May 28th – the day that launched Ethiopia’s Renaissance
Twenty years ago, EPRDF forces finally entered Addis Ababa to much fanfare and expectation, victorious in the long-drawn out and bloody civil war that had engulfed the country for so long. It was a momentous day for people who had suffered for nearly two decades at the hands of a ruthless tyrant and whose lives had been shattered by the regime’s misguided policies. The sense of jubilation and the sighs of relief at the demise of the dictatorship were palpable. There had been no love lost between the military junta and the peoples of Ethiopia who had had to endure so much. At the same time many had a sense of apprehension as to what might lie ahead for the state and peoples of Ethiopia. The country was standing once again at a crossroads, at a point which would have far-reaching existential significance for the years to come.
This was no surprise to close observers of political, economic and historical developments in the country. It was clear by the demise of the Derg that the long-standing political formula of rulers maintaining the Ethiopian state in its traditional form had reached a cul-de-sac. The injustices that had been inflicted on the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia for so long had reached a point where the nation was about to break apart. Under the façade of euphoria at the long-overdue fall of the Derg seethed an intense sense of alienation from the Ethiopian body politic among a score of armed movements representing as many ethnic groups which had been at the receiving end of the injustices perpetrated over decades by the rulers of the state. To add to the dilemma some of these movements were of separatist persuasion.
It was a daunting task to think of bringing even a modicum of stability to a country where hundreds of thousands of armed personnel of the previous regime still roamed. The EPRDF, however, had from the outset two very clear ideas: one was that the concept of Ethiopian-ness, however distressed it might look in 1991, was a notion worth salvaging; the peoples of Ethiopia deserved to live in harmony and in equality within a democratic Ethiopia. Secondly, it was equally clear, after more than a century of failed experiments at centralization, heavy-handed campaigns and mindless assimilation that the state must be re-formulated and rebuilt, and the EPRDF was adamant that this could only be done on the basis of a pluralist society that respected the diversity of its constituent parts.
The subsequent steps and the policies and institutions that have been put in place show clearly the extent to which these two factors have driven the political and economic transformation set in motion on May 28th, 1991. The nation and the peoples of Ethiopia have come a long way since those days. It’s been a rugged, at times a frightening ride, but it has also been crowned with success after success in a range of areas, politically, economically and socially.
When Ethiopia embarked on the process of democratization it was in the firm conviction that this was the only path to provide for the survival of the Ethiopian state and achieve the betterment of peoples’ lives. It was undertaken not because of the preaching of the developed world but because of the Government’s commitment to the fundamental principles of democracy and its understanding that this was the only way to extricate people from the trap of poverty and attendant violence. In addition to giving full credit to the universal values of political freedom, equality and social liberty, the Government has been equally vigorous in investing in the promotion of social justice and good governance without which these freedoms would mean little. There has been considerable progress in putting in place institutional mechanisms to anchor the process on a firm basis. Democratization has come a long way in ensuring the participation of the peoples of Ethiopia at all levels of self-governance. Ethiopians of all walks of life and at all levels participate in the formulation and implementation of the policies that impact on their lives.
Much has been achieved through the Government’s pro-poor policies. Road development has provided access all across the country for previously unavailable healthcare and education. Millions of Ethiopians today are in school; enrollment in tertiary education has increased by staggering rates. Millions of peasants have earned much improved incomes, and the number of people who have already graduated out of poverty is nothing short of astounding. It has instilled a sense of conviction among millions that poverty is in fact beatable and that Ethiopia has turned a corner in many ways. As one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, it is one of a select few countries slated to meet most, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals. It is quite clear that Ethiopia is on the right trajectory to unshackle itself once and for all from the abject poverty with which it has been synonymous for far too long.
Ethiopia’s standing in international relations is another area that has seen marked improvement over the last two decades. The identification of poverty and bad governance, rather than neighbors, as the enemy to be fought, and the focus on domestic challenges to reduce external vulnerability, has meant that the bulk of the nation’s resources could be spent on areas that need repair not just on unnecessary defense capabilities. Ethiopia has been able to neutralize successfully whatever threats that have come from various areas thanks to the reorientation of its priorities into the campaign against poverty. With a growing role in regional peace and stability, its diplomatic stature in the international community has taken on an increased significance. This is contributing to the efforts to improve the country’s previously negative image.
The policies to improve political governance and achieve sustainable development have also created a favorable atmosphere for a much more solid and firm sense of Ethiopian nationalism. Today more than ever, Ethiopians of all persuasions are united in the cause of the nation and its efforts in all areas of political and economic development. An economically better-off and politically freer Ethiopia has proved a much more dependable ally for peace in the region as well as better placed to protect the interest and aspirations of its citizens. It has provided a much clearer idea of where citizens want to go and of what they owe to their country. The factors that informed the choices made after May 28th have come a long way in bringing about a sense of unity among citizens and genuine dedication to the country, very different from anything the nation has witnessed in several thousand years.
The embodiment of the monumental achievement from the choices that May 28th made possible is the Grand Renaissance Dam. The Dam encapsulates the major achievements that Ethiopia has made over the last two decades, showcasing the prospect of a brighter future that the renaissance will usher in. The Grand Renaissance Dam is a testament to the unflinching commitment of the government and peoples of Ethiopia to build a solid foundation for national unity; it symbolizes the solemn promise made on May 28th to do just that. While recognizing the enormity of the challenge and the effort it will take to accomplish, the decision of the Government of Ethiopia to go ahead with a project, dreamt of for centuries, was a very clear signal that a proud nation and its peoples were once again poised to take their rightful place in the world whatever it might take. The amount of enthusiasm it has generated is a testament to the enduring legacy this monumental project will have in strengthening the bonds that tie all Ethiopians together. No other development in living memory has galvanized Ethiopians to such an incredible degree.
The decision that the dam will be built with domestic capacity is made on the basis of a clear understanding of realpolitik, but it is also a very clear signal that nothing can turn the clock back on Ethiopia’s path to its Renaissance. Ethiopia is now in a position to declare to the world that it can make it on its own in the face of any adverse campaigns. This testifies to the great economic gains made and the capacity built up over the years. The economic growth registered so far has gone a long way to dispel some people’s illusions that Ethiopia would remain forever mired in poverty. Politically, it is gratifying to realize that the far-reaching structural changes introduced over the last two decades have been pivotal in achieving the kind of economic capacity that has enabled the government and peoples of Ethiopia to take up this hitherto insurmountable task of realizing the dream of generations. Public participation at all levels of governance has certainly contributed.
Equally, the possibility of the Renaissance Dam is as much the result of sensible foreign policies. The Government has consistently pursued constructive engagement and mutual respect and interest as the guiding principles of foreign relations. It has demonstrated consistently that it is not in the business of harming others or standing in their way. Its active participation in the decade long negotiations to address the trans-boundary resource of the use of Nile waters in an equitable and reasonable manner has underlined the point. The indications of cooperation now coming from lower riparian countries were unimaginable during the previously confrontational approach adopted by previous Ethiopian governments towards Egypt or Sudan.
It is no exaggeration to say all this was made possible in the context of the changes that followed the downfall of the Derg on May 28th, 1991. The choices made since then have led to significant strides in many areas. They have enabled the peoples of Ethiopia take up challenges that seemed insurmountable. Now, however, poverty has been proved to be far from invincible, indeed its defeat is round the corner. Results have been achieved cementing the unity of Ethiopians in a manner that no supposed policies of assimilation could have ever have brought about. With the launching of the Grand Renaissance Dam, May 28th has turned another significant page in the chapter of Ethiopia’s Renaissance and development.
The Second Africa-India Summit Forum meets in Addis Ababa
The Second Africa-India Summit Forum was held May 24th – 25th here in Addis Ababa and India’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, led his country’s delegation. Africa was represented according to the Banjul Formula for the representation of Africa at such meetings with the Heads of State and Government representing the eight Regional Economic Communities, the Chairperson of the African Union, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the initiators of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Chairperson of Heads of State and Government’s Orientation Committee of NEPAD, the Executive Directors of the Regional Economic Communities and the Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD taking part.
The Summit adopted the Addis Ababa Declaration and the Framework for Enhanced Cooperation. The Declaration is aimed at further consolidating the partnership launched some three years ago in New Delhi. It recalled that Africa and India have been fraternal partners and allies in the struggle for independence and the achievement of self-determination. The two sides reaffirmed that their partnership remained based on the fundamental principles of equality, mutual respect, mutual benefit and historical understanding amongst their peoples, and should continue to be guided by the principles of respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. Areas for co-operation should include sharing strategies for sustainable development, poverty alleviation, health care, universal education and sharing appropriate technologies. It underlined the importance of South-South Cooperation to supplement North-South Cooperation not substitute for it.
The two sides also declared their determination to work together to address global challenges. In addressing these challenges Africa and India continue to reiterate their intention to ensure that the interests of developing countries were safeguarded and that socio-economic development requirements of their countries guaranteed. In this regard, they vowed to work together on global issues, such as the climate change negotiations, the global economic crisis, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, a comprehensive and balanced outcome of the Doha Round of trade negotiations as well as international peace and security, disarmament and the fight against terrorism and piracy. They also underscored the need for urgent and comprehensive reform of the UN and the need for it to function in a transparent and efficient manner through the expansion of the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership of the Security Council.
The Declaration expressed satisfaction at the headway made in adopting the Africa-India Framework of Cooperation, and the four year Plan of Action adopted in March 2010 and the progress being made in the establishment of 21 capacity- building institutions in various countries in Africa, and the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme offered by India. It observed that the partnership between Africa and India goes beyond bilateral linkages to strengthen partnerships with the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities, and that this “multi-tiered functional engagement which India has with Africa is a model for multilateral engagements around the world”.
The Summit adopted the Africa India Framework for Enhanced Cooperation to supplement the existing Framework. The Framework for Enhanced Cooperation aims to give additional substance to the partnership and to widen its scope. It identifies areas for cooperation that would be implemented over the course of the partnership. These involve economic cooperation in agriculture, trade, industry and investment, small and medium enterprises, finance and regional cooperation, as well as political cooperation in peace and security and civil society and governance; cooperation in science, technology, research and development; in social development and capacity building; in health, culture and sports; in tourism; in infrastructure, energy and environment; and in the areas of media and communications. In six months time, the partners also agreed to jointly revise the Plan of Action to implement the agreements in the Enhanced Framework for Cooperation. The two sides further agreed to institutionalize their Summit process, and therefore decided to hold the next India-Africa Summit in 2014, in India where the first Summit took place in April 2008, in New Delhi.
The Summit welcomed the further initiatives for Africa announced by Prime Minister Dr. Singh during the week. At the Summit’s plenary session, the Prime Minister announced that India will offer 5 billion US dollars for the next three years under lines of credit to help achieve the development goals of Africa. India will also offer an additional 700 million US dollars to establish new institutions and training programs in consultation with the African Union and its institutions. Dr. Singh also announced that India would support the development of a new Ethio-Djibouti Railway line to the tune of 300 million US dollars with a view to promoting regional integration through infrastructural development. He proposed the establishment of new institutions at the pan African level: an India-Africa Food Processing Cluster; an India-Africa Integrated Textiles Cluster; an India-Africa Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting; an India-Africa Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development and said India would be prepared to support the idea of an India-Africa University for Life and Earth Sciences. He also proposed the joint establishment of an India-Africa Business Council. In the area of education, over the next three years, India’s commitment by way of scholarships to African students will amount to more than 22,000. With respect to peace and security, India will contribute 2 million US dollars for the African Union Mission in Somalia. There was a new economic growth story emerging from Africa, said Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the continent “possesses all the pre-requisites to become a major growth pole of the world in the 21st century”. “We will work with Africa to enable it to realize this potential,” he added
A number of outreach events accompanied the successful two day meeting including a joint African-Indian academic symposia, and Indian trade show, a Business Conclave for businessmen from Africa and India, and an India Africa Media Partnership Symposium as well as a program of Indian and African crafts, joint cultural performances in the “Rhythm of Life” showcasing a fusion of Indian and African music and culture, “ From Tradition to Innovation” a multimedia exhibition tracing the Africa-India partnership, and a film festival of the best of India’s commercial cinema
India’s Prime Minister visits Ethiopia
India’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, also held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Meles during which they reviewed ways to expand and deepen India Ethiopia cooperation. Prime Minister Meles warmly welcomed Dr. Singh, underlining the long and close relationship between the two countries, and noting areas where current economic cooperation might be enhanced in areas of trade, investment, development finance, technical assistance and the fight against terrorism. One possibility might be an increase in Duty Free and Tax Preferences for Ethiopian exports to India. The Prime Minister expressed his hope that Indian investments in Ethiopia might reach 10 billion dollars in the coming years, and indicated that Ethiopia was looking for increased support for infrastructure development and increased capacity building, including both human and institution building.
Dr. Manmohan Singh thanked Prime Minister Meles for his warm welcome and for the support Ethiopia had given to the successful organization of the second Africa-India forum. He indicated India would increase current targets of bilateral trade and investment flows to Ethiopia and consider extensions to the Duty Free and Tax Preference for Ethiopia’s exports to India. He said he would be glad to increase the human institution building process, and added that India would establish a vocational/incubation center, increase the number of scholarships, cooperate in the fight against terrorism, and support the additional demands for railway projects in Ethiopia. Dr. Singh also stressed there was considerable scope for cooperation in the areas of agriculture and science and technology as well as over the World Trade Organization, climate change and in the G-20.
Dr. Manmohan Singh, making the first bilateral visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Ethiopia, also addressed a joint session of the Ethiopian Parliament before travelling on to Tanzania on Thursday. In his address to Parliament, where he received a standing ovation, Dr. Singh spoke of the threats to the Horn of Africa from piracy and terrorism and thanked Ethiopia for its backing for India’s bid for permanent membership of a reformed UN Security Council. He stressed that India attached high importance to its relations with Ethiopia and emphasized that the development and economic partnership was progressing well. He also underlined that the voice of Ethiopia was heard with respect. Addis Ababa, the new flower, had, he said, become the diplomatic capital of Africa as the Headquarters of the African Union and of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He congratulated the people of Ethiopia on their achievements. During the visit, agreements were reached in the area of taxation and of small and medium enterprises to benefit business communities in both countries. An Avoidance of Double Taxation Treaty was signed by Ato Sufian Ahmed, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, and by Shri S.M. Krishna, the External Affairs Minister of India as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency and its Indian counterpart.
UN Security Council and AU’s Peace and Security Council consultations
Last weekend the United Nations Security Council delegation held its fifth consultative meeting with the African Union’s Peace and Security Council here in Addis Ababa. The meeting reviewed a number of matters of concern including Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan and Somalia, and discussed ways of strengthening their partnership consistent with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter with regard to maintaining peace and security in Africa. It assessed co-operation with regard to conflict prevention and peacekeeping as well as the promotion of human rights and democracy, and expressed concern over the situation of women and children in conflict situations, while recognizing the role women have played in resolving conflicts peacefully. The meeting welcomed the establishment last year of a UN office to the AU to integrate liaison, peacekeeping, AMISOM planning and UNAMID coordination. It reiterated the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and financing of the AU’s peace and security capability, and looked forward to the reports that the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretary-General of the UN will be submitting on their respective strategic vision for an AU/UN partnership. There was agreement on the need to implement previous agreements on undertaking collaborative field missions in connection with selective peacekeeping operations. The joint UN/AU Task Force on Peace and Security first met in New York in September last year; a second session was in Addis Ababa in February. The meeting encouraged the Task Force to focus on strategic and country-specific issues of interest to both organizations.
In their communiqué, the two organizations expressed their deep concern over the continuation of violence in Libya, and reaffirmed their commitment to the protection of civilians in Libya. They demanded an immediate ceasefire, and an end to violence and all attacks on civilians, and a solution which responded to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people. They stressed the need for a political solution and welcomed the efforts of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General and of the AU High Level ad hoc Committee on Libya in the context of the AU Road Map. They also expressed serious concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation and called for full compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as the need to provide specific support for African migrant workers in Libya. The AUPSC called for an extraordinary AU Summit on Libya which was held on Wednesday this week.
On Cote d’Ivoire, the UNSC and the AU welcomed the inauguration of President Outtara on May 21st, and commended the role of the UN, the AU and ECOWAS in resolving the post election conflict there. They stressed their readiness to help in the unfinished aspects of the peace process, and underlined their full support for all efforts aimed to promote justice and reconciliation, including the planned Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission.
They welcomed the successful Sudan referendum and appealed to the international community to provide the necessary support for the emergence of two viable states. They urged the two parties to reach understanding on outstanding CPA issues under the auspices of the AU High level Implementation Panel. They expressed deep concern over increased violence in the Abyei region and called on both parties to implement recent security agreements and urgently reach agreement on Abyei’s post-CPA status, stressing the importance of inclusive, timely and credible consultation processes. The UNSC and the AU PSC also expressed concern over the violence and insecurity in Darfur, and the importance of reaching an inclusive and comprehensive solution there. They called on the Government of Sudan and the armed movements to contribute to the necessary enabling environment for the Darfur Political Process including civil and political rights, freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of movement of participants and of UNAMID, freedom from harassment, arrest or intimidation, or from interference from either side.
Somalia was another area of grave concern with its dire humanitarian situation, drought, terrorism, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, piracy and hostage taking. The UNSC and AUPSC reiterated the need for a comprehensive strategy to encourage peace and stability in line with the Djibouti Agreement, and urged all stakeholders to participate in the upcoming consultative meeting in Mogadishu. They underlined the importance of a comprehensive response to piracy and its underlying causes and noted the request to the UN Secretary General to report on the protection of Somali natural resources. They commended the progress made by AMISOM and the TFG in consolidating security in Mogadishu and stressed the importance of predictable and timely resources for AMISOM, and called on the international community to “make contributions urgently to AMISOM, without caveats”.
The UNSC and AUPSC communiqué also noted the AUPSC recommendations on Somalia last October. AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra said after the meeting that some African states were frustrated that the UN had failed to impose the no-fly zone and naval blockade for Somalia requested last year, but had moved within days to take action in Libya. He said that ten months had elapsed without a significant decision and “the official reaction is that those requests are still being considered”. The AU has also been pushing the UN to “re-hat” AMISOM as a UN peacekeeping force.
The meeting agreed the next UNSC/AUPSC consultative meeting will be held in New York no later than July 2012. After the session on Saturday, the UNSC members had a meeting with Prime Minister Meles at which regional peace, security and stability issues were discussed, and the Prime Minister also briefed the Council members on the continued refusal of Eritrea to discuss its dispute with Ethiopia and on Eritrea’s continued efforts to destabilize Ethiopia and other countries in the region and its ongoing support for extremism and terrorism in Somalia.
After leaving Addis Ababa, the UNSC went on to Khartoum and Juba and to Abyei in Sudan and then to Nairobi to discuss concerns related to Somalia. In addition to meeting politicians from Mogadishu, the Security Council also met separately with a delegation from Somaliland headed by Foreign Minister Muhammad Abdullahi Omar. The Security Council delegation returned to New York today to consider plans for a continued UN presence in South Sudan after its independence on July 9th.
Somali politicians told to stop bickering
The UN Security Council delegation gave a blunt warning to the TFG and Somali politicians it met in Nairobi on Wednesday that they must stop their infighting. The Security Council members met with a Somali delegation from the TFG headed by President Sheikh Sharif and Prime Minister Abdullahi Muhammed, as well as other politicians including the Speaker of the Parliament and the President of Galmudug, Mohammad Ahmad Alim, and the President of Puntland, Abdirahman Mohmud Farole. The aim of the meeting was to underline the need for the TFG leaders to stop their bickering. President Sheikh Sharif and Speaker Sharif Hassan have had four one-to-one meetings in Mogadishu in recent weeks without managing to resolve their differences over how to deal with the upcoming end of the transitional period. Prior to his departure for Nairobi, Speaker Sharif Hassan said a ballot process to elect a president will be held soon despite objections from the President, stressing that the law called for elections when the government’s term expires in August. The Security Council called on Somali leaders to end their differences and prepare to hold elections before August. Ambassador Mahiga, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General was given a green light to organize a second stage high level consultative meeting in Mogadishu, and the Council urged the different Somali political stakeholders to work with Ambassador Mahiga in his efforts to assist in resolving the crisis in the TFIs.
After the meeting, the UK Permanent Representative, Mark Lyall Grant made it clear that strong messages had been given to the Somali leaders. “We made it clear that the international community’s support could not be assured while the bickering and infighting continue”. He emphasized that there would be consequences if the president and the speaker of the parliament failed to reach agreement very rapidly. The Council did not specify what these might be but the TFG is in receipt of a substantial variety of international support. UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon also made it clear that the Security Council and donors “are losing patience with the political tensions within the Somali leadership.”
Meanwhile in Mogadishu, TFG and AMISOM forces are continuing to close in on the Al-Shabaab militia forces still based in the Bakaraha market. Sitting on top of a hill in the city’s main business district, Bakaraha is a center for much of the trade of southern Somalia. A densely populated district, with a network of tightly packed kiosks or stalls teeming with traders and shoppers, the TFG and AMISOM have made it clear they accept the need to move very carefully to avoid civilian casualties and damage in the busiest, most populated section of Mogadishu. It has however been a place from which Al-Shabaab has frequently launched mortar attacks and used as a base from which to recruit and above all to extort money from the business community. This is one reason why the Bakaraha business community is now largely cooperating with the government despite demands from Sheikh Hassan Dahir ‘Aweys’ that they should take up arms to fight for Al-Shabaab.
AMISOM has designated the market as “no-fire zone” and does not fire artillery or mortars into the area. Together with TFG forces, its troops are working round the market area to cut off Al-Shabaab supply routes. They are making steady progress despite reports that Al-Shabaab have begun to dig trenches in parts of the district to prevent tanks and vehicles from entering, and also been planting landmines. According to sources in AMISOM, in fighting over the last few days more than hundred Al-Shabaab fighters have been killed and dozens more wounded. One of those killed was Abu Hodeida, a foreign fighter who had had the job of training local militias in the Mogadishu area and who had been the top commander coordinating Al-Shabaab’s resistance in the market. AMISOM and the TFG have seized a number of guns, and fourteen Al-Shabaab fighters have also surrendered.
It appears Al-Shabaab is relocating some of its major weapons and its foreign fighters away from Mogadishu to parts of Lower Shebelle region to get them out of the way of the TFG and AMISOM advances. Its efforts to keep up its numbers by forceful conscription, compelling local elders to produce young recruits, extorting funds from business groups, and enforcing unpopular anti-Islamic rules, appear to be leading to increasing numbers of defections. The death of bin Ladin, the head of Al-Qaeda, regarded as Al-Shabaab’s chief spiritual leader, and the problems in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East also seem to have had an impact on the resources available to Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab’s strategy in the past has been based on rapid mobility allowing it to move fighters around to reinforce areas which were under pressure. Currently, however, it is not only under pressure in Mogadishu; it has also been defeated in several other areas, in Gedo and Lower Jubba regions, and is under attack by TFG and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a forces in Galgadud, Hiiraan and Bakool as well. There is now hope that continued well-coordinated operations in these areas might reverse to a substantial extent what has been the prevailing status quo in South-central Somalia.
An Extraordinary Summit of the African Union discusses Libya
On the sidelines of the India-Africa Summit, an Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union was held in Addis Ababa on May 25th. President Theodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and current Chairperson of the African Union presided. Also present were United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon and some 13 Heads of State and Government as well as representatives of other member States. The Assembly reviewed the situation based on the report submitted by the Chairperson of the Commission on the state of peace and security in Africa and stressed the need to assess the status of the African Union’s instruments relating to democracy, good governance and the rule of law in order to enhance their effectiveness. While noting the progress made in some parts of the continent, the Assembly expressed its deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Somalia, Sudan and in particular in Libya.
On Libya, the Assembly reviewed the crisis there in depth and expressed its deep concern at the prevailing situation in the country and the aggravated humanitarian situation. It reiterated its conviction that only a political solution could help bring about sustainable peace in Libya and, in consideration of the dire humanitarian situation on the ground, stressed the need for an immediate cease fire in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (1973 (2011)) and of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council. The Assembly called for immediate deployment of an AU observer mission to monitor the situation and provide an independent assessment. It also requested that the African Group in New York and the African members of the UNSC to take all the necessary steps to interact with the Security Council and its members, as well as the Ad-hoc Committee, to dispatch as early as possible a ministerial delegation to New York, to address the AU’s efforts and the way forward in Libya.
With reference to the tendency of the international community to marginalize Africa, the Assembly stressed the need to enhance African leadership in managing and resolving crises in Africa. The Assembly agreed on the need to mobilize increased resources from within the continent to support the AU Peace and Security Agenda and to strengthen collective African action within the AU, as well as to maximize the effectiveness and impact of African contributions in the United Nations Security Council.
A 50th anniversary meeting of the Non–Aligned Movement
The 16th Ministerial Conference and the Commemorative Meeting of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Non–Aligned Movement (NAM) was held May 23rd to May 27th in Bali, Indonesia. The meeting convened under the theme: “Shared Vision on the Contribution of NAM for the next 50 years”. This year’s meeting also reviewed the implementation of the Movement’s Plan of Action adopted at the 15th Summit and Ministerial Conference held in Egypt in July 2009. During the meeting, participants paid tribute to the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement whose vision and dedication to a more peaceful world led to the creation of the Movement at the height of the Cold War. The Meeting underlined a strong commitment by all member states to the Bandung Principles as well as to the ideals and purposes of the Movement.
Ethiopia, as a founding member of the Non–Aligned Movement, attaches significant importance to the purposes and principles of the Movement. Its delegation was led by Ato Nega Tsegaye, State Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his statement during the general debate of the plenary session, State Minister Nega highlighted the crucial role that the NAM has been playing in representing and promoting the interests of developing countries in a fast changing and challenging international system. He emphasized the need to maintain unity and solidarity among NAM’s member states in promoting the ideals, purposes and principles of the Movement. Ato Nega called on NAM’s members to make use of the Movement’s strength to influence global issues in the area of politics, security and development.
Delegates were unanimous that the Non-Aligned Movement had played a successful role in preserving multilateralism and international law, in the eradication of colonialism and apartheid, self determination and the maintenance of international peace and security. It deserved due recognition for its efforts. At the same time, given the changing nature of global politics and international affairs, member states called for a more dynamic and strategic role for the Movement. They expressed the view that NAM could and should remain a relevant actor by influencing global political and socio-economic issues and be a positive force in addressing the common challenges that developing countries continue to face across the world. In this regard, they particularly called on the Movement to intensify its efforts to deal with the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment, peaceful resolution of conflict, terrorism, climate change, disarmament, inequality and injustice.
Participants at the Meeting adopted an outcome document which reflected the positions of NAM on different regional and global issues as well as two declarations: on the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement; and on Palestinian Political Prisoners. The Non-Aligned Movement was set up with 25 members in Belgrade in 1961; with the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Fiji now joining, the Movement now has a total of 120 members.
Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) meetings
Two CEWARN meetings have been held in Mombasa, in Kenya, this week. The 8th meeting of the Technical Committee on Early Warning and Response of CEWARN and the 10th meeting of the Council of Permanent Secretaries brought together stakeholders from the different levels of the CEWARN mechanism including heads and representatives of the Conflict Early Warning and Response Units (CEWERU) of the member states, of the IGAD secretariat and of civil society organizations.
The meetings assessed the peace and security situation in CEWARN’s Areas of Reporting and the efforts of the CEWERU structures. These include both local peace committees and government structures which have been working hard to prevent and manage cross-border pastoral conflicts. The review of activities emphasized the commendable efforts by different member states to curb violence in CEWARN’s areas of reporting. It was noted that the Ethio-Kenya border of the Somali cluster of CEWARN in particular had been the site of regular and sustainable peace interventions during the 2010-2011 period. It was also welcomed that the CEWERU structure in Somalia, despite all difficulties, had made considerable progress in becoming a concretized and systemized structure. Equally, there was general agreement on the need for further support to make the structure fully operational. There was also a review of CEWARN’s Rapid Response Fund (RRF) projects. The RRF is basket funding that member states can access as required to implement rapid response measures. It has funded numerous projects suggested by member states targeting short to mid-term response strategies on a case by case basis.
CEWARN’s 2007-2011 strategy will come to an end shortly, and the meetings discussed the possible scope of CEWARN beyond 2011 and the development of a new strategy. Member states and CEWARN staff will soon be engaged in formulating a new five year strategy. There was agreement that CEWARN should undertake a scoping study in close consultation with member states to identify other conflicts threatening the lives and livelihoods of peoples of the IGAD region.
The meetings made a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening the early warning and early response side of the CEWARN mechanism. These included, inter alia, methods to kick start, consolidate and expand peace processes for all the clusters which should be inclusive, community-driven and backed by stakeholders for sustainability; encouragement of resource sharing arrangements for cross-border pastoral communities; strengthening of cross-border collaboration for responses through the implementation of the CEWARN modalities of cross-border collaboration; enhancement of the regular Ethio-Kenya joint military interventions to curb the disruptive effect of OLF activity in the Somali cluster; encouragement of the need for conflict sensitive service delivery in peace and development work; work to combine development interventions with addressing underlying issues, and diversify livelihood options through more peace dividend work.
Latvia hosts an International African Discussion Forum
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia in collaboration with the European Commission hosted an international discussion forum to discuss opportunities in Africa last week. The meeting was attended by Mr. Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development and Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Secretary General, African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. There were delegations from Burkina Faso, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia as well as Ethiopia whose delegation was led by Ato Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Dozens of Latvian entrepreneurs and representatives from the business community and academia also attended, and the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, emphasized the importance of this first international event dedicated to Africa in Latvia. He also expressed satisfaction at Latvia’s interest in a full scale engagement in implementation of the European Union’s development co-operation policy in which the participation of the general public, and of businessmen in particular, are of importance.
Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas noted the experience Latvia had accumulated which, he said, would be of value to countries which have launched a process of democratic reform, and emphasized the potential for Latvian participation in infrastructural development, telecommunications and regional integration. The Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, underlined the importance of international co-operation in the contemporary globalised world, and expressed his belief that the meeting would provide new beginning in a field of co-operation where few were working today. The Minister said Latvia was ready to pass on the experience it had accumulated in the twenty years since it had regained its independence.
Ato Ahmed Shide outlined Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan and itemized the investment opportunities available in Ethiopia. He called on Latvian investors to take up the opportunities in technology transfer and in other areas where Ethiopia had a comparative advantage. Ato Ahmed noted it was impossible to create an enabling environment for accelerated development and attainment of improvements in the standard of living of the people in the absence of proactive development policies. Ethiopia’s overriding development agenda was poverty eradication and to that end the government had designed a coherent national vision, development policies, strategies, plans and programs driven by domestic demand and providing the basis for inclusive and transformational development. Economic growth was broad based, rapid, sustainable and pro-poor. Poverty eradication, he noted, required all-inclusive intervention, with economic growth, social development and good governance. For nearly a decade, Ethiopia had sustained double-digit economic growth and the secret lay in the government’s coherent pro-growth policies, its strong commitment, and a democratic and transformative leadership.
Ato Abdeta Dribssa, Director General for African Affairs in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also spoke on the challenges and opportunities of the Horn of Africa, and there were presentations on the experiences of Rwanda and Nigeria. During their visit to Riga, the African delegations also met with the Prime Minister, and with the President of Latvia who recalled first hearing of Ethiopia when Abebe Bikila won his barefoot marathon in Rome. He promised to visit Africa in the near future.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs