A Week in the Horn of Africa- (01/03/2013)
Kenya goes to the polls on Monday
Kenyans go the polls on Monday, March 4th, in the first general election since the December 2007 vote and subsequent violence. They will be voting for a president, for the members of parliament and senators for the first bicameral legislature since 1966, as well as county governors and members of the newly formed county assembly. This is the first time that Kenyans will vote for county governors and senators so many more positions are available at local level. Under the new Constitution, the post of Prime Minister will be abolished. President Mwai Kibaki is not seeking re-election, but Prime Minister Raila Odinga who lost to President Kibaki in 2007, along with the two deputy prime ministers, Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi who was briefly vice-president under President Moi, are candidates as are Muhamed Abduba Dida, a former teacher; Martha Karua, ex-justice minister and the only female candidate; Peter Kenneth, MP, a former banker and lawyer; James ole Kiyiapi , an ex-civil servant and academic; and Paul Muite, a lawyer and veteran opposition politician.
The three main candidates are Mr. Odinga, (Luo), and the two deputy prime ministers, Mr. Kenyatta (Kikuyu), and Mr. Mudavadi, (Luhya). Mr. Odinga and Mr. Kenyatta are widely considered as the front-runners and are expected to get the majority of the votes. Mr. Kenyatta stood for the presidency in 2002 but lost to his fellow Kikuyu, President Kibaki. Mr. Odinga is making his third bid for the presidency.
The election campaigning was complicated by the fact until this week it was assumed that that a month after the voting, and immediately after a possible run-off vote, if one was required, Uhuru Kenyatta would have to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. He and his running mate, William Ruto, have both been indicted by the Court over the post 2007 election violence. Both deny all the charges.
The issue of the ICC indictment has been the major issue of the campaign overshadowing unemployment, development, improving social services or even terrorism –Al-Shabaab issued a threat of further action in Kenya this week. There has been widespread condemnation of the court from the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin groups. Mr Kenyatta is an ethnic Kikuyu while Mr Ruto is Kalenjin. The case has also led to comments from other countries: “Choices have consequences,” US Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, and former US Ambassador to Kenya, Johnnie Carson, told Kenyans without elaborating, but a number of diplomats in Kenya have said that it would only be possible to have limited contact with those indicted by the ICC. These diplomatic concerns about the consequences of electing someone under ICC indictment have led to Mr. Kenyatta’s supporters complaining of “neo-colonial western interference” and newspaper columnists accusing diplomats of behaving with “colonial arrogance”.
Although all presidential candidates have promised to concede defeat if they fail to win, and there have been serious efforts to prevent any hate speech, campaign rallies have also been monitored for the use of divisive language and the independent Media Council has been monitoring dozens of radio stations, TV channels and newspapers to make sure no “retrogressive utterances” are made. Mobile phones, much used to spread violence in 2007-8, are now subject to tight guidelines. Political text messages have to be in English or Swahili and campaign text messages vetted by mobile service operators. However, there is concern that the results may still lead to another outbreak of ethnic violence. Security forces are being deployed into high risk areas and widespread calls for Kenyans to rise above the politics of ethnicity. President Obama sent a video message to underline that the polls will be a moment for the people of Kenya to come together.
In the post-2007 election violence 1,300 people died and tens of thousands were displaced. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan helped to mediate between the leaders of the two main political parties, the Orange Democratic Movement of Raila Odinga and the Party of National Unity of Mwai Kibaki. Subsequently a referendum on a new constitution in August 2010, devolving power and establishing a bill of rights, had overwhelming support. A Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission was set up three years ago but it has yet to release its findings and recommendations.
The winning candidate needs to get more than 50% of the total votes and at least 25% of votes in half of the 47 counties in the country – and over 14 million people have registered to vote. If there is a clear winner, he will be sworn in on April 10th; if there is no clear winner, a run-off vote will take place on April 11th. The official results of Monday’s vote will be announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission within a week, though the Supreme Court has the final decision on the presidential result. There will be observers from the European Union, the US and other African countries, and a 20 member mission from IGAD. This week the IGAD Council of Ministers sent a delegation headed by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, the Chair of IGAD’s Council of Ministers on a ‘goodwill mission’ in support of peaceful elections and show “the region’s solidarity with the government and people of Kenya”. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are the current members of IGAD.
Opposition wins seats in Djibouti’s National Assembly
The preliminary results of the National Assembly election for Djibouti city (on February 22nd) were announced by the Minister of Interior, Mr. Hassan Darar Houffaneh, the day after the election. There were 123,000 votes, and the ruling coalition, the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP), took 49.39% of the votes against 47.61% for the main opposition coalition, the National Union for Salvation (USN) and 2.91% for the smaller Union of Centre Democrats (CDU). In two of the other five districts, the regions of Ali Sabieh and Dikhil south of the country, preliminary results also suggested the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP) had won. At Dikhil, the turnout was over 54%, and the UMP obtained nearly 70% of the vote, ahead of the USN which only obtained 20%. Participation was also over 50% in Ali Sabieh. The Interior Minister was quoted as saying the provisional results showed that the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP) had won 49 out of 65 seats.
International observers who monitored the elections urged political actors to respect the will of the people and to use legal remedies for any potential challenge. In a joint statement, the heads of the Observer Missions of the African Union, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference and IGAD said the parliamentary elections on Friday (February 22nd) had given the Djibouti people the opportunity to express their opinion freely. They praised “the civic and political maturity of Djibouti.” The head of the AU’s Observer Mission, the former Prime Minister of Mali, Mme Cissé Mariam Sidibe Kaidama, said the voting took place in a transparent and acceptable manner. She said: “We have not observed fraud and ballot box stuffing”, adding that the announced results reflected what the international observers had observed in the field. The head of the observer mission of the OIC, Ambassador Habib Kaabachi, said voting was one of the most regular of which he had ever attended: “It is certain that Djibouti is back on the right track to democracy”. The head of the Arab League mission said the observers had inspected more than 154 polling centers and attended sorting in 12 voting centers, and “it all took place in a climate of transparency and serenity.”
It was the first time in a decade that opposition parties had decided to take part in the elections and a spokesman for the USN said the results had been announced too quickly and claimed there had been numerous irregularities, ballot stuffing, double voting, a lack of voter cards, the expulsion of opposition representatives from polling stations, and the intimidating presence of the Republican Guard at polling stations. The opposition disputed the results and called for protests. On Monday and Tuesday there were demonstrations in Djibouti demanding the release of Sheikh Bashir Abdourahim, a prominent opposition figure whose family said he had been arrested on Monday. The Interior Minister, Hassan Darar, made a radio broadcast appealing for calm, but made no reference to Sheikh Abdourahim, and there was no official confirmation of his arrest.
Despite opposition claims of manipulation, the election is widely seen as significant because it will allow the opposition their first presence in the National Assembly. This was facilitated by President Ismail Omar Guelleh who accepted a change in the electoral law to allow for some proportional representation. Until the change in the law, all 65 seats were elected by plurality vote in multi-member constituencies with the winning party taking all seats. Under the change in November last year, 52 seats continue to be chosen in the same way but 13 are elected by proportional representation. The result is that there will be opposition members represented in the Assembly for the first time. President Guelleh became President in 1999 and won a third term five year in office in 2011 after the Assembly had amended the Constitution to allow him a third term. He has said he will not stand again.
Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes
The signing ceremony of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region took place in Addis Ababa on Sunday (February 24th). The signing ceremony was jointly organized by the United Nations and the African Union, and signatories included the Presidents or other high level representatives of Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Others attending the ceremony included the Chairperson of the African Union, Prime Minister Hailemariam, representatives of AU member states and partners, regional organizations, Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms. UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community the Vice-President of Uganda on behalf of President Museveni as Chairperson of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region signed as witnesses and guarantors. In her introductory remark, Dr. Zuma characterized the signing of the Framework as a landmark event and quoted Patrice Lumumba’s letter to his wife that aptly captured his dream for Congo.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who attended the signing ceremony in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union, delivered welcoming remarks expressing his confidence that the Framework will be instrumental in addressing the complex challenges facing the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes Region. He also expressed his hope and expectation that all those concerned and the international community will demonstrate the necessary political will and commitment to ensure the full implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. In the press briefing that he gave to members of the media, the Prime Minister said he will follow up the implementation of the framework together with the Chairperson of the Commission and other stakeholders.
