A Week in the Horn of Africa- (07/09/2012)
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi laid to rest on Sunday……
The funeral of the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, was an occasion of high ceremonial as the people of Ethiopia, officials of government, family, friends and representatives of the region and of Africa paid their final respects to a great leader and took their leave of a great Ethiopian. Two weeks of national mourning for the untimely death of the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, ended on Sunday, September 2nd, with the ceremony of a State Funeral. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians, nearly two dozen Heads of State and Government, high level delegations from the EU, USA, China and other countries, and numerous dignitaries gathered to attend the ceremony and pay their last respects at Meskal Square in the center of Addis Ababa to “one of the greatest sons of Africa” and a “truly visionary leader”.
The day began with a service held at the Grand Palace at the late Prime Minister’s residence where his coffin had been lying in state since its arrival from abroad. Present were the Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the Speaker of the House of People’s Representative, Abadula Gemeda, presidents of the regional governments, ministers, ambassadors, religious leaders and members of the defense and police forces. The flag-draped coffin was put on a carriage prepared and accompanied by a military marching band, family, friends, relatives and thousands of mourners dressed in black it was escorted at a slow march down to Meskel Square. A dozen senior army generals including Chief of Staff, General Samora Yenus, placed the coffin on a special podium in the square. The Guard of Honor drawn from units of the Defence Forces saluted the coffin as it was laid on the podium, in front of assembled dignitaries.
There were prayers from the Caretaker Patriarch and other assembled Abunas of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The assembled crowds and twenty Heads of State and Government stood for a minute’s silence at the request of the Master of Ceremonies, the Mayor of Addis Ababa, Kuma Demeksa. There were speeches from the President of the Somali Regional State, Abdi Umar, on behalf of the country’s five-emerging states, and from a representative of the Coalition of Civic Associations. The ceremony was launched by Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam, paying his own tribute to the late Prime Minister. The Government, he said, was ready to realize the dreams of the late Prime Minister Meles. He said the policies that helped the country contribute to peace in neighboring countries will continue strengthened. “Prime Minister Meles”, he noted, “was a leader who established a strong developmental state”; and he had “devoted his life to the peace and security of the African continent especially the Horn of Africa.” The Acting Prime Minister said that in the light of Meles’ huge legacy to the country a museum would be set up devoted to his life and works.
Eulogies were given by President Boni Yayi of Benin and current Chairperson of the African Union; President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; President Jacob Zuma of South Africa; President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria; President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan; President Salva Kiir of South Sudan; former South African President Tabo Mbeki; Ambassador Susan Rice, the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations; and the Co-chair of ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Louis Michel. They paid tribute to the late Prime Minister‘s lifelong achievements, noted his “intellectual brilliance “, his “vision “and his “untiring” capacity as an “uncommon leader”. They emphasized their admiration and high respect for his person and the huge legacy he left to his country, and indeed to the continent and the world.
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Addisu Legesse then gave a detailed profile of the late Prime Minister, enumerating his leadership role and achievements during the armed struggle and beyond. The concluding remarks were made by Meles’ widow, Azeb Mesfin, former first lady who in an emotional speech thanked the Ethiopian people for standing with her and her family in these trying times. She emphasized that “Meles has been struggling for democracy, peace and development of Ethiopia and the people of Ethiopia have understood his efforts”.
The bands played the national anthem of Ethiopia and the anthem of the African Union. Senior generals placed the coffin on the special carriage prepared for it. A motorcade of seven cars led the procession, with an escort of the Guard of Honor of members of the defense and police forces. It left Meskal Square with the procession, moving at a slow march in heavy rain, heading up Africa Avenue towards the Grand Palace and the Holy Trinity Cathedral where the burial took place. With the rain stopped, a final service was held at the Cathedral. According to Orthodox Christian ritual the coffin was carried round the Cathedral. Following a 21 gun salute, Prime Minister Meles’ body was laid to rest in the grave in the presence of family and friends.
In addition to the thousands of people in Meskel Square, millions of others in Addis Ababa and in regional cities throughout the country watched the State Funeral ceremony broadcast live on giant screens. The ceremony was also broadcast live on Ethiopian satellite channels for the Diaspora around the world.
….tributes for a notable life….
Eulogies were delivered by a number of Presidents and others. President Yayi of Benin, the Chairperson of the African Union said “With his energy, vision and fight for the achievement of a free and prosperous Africa, the late Meles Zenawi was a force on which the AU depended in these last 10 years.” He described Prime Minister Meles as a Pan-Africanist whose dedication and vision lifted the AU to greater heights, stressing that “Zenawi supported peace and legality where they were affected especially in the Horn of Africa”. According to the President, Prime Minister Meles assisted in the success of various negotiations including the African Climate Change talks where he had resolutely defended the interests of Africa. He had contributed “immensely” in putting Africa in the right place and ensuring the rapid economic development of Ethiopia.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in a moving speech reflected on the dynamic role Prime Minister Meles had played in regional peace: “Meles led from the front with other leaders in working for the stability of this region, in mediating in such places as Sudan and Somalia. As in everything he did, he spared no effort and did not shy away from taking tough but right decisions to bring peace and security to our region.” President Kagame described Meles’s life as: “a life of immense courage, vision and enterprise which he devoted to the advancement of his fellow citizens in this country and across Africa.” He noted that “He led a humble and simple but very meaningful life. He was an unassuming person – but his sharp intellect and tremendous courage to face any kind of challenge made him a formidable presence. He had the capacity to grasp and cut through complex issues and move forward. It is these qualities that he used to lead the charge in the transformation of his country and that of our continent – restoring the dignity of Ethiopians and Africans as a whole.”
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni spoke at length on the development of Ethiopia emphasizing the leap the country has witnessed in energy production under the late Prime Minister. “His vision was to generate 10,000 megawatts for Ethiopia by 2015 after the completion of the Renaissance Dam currently under construction.” President Museveni said Ethiopia could only take solace from its loss by continuing with Meles’ vision: “if his party carries on the vision the late premier started, he will not have suffered in vain.” He called Meles ‘Okunyika,’ that denotes someone who is leaving behind grown-up children and a mature party and indicates that his life had not been in vain. In his reactions, President Museveni said the problem of Africa has not been a lack of resources, but rather the lack of visionary leaders like Zenawi. He believed Zenawi’s death at 57 must have been the result of too much stress from a very tight schedule.
Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir said the death of the late Prime Minister was a big loss for the Sudan and for the whole region. He said Meles Zenawi was a great leader but “we are confident that the Ethiopian people are able to continue along the process of development and construction and reunification of Ethiopia to support the stability in the East African region.” President Al-Bashir noted that he had been trusted by all parties in the Sudan and had played a crucial role in bridging the gaps and overcoming the obstacles between Sudan and South Sudan. He said he had a personal and strong relationship with Meles Zenawi, describing him as an “intimate and friendly” person. “When a problem occurs we did not need for an external mediation or external meeting but personal relationships were the most important element to resolve problems and return to normal relations.”
President Zuma of South Africa said: “Africa has “lost one of its greatest sons”, and he raised Meles’ legacy, which he said “was defined by the sprawling city that Addis Ababa has become, the stability that Ethiopia enjoys and its new-found ability to provide food for its people.” He went on: “With Prime Minister Zenawi at the helm, a generation of Ethiopians has seen their country emerge from hunger and destitution to be a fast-growing economy. The policies of his party and government have delivered a sustained double-digit economic growth rate. If this continues, his beloved Ethiopia will become a middle-income country.” President Zuma said Meles’ ideas were framed around the need to achieve social justice for his people and conquer poverty not just in Ethiopia but in all parts of Africa. “As African leaders, we are proud of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the leadership he provided on issues affecting the continent, around the globe. He took a leading role on Africa’s negotiations on climate change, in peacemaking in Sudan and in the fight to bring stability back to Somalia.”
In his eulogy, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria said that he would miss his dear friend, Meles, greatly “as a most worthy friend and colleague with whom I shared dreams of greater peace, political stability, good governance, progress and unity in our countries and all Africa.” He said “Nigeria will miss you as a great friend of our nation and all of Africa will miss you as a truly selfless, forthright and extremely dynamic leader.” President Jonathan added “our prayer is that the fires of patriotism and national inspiration which you have ignited amongst your people and the youth of Africa will burn forever to the glory of Ethiopia and Mother Africa.” The President said the government and people of Ethiopia could always count on Nigeria’s support in their effort to build on Zenawi’s legacy of peace, stability and progress: “It is our hope and expectation that the good people of Ethiopia will build on the immense legacy of peace, stability, unity, national cohesion and steady progress which Meles has bequeathed to his nation. The best way of honoring his memory is to ensure that the nation continues steadfastly along the path of harmony, stability and sustainable development, which he has established.” President Jonathan also said that “The people of Ethiopia can always count on Nigeria as a friend and dependable partner in their march forward and we will work with the new leadership of Ethiopia to pursue Africa’s agenda for renaissance, peace, security, stability and progress.” He told journalists later that when he heard about Meles Zenawi’s death, “a very cold shiver ran through my spine”. During his time as President and Vice-President, over the last five years, he saw Meles “as one of the very few African leaders that meant well for the continent and the world.”
Ambassador Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the US to the United Nations described the Prime Minister’s death as “a profoundly sorrowful loss for Ethiopia, for Africa, and for the entire world.” She reaffirmed “our deep respect for, and solidarity with, the proud citizens of Ethiopia, and we renew our commitment to our valued partnership with the people and government of Ethiopia.” She said Meles still had so much more to give. He was a friend “both to my country and to me, personally.” He was “disarmingly regular, unpretentious, and direct. He was selfless, tireless and totally dedicated to his work and family”. At the same time he was also confident in his judgments. “He was tough, unsentimental and sometimes unyielding. And, of course, he had little patience for fools, or “idiots,” as he liked to call them”. Susan Rice noted Prime Minister Meles’ world-class mind adding that “he wasn’t just brilliant. He wasn’t just a relentless negotiator and a formidable debater. He wasn’t just a thirsty consumer of knowledge. He was uncommonly wise, able to see the big picture and the long game, even when others would allow immediate pressures to overwhelm sound judgment. Those rare traits were the foundation of his greatest contributions.” She described Meles as consistently reasoned in his judgments and thoughtful in his decisions; and “driven not by ideology but by his vision of a better future for this land he loved. He was remarkably ambitious, determined that the people of Ethiopia should conquer its history of poverty, hunger, and strife. This was what spurred him “to make sustainable development both a personal passion and a national priority.” Ambassador Rice also spoke of Meles’ contributions to Africa: “He was instrumental in building the African Union. He made IGAD deliver. He confronted terrorism directly and countered violent extremists bent on undermining the state and the region he did so much to build. He worked vigorously to end bitter conflicts – from Burundi to Liberia. He was crucial to the negotiation and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Sudan’s tragic civil war. He was midwife to the birth of the world’s newest state, the Republic of South Sudan, and he sought to nurse this fragile progeny to strength.” She said that the United States “re-commits to strengthening and deepening our partnership with Ethiopia.
…..and a profile of the late Prime Minister
During the ceremony in Meskel Square, former deputy Prime Minister, Addisu Legesse, delivered a profile of the late Prime Minister Meles whose life was “inseparable from the struggle and politics of the EPRDF”. Meles, of course, always shunned the limelight and ignored fame and popularity. Nevertheless he achieved renown as a statesman and won great acclaim and respect.
Meles was a visionary leader of change. His message to youth was “it is my wish that you will not have to experience the strife and suffering that was the lot of my generation, and that you shall enjoy a brighter future”, adding that “our struggle is not a marathon but more akin to a relay race where those who ran earlier pass on the baton to those who came later.” Committed to fundamental ideas and basic principles, he remained pragmatic and accommodating to ensure success. It was he who laid down the guiding aims of Ethiopia’s revolutionary democracy: the strategies, alliances and means to extend the struggle across Ethiopia. He advocated the right to self-determination for Eritrea as the only solution to the Eritrean question. He wrote and explored in detail the other major issues including the democratic resolution of the question of nationalities in Ethiopia; state power and the revolution; and the land question.
These writings provided a major role in the formation of the EPRDF. It was at this time Meles also laid down the concept that the military is answerable to an elected political authority and must serve as a loyal guardian of the constitution. He held it was pointless to control the reins of government unless an organization won the hearts of the people. He went on to chart a new course based on the three pillars of peace, democracy and development, and to frame a constitution whereby “Ethiopia’s peoples freely join together to form a single political economy and a united democratic order.” Later, in order “to guard against any tendency to see ourselves as an emergent ruling class” he launched the program of renewal (tehadso). At the same time he never lost his dream to see Ethiopia joining the ranks of prosperous nations in the coming decades, and making a clean break with poverty. Meles led a life of self-sacrifice in the service of his aims and principles, and fought for his beliefs with relentless dedication and determination. He cared little for personal comfort, wealth or fame.
Meles was an ambitious leader who never settled for something small. He set the sights high for himself, and for others. He called for grand plans and large accomplishments. This was particularly the case with reference to development. For Meles there was no greater indignity than poverty. “We should not rest in a country where citizens are the victims of deprivation and hunger, and where many must live without clothing or shelter.” He therefore showed the way for farmers to enhance productivity through appropriate use of resources in land and water. He initiated the creation of markets supported by modern communications, promoting the quality and coordination of agrarian innovation. He encouraged optimal usage of water and animal resources and improved veterinary health services in pastoral areas. He sought to make urban centers not just places for the rich but also for habitation for the poor, empowering them through ownership. His ambitions extended to the concept of building the largest dam in Africa on the Nile, believing that “reliance on ourselves and our own resources would rekindle the public’s abiding dream for growth and material development.” He envisaged the real possibility of Ethiopia making a clean break with poverty and turning into a nation with a stable economic and democratic order.
Meles favored practical ideas, and he studied ceaselessly to provide the basis for these. His writing was invariably to the point and pragmatic. An idea should only be defeated by another better idea. Ideas should never be willfully imposed. This was why he upheld unity rooted in democratic values and the equality of nations and nationalities, and why he encouraged a wide variety of political parties and organizations to join the transitional government in 1991. He always respected democratic values and the rule of law and insisted on the compliance of the EPRDF and the government with these values and practices. Meles was “a democrat who welcomed political pluralism and expression of different and conflicting ideas.” If he failed to win the support of the majority, he was willing and prepared to carry out any majority decision.
Meles was a man with wide ranging gifts and talents and an unquenchable desire to learn. He strongly believed that knowledge is a decisive weapon against poverty, and he later supplemented his studies of politics and society with economics and political theory, drawing on past and present experiences from other countries that might bear on Ethiopia. His breadth and depth of knowledge was truly impressive. He developed a scathing critique of the Washington Consensus and neo-liberalism with powerful and detailed arguments against their use in Africa. He developed a serious and practical alternative that aimed to achieve swift and equitable growth with a strong and stable state playing an enhanced role in the economy and popular participation in both governance and development. This paradigm has already yielded welcome results, “kindling a sense of self-confidence in the Ethiopian people and hope in a bright future for the country and coming generations.”
Meles’ capacity for leadership was recognized far beyond Ethiopia in Africa as a whole and in international fora where he represented Africa. He argued vociferously for fair prices for Africa’s commodities, for increased investment and financial flows, for compensation payments for climate change, and for a fair regime of international trade. He strongly believed in the importance of an agreed African approach on matters of common interest. Meles worked hard, and successfully, to establish good relations with Ethiopia’s neighbors, encouraging tangible steps towards economic integration. He labored hard to strengthen African institutions and his devotion to the African Union and African interests was widely recognized. He was tireless in efforts to bring enduring peace to the continent.
Meles was animated by deep affection and unswerving commitment to the oppressed and dispossessed. A staunch defender of the rights of women and a champion of youth, his most defining characteristic was his intense abhorrence of poverty. He championed the cause of the wretched and the downtrodden with a promising vision and tireless dedication. “Meles belongs to all and he stood for all”.
Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam addresses the nation….
Over the previous two weeks, the nation mourned Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s death in indescribable sadness and grief. The mourning, which ended on Sunday with the funeral of the late Prime Minister, was unprecedented. Ethiopians of all age groups and all social strata poured out their grief in all corners of the nation, showing reverence, respect and love for a great leader. The country was infused with melancholy and on the day of the funeral everywhere was deserted as people watched the television at home or in public places to pay their last respects to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
On Monday, Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addressed the nation, and recognizing this sincere and overwhelming grief, formally thanked Ethiopians of all walks of life for showing such enormous and immeasurable respect for their great leader. Ato Hailemariam said that the respectful, deep and widespread grief shown by all Ethiopians in bidding farewell to their beloved leader had stunned the world. He noted that when the news of the Prime Minister’s illness was heard, “many Ethiopians of different faiths wished a speedy recovery to see him back in office through prayers and intercession.” The moment the premier‘s death was announced “Ethiopians in all corners of the nation mourned in a manner that astonished the world.” On the day of the funeral – an historic first for Ethiopians to bid farewell to a leader in peace, love and respect – they paid homage “with great respect, civility and in order, all drenched in tears.” Ato Hailemariam underlined the fact that “the Ethiopian peoples have proven to the world that they are a great people who in their reasoned judgment give due credit to a leader who toiled all his life for their betterment”. And in response to this he added: “ I stand today before you to salute you on behalf of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia”.
The Acting Prime Minister said it was very clear that the message conveyed by the actions of the public over the previous two weeks had not been confined to merely mourning the untimely death of Prime Minister Meles. It included the expression of determination to implement with real vigor the vision of a great leader. “To that end”, he said, “you have renewed your covenant to realize his aims and ambitions”. He said the leadership of EPRDF at all levels “will stand steadfast imbued with our leader’s spirit of struggle to realize the goals set in our policies and strategies”.
Acting Premier Hailemariam emphasized the inheritance from the late Prime Minister Meles and stressed that the new leadership would take up the baton to achieve the grand plans outlined in the Growth and Transformation Plan. Ato Hailemariam said “the late Prime Minister while in office did his best to ensure that the new leadership is versed with nuanced understanding of policies and strategies and has acquired the wisdom of leadership”. He noted that younger leaders had already learnt from Meles’ example. They understood the importance of having the tenacity to live for others, of demonstrating endurance and sacrifice to the cause of the people, of facing challenges and of searching for a way out that staunchly defends the interest of the public, of showing patience, forgivingness and humbleness.
The Acting Prime Minister said “I have no doubt that the new leadership in coordination with the old leadership will continue successfully on the path we started” to achieve our goals. He said that “using the political line we now inherit from our great leader and rallying the support of our people, we can make a miracle”. “The Ethiopian people are the carpenters, masons and engineers of our future.” “We have full confidence in what our peasants and pastoralists, urban people engaged in development activities, scholars and technocrats can achieve.” In these circumstances, the Acting Prime Minister said “it was possible to speak with certainty about the continuity of development endeavors.” And to that end, “the leadership is more than ready to coordinate and mobilize the visible enthusiasm and motivation for change shown by the public.”
Ato Hailemariam said that the vision that Prime Minister Meles shared is that “we can attain a middle income country status in the next 8-10 years.” In recent years “we have reached half-way up the hill, registering more than 10% economic growth for eight years.” Now, “I call on you all to strive together with government with real vigor… [and] fighting tooth and nail, we shall strive to climb up to the top of the hill. We are not permitted to stop before reaching the top and realizing the vision and aims of our great leader.”
….holds talks: with Ambassador Susan Rice and the US Delegation….
Following the funeral of Prime Minister Meles, Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam held talks with a number of leaders and delegations who had come to Addis Ababa for the funeral. The US delegation, which included the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, and Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, National Security Council, was headed by the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Susan Rice. Also present were Ambassador Berhane, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Taye, Director General for American Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the discussions, Ato Hailemariam expressed Ethiopia’s desire to further strengthen existing cooperative and diplomatic relations. He noted the importance of continued support and partnership from friendly countries, recalling President Obama had already affirmed his commitment towards this in the latest telephone conversation with him. He underlined that dialogue in politics, bilateral issues and regional security issues would continue on the basis of foreign policies already in place. Ethiopia and the US should work closely to realize President Obama’s food security initiative.
Ambassador Rice agreed on the value of further boosting their existing partnership and said the US had full confidence in the Ethiopian administration. Ethiopia had unrivalled potential in the African continent and beyond. She asked how the United States could be of help to the Ethiopian government. She noted Ethiopia’s significant contributions in the efforts to maintain peace and security in East Africa particularly in Somalia. These, she said, had been bearing fruit. Ambassador Rice noted that Ethiopia had played a key role in assisting in the success of the recent election of Somalia’s new Speaker of Parliament. There was agreement on the need for the election process to be fair and transparent, and on the need for all to accept the results. Both sides stressed the importance of political preparations for control of Kismayo and underlined that the accommodation of all groups in and around the city should be worked out.
Ms. Smith noted that support of Ethiopians in the Diaspora was growing and the government should take the opportunity to build on this. She affirmed the US government’s readiness to assist in this. Ambassador Berhane concurred, stressing that the government’s aim was always to engage with everybody, but some extremist groups tried to pose as legitimate opposition but at the same time were involved in violent activities. Equally, generally Ethiopians in the Diaspora could help a lot in development.
…. with Egypt’s Prime Minister and China’s Deputy Prime Minister….
In a meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam confirmed that the relationship and the cooperation the two countries had enjoyed under the leadership of the late Prime Minister Meles would continue and be further enhanced. The Egyptian premier said his country wanted to further expand multifaceted cooperation with Ethiopia for the mutual benefit of the two nations. He noted that a road corridor has been built to connect Egypt and Sudan and this, he said, would be extended to connect with Ethiopia, thus benefitting all three countries. The Egyptian Prime Minister said the tripartite technical committee was now conducting its study of the Nile Dam and there would be consultations on the assessment. He said the bottom line was that the three countries, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, should work to strengthen their cooperation with a view to ensure benefits for all their peoples. The Acting Prime Minister also met with China’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hu E. Liang, with discussions covering various issues relating to relations between the two countries. Mr. Liang disclosed that the Government of China was providing another $25 million of interest free loans for development projects.
…with Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif…..
The Acting Prime Minister held discussions with Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif on the current situation in Somalia and the implementation of the peace process there. They also exchanged views on possible mechanisms of pre and post-election support to Somalia security. Ato Hailemariam assured the President that there would be no change in Ethiopia’s policies and strategy. Ethiopia would continue to work cooperatively with Somalia to further consolidate relations in the future. The Acting Prime Minister noted the improvements registered in Somalia under the President’s leadership and expressed Ethiopia’s readiness to support these. He expressed his hope that the new Somali parliament would respect the needs of the people and decide fairly who might deliver their responsibilities best. He urged all the presidential candidates to respect the decisions of parliament. He emphasized that IGAD member states were expecting a free, fair and transparent electoral process. He expressed Ethiopia’s readiness to work with any new government in Somalia.
President Sheikh Sharif said that it was not the Ethiopian people who had lost a visionary leader, the Somali people, he said, also feel that they had lost a partner. He said that the Speaker of the Parliament and his deputies had been elected in a free, fair and transparent way, and he said the remaining members of the new parliament would be chosen similarly. He expressed his readiness to accept the result of the presidential election whoever might be elected, and underlined the important role that the supervision and support of partners, including Ethiopia, could have in the process. President Sheikh Sharif said that the incomplete deployment of the Djibouti and Sierra Leone forces for AMISOM, and the limited progress by Kenyan forces were among problems creating the threat of a security vacuum prior to the establishment of a new cabinet. He said it was his belief that the establishment of a new cabinet might take more time than expected. He requested the Ethiopian government to continue its security support to Somalia. Ato Hailemariam said that Ethiopia was working with the African Union Peace and Security Council to consider possible mechanisms of pre- and post-election security support to Somalia. Lack of financial capacity was the main obstacle for implementation of this. Noting that any revival of Al-Shabaab was unacceptable, he said Ethiopia, in consultation with stakeholders and partners, was ready to provide full-scale security support to Somalia as soon as the necessary finance is obtained.
……and with a National Congress Party delegation from Sudan
On Wednesday, the Acting Prime Minister held talks with a delegation of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), led by Dr. Nafi Ali Nafi, Secretary General of the party and Assistant to the President. Dr. Nafi stressed the NCP’s firm determination to sustain the strong relations existing between Sudan and Ethiopia. Ato Hailemariam said Ethiopia cherished the long and traditional relations between the two countries and he briefed the delegation on the transition in Ethiopia, noting that this was taking place smoothly thanks to the foresight of the late Prime Minister. He said the loss of Prime Minister Meles’ leadership was a blow to the region, and to Africa, but Ethiopia’s policies and strategies would continue unchanged both domestically and in foreign relations: “our policies will remain intact,” he added. The Acting Prime Minister noted that Ethiopia, like the rest of the world, was awaiting a successful result of the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan to bring peace between them. Ethiopia would, of course, continue to support the negotiations. He reassured the delegation that the EPRDF and the government wished to continue to work closely with the NCP on all matters of mutual interest.
State Minister Berhane Gebrechristos meets a UK delegation
The State Minister met with Mark Sedwill, Political Director Designate for Africa of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Wednesday (September 5th). Discussions largely focused on Somalia, Eritrea and other regional security issues. Ambassador Berhane expressed his satisfaction at the excellent relationship Ethiopia had with Great Britain and the common interest of the two countries at regional and international level. Mr. Mark Sedwill, who expressed his personnel condolences on the death of the late Prime Minister, noted that Africa is essential to UK policy making. He commended Africa’s economic growth and expressed his appreciation of economic developments in Ethiopia, noting the UK’s commitment to assist Ethiopia’s effort in poverty reduction programs and other developmental activities. He also appreciated Ethiopia’s role in supporting peace and stability in the region and in Africa at large.
Mr. Sedwill welcomed recent political developments in Somalia but he expressed concerns about the fairness and clarity of the election processes. He said the political processes should include all clan representatives. He noted the Security Council would shortly be dealing with the sustainability of AMISOM and that the national security forces should be fully representational and trained inside the country. He said the UK was committed to support Ethiopia’s efforts for the peace and stability of Somalia and it would cooperate with Ethiopia in sharing information on security matters. On Eritrea he underlined the need to have a dialogue with the Eritrean government. He also hoped Ethiopia would have dialogue with HRW and Amnesty International on human rights.
Ambassador Berhane briefed Mr. Sedwill on developments in Ethiopia, noting that the transfer of authority in succession to Prime Minister Meles would be peaceful. He pointed out that democracy in Ethiopia was not merely a necessity it was an imperative to accommodate Ethiopia’s diversity. Ambassador Berhane said many had expected Ethiopia to disintegrate like Yugoslavia, but Prime Minister Meles had led it to progressive levels of democratization and economic development.
On Eritrea, Ambassador Berhane pointed out that Ethiopia was very ready to hold dialogue with Eritrea and had accepted several initiatives in this regard. Eritrea had failed to respond: President Isaias appeared determined to use force and wants to dictate to others, including the US or the UK. The situation in Eritrea itself is very difficult. The government has made no effort to address internal problems. To discuss issues with Ethiopia, it will first have to demobilize. Ambassador Berhane said he did not think the government was at that stage.
Ambassador Berhane commended the UK’s support for Somalia as demonstrated by the successful London Conference which has pushed Somalis to reach some agreements on issues and secondly brought international players together as well as sending a message to limit proliferation of initiatives. The election of the Speaker has been successfully completed and they are preparing for the presidential election. Ethiopia and IGAD’s concern was that the process should be clear, credible and transparent. On security, Ambassador Berhane noted that following the operations of AMISOM, TFG and Ethiopian forces, Al-Shabaab was seriously weakened. Local governments and local militias were being formed in liberated areas and the TFG was building institutions like offices of justice. But the government needed support. Security forces needed to be trained inside Somalia to improve their loyalty and credibility. Ethiopia is prepared to support this process but it is expensive. The international community needs to find ways to cover the cost.
With regard to the allegations over human rights made by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Ambassador Berhane said these were not based on factual information. He pointed out that Ethiopia always carried out detailed environmental assessments and research on the impact of the dams now being constructed and on the use of land. Uncultivated but fertile lands in lowland areas were now being allocated to investors. This was not, however, ‘land-grabbing’ as these organizations claimed. All too often, these organizations merely described all Ethiopia’s development efforts as human rights issues without bothering to look at the facts. Ethiopia would be pleased to have UK’s support for having dialogue with these organizations.
Ambassador Berhane thanked Mr. Sedwill for the condolences of the UK and its delegation. He said Ethiopia appreciated UK support for Ethiopia and affirmed that Ethiopia was committed to work closely with the UK regarding regional peace and stability, security and other African issues in general on the basis of mutual benefit and mutual respect.
The 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran
The 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement was held in the Iranian capital of Tehran on August 30th and 31st. It was preceded by Senior Officials and Ministerial meetings, on August 26th-27th, and 28th-29th respectively. The meeting was attended by Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Senior Officials and representatives of 120 countries as well as 17 observer countries, ten observer organizations, 28 guest countries, and eleven guest organizations. The Ethiopian delegation was led by Ambassador Negash Kebret, Director General for the International Organizations Directorate General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Senior Officials’ Preparatory Meeting deliberated on political, security and related issues as well as on the economic, social, human rights and humanitarian matters contained in the Draft Tehran Final Document which had been discussed in New York at expert and ambassadorial level. The Preparatory Ministerial Meeting was held under the theme “Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance”. It was opened by the outgoing Chairman, Ramzy Ezzedine, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt. The new Chair is Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. During the interactive debate on the theme, more than 50 Foreign Ministers and Heads of Delegations made statements, most highlighting the importance of ensuring global peace and underlining the need for commitment to collective security.
The Summit itself was opened by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei who noted that the basis for the Non-Aligned Movement was not a unity of geography, race nor religion, but of need. The NAM, he said, must move towards effective economic cooperation and define the pattern of cultural relations. President Mohammed Morsi El-Ayyat of Egypt, Chair of the 15th NAM Summit, presented a report on the activities of the NAM over the previous three years. The Summit then elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, as Chairman. The opening session was addressed by Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the 66th Session of United Nations General Assembly and by Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon of the United Nations. It adopted the Report of the Preparatory Ministerial Meeting and accepted the admission of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Fiji as newest members of the Movement. The opening session also observed a minute’s silence in memory of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and of other leaders of member states who have passed away since the previous summit.
In the general debate on the theme of “Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance” a number of speakers highlighted the necessity of working towards achieving durable peace through the concerted efforts of the international community. In his intervention Ambassador Negash noted that the prevailing world situation, characterized by persistent and increasing tensions, urgently needed to be addressed through joint concerted action. The NAM was uniquely placed to address these challenges. Its principles, most of which were also in the UN Charter, mutually reinforced the UN objectives in promoting lasting peace. The Five Principles of Co-existence and the Ten Principles of the Bandung Conference, the bedrock of the NAM, have more significance today than ever before. Regional and sub-regional organizations have a crucial role to play in the resolution of conflicts and peacekeeping. The responsibility for peace and security is a matter for all. Ethiopia, fully realizing its responsibility, has been making significant contributions to the security and stability of the region through IGAD and more widely through UN peacekeeping missions.
Ambassador Negash mentioned the legacy of the late Prime Minister Meles in working for lasting peace in the sub-region. He had been a major diplomatic player in Africa, seen as a genuine mediator in the dispute between Sudan and South Sudan, and active, with other IGAD leaders, in pushing forward the political and peace process in Somalia. Ethiopia in the last 20 years had participated in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, and today in Darfur and Abyei. Prime Minister Meles had also been active at the global level on issues of climate change, representing, promoting and defending the interests of Africa in G8 and G20 Summits. Ethiopia, itself, has undergone a remarkable economic transformation with around 11% annual growth over the last eight years. The priority accorded to economic progress and development emanated from Prime Minister Meles’s firm belief in the peace and security dimensions to poverty and underdevelopment. In conclusion, Ambassador Negash underlined that the Ethiopian government was fully committed and determined to build on the legacy left by Prime Minister Meles towards ensuring lasting peace not only in the Horn of Africa, but in Africa and more widely.
The 16th Non-Aligned Summit closed by adopting a number of documents: the Tehran Final Document, the Tehran Declaration and the Tehran Plan of Action of the NAM, the Solidarity Declaration on Palestine, and the Declaration on Palestine Political Prisoners.
News and Views
EPRDF Executive Committee concludes its regular meeting The Executive Committee of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front met this week on September 5th, passing decisions and directions on a number of issues. The Committee, whose meeting commenced with a moment of silence for the late Prime Minister, thanked the Ethiopian people for the out-poring of grief in all parts of the country over the last two weeks. It also expressed its own profound sorrow over the death of a great leader and its readiness to intensify efforts towards realizing Ethiopia’s renaissance. The Committee said the public reaction to the death of Prime Minister Meles showed that EPRDF policies and strategies were now owned by the public. It emphasized that it would now strive to translate the aspirations of the people into actions. During its meeting the Committee discussed ways to expand micro and small enterprises and job creation opportunities in urban areas. It also considered ways to speed up the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam and railway, industrial and other major projects. It agreed to revise and strengthen plans to collect taxes, encourage saving, control inflation, increase exports and nurture the growth of private sector development activities. It agreed on the importance of keeping up the momentum to mobilize and rally the public behind implementation of the Growth and Transformation Plan. The 36 member committee, chaired by Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam, also decided that a meeting of the 180 member EPRDF Council should be held a few days after Ethiopia’s New Year’s Day, Tuesday, September 11th. The Council will then formally elect the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the EPRDF.
The Somali Presidential election to take place on September 10th
The Somali Presidential Election Committee announced that the election for the post of President of Somalia would take place on Monday, September 10th. This will be the final stage of the UN and internationally-backed process of ending the transition and setting up a new administration for the country. The new parliament, whose members were being selected during the last month by traditional elders, will vote for the President in a secret ballot. On Thursday (September 6th), the Election Commission announced that 25 candidates had successfully fulfilled the requirements to participate in the election. These included payment of a $10,000 registration fee, the need to be a Muslim, over 40 years old or more, and without any criminal background. Another requirement, noted in the new constitution, was that any candidate must have at least 20 supporters in parliament. Candidates will give their campaign speeches to Parliament starting today (September 7th). Candidates include the current president and prime minister, a number of former officials, academics and journalists. The Head of the UN Political Office for Somalia, Ambassador Mahiga, urged the Somali parliamentarians to choose a credible and effective leader who can advance peace and development in the Horn of Africa nation. He said the election of a new president will completely end the transitional period “and move us towards a phase of political and socio-economic transformation”. He called on the parliamentarians to choose the candidate who will be “honest and effective in leading the country with a vision appropriate for the next four years of transformation and peace-building.” Mr. Mahiga described the new parliament as the “most qualified and representative” in the country’s history. Ambassador Mahiga said it had not been easy getting to this point, but “somehow, the courage, tenacity and determination of the Somali people has overcome formidable obstacles and brought us to where we are now.” He urged MPs to listen to the presidential candidates and to make their choice accordingly. All Somalis, the region and the rest of the international community will be watching closely. He added “You are the custodians of the future which is now in your hands.”
Sudan/South Sudan talks resume
Sudanese and South Sudanese delegates launched the resumption of their talks on outstanding issues this week in Addis Ababa. They had been adjourned following the death of the late Prime Minister Meles. The chairman of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) chaired a meeting to determine the agenda. Sudan’s delegation was led by Idriss Abdel-Gadir and the South Sudanese delegation by Deng Alor. In a statement following the meeting, Deng Alor stressed that the political atmosphere was ripe for reaching a comprehensive peace, but he emphasized that the settlement of outstanding issues requires strong political will from both sides. Besides security arrangements and the issue of the African Union map for the buffer zone, the two sides have to agree on border demarcation, Abyei, cross-border trade, and the status of nationals residing in both countries. Meanwhile in a presidential statement issued on August 31st, the U.N. Security Council extended its earlier deadline for agreement to September 22nd, urging Sudan and South Sudan to expedite and finalize their oil agreement and other related financial arrangements in order to get oil production running again as soon as possible. The statement called for an immediate halt to any aerial bombardments, support for rebel groups, cross-border military movements or other violations of Security Council resolution 2046 (2012) by either side. The Council said it was particularly concerned about the two parties’ failure to reach a resolution on the status of Abyei or set up the temporary security and administrative arrangements agreed in June last year. The statement strongly urged the Government of Sudan to accept the African Union’s November 2011 administrative security map “without further delay” so as to facilitate establishment of the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, as called for by the Security Council. It regretted the parties’ inability to finalize agreement on the Zone, the Mechanism and other critical issues. On Abyei, South Sudan still refuses to concede on the issue of the legislative council despite the agreement reached in June last year; while Khartoum refuses to withdraw a small police force from Difra oil fields in the northern part of the disputed area.
Three more journalists reportedly die in an Eritrean prison
The deaths of three more journalists have been reported at the notorious and isolated prison camp of Eiraeiro in north-eastern Eritrea. Eiraeiro is where senior political figures who criticized President Isaias have been detained in solitary confinement without charge or trial since September 2001. A number have died under the appalling conditions at the prison. “Eiraeiro is not a prison, it is a death camp” said Reporters Without Borders which first revealed details about conditions there in January 2008, quoting statements made by former prison guards. Now Reporters Without Borders says it has learnt from prison guards who have fled from Eiraeiro and from other sources that Dawit Habtemichael, Mattewos Habteab and Wedi Itay, all detained since September 2001, have died. Dawit Habtemichael was the deputy editor and co-founder of the biweekly Meqaleh. Aged 30 at the time of his arrest, he was one of the youngest of the Eritrean journalists to be detained, but his mental health began to deteriorate five years ago and in 2007, he became schizophrenic. Failure to treat his illness is thought to have been the cause of his death in the second half of 2010. Mattewos Habteab was held for a time in a prison in the Dahlak Archipelago but was subsequently brought back to Eiraeiro, and succumbed to ill-treatment there. Sahle Tsegazab, or Wedi Itay, was a freelance journalist and writer who often worked for privately-owned newspapers. He died from an illness and lack of medical treatment. Four other journalists arrested in 2001, Medhanie Haile, Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Said Abdulkader and Fessehaye “Joshua” Yohannes, have also died in detention. Only four members of the group of journalists arrested in September/October 2001, Dawit Isaac, Seyoum Tsehaye, Amanuel Asrat and Temesgen Gebreyesus, are still believed alive. Another group of journalists working for the Eritrean state media were arrested in 2009; most are held at Adi Abeito military prison, though others have been moved elsewhere. All have been subject to various forms of torture and mistreatment including electric shock, beatings and solitary confinement; food is sometimes withheld and they are denied medical care. They are allowed no visits; and at least one is believed to have died.
A change at the head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Abdoulie Janneh, retired at the end of August after seven years in the post at the ECA. Mr. Janneh took leave of the ECA staff on Thursday August 29th. In a farewell message he said that “Together, we have built a more focused, relevant, professional and better resourced UNECA”. He spoke of the scaled-up partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank as well as various credible platforms created for dialogue and consensus building, including the AU/ECA Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development; the African Economic Conference; and the African Development Forum. He also referred to structures and programmes initiated during his tenure, notably the AU/AfDB/ECA Joint Secretariat Support Office, the ClimDev Africa Program, the Land Policy Initiative and the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA). Mr. Janneh will be succeeded by Dr. Carlos Lopes who has been serving as Director of the United Nations System Staff College since 2007. Dr. Lopes, who is from Guinea Bissau, was previously Director for Political Affairs in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. Dr. Lopes has actively contributed to research on development issues. Specializing in development and strategic planning, he has authored or edited 22 books and taught at a number of universities and academic institutions.