A Week in the Horn of Africa- (31/08/2012)
The funeral of Meles Zenawi, late Prime Minister of Ethiopia
The last week has been passed in mourning for Ethiopia’s visionary leader, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Ethiopians throughout Addis Ababa and in the regional capitals and cities have been mourning the death of the Prime Minister with candle vigils and signing books of condolence. Here in Addis Ababa, thousands of federal government employees carrying flower wreaths and slogans have paid their respects to the coffin, lying in state at the Grand Palace. Members of the diplomatic community attended the ceremony of bidding farewell at the Grand Palace on Monday, and signing the Book of Condolence. Groups of artists, athletes, media professionals, private sector employees, religious fathers, and thousands of others have been paying respect and reverence throughout the week. The long queues of mourners carrying placards and chanting slogans at the gates of the Palace have been a daily scene.
The nation is mourning his untimely death with deep sense of sorrow and a resolve to bring to full fruition his dream of building a prosperous Ethiopia. The determination is being expressed in a manner that befits a leader who had so inspiring a developmental vision of his own – a vision nurtured by deep reflections on reality and an extraordinary zeal in translating it into reality.
The messages conveyed in the weeping and the chanting as the nation mourned the death of a great leader were mixed. People are weeping, grief stricken, for the loss of a man who proved that Ethiopia and Ethiopians will come out victorious in the war against poverty. Equally, their chanting signalled a deep sense of consolation from his enduring legacy and a resolve to restore the nation to its glory in pursuit of the achievement of his aims and ambitions. In numerous interviews, mourners again and again vowed to complete the Renaissance Dam on the Nile and achieve the goals of the Growth and Transformation Plan. Indeed, the massive public reaction shows crystallization of a consensus that to pursue the road of development laid down by Prime Minister Meles, to continue with the rapid economic growth of the past eight years, is the way to promote and make permanent his legacy.
The massive turnout of mourners across the nation has surprised by its extent. Everyone has participated, and even more the public outpouring of grief has continued. It shows no sign of declining from the time the body of the late Prime Minister arrived back in Addis Ababa. As the day of the funeral approaches, the stream of sorrow has grown rather than diminished. Indeed, the loss of the Prime Minister, which originally reverberated across the nation, has now engulfed it. To attend to the demands of the public, the National Funeral Committee has been working round the clock, in helping to prepare sessions of mass mourning as well as organizing the regular visits to the Grand Palace and planning Sunday’s funeral service.
The National Committee has now arranged the details of the funeral ceremony which will precede the internment in Trinity Cathedral. The Chairperson of the National Committee for the Funeral, Kassa Tekleberhan, Speaker of the House of Federation said on Thursday that a number of heads of state have confirmed that they will attend the funeral. The Addis Ababa city administration has announced that a total of 10,000 volunteers will be participating to help coordinate various elements of the funeral ceremony. In advance of the funeral ceremony itself, the National Committee have arranged sessions for the residents of Addis Ababa to bid farewell to the late Prime Minister. On Thursday and Friday this week, sessions of farewell to the Prime Minister are being held in Meskel Square. Large crowds have been gathering there. On Saturday, prayers by all faiths will be held in memoriam. Similar sessions will be held in all regional capitals.
On the day of the funeral ceremony, Sunday September 2nd, the Committee has announced that the entire ceremony will be televised by the national state TV. The funeral ceremony, which will be attended by Heads of States, high-ranking government and military officials, ambassadors, dignitaries and the residents of Addis Ababa will be held in Meskel Square and this farewell session for the late Prime Minister’s body will then be followed by the burial at Trinity Cathedral. The body, accompanied by members of the family and other relatives, ministers and officials including the Presidents of the Regional States, and a Guard of Honour drawn from the Defence Forces and the Federal Police will accompany the horse-drawn hearse from the Palace to Meskel Square where it will arrive at about 9 am. Heads of State, other dignitaries and residents will await the body in the Square. The body will be placed on a special podium. The Acting Prime Minister and family members will speak, an obituary will be delivered and foreign Heads of State and other dignitaries will also speak. The Anthems of Ethiopia and of the African Union will be played; those present will be able to pay their final respects to the body of the late Prime Minister.
At the end of the ceremony, the body will be placed on a horse-drawn carriage and the funeral procession will accompany it to the Trinity Cathedral where the body will be laid to rest. The burial itself will be attended by members of the immediate family, other close relatives, ministers, and selected representatives of various groups of the public. As the body is laid to rest, a 21 gun salute will be fired – in honour of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a great and visionary leader who will always be much missed.
Reflections on Meles’ life and legacy
For the last week, the body of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been lying in state at his residence in the Grand Palace. It will stay there until his funeral on Sunday. The casket lies at the top of a flight of steps marked by candles and flowers. Soldiers, unmoving, stand guard at the bottom of the steps as people come from every walk of life, passing in an unending stream, to pay their tribute to the late Prime Minister, to show their respect, to display their grief and shock at his untimely death. Every day, from morning to nightfall, an endless line waits to enter the long drive up to the residence, with thousands from all age groups and social classes patiently standing and waiting their turn. Many wail and cry, too emotional to express their grief in words, falling to the ground as they pass the coffin that rests at the top of the carpeted stair. Others, mainly older women cry aloud in the traditional rhythms of mourning. They sing of the incomparable leadership qualities of the departed, and regret he passed away before being able to take a rest from his public responsibilities.
The outpouring of grief makes it very clear that the unexpected death of Prime Minister Meles has touched the whole country. The bonds that Ethiopians, all Ethiopians, had built with Prime Minister Meles over the last two decades have been undeniably strong and personal. No matter how isolated anyone might be from politics, Meles had a personality that was impossible to ignore. People have made it very clear they regard him as the greatest leader the country has ever seen. Over the last week, they have demonstrated their deep unfulfilled wish that he might have stayed with them longer than he did. Their outpouring of grief expresses the esteem in which the people held him, and their appreciation that under his leadership the country had gained a global stature, giving us every reason to be proud of his life and accomplishments.
Meles was the most intellectually brilliant political leader of his generation. He was a unique combination of theorist and practitioner. His actions and explanations were invariably coherent and firmly argued. One of the cleverest and most engaging leaders in Africa, his death has robbed Africa of one of its greatest sons and most prominent personalities. From the age of 19 he devoted himself to his country, in word and deed. There was no let-up. Seventeen years as one of a group at the helm of a rebel force taking on Africa’s largest army, backed by the Soviets, was followed by four years as president overseeing the transition to a constitutional democracy, and then another seventeen years as prime minister. No contemporary African leader was more highly regarded or considered more impressive by his African Union peers. After 1991, Meles rapidly became an international statesman. He was hailed by Bill Clinton as the prime exponent of “Africa’s new generation of leaders” in 1998; he sat on Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa in 2004-2005; and represented the African Union in climate change negotiations since 2009. Prime Minister Meles was a leader and voice for Africa in climate change and global warming. He demanded the west compensated the world’s poorest countries for the effects of climate change. Last year Ethiopia became the first African country to launch a Green Economic Strategy, and Meles called on African leaders to rethink their approach to development, reminding them that “rapid and sustained growth in Africa is a matter of life and death.”
Meles represented a new generation of Pan-Africanists, alongside leaders such as Thabo Mbeki, who recognized that the continent needs to anchor its efforts towards political unity in the practicalities of economic integration. He consistently promoted developmental initiatives such as NEPAD. He recognized that Africa needed strong states, but it was in the sphere of regional politics that Ethiopia’s role was most prominent. Meles consistently used Ethiopia’s military and other capacities for the good of the region. Underpinning his drive for peace and security in the Horn of Africa there was, as always, a strong Ethiopian agenda. Meles envisaged the emergence of Ethiopia as regional power, most recently basing this on the diplomacy of energy. He was actively engaged in the Sudanese peace process, providing political and military support to the efforts of the African Union, becoming the most influential regional leader in facilitating the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan after South Sudan’s independence in July last year and managing to keep the trust of both parties. A recent example of this was the dispatch of a mechanized brigade of peacekeepers to the contentious area of Abyei on the borders between Sudan and South Sudan.
Meles’s foreign policy positions were based on Ethiopia’s wider national interests and a deep analysis of the bigger picture. There was no posturing or rhetoric. Ethiopia intervened in Somalia at no-one’s behest. Under his leadership, Ethiopia took it upon itself to resist the challenge of the terrorist menace in Somalia. This also offered a strategy to protect the country from any spill-over effects of the two-decade long crisis there and the ability to deny the Eritrean regime any opportunity for using Somalia to try to settle scores with Addis Ababa. Ethiopia itself is a center for stability and for economic development in Horn of Africa.
In the narrative celebrating his legacy, Meles Zenawi is certainly the most effective, indeed the best, leader the country has ever had, ‘liberator’, ‘developer’, even ‘saviour’ as some have called him. From his earliest days in the field as a cadre of the TPLF, Meles consistently identified Ethiopia’s most fundamental problem as the need to overcome poverty. This was the hallmark of the policies of the armed struggle, and on taking power in 1991 Meles insisted that the priority was to feed the people. A decade later he identified the number one national security challenge as ‘overcoming poverty’. Not surprisingly, economic development was the chosen focus for his main intellectual efforts. He sat for a long-distance learning degree from Britain’s Open University, coming a remarkable third in his graduating class despite studying while governing one of Africa’s most populated countries. His framework for the “democratic developmental state” is genuinely innovative.
Any nuanced or accurate narrative of the legacy of Prime Minister Meles will see his time in power as providing outstanding economic successes. His greatest achievement has been to articulate, implement and successfully defend a distinctively African development path that can produce high levels of economic growth over a significant period of time. It is a development path that not only creates high levels of GDP growth but also transforms the structure of the economy through public investment both in key infrastructural projects and equally importantly in social services such as education and health, and since 2004 the introduction of the Productive Safety Net Program which has provided food security to millions of chronically food-insecure families. It has been a critical element in the effort to reduce and overcome poverty.
Under Prime Minister Meles’ leadership, Ethiopia became one of the fastest growing non-oil economies not only in Africa but in the world. It has posted double-digit GDP growth figures for the last eight years, and indications are this will continue. Enrolment of children in school has increased by huge amounts, winning the country international plaudits. Many areas have sharply increased access to electricity and drinking water. Public investment in the health sector has resulted in substantial falls in maternal and child mortality rates, the later by up to 40%. The share of Ethiopians living in extreme poverty—those on less than 60 cents a day—has fallen from 45% when Prime Minister Meles took power to under 30%. Ethiopia is on line to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals, one of very few countries to do so. The country does not depend on large-scale natural resources, and the government has focused on manufacturing and agriculture. Exports have risen sharply. Significant progress has also been made in rectifying the socio-economic marginalization affecting historically disadvantaged parts of the country. A growing if still small middle class has emerged. Roads have been built; rivers dammed and a string of hydroelectric dams now under construction will provide a major boost to the economy in the next few years. The progress is undeniable and very real. Poverty is still very present but serious progress is being made towards its eradication. The latest element is the five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) in operation since 2010 to provide the necessary basis for the high level of economic growth over a prolonged period of time.
The undeniable successes of his economic policies earned Meles a well-deserved international reputation and widespread praise both in Africa and around the world. Indeed, the economic success achieved during a constraining global environment and national economic conditions, attracted particular attention for possible emulation. It also allowed the Prime Minister to control the terms under which donors were allowed to operate in Ethiopia; and its successes made Ethiopia into Africa’s biggest recipient of aid. One of Meles’s earliest and most celebrated battles with international donors was his insistence that Ethiopia would not take loans from the IMF and World Bank unless unacceptable conditions were lifted, in particular the IMF’s insistence that foreign aid should not be incorporated into national budgetary planning. The IMF argued that it was unpredictable and reliance would lead to unsustainable fiscal policies. Meles’ arguments, buttressed with detailed evidence, won the day.
On the political front, Meles’ major achievement has, of course, been the introduction of a federal system of government in which minorities and historically disadvantaged groups have been given political and institutional recognition. In acknowledging and giving institutional expression to the extensive ethno-cultural diversity of Ethiopia, the federal system has irreversibly redefined the national character of the country. The federal system marks a major step forward towards rectifying the inequalities of the past. Large areas and communities that were historically outside the policy making processes have, for the first time, been brought into the country’s structures and policy processes.
When Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s leader for more than two decades, died he was mourned across the world. He will be remembered as a “stable” force in a chaotic region. South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, praised him for “lifting millions of Ethiopians out of poverty”. British Prime Minister, David Cameron, remembered him “as an inspirational spokesman for Africa on global issues”, who had “provided leadership and vision on Somalia and Sudan.” Microsoft’s founder, Bill Gates, praised him as “a visionary leader who brought real benefits to Ethiopia’s poor.” Ethiopians themselves saw Meles as a visionary and peerless leader who built one of Africa’s most dynamic economies and turned his country into a major regional power. Prime Minister Meles has left a formidable and enduring legacy which will inspire and motivate the next generation of leadership for his country. May his soul rest in peace!
The latest ICG report – ‘Sound and fury signifying nothing’
With the illness and death of Prime Minister Meles, many in the Diaspora and abroad, Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian alike, have allowed themselves to indulge in wild speculations about the possible future of Ethiopia. The comments come from various corners; some commentators are gullible if well intentioned, but many are focused on scaremongering and deliberate efforts to encourage or promote problems. There has been an almost deafening cacophony from the opposition in the Diaspora with an hysterical, child-like obsession with morbid excitement, potential violence and collapse. It can only have alienated its readers, and it isn’t even worth a second glance. It is after all meaningless to become involved in a shouting match on the question of whether a post-Meles Ethiopia can survive. None of it is surprising and much of it has been heard before, if in a slightly moderated form.
Even the more reputable commentators have tended to produce a number of curious recurrent themes for which they can produce no evidence and indeed for which there is none. One, running through most comments, has been the issue of the ‘vacuum that has been created’ by the passing of Prime Minister Meles. There have been bizarre and invented stories of a succession struggle with some commentators additionally wondering if this would spell the end of Ethiopia as we know it. For some, the question hasn’t been whether there will be a vacuum or a succession crisis, but rather when it would happen and how destructive it would be. Much of this has been attached to a strange pattern of ‘creativity’ bordering on pure fabrication with regard to who has been doing what. It conjured up a constellation of intra-party fighting, movements of police or military, political meetings, all of which had only one thing in common – none of it happened.
One intriguing aspect of all these fairy tales, and that is exactly what they are, is that commentators who indulged themselves, automatically seemed to ignore the central fact that Ethiopia has a fully functional and operative administrative and governmental system. One must assume that such commentators are taking their information exclusively from ‘rejectionists’ in the Diaspora. This must be the explanation why they keep fabricating apocryphal stories of power struggles which usually don’t even bother to factor in the country’s federal arrangements. They apparently assume that 80 million Ethiopians are waiting anxiously for external intervention to save them from crises which, it might be added, are certainly not apparent to those inside the country. The very approach is an insult to the successful institutionalization of a modern democratization process in the country, a success for which Prime Minister Meles was largely responsible.
It isn’t just the ‘rejectionist’ elements in the Diaspora. Closer to home there are newspapers in neighboring countries that have joined this chorus of voices imagining Armageddon. Most of this is a result of sloppy journalism and a chronic lack of professionalism. It is to be regretted but it is not so wild nor as ideologically driven as the nonsense being peddled so assiduously by Human Rights Watch or the International Crisis Group. Their new mantra is the idea that Ethiopia minus Meles will be weak, and a weak government, their argument goes, must resort to more repression to prevent the ‘regime’s collapse’.
The ICG goes even further in its determination to scaremonger when it claimed that this ‘weaker regime’ in Ethiopia will go as far as initiating renewed hostilities against Eritrea in order “to deflect attention away from its internal crisis” Even by ICG’s own very questionable standards, this recent report is a text book example of muddled thinking, though there is still some method involved. ICG’s ‘researchers’ must at least have been talking to each other, or to specific sources abroad, to try to confirm their own theses about an Ethiopia on the verge of bursting apart at the seams. Certainly, there is no trace of any such situation on the ground. The reality could not even remotely warrant such a reading of the political and security situation in Ethiopia.
The ICG story of intra-party squabbles has been plucked out of thin air, despite their deeply unconvincing claim that they have an insiders’ take on the issue. In fact, the ICG is simply unable and unwilling to see the reality on the ground for what it actually is, and that is that Ethiopians are showing an extraordinary outpouring of love and respect for their deceased leader. They are extending quite extraordinary support to the government. The party, which remains as disciplined as ever, has seen no single instance of difference over the future of the country. The leadership has made it very clear it will simply pick up where Meles left off and continue to implement his aims, his policies and his vision. The institutions of government and administration remain fully functional and intact. There are no signs of problem or difference.
This doesn’t bother the ICG which has its own imaginary version of Ethiopia which it continues to try to sell. Like Human Rights Watch, the ICG is not ‘interested in Ethiopia’s stability or democracy`. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that they are actually working hard to foment crises in the country. This certainly appears to be the intention judging by the rather curious recommendations which suggest that as the government has become weaker it may be more amenable to arm twisting. This apparently could provide a golden opportunity for realizing a potential, if fanciful, king-making exercise of their own. Kenneth Roth of HRW put it bluntly in an OPED in the Los Angeles Times: donors must heed his organization’s persistent call for using aid for political purposes and effect regime change in Ethiopia.
The bitter pill for both organizations to swallow, however, is the fact that Ethiopia today has a solid foundation, politically, administratively and economically. Indeed, the noise of the accusations of these groups is well and truly drowned out by the determined voice of millions of Ethiopians supporting the government as they tread along the path of their visionary leader and his disciplined party. With the economy growing stronger by the day, the level of leverage that the likes of HRW or ICG can hope to use against Ethiopia becomes ever smaller. In actual fact, Ethiopians are far more united politically today than HRW or similar organizations would like. Their attempts, their campaign to generate crisis in this country stands no chance of success. What has transpired in the last two decades under the leadership of Prime Minister Meles and his party is the creation of a solid foundation, politically and economically. It is far too firm and deep-seated to unravel in the face of what is little more than the pressure of noise from neo-liberals who are bent on thriving in chaos.
Mohamed Osman Jawari elected Speaker of Somalia’s new Parliament
Mohamed Osman Jawari, a one-time Minister of Labour under Siad Barre, was elected Speaker of the Parliament on Tuesday (August 29th). There were five candidates and Jawari’s main challenge came from Ali Khalif Galeyr Somalia’s Prime Minister 2000-2001. Jawari was short of a majority on the first ballot so a second round between Jawari and Galeyr was due to take place. However, Galeyr then pulled out, saying he favoured Jawari. This left Jawari as the only contender for the post and he was therefore declared the winner. He received 119 votes to Ali Khalif Galeyr’s 77, with the other three contenders, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, Abdirashid Higig and Hassan Abshir Farah getting 23, 10 and 5 votes respectively. A total of 236 MPs took part in the vote. Professor Jawari is a lawyer who has worked for the UN and was Chairman of the Independent Federal Constitution Commission which recently drafted Somalia’s new constitution.
The U.N. Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Mahiga, called Tuesday’s election of a speaker “a moment of progress and optimism” and “an important step on the road to restoring accountable and participatory governance.” He said that some 260 members of Parliament had now either been sworn in or were awaiting ratification. He urged that the 15 remaining MPs should be selected quickly so the election of a new president could take place “within 10 days.”
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council issued a statement welcoming the recent adoption of Somalia’s provisional constitution, the inaugural meeting of its new parliament and the appointment of the body’s speaker. It called on all parties to continue to work together to bring a swift end to the country’s transition. The Security Council statement was issued after it had received a closed-door briefing on the latest developments on Tuesday from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Mahiga. The statement said “The members of the Council called on the new Federal Parliament to discharge its responsibilities with independence, transparency and free from undue influence or coercion.” It underlined the importance of a fully functioning Parliament and said the remaining seats should be agreed and filled as quickly as possible. The Security Council also urged all signatories to the Roadmap for the End of Transition to continue to work together and conclude the transitional governing arrangements rapidly. The Signatories should “refrain from unilateral action and continue the process of dialogue and compromise,” the statement said. “Parliament should now elect a president without further delay.”
The election of the Speaker has been followed by the election of the Parliament’s two Deputy Speakers, and preparations are now going ahead for the election of the President. A presidential election committee of 16 MPs has been set up to manage the presidential election. The committee is headed by General Muse Hassan Abdulle and it will announce the official date of the presidential election shortly as well as set the conditions for candidates wishing to run for the position of president.
Meanwhile, AMISOM and Somali government forces captured Merca early Monday morning (August 27th). The port of Merca, on the coast 90 kilometers south of Mogadishu, is the third largest port in southern Somalia after Mogadishu and Kismayo and has been under Al-Shabaab control since November 2008. The final attack met with little resistance as government forces and AMISOM had already taken positions both north and south of the town. AMISOM spokesperson, Colonel Ali Houmed, said “there was some fighting but not so heavy as most of the Shabaab had fled.” AMISOM Commander, Lt-General Andrew Gutti, said the capture of the town would improve security widely as it would deny the terrorists of another base from which to launch attacks across Lower Shebelle region. “This operation will not only bring relief to the people in Merca”, he said; “it will also help in the liberation of Kismayo.” The capture of Merca leaves Jowhar as the only Al-Shabaab stronghold in the regions of Banadir, Middle and Lower Shebelle, which together make up Sector 1 of AMISOM’s areas of operation. And AMISOM and government forces have been steadily advancing towards Jowhar, taking Bal’ad a few weeks ago.
The next port along the coast south of Merca is Brava, another 100 kilometers south, and beyond that is Kismayo, a further 250 kilometers. The Kenyan forces of AMISOM, Somali government forces and allied militias are also advancing on Kismayo, the last major Al-Shabaab stronghold in southern Somalia, from the north and west. Fighting this week in the villages of Aglibah, Janaay, Abdulle and Birta Dheer, on the road between Afmadow and Kismayo, left at least 60 Al-Shabaab fighters dead, according to General Ismail Sahardiid, commander of government forces in the Lower Jubba region. AMISOM and government forces are now within 50 kilometers of Kismayo. General Ismail said the army plans to approach Kismayo carefully but “the city might be seized from Al-Shabaab within a week”, he said.
News and Views
Foreign Ministry staff pay their respects to the late Prime Minister
The staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited the Grand Palace where the body of the late Prime Minister Meles is lying in state to express their deep sorrow over his death. The members of the Ministry paid their respects on Tuesday, August 28th. An official at the Ministry emphasized that the late Prime Minster had been an architect of the country’s Foreign and National Security Policy and Strategy. Prime Minister Meles had gone a long way towards raising the profile of Ethiopia internationally and making Ethiopia stand high in different international fora. All governmental institutions and ministries are taking the opportunity to visit the Palace and show their deep regret and sorrow at the late Prime Minister’s sudden passing. In addition to government bodies, diplomatic missions in Addis Ababa and representatives of other international bodies have been paying their respects to a visionary leader of Africa at the Palace where the body will lie in state until the funeral ceremony. On Thursday, Ministry officials and staff met to commemorate the life of Meles Zenawi, and heard Ambassador Berhane Gebrechristos, Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Seyoum, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and others remember the late Prime Minister and his life. Three members of the Ministry, representing the staff, signed the Book of Condolence. Ministry officials and staff later took part in a candlelit procession to Meskel Square where the funeral will take place on Sunday.
Riots in Mombasa after Aboud Rogo Mohammed’s death on Monday
Mombasa suffered a second day of violence on Tuesday this week (August 28th) as Muslim youth continued to protest the killing of Muslim cleric, Aboud Rogo Mohammed the previous day. Aboud Rogo, who was on the UN and US sanctions list on Somalia, was shot and killed in Mombasa when travelling in a car with his wife and family. The shooting was immediately condemned by Prime Minister Odinga who said the government was committed to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Security Council placed a travel ban and asset freeze on Aboud Rogo in July, saying he had provided “financial, material, logistical or technical support to Al-Shabaab.” The US had also placed him on a sanctions list for “engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia.” The US said Aboud Rogo had “urged his audiences to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab’s fight against the Kenyan government.” According to the UN, Aboud Rogo Mohammed was the “main ideological leader” of Kenya’s Al Hijra group, the Muslim Youth Center which was seen as a close ally of Al-Shabaab. He was accused of using the group as a “pathway for radicalization and recruitment of principally Swahili-speaking Africans for carrying out violent militant activity in Somalia”. He was arrested in January when police seized firearms, ammunition and detonators, but was later released on bail. Al-Shabaab condemned Aboud Rogo’s death as murder; and following the shooting, riots broke out in Mombasa, as thousands of protesters took to the streets. The Muslim Youth Center promised that the “kuffar (infidels) will pay” for his death. On Tuesday a grenade attack on a police vehicle in Mombasa killed three police officers and left 11 more injured. There was another grenade attack on Wednesday which left 4 policemen wounded. Prime Minister Odinga visited Mombasa on Wednesday and issued a call for the nation to come together to stop religious violence.”We are not going to allow outside forces to incite Kenyans to create religious war,” he said. Yesterday, August 30th, President Mwai Kibaki also visited Mombasa to open an agricultural trade fair.
Sudan/South Sudan talks to restart next week
Thabo Mbeki, head of the Africa Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) mediating the Sudan/South Sudan talks in Addis Ababa is working to finalize the details of a “final” round of negotiations between the two countries prior to a presidential summit between President Omer Al-Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan. The two sides are due to resume their negotiations on post-secession issues in Addis Ababa after Sunday’s funeral of Prime Minister Meles. They are expected to restart the talks on Tuesday next week. The previous round of negotiations culminated in a much-welcomed deal to resume South Sudan oil exports via Sudan at an average rate of $10 per barrel plus more than $3 billion in transitional financial assistance to Khartoum over a three-year period. The UN Security Council extended until September 22nd the three-month deadline it had originally laid down for the conclusion of the talks. Mr. Mbeki is expected in Khartoum this weekend to hold talks with government officials. He will put forward new conciliatory proposals on the remaining issues between the two sides. These include the establishment of a demilitarized zone along the borders and the future of disputed territories. The next ‘final’ round of talks will be followed by a summit between the two presidents which will focus on resolving the issue of the future of Abyei.
The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs visits Mogadishu
The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Lady Catherine Ashton, paid her first visit to Mogadishu on Monday this week. She held discussions with Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif and other leaders, which she described as ‘frank’. She told reporters later that what she had seen “is real commitment, a recognition that the world is watching and an understanding that we need to see this process reach conclusion.” Lady Ashton who was on a visit to Kenya and Somalia also visited one of the French ships involved in the EU anti-piracy operation, Operation Atalanta where she was welcomed by the commander of the operation, Rear Admiral Potts. Lady Ashton said that without EU NAVFOR and Operation Atalanta there would be a growing rather than a decreasing piracy problem. She said it was important to remember that the solution to piracy was still to be found on land, and added “it is our ambition to see the EU’s Comprehensive Approach work in support of a stable and peaceful Somalia.” The EU Comprehensive Approach is outlined in its “Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa” adopted by the Council in November last year to guide the EU’s engagement with the region. Admiral Potts noted that EU NAVFOR now needed to move forward in helping to train Somali troops and with the civilian mission, EUCAP Nestor, which is looking to develop the capacity of Somalia to provide its own security and law enforcement ashore.
The Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Iran
The 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement is being held this week, August 26th-31st in Teheran. According to Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 50 states will participate at the highest level, including 27 presidents and two kings and emirs, with seven prime ministers and nine vice presidents. The Non-Aligned Movement has 120 members, including the non-UN member state of Palestine, and 21 observer states. It represents nearly two-thirds of the United Nations’ members and contains 55% of the world’s population. The summit’s “Final Document” was adopted during the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau held in Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt in May; and the agenda of the summit is primarily concerned with issues relating to nuclear disarmament, human rights and regional issues. Iran has also expressed its intention of drawing up a resolution aiming to resolve the Syriancivil war. The Summit itself was preceded this week by a meeting of Senior Officials (Experts) on Sunday and Monday, followed by the Ministerial Meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 28th and 29th; Ethiopia is represented by Ambassador Negash, Director General of the International Organizations Directorate-General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.