban development, education, water and assistance for reform of the justice system. France also supported the reform of the military justice system in the Ethiopian army, and helped to train units that have taken part in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Burundi. Ethiopia which is, of course, currently involved in a major struggle against poverty and in its ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan, is particularly pleased with this more active assistance program which will give notable emphasis to its major priorities.
There are, of course, also a sizeable number of French investment projects operational in Ethiopia, mainly concentrated in the areas of brewing, distribution of petroleum products, floriculture and the hotel industry. In July 2004, Ethiopia and France ratified a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement to encourage and protect investments. An agreement on double taxation is currently being negotiated and is near finalization. France is an excellent market for Ethiopian commodities and vice versa. Total trade continues to grow steadily, reaching just over two billion birr in 2009, but the balance is firmly in favour of France. Ethiopian exports amounted to 210 million birr in 2009 with imports from France reaching nearly 2 billion birr.
Ethiopia, of course, also attaches great importance to the stability of the Horn of Africa, a region in which France continues to have strong interest. France still maintains a close relationship with Djibouti and operates a military base there. Ethiopia and France certainly share a common desire for peace and security in the region, and have common concerns over regional security issues including piracy and terrorism.
Eritrea: True to form…
The government of Ethiopia recently made public some details of the terrorist campaign sponsored by the regime in Asmara and its effort “to turn Addis Ababa into Baghdad.” The scale of preparations and the amount of explosives of all kinds that were amassed for the campaign were certainly frightening. The government of Eritrea was clearly aiming at a most spectacular extravaganza in bombing innocent civilians. It was also obviously counting on the damage the explosions would do to Ethiopia’s reputation as a diplomatic center if they took place, as intended, during an AU Summit. It was all intended to have maximum impact. However, fortunately, as with almost every campaign concocted by the Eritrean regime, this one proved no more than a pipedream. With all the terrorists captured, and all their tons of explosives, the organizers of the campaign back in Asmara could do little more than lick their wounds. This time round, very few people seem to have the stomach to listen to the protestation of innocence by Eritrea’s leaders.
That hasn’t prevented their usual outcry of protestation, though it has reached an unusually bizarre level this time round. In a press statement released on June 15th, the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to distance itself from any involvement in last January’s terrorist attempt in Addis Ababa. The statement produces numerous entities to blame for the dissemination of what it calls “defamatory allegations” by the “authors of fabricated ploys”. As usual, according to the statement, the chief culprit is the US administration along with its “allies in the Horn region” and their “growing frustration over the failure of the military, political, economic, and diplomatic conspiracies against the Eritrean people”. It’s never very easy to know for sure what is being implied by the Eritrean government, but clearly one aim is to give the simple fact of Eritrea’s involvement in terrorist activities a conspiratorial setting, so attention can be deflected from the issue of Eritrea’s responsibility. Eritrea’s leaders also appear to believe that they have put all their enemies on the defensive “politically, diplomatically, economically and militarily” or so they want the people of Eritrea to believe. What is so strange about this rather odd interpretation of the reality of the situation on the ground is that each and every one of the areas in which the regime claims to have prevailed (politically, diplomatically, economically and militarily) are the very issues in which it is being repeatedly called to account by the international community.
In fact, this statement is obviously an attempt to try to wriggle out of the mounting pressure that Eritrea is facing from the international community for the openly antagonistic and belligerent posturing that has become the trademark of the regime. The underlying logic is that if anything goes wrong in Eritrea, which it does all too often, then it must always be others, and in particular the US and its “allies in the Horn” who should take the blame. Eritrea, the statement says, is the victim of “these fabricated ploys” because of its policy of ‘self-reliance’ and its refusal to receive ‘handouts’ from the international community. Eritrea’s refusal to do the bidding of the US is what has pitted the latter against the regime in Asmara. There is no need to repeat how pathetic this argument is coming from a leadership that has offered its services to so many countries and so often that it has given obsequiousness a bad name.
It is interesting, however, that Eritrea’s leaders appear to care so little about changing their behaviour that they apparently find solace in externalizing responsibility for any and all their conduct. As the statement clearly demonstrates, rather than trying to refute the claims made by the Ethiopian government, the regime in Asmara merely continues to repeat its usual blame-it-on-the victim mantra. It continues to hope that its persistence with lies might pay off one day. In the case of the recent terrorist plot in Addis Ababa, this would require successfully refuting the mountain of evidence that Ethiopia has provided publicly. Given what Eritrean leaders know they have been up to, this would be a Sisyphean task. As an alternative, they continue to point fingers at other entities that have had nothing whatsoever to do with Eritrea’s errant behaviour. Unfortunately for Asmara, the evidence is simply too extensive and detailed for President Isaias’ con-artists to falsify.
