TFG leadership’s internal squabbles continue despite military progress
The capacity of the leadership of the TFIs in Somalia to shoot themselves in the foot is almost beyond belief. Just at a time when the TFG forces and AMISOM defeated Al-Shabaab’s Ramadan offensive with heavy losses, and made significant, if still small advances in Mogadishu as well as outside the city, President Sheikh Sharif and Speaker Sharif Hassan have become locked in argument over the confirmation by Parliament of the President’s nomination as Prime minister, Mohammed Abdullahi Mohamed, and whether legislators should vote in a secret ballot or in open session. The disagreement has already forced several delays for a parliamentary vote on the prime minister designate and the President and the Transitional Federal Parliament have yet to agree to move forward to vote on the nomination. In the meantime, the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam and their continuous harassment of the population, including the recent arbitrary execution of two teenage girls in Belet Weyn by Al-Shabaab, continue. On a positive note the international community is now taking developments in Somalia very much more seriously and trying to contribute positively to move the peace process forward as well as assist AMISOM to enable it to discharge its responsibilities fully. Clear messages are being sent to the TFG leadership that it must abandon its internal divisions and wrangling, and work towards accomplishing the transitional tasks necessary before August 2010 and the end of the transitional process. It was in this context that the Security Council last week held meetings on Somalia and on peace and security in Africa. The AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ambassador Lamamra addressed the Security Council on both subjects, providing an extensive briefing on the recent decisions of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council Ministerial meeting on October 15th. This, among other matters, called on the UN Security Council to discharge its responsibilities by endorsing an increase in AMISOM forces to 20,000 as well as take other measures to help resolve the problem in Somalia. The UN Security Council is expected to meet in the middle of November to decide on the best way forward and on whether the UN will provide the logistical support required for an increase in AMISOM’s forces. The stalemate in the parliament over the Prime Minister’s confirmation started with a disagreement that arose between groups of MPs on the way its nomination should be carried out. One group wanted open voting to endorse the new Prime Minister, others demanded a secret ballot. Following the original dispute, the problem has extended to a higher level, causing difficulties between the President and the Speaker. The Supreme Court has now issued a decision that the votes should be conducted in the open. There have been reports of intimidation and threats against those who want a secret ballot, though, according to the Speaker, this is in accordance with the internal rules of the Transitional Federal Parliament. The underlying problem, of course, concerns the end of the transition period in ten months time and what should then happen. It can be recalled that there were disagreements within the TFG leadership when former Prime Minister Sharmarke and the Speaker contacted Somalia’s partners on possible options for the end of the transition without consulting the President. It is very clear that some are looking forward to making arrangements under which elements of the TFIs will be able to extend their terms of office after August 2011. Because of concern over these continuing internal squabbles, the UN Political office for Somalia, the Representative of the African Union Commission and the IGAD Facilitator for Somalia, planned a joint visit to Mogadishu, to assist the TFG leadership sort out its problems. As the three envoys from the UN, the AUC, and IGAD were preparing to leave on Tuesday, a message, apparently from the TFG Presidency, said the mission would be unwelcome if it included some delegates. This uncalled-for demand forced the mission to cancel its visit. There was a similar incident some years ago when the then Benadir administration refused to receive a delegation from the Standing Committee for Somalia, organized by the international community to co-ordinate activity for Somalia. The Standing Committee members were told in mid-air not to land in Mogadishu, and were forced to fly to Merca. That incident had the effect of preventing concrete support being offered to the Benadir administration. It would be a pity if the TFG leadership made a similar mistake in trying to set preconditions on who might visit Mogadishu to offer assistance. It is very clear that IGAD has been particularly insistent that the international community must accept that the TFG is the only legitimate Somali structure in place, and that the Djibouti peace process is the only legitimate way forward. Some in the international community, deploring the continued disputes within the TFG, have already begun to consider the TFG as part of the problem rather than as part of the solution. The Somali leadership has repeatedly managed to divide the international community by its failures to deliver on expectations. The three institutions, the UNPOS, the AU Commission and IGAD, have now made their position very clear in this regard. After Tuesday’s fiasco, Ambassador Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, led the delegation to Mogadishu the next day with a clear message to the TFG leadership. Ambassador Mahiga conveyed the deep concern of the three institutions about the current constitutional and political impasse within the Transitional Federal Institutions and the delay in the formation of a new government. The envoys recalled that the Security Council had in New York on October 21st considered the request by IGAD and the African Union to expand AMISOM and strengthen TFG forces in an effort to enhance the peace process in Somalia. The envoys noted that these efforts, and the conclusions of the International Contact Group subsequently held in Madrid, reflected the goodwill of the international community. This should be reciprocated positively by the TFIs. The envoys therefore called on all the TFI leaders to set up a new cabinet expeditiously, outline the roadmap that will define the key tasks to be implemented during the remaining transition period, and produce the spirit of political cooperation demanded by the Djibouti Agreement. The three institutions emphasized that the leaders of the TFIs must work in concert with IGAD, AU and the UN as guarantors of the Djibouti peace agreement, in solving the current crisis and in addressing critical tasks. Ambassador Mahiga met with President Sheikh Sharif and the Speaker of the Parliament, urging both to resolve the crisis and move forward rapidly. In the meantime, the Chairperson of the AU , Dr. Jean Ping, and Ambassador Lamamra, the Peace and Security Commissioner, also briefed the Ambassadors of the members of the Security Council, of IGAD and of the Arab League on current developments in Somalia, on the expectations of Africa from the Security Council concerning the way forward in Somalia. The briefing centered on the challenges that the TFG faces within its own ranks, the situation of AMISOM and what is expected from it in the coming months leading up to the end of the transition period. The Chairperson recalled the signing of the agreement between the TFG and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a and the challenges this agreement had faced in implementation. He emphasized just how far the squabbles within the TFG pose a challenge to consolidate the peace process. He noted that next month, November, AMISOM would reach its authorized levels of 8,000 troops. Pending the approval of the UN Security Council, it is planned to increase numbers to 12,000 in February or March next year. The Chairperson mentioned the decisions of the PSC on 15 October on Somalia and the nomination of former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings as the AU’s High Representative for Somalia. He emphasized that the AU has done all that could be expected of it; it was now up to the members of the UN Security Council to do their part. All external actors providing support to the TFG should ensure that the resources provided are properly used for the purpose of strengthening the TFG institutions rather than encouraging dissension and division. At the end of the briefing, Commissioner Lamamra responded to questions.
International community still needs to encourage the CPA signatories
The Sudan is at a critical juncture as the date for the referendum in Southern Sudan (January 9th 2011) fast approaches. The full implementation of the CPA continues to be the basis for resolving any differences between the two parties, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM). The parties have achieved a lot towards implementation of the CPA, though there are still a few, and crucial issues, to be ironed out. IGAD, of which Sudan is a member, was of course largely responsible for brokering the CPA, and it has been in constant touch with others, including the US, Norway and the UK as well as other African states which have a stake in the results. IGAD was expected to hold a Summit in Addis Ababa on 30th October to look into the progress made since the last summit decisions, but this meeting has now been postponed by one week. The Summit will be a follow-up to what happened in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. It is intended to note the progress made by the parties since the March 2010 meeting of the IGAD Heads of State and Government in Nairobi. At that meeting, the Summit urged the Parties to the CPA to remain committed to the implementation of outstanding issues, in particular the completion of the North-South and Abyei border demarcations, the redeployment of forces and the integration of the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs), establishment of the Southern Sudan and Abyei Referenda Commissions and of popular consultations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States. The Summit directed the IGAD Council of Ministers to liaise with the two parties to give technical support for border demarcation and establishment of the Referenda Commissions by May and for the two parties to develop a working formula that would ensure collaboration for the effective implementation of the CPA. The Summit welcomed the parties’ commitment immediately to commence negotiations on Post Referendum Arrangements, and confirmed the continuing availability of IGAD to support the process. It further directed the IGAD Council of Ministers immediately to undertake shuttle diplomacy to nurture mutual trust and confidence building between the two parties and instructed the IGAD secretariat to open a liaison office in Juba to follow up implementation procedures. It has been close to six years since the CPA was signed by the SPLM and the NCP in Kenya in 2005, and a lot has been achieved in the implementation of the decisions reached there. But progress has been balanced by continuing challenges. The setting up of the Referenda Commission for South Sudan, the completion of eighty percent of the boundary demarcation and the holding of popular consultations in the Blue Nile and Kordofan can be cited as some of the major achievements. On the other hand, the parties have yet to make progress on Abyei, on the remaining twenty percent of the border, and on a number of issues within the framework of the post referendum arrangements. The major concerns are the South Sudan Referendum, the Abyei Referendum and the North-South border. The IGAD Summit now planned for next week will consider the various issues on the table and encourage the two parties to redouble their efforts in the full implementation of the CPA and the resolution of any outstanding problems. On Abyei, the parties conducted negotiations earlier this month in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the US Envoy to Sudan, General (retired) Scot Gration. The question of who should vote in the Abyei referendum and the rights of the Misseriya nomadic community which spends half of the year in Abyei, are issues that need to be resolved if the referendum is to be peaceful. The good will and understanding between the two parties is critical in this respect. The meeting made no breakthrough, though the parties agreed to meet again on October 27th. Unfortunately, however, this renewed meeting has now been postponed. Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, announced on Monday, after discussions with President Al-Bashir and Vice President and South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, that the meeting to discuss both the Abyei referendum and post referendum issues was delayed indefinitely. The schedule for the meeting will now depend upon further consultative meetings taking place with the two parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. In the meantime the international community is following developments in the Sudan with keen interest. The mini-Summit, convened in New York in September, and the level of participation was a clear testimony to this. The communiqué issued at the end of that meeting clearly indicated the concerns of the international community. This week, the AU Committee on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) for Sudan visited the country. The committee held extensive discussions with officials in Khartoum and Juba, and was briefed on the task of the leaderships over issues of post-conflict reconstruction, and on how the AU could be helpful. The Committee was briefed on developments, including the holding of the recent successful elections, the progress in wealth-sharing, and the activities of the Government of the Sudan in various regions including Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, Abyei, White Nile, Upper Nile, and Greater Bahr el-Ghazal with aim of improving infrastructural projects and linking the country together. The challenges faced by the government because of sanctions, and the lack of debt relief and the impact on goods and services were mentioned as was the problem created by the International Criminal Court with the issue of its arrest warrant against President Al-Bashir. All these factors threatened the full implementation of the CPA. In their discussions, the leadership of South Sudan emphasized the need to ensure a free, fair, transparent and peaceful referendum and for all parties to accept the outcome of the referendum whatever that might be. The leadership also stressed that Africa must be prepared to support the people of South Sudan in terms of reconstruction, the provision of public services, security, capacity building and skill development. The AU’s PCRD Committee emphasized the need for the people of South Sudan to exercise their right freely. It expressed support to the Government of the Sudan in its efforts to conduct the referendum in a free and fair manner without any internal or external interference, and underlined the need to conduct the referendum peacefully. The Committee commended the continuous dialogue between the signatories of the CPA which has kept discussion alive in a sustained way. Development requires peace, and vice-versa, and the parties need to work to ensure peace and stability prevails. The AU’s PCRD committee was briefed by the South Sudan Referendum Commission, by the AU’s High-Level Implementation Committee and UNMIS. It decided to send a technical committee as soon as possible to assess South Sudan’s reconstruction needs.
HRW’s campaign to politicize aid
Last week we briefly commented on HRW’s politically motivated report on the make-believe story of politicization of development aid in Ethiopia. This latest report was somewhat unusual even by HRW’s tendentious, and often specious, standards in terms of the sheer contempt expressed not just for Africa, but for anyone who dares to differ with their worldview including so many NGOs. In the past, it’s normally been governments targeted by HRW’s bullying which have sometimes had the courage to say no to its condescending dictation and recommendations. HRW’s stock-in-trade has normally been a barrage of criticism by way of unsubstantiated allegations of human rights abuse and political repression. Its reports are designed to put the targeted government on the defensive, denying it the chance of standing on its own at least without the blessing of HRW and its like. Recent reports on Ethiopia, for example, made no secret of the fact that they were intended to influence the outcome of voting, bringing trumped-up and apocryphal charges of the suppression of political dissent. For maximum effect these reports were invariably filled with lofty rhetoric about human rights and democracy. In fact, they had little impact on the voters and the intended aim clearly failed. Rather than asking itself whether it was appropriate to try and take remote control of a country’s democratic processes, HRW characteristically blamed other factors for the failure of its campaign against Ethiopia. One culprit, of course, was the government, but it has now also found others to accuse in the development partners whose support for Ethiopia HRW appears to believe has provided a lifeline to a government that would otherwise not survive. HRW, convinced of its capacity to dictate terms to anybody, is now trying to bully the donors into accepting its version of current events and stop cooperation with the government of Ethiopia, and the provision of aid to one of the poorest countries in the world. HRW appears convinced that it is this aid that has helped the government of Ethiopia to withstand the persistent criticisms and pressure of HRW. This is taking its efforts to bully to new heights. Blaming development partners of Ethiopia for what it falsely claims to be complicity with the EPRDF government in covering up political repression, HRW has allowed itself to be carried away by the illusions of grandeur it has developed over the years. The central element of HRW’s attack on the development partners of Ethiopia is emblematic of the unbridled arrogance the organization has come to flaunt publicly in recent years when widely and repeatedly criticized in other areas. It dismisses any criticisms of its reports as signs of complicity with an evil government. Other peoples’ investigations into the matter “cannot be trusted” – they are frightened of the government. Only HRW is “brave enough to tell the truth.” So HRW attaches more importance to “private remarks” by unnamed officials than to an official report by a consortium of western development partners currently operating in Ethiopia. HRW’s phantom researchers thousands of miles away are more knowledgeable about the reality in Ethiopia than the very people engaged in day-to-day development on the ground! In a word, for HRW, whatever it says must be accepted. It is not surprising that some see it as a classic case of warped neo-colonialism that seemingly well-intentioned liberals have now developed into a slogan becoming one of the main themes of those who fund HRW. Actually, this time around, HRW may have gone a little overboard, possibly even overreaching itself. Pushing its unsubstantiated allegations to the extreme, and by attacking, for good measure, organizations and governments that are genuinely interested in partnership for development, HRW seems to have started a game it must find difficult to win. Comment after comment from the very donors HRW accuses of deliberate complicity in repression in its latest report, take HRW to task. Following the press release by the Donor Assistance Group denouncing the report last week, individual members of the consortium have also come out strongly against HRW’s report. The embassies of the US, of France and of Ireland have strongly condemned the report for completely failing to reflect the reality on the ground. Irish Aid said “our examination, in consultation with other major international aid donors in Ethiopia, does not support the HRW allegations….Irish Aid has a range of rigorous checks and safeguards in place. These include regular audits, independent evaluations and independently-commissioned surveys. Irish Aid staff participate in field monitoring visits to ensure that our aid is achieving the intended development results and that it is benefiting those most in need.” Delegates from the World Bank and NATO visiting Ethiopia this week said they were impressed by the progress achieved in the safety-net food program which currently reaches some 7 million people. These are the agencies and NGOs that are actually engaged in the development processes that HRW so vehemently tries to discredit and even scuttle. It’s hardly surprising they should react strongly when they are told they are taking part in a crime when in fact they know from firsthand experience the kind of progress their support is helping bring about in Ethiopia. Even more insulting perhaps, is the fact that these claims come from an organization which has no accountability to any meaningful constituency, only to narrow special interest groups. The governments and organizations HRW is attacking are answerable to their public. It seems unaware, or disinterested, that the donors it is trying to bully into supporting its claims and its campaign against the people of Ethiopia, have mechanisms to check if their support is being properly utilized. The Donor Advisory Group itemized this at some length and in considerable detail in the report it produced earlier in the year, a report that HRW of course dismissed because it did not agree with HRW’s allegations. The DAG and its members have detailed this again and again in their reactions to HRW’s report. It is clear enough that if there has been any attempt to politicize aid as HRW claims, it is actually HRW which has been trying to do so.
Core Principles of Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy: Ethiopia- Japan relations
Ethiopia and Japan have enjoyed long friendly relations dating back to the 1930s. Both are nations with an ancient history and civilization. Emperor Haile Selassie was strongly attracted to the harmony that Japan achieved in conjoining modernity and traditional culture, even including in the Ethiopian School curriculum a book in Amharic entitled ” How Japan was Civilized.” His own official visits to Japan and the visit of the current Japanese emperor, the then Crown Prince, to spend his honeymoon in Addis Ababa contributed to strengthening relations between the two countries. Both countries established embassies in each other’s capital. Another milestone was the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games where Africa’s first Olympic Gold Medalist, Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, won the marathon for the second time. His achievement is still remembered by those who saw his victory. Relations between the two countries have been regularly strengthened by various visits made by VIPs and high government officials. These have included the visit of the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Koizumi, to Ethiopia in 2006, and of Prime Minister Meles to Japan on several occasions. The Japan Parliamentary League as well as the Japan-Ethiopia association serves as a bridge to enhance people-to-people relation. Ethiopian MPs have also created an Ethiopian-Japanese association of members of parliament. Japan has demonstrated a real and dependable friendship in the significant role it has taken in helping our efforts in the fight against poverty. It has collaborated in agriculture, water resources, health, education and infrastructure, and has provided a wide range of development support in the form of grants and technical cooperation. This year alone, Japan extended 960 million Japanese yen (144 million Ethiopian Birr) to supply equipment to upgrade the capacity of the Ethiopian Roads Authority to deal with the recurrent landslide challenges in the Abay (Blue Nile) Gorge. Since 1998, Japan has given grants amounting to 15 billion Japanese yen (2.25 billion Birr) for the rehabilitation of 223 kms of roads, and the construction of the Hidase Bridge, built with Japanese cooperation over the Blue Nile in the Abay Gorge. Another 264 billion Japanese yen (184.7 million Birr) of grants have been given for safe water supply projects, and other humanitarian aid and cultural grants have also been provided. Japanese support has been invaluable in the construction of primary schools, the development of water facilities and the road network, in increasing agricultural productivity, much involving the active participation of local communities. According to information from the Embassy of Japan almost 100 grassroots projects have been funded throughout the country, and the “Kaizen project” has been introduced to Ethiopia. Now some thirty Ethiopian companies are experiencing “Kaizen” – continuous improvement. The former Ambassador, Mr. Kinichi Komano, said in a farewell message that during his four year tenure in Addis Ababa, the Japanese development cooperation program had been effectively adjusted to the changing circumstances of Ethiopia so that it could become part and parcel of Ethiopia’s development efforts. It is important to mention the establishment of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD), one of the first international fora to bring Africa and its partners together. This was originally started in 1993 at a time when African issues were hardly taken seriously in the global agenda and as a result African states were facing the risk of marginalization. Over the years, TICAD has done much to negate that, contributing positively in the areas of human-centered development in Africa, infrastructure, trade and investment, capacity building, debt cancellation, non-project grants and last but not least consolidation of peace. Mr. Yasuo Fukuda, the then Prime Minister of Japan, delivering a keynote address during the TICAD IV Summit in Yokohama in May 2008, announced Japan’s intention to double its Overseas Development Assistance to Africa by 2012, offer up to US $4 billion of ODA loans to assist infrastructure and double the value of Japan’s grants and its technical cooperation over the following five years. He also pledged to take measures to encourage private Japanese investment in Africa with the aim of doubling Japanese foreign direct investment to the continent. TICAD, in fact, has demonstrated its value as an excellent example of genuine cooperation, based on mutual trust and understanding of all involved parties. There is, of course, still room for economic relations between Ethiopia and Japan to be developed further. Trade volumes have fluctuated between US $2.5 billion (2007) and US$1.6 billion (2009), but the balance always remains in favor of Japan. Ethiopia exports agricultural produce, the major share of which is coffee, while importing technological products mainly cars, machinery and electronic goods. Japanese investors played a major role in the Ethiopian textile industry prior to 1974 after which their holdings were nationalized by the then military regime. This essentially brought an end to investment by the Japanese private sector. However, since 1992 a much more conducive environment has been created by improving the legal and regulatory framework through liberalization of the economy, and there is much scope for private investment and for the Japanese private sector to become involved. One of Japan’s initiatives during the TICAD IV meeting was a pledge to establish the Japan Bank International Cooperation (JBIC) Facility for African Investment, and to take other measures to encourage increased private Japanese investment in Africa with the aim of doubling Japanese FDI to the continent. Ethiopia would also like to see tourism boosted; the number of Japanese tourists visiting Ethiopia remains small and isn’t up to expectations. Japan has also been supporting social sector development in Ethiopia, providing numerous scholarships in various fields including agriculture and infrastructure. It has provided significant support through JICA, the Japanese Government Aid implementing body, for various kinds of capacity building programs and technical cooperation projects. Japanese experts, study teams and volunteers have also been put into various sectors through the JICA program. All of these are aimed at transferring technology and knowledge to serve the socio-economic development of Ethiopia, a concept very much in line with Ethiopia’s current five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs