A Week in the Horn of Africa- (03/05/2013)
News in Brief
Ethiopia State Minister, Ambassador Berhane today (May 1) met and held discussions with UK Foreign Office Director General for Political, Simon Gass. The discussions covered pressing issues including recent developments in Somalia, the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan and preparations for the upcoming London Conference on Somalia. The Ethiopian Embassy in London held a memorial session in honour of the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi’s contributions to the Ethiopian and African renaissance on Tuesday (April 30). The event was attended by former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, former UK Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, government officials, corporate leaders and other high level dignitaries. MihretDebebe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), and China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Co, Ltd (CET) of SGCC, signed a $1 billion loan agreement for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam power transmission line project. The project which will cost an estimated $1.2 billion has a total length 700 Kilometers. Ambassador Berhane, earlier today (30 April), held a meeting with executives from SouthWest Development and Standard Bank. In discussions with Standard Bank CEO, Ben Kruger, Standard Bank CEO for Africa, Chris Newson, and SouthWest CEO, TewedrosAshenafi, Ambassador Berhane thanked Standard Bank for their interest in engaging at a more substantive level in Ethiopia. He urged Standard to look for more areas of cooperation and to intensify their efforts at facilitating greater investment for the country and region at large. The 3.2 million year old hominid Lucy or “Dinkenish”, otherwise known by her scientific name Australopithecus Afarensis, returned to Ethiopia yesterday (May 1) following a five-year tour of the United States of America. Lucy was being exhibited along with other Ethiopian artifacts in a number of US cities during the past five years. Ethiopian Airlines became the first carrier to fly Boeing 787 Dreamliner since they were grounded last January worldwide due to battery problems. The fully-booked flight took off on Saturday (April 27) at 09:45 local time (07:45 GMT) and landed in Nairobi, Kenya, some two hours later, with passengers giving the crew a round of applause upon landing. Somalia The President of Somalia’s Federal Government, Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, met with his Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta in a brief visit to Mombasa, Kenya on Saturday (April 27). President Sheikh Mahmoud was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Fowzia Haji Yusuf Adam and State Minister of Villa Somalia Farah Sheikh Abdiqadir (see article). The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has appointed Nicholas Kay, a British diplomat, as the new UN envoy to Somalia. The appointment will take effect when the term of Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, a Tanzanian national, who served as the UN envoy to Somalia since 2010, ends in June. A plenary meeting of the Contact Group on piracy off the coast of Somalia is set to be held in New York on Thursday (May 01). The plenary which will be chaired by the United States will be the fourteenth gathering of this outstanding international partnership. Partners from over 85 countries, international organizations, and the private sector will take part in the meeting. Kenya A new IFC and World Bank report shows that in 2011/12 all five economies of the East African Community (EAC)—Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—implemented at least one institutional or business regulatory reform improving the business climate for local entrepreneurs. Released on May 2, Doing Business in the East African Community 2013 compares business regulations and identifies good practices across the EAC in 10 areas covered by the joint World Bank and IFC annual global Doing Business report. Kenya is likely to start producing oil in six to seven years; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected. In a new report published after consultations with government officials, the fund terms Kenya’s recent oil discoveries in northern Turkana as “commercial”, a term that both government officials and the exploration firms have used only sparingly to avoid raising public expectations too high. President Uhuru Kenyatta has increased the minimum wage by 14 percent to Ksh 13, 674 up from Ksh 11,995, to be implemented with immediate effect. Kenyatta said the pay hike was geared towards addressing the needs of the lowest paid workers and cost of living while ensuring an attractive environment for investment and job creation.
Sudan The Government of the Republic of Sudan launched its first National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) for the period of 2012-2016 on Wednesday (May 1st). The strategy was launched by the Central Bureau of Statistics with the technical and financial support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Sudanese government spokesman, RabieAbdelaty yesterday (29 April) said Sudan and South Sudan have started negotiations on a dispute over the sharing of assets belonging to former national oil company Sudapet. He said a South Sudanese delegation from the oil and mining ministry had arrived in Khartoum to discuss the matter with their Sudanese counterparts. South Sudan South Sudanese President SalvaKiir will visit Khartoum this month, taking up the invitation extended by his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir when he visited Juba in April, a government spokesman said Tuesday. Sudanese state media also reported that Kiir will travel to Khartoum later this month. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in a statement released on Monday (29th April), welcomed a peace deal between the Government of South Sudan and local militia groups and expressed its readiness to assist South Sudan as it moved forward in establishing lasting peace. Eritrea The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, is due to begin a 10-day fact-finding mission to Ethiopia and Djibouti on Tuesday (April 30th) to collect first-hand information from Eritrean refugees on the human rights situation inside their country on Tuesday (April 30th). Djibouti Following the decision of the government of China to finance the Ethio-Djibouti railway project, it was learned yesterday (April 29) that high level officials of China’s Exim Bank will arrive in Addis Ababa in the coming days to finalize an agreement between the finance Ministers of both Ethiopia and China. This would pave the way for the disbursement of the $3.3 billion loan. The Inspector General of Djibouti today launched “Anti-Corruption Djibouti”, a new initiative aimed at raising awareness of the country’s anticorruption efforts and facilitating closer collaboration with international partners. Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing airline in Africa, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Djibouti International Airport for the provision of sea-air and air-sea cargo transport of goods in East Africa.TheMoU was signed at Ethiopian Airlines headquarters on Monday, 22 April 2013, between Mr. TewoldeGebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian, and Mr. Mohamed YacoubMahamoud, General Manager of Djibouti International Airport.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, on official visit to the US, meets Secretary of State Kerry
Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, on the final day of his official visit to the United States met with US Secretary of State, John Kerry, for an exchange of views on the Horn of Africa. The Foreign Minister also met with a number of other officials including the Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security, Derek Cholet, the Senior Director for African Affairs, Grant Harris, the National Security Staff Senior Director, Gayle Smith and the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Ambassador Wendy Sherman. The US government officials took the opportunity to thank Ethiopia for its support and leadership in the region; while Ambassador Sherman, in particular, congratulated Ethiopia for the smooth transition of power following the death of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, describing the transition as “very impressive”. The Foreign Minister briefed US administration officials on recent developments in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Stressing a real window of opportunity had been created; the Foreign Minister insisted that it was imperative to take advantage of this quickly. It was critical not to fail at this stage and scupper possibilities for further gain. He noted that the situation in Somalia was continuing to improve, but warned that the hard-won gains against Al-Shabaab now had to be consolidated. He cautioned that Al-Shabaab could regroup if the proper measures were not taken against it. In that respect, Dr. Tedros underlined that any additional support for the Government of Somalia should give priority to the security sector and that this must be properly coordinated within the international community, not as is currently the case be offered piecemeal or in a fragmented way. Dr. Tedros added that in this context Ethiopia’s recent troop withdrawal from Hudur should not have been unexpected. Ethiopia had made clear its intention months earlier that its forces must be replaced there by AMISOM. The problem emerged due to AMISOM’s slow reaction to the news which meant it was unable to organize replacements for the Ethiopian forces. Ethiopia, he noted, has been financing operations in Somalia through the national treasury thus it would be impossible to sustain this in the long-run. In fact the main purpose of the withdrawal, as with Ethiopia’s desire not to be part of the AMISOM mission, was to allow Ethiopian forces to be used in a more flexible and effective way. The Foreign Minister said the most difficult issue currently facing Somalia was the question of Jubaland. Ethiopia, he said, was trying to engage with other stakeholders including Kenya on this matter. Ethiopia believed that the basis of any solution must be respect for the constitution, and the inclusiveness of any political process. Ethiopia also believed that the central government should lead the political process, that the peace process must be transparent and that IGAD’s role must be properly defined. Prime Minister Hailemariam who recently visited President Kenyatta, the newly elected president of Kenya, discussed these issues. The two leaders had agreed on these key points, the Minister said. Along with security, Dr. Tedros has emphasized that another extremely vital element to sustainable peace and security in Somalia must be the provision of basic services to the people living in newly liberated areas. This would be important to the building of trust and confidence among the people in their government. He indicated that it was also important to mobilize the support the government needs in an expedited manner so that the Somali people could begin to feel that its government was committed to the rapid re-construction of the coutnry. The other main area of discussion between Dr. Tedros and Secretary Kerry were recent developments between Sudan and South Sudan as well as how the international community could better support the peace process there. Secretary Kerry congratulated Ethiopia on the positive role and leadership it had exhibited in the region. The Minister gave details of Ethiopia’s effort to improve the opportunities to create a lasting peace between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan. He noted the two sides, after a long stalemate, had, under the auspices of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and Ethiopia, agreed on two issues; border security arrangements and the resumption of South Sudanese oil production for export out of Sudan. The two countries in effect had taken the advice of their regional partners not to try to produce a comprehensive solution, or engage in all the differing issues at the same time, but tackle them in a phased way, the minister explained. In effect, after the signing of the Implementation Matrix in March, the countries agreed to continue their engagements in other areas. Another encouraging development witnessed in the region was the recent peace negotiations and the ceasefire agreement between the Khartoum Government and the SPLM-North. Ethiopia had now called upon all the parties to continue the political process and be ready to help carry the momentum forward in a positive way. He noted, however, that Abyei and the issue of the two states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile still remained in deadlock. Nevertheless, Dr. Tedros insisted that the international community must to do more to keep up the momentum as the two countries were making significant progress in engaging each other. He called upon the international community to provide more encouragement to Sudan for the steps it has taken towards peace thus far.
……members of the Corporate Council for Africa
During his visit, Dr. Tedros also met, on Tuesday (April 30th) with members of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and briefed them on the current socio-economic and political transformations taking place in Ethiopia as well as on the current business and investment opportunities in the country. In a keynote address at a breakfast meeting with the Council, he described excellent reasons to invest in Ethiopia while mentioning its fast changing and growing economy; its access to markets like COMESA, the Middle East and Europe; its preferential access to specialized markets such as AGOA and its friendly investment laws and regulations. All were positive proof of the country’s attractive investment climate. The Minister pointed out that Ethiopia was working hard to achieve its vision of becoming a middle income country by 2025 and its current Growth and Transformation Plan would be the basis for this. The Plan was already halfway complete and all the indications were that implementation of most of the elements were on the track. Ethiopia, indeed, he said, was registering promising results in bringing about the necessary structural transformations to address the fundamental development challenges it still faced. The Minister said despite the long and historic ties between Ethiopia and the US, economic relations between the two countries, and indeed US economic relations with the continent of Africa as a whole, remained minimal. The Minister indicated that by not engaging Africa in a more substantive way the US was making a strategic error. He suggested the main reason for this might be that the private sector in the US lacked interest to engage in Africa, that it did not consider Africa a real opportunity. In addition, he thought, Africa’s image might be contributing to this neglect. He strongly advised the US government to provide the realistic and necessary support to the US private sector in order to further encourage engagement in Africa. Dr.Tedros underlined the fact that an integrated education program had been launched in Ethiopia. Education, of course, was one of the country’s main priorities. Universities in the country were being greatly expanded along with the provision of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVETs). The programs were also being integrated with Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and Medium Scale Industries to provide ease of training. On the failure of African states to use the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as effectively as they could, he suggested that this was largely due to internal issues, with African countries failing to produce the required quantity of quality products. He suggested African countries should work hard to address the lack of capacity in this area.
….and Think Tank representatives and academics
Earlier, on April 29th, Dr.Tedros met with representatives of leading think tanks in Washington DC, and briefed representatives on recent developments in Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa as well as on Ethiopia’s policy towards the region, its role in Sudan, the possibilities of peace and dialogue with Eritrea and the overall political atmosphere in Kenya. Representatives from the Brookings Institute, the United States Institute for Peace, the Global Peace Initiative, and Georgetown University as well as other academic institutions and individuals including Jendayi Frazer, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and Professor David Shinn, former US ambassador to Ethiopia. He detailed the progress being made in Somalia and between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan while underlining the importance of the international community keeping up the momentum. He repeated his view that it was time to show more encouragement to Sudan for the steps it has taken so far. Defining Ethiopia’s overall policy towards Horn of Africa, the Foreign Minister explained that the core concept involved was advancing the fight against the number one enemy of the country, which is poverty. He added that this was also the principal enemy of peace and development in the region. Ethiopia, of course, is already building up huge infrastructural developments that can ultimately create the economic and people-to-people integration that is required for real development in the Horn of Africa. This, the Minister added, would ultimately lead, in time, and naturally, to political integration. Concerning Eritrea, the Minister said the relationship was still one of “no war, no peace”. Ethiopia had repeatedly made it very clear it was always happy to hold a dialogue with Eritrea. But Eritrea has repeatedly refused. Eritrea was difficult, even impossible, to hold any discussions with or to do any business with, said the Minister. However, Ethiopia has still worked with the people of Eritrea, providing tens of thousands of refugees with asylum and assisting them in various ways, including the provision of scholarships. Ethiopia strongly believed this would help to consolidate the existing people-to-people relations in the area. In regard to Africa’s efforts to influence the global order, the Minister indicated the continent’s lack of unity, its fragmentation; this meant it could not speak with a single voice. The long-term solution for this was economic development and integration. The more efforts were made to attain these goals, he asserted the more the continent would get a chance to change the international order.
Ethiopian Diaspora meetings in the United States
During his official visit to the United States, Dr. Tedros held meetings with members of the Ethio-American Medical and Health Care Professionals Association and with the Ethiopian Diaspora community in Washington. Speaking to members of the Medical and Health Care Professionals Association, the Minister hailed their initiative and their commitment to national development. The Association was set up to put their competencies, skills and funds forward to assist in improvements in the health and medical field in Ethiopia. The medical professionals explained to the Minister that they had already started to inject their share of competence into the country’s national socio-economic efforts. Dr.Tedros commended the professionals for their proactive decision to involve themselves in capacity building projects at the national level. The Association already boasts over 160 members and is still growing. The Minister also held discussions with a large number of members of the Ethiopian Diaspora to brief them on the current socio-economic and political developments in Ethiopia. He explained that Ethiopia had registered promising results in its goal of addressing its development challenges through structural transformation, pointing out that the Growth and Transformation Plan had already reached the halfway point of implementation and the majority of its associated projects were on track. He noted that the average annual economic growth of the country since the introduction of the GTP had reached 10.5%, in line with government plans. As a result of various fiscal and monetary measures introduced by the government, inflation was now down to single figures, indeed to 7.6%. This had contributed greatly to the stability of the economy. He said the export sector had also registered encouraging growth along with levels of domestic savings which now make up 16.4% of the economy, compared to no more than 5.2% three years earlier. Foreign direct investment, he said, had also shown significant growth while agricultural productivity had continued to increase in line with GTP targets. The Minister underlined the point that the education and health sectors were the areas in which the most significant results had been registered. The Minister noted that the government was working very hard to strengthen small and medium enterprises with the aim of creating more jobs for the younger generation. At the same time, he said, the construction of larger scale projects including the building of fertilizer and sugar factories, the expansion of railway infrastructure and the number of power generation projects were another way in which both youth unemployment and development were being addressed. He cited, in particular, the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam as important to the country’s economic future. It would contribute immensely to the achievement of GTP targets by generating an anticipated six thousand megawatts of electricity out of the eight thousand expected during the GTP period. Dr. Tedros assured those present that Ethiopia was also on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. He called on all Ethiopians, irrespective of their political differences, to contribute to and support the country’s development efforts which were, of course, for the good of the whole country. He appealed to the Diaspora Ethiopians to be forthcoming and proactive and to avoid mediocrity and docility: everyone, he said, had a shared responsibility for the development of the country. No one should remain a distant onlooker. Meanwhile, in Chicago last Saturday, Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans held a highly successful fund-raising event for the further purchasing of bonds to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Over $60,000 was raised on Saturday, to add to the $120,000 raised previously, and the community again reaffirmed its pledge to redouble its efforts to raise a similar amount after the conclusion of the fourth quarter of the year. The Guest of Honor on the occasion was Ambassador GirmaBirru who detailed the major developments and the results being achieved by the Growth and Transformation Plan. He also updated participants on the current state of the dam – close to 20% of the total work of the dam has already been completed.
Domestic, regional and international efforts to stabilize Somalia
The last two weeks have seen a number of efforts aimed at strengthening Somalia’s stabilization and reconstruction processes. They include discussions held within Somalia itself as well as among leaders of neighboring countries and other partners, as well as IGAD preparatory meetings in advance of the May 7th London International Conference on Somalia and last week’s UN Security Council meeting on the establishment of a new in-country UN Mission for Somalia. An indication of the continued optimism over improvements in Somalia has been the re-opening of the British embassy in Mogadishu for the first time since 1991. During the week, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, accompanied by ministers and other dignitaries, paid a two-day working visit to Puntland (April 29 -30th) to hold talks with Puntland’s President, Abdirahman Sheikh Farole. The working visit was part of a series aimed at broadening the Federal Government’s political outreach to all parts of Somalia. Discussions covered issues relating to federalism, security, the economy and cooperation. President Mahmoud emphasized that he appreciated the Puntland administration’s role in ending the transition process; he expressed his hope that it would continue to engage with the Federal government in implementing the constitutional process and defining the future of Somalia. He briefed the President of Puntland on the 7th May London Conference which he noted was aimed at getting enhanced international support for the federal government’s six-pillar strategy. President Farole welcomed the visit, underlining his expectation that the federal government will implement federalism and support the establishment of other similar inclusive regional administrations. He said the federal government and his administration agreed to continue their dialogue for reconciliation throughout Somalia and on the unity of the Somali people based on the principles of federalism as detailed in the constitution. He said agreement was reached to work together on improving security and on building the Somalia National Forces. This would be overseen by a technical committee. An agreement was reached to abide by previous agreements reached between Prime Minister Shirdon and President Farole, including last month’s Memorandum of Understanding. At the same time, President Farole also noted the need for further discussions on some issues. He emphasized his administration would not compromise over implementation of federalism, and he particularly expressed his support for the Kismayo conference to establish a Jubaland local administration for the three regions of Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo. President Mahmoud said that his government was focused on how to secure and stabilize Somalia while preventing the country from falling apart. He noted the difference in views over the type of federalism. Acknowledging the Puntland government’s concern on the altering of the Provisional Federal Constitution, President Mahmoud promised to review and finalize the PFC as agreed by the Roadmap signatories. He stressed that politics in Somalia needed cooperation and consultation “and we’ll reach our goals in this manner”. This has been interpreted as indicating the federal government’s readiness for a more inclusive approach to stabilize and reconstruct Somalia. The federal government announced this week that it was launching a free nationwide educational program for nearly a million school students as part of its new positive effort for reconstruction. The European Union has also announced a separate educational program for Somalia. Measures will include building new schools, rehabilitating old schools, training teachers, providing scholarships and ensuring the inclusion of children from poor backgrounds, minorities, IDPs and children with disabilities. These programs will help to restore the lost education opportunities of the last decades, opportunities which will be so important to Somalia’s socio-economic development and sustainment of the social fabric of the society. Other developments include the announcement of the United Nations Universal Postal Union that it was finalizing arrangements to enable its 192 members to resume the sending of mail to Somalia in the next few months. The federal government is also preparing to open postal services as soon as possible. Over the weekend, President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud visited Kenya to hold discussions with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. He was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Fowzia Haji Yusuf Adam and State Minister of the Presidential Palace, Farah Sheikh Abdiqadir. Issues discussed include bilateral relations and the ways in which to cooperate on peace and building prosperity in the region, as well as the return of Somali refugees in Kenya as soon as “preparations have been properly made”. President Mahmoud briefed President Kenyatta on the aims and objectives of the London Conference on Somalia to be held on May 7th. They also discussed cooperation on security issues and against the threat of Al-Shabaab, to counter “the spread of their malignant ideology”. The need to strengthen regional cooperation and support to the Somali government, as well as security and the importance of building strong and inclusive local administrations was also on the agenda when Prime Minister Hailemariam met President Kenyatta in Nairobi last week. Their discussions also covered “efforts to contribute to sustainable peace, reconstruction and development in Somalia” as well as IGAD’s role in regional peace and development. They promised their continued support for the reconstruction of Somalia. A meeting was also held last Friday at Aden Adde airport in Mogadishu to address security. Attended by Somali officials, leaders of AMISOM troop-contributing countries and officials from Turkey and United Kingdom, Somalia’s advisor on security, AbdiRahman Sheikh Iss, said the government had asked the UK government to give a helping hand to the achievement of a peaceful Somalia. The UK’s special advisor on security, Allever Robbins, said the UK would assist Somalia to achieve a peaceful environment in the country. This was part of the platform for the May 7th conference. There are considerable expectations that the London conference next week will help to garner more coordinated international support to Somalia, based on the federal government’s priorities as set out in its six-pillar strategy. The government has expressed its aim to “gradually build and properly finance a unified security force that enjoys public confidence, which is free from sectarian and or clan influence to preserve order and protect the people and their property throughout Somalia”. This would ultimately allow Somalis to control their own internal and external security, but it requires the creation of a legitimate and effective security force with clear accountability structures and civilian oversight. Many hope IGAD will be able to make a positive contribution in support of this. Equally there is considerable anticipation that the London conference next week will encourage the Somali government to try to engage IGAD more as part of a harmonized approach to its six-pillar policy.
President Silanyo of Somaliland on a visit to Washington D.C
On Monday (April 22nd) President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo of Somaliland on a visit to Washington spoke at the Atlantic Council on the subject of “Somaliland’s Achievement in a Fragile Region.” He briefly outlined the history of Somaliland, noting that five days after Somaliland became an independent, sovereign state on June 26th 1960; it chose to unite with Somalia. However, almost immediately, its people were excluded from decision making and representation in the new Somali Republic. Somaliland then rejected the Somali Republic’s constitution in the referendum and disenchantment with the government in Mogadishu grew steadily as the region’s political and economic isolation increased. President SiadBarre launched a violent campaign against the people of Somaliland, killing more than 50,000 civilians and forcing ten times as many to flee into Ethiopia. As a result, in 1991 when his brutal military dictatorship fell, the people of Somaliland decided to withdraw from the union and re-assert Somaliland’s sovereignty and independence. And since then, said President Silanyo, “we have built a functioning, stable and democratic state”. Somaliland indeed has focused on “maintaining peace within our borders, building strong state institutions, and creating a sustainable economy.” It will be celebrating 22 years of independence on May 18th.
President Silanyo noted that Somaliland had held four peaceful elections and had preserved a culture of democracy. He said its security forces had ensured that terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab had no safe haven in Somaliland. It had also tackled piracy off the coast with determination, and jailed more than a hundred pirates, as well as passed a number of anti-piracy laws. He said Somaliland had made great strides with regard to education, development and public health, and invested in food security, avoiding chronic hunger and disease. During the last drought, he said, the government was able to donate donated nearly $700,000 in humanitarian assistance to Somalia. And all this was achieved with only limited assistance from the international community.
The President referred to his recent statement to Parliament in which he spoke of the challenges facing the government especially in the diplomatic area where recognition remains the overarching goal, and its accomplishments. These included facilitating decentralization and empowering local communities, increasing government revenue and streamlining the tax system, presenting a balanced national budget (of US $180 million), institutionalizing public finance reform, professionalizing the armed forces and police, improving relationships with international aid agencies, and investing largely in education. He detailed the progress made in reconciliation, noting that following successful dialogue with dissident militia groups, the government had released more than 200 prisoners and welcomed a number of key leaders into the cabinet. It had also earmarked more than $1.2 million for development projects in the area of problem. Over all, the President insisted, that Somaliland was “very much open for business”.
President Silanyo said Somaliland was watching events in Somalia very closely. It hoped that Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would succeed where past transitional governments had failed. A secure and peaceful Somalia, he said, that is able to build and preserve strong state institutions, fight terrorism and violent extremism, and stimulate a functioning economy, was in Somaliland’s national interest. It was to this end that he and the Somaliland government had undertaken in good faith efforts to renew dialogue with Somalia, and held direct talks with the Transitional Federal Government in London, Istanbul and Dubai. These laid the groundwork for the recent meeting of the two presidents in Ankara. This affirmed a shared commitment to build trust and improve relations between the two governments. President Silanyo said future meetings, the next within three months, would aim to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism, extremism, piracy, illegal fishing, toxic dumping, and other serious crimes. He said Somalia and Somaliland can and should be equal partners. He added, “we hope and expect that those who are now reaching out to the new government in Mogadishu will do the same with our government in Hargeisa.”
The President said he had received assurances from the U.S. Government that its recognition of the government of Somalia would not negatively impact on America’s ongoing engagement in Somaliland. Nevertheless, he added, we expect more. The United States and the international engagement with Mogadishu seek to stimulate and sustain the transition of Somalia to a viable sovereign entity. “The same type of engagement”, he said, “is required for Somaliland,” noting that the approaches were not mutually exclusive. The president said the people of Somaliland believed the time had come for the international community to fully recognize the security and stability they had preserved in the midst of chaos, and to acknowledge “the legitimate, sovereign and independent status” of their nation.
He suggested that building on the Somaliland/Somalia dialogue that was now open, and the bilateral relations now expanding with other governments, a possible and critical next step should be observer status for Somaliland in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and in the African Union. He said the US could do much to engage its friends in the Horn of Africa and beyond to help Somaliland secure this, noting that with proper diplomatic recognition, Somaliland would be able to contribute more effectively to a sustainable and prosperous future for the Horn of Africa. He concluded: “Recognition of Somaliland’s independence is long overdue and must be part of any sustainable peace in this region.”
Renowned Politicians and Leaders Pay Tribute to Meles and Remember his Legacy
Tributes were paid to Ethiopia’s exceptional leader, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, for his outstanding contribution to the renaissance of both Ethiopia and Africa during his tenure which spanned two decades. The late Premier died in August last year and his funeral took place at Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa in the presence of tens of thousands of mourners including world leaders. At lunchtime today (30th April 2013), an audience of over 700, including leading UK ministers and other politicians, diplomats, representatives of the business community, and members of the Ethiopian community paid tribute to Ethiopia’s great leader at a commemorative occasion organized by the Ethiopian Embassy in London, at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster.
Former UK Prime Minister, H.E. Gordon Brown, began with an electrifying speech saying that “no one did more to eradicate the evil of poverty than Prime Minister Meles.” Mr Brown praised the political change that Meles had wrought and the economic take-off that his policies had brought about. “But for Meles” he said, “growth had to have a purpose, economics was a branch of ethics”, this meant improving the lives of the many millions of Ethiopians with the opening of innumerable clinics, schools and the slashing of poverty rates. Mr Brown added “There will be statues, streets and schools named after PM Meles, but perhaps his best memorial will be the future millions of people in Ethiopia who will have chances that they could not have had without him.” He concluded “let us re-dedicate ourselves to creating opportunities for the excluded.” Former Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Africa and Shadow Spokesperson on foreign affairs Lord Triesman said that PM Meles “a man of action” and a “fiercely independent thinker” who advocated “durable development” with the advancement of women and where “Ethiopian dynamism” would replace aid, which was “no substitute for real economic development”. Meles had a sort of “Roosevelt New Deal” approach wherein power could be used to enhance the basic commodities that Ethiopia has in abundance and on which a firm based economy can be established. “Meles studied for an Open University Masters in Business Administration while fighting in the bush, and gained the highest marks ever recorded”. Lord Triesman said. Meles’ “forensic intellect and ability to act effectively” came to the fore at Gleneagles in 2005. In understanding Somalia and the rest of the Horn region “he was far ahead of anyone else” Lord Triesman concluded.
Former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Boateng said that “Meles was the very best” and would take his place among the portraits of great African leaders on the walls of the African Union building. Meles kept alive the flame of PanAfricanism and the critical link between economic and political emancipation. The AU had fallen into the doldrums but is now asserting itself thanks in great part to Meles. Meles never accepted the perceived wisdom even if pushed by the World Bank and suchlike. He was proved right on both education and agriculture – Ethiopia built up higher education along with primary education against advice and prioritised agriculture, which the World Bank viewed as “not important”.
A poem by academic and writer Dr Jenny Hammond, for Meles, a “remarkable man” whom she first met in 1986 reflects the love and respect Meles felt for the peasant farmers of his home region, Tigray, and Ethiopia as a whole. Meles told Jenny “To see us as givers in the revolution is to have a totally false picture. We received training from them in how to survive in the forest, which wild plants are edible and useful and which are not. They showed us how to hunt meat, how to find cool water, how to identify different animals …’ This bond deepened with the years. LSE professor Lord Stern of Brentford, began by contrasting the “desperately poor” Ethiopia of 1967 when he travelled there as a student to when he returned as Chief Economist of the World Bank, over thirty years later. “Meles”, he said, “was half-way through his two decades of a leadership which saw a transformation of economic and human development of extraordinary proportions. Meles was, he said, supremely analytical and quantitative, as well as brilliantly political and strategic, and he would have wanted and expected some numbers at his memorial which Lord Stern duly citied – listing achievements which effectively prevented 5 million deaths of the last two decades. Meles was a key player at the climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009. They worked together on the UN Advisory Group on Climate Financing in 2010, which Meles co-chaired and drove forward. Their last collaboration was on the BRICS-led development bank which was in large measure Meles’ conception and which he knew, before he died, was likely to go forward – the decision to do so was taken last month. Meles saw Africa as a continent of opportunity and playing its role in world leadership and he did so much to realise those visions. The world has lost an extraordinarily and irreplaceable leader and we have lost a precious friend.”
Former Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt. Hon Clare Short, spoke of her admiration for “the most intelligent politician I’ve ever met in my life”. She recalled setbacks that Meles had had to face, such as the conflict with Eritrea, and said that monumental progress has been made despite them with well-founded policies such as universal education for girls, fighting corruption and impressive economic growth. Meles championed the developmental state and Ethiopia is a model to other countries.
Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethiopia, Laurence Robertson MP, spoke of his admiration for the achievements of Prime Minister Meles and “the enviable growth in GDP” that Ethiopia had achieved under his stewardship. Writer and broadcaster, Jonathan Dimbleby, could not be present but pre-recorded a short film praising the progress that Meles had brought about despite the problems of living in such a tough region. He regretted that Meles had left so soon but was convinced that his legacy would be completed by coming generations who would further transform Ethiopia into a fully-fledged modern state.
Concluding the event, Lord Malloch-Brown, Former Minister of State for Africa at the FCO, spoke of Meles longing to retire and return to his studies. The amount of academic work Meles produced was so colossal that “it was difficult to believe sometimes that he was also running a country” he said. Meles believed in political liberalisation and it is a great shame that he didn’t live to see the full achievements of the revolution as he was taken from us before it was complete. But “Ethiopia is marching on” and he was a great foot soldier and a great African. And it is heartening that these feelings have been shared by so many today.
H.E. BerhanuKebede, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the UK and the Scandinavian countries, lauded UK political leaders and personalities for paying tribute to the late Prime Minister and what he had achieved and further mentioned the political and economic transformation that had been brought about under the far-sighted leadership of PM Meles. “It is in recognition of his outstanding leadership”, the Ambassador said, “that the people of Ethiopia recently launched the Meles Foundation to allow scholarly studies into his life and works, which inspired the reawakening and Renaissance of Ethiopia. The Foundation is dedicated to preserving and advancing the legacy of Prime Minister Meles’ lifelong commitment to peace, justice, economic development, good governance, and democracy for the Ethiopian and African people. It will provide a living memorial to his selfless struggle, to his statesmanship and to his perpetual support for the freedom and equality of the peoples of Ethiopia; a place for the study of the new life that Meles Zenawi breathed into Africa’s aspiration for peace, democracy and development.”
The Ambassador concluded “we the people of Ethiopia, inspired by the vision and legacies of Meles, have expressed our commitment to give full support to Ethiopia’s Renaissance and work hard for the realisation of the Renaissance dam and other mega projects currently underway. The construction of the Renaissance dam, road and railway networks across the nation, hospitals, universities and other infrastructure will remain high on our agenda. Poverty will remain Ethiopia’s formidable enemy until such time that prosperity becomes the order of the day. Through dedication to his priorities, and in full appreciation of his legacy we, the people of Ethiopia, will keep Meles alive and among us.”