Equally, judging by the regime’s past activity, there is something conspicuously missing in the statement of Eritrea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the past, Eritrea’s leaders have always roundly dismissed any claims by Ethiopia as mere fabrications of Ethiopian Security as part of a campaign to demonize Eritrea. In this statement, however, while denying any involvement on their part, Eritrea’s leaders nonetheless try to explain developments within Ethiopia in terms of what they claim is “the internal crisis” within the country. In other words, if the OLF has been doing something in Addis Ababa it isn’t us in Asmara that should take the blame. The argument seems to be that it must be the fault of the government of Ethiopia for the wrong policies it follows. At the same time, the statement suggests that even if Eritrea were to support the OLF, it could only win if it had a just cause. If opposition groups in Ethiopia, including the OLF, are involved in some such activity, they “are the ones to assume responsibility for their action” not the government of Eritrea.
The statement seems to suggest that the leaders in Asmara are becoming really frustrated by the continuous failures of their campaign. Certainly, they are known to blame the OLF itself. They don’t seem to understand that whatever their frustrations with the OLF’s capacity to deliver, there is incontrovertible evidence that it is Asmara which has orchestrated these campaigns. However, this time round the world appears to have finally caught a glimpse of just how allergic the Eritrean regime is to the quest for regional peace and stability. It is really time that Eritrea is treated with the seriousness that its errant behaviour warrants so greatly.
… producing an ever-growing list of the “enemies” of Eritrea
Meanwhile the regime in Asmara is busy these days putting out statement after statement, and with every press release the list of Eritrea’s “enemies” and the litany of allegations against them grows by leaps and bounds. In its statements of June 16th and June 21st, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea has added the UN Security Council and the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia to its list of sworn-enemies. That is hardly surprising, of course; the regime in Asmara is quick to label anyone who disagrees with it as an enemy. Nor is it unusual to see the extent of the arrogance of Eritrea’s leaders which now appears to have reached a point where it is hard to ever expect the regime to change its ways for even a moment.
This time round the Eritrean government contends there is no “legal basis” for any or all of the accusations made against the regime by the Security Council and the Monitoring Group. The statements raise what the Foreign Ministry calls ‘endless’ questions. To dwell on all of these questions would be pointless. Nor would it serve any purpose to ask if the regime is really interested in any answers. Take one example, concerning the legality of the Security Council decisions and the subsequent investigation into Eritrea’s destabilizing activities in the region. This raises the question whether the regime’s idea of legality or illegality has any relation to the meaning that the rest of the world attaches to these notions. Eritrea seems to forget that the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea because of its proven destabilizing activities in the region, its support for extremists in Somalia and for its invasion of Djibouti. It also has the strange idea that for any action by the UNSC or any other organization including the AU to be legal, it must be agreed to by Eritrea.
It might be recalled that it was not so very long ago that Eritrea was making suggestions that it was the victim not the perpetrator of all these activities of which it has been accused. At that point, of course, it was trying to tell ‘its side’ of the story to all and sundry, including the Monitoring Group which it now berates as illegal. What has now changed to prompt Eritrea to withdraw its recognition of the Monitoring Group’s legal status? As always, it is difficult to say what might have been the specific point to irritate the leaders of the regime to the point of hysterically denying the legality not only of the Monitoring Group, but of the Security Council itself and of its resolutions. The statements made by the Foreign Ministry seem to suggest that it was less a concern over legal issues as over the kinds of questions raised by the Monitoring Group in its investigations of Eritrea’s activities in the region.
One such “illegal” question, according to the Foreign Ministry statements, has to do with Eritrea’s air capabilities. The regime is incensed that an entity that has imposed sanctions on it is now inquiring about the ways and means used by Eritrea to continue to try to wreak havoc in the region. The regime is also angry because questions are being asked about the revenues the government obtains from different sectors. We ourselves can’t know if these questions were raised, but it is neither surprising, nor illegal, for a UN-mandated group to raise these and similar questions of a serial offender which has repeatedly defied the international community for far too long.
Eritrea still claims, even after a Qatari-mediated agreement to pull out its forces, that there is no such thing as an Eritrea-Djibouti border conflict. It continues to support the so-called “just” cause of extremists in Somalia. It keeps sending terrorists with tons of explosives to Ethiopia and Djibouti. It supports dissident groups in both Sudan and South Sudan. Quite frankly, it has yet to demonstrate any signs of progress towards normal diplomatic behaviour. Indeed, this is something that the regime in Asmara appears reluctant to even begin to try. It prefers to raise endless questions and settle for calling anybody that differs from it illegal. The regime’s all-too-frequent use of the word illegal is fascinating, coming as it does from a leadership that has in fact made illegality its business.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs