The IGAD Summit discusses Sudan and Somalia
The 16th Extraordinary Summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government took place on Tuesday, November 23rd, in Addis Ababa. The Summit was chaired by Prime Minister Meles, current Chairperson of IGAD, and present were President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Omar El Bashir of the Sudan, President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, the Chairperson of the IGAD sub-committee on the Sudan, as well as Mr. Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim, representing the President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and Engineer Mahboub Maalim, the Executive Secretary of IGAD. The Summit was preceded by the 38th Extraordinary Session of IGAD Council of Ministers and was briefed on the progress made in implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in the Sudan since the last IGAD Extraordinary Session held in Nairobi in March this year, by President El Bashir and by Sudan’s First Vice-President Salva Kiir, head of the Government of Southern Sudan; by Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; the Chairperson of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Mr. Thabo Mbeki; Sir Derek Plumbly, Chairperson of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC); and by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Sudan, Mr. Haile Menkerios.
Following these briefings, the Summit had an interactive and fruitful discussion on the efforts being made towards implementation of the outstanding provisions of the CPA and on the progress made. It appreciated the Framework Agreement reached by the two Parties, and was encouraged by their commitment to resolve outstanding issues through peaceful means. In this connection, however, the Summit urged the Parties to redouble their efforts to expeditiously resolve the remaining outstanding issues of border demarcation, Abyei and the post referendum arrangements in a spirit of compromise and awareness of the need to guarantee the rights and livelihoods of those affected by these issues. In their communiqué, the Heads of State and Government also underlined the need to have a timely, credible, free, fair and transparent referendum. In this respect the Summit welcomed the commitment by the Parties never to return to war but seek peaceful means to resolve any issues that might divide them. The Heads of State and Government were particularly encouraged by the Parties’ commitment to achieve, in the event of the secession of Southern Sudan, two viable States, living as peaceful and cooperative neighbors, maintaining common security as well as a “soft border” between the North and South to forge cooperation without disruption to the livelihood of the people.
As far as IGAD is concerned, the Summit noted that IGAD should play a leading role at this critical juncture of Sudan’s history, in close coordination with all those who are prepared to support the people of the Sudan in their endeavor to resolve the crisis peacefully. The Summit expressed its full commitment to assist the people of the Sudan to move forward irrespective of the outcome of the referendum. In this connection, while expressing their gratitude for the good work done by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), the IGAD Heads of State and Government assured the Chairperson of AUHIP, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, of their full readiness and commitment to support him in his endeavors. They affirmed their full confidence in the leadership of President Omar Hassan El Bashir and of General Salva Kiir to lead Sudan into a new era of peace, irrespective of whether the people of Southern Sudan choose unity or secession. The Summit requested the AUHIP to keep IGAD updated on the progress of negotiations, and mandated the Chairperson of the Assembly to present IGAD’s position to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) at its forthcoming session in Tripoli.
The Summit also discussed current developments and the deteriorating security situation in Somalia, following comprehensive briefings from the Foreign Minister of the TFG, Mr. Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim; from the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and from the Honorable Kipruto Arap Kirwa, IGAD Facilitator for Somalia Peace and Reconciliation. The Summit affirmed the unswerving and continued support of IGAD Member States to the TFIs of Somalia in their endeavor to create peace, security and stability and to put in place the institutions of governance and deliver basic services to the people of Somalia. However, the Heads of State and Government expressed their frustration over the “business as usual” attitude adopted by the Transitional Federal Institutions of Somalia, and called on the TFG leadership to cease its internal squabbles and expedite the formation of the new Cabinet. The Parliamentary session to endorse Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s list of ministers ended in uproar amid a dispute over how the MPs should vote, by secret ballot or in public; the Speaker postponed the session indefinitely.
The Summit urged the TFG to consolidate the recent gains on the ground through the provision of appropriate political leadership. It called upon the presidency and the parliament not only to work together in solidarity but also to ensure a harmonious relationship among the leadership of the two institutions. It urged the TFIs, in close consultations with the Somali people, IGAD and the international community, to carefully examine and provide the appropriate political options before the end of the transitional period, in August next year.
The Summit welcomed the communiqué of the latest AU Peace and Security Council which comprehensively addressed all the aspects of the situation in Somalia, but noted with deep concern that the United Nations Security Council has yet to respond to the request, formally made by the AU Peace and Security Council, to endorse AMISOM’s revised concept of operations and newly authorized strength for 20,000 troops; nor has it yet authorized an enhanced support package for AMISOM funded through UN assessed contributions. The Summit also regretted the failure of the Security Council to impose, as requested by the AU and by IGAD, a naval blockade and a no-fly zone over Somalia to prevent the entry of foreign elements into Somalia, as well as stop flights and shipments carrying weapons and ammunitions to armed groups inside Somalia. The Summit also reiterated the call for the Security Council to ensure the effective implementation of sanctions against all those impeding the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia. The Summit stressed that any further delay in acting on the request of the AU PSC had the potential of undermining ongoing efforts and prospects for achieving lasting peace and reconciliation in Somalia. The IGAD Heads of State and Government instructed IGAD’s Executive Secretary to follow up on these requests from IGAD and from the AU, to encourage the United Nations Security Council to act without delay, and allow AMSIOM to deal with the challenges on the ground in a more robust way. It directed the IGAD Chiefs of Defense Staffs to assess the current situation on the ground and make further recommendations to help the re-organization of the TFG security forces and assist AMISOM to fulfill its mandate.
Forty years of diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and China
Wednesday, November 24th marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Ethiopia and the People’s Republic of China. It was celebrated in Addis Ababa by a banquet at the Ghion Hotel attended by President Girma Wolde Giorghis, marking the end of a week of activities underlining the significance of the occasion. Also present were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Mr. Gu Xiaojie, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Chinese diplomats and heads of Chinese companies and institutions in Ethiopia as well as senior government officials.
In an exchange of messages with President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China, President Girma extended the congratulations and best wishes of the Government and people of Ethiopia to the Government and people of China. He said the Government of Ethiopia cherished their long-standing and friendly cooperation and would take the opportunity of this anniversary to further consolidate and develop, intensify and expand their mutually beneficial cooperation for the benefit of both countries and peoples. Ethiopia, President Girma said, is very appreciative of China’s stance on development cooperation towards Africa, from which many countries including Ethiopia had benefited. Ethiopia was making great headway in its development efforts and attached high importance to forging an enhanced partnership with China for its ambitious five year Growth and Transformation Plan. President Girma assured President Hu that Ethiopia was ready to do its best to further strengthen existing relations for the mutual benefit of both countries.
In his message to President Girma, President Hu extended, on behalf of the Government and people of China, warmest congratulations and best wishes to the Government and people of Ethiopia. Noting that their bilateral relationship had withstood the test of time in both international and domestic situations, he said that in this new century the two countries had set up an all-round cooperative partnership on the basis of equality and mutual trust, resulting in expanding bilateral trade, reciprocal investment and fruitful cooperation in the fields of culture, education and health. President Hu said their cooperation under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation could serve as a model for South-South Cooperation. China appreciated and thanked the Ethiopian Government for its firm commitment to the One-China principle and its precious support for issues concerning the core interests of China. It looked to further deepen the traditional friendship, enhance all-round exchanges and co-operation and jointly promote Sino-Ethiopia cooperation and the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa.
Following the exchange of Presidential messages, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, underlined the significance of the occasion and of the deep-rooted relationship between Ethiopia and China. Ethiopia he said had had longer links with some countries, but the relationship with China was so diverse and all-round that the impact had provided mutual satisfaction to both sides. He spoke of the many important exchanges of visits among high government officials and legislators, the signing of various agreements, the steady growth in trade and of Chinese investment in Ethiopia providing jobs as well as the transfer of technological expertise, all of which had contributed to the consolidation of ties. He described China as a true and reliable friend playing a pivotal role in Ethiopia’s effort to mitigate poverty, and noted that its assistance would allow Ethiopia to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. What made the relationship special was that China enabled Ethiopia to own its economic development strategy by its adherence to the principles of mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of each other’s countries, peaceful coexistence and by the non-existence of conditionality and commitment to a win-win mutual benefit. Ato Hailemariam emphasized that the past forty years of fruitful engagement paved the way for continuing meaningful cooperation for many years to come, and promised that Ethiopia would never forget the generosity and good will of China.