The UN Secretary General noted that the agreement was the result of a series of consultations and said the UN would remain closely committed to the implementation of the Framework. The signing was, however, only the beginning of a comprehensive approach, outlining commitments and oversight mechanisms to address key national and regional issues. It required sustained engagement, as well as support at the highest political and diplomatic level. He called on the concerned Heads of State and Government to meet at least twice a year, on the sidelines of the African Union Summits and in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, to review progress and agree on the way forward. He also indicated his intention to appoint a Special Envoy who, together with stakeholders concerned, will support the implementation of the Framework including through the establishment of benchmarks to measure and ensure progress at the national and regional levels.
The Framework outlines the commitments made by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, countries of the region and the international community at large to address the root causes of the conflict in the DRC and the Great Lakes region to put an end to the recurrent cycle of violence. A Pact on Security, Stability and Development was signed in Nairobi (Kenya) in December 2006 by the eleven member States within the framework of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). The present Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework builds on this and other initiatives taken in the past few years to address the conflict in the DRC and the Great Lakes region in a comprehensive and holistic manner. It takes into account the complex geo-political history of the region.
The Third Africa-South America Summit in Malabo
The Sixth Africa-South America (ASA) Senior Officials’ Meeting, the Fifth ASA Ministerial Meeting and the Third Africa-South America Summit, were held in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea on February 20th, 21st and 22nd respectively. The theme was “Strategies and Mechanisms to Strengthen South-South Cooperation”. The Summit, postponed twice since November 2011, brought together the 54 member States of the African Union, Morocco and the 11 member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
In a statement delivered at the Opening Ceremony of the Summit, Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia, current Chairperson of the African Union, referred to the historical and cultural bonds existing between the peoples of the two continents and emphasized the need to foster greater cooperation in infrastructure development, agricultural productivity, use of renewable energy, environment protection, the eradication of pandemic diseases, education, the fight against piracy, drug trafficking and other transnational crimes. Prime Minister Hailemariam also stressed that the two continents should take tangible action to boost trade and investment exchange. In this connection, he encouraged the assembled leaders to grant preferential access to each other’s markets. He also highlighted the vital role air transportation plays in the promotion of business transactions and took the opportunity to inform the Summit that Ethiopian Airlines would start direct flights between Addis Ababa and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in June.
As Prime Minister Hailemariam noted in his opening statement, South-South cooperation between Africa and South America is not a recent development. It started in the pre-decolonization era, and was demonstrated notably at the Bandung Conference in 1955 when the few African countries independent at the time, including Ethiopia, forged strong ties with their South American counterparts, underlining both the many historical, cultural and societal commonalities that linked them but also underlining their common strategic significance in an interdependent world.
The Africa-South America partnership brings together the emerging powers of South America and one of the fastest growing continents – Africa. The two continents already have an excellent political dialogue and they collaborate on many global issues. However, as was repeatedly indicated during the three days of the ASA meetings, there has been little headway so far on economic dimensions of cooperation, despite the strong potential that is acknowledged.
Many participants in the Summit mentioned a lack of information and knowledge as the main cause for the low levels of activity in trade, investment, and tourism. Opportunities remain largely unexplored due to limited amount of information available. There was general agreement on the need for both sides to take action that will promote Africa’s potential and the possible resources in South America and the similar potential of South America and the resources available in Africa. Some countries, including Argentina, indicated that they were already taking steps to expand links and possible activities by opening embassies in African capitals, such as Addis Ababa. The launching of Ethiopian Airlines flights to Brazil was commended for the potential in opening the two continents up to one another and bringing their peoples closer to each other.
At the close of the Summit, the Heads of State and Government approved the amended Africa-South America Implementation Plan 2013-2016. They also decided to put in place a follow-up mechanism to be responsible for reviewing progress in the implementation of agreed projects. The Implementation Plan contains a number of activities and projects of common interest covering such areas as education and culture; peace and security; democratic governance; trade, investment and tourism; infrastructure, transport and energy; science and technology; agriculture and environmental protection; health; gender and youth.
The Summit also approved the establishment of a Committee to follow-up the activities and provide support to the ASA Permanent Secretariat which is located in Venezuela. This Committee will be composed of the two Regional Coordinators (Brazil and Nigeria), Current and Previous Hosts of the Summit (Venezuela and Equatorial Guinea), the Current Chair of the African Union (Ethiopia) and the Current Chair of UNASUR (Peru).
It is expected that by the time the 4th ASA Summit meets in Ecuador in 2016, Africa and South America will have built stronger south-south cooperation with functioning institutions and earmarked funding for the effective implementation of specific and viable projects and programmes for the benefit of the peoples of the two sides. As the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Dlamini Zuma indicated in her statement at the ASA Summit: “We have no choice but to take responsibility over our respective destinies in a collective approach. This is dictated by our past and present as well as by the need for us to successfully fight for a bright future”.
Dr. Tedros’ talks to Netherland’s Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Minister
Dr. Tedros, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday this week (February 27th) held discussions with the Netherland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and International Cooperation, Mrs. Liliane Ploumen. Discussions covered bilateral, multilateral and regional issues of mutual interest. Mrs. Ploumen Mrs. Ploumen, who expressed appreciation of the way Ethiopia’s socio-economic situation was developing, emphasized the Netherlands’ readiness to deepen relations with Ethiopia. It was, she said, committed to continue supporting the development and democratization processes in Ethiopia and progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. She said her Government would continue funding Ethiopia’s development through both established Government channels and through NGOs. It was keen to sustain established engagements with Government mechanisms, with NGOs and with the private sector to trigger social responsibility and complement transparency. She also expressed the Netherlands’ desire to deepen economic relationships with open economies and other favorable business destinations, including Ethiopia. She emphasized that Ethiopia’s speedy accession to WTO and the Government’s efforts to strengthening foreign currency reserves would contribute significantly towards encouraging the widest possible involvement of the Netherland’s business community in Ethiopia.
On regional issues, Mrs. Ploumen said the Netherlands appreciated the positive contribution that Ethiopia continued to play in support of peace and security in the region, identifying its role in encouraging Sudan and South Sudan to resolve their outstanding issues peacefully as soon as possible. She stressed that the situation between Sudan and South Sudan could not be left unresolved as it would have a destabilizing effect in the region. She said there was need for all partners and the international community to encourage the two states to avoid any conflict. She expressed her confidence that Ethiopia’s positive role would continue. She also said the Netherlands’ Government was ready to provide any support for efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in the region, either bilaterally and under the framework of AU. Among other topics, Mrs. Ploumen requested the Ethiopian Government to support the Netherlands’ candidature for membership in the UN Human Rights Council and raised issues relating to the repatriation of migrants and the adoption of children. She made it clear the Netherlands’ Government appreciated the established tradition of dialogue between the two countries. She emphasized its readiness to continue with this approach and suggested the possibility of formalizing its agreement for dialogue.
Dr. Tedros thanked the Netherlands’ Government for its meaningful support for Ethiopia’s development. He noted the Ethiopian Government was committed to development and democratization and indeed had the ambition to develop to the point where it would eventually graduate from seeking aid. He emphasized the need to expand the existing relations between the two countries into more diversified areas of agro-industrial based investment and trade relations. He underlined that Ethiopia was on track to achieve almost all the Millennium Development Goals, even the very ambitious goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75%. This is particularly difficult as it needs intensive and time-demanding activities and resources. He appreciated the Netherland’s contributions towards Ethiopia’s achievement of the goals, particularly in the health, education and food security sectors.
Another area of discussion was Charities and Civil Societies and Dr. Tedros emphasized that the Ethiopian Government fully recognized the positive contribution that these had for development and democratization process. He pointed out that the recent Charities and Societies law had created a more conducive environment for NGOs to produce genuine and constructive contributions towards the achievement of the MDGs and in supporting the Government’s efforts for development and democracy. The law encouraged the positive contribution of NGOs by its division into the two main categories – of charities and of civil societies. Charities receiving all their funding from external sources were encouraged to focus entirely on humanitarian activities rather than on areas related to good governance and democracy. The government believed that governance and democracy were issues that should be essentially owned by the people through home-grown mechanisms. Charities working in these areas and funded externally were at serious risk of manipulation by their sources of funding, and this had been all-too-clearly visible on a number of occasions.
Equally, the Government had put in place workable directions for charities who would like to work in areas related to good governance and democracy on a contractual project basis. The CSO law identified civil societies as those that have empowered their own domestic members and acquired 90% of their funding from these members and no more than 10% from external sources. The Government could therefore assume these bodies would not allow their agendas to be affected by external funds, and they could therefore function politically and make a positive contribution to the democratization process. All these considerations, Dr. Tedros noted, arose from the Government’s commitment to ‘homegrown’ democracy and its insistence on a more productive engagement with NGOs.
In this context, Dr. Tedros noted that aid channeled through Government channels had smaller overhead costs and a better success rate in helping the Government achieve the MDGs. He pointed out specific circumstances where large amounts of aid had been channeled through NGOs undermining the Government’s channels. Equally, there were occasions where the Government itself had channeled aid through NGOs when it believed that this would provide advantage. He expressed his belief that a revised mechanism with a more balanced approach was needed.
Dr. Tedros underlined Ethiopia’s commitment to expedite the process of accession to the WTO and its commitment to complete this no later than 2015. He noted the Government was preparing a roadmap on modalities of liberalizing the financial sector which would address a number of the concerns. At the same time the financial sector needed a strong regulatory capacity. This was a challenge for developed countries as well and the result needed to accommodate those involved in the sector. It was also important to strengthen the capacity of domestic lenders who were little more than small “papyrus boats” compared to the “giant ships” of foreign companies.
Dr. Tedros explained the Government was looking into the regulations on the adoption of children to encourage responsibility among both parents and agents. He expressed Ethiopia’s readiness to look into the request of support for the Netherlands’ candidature for the UN Human Rights Council if there was no African candidate endorsed by the AU. Dr. Tedros expressed Ethiopia’s readiness to keep up dialogue in all areas as a means to formalize agreements. He also took the opportunity to underline Ethiopia’s readiness, under the leadership of AU High level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to continue to encourage Sudan and South Sudan to implement the agreements they have already signed and to address any other outstanding issues. He agreed on the need for the international community to encourage the two sides to resolve their differences peacefully in every way.
Mrs. Ploumen was on an official visit to Ethiopia leading a delegation from the private sector taking part in the 17th Addis Chamber International Trade Fair (ACITF) which ended on Wednesday this week. A majority of Ethiopia’s cut flower exports to Europe go through the auction houses in the Netherlands.
IGAD launches Security Sector Program for 2013
The steering committee of the IGAD Security Sector Program (ISSP) has launched its implementation plan for 2013 at a meeting in Addis Ababa. The ISSP was inaugurated in October 2011 to implement the decisions of IGAD Member States after they agreed to restructure the IGAD Capacity Building Program Against terrorism (ICPAT) and provide it with a broader mandate. So, the major aims of the IGAD Security Sector Program cover Counterterrorism (CT), Transnational Organized Crime (TOC), Maritime Security (MS) and Security Institutions Capacity Building (SICB). In other words the program is intended to enable and to enhance the capacity of IGAD member states to put into operation security sector programs which are critical for addressing security threats. These will contribute to prediction, prevention and management of present and future emerging security threats in the IGAD region and ultimately provide an enabling environment for economic integration and help engender sustainable economic development, an overall general aim of the ISSP.
More specifically, the implementation plan is expected to have a variety of results which will become visible by the end of 2015. Implementing the plan will develop and promote a comprehensive institutional, programmatic and normative framework at the level of the region and of member states to combat terrorism, control money laundering, eliminate the illegal flow of small arms and improve piracy and maritime security. Each member state has participated in consultation processes and has received a report from ISSP providing relevant recommendations. To encourage efficient implementation of these the activities and the achievement of the hoped for results a series of meetings is expected to be held: in Uganda this week; on the 12th March in Djibouti, 12th -16th of August in South Sudan, with a regional workshop in Sudan, 3rd – 4th June, 2013.
One specific area of interest is in borders. Studies are being carried out this month and next on the border issues between Somalia and Somaliland and Ethiopia; Sudan and the Central African Republic and between South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Subsequent validation workshops on the border research reports in order to formulate policy recommendations for effective border controls to counter organized transnational security threats will be held in mid-May in Khartoum, and late September in Hargeisa. There will be other national workshops during the year and at least one regional consultative meeting.
Another issue is promoting cooperation in addressing terrorism, maritime security, and organized transnational organized crime and security sector reform. A series of meetings on these areas have already started and more will be held in March and April and in Juba, May 7th – 9th, and Addis Ababa, May 21st – 23rd, 2013.
A third element of the program is enhancing the capacity of member states and of IGAD institutions to address emerging security threats. Again a series of meetings are going to be undertaken around the region: March 11th – 12th in Djibouti; March 26th -28th in Uganda; April 30th – May 2nd in Kenya, 2-4 April in Kenya and June 20th -21st 2013, in Ethiopia. At least five regional training programs with the support of the UN, the AU Australia, Global Counter Terrorism Forum and other relevant bodies will be organized. The aim is also to strengthen the capacities of IGAD member states to design and implement comprehensive policies for countering organized crime.
The fourth and final element in the ISSP implementation plan is to review and strengthen institutional frameworks during the year relating to the issues of terrorism, maritime security, transnational organized crime and security sector reform.
The plan of implementation is expected to cost nearly $ 3 million, but the US$2,963,700 budget will be funded by bilateral and multilateral donors including the Joint Financing Agreement of the Governments of Denmark and the Netherlands, the US, Australia and the EU through African Union.
News and Views
Abune Mathias elected Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church has elected Abune Matthias as its new Patriarch on February 28th, 2013. The new Patriarch was elected by 500 votes out of 806 cast by members of the church synod living in Ethiopia and elsewhere. His enthronement as “His Holiness, Abuna Mathias, Sixth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia”, is expected to be on Sunday (March 3rd) at an official ceremony in Addis Ababa attended by tens of thousands of people. Abune Matthias, 71, has lived abroad for over 30 years. He initially left from Ethiopia following the military coup in 1974 and has travelled widely in Europe and America. He was serving as the Archbishop of the Church in Jerusalem before his election as Patriarch on Thursday (February 28th). The office of the Patriarch has been vacant since August last year after Abune Paulos, who was elected Patriarch in 1992, died after a short illness.
Foreign Minister holds talks with Egypt’s Diplomatic Group
Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom met an Egyptian diplomatic group led by the Director of the Egyptian Diplomatic Studies Institute, Ambassador Muhammad al- Badira on Wednesday (February 27th). During their meeting Ambassador al-Badira said that Egypt and Ethiopia enjoy a long and historic relationship, adding that newly graduated diplomats from the Egyptian Diplomatic Studies Institute had come to Addis Ababa to obtain overall insight about this long-lasting relationship. The Ambassador also expressed Egypt’s readiness to exchange experiences in diplomatic training as well as assist the Foreign Service Institute the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia is establishing. Dr. Tedros said Ethiopia appreciated the initiative taken by Egypt and stressed that Ethiopia and Egypt were destined to live together through mutual cooperation and understanding. He stressed in that regard that building people-to-people relations was of paramount importance in the relations between the two countries.
Ambassador Berhane meets US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy
State Minister Ambassador Berhane Gebrechristos held talks with the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Ms. Karen J. Hanrahan on Monday (February 25th). Ambassador Berhane, noting with appreciation the excellent relations between Ethiopia and the United States, pointed out that Ethiopia was on the right track in its efforts to achieve democracy, good governance and development. Democracy, he noted, had now taken root in Ethiopia more firmly than ever. There was no tolerance for human rights violations in Ethiopia, he said, emphasizing that the constitution guaranteed human and democratic rights and the government was fully committed to protect these rights. Equally, he added, the government was aware of the need to strengthen democratic institutions. Ms. Hanrahan said the US was ready to cooperate in the areas of democracy, development and human rights and in maintaining stability in Ethiopia. US Ambassador Donald Booth attended the meeting.
Embassy in Kenya working to repatriate victims of trafficking
The Ethiopian Embassy in Kenya has been working steadily to repatriate Ethiopians detained in Kenya after they had been brought illegally across the borders by human traffickers and smugglers. As part of this effort, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Shemsudin Roble, paid a visit last week to the Ruwira detention center where he heard the stories of victims of the traffickers from Ethiopia, details of the suffering from their smuggled entry into Kenya, and their requests to be repatriated. They pleaded with the government to work more aggressively in controlling illegal trafficking. The victims told the ambassador that most of them had been detained in Kenya while they were en route to South Africa. They said they paid around 50,000 birr to the smugglers and all they had obtained for this was detention in Kenya after they had been apprehended by the Kenyan police force. Ambassador Shemsudin said the Embassy was now working in collaboration with other international organizations to arrange repatriations of Ethiopians detained in Kenya for illegal entry.
A two-day “peace and conflict resolution” conference in Addis Ababa
The Peace and Conflict Resolution Commission of the Association of Senates, Shura and Equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World (ASSECAA) opened a two-day conference here in Addis Ababa on Sunday under the theme “peace and conflict resolution”. The Commission is made up of 22 organizations from around Africa, including the House of Federation from Ethiopia, and from the Arab world. The meeting discussed ways of preventing conflicts and on how to address them as they occur. It was held to strengthen cooperation and exchange views and expertise on conflict resolution between member countries, providing access to experience contributing to the peaceful coexistence of peoples within and across countries. The Yemeni delegation presented a paper entitled: “The course of the political settlement in Yemen in light of the Gulf initiative is a model to solve the conflicts peacefully”; and the Head of the Yemeni delegation and Speaker of the Shura Council of Yemen, Abdulrahman Mohamed, said the national dialogue between the different political parties in Yemen had provided a peaceful solution throughout the crises that swept Yemen. On the sidelines of the conference, Abdulrahman Mohamed also held discussions with Ato Kassa Tekleberhan, Speaker of the House of Federation of Ethiopia.
Somali Prime Minister proposes extensive reforms
Somalia’s Prime Minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, has said human rights and judicial reform are at the centre of the government’s legislative agenda. He made the statement following the submission by the cabinet of a package of legislation to Parliament for debate and discussion. The Prime Minister and the cabinet have approved four draft laws covering human rights reform, judicial reform, and reform of district and of regional authorities The Prime Minister said the government was working overtime to draft new legislation that is “essential for the rebuilding of a new Somalia”, and that this demonstrated its commitment “to radical human rights reform, a complete overhaul of our judicial system and redefining the balance of power between the centre and the regions”. He said every week the government was introducing new legislation, which he described as the “the foundation of a functioning state”. The Prime Minister is expected to address the legislature on Sunday (March 3rd) to give an account of the achievements of the government’s first 100 days. The cabinet has also agreed on the need to devise new legislation on the restructuring of police and security forces. The government’s ambitious wider reform program includes plans for new legislation governing the central bank, the creation of specialized anti-terrorism, anti-piracy and anti-trafficking institutions, and additional laws to govern refugee issues and legal aid.
Al-Shabaab driven out of Bur-Hakaba; EU’s plans to move training to Mogadishu
In another military success, Somali National Forces and AMISOM troops moved into Bur-Hakaba on Wednesday morning (February 27th). Bur-Hakaba, in Bay region, is a strategic town on the road from Mogadishu to Baidoa, 170 kms from Mogadishu and about 70 kms from Baidoa. The road links Mogadishu to Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions. The allied forces have been advancing steadily on Bur-Hakaba from both Baidoa and from the south east, from Wanle Weyne. Al-Shabaab forces finally abandoned the town which they had held for four years without fighting and hundreds of residents took to the streets to welcome the government forces as they arrived. Somali Army Commander, General Abdikarin Yussuf Adan said the allied forces were now in full control of the town and this success would help to secure more towns in the region. The Prime Minister said the capture of Bur-Hakaba meant the road from Mogadishu to Baidoa was now open and safe. Meanwhile, Brigadier General Gerald Aherne, the new commander of the European Union Training Mission for Somalia, (EUTM Somalia), told a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday (February 27th) that the European Union is preparing to transfer part of its training mission for Somali security forces from Uganda to Mogadishu. He said three conditions had to be fulfilled: protection for EUTM personnel to work in safety; provision of adequate medical services and real life support facilities to work in Mogadishu. He said he was confident these conditions would be met shortly. Brigadier Aherne presented a draft plan for EUTM Somalia’s new mandate, to run from February this year to March 2015, to the EU Political and Security Committee and to the EU Military Committee in Brussels this week. EUTM Somalia was launched in 2010 and has trained some 3,000 Somali troops.