In reply, Ambassador Gu noted that relations had developed in a sound and profound manner especially after 1991, and in the new century both countries had set up an all-round cooperative partnership on the basis of equality and mutual trust. China had become one of Ethiopia’s most important trade partners, with the bilateral trade volume increasing by 25% in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period in 2009. More and more Ethiopian enterprises were benefiting from China’s zero tariff treatment and Ambassador Gu noted the “active participation and spectacular performance” of Ethiopia at the Shanghai World Expo 2010. 2010 is a year of great significance for Ethiopia, he said: the free and fair elections in May, the seven years of double-digit growth and the new government would pave the way for the implementation of the Growth and Transformation Plan and open a new chapter for Ethiopian development and renewal. Ambassador Gu said China and Ethiopia were both developing countries and both were experiencing their fastest periods of development. Their economies were highly complimentary; their peoples were good friends, good brothers, good partners. Over the past forty years, the relationship between China and Ethiopia had achieved great results and brought a lot of tangible benefits. Looking to the future, there was even greater potential for mutually beneficial cooperation. China cherished its friendship with Ethiopia and was ready to work for the further development of all-round and pragmatic cooperation for truly win-win results.
President Isaias conjures up another anti-Ethiopian ‘Front’ –yet again!
After an apparent hiatus, the regime in Asmara is back in business reinventing its campaign to destabilize Ethiopia. Not that the Eritrean regime has ever stopped its campaign of trying to destabilize Ethiopia, but it had appeared to be running out of options, having repeatedly used and reused an aging rogue’s gallery of desperate elements among the Ethiopian opposition in the Diaspora. Equally, despite a continuing anti-Ethiopian media campaign, it had almost begun to look as if Eritrea was giving up its old ways. There were frequent references to ‘renewed good faith’ for peace, and peace agreements being mediated by third parties in which Eritrea was supposedly taking an active part. Some in the UN managed to see the Eritrean regime as a potential broker for peace in the region, and even people usually cautious in their approach to President Isaias were apparently prepared to entertain the idea of giving the Eritrean regime the benefit of the doubt.
It wasn’t long, however, before any such ideas were revealed as a chimera. Whatever alleged overtures for peace that it might have been thought that Eritrea was displaying have now been revealed as no more than a rather facile attempt at window dressing. Scratch the surface of the supposedly peaceful façade and the old habits of the regime, as patently destructive as ever, immediately become apparent once more. In a recent interview in Arabic, President Isaias went as far as to deny that he ever agreed to withdraw his forces from Djibouti. At the same time, he claimed to have been ‘surprised’ to learn that there was any misunderstanding with Djibouti. His comments, in effect, demonstrated his government wasn’t serious about any peaceful resolution of the conflict, much less prepared to become a constructive partner for peace in the region. He was in fact delivering a very public snub to the very mediators whom he also affectionately referred to as brothers. Similarly, with regard to Somalia, Eritrea’s support for extremists has continued unabated. Indeed, Eritrea’s opposition to the TFG has become even more outspoken. The regime in Asmara has left nobody in doubt that it still refuses to play by the normal rules of international behavior.
At the same time, Eritrea’s anti-Ethiopia campaign also seems to be showing a faint sign of activity and momentum after a period largely confined to vitriolic propaganda and farcical interviews by Diaspora politicians. Eritrea has never shown much signs of being able to learn from past failures, and it has once against tried to cobble together yet another recycled coalition of alleged fighters to ratchet up its destabilization campaign. There is now a new front, a new slogan, a new acronym, the UEDC, the Unity of Ethiopians for Democratic Change, to get used to before it too inevitably collapses. The regime in Eritrea has long had a weakness for churning out non-viable organizations designed to destabilize the governments of Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia. Now the factory is back at work with a new Ethiopian front, bringing together the ever dwindling ranks of the Diaspora-based rejectionists prepared to join in the Eritrean-led campaign of cursing the government of Ethiopia. This new organization is a collection of desperate groups which have failed often enough over the past two decades. It won’t get very far this time round. The Eritrean regime itself knows perfectly well that none of its dreams of destabilizing Ethiopia can be implemented by a collection of failed nonentities. Its own enormous and dedicated military machine, after all, failed to make any progress in this direction. Despite this, the regime is apparently convinced that even a single threat, however insignificant, against Ethiopia will have an impact. It is an expression of the zero-sum politics that has long characterized the regime in Asmara.
What makes this latest effort by President Isaias any different from previous ones is that it has brought together virtually all those who lost out earlier in their efforts to inflict harm on Ethiopia. Most of them have in fact long since been given up for dead. What the Eritrean regime might be hoping they can now accomplish other than being just another minor irritant with little or no security interest, isn’t clear. Then again, the Eritrean regime doesn’t seem to be bothered too much by the amount of failure or its inability to achieve its policies. It now seems to be driven more by an almost metaphysical belief that Ethiopia will one day disintegrate rather than by any realistic hope of being able to achieve such a goal through its own efforts. Its leaders are living in a universe of their own, one in which Ethiopia’s growing importance and increasing strength in all fields, including both politics and economics, is translated into weakness and marginalization. Only this can explain why the regime is still prepared to support the fantasy that non-existent, even virtual, ‘freedom’ movements might be able to achieve what its own 400,000 strong army has long since acknowledged as impossible. It is hardly surprising that these fronts only make the news in the web pages of Ethiopian Review or on Eri-TV in Asmara.
Core Principles of Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy: Ethiopia-France relations
The relationship between Ethiopia and France goes back a long way with an agreement to respect each other’s sovereignty signed between the King of France and the King of Shoa in central Ethiopia in 1836. This was during the period of the Zemene Mesafint when the imperial authority was virtually non-existent but formal diplomatic relations between France and Ethiopia were established in 1897 during the reign of the Emperor Menilek (1889-1913). France and Ethiopia signed a treaty in 1897 recognizing the border between Ethiopia and French Somaliland, later Djibouti; and it was during Menilek’s reign that the 781 km Ethio-Djibouti railroad project was started, providing Ethiopia with access to the port of Djibouti. The line, which finally reached Addis Ababa in 1917, played a vital role in the development of Ethiopia during the last century, and remains a reminder of the close relations between Ethiopia and France that have existed for well over a century. Indeed, Ethiopia-France friendship has transcended the problems induced at various times by divergent political orientation and has been emphasized by numerous agreements to enhance bilateral relations, in the areas of diplomacy, economics and culture. A Cultural Agreement was signed in 1958, though the Lycée Guebré Mariam was founded earlier, in 1947. There are Franco-Ethiopian Alliance schools in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa and a French Centre of Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa. In recent years, twinning programs have been instituted respectively between the cities of Debre-Berhan, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa of Ethiopia and the cities of Blanc-Mesnil, Lyon and Villerbanne in France, further encouraging people-to-people relations.
Ethiopian foreign policy pays special attention to laying a solid foundation for building enhanced global partnerships that will allow for technology transfer, increased investment and trade relations, as well as ensuring a concerted global effort against security threats at national, regional and global levels. On the basis of these core principles, Ethiopian French bilateral relations have remained excellent and growing. The long historical relationship has been consolidated by various cooperation agreements and by a whole series of high level visits. Among these have been visits to France by Prime Minister Meles (June 2010), former Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin (November 2007) and former State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tekeda Alemu (July 2009). Recent visits by French officials to Ethiopia have included visits by the former French Foreign Minister, Mr. Bernard Kouchner (July 2007 and November 2008), by French parliamentarians (December 2008) and by Mrs. Anne-Marie Idric, French State Minister for Foreign Trade. A planned visit to Ethiopia by French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to materialize in January. This will be the first such visit for over 40 years; the last such visit was by Charles de Gaulle in 1966.
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 ongoing development cooperation program for 2006-2010, €79 million were allocated. The main areas of cooperation have included agriculture, urban development, education, water and justice system reform. The current development cooperation program is coming to an end this year, and there is a need for both sides to begin preparations for the next round of a framework agreement program. Ethiopia, currently involved in a major struggle against poverty, looks forward to being able to sign a more active program which will give particular emphasis to the priorities of the Government’s in the new five year Growth and Transformation Plan.
In July 2004, Ethiopia and France ratified a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement for encouraging and protecting investments; and an agreement on double taxation is currently being negotiated. Moreover, there are a sizeable number of French investment projects of which a number are operational. These are mainly concentrated in four sectors: brewing, distribution of petroleum products, floriculture and the hotel industry.
France has been an excellent market for Ethiopian commodities and vice versa. Total trade grew to just over two billion birr last year, up from 0.73 billion birr five years earlier, but the balance remains firmly in favor of France with Ethiopian exports amounting to 210 million birr last year and imports from France reaching 1.81 billion birr. Ethiopia, however, is France’s 11th-biggest customer and its 13th-leading supplier.
Ethiopian foreign policy, of course, attaches great importance to the stability of the sub- region in which France also continues to have strong interest. France still maintains a close relationship with Djibouti and operates a military base there. Ethiopia and France indeed share a common desire for peace and security in the region, and have common concerns over regional security issues including piracy and terrorism. We would also recall that France has supported the reform of the military justice system in the Ethiopian army, and helped to train the Ethiopian battalions which have taken part in the United Nations peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Burundi.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs