Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Ethiopian man found in a flight cargo hold at Dulles Airport

Monday, June 8th, 2009

CHANTILLY, VIRGINIA (Fox News) — Federal authorities say they’ve discovered a stowaway who arrived at a Washington-area airport in the cargo hold of a flight from Ethiopia.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Steve Sapp says ground personnel at Dulles International Airport were pulling baggage from Ethiopian Airlines Flight 500 when they noticed an arm sticking out.

Sapp says the stowaway was an Ethiopian man who was exhausted and dehydrated. He was taken to Reston Hospital Center and is now being held at a federal detention center.

Sapp says the man has been charged with being a stowaway and will be deported, but is not a security threat.

He says the flight departed from Addis Ababa and stopped in Rome before landing at Dulles shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday.

U.S. to send back stowaway on plane from Ethiopia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A stowaway on a flight from Ethiopia was being detained in Washington and will be sent back, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Baggage handlers discovered the man, described as in his late 30s, in the luggage compartment of an Ethiopian Airways Boeing 767 that landed at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, the newspaper said.

The stowaway was dehydrated and exhausted but a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said he did not appear to present a threat, the Post reported.

Customs spokesman Steve Sapp told the newspaper the man, who was not identified, would face an administrative charge and would be sent back on an Ethiopian Airways plane.

A U.S. Customs official did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Ethiopian Human Rights Council chairman arrested

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Chairman of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO), Ato Abebe Workie, has been arrested, according to Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa.

Ato Abebe is a renowned Ethiopian attorney and one of the founding members of EHRCO, along with Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam.

The reason for Ato Abebe’s arrest has not been made public yet.

Meanwhile, the Woyanne regime propaganda chief Bereket Simon and his assistant, Ermias Legesse, are on their way to Washington DC to meet with the Voice of America officials and lodge a complaint about VOA’s Amharic program, which they deem is too critical of the tribal junta in Ethiopia.

Despite horrific tales, CU student from Ethiopia finds hope

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Esubalew Ethan Johnston was born in Ethiopia and intentionally blinded as a child by men bent on using him as a beggar. He was ultimately adopted and now attends CU. (Hyoung Chang/ The Denver Post)

By Kevin Simpson | The Denver Post

On a playground court, Esubalew “Ethan” Johnston cradles the basketball and begins a rhythmic, right-hand dribble.

He weaves the ball through his legs, darts forward, spins, drives left and pulls up to shoot — at a basket he cannot see.

In what passes for his field of vision, the white backboard casts a dull silhouette on a chalky sky. It is enough. With a flick of his wrists, the ball caroms off the board and through the net.

He wasn’t born blind. Esubalew (is-soo-BAH-low), now perhaps 22 by his own reckoning, navigates the few blocks from his Englewood home to the outdoor court with a white cane he leaves in the grass at one corner of the asphalt.

“My jump shot’s terrible,” he says. “But my inside game is good. If I could make a jump shot, I’d be the blind Kobe Bryant.”

He’s got the jersey — No. 24 in Los Angeles Lakers gold. And he shares one other trait with the NBA star.

“I feel like I’m living a millionaire’s life,” says Esubalew, who just finished his sophomore year at the University of Colorado. “I never thought I’d be here talking smack about the Lakers and playing basketball.

“I guess it worked out.”

Leaving home for a promised life

Esubalew was 5, maybe 6, when the men came. Age is an imprecise matter where he lived in Ethiopia.

He remembers certain things. The trees around his mother’s grass hut in the village of Inesa, the rainy season that sometimes made the hut collapse, the dry summers that scorched and cracked the earth so badly you could turn an ankle in the fissures.

He remembers tending a neighbor’s cattle in return for a large jug of milk. It was his way of contributing to the small household headed by his mother, Yitashu. He rarely saw his father.

And he remembers playing with his younger half sister, Etagegnehu, outside their hut one day, when two strangers asked his mother if she’d like her son to attend school in the capital city of Addis Ababa.

Wanting him to become something more than a poor farmer in the isolated village, she sent her son away with the men. They put him on a donkey, and that was the last she saw of Esubalew.

A few days later, they blinded him.

They told him to get ready for bed. Then three men held him down while another employed sticks and a caustic white extract from a tree. Blind children made the best beggars.

He was instructed to cling to a rail attached to local taxis and refuse to let go until passengers took pity and dug into their pockets. Sometimes the taxis simply took off, dragging him until he lost his grip.

On these days, his teenage overseers would tell the men that Esubalew hadn’t tried hard enough, and they whipped him with a switch.

“I thought it was my job for the rest of my life,” he says. “From daylight until dark, that was it — nothing else. It seemed like forever. But it was probably more like a year.”

Strangers come to the rescue

Then, while begging in a cafe, he met a couple who worked at a school for the blind. They inquired about his situation and eventually wrested him from his captors.

Fortune took odd forms. Esubalew contracted tuberculosis and had to be hospitalized. There, a doctor showed him to Cheryl Carter-Shotts, director of Indianapolis-based Americans for African Adoptions Inc. Her decades-long concern for children suffering on the continent has withstood controversy over international — and interracial — adoptions.

“Esubalew climbed into my heart a long time ago,” Carter-Shotts recalls, “and never left.”

In a country ravaged by civil war, she saw a blind child wearing nothing but a torn T-shirt and underpants. Esubalew had told his caregivers the name of his village, but no one had heard of it. Authorities never seriously pursued his case.

“It was wartime,” says Carter-Shotts, “and they were not going to focus on one lost child.”

She gave him a Matchbox car and promised to return for him. Months later, she did — and found him a foster home in Ethiopia until she placed him with a Missouri family who’d taken in special-needs children from all over the world.

“We thought a lot about adopting him,” recalls Kris Johnston, 56, from her house south of Columbia. “But I was scared to death. With a blind child, what would our life be like? We were going off a story and a gut feeling that we should do this.”

In October 1997, Esubalew — then approximately 10 — flew with other Ethiopian adoptees to Indianapolis. He stepped off the plane wearing an ivory tunic with embroidered trim.

“I was shaking, I was so afraid,” recalls Johnston, who met his plane. “But as soon as I saw his smile, I knew it would be OK.”

She nicknamed him Ethan, after the part Tom Cruise played in the movie “Mission Impossible.” Johnston thought the name exuded strength and character — and that it would help Esubalew’s transition to go by something easier to pronounce.

A view of contrasts in new home

His physical issues were obvious. One eye, Johnston recalls, was “horrifying to look at.” A specialist confirmed the extent of the damage and recommended a cornea transplant on his “good” eye to salvage even some semblance of sight.

When Johnston removed his bandages and asked if he could see anything, Esubalew replied: “Yes. You’re white.”

He describes it not so much as a shock as a revelation about the wider world, and the starting point for his understanding of race in America.

“It was just part of my education,” he recalls. “She said people will have issues because you’re black, or because you have white parents. I said, ‘Are you kidding?’ But she was right. There were some situations like that, and if I hadn’t been warned, I would’ve reacted instead of just letting it go.”

There would be several more cornea transplants as his body rejected the new tissue. Eventually, an artificial cornea produced the best results in his left eye. Months after his arrival, Esubalew’s right eye became so infected it had to be replaced with a prosthetic.

His vision yields little more than lights and darks and shades of color.

In his new home, he initially grew frustrated at his inability to express himself. English came slowly but ultimately supplanted his native language, Amharic.

He made friends easily, struggled academically through middle school but graduated high school with a B-plus average. Along the way, basketball caught his interest, starting with an NBA broadcast in which announcers hammered a new word into his developing vocabulary: “Shaq.”

Shaquille O’Neal’s Los Angeles Lakers became his team as they marched to league championships — though Kobe Bryant has replaced O’Neal as his personal favorite.

In sixth grade, a friend taught him to play, igniting a passion that he carries into adulthood. With practice, Esubalew learned to recognize the white lines on the court, use sound to judge the arrival of a bounce pass and shoot a passable percentage in loose pickup games.

Flourishing amid learning

Johnston, with architect husband Chuck, has reared 25 adopted children from all over the world — about one-third with some kind of physical disability — in the 4,000-square-foot home they built on 10 acres.

Esubalew stands out primarily for his perseverance.

“He’s not bitter,” Johnston says. “He has such a zest for life — just a real excitement for what’s coming around the corner, what next year will bring.”

When he turned 16, a high school counselor recommended he enroll in a summer program at the Colorado Center for the Blind, a Littleton-based school that teaches life skills.

Excited by his growing independence, he returned for a second summer, and then for a full-time program. Already in love with Colorado, he enrolled at CU-Boulder, with the help and encouragement of Eric Woods, an instructor at the center.

At first, he found himself falling behind in college classes — until he got his materials translated into Braille.

Although he has shifted his major from journalism to sociology, he remains fascinated by the possibility of becoming a sports-talk radio personality. But he realizes he must work harder.

“I’m way too laid back — like the Lakers with a big lead,” he laughs. “School’s tough. I need more discipline.”

Pickup basketball continues to be a big part of his life at CU. Also, he immerses himself in music. A few years ago, it was rap and hip-hop, which was an outlet for adolescent angst. More recently, he has embraced Ethiopian music.

“As I grew up, I saw life getting better and better,” he says. “I had to go back to my culture. Ethiopian music has a hip-hop beat, but the lyrics are kind of country — about family, how life is over there. It’s about appreciating life.”

Esubalew lives with Woods and his wife, Lori, while on breaks from CU. They speak of him proudly, like a son.

“He understands that something good has come of all this,” Eric Woods says. “Everybody’s got a tale to tell, and his is horrific. But he’s focused on the positive.”

Esubalew helps at the Center for the Blind when he can. He has taken a particular interest in another Ethiopian, a young man about his age, who also was blinded under circumstances similar to his own.

“I don’t think he knows how lucky he is, but as he learns English and the culture, he’ll understand,” Esubalew says. “We’re both lucky to be here in America with the opportunity to become somebody.”

Nervous about upcoming return

In about two weeks, Esubalew will walk into his native village for the first time in nearly 15 years. Karla Reerslev, an Oregon woman with two Ethiopian adoptees who lived in foster care with Esubalew, also runs a nonprofit that connects children there with American sponsors.

She used her connections overseas to track down his mother and arrange a reunion.

Esubalew’s initial excitement has become nervousness as he wonders how his mother will react. Does she feel guilt at letting the men take him away all those years ago? Will his return be cause for celebration?

He no longer speaks more than a few words of Amharic. But he hopes to convey that he understands her decision and that his life has turned out well — far better than he could imagine his lot in the village of Inesa.

“In a way, my mom’s dream came true,” Esubalew says. “So I think I won in the end.”

(Kevin Simpson: 303-954-1739 or ksimpson@denverpost.com)

Outsourcing agriculture

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

It’s estimated that China will send 1 million farm workers to Ethiopia and other countries in Africa this year. It’s part of a growing trend of countries outsourcing their food production. On this week’s Underreported, John Parker, Globalization Correspondent for the Economist and Dr. Joachim von Braun, Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute, look at the impact on the countries where the food is grown, and on the countries where that food is eaten. John Parker’s article Outsourcing’s Third Wave appeared in the May 21 issue of the Economist. Click here to listen.

Hailu Shawel's AEUP to merge with UDJ?

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

(Addis Journal) — The All Ethiopian Unity Party(AEUP) might forge an alliance with the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP), well-placed sources disclosed.

If the alliance takes place, the current AEUP chair Engineer Hailu Shawel is likely to be the coalition party’s chair.

Professor Mesfin Woldemaryam, UDJP’s ideologue, has been working hard for such an agreement, according to sources. Engineer Hailu has given Prof. Mesfin a green light to the possible merge, it was said.

The recent attendance of Hailu Sawel in UDJP’s headquarter to mark the day of Bertukan Mideks’a arrest was considered as positive sign towards this end.

Engineer Hailu in the past has been saying forming coalition with UDJP was out of question as their policies are different from his.

The now imprisoned UDJP chair, Bertukan also repeatedly said she was very pessimistic on any future with Engineer Hailu Shawl and the people he is working with.

If true, the move would be a radical departure from the long-held postion.

Both parties were in the former the colitation for Unity and Democracy Party(CUD) which also included Ethiopian Democratic League (EDL), EUDP -Medhin.

Ethiopian plans to establish new airline

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

By Kaleyesus Bekele | Reporter

The Ethiopian Airlines is planning to establish a regional hub in Southern Africa by establishing another airline.

Recently Ethiopian bought a 25 percent stake on ASKY, a newly-established private airline in Togo. Ethiopian is now establishing a regional hub in West Africa, Lome. Girma Wake, CEO, told Airline Business that Ethiopian may ultimately duplicate the model by forming a southern Africa hub. “South is probably the next place we will look to. We are looking from Zambia to Mozambique, Botswana and Malawi,” Girma said.

However, he said his airline does not want to do many things at a time. “We do not want to do many things at once. We want to make sure ASKY is operating profitably first. Starting two carriers at once could cause problems. So we will do it gradually,” he said.

Ethiopian has a strong network in Africa. Today Ethiopian serves 33 destinations and hopes to reach at least 45 by 2015, starting with three additions this year.

In a bid to strengthen its regional partnerships in Africa, Ethiopian recently signed a five-year management contract with west and central African regional start-up, ASKY, which was promoted by Eco Bank, a Togolese bank. ASKY, which will launch its operations shortly, will operate Boeing 737 aircraft.

Under the plan, ASKY and Ethiopian will feed one another’s networks, with Lome forming a hub for flights in West Africa and beyond. Within five years ASKY is planning to form other West African hubs and branch out into international flights, using Boeing Being 767 to serve long-haul destinations.

Ethiopian is one the few airlines which is making a profit during the current economic downturn. Last year Ethiopian handled 2.5 million passengers and delivered 970 million dollars in revenue, only 30 million dollars shy of its 2010 target. Its jet fleet rose to 26 and its net profit reached a record high of 53.7 million dollars.

Ethiopia's dictator Meles Zenawi's daughter gets wild

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

The following is a set of photos showing the life style of Woyanne kids in Ethiopia. It includes Meles Zenawi’s 23-year-old daughter Semehal getting wild, biting some one’s tongue, and shooting a machine gun, among other things. Photo is compiled by Ethiopian Review’s Intelligence Unit. Click here for more photos.

Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi’s daughter Semehal Meles shooting automatic rifle in Debre Zeit

EPPF official gives interview

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

The organizational affairs head of EPPF’s International Committee, Ato Sileshi Tilahun, was a guest at the Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum’s paltalk room this afternoon.

Ato Sileshi answered several questions that were posed to him from the host and the audience.

The interview had focused on Ato Sileshi’s recent trip to Eritrea, interview with President Isaias Afwerki, and meetings with EPPF leaders.

Ato Sileshi said the interview with President Isaias has helped change the attitude of many Ethiopians toward the Government of Eritrea, and expressed his hope that other Ethiopians will travel to Eritrea and see things for themselves.

Regarding EPPF, Ato Sileshi said that it was his 5th trip to Eritrea in the past 4 years and at this particular trip he has observed significant improvements, including the opening of the organization’s headquarters in Asmara, the opening of a press office, and the launching of a radio program that is heard through out Ethiopia and eastern Africa.

In the military sphere, several hundred new recruits are currently completing their training, and the EPPF continues to engage Woyanne in the battlefield, Ato Sileshi said.

EPPF representatives arrive in Asmara for consultation

Representatives of the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), Ato Leul Keskis and Ato Assefa Hailu, have arrived in Asmara yesterday from Europe.

The representatives traveled to Asmara for consultation with the EPPF top leadership and to present report about their mission abroad.

Hardship for women and children in Ethiopia

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Thousands of Ethiopian women have turned to begging with their children in order to survive, advocacy group Ethiopian Women for Peace and Development has said. The group claims that thousands of Ethiopian children are dying of malnutrition every day, as a result of a famine affecting close to six million people – but which remains hidden from the public and from the international community. The group has called for donor agencies to reassess their development efforts in Ethiopia, saying that the government’s policies on land, agriculture, and trade and bilateral agreements it has signed have had ‘serious impacts on food production and consumption’.

We want to bring the plight of women in Ethiopia, due to the current economic hardship, to the attention of human rights, humanitarian and peace organisations worldwide.

Ethiopia, a country of 80 million people, is one of the poorest countries in the world. The current economic conditions in the country are alarming. We understand that countries, small and big, throughout the world are affected by the current global economic crises. The current economic conditions in Ethiopia are not created by the global market situation only. It is mostly a result of the lack of good governance, corruption and poor economic and social policies. In the recent years, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened extremely. The government tries to convince the public that the economy is growing and gives examples of the construction of high-rise buildings and roads, especially in the capital city, Addis Ababa. These buildings, some of them condominiums, are not affordable for the average citizen. The majority of the people is living in abject poverty and is struggling for mere survival.

Recently, two members of our organisation took personal trips to Ethiopia and witnessed some of the conditions under which women and children live and the hardship they experience in their daily lives. The famine that is affecting close to six million people is hidden from the international community and the public in Ethiopia. It is not discussed widely in the government media. However, thousands of children are dying of famine and malnutrition every day. Even in the capital city, Addis Ababa, the economic situation is unbearable for most people. You hear anecdotes that siblings eat meals in turn – those who ate breakfast are not allowed to eat lunch because parents cannot afford to provide three meals to feed all their children. Thousands of women beg with their children in the streets of Addis Ababa. Young girls are engaged in prostitution, to earn money to feed themselves and their families, which leads to an increase in the spread of HIV virus and other diseases. And yet, one observes the booming of constructions and roads in the capital.

Some women are employed in the construction projects as day labourers. They mix sand and gravel and carry heavy stones and sacks of cement three to four floors up. We are not belittling or condemning their work and we also recognise that the construction industry has given employment opportunity to many women. However, the conditions under which they work are most abusive. What they carry is not only heavy and damaging to their body, but also they work in unhealthy environment and are exposed to hazardous toxic materials.

In an informal discussion with the labourers, one of our members asked few of them why they were engaged in this line of work. They said that it is better to work as a day labourer than working as domestic workers where they were physically and sexually abused. In general, in the cities, women who work outside of their homes are employed as construction workers, day labourers, petty traders, and factory workers. In the countryside, women are still engaged in backbreaking work as they have been doing for generations. They carry loads for long distances, grind grain, till the land, and sustain the household.

The government’s policies on land, agriculture, and trade and the various bilateral agreements it signed have serious impacts on food production and consumption. Ethiopia now produces flowers to earn hard currency. Though export commodities are important, priorities must be given to producing staple crops to alleviate the dire situation of food shortages in the country.

In addition, many question the appropriateness of some of the different bilateral agreements that the government signed under the current economic conditions in the country. It is reported in the Financial Times (Javier Blas, 4 March 2009) that rich business people from Saudi Arabia have leased very large tract of land for rice farming to be exported to Saudi Arabia even in light of food shortage in Ethiopia. Such policy of exporting food to Saudi Arabia while Ethiopians starve indicates the erroneous economic policies that the government pursues.

As a women’s peace and development organisation, we are concerned by the situation of women and children in Ethiopia under the current economic conditions. Due to the government’s strict control of the media, information about the dire conditions of the people is not available. One cannot separate the economic situation from the political situation. The basic tenets of democracy, such as freedom of the press and association, are suppressed after the 2005 national elections. Civic organisation that could have educated the citizenry about their rights and responsibilities are curtailed. Dissent is not tolerated. In plain language, people are scared to criticise the government and question its negative policies. Even the simple complaint about food shortage and the escalating food price is taken as opposing the government.

As stated above, the purpose of this article is to bring the plight of Ethiopian women and children, under the current economic crises in the country, to the attention of the international community. One wonders what the international community would do to alleviate the dire situations of Ethiopian women and Ethiopians in general. Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa that receive massive foreign aids, estimated to be over two billion dollars every year. For the most part, donor countries have ignored human rights violations by the current regime (despite extensive reports by human rights organisations and civic groups) and pour their money in the country without strict conditions to influence government policies and procedures. The recent anti-NGO law, Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSO law), that the government passed in January 2009, is a good example of suppression of civic societies. However, donor agencies and Western governments did not challenge the government’s actions.

We appeal to human rights, humanitarian and peace organisations to pressure donor countries to reassess their development efforts in Ethiopia. They do not have to do extensive research to know if their development aid has benefited the poor or not. They only have to objectively observe how the poor live in Ethiopia and under what kind of political, social and economic conditions they dwell. A minority of the affluent live extravagantly while the majority flounder in abject poverty. The ‘development aid’ the West pours in the country, without any condition for accountability, transparency, and good governance has failed to fight poverty in Ethiopia.

(Ethiopian Women for Peace and Development is a women’s organisation created by concerned Ethiopian and Ethiopian-American women in 1991.)

Ethiopia coffee dealers confront Meles Zenawi

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

By Desalegn Sisay | Afrik.com

Foreign buyers of Ethiopian special coffee beans have expressed their concern over the introduction of a new auctioning system related to the trading of coffee beans at the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). The system was introduced in December 2008.

Prior to the introduction of the new trading system by the Ethiopian regime, exporters had the right to buy their preferred beans from any supplier of their choice. However, they now have to compete with other exporters to get their beans. A recent delinkage of exporters with their buyers in Europe and United States has been blamed on this factor.

Exporters are now expressing their discontentment over the new trading system.

In the month of may this year the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) in a letter to Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi, expressed the difficulty in obtaining its usual special brands of coffee due to the new trading system. It stated that it had a strong interest in preserving the value and brand equity already established for Ethiopian coffees in the higher value specialty sector.

SCAA believes that there is market demand for some 7,200tn with a total value in excess of 30 million dollars for specialty coffee qualities.

To keep the mutual interests of both the Ethiopian coffee sector and specialty coffee buyers, SCAA has proposed a working group that will strive towards developing a specialty coffee trading strategy, sources at ECX have revealed.

Reacting to the buyers’ concern, which is communicated through the Prime Minster’s Office, ECX has scheduled a discussion with SCAA and other Specialty Coffee Associations including local exporters. The discussion, they claim, will focus on how specialty coffee needs to be traded in the ECX and other related issues.

Official figures estimate that specialty coffee, which is high-end coffee and sells at a premium, represents about 3.7 per cent of the country’s coffee exports.

The potential of coffee production in Ethiopia is very high as a result of suitable altitude, ample rainfall, favourable temperature, suitable planting materials and a fertile soil. A genetic pool of the country’s coffee contains more than 6000 varieties, giving Ethiopia a huge specialty coffee capacity.

In Ethiopia, the total area covered by coffee is 700,000 hectares, with a total production of roughly 250,000 tons per annum. Around 20 million people make a living out of the commodity. Forest coffee accounts for about 10 per cent of the total.

Madagascan political parties meet in Addis Ababa

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (Xinhua) — Madagascar’s major political parties would continue their negotiations in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia at the weekend in an effort to get the country out of the current political crisis.

Media reports said here on Friday that more than 50 representatives from all political camps of the island country would go to Addis Ababa to discussed and, if agreed, to sign the transitional charter prepared by international mediators last month.

The mediators, including special envoys from the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Organization of French- Speaking Countries have met separately since Tuesday representatives of four Madagascan presidents, namely the current president Andry Rajoelina, who is the president of the High Transitional Authority, and his predecessors Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Zafy Albert.

However, they have not reached any agreement during the talks due to insistence of each president on his own conditions.

While Ravalomanana’s representatives insisted on the return of their leader, Ratsiraka asked amnesty for all political prisoners, who have been living in exile, and Rajoelina totally rejected the return of Ravalomanana.

This is the third round of political talks between the big four and the international mediators following Rajoelina’s take- over as president of the Indian Ocean island country on March 21 this year.

Vowing to “wipe out all traces of Marc Ravalomanana in the country,” Rajoelina described his predecessor as a corrupt president and a dictator.

A sentence for Ravalomanana is scheduled on Friday by a Madagascan court allegedly for Ravalomanaana’s killing of dozens of Rajoelina’s supporter in clashes between anti-Ravalomanana demonstrators and the armed troops guarding at the downtown presidential palace on February 7, when Rajoelina led his followers to try to enter into the palace to take over the presidency.

On Wednesday, the first instance court sentenced Ravalomanana to four year in jail and a fine of 70 million U.S. dollars for his misuse of public money to buy a Boeing 737-300 jet as his special presidential aircraft.

Ravalomanana, who has insisted that he is still president of Madagascar, rejected the verdict, saying that the court has no power to sentence a president still in power.

Observers here said that the verdict is likely a plot by the transitional government to ban Ravalomanana’s return to his country.

One day after the sentence, Ravalomanana told his supporters through telephone from South Africa that he would be back with foreign peacekeepers to celebrate Madagascar’s national day on June 26.

Asking Madagascan armed forces to lay down their arms, he claimed that he has the support from South African president Jacob Zuma, who has promised to send armed peacekeepers for his return, reports here said.

Europe withdraws funding for Gibe 3 Dam in Ethiopia

Friday, June 5th, 2009

(GBN ) — The European International Bank (EIB) has announced it will not fund the construction of the Gibe 3 Dam in Ethiopia, a press release from International Rivers, an NGO has said.

International Rivers, which is leading a coalition of environmental NGOs who are opposed to the construction of the dam in Ethiopia considers the EIB’s withdrawal of funding for the project as a breakthrough in their campaign to stop the construction of the dam.

In the release which was copied to ghanabusinessnews.com International Rivers said “the 1.55 billion Euro hydropower dam would devastate the ecosystems of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley and Kenya’s Lake Turkana, and affect up to 500,000 people.”

International Rivers which said the announcement has been hailed by Friends of Lake Turkana, and Italy’s Reform the World Bank Campaign called on the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Italian government to refrain from funding the dam. The AfDB is the major funding agency of the dam.

The release indicated that the Gibe 3 Dam is being built by Italian construction company Salini, which received the huge contract without competitive bidding.

It added that the EIB financed the Gibe and Gibe 2 dams, conducted a pre-assessment of the Gibe 3 Dam, and funds the project’s Economic, Financial and Technical Assessment. The no-bidding contract, International Rivers say, violates EIB’s procurement policy.

In March 2009, Friends of Lake Turkana, a group of affected people in Kenya, urged the EIB not to fund Gibe 3 because the affected communities “could not withstand any more pressure on the little resources that we have”.

A meeting between the EIB and Friends of Lake Turkana was scheduled in Nairobi for next week, but on Wednesday June 3, 2009, the head of the EIB complaints office cancelled the meeting and informed the group that the Bank’s President had decided not to fund the project.

During the AfDB’s annual meeting in Senegal, Dakar May 13 to 14, 2009, the coalition of NGOs mounted their campaign against the construction of the dam calling instead on the AfDB to “in the meantime, help Ethiopia drought-proof its energy sector, diversify its energy mix, and tap its abundant renewable energy resources.”

Italian soprano in Addis Ababa

Friday, June 5th, 2009

(Addis Journal) — There was an important musical happening in Addis this past week- an operatic soprano performance by musicians from Italy.

A soprano soloist Enrica Mari made her Addis debut at the National Theatre on Wednesday evening, June 3, in an event organized to mark the Italian National Day.

A chance to hear musical interpretations of Europeans opera masters such as Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti don’t happen often yet the evening was one of those grand exceptions.

With the meteoric appearance of Encrica Mari, Ethiopian audiences were able to hear what these extraordinary sopranos had sounded like.

Mari’s performance combined recitals in number of languages-Italian, English and French and music by diverse musicians such as the arias of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi and jazz-derived melodic of the American George Gershwin.

Mari was able to impress a large number of expatriate and local audiences with her stage presence, warmth of her voice and her skill in a wide range of vocal effects.

She was accompanied by Chiara Migliari’s piano which expressed a depth of feeling and a skill with a capacity to touch the listener profoundly.

In a two-hour performance with brief pause, she also did interpretations of Tosti, Kosma, Gastaldon, Porter, Tagliaferri, Cardillo.

When singing in English, audiences might have smiled at her accent, but they were quick to realize the amazing singing actress was a unique and impressive impressionist.

She has made it possible for Ethiopian audiences to investigate and succumb to the glorious beauties of romantic Italian and European opera.

The works were well received and the musicians called to the stage for several bows.

Hurrah to the Italian Cultural Institute for organizing such wonderful event and bringing operatic music to an increasingly appreciative Ethiopian audiences.

French Ambassador returns stolen cross to Ethiopian church

Friday, June 5th, 2009

(EthioPolitics.com) — Ambassador of France to Ethiopia Jean Christophe Bellard on Wednesday handed back the sacred St. Yared’s Cross to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The cross, which was stolen at gun point in the early 90s, was returned by a French citizen who had kept for 18 years in Paris.

The cross belongs to the centuries-old treasury of the Tana Tcherqos church.

The patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos said several artifacts of Ethiopia are still being held in various European countries.

“All Ethiopians should strive to return the heritages to their country,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines records profits, orders more planes

Friday, June 5th, 2009

By Desalegn Sisay | Afrik.com

Speaking at the Ethiopian parliament on Wednesday, as he presented the airlines’ eight-month performance report, Girma Wake, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, said that after an agreement signed between the Ethiopian flag carrier and Bombardier Aerospace to purchase eight Q400 NextGen turboprop airliners in November 2008, four additional aircrafts, Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop, have been ordered to strengthen its local fleet.

According to Girma the recent decision to add four extra Q400 aircrafts is to enable the Ethiopian flag carrier meet its set local flight target. Bombardier Aerospace’s excellent range, payload capability as well as their low operating costs contributed to their being selected by the airline.

The first order would cost the Ethiopian Airlines a total sum of $ 242 million and an extra $124 million for the four aircrafts. The agreement signed for the additional aircrafts is conditional, Girma told MPs, “It is an agreement made as an option, we could go on with the agreement or we could terminate it”.

Last year, Grima Wake told journalists “the planes we are buying now are for 2010, we have no more problem of financing at the moment, we know the financial banks will be strict but the interest from buyers would be limited, so we can negotiate.”

Last year’s projected passenger traffic within the Ethiopian Airlines network was expected to increase significantly to three million, up from the 2.5 million the airline posted that same year.

Revealing his company’s astonishing performance despite the industry’s market slow down, Wednesday, Girma Wake indicated that within the last eight months the airlines made $78 million in profits, a 53 percent growth against the last Ethiopian fiscal year.

Using graphs to illustrate his administration’s struggle with the current global situation, Girma said the airline industry lost some $ 8.5 billion in 2008 due to the financial and economic crisis. He also indicated that some $ 4.7 billion is expected at the end of 2009.

In November last year, Ethiopian Airlines projected its earnings to soar to US$ 1.2 billion with a profit margin of more than US$ 50 million anticipated for the full fiscal year as the airline maintained a stable outlook despite the financial turmoil in Europe and the United States, which also badly hit the African aviation industry.

In a report late last year, the International Air Transport Association (AITA) warned that Africa would not be spared by the effects of the global financial downturn. Africa, which was emerging as a major power of aviation growth saw an 8.9 per cent traffic slow down, as African flights to Europe recorded a 7-10 per cent decline as a result of the global financial crisis.

Ethiopia's dictator charges 46 with 'assassination plot'

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Gen. Asaminew Tsige is one of the 46 suspects charged by Ethiopia’s tribal junta

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopia’s tribal junta on Thursday charged 46 people, most of them ex-military, of plotting to assassinate government officials, a government spokesman said.

“The charges can be summed up as conspiring to kill different government officials and conspiring to demolish public utilities,” Communications Minister Bereket Simon told reporters.

“The prosecution presented the charges to the court today,” he said, more than a month after their arrest.

Authorities are holding 32 out of the 46 suspects with the rest believed to have fled to the United States, Europe, Eritrea and Sudan.

Ethiopian authorities in April said they had unearthed a plot by senior serving and former military officers aligned with the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) to kill top government officials and attack key infrastructure.

The group has been detained and held in communicado for more than a month.

Bereket denied accusations that detaining the men for over a month without charge violated regulations, saying national anti-terrorism laws allowed police to hold suspects without charge for as long as in necessary.

“No constitutional right was abrogated,” he said.

Building up funds for Ethiopia's future homes

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

By William Mace | Manukau Courier

Auckland, New Zealand — Nigel Lowe makes his living out of making things but this September he’s simply hoping to make things better for Ethiopia’s homeless.

The Manukau Institute of Technology lecturer from Papakura will spend four weeks labouring under the African sun building homes under Habitat For Humanity’s Global Village project.

All he needs is $7500 to get him to Ethiopia and back and the rest he’ll do with his hands, a hammer and a handful of mud.

“I could do with a mud house myself. It’s a resource that they’ve learnt to use throughout Africa.

“Concrete is the best insulator you can get – it keeps your home cool in the heat, and warm in the cold – and mud is pretty much the same.”

The homes combine a timber structure with a mud-covered outer shell and Mr Lowe says he’s prepared to learn and work.

The desert-like conditions will be far removed from Papakura’s green fields and the workshops of MIT’s engineering and trades faculty where he has taught for three years.

The qualified builder was drafted into the project by an old friend who thought his can-do spirit would suit the harsh African environment – and his friendly nature would win him lots of friends on the job site.

“I know it’s going to be pretty physical work – the heat is the major killer and you’ve got to drink lots of fluids,” he says.

“I reckon it’ll be great and I might even lose some kilos.

“Apparently the local people come and help and you can make some good friends with the people there.”

Another purpose of the trip is to help with maintenance on orphanages and a hospital built by Kiwis in the past.

“I did a big OE for six years and went through to Africa and had a look around but nothing like this, this is a challenge,” Mr Lowe says.

“We’re over there for four weeks building houses and visiting orphanages and the rest is a mystery and that’s what I like about it.

“I love adventure and a challenge – no matter what it is I’ll give it a good go.”

But Mr Lowe knows how tight the economy is at the moment and is working hard to gather some fundraising ideas before September.

He’s been challenged to roller-skate around the MIT campus in a pink bikini but he’s afraid that might cause too much public disturbance.

But he is keen to give presentations on his return to interested businesses or sponsors.

“I will get there, I’m determined to but I might have to rob a bank,” he says.

World Bank approves $245 million credit for Ethiopia

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Sudan Tribune) — The World bank On Tuesday approved a new credit of $245 million for Ethiopia to support Addis Ababa effort to restore and expand the country’s road network.

The credit is the fourth phase of a program, implemented by the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA), designed to build, maintain, and improve national roads in the Ethiopia.

The US$ 245 million credit will finance the construction of three roads and to strengthen and build the ERA institutional capacity as well as to identify maintenance needs and required funding arrangement for the coming 5 to 10 years.

Three federal roads “Mekenajo-Dembi Dolo Link Road (181 km), Welkite-Hosaina Link Road (121 km), and Ankober-AwashArba Link Road (89 km) will be upgraded from earth/gravel to asphalt,” said the World Bank.

The Program was launched with donor support to create adequate capacity in the road sector, and to facilitate the economic recovery process by restoring the condition and expanding the essential road network.

Twelve years since the launch of road development program, Ethiopia has made remarkable achievements in physical, organizational, social, and financial terms, said the World Bank.

Ethiopia in 1997, launched a 10-year Road Sector Development Program in 2 phases — Phase I and II: 1997-2007, now extended to 2010 as Phase III — to address the limited coverage and poor state of the road network, as well as, the growing transport needs of the country.

Stricter identification requirements in effect at U.S. borders

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

BLAINE, Washington (AP) – Fears of stalled commerce and travel didn’t materialize at U.S. border crossings Monday as people stayed home or were gently warned on the first day of stricter identification requirements for Americans returning from Mexico and Canada.

Traffic generally moved smoothly as those without proper identification stayed home or immigration officials let them pass through with a reminder to get a passport or other accepted ID.

Those crossing the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge in South Texas described the light traffic Monday morning as normal, with cars and pedestrians facing short lines.

“There was nothing. Everything is all right,” said Yvonne Rivera, a U.S. citizen who lives in Reynosa, Mexico, and commutes to work in Texas. The 22-year-old said she got her passport in anticipation of the rule change.

There were some hiccups.

Rosario Aragon said she got into a heated, 30-minute discussion with a border agent demanding a passport for her 9-year-old girl, even though U.S. and Canadian children under the age of 16 only have to present a birth certificate.

The agent at an El Paso crossing let her through after taking her daughter’s name and warning her to get an official ID from local police.

“I’m angry because he held us up for 30 minutes,” the U.S. citizen said after she crossed into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The new security rules for land and sea border crossings require U.S. citizens to show a passport, passport card or enhanced driver’s license, which use a microchip to store a person’s information. Some citizens may also use a trusted traveler document, which require background checks and are generally used by people crossing the border regularly for business.

At the busiest passenger crossing along the northern border, the Peace Bridge between Buffalo, N.Y., and Fort Erie, Ontario, traffic flowed smoothly with Customs and Border Protection officers reporting a 95 percent compliance rate with the new ID requirement. The Peace Bridge handled 8.9 million autos and 47,100 commercial buses in 2008.

Jessica Whitaker of London, Ontario, didn’t have a passport but was allowed in to the U.S. after showing her birth certificate and driver’s license. “They were very nice, very polite,” she said.

Kevin Corsaro, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Buffalo, N.Y., said it’s been a “routine Monday” with officers seeing a compliance rate as high as 95 percent throughout the Buffalo field office.

“We want to see 100 percent but we know that will take some time,” he said. “We won’t refuse entry to a Canadian if their only violation is they are noncompliant today, as long as we can verify their citizenship.”

The new rules for land and sea ports under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative were supposed to have gone into effect in 2008 but were delayed a year over concerns about the impact on commerce. The requirement for re-entering the country by air went into effect in 2007.

Traffic at San Diego’s busy San Ysidro border crossing is down about 12 percent from last year, partly due to the weak economy and fears of swine flu, said Oscar Preciado, the port director for the CBP.

About 85 percent of the U.S. citizens filing through the crossing Monday carried a passport or other acceptable travel document, he said. Others were waved through after being handed a sheet of paper that said they were not complying with the new rules.

“It’s a nonevent,” Preciado said.

The new requirement also did not cause any delays at Highgate Springs, Vermont’s largest entry point from Canada. Two lanes were open and there was hardly any wait.

Daphnee Roy, 23, of Montreal, who was driving to Boston with a friend, said after passing through that the crossing was the same as always. “It’s no big deal.”

Customs and Border Protection area port director John Makolin said 99 percent of the people crossing into the U.S. at Highgate Springs after midnight had the required identification documents.

At the Peace Arch crossing in Blaine, Wash., the third busiest port of entry on the northern border, compliance was reported at about 90 percent.

Some travelers were sanguine about the new requirement; others said it was unnecessary.

“It’s overkill,” said James French of Lewiston, Idaho, after returning from vacation in British Columbia. “I understand the needs of security because of terrorism. But I think (the border) is safe.”

Film exposes risk of Ethiopian descent into tyranny

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By David Calleja | Foreign Policy Journal

A victim of the Ethiopian government's repression during the 2005 elections

A victim of the Ethiopian government’srepression during the 2005 elections (AP)

In May 2005, the ruling Ethiopian Revolutionary Patriot’s Democratic Front won elections amid allegations of electoral fraud and a campaign of intimidation against opposition groups. Six months and two protests later, nearly 200 civilians were killed and tens of thousands arrested, including high profile opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa. The former judge and popular politician was initially jailed for life, then pardoned, and then commanded to serve out the rest of her sentence.

Next year, Ethiopians will go to the polls again, and the political maneuvering is already underway. Last week, the Sudan Tribune reported on the Meles Zenawi government claims of an alleged coup plot masterminded by former opposition leader Behanu Nega, now an academic in the United States of America. And on May 27, the opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) had their permit application for a protest against the Zenawi government in Addis Ababa’s Meksel Square rejected by the city’s administration. A spokesman for the UDJ, Hailu Araya, was quoted as saying the government continued to play political games, thus weakening the UDJ’s effectiveness in the country.

Ethiopia is an important ally for the United States. Its strategic location near the Horn of Africa makes the country key to Barack Obama’s attempts to win the War On Terror.

Director of 'Migration of Beauty' Chris Flaherty (Photo courtesy of Chris Flaherty)

Director of ‘Migration of Beauty’ Chris Flaherty (Photo courtesy of Chris Flaherty)

Against the backdrop of the 2010 election, the documentary Migration of Beauty is due for release on the international film festival circuit. Directed by Chris Flaherty, the film recalls the experiences of Ethiopian genocide survivors of the 1970s and the community activism led by the Ethiopian diaspora in Washington D.C. in the run-up to the 2005 election. Flaherty spent two years researching and befriending the witnesses involved in the historic event covered in the film. Migration of Beauty has screened at the AFI Institute in Maryland and Goeth-Institute in Washington D.C.

The Ethiopian government has sent a chilling message to all opposition groups by declaring that it will achieve peace at all costs, a clear reference to the crackdown on protests that tainted the election four years ago that also revives haunting memories of the Dergue’s massacre of students and other civilians in the 1970s. Although the country is not officially a one-party state, the signs of political intimidation risk leading the nation along the path of Burma and Zimbabwe into tyranny.

Chris Flaherty spoke with David Calleja in an interview for Foreign Policy Journal about what could be in store for sub-Saharan Africa’s second most populous country.

Four years after the violence that occurred in the aftermath of Ethiopia’s general elections, what news do you have of the mood in the country, and how do you think this will affect the lead-up to the 2010 poll?

Obviously I have been keeping track of recent events as they relate to the upcoming Parliamentary election in Ethiopia. I would have to say that at this point it looks pretty grim. I think the party in power has been doing a good job at intimidating any possibility of viable opposition against themselves in 2010. With the re-arrest of one of Ethiopia’s strongest opposition leaders, Birtukan Mideksa and the recent announcement by the Ethiopian government that they have launched an investigation against people suspected of overthrowing the government, the prospects look grimmer by the day. From what I have observed many Ethiopians appear to be slipping into a feeling of helplessness. Many are saying, “Here we go again, this government will stop at nothing to retain power.” The biggest fear for me is that Ethiopians will simply give up and accept what happens no matter how illegitimate the outcome.

What factors compelled you to make your documentary Migration of Beauty? Why did you feel that it was necessary to tell people what happened in the 1970s under The Dergue as a prelude to the 2005 elections?

Perhaps the biggest factor that helped me mold the idea for Migration of Beauty was the inspiration I experienced from documenting seemingly powerless immigrants from a third world country engaging the U.S. political process. During the filming I was able to better understand the conditions that drove many of them to zealously fight for ideas that most ordinary Americans take for granted. My approach was to tell their deeply personal human stories about struggling for freedom and dying for it. Some of the people in the film lived through one of the most horrific chapters of Ethiopian history, the “Dergue” period or the “Red Terror”.

By bringing their stories to light I was trying to make clear that it doesn’t matter who takes away your freedom as much as it is criminal for anyone to do such a thing. If your freedom has been taken away the end result is always the same no matter who takes it away, whether it’s Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung, Mengistu Haile Mariam or Meles Zenawi. And while the current Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, has not committed acts as open and obvious as his predecessor Mengistu Haile Mariam, he is still repressing democratic ideas and has committed numerous human rights abuses. It was important for the Ethiopian Americans in Migration of Beauty to connect both stories. They have seen it all before.

There were some moments in the documentary in which you were prevented from filming. Who was behind the threats and what level of intimidation did they offer to the crew or yourself?

I did B-roll filming in Ethiopia directly after the 2005 election massacres. There was a certain tension in the streets. Foreign journalist and filmmakers are highly suspect in the eyes of the Ethiopian government. The Ethiopian government has a long history of repressing the media so I expected I might run into problems. There were two instances where I and my Director of Photography were stopped by the police. The first time I managed to talk my way out of potential arrest by speaking in Amharic and smoothing my way out of the situation. The second time it was the Ethiopian Army that tried to stop us. I quickly discovered that they did not speak Amharic, therefore my language skills yielded no results. I could not understand what they were saying but it was obvious they wanted the video camera. My DP and I simply took off running. For whatever reason they stopped following us and we lost them. We quickly realized that we had to keep our equipment “under the radar” and out of sight. I have heard of worse stories involving intense harassment and arrest of video camera operators. There is one such instance documented in my film.

Birtukan Mideksa

Birtukan Mideksa (AP)

Last year, the opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa was jailed for life. According to a Voice of America report, Prime Minster Meles Zenawi government’s official line was that “she had not asked for the pardon” handed to her. What do you think is the real reason for the order to serve out her life sentence? What does Meles Zenawi have to fear from her?

The situation of jailed dissident Birtukan Mideksa is a very interesting one. The former District Judge represented the biggest threat to the party currently in power, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). And while she was jailed for what would appear to be rather “convenient” technical reasons it’s obvious to me that she was put away because there was a good possibility she would beat the EPRDF in a fair election. Considering what happened in 2005 the ruling party appears not to be taking any chance of losing a national election. This is an old story and a proven formula: intimidate, jail and kill all of your viable opponents in order to keep power. No matter how proper and clean everything appears on the surface it’s all the same.

The same report from Voice Of America indicated a tough stance from the government, vowing that they will not allow the protests of 2005 to occur again in 2010. Zenawi reportedly said that, “We will do everything in our power to have peace.” He has also vowed to not only stop any anti-government protests in the wake of the results, but also prevent any possible build-up of opposition support. What tactics do you think he intends to deploy?

We can only speculate what the Zenawi led government has planned for the next election. I will acknowledge that the Prime Minister is extremely crafty with words and has leveraged this skill to benefit his position in the world view. However, to say, “We will do everything in our power to have peace” is an extremely ominous indication considering his well documented past endeavours to keep the peace. Besides possible use of military force, it’s a safe bet to expect him to shut down the press completely and quell all avenues of dissent. My fear is that it could be much worse than it was in 2005. I’m not sold on the idea that everyone will go back into their houses if the government murders a bunch of unarmed civilians. It appears that the populace is deeply frustrated and they might go much further with the civil disobedience than they did in 2005. Either way, I sincerely hope no one gets hurt.

You have quoted Dr. Jedyani Frazer as to making remarks about the dangers of a free press at the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, and that in African countries, could lead to “ethnic cleansing”, such as what happened in Rwanda in 1994. What message do you think Dr. Frazer’s remarks send, and what justification did he use?

I was taken aback with Dr. Frazer’s comment. To specifically call out the so called “irresponsible press” without mentioning the dangers of media repression is a horrible proposition. Considering Dr. Frazer’s past influence on foreign policy in Africa it was a chilling comment. If the government in hand deems their press to be irresponsible, are we to base our foreign policy on their beliefs? Exactly who gets to decide the parameters of irresponsibility? And while Dr. Frazer did not specifically mention the role of the press in the Rwandan Genocide, most people know it is the 5000 pound elephant in the room. And therein lies the question- how do we balance the two?

My belief is that it is the right of the press to be free… We must base our foreign policy on the ideas we believe in ourselves, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us feel. And when a particular government is proven to repress their media we should call them out and do nothing to lend them credence. It was the Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. himself, Samuel Assefa, who told me that the Ethiopian government must control the press, otherwise Ethiopians might commit ethnic genocide on themselves. All this is coming from a government that has instituted a policy of “Ethnic Federalism” which intentionally creates a divide between the many ethnic tribes within the country. This government has done little or nothing to foster a sense of national identity. It’s an old formula, control the press and divide everyone to decrease the threat of losing power. Comments like the one Dr. Frazer made simply send the wrong signal to the world.

What has U.S. President Barack Obama said regarding the Ethiopian leadership and what foreign policy initiative has he proposed? How can he be more effective in dealing with Meles Zenawi than his predecessor, George W. Bush?

To date, I haven’t heard much from the Obama Administration in regards to issues of democratic process in Africa. It’s obvious they are being very careful. In this respect I believe they are doing the right thing. However, many Africans as well as those in the diaspora appear to be holding their breath to see exactly where he will stand. I can safely say that many have high hopes. It’s a very difficult line for Obama to walk. News coming out of Somalia gets grimmer by the day and the Zenawi led government is the only one that appears to support our interests in the region.

In fact, the Ethiopian government makes this very clear to our elected officials. In my view, it is perhaps the biggest bargaining chip Zenawi can leverage. He knows that many U.S. Congressmen and Senators deplore his style of government but they are willing to deal as long as he represents our so called interests. He’s proven himself to be very skillful in keeping just within the parameters of acceptability in the U.S. As far as Obama is concerned he must make clear where his priorities lie. It was the Bush Administration that justified dealing with any despotic regime in the name of fighting the war on terror.

This policy has proven to be disastrous for the U.S. It makes no sense to support governments that use military force to control their people in the name of fighting terrorism. In fact, the whole idea is absolute insanity to me. This is a special time in U.S. history. We stand at a precipice. We are forced to decide who we are as a nation in the eyes of the world. So often we have preached the virtues of democracy and freedom to virtually everyone. And now more than ever we are understandably challenged on those core beliefs. It is my hope that the Obama Administration will understand and adapt our foreign policy with this in mind.

Do you believe that Birtukan Mideksa is Africa’s answer to the jailed leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi? Are there any similarities between the Burmese military regime and the Ethiopian leadership?

No doubt, jailed dissident leader Birtukan Mideksa is an aspiring figure. I notice many similarities between her and Aung San Suu Kyi. Besides both of them being women they possess the types of charismatic characteristics that would help them go far in national appeal. Both are smart and unwavering in their ambitions to see true democracy and freedom in their countries. In the case of Ethiopia, I think many Ethiopians have become disillusioned with the opposition in the past. From what I have been able to access there appears to be tremendous anger with the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) opposition, the party Birtukan used to lead with Hailu Shawel.

Like anyone anywhere, Ethiopians need to believe in the strength of their leadership. Many felt let down and betrayed when the CUDP failed to stand their ground after their arrest in 2005. Many felt that they made deals selling out the cause of democracy and freedom simply to get out of jail. However, Birtukan was able to help form her own party, the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party and appeared to have a change of heart concerning the conditions of her release from prison. At this point she appears willing to stand her ground against Meles Zenawi and her popularity has dramatically risen as a result. Like Aung San Suu Kyi, her status could become legendary as long as she remains unwavering in her peaceful struggle for true democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Ethiopia. It will obviously be a long hard struggle but if she has the stomach for it she could be instrumental in leading her country to a better future.

While there are many similarities between the regimes in Ethiopia there are also many differences. The regime in Burma appears to be “straight out” dictatorial rule. They make no secret of their endeavours to ruthlessly quash dissent. They have shown time and again that they will send out their military to shoot unarmed civilians in the streets and make no apologies for doing it. However, it’s a bit more complicated in Ethiopia, as the government claims to have something called an “emerging” democracy and says it’s not perfect as it is evolving. In the mean time the end results are always the same.

When push comes to shove, the Zenawi-led government has shown to the world they will commit the same exact human rights crimes the regime in Burma has done. And while Ethiopia has labored very hard to create the perception of legitimacy they will use their military on their own people if they feel threatened to be removed by democratic process. In my opinion the only measure of democracy is whether you have it or whether you don’t. If you have no ability to change the government by virtue of free and fair elections then it doesn’t exist. This is the case in Ethiopia.

How organized and active is Washington DC’s Ethiopian community? What messages have they delivered and who has been at the forefront of such efforts?

From what I see, organization within the Ethiopian diaspora over opposition and election issues is sporadic at best. Certainly I have seen nothing on the level I witnessed a couple years ago in the fight for the Human Rights and Accountability Bill, HR 2003. True, the Ethiopian government has spent millions to stall the bill in the Senate but zealous petitioning from the Ethiopian diaspora has gone flat. I get the sense that many are just frustrated and tired of the fight.

I believe one of the biggest problems is their inability to nationalize the cause. They have a tendency to internalize the issues and keep it to themselves. It’s sad because their causes are ones most Americans can identify with. In my opinion it might work best for them if they phrase their cause as a universal human rights struggle rather than as an internal one. I think it would be most effective if they appealed directly to the American voters themselves the way the Cuban Americans have done.

In the past, the diaspora worked so hard to gain the assistance of people like Congressmen Chris Smith and Donald Payne and now the diaspora is almost never heard from. Nonetheless, I still have high hopes that they will eventually use their rights as U.S. citizens to bring deafening light to their cause, especially as the next Ethiopian election approaches in 2010.

What role has Ethiopia’s past played in shaping a future catastrophe? Do you believe that the persona of former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam is still prominent in shaping the fear instilled by the Ethiopian leadership today?

This is a very good question. No doubt, many Ethiopians possess what I call “generational fear” which is the type of fear passed down and learned from family and others. For the latest generation of Ethiopians this is not a fear based on personal experience. During the period of the Red Terror thousands were brutally murdered in the streets and as a result an overpowering sense of fear has virtually become part of the culture. Who could blame them? If you knew how young men and women were systematically murdered, their bodies pinned with notes warning everyone to heed the Red Terror, you might better understand. It’s no wonder that the older generation warns their children to, “stay away from politics, it will get you killed”. The damage of cultural fear has stifled healthy interest in governmental participation.

Without a doubt, the Zenawi government has effectively capitalized on the culture of fear instilled by Mengistu Haile Mariam. I am aware that some Ethiopians might be offended by what I am saying but I am speaking from my heart. Recently I read that an opposition party was desperately struggling to get a permit to hold a peaceful rally in a public area known as Meskel Square. Of course the government denied the permit. I was dismayed because no one had the courage to stage the rally without the permit. The rally was planned to be peaceful with no malice intended against the government. While I absolutely do not condone violence, I do believe in peaceful protest. Martin Luther King routinely staged public demonstrations without permits. He knew people would get hurt but he also knew they would never be able to advance their movement if everyone stayed home because there was no permit.

In 1999, the BBC reported that the US Embassy in Harare admitted to assisting Mengistu in finding a safehaven where he was eventually offered sanctuary by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Should Obama publicly acknowledge that this tactic was a mistake and has this contributed to the political unrest experienced by Ethiopia since?

While it might not bring total closure for Ethiopians the gesture would certainly go miles to break down the years of mistrust they have been feeling as a result of our misguided foreign policy. Besides the issue of the U.S’s involvement in Mengistu’s escape to Zimbabwe they should also be more transparent about their motives with the current regime. From my point of view, the U.S. has very little to lose by appealing to the Ethiopian people apart from the government.

As I said, many politicians in the U.S. are very uncomfortable with the Ethiopian government. Since the 2005 election massacres their credibility has never been the same. The U.S. absolutely needs to acknowledge the bravery of the thousands who struggle for true democracy and freedom in Ethiopia.

Following a trial that lasted 12 years, an Ethiopian court sentenced Mengistu to life imprisonment in absentia in March 2007 for his role in the genocide that took place during the 1970s. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch estimate that between half a million and 1.5 million people were killed during Mengistu’s reign, beginning in 1974 and ending in 1991.

Before receiving asylum in Zimbabwe, Mengistu is said to have pocketed an undisclosed figure following Israel’s purchase to evacuate 5,000 Falasha Jews at a cost of $300 million. In addition, he pocketed all proceeds following the sale of the Livestock Development Company for $10 million shortly before fleeing Ethiopia for Zimbabwe, where he is now a permanent resident. The Ethiopian people received no compensation.

The Zimbabwean Government has said that it would not force Mengistu to return to Ethiopia. A spokesman for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said that the role Mengistu played in supplying arms and pilot training to the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in its war against white minority rule in the country formerly known as Rhodesia, helped resistance fighters achieve independence. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accuse him of masterminding President Mugabe’s Operation Murambastvina (Clean Out The Trash), whereby government militiamen allegedly bulldozed the houses of between 700,000 to 1 million civilians in Harare, mainly MDC supporters. He is reportedly offered personal protection by Mugabe’s Presidential Guard battalion and owns multiple properties.

(Email Chris Flaherty with your questions and comments about his documentary or this interview at: sandybeaglefilm@gmail.com.David Calleja graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science and Master of Social Science from RMIT University in his home city of Melbourne, Australia. He has taught English in China, Thailand, South Korea and Cambodia, where he worked for a local NGO, Sorya, based in Tropang Sdok village. In addition he has also volunteered as a kindergarten English teacher, tutor and a football coach to male orphan students in Loi Tailang, Shan State. He has narrated and produced a video biography of Cambodian students learning English entitled I Like My English Grilled. His video documenting life at Stung Meanchey, Cambodia, A Garbage Life, can be viewed online. Contact him at david_calleja@foreignpolicyjournal.com.)

Ethiopian rebel group threatens foreign oil companies

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – An Ethiopian rebel group on Wednesday warned international oil companies against exploring in a region of the Horn of Africa nation where the rebels attacked a Chinese-run field in 2007 killing 74 people.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) — whose hundreds of fighters seek autonomy for the ethnically Somali Ogaden region — said oil firms had cleared some 1,600 square kilometers, displacing locals and destroying vegetation.

“Certain multinational oil corporations are intent on exploiting Ogaden fossil fuel resources in alliance with the current Ethiopian regime that is committing genocide and war crimes in Ogaden,” it said in an emailed statement.

“Besides destroying the livelihood of the rural population in the affected areas, these companies are filling the coffers of this regime and financing its criminal activities in occupied Ogaden.”

The group has in the past directly threatened Petronas, the Malaysian state-owned company, which is one of more than a dozen international explorers hunting for oil and gas in Ethiopia.

Cash-strapped Ethiopia is keen to attract foreign investors and denies the rebels are still a threat.

Ethiopian forces launched an assault against the rebels — who have been fighting for more than twenty years — after the 2007 attack on an exploration field owned by a subsidiary of Sinopec, China’s biggest refiner and petrochemicals producer.

Addis Ababa now says the ONLF has been defeated.

The rebel statement said any firm working in the region would be considered complicit in crimes by Ethiopia’s military.

“In order to accommodate these immoral and gluttonous rushes for oil in Ogaden, Ethiopia killed, raped and illegally detained thousands of Ogaden civilian and imposed economic and aid blockade at a time of when there was a full-blown drought in the Ogaden,” it said.

“ONLF has persistently warned these unscrupulous multinational companies and their governments … the ONLF has been left no alternative but to take all measures necessary to protect the inalienable rights of the Ogaden people.”

Ethiopian officials deny rights abuses in the Ogaden region, saying the rebels are the ones perpetrating crimes there on locals.

(Editing by Matthew Jones)

Saving Begena, one of Ethiopia's sacred musical instruments

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

(Addis Journal) — It is often said that one of Ethiopia’s sacred musical instruments, Begena is on the verge of disappearing. But the recent interest and enthusiasm for the instrument is proving it untrue.

Around 53 people recently graduated from the Abune Gorgorioys School, a school under Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church’s Sunday School, Mahbere Kidusan.The graduation ceremony drew friends, family and church officials who were able to see the musical progress of students with the pieces they performed. It is doubtable that the singers could dupicate the style of the established players like Alemu Aga, but they were impressing the audiences at the ceremony.

On the occasion, it was announced that the EOC has just developed a music education curriculum in accordance within the musical canons of the church.The curriculum set by Mahbere Kidusan is being tested at some schools and would be fully operational next year.

Deacon Wasyhun said that the well-rounded curriculum is a useful educational repertoire that would be used in the church and schools affiliated to it.Others courses of study included, stringed instruments, Masinqo, voice and Geez language. Some of the students were trained for three-months and other for six.
The Deacon told the graduates that it is reward for them to serve the Holy Church after getting good teaching and liturgical direction from qualified and dedicated teachers. “All Orthodox followers should be brought to understand and to appreciate the treasury of church music, both by performing it and by listening to its performance,” he said.

Alemu Aga, who attended the graduation ceremony, said that the instrument is mainly used to praise God. He said that playing the lyre was one of the gifts God gave to David. Thus, the Ethiopian Begena replicate David’s legendary harp and it has 12 strings that are plucked with fingers, according to Alemu.

Stating the significance of this God-given, holy instruments, Alemu recalled how begena lesson came to be given at Entoto Amha Desta School by person called Aleqa Tesema Wolde Amanuel but discontinued by the Derg.

Alemu said seeing more and more young people taking the up the instrument is giving comfort.

Shedding Light on Power Crisis in Ethiopia

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By Omer Redi | Addis Fortune

The crisis in the power supply has reached such a critical point that blackouts now occur every other day. With the water level in the currently operating hydropower generation dams going down by an average of one to two centimetres everyday, the expected rains in the coming few months will determine whether the power utility can continue supplying energy given the current state of affairs. Nevertheless, Miheret Debebe, chief executive officer of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), says – in an exclusive interview with OMER REDI, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER – that it is not all doom and gloom as there are upcoming power generation stations to be commissioned in a matter of months.

Fortune: It is obvious that Ethiopia is now in such a serious power crisis that you have been forced to introduce load shedding with a frequency that now has reached every other day. What exactly has happened to the power generation sector to make you introduce this schedule?

Miheret: The current situation of power shedding is because of the imbalance in supply and demand. We have short, mid and long term planning. This is the supply-demand forecast and the planning that follows this forecast. From the demand side, this year we anticipated between 17pc to 20pc growth in actual demand, despite the surface demand growth being 24pc.

There is a gap between the demand and supply side growth because forecast depends on different methodologies, knowledge base and experience of the sector. Other major factors, such as economic growth, social development, environmental situations, industrial, commercial and domestic GDP growth, have their own impact on the growth of energy demand. Population growth is a very important factor for the increase in energy demand. To mitigate this demand, definitely there should be supply side planning and this supply side planning starts based on the master plan, which includes all the factors I have mentioned.

Q: Let us discuss the work on the supply side because obviously, the supply has not grown as much as, or at least close to the demand, has it?

The supply side planning follows ways to mitigate this demand growth in the coming five, ten or twenty-five years, focusing on what should be the generation, transmission, distribution and the universal electricity access planning aspects. The generation planning is very critical factor in this regard. But the generation has its own limiting factors to meet its own schedule.

Around the world, generation projects are not completed on time or ahead of schedule; they are delayed significantly due to forced or voluntary situations. For both reasons, our projects are delayed and that is one factor causing the deficit.

The second factor is the hydrology; especially considering that Ethiopia depends on hydrological resources for 95pc of its power generation. This factor was not in our favour; the situation in the existing dams is not in line with the metrological or hydrological forecast anticipated for this year. There is quite a big gap between the water volume we had anticipated and what we actually got from the Belg season. In addition to the low level of water we got in the dry season, the dry season has also aggravated the evaporation at the dams.

The other factor is that though we have had an emergency plan of a capacity the country could afford, the plan was to supply power to meet half of the 24pc demand growth. That means the emergency plan was meant to increase the supply by 12pc. If we had planned to mitigate the entire (24pc) demand growth, that means the country should deploy four times what we have invested today to rent generators. And this is beyond the country’s foreign currency capability.

Q: How did you get the funding for the emergency plan?

It is a complex subsidy element. We initially planned to get financing from the World Bank and the Ethiopian government. Though we started work on the same day with the same objective, financing from the Ethiopian side went efficiently and the emergency generation started in December 2008.

The World Bank financing has been delayed; even the bureaucratic decision making process has not been finalized up to today. Hence, yet again, we now have the capacity to generate only half the emergency plan we had prepared for. The lengthy bureaucratic decision making process at World Bank has delayed half the financing for the emergency plan and thus we rented half the generators we initially wanted to.

The minimum duration of generators rental agreement we can enter to is about six months. So if [the World Bank is going to release the fund afterwards] we enter another agreement for the remaining generators, we will put the country into a serious loan burden for a facility that we can use for weeks or one month [because the rainy season is already closer].

So we have to drop this option and it creates a big gap. All these factors contributed to the big deficit. In any country’s practice, this is [load shedding] how you mitigate the deficit in such situations.

Q: So can we say it is not feasible to rent those diesel generators for six months because it puts a lot of loan burden on the country?

It is not about feasibility. We started the same scheme for six months with Ethiopian and foreign financing. With the Ethiopian financing, the same was completed in a few months and started operations in December last year. With the foreign financing, because of the financiers own conditions and decision making processes, the scheme has been delayed even without approving the tender up to today.

So, even if it is approved today, negotiating, signing a contract agreement and placing orders to rent the generators will take until July and they can be used only after July. By then, the scheme will have lost its service purpose; we have already lost the time we want to fill the gap.

Q: Your plan was for more diesel generators to be rented for the short term and now you are actually using half of your actual plan. Even so, I expect it is a lot of financial burden on the government. Let us talk about this burden. How much do you pay in terms of kilowatt hours for the rent and how much do you charge your customers in the same measurement?

Though the plan was to generate 120Mw from the emergency scheme, we are now getting 60Mw for 20 hours a day continuously.

Of course it creates a lot of financial burden. Yet, for the short term, it is a big scale and feasible practice in any global experience, as in the case of Afghanistan, Iraq and some African countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and almost everywhere because the continent is suffering a huge energy crisis now. This is the best short term solution as the containerized generators are mobilized, installed and synchronized fast.

Their impact – we pay more than 0.20 dollars for a kilowatt hour and collect less than 0.5 dollars from the consumer. This is a huge subsidy from the government and the corporation. We are doing this only to mitigate the negative socio-economic effect, not as a business objective.

So roughly, we are now spending about 100 million Br to 120 million Br per month for fuel, in addition to the capacity costs we have to pay to the owners of the two generators, which is 10 million dollars for each for the six months rental period. The 20 million dollars for the 60Mw is the least cost available. In addition, we have to pay for fuel and other costs. The monthly breakdown of the six months’ rental cost is about three million dollars.

Q: Do you anticipate any possibility of the rental of these generators being extended for a longer period than the six months?

Well, hopefully, since the problem depends on the start of the rainy season, whether it would start in early or late July, the deficit could last a bit longer. In that case, it could extend for couple of weeks or for a month.

Q: You are now almost close to the end of agreement period, which began in December. Do expect any power supply from the almost finalized hydroelectric power generation stations, such as Gilgel Gibe II and Tekeze to replace these generators?

The agreement period ends around June. Already in Gibe II, only about 200m of the 25.85Km tunnel remains to be completed. So you can imagine what huge progress it is. But still, the last one metre is a challenge for us. Once we complete the breakthrough on the tunnel, hopefully in early June, the two tunnels to the powerhouse [penstocks] will join the 25.85Km tunnel.

This is one of the biggest tunnel projects. Cleaning the tunnel; removing the railing and ventilation system, along with qualitative consolidating of electromechanical system and civil works are expected to be completed at the end of July. Immediately after that, we will start filling the tunnel and generate power according to the schedule.

Q: Still on Gilgel Gibe II, which you expect to be the solution to the current situation, now the remaining part of the actual physical works are the about 200m of construction of the tunnel and other tunnel related works. When these are finalized, there is cleaning. Then, there are three stages of testing: dry test, wet test and commercial test, how long will all this take in total?

I think first of all, there is something we should not forget; the highest voltage (400Kv) and the longest transmission line (230Km) is also going to be commissioned. This is the first of its type in Ethiopia. The transmission is completed. It also includes opticfiber communication wire for telecom purposes and two of the biggest substations in the country – Sebeta II and Gibe End – are completed.

Now dry test is going on simultaneously at the power plant and the substation along with the remaining works because we want to save time. The wet test starts when the water is full in the tunnel and the good thing about it is even if it is somehow disrupted, we test it by loading [power] and supplying to the system; that is the advantage. The wet test and the commissioning test, even if in terms of time we stop and start, we can do that by synchronizing to the system. That means by supplying power to the system.

Q: So you are planning to undertake wet test and commercial test at the same time?

We do it simultaneously. We test it by actually feeding the power to the system and that is also what we mean by loading. Even we want the big industries to be on because we have to test it with the highest load in the system.

Q: How long does the cleaning take?

We are trying to make it shorter and expect this to be finalized in about two months. Let us not forget it is a more than 25Km long tunnel which is so unpleasant for human beings. You can’t survive 200m in the tunnel without air and people, in fact, have died because of humidity and high temperature. For that reason, we have been using ventilation with safety standards and very standard technological facilities that we have to take out now.

Q: What elements does cleaning include?

Cleaning the more than 25Km long tunnel includes removing the railing, a very complicated ventilation system, and equipment that helps the Tunnel Bowering Machine for lighting the tunnel. It is after the tunnel that we see consolidated grouting and the tunnel should be solidified by the civil work. This is also called curing time, once you do the concrete wall, you need civil work of cement and concrete, so it is a drying and curing standard engineering time. And there are some works at the intake part before opening the tunnel.

Q: The dry test does not need water because you simply load power (voltage) to the generators from another sources to check its capacity, proper operation and sustainability. So I expect you have started this test alongside other works long before. How long have you been doing that test and what elements do the dry system include?

It is an every day job. In the past months, we were doing it on the turbines system, the control system, the protection system and the SCADA system. It includes the turbine (turbo machine) system and its functionality, generator, other hydraulic and electromechanical systems which have measurement, control, protection and safety systems. And the SCADA system, where you can control the whole plant using a computer, and where you can see the plant synchronized with the national grid, is also part of this test. This is a high-tech system that we stimulate by installing and feeding some false data to test the whole system. It is a matter of high evaluation on how stable the plant is with a very high standard quality that requires professional work.

Q: Once the dry test and cleaning are finalized, you go on to the wet test along with the commercial test, which is actually commissioning the power, is that right?

Yes, we clean and test the tunnel first. This includes testing the pressure, the water flow, the intake structure, the penstocks (the two 1.2Km each long steel pipes) and the turbo machine system with water. After these works are completed, we will make sure the whole system is ready, by feeding and supplying power from zero to the maximum capacity, then after that the commercial test goes on.

Q: I am aware that what you referred to as an internationally accepted standard and procedure of testing power generation plants demands the three levels of tests to be undertaken one after the other. It is only after these tests that the contractor will handover the project to you for actual commissioning. And of course, you test the plant for sometime before you release the performance guarantee bond. In total, it takes about six months. Now you are telling me that you are going to finalize the tests in about two months or so, while undergoing wet and commercial tests at the same time. I can understand the immense pressure you have been under due to the power crisis and how quick you want this project to be commissioned. But won’t that be risky? Will the project contractor be willing to hand you over the project without going through the normal practice?

No! Not that way! You do not have to isolate some part of the system. You can do some separate tests but you synchronize them to the system. I am sure EEPCo’s capacity and experience in the past 60 years in the power system is competitive and the contractor has to rely on our capacity on the particular matter. So I’m sure we know our business and we will do it to the best interest of the public. Since it is team work, we will achieve our timing and keep the one year warranty with the contractor. After that, we can stop the plant and check everything before taking out its liability. But we will not undermine the safety rules because of the pressure.

Q: Let me take you back to the blackout issue. There used to be a line dedicated for businesses engaged in export trades. There are reports that you have stopped that. Along with the current situation of the power shedding arrangement, which is at least every other day’, that indicates the shortage of power supply and the level of water at the dams has reached a critical level. Considering the worst case scenario, for example, if the expected rain turns out to be negative, how long will you be able to supply power with the current amount of water?

With regard to the consumer grouping, it is based on the economic and social impact of the power outage. We have classified consumer groups. In terms of the industrial aspect, we have heavy industry consumers who have a dedicated line or one mixed with the other domestic or commercial consumers. We have export industries which have a dedicated line or one mixed up with the other from domestic or commercial consumers. When it is the social aspect, we have very sensitive consumers, like hospitals, schools, clinics, as well as water supply and telecom facilities.

The significant power demand is from the industry with commercial and domestic sectors. Thus, the saving is also from these sectors. Those heavy industries are warned to plan their maintenance in this time of shortage to mitigate the impact with the possible demand side management.

Most of them are to be appreciated for obeying the notice, and they are doing major inspection and maintenance works. Some of them are preparing their emergency supply for this period. They will be able to survive by doing their critical activities. Export industries are classified under a clearly committed market. They have been given power, whether through a line dedicated to them or in between consumers; since they are the major aspects of the Ethiopian economy they are given priority.

But as citizens of this nation, sometimes they should share the burden by using their own internal capacity. Since they have the financial capacity, they have to be part of the solutions by using their resources.

About the water level, on our part, we are very vigilant not to let the volume go below the lowest acceptable level. Though we have been successful in maintaining that level of water, the peak hour is still challenging us. Nevertheless, our optimistic plan is to keep to the same situation up to July. It also depends on consumers’ behaviour, like in workshops, garages, and bakeries. They have to shift to stay with today’s consumption for tomorrow, and it also requires consumers’ behaviours to live with discipline for short periods and hope for a bright future. This is the fact of life in the whole continent, even in the world.

Q: From the report on your desk, I can see that the red line indicates the lowest acceptable level of water, while the black line indicates the actual water level in the dams. But I also see that for most of the dams, for the most part, these lines are overlapping. Has the current aggregate water level throughout the dams across the country reached the lowest level?

Now we want to keep the aggregate reduction per day to an acceptable centimetre. This [the report I have] is of hourly reductions for every 24 hours. But the net effect, we want to keep where it should be. [For example] if we want to maintain a one centimetre reduction a day in Melka Wakena Dam, we will avoid further reduction by cutting power because we cannot compromise any other way. We have been successful so far and we have to monitor levels 24 hours. Every one at the dams, the transmission lines, sub-stations, the distribution centres and the consumer must be vigilant.

Q: What is the daily acceptable level of reduction?

Well in Melka Wakena, say one centimetre, while in Gilgel Gibe II, it is about two centimetres.

Q: In normal times, how much is the daily average reduction?

It depends on the season, the time, the day, the volume of water in the dams; but it could be 10cm to 20cm.

Q: What about the water supply to Gigel Gibe (GG) II. Obviously there is a problem with the level of water in all the dams, including Gilgel Gibe I, which is the source of water for the former. So, if the volume of water in the source dam (GG I) is low, if it remains at that level in the coming months, how you will you be able to generate power from GG II even if it is commissioned?

In the first operation, hopefully by the end of July, which is also a good season, the dam would get sufficient water. But even with the minimum water level with which GG I can’t operate, there is a possibility of opening the bottom outlet gate and filling the tunnel and getting power from GG II. Its hydrological harmony is taken care of in earlier design steps. So we still have room to play in and July is a still a reasonable time when even in the worst case scenario, we can generate power from GG II.

Q: There are experts who argue that though the plans for the currently under construction hydroelectric power generation projects have long been on the shelves of EEPCo’s offices, they have not been implemented and initiated until recently when you started this aggressive and intensive works on about six hydroelectric power projects. Why have those plans waited for so long while the demand was obviously expected to increase when the country entered into a free market economy?

Unfortunately, it is not wise to blame the past. We have to learn from our mistakes and weaknesses in the past because it is the best way to benefit from the future. In this aspect, we can look at where we were in the early 90s. There were only 320Mw with only 3,000Km of high voltage and about 7,000Km of medium and low voltage networks and about 320 towns with access to electricity.

But now, including the emergency 270Mw, we have 9,000Km high voltage lines, 75,000Km medium and low voltage lines and 3,200 towns under service. The delay has internal and external factors. While following a very sluggish and conventional way of expansion in the planning, feasibility, designing, implementation and financing phases, what we had achieved in 50 years was about six, seven or a maximum of 10Mw per annum. Hydro plants came into operation at about 10 to 15-year intervals with hundreds of megawatts. But there were no complete and full-fledged feasibility study and bankable document.

Q: There are also arguments that before indications of the possible power crisis started to float – the time the current power generation projects were started – there was less commitment at the highest level of the government about power generation. That means the sector had not been given the emphasis it deserves at the beginning of the free market system. Do you share this view?

It is not always the same. There is no complete homogeneity in such thinking. But as far as I know, there is a far-sighted vision and commitment from top leaders. But there were also those in the top level of the government who thought otherwise. There were, thus, two conflicting ideas.

For example, though our financiers had said that Gibe I would be enough for 10 years, and thus, advised us to invest the money in other sectors, the government continued to work on the other projects. In fact, it was before we consumed Gibe I for only 10 months that the power problem started, let alone being enough for 10 years.

Q: For example, the infrastructure development area the government is known to be successful in is the road sector. This is due to the emphasis the sector has enjoyed from the government. Do you believe that your sector has been given equal attention?

Here there is a mixed approach. Like you said, the road sector gets a lot of attention and is attractive to financiers since it is a main development infrastructure. But in the case of power, the financiers want us to be stable financially and work as a business entity on one hand. On the other hand, they want us to be development-oriented businesses. So in this respect there is a dual approach and definitely this sector faces two challenges in bringing these to one.

Q: When do you expect to reach a level where EEPCo and you, as a senior official of the corporation, enjoy compliments following your successful achievements in developing the energy sector as the road sector doe now?

Handling the power sector is a very tough issue, which, sometimes, is higher than the socio-economic crisis. Unfortunately, power is a very determinant factor in every bit of life. Every single life in every second is dependent on energy. So has the fast development move. Our big challenge is the dependence on foreign resources. When we are out of this dependence, definitely this will mean we can achieve all our national objectives.

Q: When do you expect EEPCo to take Ethiopia out of the current situation?

To be frank, we have a very bright future. If we finish the three projects ahead of us – Beles, Tekeze and GG II – and when we come out of the daily challenges we have to face over GG III, then we are likely to be free from the current problems.

Beyond that, we have another cascade of projects in line; I am not going to mention the details because these will be announced by the government soon. And our strong foreign market will start in January 2010. Then our dependence on foreign financing will end.

Q: EEPCo has been under different structures under the current government. In the first ten years since EPRDF has come to power, it was under the former Ministry of Infrastructure, along with 12 other government agencies. Now it is under the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Do you feel that you should have been under a ministry which deals only with energy issues, as in the case of some other countries like Kenya? Do you believe that such structural issues and instability have hindered you from achieving what you could and should have achieved, perhaps, if you were under a ministry that is directly responsible only for energy or power generation?

As you know, there is a major national level restructuring process going on in the country right now. The national transformation covers all sectors; the energy or power sector is one of them.

If you see the development [over the years] the infrastructure ministry was multi-disciplinary, now it is reduced to a few focused sectors. The structural issue is a top government level, macro-level policy makers’ issue. If you see the natural progress more focused sectoral ministries have been making; after that, the national reform program has been launched.

As a result of the past and current development, as well as the dynamism of the power sector, now we are also entering a new restructuring phase. For my own sector, within my own mandate, I could say it very much demands very basic restructuring. We need a more focused, optimum, customer-oriented and sectoral structure based on the core process. The construction and the operation should be separate businesses; the generation, transmission and distribution should be organized into a bundle under public ownership.

Q: So have you suggested these changes? Does that mean it should have its own ministry?

The natural growth of the sector leads us to the restructuring, and I think the issue is being discussed by higher officials in the government.

Massive sale of Ethiopian farms lands to Chinese and Arabs

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

The Economist

The Chinese and Arabs are buying poor countries’ farms on a colossal scale. Be wary of the results.

OVER the past two years, as much as 20m hectares of farmland—an area as big as France’s sprawling farmland and worth $20 billion-30 billion—has been quietly handed over to capital-exporting countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and China. They buy or lease millions of acres, grow staple crops or biofuels on it, and ship them home. The countries doing the selling are some of the world’s poorest and least stable ones: Sudan, Ethiopia, Congo, Pakistan. Usually, when foreigners show up in these places, it is with aid, pity and lectures (or, in one instance, arrest warrants for war crimes). It must make a nice change to find their farms, so often sources of failure and famine, objects of commercial interest instead.

Yet while governments celebrate these investments, the rest of the world might reasonably ask why, if the deals are so good, one of the biggest of them helped cause the overthrow of the government that signed it—the one in Madagascar. Will this new scramble for Africa and Asia really reduce malnutrition, as its supporters say? Or are critics right that these are “land grabs”, “neocolonialist” rip-offs, different from 19th-century colonialism only because they involve different land-grabbers and enrich different local elites?

Protectionism or efficiency?

It would be graceless to write off in advance foreign investment in some of the most miserable places on earth. The potential benefits of new seeds, drip-feed irrigation and farm credit are vast. Most other things seem to have failed African agriculture—domestic investment, foreign aid, international loans—so it is worth trying something new. Bear in mind, too, that worldwide economic efficiency will rise if (as is happening) Saudi Arabia abandons mind-bogglingly expensive wheat farms in the desert and buys up land in east Africa.

Yet these advantages cannot quell a nagging unease. For a start, most deals are shrouded in mystery—rarely a good sign, especially in countries riddled with corruption. One politician in Cambodia complains that a contract to lease thousands of acres of rice contains fewer details than you would find in a house-rental agreement. Secrecy makes it impossible to know whether farms are really getting more efficient or whether the deals are done mainly to line politicians’ pockets.

Next, most of these deals are government-to-government. This raises awkward questions. Foreign investment helps countries not only by applying new technology but also by reorganising the way people work and by keeping an eye on costs. Few governments do this well, corrupt ones least of all. One of the biggest problems of large-scale commercial farming in poor countries is that well-connected farmers find it more profitable to seek special favours than to farm. These deals may exacerbate that problem. Worse, the impetus for many of them has not been profit-seeking by those who want to turn around failing farms. Rather, it has been alarm at rising food prices and export bans. Protectionism, not efficiency, has been the driving force. It would be better to liberalise food markets and boost trade than encourage further land grabs.

Third, there are serious doubts about whether countries acquiring land are paying the true cost of it. Host governments usually claim the farmland they offer is vacant, state-owned property. That is often untrue. It may well support smallholders who have farmed it for generations. They have no title, only customary rights. Deals that push them off their land or override customary rights cannot be justified. International bodies, such as the African Union, are drawing up codes of conduct to limit such abuses. They are sorely needed.

Even then, land deals will never help the poor as much as freer trade and stronger property rights. But if the deals eventually raised yields, spread technology and created jobs, that would at least be some cause for celebration. At the moment too many seem designed to benefit local elites more than local farmers; they use foreign labour and export most of their production, harming local food markets. Until they show otherwise, a dose of scepticism should be mixed with the premature hopes the land deals have engendered.

Buying farmland abroad

EARLY this year, the king of Saudi Arabia held a ceremony to receive a batch of rice, part of the first crop to be produced under something called the King Abdullah initiative for Saudi agricultural investment abroad. It had been grown in Ethiopia, where a group of Saudi investors is spending $100m to raise wheat, barley and rice on land leased to them by the government. The investors are exempt from tax in the first few years and may export the entire crop back home. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is spending almost the same amount as the investors ($116m) providing 230,000 tonnes of food aid between 2007 and 2011 to the 4.6m Ethiopians it thinks are threatened by hunger and malnutrition.

The Saudi programme is an example of a powerful but contentious trend sweeping the poor world: countries that export capital but import food are outsourcing farm production to countries that need capital but have land to spare. Instead of buying food on world markets, governments and politically influential companies buy or lease farmland abroad, grow the crops there and ship them back.

Supporters of such deals argue they provide new seeds, techniques and money for agriculture, the basis of poor countries’ economies, which has suffered from disastrous underinvestment for decades. Opponents call the projects “land grabs”, claim the farms will be insulated from host countries and argue that poor farmers will be pushed off land they have farmed for generations. What is unquestionable is that the projects are large, risky and controversial. In Madagascar they contributed to the overthrow of a government.

Investment in foreign farms is not new. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 foreign investors rushed to snap up former state-owned and collective farms. Before that there were famous—indeed notorious—examples of European attempts to set up flagship farms in ex-colonies, such as Britain’s ill-fated attempt in the 1940s to turn tracts of southern Tanzania into a limitless peanut prairie (the southern Tanganyika groundnut scheme). The phrase “banana republics” originally referred to servile dictatorships running countries whose economies were dominated by foreign-owned fruit plantations.

But several things about the current fashion are new. One is its scale. A big land deal used to be around 100,000 hectares (240,000 acres). Now the largest ones are many times that. In Sudan alone, South Korea has signed deals for 690,000 hectares, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 400,000 hectares and Egypt has secured a similar deal to grow wheat. An official in Sudan says his country will set aside for Arab governments roughly a fifth of the cultivated land in Africa’s largest country (traditionally known as the breadbasket of the Arab world).

It is not just Gulf states that are buying up farms. China secured the right to grow palm oil for biofuel on 2.8m hectares of Congo, which would be the world’s largest palm-oil plantation. It is negotiating to grow biofuels on 2m hectares in Zambia, a country where Chinese farms are said to produce a quarter of the eggs sold in the capital, Lusaka. According to one estimate, 1m Chinese farm labourers will be working in Africa this year, a number one African leader called “catastrophic”.

In total, says the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a think-tank in Washington, DC, between 15m and 20m hectares of farmland in poor countries have been subject to transactions or talks involving foreigners since 2006. That is the size of France’s agricultural land and a fifth of all the farmland of the European Union. Putting a conservative figure on the land’s value, IFPRI calculates that these deals are worth $20 billion-30 billion—at least ten times as much as an emergency package for agriculture recently announced by the World Bank and 15 times more than the American administration’s new fund for food security.

If you assume that the land, when developed, will yield roughly two tonnes of grain per hectare (which would be twice the African average but less than that of Europe, America and rich Asia), it would produce 30m-40m tonnes of cereals a year. That is a significant share of the world’s cereals trade of roughly 220m tonnes a year and would be more than enough to meet the appetite for grain imports in the Middle East. What is happening, argues Richard Ferguson, an analyst for Nomura Securities, is outsourcing’s third great wave, following that of manufacturing in the 1980s and information technology in the 1990s.

Several other features of the process are also new. Unlike older projects, the current ones mostly focus on staples or biofuels—wheat, maize, rice, jatropha. The Egyptian and South Korean projects in Sudan are both for wheat. Libya has leased 100,000 hectares of Mali for rice. By contrast, farming ventures used to be about cash crops (coffee, tea, sugar or bananas).

In the past, foreign farming investment was usually private: private investors bought land from private owners. That process has continued, particularly the snapping up of privatised land in the former Soviet Union. Last year a Swedish company called Alpcot Agro bought 128,000 hectares of Russia; South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries paid $6.5m for a majority stake in Khorol Zerno, a company that owns 10,000 hectares of eastern Siberia; Morgan Stanley, an American bank, bought 40,000 hectares of Ukraine in March. And Pava, the first Russian grain processor to be floated, plans to sell 40% of its landowning division to investors in the Gulf, giving them access to 500,000 hectares. Thanks to rising land values and (until recently) rising commodity prices, farming has been one of the few sectors to remain attractive during the credit crunch.

The great government grab

But the majority of the new deals have been government-to-government. The acquirers are foreign regimes or companies closely tied to them, such as sovereign-wealth funds. The sellers are host governments dispensing land they nominally own. Cambodia leased land to Kuwaiti investors last August after mutual prime-ministerial visits. Last year the Sudanese and Qatari governments set up a joint venture to invest in Sudan; the Kuwaiti and Sudanese ministers of finance signed what they called a “giant” strategic partnership for the same purpose. Saudi officials have visited Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam to talk about land acquisitions. The balance between the state and private sectors is heavily skewed in favour of the state.

That makes the current round of land acquisitions different in kind, as well as scale. When private investors put money into cash crops, they tended to boost world trade and international economic activity. At least in theory, they encourage farmers to switch from growing subsistence rice to harvesting rubber for cash; from growing rubber to working in a tyre factory; and from making tyres to making cars. But now, governments are investing in staple crops in a protectionist impulse to circumvent world markets. Why are they doing this and what are the effects?

“Food security is not just an issue for Abu Dhabi or the United Arab Emirates,” says Eissa Mohamed Al Suwaidi of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. “Recently, it has become a hot issue everywhere.” He is confirming what everyone knows: the land deals are responses to food-market turmoil.

Between the start of 2007 and the middle of 2008, The Economist index of food prices rose 78%; soyabeans and rice both soared more than 130%. Meanwhile, food stocks slumped. In the five largest grain exporters, the ratio of stocks to consumption-plus-exports fell to 11% in 2009, below its ten-year average of over 15%.

It was not just the price rises that rattled food importers. Some of them, especially Arab ones, are oil exporters and their revenues were booming. They could afford higher prices. What they could not afford, though, was the spate of trade bans that grain exporters large and small imposed to keep food prices from rising at home. Ukraine and India banned wheat exports for a while; Argentina increased export taxes sharply. Actions like these raised fears in the Gulf that one day importers might not be able to secure enough supplies at any price. They persuaded many food-importing countries that they could no longer rely on world food markets for basic supplies.

Panic buying

What to do instead? The obvious answer was: invest in domestic farming and build up your own stocks. Countries that could, did so. Spending on rural infrastructure is the third largest item in China’s 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) economic-stimulus plan. European leaders said high prices showed the protectionist common agricultural policy needed to be preserved.

But the richest oil exporters did not have that option. Saudi Arabia made itself self-sufficient in wheat by lavishing untold quantities of money to create grain fields in the desert. In 2008, however, it abandoned its self-sufficiency programme when it discovered that farmers were burning their way through water—which comes from a non-replenishable aquifer below the Arabian sands—at a catastrophic rate. But if Saudi Arabia was growing more food than it should, and if it did not trust world markets, the only solution was to find farmland abroad. Other Gulf states followed suit. So did China and South Korea, countries not usually associated with water shortages but where agricultural expansion has been draining dry breadbasket areas like the North China Plain.

Water shortages have provided the hidden impulse behind many land deals. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chairman of Nestlé, claims: “The purchases weren’t about land, but water. For with the land comes the right to withdraw the water linked to it, in most countries essentially a freebie that increasingly could be the most valuable part of the deal.” He calls it “the great water grab”.

For the countries seeking land (or water), the attractions are clear. But what of those selling or leasing their resources? They are keen enough, even sending road shows to the Gulf. Sudan is letting investors export 70% of the crop, even though it is the recipient of the largest food-aid operation in the world. Pakistan is offering half a million hectares of land and promising Gulf investors that if they sign up, it will hire a security force of 100,000 to protect the assets. For poor countries land deals offer a chance to reverse decades of underinvestment in agriculture.

In developing countries as a whole, the average growth in cereal yields has fallen from 3-6% a year in the 1960s to 1-2% a year now, says the World Bank. This reflects, among other things, a decline in public investment. In the 14 countries that depend most on farming, public spending on agriculture almost halved as a share of total public spending between 1980 and 2004. Foreign aid to farming also halved in real terms over the same period. Farming has done worst of all in Africa, where most of the largest land deals are taking place. There, agricultural output per farmworker was the lowest in the world during 1980-2004, growing by less than 1% a year, compared with over 3% a year in East Asia and the Middle East.

The investors promise a lot: new seeds, new marketing, better jobs, schools, clinics and roads. An official at Sudan’s agriculture ministry said investment in farming in his country by Arab states would rise almost tenfold from $700m in 2007 to a forecast $7.5 billion in 2010. That would be half of all investment in the country, he said. In 2007, agricultural investment had been a mere 3% of the total.

China has set up 11 research stations in Africa to boost yields of staple crops. That is needed: sub-Saharan Africa spends much less than India on agricultural R&D. Even without new seed varieties or fancy drip-feed irrigation, investment should help farmers. One of the biggest constraints on African farming is the inability to borrow money for fertilisers. If new landlords just helped farmers get credit, it would make a big difference.

Yet a certain wariness ought to be maintained. Farming in Africa is hard. It breaks backs and the naive ambitions of outsiders. To judge by the scale of projects so far, the new investors seem to be pinning their hopes on creating technologically sophisticated large farms. These have worked well in Europe and the Americas. Paul Collier of Oxford University says Africa needs them too: “African peasant farming has fallen further and further behind the advancing commercial productivity frontier.”

But alas, the record of large farms in Africa has been poor. Those that have done best are now moving away from staple crops to higher-value things such as flowers and fruit. Mechanised farming schemes that grow staples have often ended with abandoned machinery rusting in the returning bush. Moreover, large farmers are often well-connected and spend more time lobbying for special favours than doing the hard work.

Politics of a different sort poses more immediate problems. In Madagascar this year popular hostility to a deal that would have leased 1.3m hectares—half the island’s arable land—to Daewoo Logistics, a South Korean company, fanned the flames of opposition and contributed to the president’s overthrow. In Zambia, the main opposition leader has come out against China’s proposed 2m-hectare biofuels project—and China has threatened to pull out of Zambia if he ever came to power. The chairman of Cambodia’s parliamentary foreign-affairs committee complains that no one has any idea what terms are being offered to Kuwait to lease rice paddies.

The head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, dubs some projects “neocolonialist”. Bowing before the wind, a Chinese agriculture-ministry official insists his country is not seeking to buy land abroad, though he adds that “if there are requests, we would like to assist.” (On one estimate, China has signed 30 agricultural co-operation deals covering over 2m hectares since 2007.)

Objections to the projects are not simply Luddite. The deals produce losers as well as winners. Host governments usually claim that the land they are offering for sale or lease is vacant or owned by the state. That is not always true. “Empty” land often supports herders who graze animals on it. Land may be formally owned by the state but contain people who have farmed it for generations. Their customary rights are recognised locally, but often not accepted in law, or in the terms of a foreign-investment deal.

So the deals frequently set one group against another in host countries and the question is how those conflicts get resolved. “If you want people to invest in your country, you have to make concessions,” says the spokesman for Kenya’s president. (He was referring to a deal in which Qatar offered to build a new port in exchange for growing crops in the Tana river delta, something opposed by local farmers and conservationists.) The trouble is that the concessions are frequently one-sided. Customary owners are thrown off land they think of as theirs. Smallholders have their arms twisted to sign away their rights for a pittance.

This is worrying in itself. And it leads to so much local opposition that some deals cannot be implemented. The Saudi Binladin Group put on hold a $4.3 billion project to grow rice on 500,000 hectares of Indonesia. China postponed a 1.2m hectare deal in the Philippines.

Farms control

Joachim von Braun, the head of IFPRI, argues that the best way to resolve the conflicts and create “a win-win” is for foreign investors to sign a code of conduct to improve the terms of the deals for locals. Various international bodies have been working on their versions of such a code, including the African Union, which is due to ratify one at a summit in July.

Good practice would mean respecting customary rights; sharing benefits among locals (ie, not just bringing in your own workers), increasing transparency (current deals are shrouded in secrecy) and abiding by national trade policies (which means not exporting if the host country is suffering a famine). These sound well and good. But Sudan and Ethiopia have famines now: should they be declining to sign land deals altogether? Many of the worst abuses are committed by the foreign investors’ local partners: will they be restrained by some international code?

There are plenty of reasons for scepticism about these deals. If they manage to reverse the long decline of farming in poor countries, they will have justified themselves. But like any big farming venture, they will take years to reveal their full impact. For the moment, the right response is to defer judgment and keep a watchful, hopeful but wary eye on their progress.

Baalu Girma Foundation launches scholarship at MSU

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

The Baalu Girma Foundation has established the Baalu Girma Scholarship at Michigan State University, East Lansing – Michigan where Baalu received his master’s degree in Political Science and Journalism.

Similar efforts are being pursued to establish scholarship programs in Ethiopia. The purpose of the scholarship program is to offer financial assistance to academically promising journalism and creative writing students in Ethiopia and those living abroad dedicated to making a difference in the country.

Supporting the next generation of creative writers and journalists is a great responsibility. These are the people who help us appreciate our humanity, ask tough questions on our behalf, and record our history for future generations.

Promoting academic opportunity is one of the objectives of this foundation – and we are confident you will join us in this effort by financially supporting the scholarship program. Your contribution is greatly appreciated and will help make a difference. Click here to donate.

The Baalu Girma Foundation Board

Police arrests 3 Ethiopians in Atlanta counterfeit ring bust

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

By Deidra Dukes

ATLANTA, GA (MyFOX Atlanta) – Thousands of dollars in counterfeit goods were seized at a Newton County flea market. Undercover agents confiscated everything from fake Nike shoes to counterfeit Polo shirts.

Three suspects are facing felony charges. Detectives said the suspects rented booths at the America’s Flea Market in Newton County and were allegedly caught on tape, hawking counterfeit goods.

Detectives said the video captures an undercover officer purchasing counterfeit designer clothes from the vendor in Covington last month.

“Items like these Nike shoes. These are actually counterfeit. Here’s one of these Polo shirts which (are) actually also counterfeit,” said an undercover agent.

The Covington/ Newton County special investigations unit raided the operation on Thursday, confiscating $100,000 in counterfeit merchandise at the facility on Salem Road.

The fake designer duds are now housed in a Newton County storage shed. It’s packed from top to bottom with about 240 boxes.

“They contain clothes and shoes and different items,” said the undercover agent.

The suspects, 27-year old Kidist Demedema, 27-year-old Mussie Asha and 44-year-old Girmawork Abebe — all immigrants from Ethiopia — were arrested Thursday and charged with trafficking in counterfeit merchandise.

Detectives said it’s the second time they’ve busted this operation.

Police said two of the suspects were charged with a similar crime in December of 2007. They were among 38 people charged with selling millions of dollars in counterfeit merchandise.

Those suspects, Asha and Abebe, are being held in the Newton County Jail without bond.

“I did find it brazen that they would do it in the same community, in the same location they got arrested in,” said the undercover agent.

Detectives said the owners of the America’s Flea Market did not know the vendors were selling counterfeit merchandise and face no charges in the case.

Kenyan team to probe Omo River dam project in Ethiopia

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (Daily Nation) — A high-level Kenyan delegation arrived on Tuesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to investigate the alleged adverse environmental impact of the country’s Gibe III hydro-power dam project on Lake Turkana in the Rift Valley province.

The delegation of 14 officials and experts are drawn from Kenyan Environment Ministry, Office of the President and KenGen company.

Ethiopian authorities received the team at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The delegation is scheduled to meet its Ethiopian counterparts on Wednesday.

The team is also scheduled to visit the Gibe III dam site. The delegation has been assigned to investigate the situation on the ground and to submit a report to the Kenyan government.

Following strong protest against the dam project, World Bank and the European Investment Bank, which the Ethiopian government hoped would fund the project, have refused to get involved.

State-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, which owns the project, is looking to the African Development Bank (AfDB) for financial assistance. AfDB is yet to announce its final decision on whether to finance it or not.

The Top 10 Ethiopian Websites

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

According to Wolframalpha’s website ranking system of worldwide sites, Ethiopian Review is once again the most visited, the most famous Ethiopian website in the world. The system uses many different sources including Alexa ranking so that it is fair and balanced. The global ranking of all websites is used to check the Ethiopian news website standings and rank them. Click here to see the top 10 list.

Ethiopia's opposition is now setting the agenda

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

The following is an insightful analysis [in Amharic] about how the Ethiopian opposition has started to set its own agenda, instead of always reacting and responding to the Woyanne tribal junta that is currently ruling Ethiopia. The author, Abakiya, analyzes President Isaias Afwerki’s interview with Ethiopian Review and eppfonline.org, and points out the paradigm shift among the opposition. [If you are unable to read the Amharic text below, click her for PDF]

የኤርትራ ስጦታ፡ የታሪክ እስር ቤት፡ የህወሀት ጥፋት

የራስን እድል በራስ መወሰን እስከመገንጠል የሚለው አንቀጽ በሕገ መንግስቱ ውስጥ መጨመር ሰህተት ነው።
– ፕሬዚደንት ኢሳይያስ አፈወርቂ-2009

የራስን እድል በራስ መወሰን እስከመገንጠል መብት እንቀበላለን።
– መለስ ዜናዊ፡ ገብሩ አስራት፡ ስዬ አብርሀ፡ አረና ትግራይ-2009

አጀንዳን ስለመቅረጽ፡ የኛን አጀንዳ በኛው

ልቤ እንደተንጠለጠለ፡ የላፕቶፔ ሰሌዳ ላይ እንዳፈጠጥኩ ነው ልብ የሚሰቅል ቦታ ላይ ቃለ ምልልሱ የተቆረጠው። የሚቀጥለው ክፍል ምንም ይሁን ምን እስካሁን ያየሁት ክፍል አንድና ሁለት ብቻ አርክቶኛል። ከዚህ በኋላ አጀንዳችን የኛ ነው። እስካሁን አጀንዳችንን የሚደረድርልን ሕወሀት ነበር። አሁን እኛው ነን። “ማንም የታሪክ እስረኛ ሆኖ መኖር የለበትም። እኔም ራሴ የታሪክ እስረኛ መሆን አልፈልግም።” አልጨመርኩም፡ አልቀነስኩም። እንዳሉት እንደወረደ ሳልፈነክት ሳልተለትል ነው ያቀረብኩት። አቶ ኢሳይያስ አፈወርቂ ናቸው ይሄንን ያሉት። እኛ ትናንት አቶ ኢሳይያስ ምን አደረጉ አይደለም እንዲሾፍረን የምንፈልገው። ዛሬ አይተ ኢሳይያስ ምን አሉ እንጂ። እነሆ ኤርትራ በተገነጠለች በአስራ ስምንተ ዓመቷ፡ ኢህአዴግም ምኒሊክ ቤተመንግስት ገብቶ እኛንና አትዮጵያን እንደ ከብት መንዳት በጀመረበት ባስራ ስምንት ዓመቱ ኤልያስና ስለሺ የኤርትራውን ፕሬዚዳንት ቃለምልልስ በገጸ በረከትነት አበረከቱልን። ዛሬ አጀንዳችንን እኛው ቀረጽነው። እስከዛሬ ኢህአዴግ ነበር የሚቀርጽልን። ከግንቦት 7 መፈንቅለ መንገስት እስከ ታምራት ገለቴ ጥንቆላ፡ ከብርቱከን መታሰር እስከ ቅንጅት መፍረስ፡ ከምርጫ ዘጠና ሰባት እስከ ቴዲ አፍሮ መታሰር ድረስ፡ ኢህአዴግ በተናገረ ማግስት ነው ያንን ኢህአዴግ ያበጀልንን አጀንዳ እየተከተልን እንነጉድ የነበረው። ዛሬ የራሳችንን አጀንዳ ራሳችን ቀረጽን።

ኤልያስ ክፍሌ እና ስለሺ ባህር ተሻግረው፡ አገር አቆራርጠው ከኤርትራ ወርደው፡ የአቶ ኢሳይያስን ቃለምልልስና፡ ፈንጂ፡ እውነተኛ፡ የሚያሳዝኑም የሚያስደስቱም፡ አንዳንድ ግዜ ትንሽ ትንሽም ቢሆን የሚያበሳጩ፡ ነገር ግን ጠላትን ደም የሚያስቀምጡ፡ ሰላም የሚነሱና የሚያሸብሩ፡ ያለተበረዙ፡ ፍልሚያ ለዋጭ፡ ያለተሰረዙ ያልተደለዙ ሀሳቦቻቸውን አቀረቡልን። አሁን ኳስ በኛ እጅ ናት። አጀንዳው የኛ ነው። ሕወሀትን አንድ ርምጃ ቀድመነዋል። እነሆ የአቶ ኢሳኢያስ ቃለ ምልልስ አዝማች፡ “ኑ እና እንወያይ። እንነጋገር። መነጋገርና ነገሮችና ማጽዳት አለብን። ኢትዮጵያን ማዳከም ፍላጎታችን አይደለም። የታሪክ እስረኞች መሆን የለብንም። የታሪክ ባሮች አንሁን።” የሚል ነው።

ቃለምልልሱ፡ ልብ አድርሱ፡ እንባ አብሱ፡ ያለፈውን እርሱ …

ከዚህ በፊትም ጽፈናል። ከፈራረሰች ኢትዮጵያ ይልቅ፡ ለኤርትራ፡ የማታሰጋት ግን አስተማማኝ ጎረቤት ያስፈልጋታል ብለናል። አቶ ኢሳይያስም ይሄንኑ ነው ያሉት። “We need a safe neighbourhood::” ኤርትራ በባዶ አየር ላይ አትኖርም። በምድር ላይ እንጂ። “Eritrea will not survive in a vacuum።” በቅርቡ በአሜሪካና በአውሮፓ ስለተደረጉ የሁለቱ አገር ህዝቦችና ምሁራን ውይይትና ንግግር ሲጠየቁ፡ በሁለቱ ህዝቦች መካከል የሚደረጉ ውይይቶች መበረታታትና መጨመር አለባቸው። በሁለቱ ህዝቦች መካከል የሚፈጠርና የሚጠናከር ኢኮኖሚአዊና ፖለቲካዊ ትስስር እንቅልፍ የሚነሳቸው ስልጣናችንን ያሳጣናል ብለው የሚሰጉትንና የሚሸበሩትን የወያኔ ቡድኖች ነው። እነዚያ ጥቂት እና አናሳ ሀይሎች በኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ የሚኖራቸውን ስልጣን ይሸረሽራል ብለው ሰግተው ነበር። ስለዚህም ነው የኤርትራ ጉዳይ አሁን የደረሰበት ደረጃ ላይ እንዲደርስ ያደረጉት። ስሙን ምንም እንበለው ምንም፡ ኮንፌደሬሽንም ይሁን ፌደሬሽን፡ በኢትዮጵያና በኤርትራ መካከል እንዲኖር ይፈለግ የነበረው የኢኮኖሚ፡ የደህንነትና የንግድ የባህልና የህልውና ውህደት ይመጣል። ይሄ ውህደት አደገኛ ነው ብለው በመስጋት ነው ወያኔዎች ወደዚህ አሁን እብደት ነው ወደምለው የድንበር ግጭት የገቡት። የድንበር ግጭቱ ግን የሀሰት ምክንያት ነው። ዋና ስጋት ስልጣናቸውን የማጣት ነው። ስለዚህም የሆነ ሆኗል። ማንም የታሪክ ታጋች፡ እስረኛ አይሁን። መጪ ዘመናችንን ግን እናበጀው አሉ። እነሆ የአቶ ኢሳኢያስ ቃለ ምልልስ አዝማች፡ “ኑ እና እንወያይ። እንነጋገር። መነጋገርና ነገሮችና ማጽዳት አለብን። ኢትዮጵያን ማዳከም ፍላጎታችን አይደለም። የታሪክ እስረኞች መሆን የለብንም። የታሪክ ባሮች፤ የታሪክ ታጋቾች አንሁን።”

ስለሕወሀት፡ ስለብሄረ ድርጅቶች፡ ስለኢትዮጵያ

በዚህ ውይይት ላይ ከምንም በላይ የማረከኝ መልሱ ብቻ አይደለም። ጥያቄዎቹ። የዛሬ ሁለት ሶስት ወር አቶ ኤልያስ ክፍሌ ለአቶ ኢሳይያስ አፈወርቂ የሚሆኑ ጥያቄዎች አምጡ አለን። አፌዝንበት። ተዘባበትንበትም። ጥያቄ ቀረበ። ፈጣጣው ኤልያስም ይሆን ቆፍጣናው ስለሺ ጥያቄውን አይናቸውን ሳያሹ አቀረቡት። “እንደው ከዚህ ከመለስ ጋረ እስካሁን ማታ ማታ ትገናኛላችሁ፡ ለተቃዋሚውም ታሰጋላችሁ የሚል? አቶ ኢሳይያስ ፈገግ ይላሉ። አንዳንዴ ብዙ የማይቆይ ሳቅም ይስቃሉ። ፊት ማንበብ ለሚችል ሰው፡ የፊታቸው ወዝ፡ የአይናቸው እንቅስቃሴዎች፡ የሰውነታቸው ምላ እውነት ወይንም ወደ እውነት የቀረበ ነገር እየተናገሩ እንደሆነ ያናገራል። “የታሪክ እስረኞች/ታገቾች መሆን የለብንም” አሉ ደግመው ደጋግመው። ይሄ ሰውዬ፤ አቶ ኢሳያስ እነዚህ ሰዎችን ያውቃቸዋል። በተለይ “እነዚህን ሰዎች የሰራቸው የፈጠራቸው እሱ ነው” የምንል ከሆነም፡ ይሄ ሰው የሰራቸውን ፍጥረቶች ባህርይ ያውቃል ማለት ነው። ስለዚህ እነዚህን ሰዎች ለመጣል ከዚህ ከምንጩ መስማማት የግድ ነው ጎበዝ። ቀጠሉ አቶ ኢሳይያስ። “ይሄ የኤርትራና የኢትዮጵያ አጋርነት ቃልኪዳን ነው። ለኛ ትግሬ ከኦሮሞ ወይንም ከአማራው የቀረበ ነውና አሳልፋችሁ ትሰጡናላችሁ የሚለው የማይታሰብ ነው። ያ ወያኔ የፈጠረው የጥርጣሬና ያለመተማመን በሽታ ነው።” ህወሀትን ከኢሳይያስ የተሻለ የሚያውቀው የለም። እንዲህ ሲሉ ስለወያኔ መሰከሩ። “የህወሀት ስተራቴጂክ ምርጫ፡ ለአማራውም ለኦሮሞውም ለደቡቡም እነሱ እንዳሻቸው የሚጠፈጥፉት ድርጅት መፍጠር ነበር።” ይሄን የሚጠራጠር አለ? ከመጀመሪያውም ወያኔዎች ከሌሎች ብዙሀን ድርጅቶች ጋር በመተማመን መስራት ከፍተኛ ስጋታቸው ነበር። በፍጹም አይፈልጉትም። ስለዚህ የወያኔ ቡድን እንጂ፡ ኤርትራ ከኢትዮጵያ መከፋፈል በምንም መልኩ አታተርፍም። ኤርትራ ለትግራይ የቀረበ ለሌሎቹ ደግሞ የራቀች አይደለችም። ሀሰት ነው። ሕወሀቶች ያንን መቀራረባችንን አይፈልጉትም።

ስለብሄር ድርጅቶች ተጠየቁ። በተለይ በኤርትራ በኩል መግፋተ ያስፈልጋል ስንል ከዚህ በፊትም የመከርን ሰዎች አንዳንዱ ጥያቄ ባይጠየቅ ሁሉ እንመርጥ ነበር። ምክንያቱም ሰውዬው እንዲፋጠጡብን ወይም እንዲቆጡብንና መንገዳችን እንዲደናቀፍ አልፈለግንም ነበራ። እነ ኤልያስ ግን ፍንክች የለም። ፈታጦች። ጠየቁ። “ግን ታዲያ ለምን በብሄር የተደራጁ ድርጅቶችን ትደግፋላችሁ?” ለሽግግር። አጭርም ረጅምም መልስ ነው። አቶ ኢሳያስ፡ ከቶውንም ቋሚ በሆነ መልኩ በብሄር መደራጀትን አይፈቅዱትም። ለነገሩ ትክክል ናቸው። የኤርትራ እንጂ የኩናማ ወይ የሳሆ ወይ የዚህ ብሄ ድርጅት ብለው አልተዋጉም። “በብሄር መደራጀት ለጊዜው የምንፈልገውን እስክናገኝ አስፈላጊ ነው። ነገር ግን ቋሚ አይደለም፡ ከዛሬ ሀያ ሰላሳ አመታት በኋላ ኢትዮጵያ በብሄር ብሄረሰቦች ተከፋፍላ ማየት አንፈልግም። ያ በኤርትራ እንዲሆን አንሻም። ያ በሱዳን እንዲሆን አንሻም። ያ በኢትዮጵያ እንዲሆን አንሻም። ያ በየትኛውም አፍሪካ እንዲሆን አንሻም። ስለዚህ የኢትዮጵያ ተቃዋሚዎችን አሳልፎ መስጠት የማይታሰብ ነው። የማይሞከር። ቀድሞውን ነገር ያ ትልቅ ስህተት ነው። የኢትዮጵያ በብሄሮች ተከፋፍላ መኖር። ያ ጊዜያዊ ነገር ነው። ዋናው ነገር ኢትዮጵያ እንደሀገር መኖሯ፡ነው። በራስህ እንዲሆን የማትፈልገውን በባልንጀራህ አታድርግ የሚለው ቃል በአቶ ኢሳይያስ ተፈጸመ። ጭፍን ልመስል እችላለሁ። ግን አውቃለሁ፡ አቶ ኢሳይያስ ቀድሞ ጸረ-ኢትዮጵያ ድርጊቶችን ፈጽመው ይሆናል። ግን ያ ድሮ ነው። አሁን ግን ዘንድሮ ላይ ነን። ሌላ ዘመን ሌላ ስርአት መጣ። ከዘያ የሳቸው አዝማች አለ። እነሆ የአቶ ኢሳይያስ ቃለ ምልልስ አዝማች፡ “ኑ እና እንወያይ። እንነጋገር። መነጋገርና ነገሮችና ማጽዳት አለብን። ኢትዮጵያን ማዳከም ፍላጎታችን አይደለም። የታሪክ እስረኞች መሆን የለብንም። የታሪክ ባሮች አንሁን። የታሪክ ታጋቾች።”

ተጨማሪ፡ ስለበሄሮች: የታሪከ እስረኛ ስለመሆን

የኢትዮጵያን አንድነት አይፈልጉም? በዚህም ምክንያት የብሄር ብሄረሰበችን ድርጅቶች ይደግፋሉ? የአርበኞች ግንባርንም አያንቀሳቅሱትም? ተብለው ተጠየቁ። በነገራችን ላይ አሁንም እነ ኤልያስ ጥያቄዎቹን እንደወረዱ ነው ያቀረቡዋቸው። እነመለስ እንኩዋን፡ የበላው ይመለስና፡ የኢትዮጵያ መሪ ተብለው ከኢትዮጵያዊያን የማይቀበሏቸውን ጥያቄዎች ነው ያስተናገዱት። ጠያቂዎቹንም ተጠያቂውንም አደንቃለሁ። ያለምንም መጎላደፍና መኮላተፍ፡ ግን በልበ ሙሉነትና በትህትና ነው ያቀረቡት ጥያቄዎቹን። ይሄ የማይጨበጥ ግምት ነው። ይሄ የመነጨው ኤርትራ ራሷን ችላ ልትኖር የምትችለው ወይንም የኤርትራ ህልውና የተመረኮዘው በኢትዮጵያ መጥፋት ላይ ነው ከሚል የተሳሳተ ግምት ነው። “We can live side by side with a strong and powerful Ethiopia.” ከዚህ በላይ ይሄ ሰው ምን ቃል ይስጠን? ቃሉን ብቻ እንመን አይደለም። ግን፡ መጀመሪያ ቃል ነበረ ነው የሚለው መጽሀፍ ቅዱስ። ከዚያ ቃልም ስጋ ሆነ። የምንም ነገር መነሻው ቃል ነው። የመጀመሪያ መገለጫው ቃል ነው። ባንናገረውም ሀሳብ ራሱ ቃል ነው። ለራሳችን የሚወጣ ቃል። “የተባበረችና የተዋሀደች ጠንካራ ኢትዮጵያ ለኤርትራም ጥንካሬ ነች።” ትክክል ነው። ስጋት ከነበረ ያለፈ ነው። ታሪክ። It is Nostalgic. ትናንት የነበረ። በድሮ በሬ ያረሰ ደግሞ የለም። ይሄ የኛ ዘመን ነው። በዚህ በኛ ዘመን የምንኖረው። የኛን ዘመን ደግሞ በኛ አዲስ መንገድ እንጂ በአባቶቻችን ቂም ልንቃኝ አይገባም ብዬ ጽፌያለሁ ከዚህ ቀደም።

ኑ እና ታሪክ እንስራ

በዚህ ቃለ ምልለሰ ላይ፡ አቶ ኢሳይያስ ለኛ ኢህአዴግን እንዋጋለን ለምንለውና ለኢትዮጵያ ተቃዋሚ ህዝቦች በሙሉ ግልጽ ጥሪም አቅርበዋል። ኑና እንወያይ። ኑ እና የእግዚአብሄርን ቤት እንስራ አይነት ነገር። ኑና የተበላሸውን የኢትዮጵያና የአካባቢአችንን ሁኔታ እንገንባ። ለመስማትና ለመነጋገር ዝግጁ ነኝ ብለዋል። አድምጥ ብርሀኑ። አድምጥ አንዳርጋቸው። አድምጥ ኢህአፓ። አድምጥ ኢህአዴግም። ከኤርትራዊያንና ኢትዮጵያውያን ስብሰባዎችና ውይይቶች ባሻገር መሄድ አለብን። ከዚያም ልቀን ሄደን፡ አብረን መስራት አለብን። እንደጎረቤት መኖር ካስፈለገን፡ መነጋገር ምንም ምርጫ የለውም። አንዳንድ ሰዎች ኤርትራን አሁን ኢትዮጵያ ለደረሰችበት ጥፋት ተጠያቂ ከማድረገቸው የተነሳ፡ ቀድሞውንም ነገር፡ አይደለም ከኤርትራ መስራት፡ ጭራሹንም ስሟም እንዲነሳ አይፈልጉም። ለነገሩ የኤርትራ ጉዳይ ባለመነጋገርና በመሸሽ የምናመልጠው ጉዳይ አይደለም። እኛ ባንፈልግም ኤርትራ ጎረቤት እንደሆነች ትቀጥላለች። ኤርትራ የወረቀት አገር አይደለችም። መሬት ላይ፡ያለች፡ የመሬት የቆነጠጠች፡ ብዙዎቻችን ባይዋጥልንም አገር ነች። ሆናለች። ብድግ አድርገው አጥፍተው የሚገላገሏት ዝንብ አይደለችም። ተነስተው ሌላ ቦታ መሄድ አይችሉም። እስራኤሎች ከፍልስጤም ጋር አለመነጋገር አይችሉም። በሰላምም ይሀን በጠብመንጃ መነጋገራችን አይቀርም። ከሆነ ግን ሰላም ይበልጣል።

አሁንም ስለብሄሮች፡ አዲሲቱ ኢትዮጵያና አዲሲቱ ኤርትራ

የተለያዩ ድርጅቶችን የምንረዳው፡ ነጻይቱ ኤርትራ ከአዲሲቷ ኢትዮጵያ ጋር አዲስ አጋርነት እንድትመሰረት ስለምንፈልግ ነው። ሽግግርም ነው። እንጂ መጨረሻ ግብም አይደለም። የተዋሀደችና የተባበረች ኢትዮጵያ ኤርትራን ታሰጋለች ብየ አንድም ቀን አስቤ ሰግቼ አላውቅም። አቶ ኢሳያስ ቀጠሉ። ራሳቸው ኢህአዴጎች ለምን ከኤርትራ ጋር መንግስቱን ለማውረድ ሰሩና ነው አሁን ከኤርትራ ጋር መስራትን እንደ ወንጀል የሚሰብኩት? እነሱ ቀድሞውንም ነገር የሞራል ብቃት የላቸውም። በርግጥ ቃለ ምልልሱንም አቶ ኢሳይያስንም ምሉእ አድርጌ አላቀርብም። ያንን የሚመኝ ካለ ምኞት አይከለከልም። እዚህ ጋር ችግሩ፡ አቶ ኢሳይያስ ጥያቄው የሚነሳው በይበልጥ ከኢህአዴግ በኩል ሳይሆን ከኛው ከተቃዋሚዎች በኩል መሆኑን ስተዋል። የተቃዋሚው ወገን ነው በተለይ ይሄንን ነገር አጥብቆ የሚያነሳው። ይሄንን ስጋት የሚገልጸው። የወያኔ ክስ አንድም ቀን አሳስቦን አያውቅም። የሆነ ሆኖ እሳቸው ግን ቀጠሉ። “እኛ ኢትዮጵያን በብሄርና በጎሳ መከፋፈል ብንፈልግ፡ ይሄንን ኢትዮጵያን በብሄር የመከፋፈሉንና የማዳከሙን ስራ ሕወሀተ/ኢህአዴግ ኦልሬዲ በነጻ እየሰራው ስለሆነ፡ ለምን በዚያ ስራ ላይ ጊዜስ ገንዘብስ እናጠፋለን? ቆይ ትንሽ ያብራሩት። “ያንን ቀድሞውንም አንፈልገውም። ይልቅስ ራሱ ኢህአዴግ ያንን የጥፋት ስራ እዚያው ኢትዮጵያ አናት ላይ ቁጭ ብሎ እየሰራ ስለሆነ ኤርትራ እንዲህ አረገች ብሎ ሊከስ አይችልም። ያ ሆን ተብሎ የሚሰነዘር ውዥንብር ነው።” ይሄ ሀሰት ነው ሚል አለ?
በመሰረቱ፡ “በመከፋፈል የሚያምኑ ደካሞችና በራሳቸው እምነት የሌላቸው በራሳቸው የማይተማመኑ ናቸው።” ያ ደግሞ ወያኔ ነው። “there is no animosity, there is no hidden agendas there is no conspiracy” ማንም መጥቶ ማየት ይችላል። ሰውዬም በስሜትና በእልህ ነው እዚህ ጋር የተናገሩት። ያንን ብቻ ነጥለን ካየነው፡ እውነተኛነታቸው ምንም ቅንጣት ታህል አያጠራጥርም። ምንም ጠላትነት፡ ምንም የተደበቀ አጀንዳ፡ ምንም አይነት ሴራ የለም። ከዚያ የቃለ ምልልሱ አዝማች ይቀጥላል። እንወያይ። እንነጋገር። መነጋገርና ነገሮችና ማጽዳት አለብን። ኢትዮጵያን ማዳከም ፍላጎታችን አይደለም። የታሪክ እስረኞች መሆን የለብንም። የታሪክ ባሮች።

ያልተመቸኝ ነገር፡ ትንሽ ያልተቀበልኩት

ይሄ በትግራይ ያለው ወያኔን የመቃወም እንቅስቃሴ ወይንም መንፈስ በሌላ የኢትዮጵያ ክፍል ካለው የከፋና የባሰ ነው ያሉትን ነገር አልወደድኩላቸውም። ሁለት ነጥቦችን አነሳለሁ። አንደኛ የትግራይ ህዝብ ሕወሀትን አጥብቆ ይቃወማል የሚለው መሰረተ ቢስና ማስረጃ የለሽ ሀሳብ ነው። ቢሆንም ግን፡ ሁሌም እንደምንለው የትግራይ ህዝብ ህወሀትን የሚቃወምበት አጀንዳና እኛ ህወሀትን የምንቃወምበት አጀንዳ የተለያየ ነው። አንዱ እናቱ የሞተችበት አንዱ እናቱ ገበያ የሄደችበት ብለን ገልጸነዋል ከዚህ ቀደም። ለምሳሌ የዛሬ ሁለት ሶስት ወር ሪፖርተረ እንደዘገበው፡ በብሄራዊ ቲያትር የተሰበሰቡ የትግራይ ተወላጆች ስብሰባውን ለመራው የሕወሀት ሰው ያቀረቡተ አቤቱታ፡ እኛ መስዋእትነት ከፍለን ሳለ ከሌላው ክልል ያነሰ ጥቅሟ፡ትቅም ነው የምናጘነው የሚል ነው። ሁለተኛ የተቀረው ህዝብ ተቃውሞ ሁሉ በተለያየ መንገድ ሲገለጽ፡ ባለፉት 18 ዓመታት የትግራይ ህዝብ ተቃውሞ ባንድ ሰልፍ እንኩዋን ሲገለጽ አላየነውም። በመሰረቱ ለትግራይ ህዝብም ከዚህ የተሻለ መንግስት ይመጣል ብለን አናምንም። አቶ ኢሳይያስ ወያኔ የትግራይን ህዝብ ከተቀረው የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ስለነጠለው በህዝቡ ዘንድ በወያኔ ላይ ከፍተኛ ቅሬታ አለ የሚሉት ነገር አልተዋጠልኝም። ችግሩ ከኔ እይታ ከሆነ፡ የጭንቅላቴን ጉሮሮ አስፍቼ ለማየት እሞክራለሁ።

የአቶ ኢሳያስ ቃለምልልስ አስደስቶኛል። የዚያን አካባቢ ውጥንቅጥ፡ ሚዛነዊ በሆነ መልኩ የሌሎች ድርጅቶችንም ስጋት ከግምት አስገብተው ጥያቄዎቹን መልሰዋል። ከአንዳንድ ድርጅቶች፡ ለምሳሌ ከኦነግ በኩል ምላሽ ሊኖር ይችላል። ለምሳሌ እነዚህ የብሄር ድርጅቶች ዘላለማዊና ቋሚ አይደሉም ለጊዜው እንጂ ለሚለው። ስለራስን እድል በራሰ መወሰን እስከመገንጠልመ ተናግረዋል። ከዚያ በተረፈ የቃለምልልሱ አዝማች ይመቻል። እንወያይ። እንነጋገር። መነጋገርና ነገሮችና ማጽዳት አለብን። ኢትዮጵያን ማዳከም ፍላጎታችን አይደለም። የታሪክ እስረኞች መሆን የለብንም። የታሪክ ባሮች አንሁን። ስለአሰብና ምጽዋ ያው The sky would be the limit for co-operation. ሉአላዊነት ሌላ ጉዳይ ነው። ትክክል ናቸው። ከዚህ በኋላ ለአሰብና ለምጽዋ አንሄድም። ኤርትራ ራሷ የኛ ትሆናለች መልሳ። የሁላችንም። እስከዚያው ግን ከታሪክ እስር ቤት ሰብረን ወጥተን፡ ከኤርትራ አይደለም ከሶማሌም ተባብረን እነዚህን ሰዎች ማስወገድ አለብን። እንደነግንቦት ሰባት ያሉ ድርጅቶች ይሄንን ወርቃማ እድል ሲሆነ ሲሆን መጠቀም፡ ቢያንስ ግን ከግምት ማስገባት አለባቸው። ያው እኔው ነኝ። እኔ አባኪያ።

Coup-Coup-Coup-loooo!

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

By Netsanet Habtu

As I was reading the list recently released by Ginbot 7 regarding the ethnic composition of the Ethiopian army, I started thinking that our opposition to the regime for the last eighteen years has for the most part missed the point. Yes, I have known all about the speculation regarding Tigrayan domination in every aspect of Ethiopian political and economic life. What I have not seen is concrete evidence like we have started to see.

The reason I say our opposition was off the mark is because I have come to believe that what we were doing all these years was not based on a proper understanding of what the TPLF was all about. We were organizing ourselves, registering as peaceful and legal parties and treating TPLF as a normal incumbent; when in reality it was a force organized to loot and destroy our country in order to achieve some insane agenda.

I think that it is well overdue that we all; I mean all of us; admit that our country has been under enemy rule for the last eighteen years. Meles Zenawi’s rule is not your standard dictatorship that you hear or read about happening in some parts of the world today. His ruthless ethnic apartheid rule can be fairly regarded as the worst of its kind. And it is with this in mind that I want to talk about the subject of my article – a coup.

Before my readers say anything, I know that Bereket has been busy hitting the backspace key on the original “coup plot” accusation his office put out. But they did put it out once, and the genie is out of the bottle.

On April 25, the regime of Meles Zenawi came out and said it has “foiled a coup plot” by Ginbot 7 and arrested dozens of people in connection with alleged plot. Thousands more innocent people have been arrested and are being arrested to this day. The regime obviously used an accusatory tone when breaking the news. Its hirelings were running up and down the cyber space acting like some sacred object had been handled by sinners. They were enraged. Obviously, from their point of view, it is their jobs and unearned social status that is being messed with. But what they failed to consider, as always, was the perspective of millions of Ethiopians.

I know that listening to citizens is not part of their job. They work for a dictatorship. That is also why their propaganda often misses its mark and forces them to change their stories over and over in an utterly embarrassing manner.

One of the reasons why the regime abandoned its initial press release is an apparent shock at the level of fanfare with which the “coup” news was received. The news galvanized support for the accused organization, and opened people’s eyes to cracks inside the military – the regime’s supposed power base. Many Ethiopians are now left with their fingers crossed fingers sensing that something is brewing deep inside.

These reactions, obviously, are reflections of a yearning among our population. In short, most Ethiopians would like to see the regime of Meles Zenawi ousted, no ifs, and, buts about it. If a coup d’etat takes place in Ethiopia and Woyanne is eliminated most of us will be very happy and proud unlike what the delusional TPLF leaders and their supporters thought.

Every Ethiopian I know, including myself are of the opinion that the regime of Meles Zenawi should be overthrown. In fact, we think that is well overdue. The reasons are very simple. In this article, I would like to build on what a fellow citizen who blogs on UTUBO has written about this topic in this article (click here).

First, let’s briefly summarize the record of the Meles regime:

  • Stolen Election: The regime of Meles Zenawi is an illegitimate government. It is in power through force and stolen elections. On May 15, 2005, millions of Ethiopians went out in a stunning display of hunger for freedom and voted Zenawi’s ruling group out of office. Ballot counting was suspended, ballot bags were stolen in many cases, peaceful protesters were killed, and almost all leaders of the main opposition party were jailed. Thousands of opposition supporters were taken to gruesome detention camps and brutally abused.War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: Stealing elections was not good enough to assure the regime an absolute grip on power. Killings, arrests and torture of citizens have continued throughout the country to this date. In the Ogaden, the regime has committed what several human rights organizations allege is a war crime. Meles Zenawi and some of his top civil and military leaders are said to be under investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Genocide: These kinds of crimes against Ethiopian citizens did not start in 2005. International human rights organizations say there is enough evidence to charge top officials of the Ethiopian regime with genocide, for the killings that took place in Gambella in 2003. In fact, the President of Genocide Watch has written an open letter to the UN Human Rights Commissioner to look into it.
  • Other High Crimes: Investigations are reportedly undergoing on the street shootings of AAU students and others in 2001; the shootings of peaceful protesters in Awassa and so forth.
  • Destabilizing the Horn of Africa: Meles Zenawi has also shown that he does not back down from engaging in a regional conflict if it means diverting attention from internal problems in order to buy himself a little more time. His invasion of Somalia and the subsequent occupation has left thousands of civilians dead and over a million displaced from their homes. We still do not have any official accounting of the number of Ethiopian soldiers who have been sacrificed. Here as well, international human rights organizations allege that there is sufficient evidence war crimes have been committed by the regime’s army.
  • Disastrous Monetary Policy: As if these crimes are not enough to keep Meles and co. in power, the regime employs short-sighted economic policies that harm the nation gravely as long as it buys itself a little more time. In its unsuccessful attempt to gain supporters after its humiliating defeat in 2005, the regime has handed out money the country doesn’t have like Christmas presents. This has plunged Ethiopia into an upward spiraling inflation rate that is only second to Zimbabwe’s in Africa. The poor went from eating once a day to every other day. People have now resorted into rationing food for their own families.
  • Rampant Corruption: For a bankrupt regime with no vision or societal values, it was important to adopt a rampant open door policy towards corruption and allow its officials to loot the country in exchange for their loyalty and blind sport. Looting has been stepped up to proportions never seen before. A report has shown that in 2006 alone money moving to British banks from Ethiopia increased by more than 100%. The last three reports by the Auditor General (two have been fired so far) show billions of Ethiopian Birr have been unaccounted for.
  • Land Grabbing: What I find more frightening than the stealing of money is the level of land grabbing by high level officials, including the Prime Minister’s wife, Azeb Mesfin. In just one recent incident, for example, it has been reported that she has acquired 40K hectares of fertile land in Gondar area. It is believed that all this rush to grab large scale farming land when they know their seats are shaking hard is to lease it to Arab investors. When a new government arrives, Azeb will no doubt take with her the looted cash. But the investor will stay behind with all his paperwork showing that he made the lease “legally” and has made initial payments to the “owner” of the land. The top officials of the regime, including the Prime Minister’s wife, have thrown away any pretension of accountability. The country is being ruled by a mafia group. And this mafia group, obviously, does not care for the well being of Ethiopian citizens and the long-term interest of the country. In fact, it will destroy anything and everything that gets in its way of looting the country blind.
  • Crashing Economy and More: The Ethiopian economy under the TPLF is crashing. After 18 years of misrule, millions of Ethiopians are dependent on food aid every year. The prospect for the future under this regime is bleak. The quality of education is beyond poor. A recent report by Capital newspaper states that 9 out of 10 vocational college students could not pass national competency exam. Any pretension by the regime of solving this problem all by itself through “reform” proclamations will not be the solution because, as long as its policies of exclusion and repression continue, so will the migration of educated Ethiopians abroad.
  • High Level of Immigration: Because there is no economic and political security in Ethiopia, the number of Ethiopians leaving their country for “somewhere” is increasing by the day. We hear horrendous stories of a thousand illegal Ethiopian immigrants in prison in Tanzania; a hundred in Malawi; about eighty Ethiopian women in a Beirut prison; some Ethiopians looking for jobs in Iraq; and others following dangerous paths through Latin America to get to North America. These were news headlines in the last two months or so alone. For anyone observing the way Ethiopians are fleeing from their country in all directions, it is fair to conclude that the country is like a house on fire that its inhabitants are all forced to evacuate.
  • Ethiopian Interests Endangered: Many Ethiopians consider that their country is ruled by some kind of foreign occupying force. Recently, for example, a large area of land was given to the Sudan with no explanation to the Ethiopian public. In addition, the regime’s use of war with neighboring countries as a way to divert attention from internal problems has made it a destabilizing and dangerous force in the Horn of Africa. This is earning us enmity that will probably last for generations.

Terrible policies and repression by the ruling regime are in large part responsible for the misery our people live in. Bad policies exist in any country. However, in democratic countries, the people have the right to change their leaders through elections. This is what happens when governments are of the people, by the people and for the people.

Ethiopia is being ruled by an unelected regime that has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people; and obviously does not feel the need to fulfill its obligations as a government. Our inalienable rights to the pursuit of happiness, liberty and prosperity and to live peacefully in our own country are being violated on a daily basis.. Moreover, due to the regime’s ethnocentric policies which continue to threaten the very existence of our nation, most Ethiopians have come to feel that what is at stake is more than citizen’s rights – to be blunt, it is nothing less than the survival of our old and proud nation.

When a government fails miserably to fulfill its obligations to its citizens, it is the right of citizens to rebel against it. Since the regime of Meles Zenawi has shown time and again that it is not willing to relinquish power through elections, most Ethiopians have come to agree that it needs to be ousted by any means necessary. One way is for the military to stage a coup d’etat and remove a government that is dangerous to the national interest of the nation, that it is sworn to protect.

Because no government wants to encourage actions that endanger its survival, external support for such drastic measure is very low. For example, the African Union does not give acknowledgment to governments formed through coup d’etats. We obviously understand why, especially since African dictators are the most exposed to such actions.

However, there are some contemporary arguments that are emerging in favor of coups. An example is Alexander Collier’s recently published, “Wars, Guns and Votes”. In this book, Mr. Collier proposes to the international community to stop using aid as leverage in their dealings with dictators, and instead, considers harnessing coup d’etat. He proposes a scheme in which certain standards are set. Those administrations that sign up to the program and meet those standards will be protected from coups; whereas in the case of those who fail to meet the standards, the international community will look into harnessing a military coup that may take place, instead of condemning it.

The West needs to act on what it already knows about the Meles regime. The Meles regime is bad for Ethiopia and Ethiopians. It is bad for the long-term stability of the Horn of Africa. It is bad for the interests of the West. Therefore, if the West still believes it can benefit from a secure and stable Ethiopia, it needs to figure out ways of harnessing a coup attempt, and not oppose it. Any party that wants to continue a healthy friendship with Ethiopia, in the long run, can benefit from aligning itself with the oppressed people of Ethiopia; with groups that are working to remove the illegal regime of Meles Zenawi and those who are challenging its ethnic apartheid policies as evidenced by the total Tiragna minority domination of the military as well as all economic and political spheres of the country.

As for Ethiopians, in addition to just supporting a coup, we also need to find ways to harness it. We cannot sit back and allow what has repeatedly happened over the last 40 years. We should not allow the possibility of our yearning for freedom and democracy to be hijacked again. The only way to stop that is to get involved and keep our political groups and us accountable to our commitment to democracy. We all need to take ownership of the struggle. Standing on the sidelines and only singing the praises of those in the “eye of the storm” has not been beneficial before; and it will not be in the future.

Each one of us must take charge of our respective journeys towards freedom since Ethiopia belongs to each and every one of us. Citizenship entails responsibilities. Let’s find the courage and the resolve to free our people from the jaws of the brutal TPLF regime and save our Motherland.

(The writter Netsanet Habtu can be reached at hnetsanet20@gmail.com)

My father, a patriot Ethiopian, laid to rest

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

By Tedla Asfaw

My father, Asfaw Feleke Woldetekle, passed away late last month at the age of 94. He was a man who never speaks loud and never blamed someone for anything. Serving under the Imperial regime of HaileSelasse, he worked at various levels and was in the treasury department, had a chance to travel with King HaileSelasse to the Dallol potash mine in Afar region. He retired few years before the 1966 Yekatit Revolution. His father died tragically to separate feast fight when he was a child. As the eldest man of his family among three sisters and one brother, he learned responsibility at a young age and helped his late mother Emayohe Desta Ayele who died two decades ago at the age of one hundred years. Currently he is survived by his youngest ailing sister and large extended family members.

His trip to Tigray to collect taxes in the 1940 E.C. is my favorite story among many others he shared with us here in New York after the fall of Derg. As a simple clerk he was sent to Tigray to collect taxes. People not only refused to pay taxes, but also felt sorry for the poor tax collector traveling with empty hands in a rebellion area asking for money for the Imperial Treasury.

He had to convince people that without money there can not be school, road and other developmental activities and the choice is theirs whether to pay or not pay taxes. The people understood this “poor man” was sent by big shots from Addis Ababa and treated him very well as their own.

My father gives credit where it is due. He admired Atse HaileSelasse for educating poor children from all corners of Ethiopia and visiting them at schools, giving them encouraging words. The first family member picture receiving diploma from the king was proudly hang on our home in Addis Ababa as an inspiration for our family.

Education for him was the stepping stone to improve ones life and country’s future. No wonder on his stay here in New York he was asking himself, “what were we doing” when the Americans people built all these bridges and roads? He himself got an informal education in the five year resistance during the Italy invasion.

Working with British allied forces, he learned English and was a translator in the refugee camp in Kenya. Some former students used to call him “Gashe” Asfaw and I attended a school, Asfaw Wossen, in Ethiopia under the principal Fanose TekeleSelassie, who was one of my father’s students

As a fighter in the resistance army he lost one eye while trying to save a fallen soldier and capture guns and ammunition from the enemy. For that he received a medal. That story was published on the then British colony of Kenya’s newspaper. Over all, he received seven medals for his service to his country. His late wife, Ejigayehu Yalew, also received two medals for bravery.

My father was a man of justice. I saw it fist hand as an elementary school child when we traveled with him to Nazret to see his few hectares of land. We met the tenant family with two children and there was no Bekele to help us visit the harvest. Harvest was very bad and Bekele had nothing to give and he gives it only at the expense of his own family.

Not only my father refused any harvest that time, he asked Bekele’s family to adopt the two girls, Belaynesh and Zenebich, to raise them as part of his family. I and my brothers grew up with these girls — sisters, in all legal definition — and I am indebted to them for helping our family after the passing away of our mother two decades ago.

My father lived through war, feudalism, communism and dictatorship and also witnessed the historical election of 2005. He was a man who follows the news around the world. He loves radios and I still remember as a child the radio that we used to listen to the German Amharic program every afternoon, “Yehe Ke Igale Rwanda Yemetelalefew Ye German Dimtse Newe.”

The man who loves information, however, was getting older at the age of the Internet and when the Hubble Telescope received additional life thanks to the USA astronauts’ successful mission this week, my father left earth, maybe to “hear” from the Hubble Telescope closely. He is still alive in our mind as always listening.

(The writer can be reached at tedla.asfaw@gmail.com)

CIA names fallen officer in Ethiopia 6 years after death

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

By Pam Benson

WASHINGTON (CNN) — When Gregg Wenzel died six years ago in Ethiopia, the obituaries said he was a U.S. Foreign Service officer killed by a drunken driver on the streets of Addis Ababa.

Monday the public learned the State Department job was a cover for his real occupation: CIA spy.

At a ceremony commemorating those who died in the line of duty, CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed Wenzel’s affiliation with the agency and noted Wenzel was a member of the first clandestine service class to graduate after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“He helped unite the class and kept its spirits high in the toughest moments,” Panetta said.

Wenzel left his job as an attorney to join the agency. He was 33 years old when the car he was riding in was hit by a drunken driver who to this day remains a fugitive.

There are now 90 stars prominently displayed on the memorial wall in the spacious atrium of CIA headquarters, each commemorating an officer, like Wenzel, who died while serving the country.

The 90th star was added recently, but as with most of the victims, the person’s name and nature of service will remain unknown to the public so as not to compromise secret operations.

At the annual memorial service attended by hundreds of employees, retirees and family members, Panetta paid homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. “Their patriotism and leadership, courage and decency are models for all of us,” said the director, adding, “their work is our work now. And their spirit abides with us.”

Panetta also announced the beginning of a new tradition. Family members of the fallen officers will receive a replica of the star from the wall. The first star was given to the brothers of Douglas Mackiernan, the first CIA operations officer killed in the line of duty, shot to death in Tibet after fleeing China in 1950.

Australian aid worker jailed and tortured in Ethiopia

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

By Alison Bevege | Herald Sun

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — RELATIVES of a Melbourne man thrown into an Ethiopian jail as he worked to build a hospital fear he has been beaten and tortured.

West Heidelberg resident Sadiq Ahmed was arrested on May 21 with a British man and seven local community leaders in the eastern Ethiopian town of Raaso.

Distraught relatives told Herald Sun they believed the men had been beaten and possibly tortured after being grabbed by authorities in the regional government of Ethiopia’s Somali district.

“My brother has two broken ribs, that’s what we’re told. The British guy was hit around the head badly and is bleeding,” said Sadiq’s brother, Abdalla Ahmed.

Abdalla narrowly escaped arrest himself and went into hiding, only emerging six days later to make his escape home to Australia.

Abdalla, 53, and his brother Sadiq, 46, a food safety inspector, had been working in the Somali region of Ethiopia for the past two years to build a hospital after their family – once refugees from the area – had raised more than $100,000 for the project to help the impoverished community.

Ethiopia is broken into ethnic regions, with Raaso governed by the Somali regional government.

Mr Ahmed said Executive Committee president Daud Mohamed Ali was angry with Raaso community leaders campaigning to draw attention to the plight of poor people, many living in tents with no running water.

“He personally came to Raaso to threaten us,” he said.

Abdalla, Sadiq, and a group of other community leaders left Raaso to go to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abbaba 10 days ago.

There was not enough room on the bus for all of them, Abdalla Ahmed said, so he caught a different bus.

“We kept communicating by mobile … They were on the bus laughing until they reached a road block. The Somali Regional Government army took them and was beating anyone who asked them what was going on,” he said.

Nine people including Sadiq and British citizen Ibrahim Gaasim were arrested, taken to the provincial capital Jijiga and thrown into prison, Mr Ahmed said.

Community members living in Jijiga told the former Melbourne taxi driver that the militia were looking for him, too.

“I didn’t have any chance to go back to my house for my clothes or my photographs – I had to go on the run,” he said.

Mr Ahmed spent a week hiding in Addis Ababa.

“I stayed in hotels and inside a room in an unknown house,” he said.

“My friend was the only one who knew where I was and he brought me food.

“It was hell not knowing what would happen to me. I could not use my phone in case they tagged me.”

Mr Ahmed said his friend organised for him to meet an Australian consular official who was flown from Pretoria, South Africa, to work on the case.

“She organised for me to fly to Australia,” he said.

“I’m relieved to be home but I’m very worried about my brother … I am still in shock and worried about him.”

Mr Ahmed said community sources had told him the detainees appeared as though they had been beaten when they appeared in a Jijiga court late last week.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the Ethiopian Ministry for Foreign Affairs had confirmed that an Australian man had been detained in Ethiopia.

“The man has not yet been charged and it is inappropriate to speculate about what, if any, charges the man may face.”

The department did not say whether a representative had seen the Australian detainee or whether he was in need of medical attention, but said they were continuing to provide assistance to the man and his family.

The spokesman stressed the Australian government was unable to control or intervene in the judicial processes of foreign countries including Ethiopia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s travel advice for Ethiopia advises Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Ethiopia.

Mr Ahmed’s sister Malyun Ahmed said the attack had happened two weeks after the Ethiopian Government had passed a vote to recognise Raaso, which had angered Ethopia’s Somali regional government.

But she said the arrests could also be based on tribal rivalries.

Violence has flared in the past between the majority Ogaden tribe and the minority Sheekhaal to which the Ahmeds belong, causing the Sheekhaal community to move to Raaso, Malyun said.

“The Sheekhaal community fled the Ogaden region six years ago after killings and raids,” she said. “Since then Ogaden militia have waged several wars: my cousin who was only 16 years old was shot more than 10 times in 2006.”

Awramba Times reports about Ginbot 7's mission to Eritrea

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Awramba Times, an Amharic language weekly newspaper that is published in Addis Ababa, has extensive coverage of Ginbot 7 Secretary General Andargachew Tisge’s recent visit to Eritrea. The paper, relying on its own sources, reports that Ato Andargachew’s visit includes a meeting with Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki. Ginbot 7 Chairman Berhanu Nega denies such a meeting has taken place, in an interview with Ato Abebe Belew of Addis Dimts Radio (click here to listen – May 31st program), but explains that a Ginbot 7 delegation has been in Eritrea recently to receive soldiers who have defected from the Woyanne army.

Click here to read the report by Awramba Times [pdf, Amhairc].

Ginbot’s mission to Eritrea was a shock to the Woyanne junta and the Tigrean supremacy elite. They were confident that the $40-million propaganda bombardment was working in discouraging such a rapprochement by an Ethiopian political organization such as Ginbot 7 with the Government of Eritrea. Bereket Simon, the Woyanne propaganda chief, may lose his job over this. Such a move is one more nail in the Woyanne coffin.

Those who oppose Ginbot 7′s cooperation with Eritrea are either:
1) Woyannes, or
2) Victims of Woyanne propaganda, or
3) Tigrean supremacists who want to replace Meles but keep Woyanne in power, or
4) Those who serve Woyanne for crumbs (hodams).

This is the time for political leaders to lead, not to follow. It is the time to march forward, not to look left and right. It is the time to be one step ahead of Woyanne, not react to what it does.

Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie fails to better 1-hour world record

Monday, June 1st, 2009

By Benoit Noel

HENGELO, Netherlands (AFP) — Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie failed in an attempt to better his own world record for the one-hour run at the Hengelo Grand Prix on Monday.

After setting four world records at previous meets in the eastern Dutch city, Gebrselassie, the current marathon world record holder, was undone by blustery conditions at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games, part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour.

The 36-year-old clocked up 20km 822metres, falling short of his record of 21km 285m which he set in June 2007 in Ostrava, the Czech Republic.

He was also little helped by pacemakers who failed to keep up with the 1min 07sec lap times needed to mount a real challenge on the record.

“The wind and rain obviously didn’t make things easy,” said Gebrselassie. “And even if the conditions were not optimal, I wasn’t at 100 percent because of a small asthmatic problem.”

Olympic 5,000 and 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele was running in the unfamiliar 1500m but pulled up with one lap to run with a leg injury.

The Ethiopian had chosen the 1500m to test and improve his speed in preparation for August’s World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

“Kenenisa felt a slight pain in his right thigh. He preferred to call a halt as a precaution,” said Bekele’s manager Jos Hermens.

It was Bekele’s first outing since he picked up an ankle problem when finishing a disappointing third in a 15km road race in the Netherlands in November.

The race was won by Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic 1500m silver medallist, in 3min 34.45sec ahead of Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen and Moroccan Mohamed Moustaoui.

There were five season best performances at the meet.

Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles gained revenge on Shawn Crawford in the 100m, recording 9.97 seconds as the American finished a disappointing seventh, 0.30sec off the pace.

Martina was stripped of his silver medal in the men’s 200m final in the Beijing Olympics after a protest by the United States team that he had run out of his lane.

The move deprived the Dutch Antilles of their first ever Olympic track and field medal, and saw 2004 Olympic champion Crawford take silver behind Jamaican Usain Bolt, who won the race in a world record of 19.30 seconds.

Other men’s season bests included Ethiopian Ali Abdosh in the 5000m, who topped a strong field in 12:59.56, Kenyan Brimin Kipruto in the 3000m steeplechase (8:06.46), and Panama’s Olympic champion Irving Saladino in the long jump (8.56metres).

In the women’s events, Ethiopian Gelete Burka won the 1500m in a season lead of 3:58.79.

The Mirage of the African Union

Monday, June 1st, 2009

By Franklin Cudjoe and Alhassan Atta-Quayson

Countries across the African continent devoted May 25 to the observance of the so called African Union’s Day. Few countries, though, have declared the day a holiday and celebrated as such to the neglect of the millions of man hours that could have been put to productive use. Little was heard of the challenges and potential progress that the continent could make in the face austere financial difficulties. It was the grumpy old self-delusory target of ridding the continent of coup makers and now, state-sponsored terrorism. Amusingly, Eritrea was the only culprit fingered and suspended for the latter charge whilst others such as Sudan, Madagascar and Mauritania, renegades of true democracy are still plying their violent and near-violent trade against ordinary citizens.

And Eritrea replied, calling the AU a full house of disenchanted musical chairs, notoriously toothless and straight –jacketed thinkers. Eritrea might just be right. For, how is it that the recently elected AU Chairman, Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi made an embarrassing mockery of democracy on the continent when he stated in a keynote address at an AU summit at Addis Ababa, that democracy in Africa only leads to bloodshed. This could be a thought trend for African leaders. In 2005, Africanliberty.org editor and executive director of IMANI, Franklin Cudjoe, and debated former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on the latter’s call for an African clone of democracy and the need to fear globalisation, as it was the final undoing of the continent after slavery and colonialism had their way.

So what else is the AU, an avowed claimant of continental unity, has little to show for? The AU envisages a political and economic integration across all borders devoid of poverty, conflicts, and diseases. Naturally, the various regional economic groups will strive for integration before the entire continent is united. Such a union could affect the livelihoods of the 800 million plus Africans. But we in Africa are our own friends of protectionism. Nigeria and Ghana, next door neighbours within the Economic Community of West Africa still trade in protectionist goods, with Nigeria still maintaining a near-ban of some 74 Ghanaian products from entering Nigeria, while Ghana is demanding hefty down payments for Nigerian tradesmen to enter the Ghanaian market. But Ghana is awashed with Nigerian banks. The Commission for Africa Report 2005 sadly asserts that shipping a car from Japan to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, for example, costs $1,500. Shipping the same car from Abidjan to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, costs $5,000. Removing regional trade barriers would earn Africa an extra $1.2bn a year, according to the World Bank.

Instead of focusing on removing the log in the eye of the continent, the AU has a mindset that trade ought to be a one-way traffic, with richer countries who also erect annoying barriers to our produce. It is instructive to know that the global economic difficulties have lowered consumer confidence in rich countries and by extension slowed all agri-export-led economies. In April this year, the World Bank Vice-President for Africa Region, Ms Obiageh Ezekwesil, noted that at the beginning of 2008, Africa’s growth rate which was projected at 6.4 per cent dipped to 4.9 per cent. The rate for 2009 now stands at 2.4 per cent.

However, the cacophony of asking for help to weather the raging storm of economic recession has taken centre-stage in the global discussion of stimulus packages. And African leaders are asking for stimulus packages from the staggering West instead of stimulating critical thinking on how to build their own economies from within. However, it seem to have emerged from a recent Economic Conference in Dakar, Senegal, that they are going to rely more on home-grown solutions to these and other problems. These solutions lay not in imposing additional taxes on the 30% visible businesses and small formal sector workers, but ensuring that the close to 70 % of Africa’s underground economy is unearthed and nurtured with low business entry rules, and perhaps taxed a low flat tax regime. Increased corporate taxes on perceived ostentatious products ought to be reflective of the wider implications for government’s own revenue and employment figures. Already many great performing companies on the continent are not salivating at losing employees. An additional tax burden will leave companies no choice but to lay people off.

Ordinary Africans must help African leaders to use AU day to reflect on how to reduce economic intervention in our lives, sensibly regulate financial markets, remove bureaucratic obstacles to setting up businesses, establish property rights and enforce contract law. These are the forces that release entrepreneurial energy to see us through the financial meltdown. There is only one reason why African leaders will do these things- when they are forced to do so as a condition of aid which despite its towering failure to reduce poverty on the continent continues to be supported by activists, whose livelihoods depend on it.

(Franklin Cudjoe is executive director of IMANI, a Ghanaian think tank. He also edits www.AfricanLiberty.org. Alhassan Atta-Quayson is a graduate student in economics and writes for www.AfricanLiberty,org)

VOA correspondent in Ethiopia arrested

Monday, June 1st, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (Addis Journal) — A correspondent for the Amharic service of the Voice of America, Meleskachew Amha, has been arrested in connection with printing and studio equipments belonging to Addis Broadcasting PLC, owned by Dr. Berhanu Nega and others.

The Amharic weekly, Addis Admass, reported today that Meleskachew and other four people were detained on Wednesday for allegedly “trying to transfer duty-free imported goods to a third party.”

Meleskachew and the other four suspects who appeared before court yesterday were denied bail, according to Addis Admass. The court granted police twelve more days to conduct further investigation, as per the latter’s request.

The Addis Broadcasting PLC had established its headquarters in Kechene Medanhialem but has gone unoperational for a number of years as it was denied broadcasting licenses and most of the shareholders disbanded after the 2005 election.

Meleskachew has been manger of the PLC for three months.

Dr. Berhanu Nega now leads an opposition party, Ginbot 7,which the government has designated as a terrorist organization.

U.N. denies Eritrean support for Al-Shabab in Somalia

Monday, June 1st, 2009

PRESS CONFERENCE BY special representative for somalia

Source: U.N.

NEW YORK — Impunity in Somalia was a major factor maintaining a long-running “genocide in motion” in that Horn of Africa country, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General emphasized to correspondents at a Headquarters news conference this afternoon.

“People who have killed, displaced and maimed are still around, whether in Somalia, Nairobi or in their new country home,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said, adding that many who stayed inside Somalia to continue the violence had put their families in safe havens outside the country.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah, who was in New York for consultations at Headquarters, stressed that it was the willingness of anti-Government forces to keep fighting, whether for profit, power or other reasons, that was devastating the country, not the threat of an Ethiopian return or the illegitimacy of the authorities.

The Government might be weak, he said, but it had as strong a claim to legitimacy as most African Governments; overturning it by force would defy Security Council resolutions.

Before last year’s Djibouti Agreement, which facilitated the departure of Ethiopian troops, it was claimed that the foreign presence was prolonging the conflict, he said. After they withdrew, however, the fighting had continued, and he knew of no evidence of continued Ethiopian presence.

“This is a diversion from the real problem,” he said. “Somalis have to stop killing Somalis and reject any alibis.”

As for the support of Eritrea for the Islamist group al-Shabab, he said that there was much talk of such involvement, but there was no way for him to monitor that situation or to know the truth of such a claim. Asked about other foreign rebel fighters, he said the rebel leaders had extended a welcome to such fighters and there was wide information available on them.

When asked what safeguards were in place to make sure international payments to trained police forces in Somalia were not engendering abuse to civilians, Mr. Ould-Abdallah stressed how few trained police there were –- 2,700 –- in that large country in which civilians were being killed every day. Even those police had not been paid for 18 months.

To suggest that they should not be supported was irresponsible, he maintained. “The problem we face today is anarchy and disorder, and not to pay trained policemen because a few of them may have stolen or may have abused is unacceptable,” he said.

On piracy, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said that that the international presence was beginning to show results, because the pirates had to go further afield for their quarry, over 100 pirates had been captured, and their financiers knew they were being watched.

It was important that it be a truly international effort, he said, demonstrating to Somalis that there was international attention being paid to their tragic situation and showing that such efforts could actually work.

Asked about law of the sea issues, he said he was not aware of any connection between Norwegian oil companies and the joint submission for the delineation of the continental shelf made by Somalia and Kenya, assisted by Norway.

He said he did know, however, that Norway had helped other African countries with their submissions, and that Somalia’s was very similar to the ones made by France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Spain.

Outlining upcoming political activities on Somalia, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said that he planned to be in London for an 8 June meeting with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, after which he would convene in Rome the International Contact Group on Somalia, of which he is the Chair, although that meeting might be postponed.

He also described contacts with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an Africa regional economic group, which he said could play a role in the Somali crisis similar to that played by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the crises in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Endgame!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Human Rights and Fairy Tales

For the past several weeks, the noise machine of the dictatorship in Ethiopia has been in overdrive reacting to human rights findings made against it in the February 29, 2009 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report. The official spokesmen of the dictatorship angrily denounced the alleged inaccuracies in that report, carped about its groundless charges of criminal wrongdoing, whined about the hidden agendas of shadowy manipulators of U.S. foreign policy, groused about the fictitious and fanciful claims of human rights abuses and blasted the American government for lying outright to undermine their credibility and portray them as international pariahs. Even the leader of the dictatorship took a jab at the report. With simulated dramatic flair, he described the report as a “fairy tale” (te-ret) and “false propaganda” to his parliament. As usual, he categorically denied the occurrence of any systematic human rights violations, extrajudicial killings, mass detentions without charges and the commission of crimes against humanity by himself, his official minions or security and military forces.

Of course, one man’s fairy tale is another man’s tale of fear. Dr. Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo People’s Congress and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces was quick to disagree, as quoted by the gazette Addis Negger:

I see it as one of the government’s attempts to conceal its human rights abuses. For example, the government claims that ‘there are no secret prisons in Ethiopia,’ but about 15 kilometers away from Ambo, where I have enough information about, there are three unofficial secret prisons: the old Emperor Haile Selassie’s Palace in Ambo, Senkele Police Training Center and Holeta Military Camp. Dedesa, where many thousands had been locked up after the 2005 elections, is not an official prison. We can provide as much evidence as needed. It is well known that people have been jailed in Maekelawi [the notorious high-security torture prison in Ethiopia] from one month to up-to several years without court warrants. I do not understand who the government is trying to deceive.

Others offered similar assessments about the dictatorship’s brazen and audacious denials of documented and established facts of notorious human rights abuses. The funny thing about the dictatorship’s spasmodic eruption of belated moral outrage against an imaginary cabal of evil international human rights organizations is that they had been ignoring those “fairy tale” reports impassively and scornfully for well over a decade. In their recent counteroffensives, they even stressed the fact that it is not their policy to dignify the “false and propagandistic fairy tales” of the human rights organizations with a response. But now, out of the blue, the dictatorship is squealing like a stuck pig and flailing every which way to respond to the 2009 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report. Why? What has changed so dramatically to cause the dictatorship to sweat it out?

We Know Why They Are Squealing!

The dictators are squealing because the U.S. has quietly and matter-of-factly cut off assistance for military training and equipment to them. That is right! No more American taxpayer dollars to train human rights abusers and criminals; no more American taxpayer dollars for guns, tanks and Humvees to kill innocent Ethiopians. No military partnership with thugs! Many people will no doubt be surprised by this fact, but the law is explicit and its provisions plain and unmistakable.

On March 11, 2009, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 1125, the “Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009” [1] for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009. H.R. 1105 (Title IV, International Security Assistance, p. 332, fn. 1) prohibits military assistance and training to rogue regimes that engage in gross human rights violations. The relevant legislative language of H.R. 1125 (see fn. 1 below, p. 332) provides,

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION AND TRAINING – For necessary expenses to carry out the provisions of section 541 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961,… Provided further, That funds made available under this heading for assistance for Haiti, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Libya, and Angola may only be provided through the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations and any such notification shall include a detailed description of proposed activities

Further, under Title IV of H.R. 1105, “FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING PROGRAM”, the following prohibition is indicated:

“Provided further, That none of the funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for assistance for Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo except pursuant to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.

H.R. 1105 also forbids reprogramming of any funds made available in prior appropriations (previous years) to provide assistance to these rogue regimes in the current fiscal year. (See fn. 1, pp. 342, 344):

REPROGRAMMING NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS SEC. 7015. (f) None of the funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended for assistance for Serbia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Iran, Haiti, Libya, Ethiopia, Nepal, Mexico, or Cambodia and countries listed in section 7045(f)(4) of this Act except as provided through the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.

H.R. 1105 allows training assistance to non-military personnel “who are not members of a government [and] whose participation would contribute to improved civil-military relations, civilian control of the military, or respect for human rights…”

The foregoing change in U.S. military assistance policy in Ethiopia is an extraordinary transformation in U.S. foreign policy. For the first time in decades, the U.S. government has decided to explicitly link human rights abuses in Ethiopia to its military aid program. Congress, by requiring extraordinary presidential reporting “through the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations” has expressly denied military assistance to the dictators and limited the discretion of the U.S. President to furnish such assistance under the authority of section 541 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

In plain language, H.R. 1105 cuts off military assistance to the identified rogue regimes, but allows the President to waive the prohibition on a case by case basis in the national interest, provided that he notifies the Appropriations Committees of the House and the Senate (committees responsible for funding the U.S. government) 15 days in advance of his intention to do so, and supplies a “detailed description of proposed activities” justifying the waiver. Even in emergency cases, the President must notify the Appropriations Committees that he has provided military assistance to the rogue regimes “no later than 3 days after taking the action to which such notification requirement was applicable.” In short, H.R. 1105 prohibits funds for military training or equipment to dictatorial regimes that engage in gross and consistent human rights abuses. That is why the dictators in Ethiopia were squealing like a stuck pig over the past few weeks!

Sea Change in American Foreign Policy in Ethiopia

In his inauguration speech, President Obama sent a clear message to the tin pot dictators of the world:

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

By denying funds for military training and equipment, the President and the new Congress are standing tall with the “starving people of the poor nations” of the world and against the filthy-rich kleptocratic dictators who oppress them and “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.” The message from the Obama administration to the dictators in Ethiopia is crystal clear: “America will not give you a penny to train your soldiers to terrorize your civilian population, nor will it provide your military establishments a single gun, plane, tank or Humvee to kill them.” George Bush’s unholy “alliance with atrocity” is over. No more unconditional and blind support to dictators who abuse and mistreat their people in the name of “promoting U.S. interests.” Bush’s war on terror under Obama will be transformed into a struggle for global peace under the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Admittedly, U.S. military assistance to the dictatorship in Ethiopia has not been very large, although the dictatorship has received the lion’s share of such aid in the past. What is important about the termination of military assistance in H.R. 1105 is not the dollar amount but rather the implicit moral and political condemnation of the dictatorship for its use of American military aid to violate the human rights of innocent Ethiopians and oppress the population. This simple and straightforward legislative action by the Appropriations Committees represents a sea change, a re-direction, of U.S. foreign policy. It is the first shot across the bow warning all tin pot dictators that the U.S. will no longer form or maintain partnerships with thugs and criminals.

The Obama administration obviously understands that future U.S. military operations with rogue regimes could be adversely affected by such a policy, particularly in terms of potential anti-terror or peacekeeping missions. But the Congress and President Obama are making it clear that they are no longer willing to sustain the culture of impunity of these regimes or subordinate fundamental human rights to political expediency by providing dictators with military training and equipment which will inevitably be used to crackdown on internal opposition and wage war against neighboring countries.

The Moral Challenge in Obama’s Foreign Policy

Last week, President Obama gave a stirring speech on the future direction of U.S. foreign policy and how he plans to keep America safe from its sworn enemies:

… I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. The documents that we hold in this very hall – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights – are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality and dignity in the world.

In that speech, the President raised American foreign policy from the murky morass of Bush’s cowboy unilaterialsm to the sublime heights of moral clarity grounded in America’s founding principles and values. The President stressed the urgency of restoring a moral perspective in the debates over the challenges of American foreign policy, and the need to return to fundamental American principles and values for guidance. President Obama has witnessed the enormous damage inflicted upon America’s role in the world, and the corruption of American values and principles under the Bush-Cheney administration. The contrived war in Iraq, the unspeakable abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and the albatross hanging around America’s neck, the grotesque detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are merely examples of the moral decay America had to endure over the past eight years. That is why the President had to emphatically declare to the world that he believes “with every fiber of his being” in the “rule of law, liberty, justice, equality fairness and the dignity of the individual”. No more of a foreign policy based on a twisted philosophy of the “end justifies the means”.

We anticipate the hollow and deceitful sovereignty arguments raised so often by the dictators in Ethiopia. They say, “no one can tell them how to run their ‘country’ by giving or denying them aid.” But they need to understand that linking military aid, or for that matter economic aid, to explicit human rights criteria is not to violate anyone’s sovereignty. Sovereign American law (Leahy Amendment) requires denial of military aid to any regime whose military units engage in gross abuses of human rights. By denying military aid, the U.S. is merely dissociating itself from the crimes, corruption and atrocities of the dictators in Ethiopia. The U.S. no longer wants to support and foster their culture of impunity that tolerates the burning of villages in the Ogaden to accomplish the ends of “counter-terrorism”, or the massacre of innocent protesters in the streets to help them “cling to power”. Most importantly, the termination of military assistance to rogue regimes is essentially about America itself and its role in the world. Tin pot dictators have the choice of “clinging to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent”; and America has the choice of clinging fiercely and tenaciously to its fundamental principles and values of “liberty, justice, freedom, fairness, equality and dignity in the world.” H.R. 1105 makes that choice for America.

Writing on the Wall: Endgame!

It is reasonable to suppose that the dictators in Ethiopia see the relevant provisions of H.R.1105 as the proverbial writing on the wall, the beginning of the endgame. They never thought in their wildest imaginations that Barack Obama would be elected President. They thought they had it sewed up by donating millions to a certain foundation. They thought they could throw around their millions on K Street lobbyists and stonewall any change in American foreign policy towards them. They thought they were invincible because they could wine and dine witless American politicians to do their dirty deeds. They thought Bush’s “war on terror” will go on forever. They thought they could exploit to their advantage America’s global dilemma over national security and the protection of human rights. They thought American power came from the shrapnel of its bombs, the deadly accuracy of its missiles and the formidable capabilities of its armed forces. But they could never imagine or understand that America’s awesome power lies in the principles and values declared to a “candid world” over two centuries ago in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is impossible for them to even begin to understand what President Obama means when he says he believes “with every fiber of his being” in the “power of our most fundamental values”. But it is with the aid of these values and principles that President Obama shall seek to restore America’s leadership in the world, and win the hearts and minds of friends and foes alike.

The dictators in Ethiopia have a big problem on their hands. They don’t know what to do with President Obama. They are confused. Most likely, they feel vulnerable and unsure of what will happen next. So, they will try to entice him to support them by re-deploying troops to Somalia to prove once more that the U.S. needs them to fight against al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda and whoever else is hiding behind a rock there. They will try to scare him by threatening to dump America and go to China for their military needs. They will try to sweet-talk him into believing that they will be nice and take steps to be more democratic and stop violating human rights. They will pile lies upon lies in a desperate attempt not to lose American material and moral support.

But all of that will be in vain. President Obama is not George Bush. He can not be schmoozed by silly talk of the birth pangs of a “nascent democracy” and that sort of hogwash. President Obama knows African politics and history well; and he has spoken eloquently of Africa’s tragic predicament: Dictators that “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent,” human rights abuses, the absence of the rule of law, corruption and repression. One can not overcome these problems by having more guns and tanks or by training soldiers to use them skillfully against innocent citizens. That is why President Obama reached out to all tin pot dictators and promised “that we will extend a hand if [they] are willing to unclench [their] fist”, and offered “to the people of poor nations [that] we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.” America will not give military aid to dictators to kill and oppress their people; but if the dictators “unclench their fists”, it will gladly help them build institutions and civil society organizations committed to deepening democracy, accountability and human rights, and establish “the vital trust between a people and their government.”

Let there be no mistake: President Obama is not naïve. He knows the terrorists and tin pot dictators of the world will not be influenced by pleas for observance of the rule of law, or moral appeals to do what is right. He knows there is no magic formula to transform dictators into democrats. That does not happen even in fairy tales, though it has been said that once in fairyland a frog was transformed into a prince. But there is no fairyland that exists in the imagination where it is possible to change thugs into statesmen. For in the end, U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration will not be about what is wrong with self-delusional tin pot dictators that “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.” Rather, it will be about using America’s democratic values and principles to win the hearts and minds of a hostile and skeptical world that has witnessed a great nation degenerate to its lowest level over the past eight years. It will be about how America can get it right, after getting it wrong for so long, in a world that looks anxiously for its moral leadership. It will be a long and hard road ahead, but ultimately America will regain its moral leadership and credibility among the poor people of the world with President Obama at the helm.

America is lucky to have a President who has a moral vision for his nation, openly celebrates “with every fiber of his being” the values and principles upon which his nation is founded, and proudly and cheerfully toils day and night to serve the American people. America is truly blessed to have a leader who knows right from wrong, and swiftly disinherits those “on the wrong side of history”!

[1] http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h1105enr.txt.pdf

The writer, Alemayehu G. Mariam, is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles. For comments, he can be reached at almariam@gmail.com

Ethiopia faces $1 billion shortfall in export revenues

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

By Groum Abate

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia’s export revenues are expected to fall short of the target by more than $1 billion this year, bucking the positive trends of the past few years, an official report has indicated.

Demand for Ethiopian goods has fallen on account of the global economic slowdown, while the nation’s biggest export product, coffee, has been affected by hoarding, the government has said.

In a report submitted to parliament’s standing committee, the trade and industry ministry said only 40 percent of the export target for the September 2008-August 2009 financial year has been earned.

Of the $2.56 billion targeted for the entire year, it earned $1.02 billion. This was 56 percent of the revenues targeted for the September-May period, the report said.

Unofficial estimates say going by the trend so far, export revenues would be around $1.33 billion for the whole year, short of last year’s figure by over $170 million.

In fact, Trade and Industry Minister Girma Birru said the only realistic goal he saw for the export sector was to try and match last fiscal’s revenues.

Admitting that it had failed to look for new markets after regular buyers canceled orders, the government said it was now taking measures such as exempting exporters from power shedding to bail them out.

‘For exporters with confirmed export orders in May and June, power will be given without any interruption,’ Birru said.

Coffee has fetched $251 million till now — about 54 percent lower than what was forecast earlier. This, according to the ministry, was on account of hoarding by exporters who were waiting for prices to rise and also derail the newly-established Ethiopian Commodity Exchange.

The licences of six exporters have been revoked, while some are being prosecuted.

Over $229 million was earned from oilseed exports, while the narcotic khat crop accounted for about $102 million.

Mineral exports have shown a slight increase, fetching over $68 million compared to $64.4 million in the corresponding period last year.

Environment and economic development in Ethiopia

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

By Getachew Belaineh

I am writing this article with full confidence and trust that concerned officials and readers will take it as a constructive technical opinion that supports making an effort to utilize the nation’s natural resources in a sustainable and responsible manner. To begin, without hesitation I commend the efforts to utilize the nation’s natural resources including the rivers, minerals, and fertile soils to alleviate poverty and make the country a better place to live. The country is desperately poor and its natural resources are among the first targets for economic development. Obviously, developmental activities have thrived in the country in the past decade. However, it is feared that officials are only aimed at short-term economic gains and are causing massive ecosystem extinctions. This fear is the catalyst for writing this article. The article attempts to accentuate the grave consequences of developments that are only aimed at short-term economic gains and ignore sustainability.

The message aims at the broad spectrum of industrial and agricultural developments and small and large developments; however, not to be wearisome, few are singled out vis-à-vis water infrastructures, cement factories, land leasing, and commercial flower farms and are bound to hit upon two issues: sustainability and the contentious national benefit. By no means is the intent to downplay these efforts, rather it is to call attention to the seemingly overlooked development-induced irreversible environmental consequences and misconstrued benefit. At this point, it is worth mentioning the plea more than 1,500 of the world’s top scientists made in 1993: “We must recognize the earth’s limited capacity to provide for us. We must recognize its fragility. We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes.”

Industries ranging from small food processing plants to huge complex cement factories have detrimental effects on the nation’s growth. Agricultural developments not only offer food security, but can also be lucrative and play a major role in hard currency earnings. However, these developmental efforts will furnish meaningful national benefits only when planned and implemented in a sustainable and responsible manner. The government often sees developmental activities as having the potential to meet traditional economic desiderata to enhance citizens’ short-term satisfaction with the administration. Long-term social and environmental aspects should be given the same significance as economic and financial factors. Oftentimes, the much-trumpeted benefits may not necessarily be beneficial as they are made to sound in the media, because they do not include the costs of protecting the environment from development-induced environmental and social impacts. The essence of sustainable development is a stable relationship between developmental activities and the natural system, which does not diminish biodiversity and the prospects for future generations. Developments alone solve only half of the equation of economic growth. The other half of the equation deals with the sustainability and protection of induced ecosystem impacts. A true development ought to solve both equations simultaneously, such that the needs of the present are met without compromising the biodiversity and the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Ignoring sustainability is the same as ignoring future generations. With that, said on the general, the following section would scrutinize selected current developmental activities.

Gilgel Gibe Dams: The development of multipurpose water infrastructure in general is critical to effective economic growth. In the past 10 years or so, the country has installed two major hydropower dams: Tekeze dam in Tekeze River in the northern part of the country, and Gilgel Gibe I in the tributary of Gibe River, Gilgel Gibe (Baby Gibe), in the western part. The construction of the Gilgel Gibe II hydroelectric plant and Gilgel Gibe III dam on Omo River are currently underway. Gilgel Gibe II situated on the Gibe River mainstream, is an extension of Gilgel Gibe I, and does not involve a dam. Gilgel Gibe III, the biggest hydroelectric project in Ethiopia, is being constructed on the Omo River, which is about 150 km downstream of the Gilgel Gibe II site, and when completed will add 1,870 megawatts to the power grid. The Omo River is an international (trans-boundary) river that begins at the confluence of the Gibe and Gojeb rivers and discharges into Lake Turkana in Kenya. All three Gilgel Gibes can be viewed as a single water infrastructure because they impact the same basin. Some fear this series of hydro-infrastructures (especially, Gilgel Gibe III) will impose a serious negative impact on the downstream ecosystem including Lake Turkana. It is a legitimate fear.

The Los Angeles Times published an article in its May 14, 2009, issue about the environmental problems Gilgel Gibe III will impose on the people living downstream. A California-based environmentalist group has also asked the bank to stop funding the construction of the dam, citing the threat the dam would impose on Lake Turkana in Kenya.

Without a doubt, Gilgel Gibe III will alter the natural Omo River flow pattern. The alteration may range from brief no flow conditions in dry seasons to unnaturally high flow when water is released from the reservoir to run the turbines. This is indeed a serous but manageable problem. Ethiopia may not have minimum flow criteria for any of its rivers at present. Without getting into the complex relationships between minimum flow level and the ecosystem, the simple approach to set minimum flow level would be to identify the lowest flow in the Omo River using historical flow records and allowing that rate during dry seasons. The impact from unnaturally high flow can be reduced by diverting the excess flow to irrigation fields or other water supply systems. The upstream side of the dam also has its share of significant impacts resulting from the inundation of the 34,000 square kilometer (34 million hectares) reservoir. In fact, unlike the downstream side, the upstream effect is all seasons for the life of the dam, which is 70 or 80 years. An increase in malaria and schistosomiasis (aka bilharzia) is expected to spread around the shore of the reservoir. The natural ecological, historical, and maybe archeological resources will be permanently inundated. Not to mention, the people who will be displaced from the submerged area.

Having said that much about the consequences of Gilgel Gibe III, the argument to stop the project by only the environmental concerns has no merit. Despite the potentially negative impacts, the Gibe hydropower dams can yield huge environmental benefits both locally and regionally. The power produced hydroelectrically is much cleaner than coal burning and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The aforementioned environmental consequences are preventable with careful operation system and robust mitigation activities. According to the Africa Development Bank (ADB), about 267 million Birr (US $27 million) is budgeted for mitigation of the upstream and downstream ecological impacts. However, it should be mentioned that there is no evidence that the government’s implementation of mitigation works as mentioned in the loan document. The trend is to put environmental issues on the front burner until closing the loan and then later forget about it. The timely implementation of ecological mitigation is often a fundamental part of ensuring that a project is environmental friendly and delivered on time.

On the flip side, the economic feasibility of the Gilgel Gibe III project is an open question that needs serious attention. The project construction is underway since 2004 with an estimated total cost of about 21 billion Birr (US $1.86 billion). According to an Italian company who analyzed the project, the implemented has began without a comprehensive pre-project option assessment and cost/benefit analysis. One of the elements that determine the economic feasibility is the electric power sell arrangement. As reported by the government, the target markets are domestic consumers and export to neighboring countries. Regarding the domestic market, based on the current indicators, the electric supply from Gilgel Gibe III could be unaffordable for many domestic consumers for the near future. With respect to export, the government is currently negotiating power purchase agreements with Djibouti, Sudan, and Kenya, although none have signed a commitment to date. In fact, the recently heightened controversy surrounding the Gilgel Gibe III project originates from Kenya because of the ecological effect on Lake Turkana. On these grounds, it would be naïve for the Ethiopian government to target Kenya as a potential market. The life of the dam is the other major factor determining the economic feasibility of the project. In order to utilize the dam to its maximum design life, the reservoir must be protected from siltation. Siltation effectively reduces the dam’s life as manifested in Koka hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia and elsewhere in the world. Siltation problem can be minimized if prior to the completion of the the contributing watershed is rigorously treated to reduce sediment transport. Hydrologically, because of the frequent drought occurrence in the country, the dam could be vulnerable to drought or severe climate changes.

In sum, Gilgel Gibe III can be environmentally tolerable if implemented with the necessary ecosystem protection schemes, but its economic feasibility and sustainability is still wobbly.

Derba Cement Factory: The construction of a relatively large cement factory known as Derba Cement factory is another developmental activity currently in progress. This factory is located in the Sululta region about 70 km north of Addis Ababa. When completed, along with the others, the factory is expected to meet Ethiopian cement demand for some time in the future. The overall benefit of this factory is luminously reported in various local media outlets and by its officials, and there is no need to echo it here. The underreported and unrecognized aspect of the factory is its adverse social and environmental impacts. The factory buildings, the quarry site, and the roads are stretched over a total area of about188 hectares. The quarry and factory are situated relatively far apart. The factory is located on a pristine beautiful green plateau about 8 km from Derba village near the town of Sululita. The quarry site is in the Mugher Valley connected by a 7 km conveyor to the factory. One would wonder why the factory is not situated within the vicinity of the quarry site instead of in undisturbed natural landscape. It appears maximizing the company’s profitability was the primary objective in the selection of the factory’s location. The parent company, Midroc, is a company that can only survive by making a profit or in the hopes of making a profit in the future. So it is within its interest to locate the factory in an optimum position to gain maximum profit. There is nothing wrong with the company’s interests; the problem is the environmental issues were not addressed.

The other concern with the Derba Cement factory is its huge appetite for water, which is estimated to be 2,000 cubic meters (2 million liter) per day. The factory is permitted to pump ground water to meet its water requirement, and the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) document shows pumping 2,000 cubic meters per day is much less than the natural groundwater recharge rate in the area and will not cause any undesirable impact on the region’s water resources (Africa Development Bank). The bank document do not show what kind of data and method of analysis was used to arrive at that conclusion. It is unclear whether scenarios such as an extended dry period which is fairly common in the region, and projected population and demand growth are considered in the analysis. At any rate, from a resources conservation perspective, the more sound approach could be for the factory to build its own surface reservoir to store surface runoff and use groundwater as a supplemental source. There is no record showing environmental mitigation to offset any unavoidable impacts with restoration or enhancement of other areas. Normally, mitigation actions (if there are any) are required to occur before the company begins construction.

The timely implementations of the environmental protection systems and the mitigation plan will provide a win-win situation to promote both economic benefit of the factory and environmental protection.
Cut Flower Business: The development of cut flower farms is on the rise predominantly within the Great Rift Valley. Until the late 70s, flower growing was merely a household activity in Ethiopia. Only after the mid-80s was commercial expansion of flower growing with an emphasis on overseas markets. In the 80s, there was only a single flower farm on about 25 hectares of land near the town of Zeway about 130 km south of Addis Ababa, and it was owned and operated by the government. Determined to grab a slice of the lucrative cut flower market, it has been about a decade since the government has started encouraging foreign investors to cross the border. Spurred by five-year tax holidays, and duty-free machinery import, flower farms now cover an area of about 1,500 hectares in the span of the past 10 years. About 90 local and foreign enterprises are involved, but the majority of the land is owned by foreigners. For example, a Dutch company alone is engaged on a 500-hectare flower farm in the Zeway area. Although the net national revenue is unknown, reportedly, cut flower export generates a gross $160 million a year with an estimated annual growth rate of about 20 percent. The present global financial crises might have retarded the export temporarily. Nonetheless, basic business concepts dictate that the country’s revenue in this market is only a small fraction of the gross income. The following section will explore the social and environmental impacts.

Water is a scarce resource across most parts of Ethiopia. However, despite the high level of consumptive of water, flower farms continue to thrive without consideration of an efficient irrigation system. Studies show about 90 percent of a flower is water; therefore, exporting flowers is exporting fresh water. The consumptive use with the most efficient irrigation system is about 40 cubic meters or 40,000 liters per day per hectare. Simple math shows that the 1,500 hectares of farmland consume about 60,000 cubic meters (60 million liters) per day. In fact, less efficient farms, which are mostly the case in the absence of water use regulations, can use three times as much. In Kenya, the water level in Lake Naivasha is about 3 meters lower than its normal level due to the commercial flower farms in the surrounding area. In Ethiopia where drought is frequent, it will not be too long before the groundwater will be depleted and those scenic and biologically diverse Great Rift Valley lakes disappear. The Great Rift Valley ecosystem is breathtakingly attractive and serves as a habitat for diverse wildlife including several rare bird species. If there is anyone who is not a nature admirer before coming to the Great Rift Valley, certainly he or she will be after visiting the area. For instance, Lake Ziwaye is one of the freshwater lakes known for its population of birds and hippopotamuses and supports a fishing industry. This natural set up is at stake unless the water usage and chemical application is robustly regulated. The disappearance and/or poising of these freshwater lakes mean the extinction of birds, fish, and hippos that are housed by the lakes. Regulating water usage not only promotes an effective irrigation system that delivers necessary quantities of water, but also reduces the transport of nonpoint pollution to the lakes and groundwater. There is no legal framework guiding the use of surface water or groundwater resources in the country. This is alarming call to set one up.

Excessive toxic pesticides, inorganic fertilizers (nitrate and phosphate), and preservative chemicals are another serious concern associated with commercial scale flower farms. In fact, flower buyers’ demand for unblemished and pest-free flowers encourages growers to use excessive amounts of highly toxic chemicals. To meet this demand, flowers both on the farm and in the packaging process are frequently and liberally sprayed with a multitude of chemicals. In many developed countries, operating a commercial flower farm is no longer profitable due to the costly environmental protection criteria. This is partly the reason flower growers choose to establish their farms in the Third World where there is minimum or no environmental regulation, and of course, a cheap workforce. Recently, the managing director of Sher Ethiopia, one of the large-scale flower farms, said his farm follows European environmental regulation standards because Ethiopia’s regulation is not robust enough to protect the environment. The manager is correct about the nominal regulatory system, and that is an embarrassment to the responsible governmental agencies. However, it is hard to believe that the company voluntarily imposed tighter environmental regulations on itself, incurring additional costs out of its own free will to protect the environment.

When pesticides and fertilizers are applied excessively or improperly, the excess is washed off from the farms to downstream rivers, streams, and lakes, causing an array of problems including poisoning, increased algae blooms, and excessive plant growth leading to eutrophication making the water bodies and vegetations harmful to human, wild, and aquatic life. Cattle and wild animals eating the contaminated vegetation and drinking the poisoned water transfer the chemicals into the food chain. Koka Lake is on the verge of ecological collapse due to recent harmful algal bloom resulting from the drainage of flower farms and other industries into the watershed. The local people who have no choice but to drink the lake’s water each day are left to deal with a range of health problems ranging from fatal chronic diarrhea to babies born with birth defects. Further more, many of the flower farm workers suffer from health problems linked to unprotected daily exposure to toxic pesticides. Even more frightening is that some of the damage to the workforce’s health could be irreparable.

The slave wage, nonexistent compensation plan for injuries at work, and the long work hours compounded with the unprotected work condition makes the work environment equivalent to a concentration camp. The real tragedy is that the workers have no say regarding their rights because they are not allowed to form a labor union. Ironically, there is a Flower Exporters Association representing the investors that gives them the power to use an il­literate, unprotected, and underpaid workforce. The govern­ment has given due atten­tion to the industry because of the rev­enue it collects. No one seem to pay attention to the environmental mismanagement, labor abuse and unfair land holding. As part of its social responsibility recently, Sher Ethiopia, has constructed a Stadium with half a million USD and granted to the community with 25,000 USD donations (Africa News). The same news paper published that Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development acknowledged Sher Ethiopia for its outstanding social responsibility activities and pointed that it can be taken as a model of good business practice by other business companies. This is laughable. What good is a stadium do to a community whose health is at risk, and whose labor right is violated, whose environment is irreversibly damaged?

Leasing Land to Foreigners: The inherently low agricultural productivity, together with the current shortage of foreign currency, led the government to begin leasing huge chunk of fertile lands to foreign countries for agricultural development. The leasing arrangement essentially offered foreign investors not only fertile soil, also unlimited access to scarce freshwater resources and a cheap labor force. According to a report written jointly by two UN bodies, Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Institute for Environment and Development, African countries are giving away vast tracts of farmland to foreign countries and investors almost for free, with the only benefits consisting of fuzzy promises of jobs and infrastructure. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Libya, and Egypt who are short of fertile land and freshwater resources are buying or leasing land from countries all over the world. Ethiopia is one of the targets. According to the government officials, the food produced on the leased lands will be available to domestic markets as well as for export. That is a publicity stunt because domestic consumers cannot possibly compete with the prices foreign consumers would pay. Many are wary; not only the food but the profits from this farming would be siphoned off to consumers and investors in other countries.

It is true that revenues from taxes, and tariffs may give the government limited short-term relief from the hard currency shortage. However, this marginal short-term monetary benefit compounded with the long-term residual adverse impact on the community and the ecosystem makes the leasing of land to foreigners an unwise exploitation of natural resources.

Arguably, the government used the inherently low agricultural productivity in the country as an excuse for the strikingly short and simple land leasing contract compared to the economic reality of the transaction. However, leasing land to foreigners cannot be the way to improve productivity (yield per hectare) and thereby the country’s food security. The way to improve inherently low agricultural productivity is by helping local farmers improve their primitive farming practices, making available the necessary yield-boosting inputs including fertilizers and improved seeds, and reforming the land ownership policy to liberalize the agricultural sector to promote private sector development. Leasing fertile land to foreigners is without a doubt more beneficial to leaseholders than the country.

Suggested General Solutions: All the above-mentioned environmental and social impacts are preventable or at least can be substantially minimized with a practical and effective regulatory system. Here are some suggestions: (1) It should be mandatory for each industry and construction project in the country to pass through an environmental permitting processes before establishing the firm or implementing the construction. In the permit application, the permitting agency, based on pre-established site-specific specifications, must evaluate the company’s ability to meet the nation’s environmental protection criteria. (2) In addition to the site-specific environmental regulatory criteria, the permitting process must also require chemical intensive farms including flower farm industries to be fair trade certified. Fair trade certification provides an independent verification that the workers on the farms have decent wages and working conditions in line with the core International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions and farms are environmentally friendly. The certification includes the right to join a trade union, the right to negotiate collectively with the employer on terms and conditions of employment, freedom from discrimination, and a safe and healthy working environment. (3) There must be an agency in charge of reinforcing environmental regulation by monitoring to ensure effluents from farms or industries meet the quality standard.

In the bigger picture, environmental education should be a part of the school curriculum at every grade because student knowledge of basic environmental concepts establishes a foundation for their future understandings and actions as citizens. Universities should consider offering high level Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering courses leading to professionals in the respective fields. Specially, science, agricultural and engineering colleges/faculties ought to be fully engaged in producing scientists and professionals in Environmental Sciences/Engineering fields. Addis Ababa University has recently opened an Institute of Environment, Water and Developments (IEWD) under the College of Development Studies. That is a good start.

The country has great growth potential, but this potential is not realized due to multiple factors. The leading factor is the ineffectiveness of the responsible agencies. This article would be incomplete without a few words about the agencies supposedly responsible for agricultural developments and environmental protection. These agencies are the long-standing Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MOARD), Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The latter is a relatively young agency established approximately in 1992. IAR was established in 1966 with mandates to formulate the national agricultural research policy; carry out researches in various agroecological zones of the country. According to publications, IAR’s golden period was approximately between the 70s and early 80s when considerable research results have been released improving crop yield and stress resistance. The agency appears to be in a frozen mode since then. MOARD is one of the oldest, the largest and well-staffed ministries in the country. MOARD was established with mandate to sustainably improve agricultural and rural developments in the country by providing the necessary technical, infrastructural and institutional support, and ensure safe agricultural operations having due regards to nature diversity and protection of the environment. Yet farming is still primitive, agricultural productivity continues to decline, and most farmers are producing below subsistence level, and environment is endangered by unregulated commercial farms. In sum, primarily due to bureaucratic entanglements and outdated administrative set ups MOARD, and IAR to some degree have become blind to the real issues the country is facing vis-à-vis the under development of agriculture. According to the United Nations Development Program, about 74 million hectares of land are arable with only 10 percent presently cultivated. The under-utilization of the vast areas of fertile land established an excuse for the government to move towards attracting and encouraging foreign companies to lease the land. Leasing land to foreign countries is not necessarily the best solution, as shown above, but clearly indicates that MOARD and IAR are not living up to their duties and responsibilities to help farmers utilize the land and become productive. EPA is a relatively new agency and appears to be overwhelmed by the thriving anthropogenic environmental issues. Outsourcing some of the monitoring and regulatory tasks may help EPA to tackle many of the issues.

As part of the effort to improve the agricultural productivity, MOARD and IAR need radical institutional transformations to cure them from their chronic bureaucratic entanglements and outdated administrative styles.

Concluding Remark: The effort to make the most of natural resources to improve living conditions in the country is admirable. However, it is poignant not to do it sustainably and responsibly. We are not the final generation of the country. There are future generations to consider. They too need these resources for their existence. Contrary to that animal, let the grass continue to grow even after we expire.

(The author can be reached at gbelaineh@yahoo.com)

Top 10 ways to make money online

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Making money online is not as easy as a few of us think of it to be. However, making money on the internet is one of the most searched set of keywords with little variation on Google. There are difficult ways to make money online and there are less difficult ways. Whatever the method you choose, you would still need loads of patience and put in a good amount of time and effort to make yourself successful. Aligning your online money making system with the skills you already possess can make the whole exercise easier and efficient. Let us discuss the top 10 simple and easy ways of making money online.

1. Copy/Paste: The easiest job you can do on a computer is to use it as a typing machine. A lot of data entry jobs are available over the internet that can make you money in your free time. This is a lot of hard work and payouts are less. You can find a lot of such data entry jobs at freelance work sites or with companies who recruit direct.

2. Design: Graphic design, logo designer and website design is very much in demand today and if you have necessary skills and the aesthetic sense, you can make tons of money designing for others. You can look for freelance jobs in designing and make an online portfolio to et customers interested.

3. Coding: Web development is another sphere that is very much in demand. If you are good at coding websites, especially the ones that are geared towards ecommerce or other such complicated websites you are in to rake in a lot of money online.

4. Writing: If you are skilled at creating compelling written content, you are in demand. There is a big market for website content, SEO content and a lot of other forms of writing jobs that can make good money for you online.

5. Invest and reap: You can also try website flipping if you have some money to spare. You can build two or three websites and put good content into them before you can sell them off for a handsome profit.

6. Filling forms: A lot of research goes on over the internet and you can make some good money by just filling up forms for other people who conduct research.

7. SEO: If you are well versed with search engine optimization, you can make a lot of money offering your services to other webmasters. This is one of the highest paying jobs on the internet today and is in good demand.

8. Forum posting: This is a consistent and long term job available on the internet. All one needs to do is to post a few texts and make money on a regular basis.

9. Social Bookmarking: This service is in great demand today since it drives traffic to a designated website very quickly. You would need to make a short text about the website and submit to a predetermined set of social websites.

10. Sell goods and services: also known as affiliate marketing, selling stuff from other companies for a handsome commission without any investment is also a good option to make money online.

Source: Business Ideas And Entrepreneurship

President Obama goes to Africa

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

This is not the first visit by a sitting US president to our continent. But this trip is very different. One of our own is coming to Africa as the leader of the most powerful nation.

As an African I am very happy. Mr. Obama is a very busy person. He is dealing with the worst economic downturn in his nations history, nuclear proliferation issues in Korea and Iran, the ongoing problem in the Middle East and the legacy of two wars he inherited from his predecessor. The fact that he found the time to stop over in Africa says a lot about where his heart is.

Again I am delighted he is honoring our continent with his presence. The choice of Ghana as his first stop to Africa says a lot about the President. Out of forty-seven countries in Africa why Ghana? Is it because it is the biggest, most populous, the richest, the most powerful, or the oldest? Why Ghana is a good question.

He could have traveled to Kenya the home of his father. He could have stopped in Ethiopia, the seat of African Union. Nigeria as the most populous black nation would have been good too. But President Obama chose Ghana.

He chose Ghana because according to a White House source “Ghana is an outpost of democracy and civil society in a volatile region.” Very simple and straight forward statement. In other words Ghana has a legitmate governement chosen by the people. Ghana is a beacon of bright light in our dark continent. President Obama is making a powerful statement regarding democracy, human right and the rule of law.

As an Ethiopian I was filled with conflicting emotions regarding his visit. I wanted him to come to Ethiopia. I know it is being selfish but it is the truth. As the founder of Africa Union and the seat of the Organization, Ethiopia should have been the logical venue for the President to share his vision for Africa.

We deserve such an honor because we are one of the oldest nation state in the world. Our country was in the forefront of the struggle of the African people to gain their freedom. Most liberation movements in Africa are indebted to Ethiopia for the generous help offered by our government and people. We helped in training freedom fighters, giving safe haven to those prosecuted for their beliefs and urged the UN to bring the cause of freedom to the forefront.

On the other hand I am very glad President Obama chose Ghana instead of my homeland. It is the right thing to do. To be frank I would have been disappointed if he had come to Addis. I would have considered him an enabler.

It would be looked at as coddling a military junta masquerading as an elected government. The lawlessness nature of the Ethiopian government has been recorded by reports such as US Department of State, Amnesty international, Human Rights Watch, Doctors without Frontiers, International Federation of Journalists, Education International and the most compelling witness of all; you the Ethiopian in the Diaspora.

You know how many rely on you to survive. You are aware of those being washed in the shores of Yemen. It is an open secret the abuse of young Ethiopian girls in the Middle East. You have heard of those who travel thru territories escorted into unknown lands, a few left behind during this dangerous trek to die alone while others are Caught and put in jail for trespassing. You are the best witness if you want to be.

Nairobi’s Daily Nation wrote “in skipping Kenya, the first African American president is signaling that he puts political values over ancestral allegiances.” I agree. Ethnic politics is very backward and destructive. It should be a thing of the past. When it comes to Ethiopia Mr. Obama was avoiding two negative characters he abhors. He is definitely not familiar with tribalism. Tribalism is primitive and so yesterday. Democracy and the rule of law is what he promised to uphold and it will be contrary to his principles to bestow such honor on a tyrannical regime as Ethiopia. Ghana is a perfect choice to enable positive character. It is a perfect reward to the achievement of our Ghanaian cousins.

I am sure his confidential report on Ethiopia includes such facts as:

• Government ownership of all land.
• Government monopoly of news media such as TV, Radio and Newspaper.
• Government ownership of communication media such as telephone, both land line and mobile and Internet service.
• Government practice of blocking web sites.
• Single ethnic group control of commercial enterprises such as insurance, transportation, construction, fertilizer, seeds and now coffee.
• Single ethnic group control of the military and internal security.
• The ruling party’s practice of creating clone parties and trade organizations.
• The ruling party’s use of death squads to get rid of opposition.
• Government act of exiling opponents by intimidation and physical violence.

All nations with embassies in Ethiopia are perfectly aware of the nature of the government. I am sure their reports back to their government is full of revelations of the atrocities committed by the regime. They all have their own interest when they assesss their relationship with our country. We are the only ones that can change the equation.

I am sure it is early enough to catch President Obama during his next visit to Africa. I am hopeful he will be met by a nation united under the umbrella of democracy and committed to the rule of law. Ethiopia will take its righteous place as the leader of Africa. It is up to each one of us to get involved and help steer the freedom train on the right track. Mr. Obama made a powerful statement. Are you going to sit there and talk about it or lift a finger and be part of the solution?

(The writer can be reached at yilma@pacbell.net)

Meles Zenawi in handcuffs

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Heading to The Hague? The picture below is satire, but Ethiopia’s tribal dictator is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity by credible international human rights organizations, and there are serious efforts to bring charges against him at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Ginbot 7 Secretary General held talks in Asmara

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Secretary General of a major Ethiopian opposition party, Ginbot 7 Movement for Freedom and Justice is currently on a working visit in Asmara, Eritrea.

During his visit, Ginbot 7 Secretary General Andargachew held talks with high-level Eritrean government officials, leaders of the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), and officials of other opposition groups, according to Ethiopian Review sources inside Ginbot 7.

Ato Andargachew’s visit followed Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s ground-breaking interview with Ethiopian Review and eppfOnline.org earlier this month.

Ginbot 7′s discussion with EPPF included how to forge a broad-based alliance comprised of all the Ethiopian armed resistance groups.

Additionally, Ginbot 7 hopes to setup a temporary headquarters in Asmara, sources informed Ethiopian Review.

Ato Andargachew’s trip could also pave the way for Ginbot 7 chairman and the legitimately elected mayor of Addis Ababa, Dr Berhanu Nega, to travel to Asmara soon.

EPPF's radio is now available online

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Voice of Ethiopian Patriots (YeArbegnoch Dimts), a radio program that was recently launched by the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), is now accessible online, according Ato Sileshi Tilahun, head of organizational affairs.

To listen the program online click here.

YeArbegnoch Dimts can be heard throughout eastern Africa currently, and now that it is accessible online, it will have worldwide reach.

YeArbegnoch Dimts is headed by former Negat Radio host Demis Belete, who has recently returned to the U.S. after visiting with EPPF leaders and forming the radio team in Asmara.

Ato Demis Belete is also head of the EPPF Press Office.

Meanwhile, EPPF Executive Committee has opened a new bank account in Washington DC. For more information, visit www.eppfonline.org

Is Johnnie Carson rolling-on to Bush policies?

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

By Amanuel Biedemariam

On May 20, 2009 US Senate Committee on Foreign Relation conducted a hearing regarding the Situation in Somalia on a setting and process that resembled a courtroom. The case could likely be termed as, The State against the State of Eritrea. The process seemed eerily familiar and déjà vu to the previous administration. The victim is the New Transitional Government (TNG) in Somalia. Eritrea is the accused and predetermined-guilty-party to crimes committed in Somalia, and awaits sentencing by a panel of Senators.

While the hearing appeared to be a knee jerk reaction to the fast developing situation in Somalia, it is coordinated and timed to coincide with the new-furious campaign being waged against Eritrea. It is not a coincidence that IGAD called for sanctions and blockade against Eritrea the same day the hearing was being conducted at the US Capitol. Better yet, the AU repeated the same calls, and condemned Eritrea giving Eritreans an early Independence-Day-gift, a day ahead of the main celebration was to be held!

The Senate panel led by Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin held identical hearings during the Bush Presidency. The principal actors are different as a result of the election, but the messages and the types of witnesses come from similar backgrounds; which means there is no infusion of new information. So the process seems to have continued with the Assistant Secretary Carson acting as the chief prosecutor, while Shannon Scribner from OXFAM and Dr. Ken Menkhaus sat as expert witnesses. Assistant Secretary Carson’s “testimony” can be summed up as follows: US can attain her strategic objectives with TNG/TFG led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. And for undetermined strategic positioning Mr. Carson decided to make Eritrea the principal defendant as an accomplice to all the mayhem that is taking place in Somalia. In other words, it is predetermined that Eritrea will be the Whipping-Boy!

However, this assertion undermines the truth and fails to answer fundamental questions. It is also a sad commentary to see a Senate panel conducting a hearing on a setting that can be considered lackadaisical. How is it possible to conduct a hearing about an issue of great magnitude which affects the lives of millions in this manner and in a process that took less than two hours? Why did Senator Russ Feingold fail to have a comprehensive and serious hearing that involved all the stake holders? Why did he conduct the hearing for a policy in the process of being formulated and in a manner that fails to educate the general public in a balanced fashion? Who are the principal actors? What is the intended role of the US and its track record? What is the desired outcome? Why is the US repeating the same process over and over? Why the inconsistencies? Why is the US supporting a leader US and Ethiopian forces dethroned and captured as a terrorist? Senator Feingold knows the actors and the issues very well, but why did he limit the process?

The US supported and financed Ethiopian soldiers to invade Somalia. Ethiopian left Mogadishu in disgrace and in defeat. Ethiopia failed to achieve any measurable success. There is no single functioning standing institution Ethiopia built. And if security is a measuring stick, Ethiopia widened the conflict and made it borderless. Because, in violation of international laws Ethiopian soldiers entered Somalia and occupied a country that harbored historic enmity claiming security concerns and invitation from the previous transitional government, TFG.

Ethiopia received all the diplomatic cover it needed from the US. It was a regular act to see Dr. Janday Frazer defend Meles Zenawi and Ethiopian authorities from their crimes. Dr. Frazer established the Somali Contact Group. She used IGAD and AU to give legitimacy for her policies. She used the UNSC and UN as tools to achieve outlined objectives. Her failed policies created hell on earth while she avoided taking responsibility by blaming others.

Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson seems to have embraced the same approach and actors to deal with the issues in the Horn of Africa. Mr. Carson stated the National Security Council (NSC) is formulating a comprehensive strategy in this regard. It involves the State Department, Department of Defense, USAID, the Intelligence Community, EU, AU, IGAD, the “Contact Group” and many others. The question here is, if policy is being formulated, why the rush for the hearing? Why legitimize a failed process that went through many TFG/TNG leadership changes in a span of two years? Why not wait to develop a comprehensive, coherent, transparent and reasonable policy?

What is missing? Change! Change we can believe in! President Obama was elected to bring change. Change in policies, approach and fundamental change in the way this country relates to other countries. President Obama said we will listen, engage and we will not dictate. What Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson did contradicts all that. Mr. Carson has not listened to Eritrea, engaged Eritrea and did not explore how Eritrea can play a positive role. To the contrary he is building unnecessary wall with the people of Eritrea during a spirited independence celebration moments.

The question then becomes, is the new Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson rolling-on to failed Bush policies? Is he falling on the traps set by the most undiplomatic diplomat, Dr. Janday Frazer who contributed mightily to the unnecessary bloodshed in Somalia? What is the US policy seeking to achieve? Is it stability? The pattern doesn’t seem to indicate that to be the focus; in fact, the opposite could be argued successfully. Why? Because, for the simple fact that the US is supporting Ethiopia, a historic enemy of the Somalis to invade their country Somalia repeatedly!

As Dr. Ken Menkhaus testified, there is a great deal of suspicion and mistrust to US policies in the region. That mistrust will not let up until the US changes her approach. The US needs to give the people in the region a respite they need, seek and deserve. For decades foreign interventions have created a great deal of damage to the people in the region and they are beginning to fight it successfully. The more outsiders try to influence the final outcome the more resistance they will help create thus diminishing US influence in the region as it appears to be the case.

Considering the current economic hardships in the US and other equally pressing and overlapping issues, it is easy to conclude that President Obama will not have the time he needs to explore his policy options thoroughly. It will be at least another year for the President to evaluate the policy options and come up with a comprehensive approach. The president needs to address the continent in a new and meaningful manner with the same vigor he is addressing Moslems around the globe. We need to have faith in a President that came to power seeking to make a meaningful change.

The concern: too many players with interests that want to see the continuation of the statues quo overtaking the process to the point of no return. The US has unparalleled clout and uncontested ability to use regional and international organizations to advance agendas at will with impunity. Organizations like The African Union and IGAD are the tools at the disposal of US leaders to manipulate agendas. That is the process by which US agents legitimize and internationalize decisions they seek.

That means there must be a concerted effort by interested parties to stop the failed Bush and Frazer policies from regenerating. Because if the virus takes over; by the time the President takes over the issue all he can do is try to kill the virus. That will be a huge setback to the region’s hope-for-change! The people in the region understand it is a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO LIVE IN PEACE and they will seek and work to achieve it! So it is up to the people representing the people in the Horn to make sure those who are responsible, like Senator Feingold, to be held to account for their actions and decisions.

And it is my sincere hope and wishes to see Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson do well for the people of the Horn and to establish a legacy of stature by charting a new way in the direction of legitimate peace with balanced, equal and a fair approach.

(The writer can be reached at awetnayu@hotmail.com)

Ethiopian diplomat to head UN efforts in CAR

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

NEW YORK (UN NEWS CENTER) – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia as the top United Nations official in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Ms. Zewde, who would replace François Fall of Guinea, would be the second woman serving as a Special Representative of the Secretary-General under the current Secretary-General.

As the new Special Representative, she would head the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in CAR (BONUCA), which is to be succeeded by the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office, to be known as BINUCA.

Ms. Zewde is currently the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

“Ms. Zewde brings to this position years of experience in the African Union’s initiatives in conflict prevention and peacebuilding,” UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

“As a representative of her country to the African Union Peace and Security Council, she has been involved in deliberations on the situation in the Central African Republic. She has deep understanding of the close partnership of the United Nations and the African Union in resolving conflicts as well as in peacebuilding efforts in Africa.”

Ethiopian exchange student in Kentucky found dead

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (AP) — An 18-year-old exchange student from Ethiopia who had been attending school in south-central Kentucky has been found dead in a swimming pool.

Pulaski County Coroner Richard New says the cause of death for Fasika Hayelom Sibehatu will be confirmed in an autopsy Wednesday.

Richard New told the Lexington Herald-Leader that it’s possible Sibehatu hit his head diving into the pool, which was at his host home in Somerset. New says the pool is deep under the diving board but became shallow quickly.

Sibehatu was found dead early Tuesday. The pool was opened on Saturday, and New said Sibehatu hadn’t been in it until the incident in which he died. The homeowner says Sibehatu had said he could swim.

Sibehatu was from Adama, Ethiopia, and had been studying at Somerset Christian School since August.

Minority ethnic domination of the military in Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

By Neamin Zeleke

Several Ethiopian scholars and political commentators alike have argued in the past that the TPLF regime in Ethiopia has been promoting the domination of a minority ethnic elite, i.e., the Tigreans, in all spheres of the nation’s life — economy, military, intelligence and security services, foreign affairs, etc. Much has been said and many have commented upon the blatant nature of the drive to ensure the domination of Tigrayan elites who claim to represent only 6% of close to 80 million Ethiopians.

Dr. Berhanu Balcha, a member of the Network of Ethiopian Scholars in Scandinavia (NES), wrote an article under the title “Minority domination and Ethnic Federalism.” In the article published by many of the Ethiopain Websites, Dr. Berhanu aptly argued:

…according to the principles of its own ideology of fair and equal representation of ethic groups, the TPLF, which represents the Tigray province with its 6 percent of the Ethiopian population, should have assumed a minority role, if its intention has not been a minority ethnic hegemony via ethnic federalism. Because it has operated contrary to the rule of its own game, the TPLF is operating as an instrument of coercion and domination rather than equality and freedom.”

He continues:

…as a result, the ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia has been characterized by economic monopoly, militaristic domination, and brutal suppression of the rights of the majority of the Ethiopian people, by the TPLF. In a nutshell, the ethnic federal project in Ethiopia has become a device for the implementation and protection of the hegemonic position of the tiny minority Tigrayan elites who have been aiming to have a dominant control of resources that the Ethiopian state controls and generates…”

In the name of a ridiculous notion of “organizational solidarity,” almost all of the ethnically drawn regions under the TPLF ethnic federal arrangement are controlled by Tigrayans running the show. In fact, the pattern has been dubbed in Amharic as “tako”. There are Amharas, Oromos, Southern, and individuals from the plethora of ethnic groups of Ethiopia holding formal positions, yet the real decision makers, movers, and shakers are Tigrayans deemed loyal to the ruling party, the Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne).

It is important to note what is written in a recent statement released by AFAR MOVEMENT (AM) – QAFAR UGUGUMO. The statement mentions a UN Report 2002 that indicates that about 98% of directorial, managerial, adviser, technician and engineering positions in the State of Afar are all occupied by non-Afar speaking people. The statement discloses quoting an ex-cabinet member of the Afar state that “All advisers and expertise are all Tigreans.”

So much for the so-called “equality of nations and nationalities” under the TPLF ethnic federal arrangement that purports to ensure the devolution of power and self-government to the ethnically drawn regions.

Ginbot 7‘s latest statement provides a comprehensive list of the key and commanding positions held by Tigrayns in the military. By any stretch of imagination, it is not possible that 6% of the population have the unique capacity to command and control 95% of the command posts in the military. It is not possible by any kind of qualitative measurement for promotion — merit, experience, education and other criteria — that a single and minority ethnic group would have what it takes to hold 57 out of the 61 key and mission critical positions within the national military. Nothing can be further from the truth; the only thing that they have is their ethnicity and political loyalty to be able to totally dominate the military in such grossly disproportional ratio. This is the penultimate and most central point that comes out very loud and clear indeed.

If one is curious enough to examine the military composition during both Emperor HaileSelassie and the Derg regimes, dubbed as “Amhara ” regimes by the TPLF, it is extremely doubtful such a blatant phenomena where 95 percent of the command posts in the military of both regimes were held by Amharas. In fact, the best and ablest, and also the most powerful generals hailed from all ethnic groups of Ethiopia. Gen. Mulugeta Buli, Gen. Jagama Kelo, Gen. Aman Andom, Maj. General Demissie Bulto, Maj. General Regassa Jima, Gen. Woldeselassie Berka, Maj. General Merid Negussie, Gen. Tesfaye HabteMariam, Gen. Teferi Benti and scores of others who come from various ethnic backgrounds come to mind.

Here, the reader should be cognizant that we are not talking about the rebel army the TPLF was back in the days when it was in the Dedebit desert, but 18 years later and right now — and claiming to rule Ethiopia, telling us that there is a national “Ethiopian Army,” or the so-called “Ethiopian Defense Forces”! Only the tribalist regime and its mindless mouthpieces abroad would have the shameless audacity to argue to the contrary — that what we have in Ethiopia is an equal and proportional representation of the major and minor ethnic groups in the military. Therefore, they have been claiming “equality among nations and nationalities hitherto absent…” assured and ascertained, as they deafen us with their endless mantra, day in and day out.

But the facts and figures in the table below and many hitherto scattered data speak otherwise. Thus vindicating what has been known for so many years, i.e., the grossly blatant and far reaching drive for ethnic hegemony of a minority Tigrayan elites over the rest of the Ethiopian people. Of course, for those who are quick to show a handful of non Tigrayans with rank of a Lt. General, Brg. General, etc, yes there are coteries of yes men from other ethnic groups all around the Tigrayans. The nominal and feeble so-called generals, the likes of Kassa Deme, Bacha Debele, and others from Amhara, Oromo, and other ethnic groups — who have lost or do not have any sense of self respect — do exist. They go through the motion of sheepishly scavenging crumbs from their masters table. These puppets do not wield any real power in addition to the often encountered humiliation of being scolded by not only Tigreans with much lower ranks, as many have exposed, including the latest by Tesfaye Gerbeab’s “The Journalist’s Memoir” who laid bare the extent of this phenomena.

Ginbot 7′s latest statement recounts the thousands of high ranking officers, line officers, NCOs and privates from Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups purged by the TPLF mafia in the thousands in recent years. In effect, an ethnic cleansing within the military enclave. On a related story, the purge carried out by the Tigrayan gang is characterized by inhuman torture and suffering the victims are subjected to. Tesfaye Gebreab, in his rent article about Ginbot, mentions the brutality of a woman torturer named Col. Biraa, a former TPLF commissar and now in charge of prison, where military officers are held incommunicado and tortured, some until they are disabled for life. For the latest purges and repression carried out against officers and privates alike in the military one can also refer to a recent report by Finote Democracy [pdf].

Captain Teshome Tenkolu’s story, one of the ablest air force pilots and trainers subjected to inhuman torture is a yet another case among perhaps the untold thousands of others subjected to cruelty and inhumanity carried out by the Tigrayan mafia within the military establishment. The stories told about Capt. Teshome and his late friend, Maj. Daniel say much about the brutal and inhuman ways used by the tribal mafia regime and its henchmen to punish members of the armed forces suspected of any “wrongdoing”. Both were forced to spend two years in underground dungeon under extremely gruesome conditions, forced to sleep and live literally on human remains until they were released after being told by the shameless Woyanne that their country needs them to fight their war with Eritrea — to save their skin in that war with Eritrea which consumed 70,000 Ethiopian lives with no relevance whatsoever for Ethiopia.

The two were asked to return to the air force as pilots. It gave Capt. Teshome the chance to escape to Eritrea with an air force plane. He is now living in Canada. While his friend Maj. Daniel who stayed behind was less fortunate. Several years later, just barely two years ago, he was found dead in Ethiopia under extremely dubious circumstances. Who else could have killed him except the usual suspect, now that he has done his “service,” he could be disposed off.

According to Capt. Teshome’s account of the extreme suffering and inhuman conditions he was forced to endure, the captors who took him from his office at the air force base were Tigrayan officers (former TPLF cadres mentioned by name); the interrogators torturing him, for reasons that he has yet find out even today, were also Tigrayans. It is yet another story of the judge, the jury, the police, were all being played out by individuals belonging to the same ethnic group — Tigrayans — at the service of the TPLF mafia. The full story of Capt. Teshome could be found here.

The minority ethnic domination has far reaching implications for Ethiopia’s future peace and harmony that must exist among the various ethnic groups, including the people of Tigray region. Such facts and figures must come out to show the world the bankruptcy and total recklessness of the TPLF regime and the cabal controlling it.

Below one can find partial list of the names, positions, and ethnic compositions that exist in the current so-called national military in Ethiopia. For a full list of names by rank, ethnic composition and key positions held, one can check the six page report in Amharic release here.

Senior Command Posts

1. Chief of Staff, General, Samora Yunus, Tigre
2. Training Department, Lt. General Tadesse Worede, Tigre
3. Logistics Department, Lt. General Geazi Abera, Tigre
4. Military Intelligence Department, Brg. General Gebredela, Tigre
5. Operations Department, Lt. General Gebre Egziabiher, Tigre
6. Engineering Department, Lt. General Berhane Negash, Tigre
7. Air force, Brg. General Mola Haile Mariam, Tigre

Heads of the four commands

1. Central Command, Lt. General AbebawTadesse, Agew
2. Northern Command, Lt. General Seare Mekonnen, Tigre
3. South Eastern Command, Maj. General Abraha W. Gabriel, Tigre
4. Western Command, Brg. General Siyoum Hagos, Tigre

Division Commands
1. 31st Division Commander, Colonel Tsegaye Marx, Tigre
2. 33rd Division Commander, Colonel Kidane, Tigre
3. 35th Division Commander, Colonel Misganaw Alemu, Tigre
4. 24th Division Commander, Colonel Work Aieynu, Tigre
5. 22nd Division Commander, Colonel Dikul, Tigre
6. 14th Division Commander, Colonel Woedi Antieru, Tigre
7. 21st Divison Commander, Colonel Gueshi Gebre, Tigre
8. 11th Division Commander, Colonel Workidu, Tigre
9. 25th Division Commander, Colonel Tesfai Sahel, Tigre
10. 20th Division Commander, Colonel, Teklai Klashin, Tigre
11. 8th Mechanized Division, Colonel Jemal Mohamed, Tigre
12. 4th Mechanized Division, Colonel Hintsaw Giorgis, Tigre

Transitional government in exile is the way to go

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Here is another well-presented argument in support of an Ethiopian Transitional Government in Exile.

Source: Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum

Click here for PDF version

ትንቢተ ኤልያስ፡ የስደት መንግስት የኛም ፍካሬ ነው

የሚሳፈር ይሳፈር፡ የማይሳፈር ይቅር፡ ቀኑ ሲደርስ ግን ሁሉም ይሳፈራል

አገሬ መግባት አፈልጋለሁ!!

“አገሬ መግባት እፈልጋለሁ!! እኔ ሌላ ምንም ዓላማ የለኝም። ወያኔ አትገባም ብሎ ከሶኛል። ወያኔ ከተሰቀለበት የትእቢትና እብሪት ሰቀላ ተፈጥፍጦ ወርዶ ማየትና በአገሬ በነጻነት መኖር እፈልጋለሁ።” አለኝ ኤልያስ ክፍሌ፡ ከኤርትራ መልስ አንዳንድ ነገሮችን ስናወጋ። ይኸው ነው ይሄንን ልጅ እንቅልፍ አሳጥቶ ሰላም ነስቶ ከዲሲ አስመራ፡ ከዚህ እዚያ የሚያንከራትተው። ኤልያስ፡ አንዳንድ ግዜ ያበሳጭ ይሆናል። “ኤልያስ፡ ተው ሰው አትንካ፡ የትጥቅ ትግልን ለማራመድ የግድ ብርቱካንን ማውገዝ የለብንም። የለም ሰላማዊ ትግል አያዋጣም፡ የቀረን ትጥቅ ትግል ብቻ ነው ብለህ መከራከር ትችላለህ። ያንተን ክርክር አሳማኝ ለማድረግ ግን እነ ብርቱካን ሚደቅሳን መዘልዘል፡ እነ ዶ/ር ሀይሉን ማዋረድ የለብንም። እነ ዶ/ር መራራን ማበሻቀጥ አያስፈልገንም። እንደዚያ አይነቱ ነገር ትክክል ስላልሆነ ብቻ ሳይሆን፡ ይንን ባደረግክ ቁጥር ፍጥጫው በኛና በኢህአዴግ መሀከል መሆኑ ይቀርና፡ የትጥቅ ትግል በሚያራምዱ ወገኖችና በሰላማዊ ትግሉ አራማጆች፡ በተለይም ደግሞ በአንድነት ደጋፊዎች መካከል ይሆናል። ተው ሰው አትንካ።

የኢህአዴግ ስራ ይበቃል፡ የሕወሐት ጥፋት

ሰዉን የትጥቅ ትግልን እንዲቀበል፡ ኢህአዴግ የሚሰራው ስራ በቂ ነው። ኢህአዴግ የሰላማዊውን ትግል ምህዳር እያጠበበ እያጠበበ፡ ሲመጣ፡ በአራት ዓመት ውስጥ አንድ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ሲከለከል፡ በአራት አመት ውስጥ ሁለት ሕዝባዊ ስብሰባ ሲነፈግ፡ በአምስት ዓመት ውስጥ፡ አንድ የቴሌቪዥም ማስታወቂያ ማሰማት ሳይቻል ሲቀር፡ የሰማኒያ ዓመት አዛውንት ያለፍርድ ሲታሰሩ፡ የአስራሰባት ዓመት ወጣቶች በግንባራቸው ተመትተው ሲገደሉ፡ በየዓመቱ በረሀብ የሚቀጠፍ ሰው ቁጥር ሲጨምር፡ በየዓመቱ የሚሰደድ ሰው ሲያሻቅብ፡ የአገሪቱ መሬት ለአረብና ሱዳን ሲቸበቸብ፡ የአንድ ብሄር ልጆች እንደ እንቧይ እስኪያብጡ ሲፈነጨብንና ሲወቅጡን፡ ይሄ ሁሉ ሕዝቡን ወደለየለትና ወደባሰበት የትጥቅ ትግል ያመጣል። ከኢህአዴግ በኩል የሚሰራው ስራ በቂ ነዉና፡ ከኛ በኩል ሕዝቡን ወይንም ድርጅቶችን የትጥቅ ትግል እንዲመርጡ የሚያስገድድ ማስፈራሪያና ስድብ፡ አታካራና ጭቅጭቅ አያስፈልግም። ኢህአዴግ ያንን ስራ በሚገባ እየሰራ ነው። የኛ ስራ ሌላ ነው።

አብዮተኛው ኤልያስ፡ አብዮታዊ ሀሳቦች

ኤልያስ ዘወትር የሚያነሳቸው ሀሳቦች አብዮታዊ፡ ከዘመናቸው የቀደሙ፡ ደፋርና ሰው ለመግባትና ለማንሳት የሚፈራቸው ናቸው። ለምሳሌ አንድ ግዜ ኤልያስ በሌሊት ተነሳና፡ “የግዞት መንግስት ማቋቋም ያስፈልገናል አለ”። ብዙዎች ተንጫጩ። ይሄ ሰው ምንድነው የሚያወራው? ምነስ ነው የሚናገረው? ብለው ተሳለቁበት። ጥቂቶቻችን ግን አስደነቀን። አስፈነደቀንም። ወዳጄ ተክሌ የሻው፡ ሰሞኑን “ኢትዮጵያ የምትባለው አገር የለችም” የሚል አስደንጋጭ ክርክር አምጥቷል። የክርክሩን ሙሉ ቃል አልሰማሁትም። ግን ኢትዮጵያን ኢህአዴግ አፍርሷታል ነው የሚለው። ወይም ኢትዮጵያ መሆን እንደሚገባትና እንደነበረችው የለችም ነው የሚለው። ያ ለጊዜው ይቅር። ኢትዮጵያ ግን አሁን ትክክለኛና ሕጋዊ መንግስት የላትም። አጼ ሀይለስላሴ፡ በዚያም በዚህም ብለው በመለኮታዊ መቀባት ስልጣኔን አገኘሁ ብለው ለዓመታት ሕዝቡን አሳምነውት ሕዝቡም ጸሀዩ ንጉሳችን እያላቸው ኖሩ። ኢህአዴግ ግን፡ የሽፍታ ጭምብሉንና ኮንጎ ጫማውን በሲቪል ልብስ ለውጦ ስልጣን ላይ ያለ ምንም ህጋዊ መሰረት በጡንቻውና በዓለም አቀፉ መንግስታት ችሮታ ብቻ ስልጣን ላይ የቆየ አገዛዝ ነው። ስለዚህ ኢትዮጵያን የሚወክል የግዞት መንግስት ለማቋቋም መብቱም ችሎታውም አለን። የኤልያስ ሀሳብ ትክክል ነው።

የግዞት መንግስተ ለምን? ከነማንስ ጋር?

የግዞት መንግስት ብናቋቋም የሚቀበሉን መንግስታት አናጣም። ኤርትራ በተማመን ከጎናችን ነች። ሌሎች ከኢህአዴግ ጋር የተጣሉ መንግስታትም ከጎናችን ናቸው። ኤርትራ ራሷ ልታመጣልን የምትችለው የወዳጅና የአቅም ብዛት የትየለሌ ነው። ብዙ ሰዎች ያለፈውን የጦርነትና የደም መፋሰስ አመታት በማሰብ ኤርትራን እንደ መንጸፈ ደይን ይፈሯታል። ብዙ ሰዎች እንደውም ከሀጢያት ይልቅ ኤርትራን ይፈራሉ። እዚህ ጋር ሲኦል እዚህ ጋር ኤርትራ አለች ቢባሉ፡ ወደሲኦል የሚመርጡም አሉ። ያ ስህተት ነው። ያለፈ አልፏል። ያለፈውን አንለውጠውም። ዘመን ይለወጣል። ከኤርትራ ጋር ለመስራትና ለመወዳጀት የሚያስፈልጉን ነገሮች በጣም ኢምንትና ጥቂት ናቸው። አንደኛ፡ ኤርትራ አገር መሆኗንና በምንም መልኩ የኤርትራን ሉአላዊነት እንደማናሰጋ ቃል መግባት። ቃል መስጠት። ሁለተኛ ኤርትራና ኢትዮጵያ እንደ ጎረቤት አገሮች አንዳቸው ባንዳቸው ላይ ኢኮኖሚያዊ ትስስር ፈጥረው በሰላምና በትብብር እንደሚኖሩ መስማማት። እነሱ ባህር አላቸው። እኛም ምጣኔ ሀብት። እነሱ ጨው አላቸው። እኛም በርበሬ። ሶስተኛ ታላላቅ ሰዎችና ድርጅቶች ግንባር ፈጥረው በቀጥታ ከኤርትራ መንግስት ጋር ልኡካን ልከው መነጋገርና መቀመጫችውን በአስመራ አድርገው የግዞት መንግስት መቋቋም። አለቀ። ለጊዜው ብዙዎች ወይንም የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ይሄንን ላይደግፈው ይችላል። ግን ራሱን አህአዴግንና ሻእቢያን ጨምሮ ማንም ሀያል ሕዝብ በደገፈው መንገድ አይደለም ስልጣን ላይ የመጣው ወይም የወጣው። ካሸነፍን ሕዝብ ሁልግዜም ካሸናፊ ወገን ነው። የአጼ ምኒሊክ እርግማንና ግዝት ልጅ ኢያሱን አልጠቀመም፡ የሀይለስላሴ ድል አድራጊነት ግን ስልጣን ላይ አቆያቸው። 50 ዓመታት ግድም። ግማሽ ክፍለዘመን። ስለዚህ የምንፈልገው ማሸነፍ ከሆነና በኤርትራ መጓዙ እንዲሁም የግዞት መንግስት መቋቋሙ ለማሸነፍ ከረዳን ሰዎች ደገፉትም ተቃወሙትም ያንን ለማድረግ ማመንታት የለብንም።

ግንቦት ሰባት፡ ግንቦት ሀያ፡ ግንቦት ሰባት

አሁን የወሬ ግዜ አብቅቷል ብሏል ዶ/ር ብርሀኑ ነጋ። አሁን የስራ ግዜ ነው። ኢህአዴግ ስራውን ሰርቷል። እየሰራም ነው። ከግንቦት ሀያ በፊትም በኋላም። የቀረው የኛ ክፍል ነው። የኛ ስራ። ኢህአዴግን ለመጣል ግንቦት ሰባት የሚጸየፋቸውና የሚያፍራቸው መንገደች ሊኖሩ አይገባም። ዶ/ር ብርሀኑ ጓደኞቹንና የስራ ባልደረቦቹን ሰብስቦ ወደ አስመራ ቢወርድ፡ አቶ ኢሳይያስ አፈወርቂ ለሙአመር ጋዳፊ የአደረጉትን ያህል ደማቅ አቀባበል ነው የሚያደርጉለት። ዝርዝሩን መነጋገር ነው። ካለመነጋገር ነው፡ ካለመጠየቅ ደጃዝማችነት ይቀራል። ኢህአዴግ የሰላምና የእፎይታ አገዛዝ መግዛት የለበትም። ሕወሀትም ይሁን ልጆቹ እንቅልፍ አጥተው፡ እንቅልፋቸውን እንግሊዝ እንዲተኙ ማድረግ አለብን። እስካሁን ለንደንና ዲሲ፡ ጀርመንና ሰዊዘርላንድ ሰርተናል። አሁን ደግሞ እዚያው ሜዳ ላይ መውጪያ ግዜ ነው። ከኤርትራ የተሻለ፡ ከኤርትራ የቀረበ፡ ከኤርትራ የተመቸ ሜዳና መንገድ እንደሌለ ደግሞ ከዚህ ቀደም ጽፈናል። ተራው የግንቦት 7 ነው። ከፍተኛ ልኡካን ልኮ ከኤርትራ መንግስት ጋር መነጋገርና ከኤርትራ ጋር መስራት፡ የስደት መንግስት ማቋቋምና ከዓለም መንግስታት ጋር መጻጻፍ ለብቸኝነት የቀረበ መንገድ ነው።

ልጅ ተክሌ ነኝ፡ ግንቦት 2009፡ ካናዳ

Ethiopian store owner in Florida killed in front of his wife

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

By Jim Schoettler | Jacksonville Times-Union

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — An Ethiopian immigrant and store owner who moved to Jacksonville to raise a family and live the American Dream died late Monday after being gunned down outside his convenience store.

Witnesses said the attack in the 2100 block of West 13th Street may have been a retaliation shooting involving neighborhood youths who had previously given the man trouble. Police said another motive could have been robbery, though the victim’s family said nothing was stolen.

Hagos Admasu Gebreegziabher, 41, was with his wife closing the Family Food Store when shots were fired from across the street about 11 p.m., family members said. Gebreagziabher died at the scene. His wife was not injured.

The victim’s wife told witnesses she saw two people run from the area. Witnesses who were in the Northwest Jacksonville store shortly before the shooting said that the owner had previously had words with several youths who had repeatedly caused him trouble.

No arrests have been made.

Gebreegziabher’s brother and cousin said he moved to Jacksonville from Ethiopia about 15 years ago and was married with two teenage sons. He opened the shop in 2007 in a strip of stores in a crime-ridden neighborhood just north of Kings Road near the Flag Street Apartments.

Aron Demoz, the cousin, said the victim tried fixing up the store and enjoyed helping people in the neighborhood. He said his cousin was living the American Dream.

“It’s not justified what happened to him. Absolutely not justified,” said Demoz, 41, moments before he padlocked the store’s front doors.

The store served as the local grocery hub, where neighbors bought food like sausage, chips and condiments and also played three video gaming machines.

The neighbors fondly called the victim “Buddy” and described him as a kind, hard-working man. They said he would often give them food on credit when they were facing hard times.

“He was a good man,” said Cynthia Dove, 46, who lives across the street.

More gunshots ran out five hours later in a second slaying at the Kendall Court Apartments, 10535 Lem Turner Road. Homicide Lt. Larry Schmitt said police and rescue crews were called about 4:30 a.m. and found a man dead in the parking lot. No other details were made available by police.

Linda Dayson, who leads a local crime-fighting organization, lives in the complex. She said she and her fiance heard shots about 4:15 a.m. and when he came outside, he found the man slain.

Dayson said she wasn’t sure of the man’s identity. She said he lived in the complex with his girlfriend and they had three small children together.

Dayson, president of Hurting Families with Children in Crime, said she is incensed with the ongoing violence in her neighborhood and throughout the city. She called on police, city officials and local pastors to make a stand.

“We have too many young people getting killed,” Dayson said. “All these people are saying they want to help. I’m not seeing it.”

There have been 35 homicides in Jacksonville this year, compared to 55 slayings at the same time last year.

(Anyone with information can contact the Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-8477 (845-TIPS) to remain anonymous and be eligible for rewards.)

UN Security Update for Ethiopia (May 14 – 20, 2009)

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

DSS-Ethiopia weekly reports are compiled from various sources

GENERAL: The overall security situation in the country within the period was calm and stable. However, clashes between the military/Special Police Forces and ONLF were reported in Somali Region as well as unconfirmed reports of movement of WSLF in Korahe zone. In Gambella Region, sightings of unidentified uniformed/armed persons from mixed ethnic groups with unknown motives have been reported. Humanitarian access remains a challenging issue in the Somali Region as the UN continues to engage Regional authorities in discussions.

ADDIS ABABA

Overview of Situation: The security situation in Addis Ababa was stable during the past week. However, incidents of robbery in some areas in the capital have been reported.

02 May; between 1130 hrs- 12 midnight, a UN international staff member was robbed by unidentified person in the vicinity of Club Alize along Bole road while the walking in one of the side streets around the club. Accordingly, the suspect had a knife in which he successfully robbed the staff member of his personal belongings including some amount of money, mobile phone and sunglasses. Luckily, the staff member was left unharmed.

17 May; at about 2300 hrs, a British man was seriously wounded when 2 unidentified persons attacked him in the vicinity of Shola area along the CMC road. Accordingly, while the victim was walking approximately 400 meters towards his house, the assailants confronted him and demanded he hands over all his valuables to which he refused leading to multiple stabbings by the suspects. The assailants then stole the victim’s backpack and all valuables and escaped. The victim was later assisted and taken to a hospital by passers byes. He is presently stable in hospital. DSS is also informed that a similar case involving a lady took place around the same area on 05 Feb 2009.

Advisories: Staff are advised of the increasing reports of street crime and petty theft in Addis and other main cities. In this regards, walking alone at night in dark isolated areas may not be a good idea. Staff should also immediately hand over any valuables demanded by these criminals to them when confronted to avoid being harmed.

SOMALI REGION

Overview of Situation: The security situation in the region for the period in review remained unpredictable due to frequent clashes between the security forces and ONLF. Between 12-13 May, lots of military movement were observed towards Fik zone from Babile. Sources also reported similar movements South and East of Sageg and Gerbo, Fik zone. On 24 May 2009, the Regional government is expected to meet again with UN/NGOs operating in the region to discuss access issues and other related matters concerning humanitarian operations in the area.

Reported Incidents

09 May; according to sources, a clash between combined forces of local militia and special police forces against ONLF was reported in Mandoyaley, 63 kms NW of Degahabur town. Casualties were reported. On same day, sources also informed that clash between the special police force erupted in Lebiga village, 26 kms West of Degahabur town to Degahmadow. Casualties also reported.

Also on same day, sources informed of fighting between special police forces and ONLF in Dabogriso sub-village, Gerbo district, Fik zone, 23 kms West of Birkot. No clear details on casualties from both sides.

13 May; according to sources, clash between EDF and ONLF occurred in the vicinity of Hurale village, 36 kms South of Degahabur town. Casualties reported.

13 May; unconfirmed reports of arrival of 200 fighters from WSLF in Debeweyin from Kaalafo and Shilabo. No further details on their movement and presence in the area as well as the security forces reaction on the report.

14 May; according to sources, clash between the special police force and ONLF was reported in Dalad area, 25 kms from Kebridehar town. Casualties reported from both sides.

17 May; a home-made bomb exploded at ARRA office near the Awbarre refugee camp in Awbarre district, Jijiga. Fortunately, the explosion did not result in any casualties or damage to property. No suspects have been identified. However, there are reports that the incident might be attributable to land dispute.

17 May; one WFP Food Monitor Team from Degahabur WFP Field Office while on mission to some areas in Aware district, Degahabur zone was ordered not to proceed to their destination by EDF for unknown reason. The team is still in Aware despite on-going negotiations between the WFP management and the military on this issue. DSS is closely monitoring the situation and has reported to concerned authorities in the Region. According to report, 7 refugees from Kebribayah camp were detained by regional authorities on alleged link with ONLF. The 7 refugees were instantly sentenced to 5 years jail term and transferred to the Jijiga main prison.

Advisories

UN missions from Gode to Moyale are advised to avoid travelling through Hudat as the clan conflict between the Geris and Borenas in the area is yet to be resolved. DSS is advising use of alternative route via Gode-Moyale-Shakiso-Negele-Filtu-Charati.

Missions to some areas in Gode and Afdheer Zones should be undertaken with extreme caution due to ongoing military operations in the areas as well as some areas in Degahmadow district, Degahabur zone. Agencies are thus advised to take necessary pre-caution while conducting their mission in the area.

All agencies operating in the Somali Region to ensure they have clearance from the military commanders in their location and restrict their travels to only the approved areas especially travelling to Aware and Gunagado districts, Degahabur zone and Gerbo district, Fik zone.

Missions to Mula village, most of Degehabur Kebeles along Fafan valley, northwest of Higloley including Inley, Kebeles West of Degahmadow District and the road between Degahabur and Gerbo should contact DSS for latest update of the situation before commencing travels to the areas.

Staff members on missions to Korahe zone especially in Shilabo and Doboweyn should take extra pre-caution due to the latest report of WSLF movement in the area.

Missions to Kelafo, Mustahil and areas around Dolo Ado to be extremely cautious based on information of suspected presence of bandits and the previous hijackings of UN and private vehicles in the area.

It is important to have all DSS emergency contact numbers for the 24/7 Operation Rooms in Addis, Jijiga, Gode and Kebridehar before commencing a road movement in the Region.

UNDSS is advising humanitarian Agencies wishing to lease compounds in Kebridehar, Gode and Degehabur to avoid buildings that are located in isolated parts of the towns but consider taking the ones situated near main streets that are covered by Police patrols and easily accessible for security reasons.

GAMBELLA REGION

Overview of Situation: The security situation in the region was calm within the reporting period. However, there were reports of sightings of unidentified uniformed armed men of mixed ethnic groups in Fugnido Gog area within the week. This led to tension among the local populace in the area. In reaction, the regional government is said to have sent a special police force to patrol the area. Further report states that the border dispute in Dimma between SNNRPS and Gambella region remains unresolved. Regional government officials met in Minzan Teferi in order to come out with a possible resolution to the dispute.

Reported incidents

13 May; it was reported that a UNHCR staff member was attacked by bees nesting in the UNHCR compound in Gambella town. The staff member was sent to Gambella Hospital for medical treatment.

Advisories

Staff operating in Fugnido, Akobo and Dimma aresa are to exercise caution due to the incidents reported in the aresa. Staff are also to respect the curfew timings in Gambella Region

OROMIYA REGION

Overview of Situation: The overall security situation in the region is relatively calm and stable.

Reported Incidents

Nothing to report.

Advisories

UNDSS is advising against missions to Arero Woreda (Wachile, Udet, and Orota kebeles); Dahas Woreda (Raroo, Borbori, Garbi and Walensu kebeles) and Moyale (El Gof, Ley, Chamuk, Gucgi and Bede kebeles) without special security arrangements. Missions to Negele should use the alternative routes either via Duwa, Dugati, and Shakiso or via Aposto, Kibre Mengist. Arrival time in Moyale for missions is advisable to be before 1700 hours.

BENESHANGUL – GUMUZ REGION

Overview of Situation: No major incident reported apart from the fact that the weather condition reported last week has not still normalized.

Advisories

UNHCC advises that staff should reduce exposure as much as possible and stay in-doors if they have no major programming activities to undertake.

AFAR REGION

Overview of Situation: No major security incident reported within the week.

Advisories

Agencies are advised to use the Addis-Nazareth-Awash-Mille-Semera road as the alternative route of Semera-Mille-Dessie-Addis is in very poor condition, isolated and requires about 5 hours more travel time Additionally, Agencies with operations in Afar Region Zone 2 are advised to restrict missions to AFDERA and BERAHILE Districts until the situation becomes clearer.

TIGRAY REGION

Overview: The overall security situation in the region remain relatively stable but with tension and constant troop movement around the border areas. The reported bad weather in Shire persisted during the week.

Advisories

UNHCC advises that staff should reduce exposure as much as possible and stay in-doors if they have no major programming activities to undertake.

AMHARA REGION

Nothing to Report

SNNPR REGION

Nothing to report

MEDIA REPORTS

Associate Press report on 19 May 2009 under the caption Ethiopia denies its troops entered Somalia Stated that even though eyewitnesses informed undetermined number of Ethiopian soldiers have crossed the border into Somalia (date not mentioned) and were seen in the Somali town of Kalabeyr, 22 kms from the Ethiopian border and 18 kms north of Belet Weyne, the provincial capital of Somalia’s Hiran region, the Ethiopian government denied the allegation. Kalabeyr lies at a strategic junction of a road that links southern, central and northern Somalia to the Ethiopian border. Reports further state that the Ethiopian military used at least 12 military vehicles in crossing the border. Some of the soldiers were also seen digging trenches, while others were guarding the whole area. However, the Somali Information Minister could not comment on the report. “Our troops have not have not returned to Somalia” Ethiopian Foreign ministry spokesman Wahde Belay stated. “ Our troops are on our side of the border” he added.

-END

Rebels attack Woyanne targets in northern Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

A group of Ethiopian resistance fighters who claim to belong to Ethiopian Unity and Justice Movement have attacked a Woyanne police station and other targets in the northern Ethiopian town of Shoa Robit over the weekend.

The head of Shoa Robit Police told Ethiopian Review correspondent in Addis Ababa that the rebels attacked his station with hand grenades and that one of them has been detained. He was not willing to say if there was any causality from the Woyanne police.

After carrying out the attack, the rebels returned to their base in northern Wollo, according to their spokesman, Asrat Hailu.

Ato Asrat told Ethiopian Review that the Movement carried out similar missions in Merhabite, Fitra and other towns several months ago.

Ethiopia Conspiracy Suspects Again Denied Bail

Monday, May 25th, 2009

By Peter Heinlein | VOA

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — An Ethiopian judge has again denied bail for 40 suspects jailed last month in connection with an alleged plot to destabilize the country. The suspects were ordered held for another two weeks while prosecutors decide what to charge them with.

Weeping relatives stood outside an Addis Ababa courthouse Monday hoping for a glimpse of loved ones arrested April 24 in what officials originally called a roundup of suspected coup plotters.

Government spokesmen later backed away from the coup plot theory, saying the conspiracy was only aimed at assassinating government leaders and bombing strategic installations. The judge Monday gave prosecutors two more weeks to decide what the charges will be.

The crowd outside the courthouse watched anxiously as one by one, 19 pickup trucks, each with a canvas-covered bed, backed up to a courtroom door and, out of the view of onlookers, deposited handcuffed defendants for a brief appearance before a judge.

Occasionally, a face would appear for a few seconds at a screened hole in the canvas, or a cuffed hand could be seen waving. But for the most part, the onlookers hopes of sighting a jailed relative were dashed.

People in the crowd all asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. Many, like a young woman who allowed her voice to be recorded in Amharic, charged her loved one’s rights had been violated because prison visits by family members and attorneys had been prohibited.

She says, ‘we went to visit, but have not been able to see our relatives.’ She said relatives had only been allowed to drop off food at the gate and leave.

Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal, a former prosecutor, denied any defendants’ rights had been violated. He told VOA no requests for prison visits had been received.

“What I have learned is since no one asked investigators or people in charge there, they were not able to facilitate this because they were not asked to do so,” said Shimelis Kemal.

Human rights activists and an attorney with ties to the case, questioned the constitutionality of holding prisoners for up to six weeks without charge or possibility of bail.

Spokesman Shimelis, however, said the law does not place any limit on length of detention.

“Look, this is a pre-trial detention, the ethiopian criminal code clearly defines the conditions made by detaining authorities when a person is detained before trial. this is a normal procedure,” he said. “The law does not set out a time limit for remand. Only that one can be remanded up to 14 days, and there is no time limit for how many remands should the court shall grant to police. It doesn’t say anything.”

At least 30 of the defendants are known to be current or former army officers. Of the few who have been identified, one is an active duty army general accused of being head of the military wing of the conspiracy, and another is an opposition political figure said to be leader of the civilian wing.

All are alleged to be members of a ‘terror cell’ officials say is headed by former opposition leader Berhanu Nega. Berhanu was elected mayor of Addis in the disputed 2005 election, but was among those politicians arrested during post-election protests, convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison.

After the group was pardoned, Berhanu went to the United States, where he teaches economics at a university in the state of Pennsylvania.

Wives of Ethiopia coup suspects are targeted

Monday, May 25th, 2009

General Teferra Mammo, one of the 41 detainees accused of plotting coup against the tribal regime in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopian Review has learned that wives of the alleged coup suspects have not been spared.

Wzr. Nigisti Fasil, the wife of Colonel Amare Alebel, who is currently in hiding, is among the 41 detainees. The wife and 2-year-old daughter of Shaleqa (Major) Adugna Alemayehu were detained for two weeks.

The wife of Colonel Demissew Anteneh, who was brought from Harar, has been spared, but today for the sixth time she was forced to return to Harar without visiting her husband.

It is feared that some of the officers have been brutally tortured by the British-trained and -financed Woyanne secret police. Their lawyers are not allowed to visit them, and even today inside the court, the lawyers were unable to attend the hearing.

The 41 detainees are thrown in jail accused of being a part of assassination plots by Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice and Freedom.

The detainees include Ato Tsige Habtemariam, an 80-year-old father of Ginbot 7 Secretary General Andargachew Tsige.

More on Ethiopia secret trial of coup suspects – in Amharic

Monday, May 25th, 2009

The Addis Ababa-based Amharic language newspaper Awramba Times has a detailed report about the court appearance today of the ongoing of secret trial of suspected coup plotters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

After one month in detention, the suspects are still not allowed to visit their families, and except a few of them, their identities are kept secret.

Today, all of them arrived at the Arada district court in Addis Ababa in covered pickup trucks surrounded by heavily armed federal police troopers. There were over 250 family members outside the court, and none of them is allowed to see the detainees.

Several minutes later, the court ordered the detainees to come back to court in 2 weeks. [read more in Amharic, pdf]

Ethiopia secret trial denies family visitation of detainees

Monday, May 25th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — It’s been exactly a month now since at least 41 people, including an 80-year-old father of an opposition leader, have been arrested, suspected, allegedly of a coup attempt against the Meles regime.

Within days of their arrest the coup attempt was turned into assassination attempts instead. According to the minister of information Bereket Simon, Ethiopia’s political system is such that it is now immune to coup d’etats.

Since their arrest the suspects never saw their families. But what is now unraveling is that amongst the initial people arrested featured the wife and 2 year old daughter of one the defendants. They were in the central prison for two weeks.

Then the wife of a colonel wanted by the government is also in prison, unable to see her relatives.

Then we found out that people have been arrested from Bahir Dar, Lalibella and Harar, and that most of those arrested are the main bread winners in their families, leaving their loved ones behind without any income.

We saw today the police making every effort for the public not to see who’s coming out of the car at the court, and preventing the defendants to wave at their loved ones. Everyone was shocked by their behavior.

We were told that even before the hearing today, the police knew they were given two more weeks to gather evidence.

Apparently, the police said it was the end of their investigation. If so, why are they given another 2-week to gather evidence?

The blatant abuse of power by the authorities today proved that the whole story is a smoke screen and seems to develop as days go by, like a bad movie script.

All the families have been denied their constitutional right to visit their relatives. No one is willing to grant them, and the government pretends it doesn’t know? Even during the CUD trial this didn’t happen.

As for the shortage of electrical power, it looks more and more as if we are on the verge of a total blackout: all major factories are temporarily disconnected from the electric network, and we’re left in the dark, literally.

(Report by Ethiopian Review associate in Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia court ordered 'plotters' to remain in jail

Monday, May 25th, 2009

By Barry Malone

Gen. Asaminew Tsige is one of the 41 suspects who are in jail without charge in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters) – A group accused of plotting to overthrow the Ethiopian regime were remanded in custody on Monday again after spending more than one month in prison without any charges or visitation rights, relatives said.

Ethiopian Woyanne regime security forces are holding 41 former and current army personnel from a “terror network” the government says was formed by Berhanu Nega, an opposition leader now teaching economics at a university in the United States.

“They will be held for another two weeks,” a relative who did not want to be named told Reuters outside the court in Addis Ababa. “They were not even charged today.”

The 41 are accused of planning to assassinate senior government figures and blow up public utilities to provoke street protests and overthrow the government.

“The investigation was now complete,” one lawyer said.

Security forces killed about 200 protesters after parliamentary elections in 2005 when the opposition disputed the victory of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government.

More than 100 relatives and supporters were gathered outside the courtroom. Ethiopian authorities have named only two of the prisoners despite calls from international rights groups that they name and charge all 41 detainees.

Neither family members nor lawyers have been able to visit the accused in prison, relatives said.

Distinguished Ethiopian professor joins Ethiopedia's team

Monday, May 25th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopedia.com, an online encyclopedia of Ethiopia, is pleased to announce that world renowned Ethiopian scholar Prof. Ephraim Isaac has joined its team as an editorial adviser.

Ephraim Isaac is a founder and the first professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University when the Department was created in 1969. He is author of numerous scholarly works about the Late Second Temple period and Classical Yemenite Jewish and Ethiopic religious literature. He is currently Director of the Institute of Semitic Studies, Princeton, NJ, Chair of the Board of the Horn of Africa Peace & Development Committee, and President of the Yemenite Jewish Federation of America. He has taught at Princeton University, Hebrew University, University of Pennsylvania, Bard College, and other institutions of higher learning. He has received many honors including the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding’s 2002 Peacemaker in Action Award, honorary degrees from John J. College of CUNY, Addis Ababa University of Ethiopia, NEH Fellowship, among others. He knows seventeen languages, and lectures widely on the subject of “Religion & Warfare”, “Religion and Hate”, etc. and sits on Boards of some twenty-five international religious, educational, and cultural organizations.

Ethiopedia, which is based in Addis Ababa, strives to make knowledge about Ethiopia easily and freely accessible to any one in the world.

Ethiopedia is a collaborative project involving several volunteers from various field.

For more info
Ayda Million, Editor
Email: ethiopedia@gmail.com

Ending the Culture of Impunity

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

The Culture of Impunity

David Dadge, Director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, the oldest press freedom organization in the world, recently wrote a compelling commentary in The Guardian which should be of special interest to all Ethiopian human rights advocates.[1] He suggested that the current dictatorship in Ethiopia operates in an entrenched culture of impunity (not to be confused with the equally gripping culture of corruption that afflicts it) in which gross human rights abuses are committed routinely without legal accountability of the abusers and active complicity of officials. He argued that this culture could be brought to an end or significantly curtailed by donor countries and international lending institutions.

Dadge offered a partial list of the crimes committed by the current dictatorship with impunity:

… An authoritarian government rules Ethiopia with virtual impunity. Prime minister Meles Zenawi, in power for 18 years, has crushed the opposition. His ruling party dominates public institutions. Worse still, in a vast and predominantly rural country, the prime minister’s underlings control broadcasting and maintain a choke-hold on other media… Four years ago this month, Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF) suffered its worst loss at the polls since the former guerrilla overthrew a ruthless, Soviet-backed regime in 1991. Rather than accept its losses, the EPRDF-run government responded with a brutal crackdown, claiming outright victory and accusing the opposition of trying to stage an insurrection. Security forces attacked peaceful protesters, jailed opposition leaders, sent thousands of their supporters to gruesome detention camps and accused independent journalists of treason – a crime punishable by death.

The Legacy of Impunity

Ethiopia’s modern history has been disfigured by unfathomable acts of official cruelty and inhumanity. Few have ever been held to account for criminal acts of depravity that can be soberly described as monstrous. The enduring legacy of impunity is too painful to remember: There was the criminal and extreme indifference of the imperial regime to the hundreds of thousands of famine victims in the early 1970s. The fire stoked by that famine consumed the monarchy, and from its ashes rose a military dictatorship of unimaginable savagery. Mengistu and his henchmen orchestrated official “terror” campaigns which resulted in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens. Justice has yet to catch up with those criminals. Today there is a diabolically cruel and wicked criminal enterprise masquerading as a government that has continued the sadistic and barbarous legacy of impunity. The current dictators in Ethiopia operate on the belief that they can commit any crime whatsoever without fear of punishment, legal accountability, or retribution. This culture of impunity must end!

Practicing the Culture of Impunity

Over the past decade, there has been massive documentation of human rights violations in Ethiopia. Yet there has not been a single independently verified prosecution of human rights violations under the current dictatorship. No regime official or member of its security or military force has ever been prosecuted for crimes against humanity. There have been no prosecutions even when there is clear proof of gross human rights violations in the possession of the regime. Just last year, Col. Michael Dewars, the internationally renowned riot control expert, hired by the dictatorship to make recommendations on riot control improvements stated in his report that the Director General of the Ethiopian Federal Police told him, “As a direct result of the 2005 riots, he [had] sacked 237 policemen.”[2] This evidence directly contradicts previous statements by the dictatorship denying specific knowledge of any criminal conduct by the riot policemen who fired into crowds of innocent protesters indiscriminately. It also shows the entrenched and hardcore nature of the culture of impunity in the dictatorship: Even suspects who are “directly” implicated in the massacres of nearly 200 protesters and maiming of nearly 800 others four years ago have yet to be brought to justice. On December 13, 2003, more than 400 Anuaks were massacred by uniformed soldiers of the dictatorship, and tens of thousands were forced to flee to the Sudan. Though there are multitudes of eyewitnesses to the massacres, not one of the implicated “soldiers” has been prosecuted.

Even when U.N. Undersecretary General John Holmes in 2007 visited the Ogaden region and later recommended to the leader of the current dictatorship that large numbers of civilians had been killed by regime troops, their homes burned and deprived of adequate food or medicines, the official response was, “There have probably been cases of [human] rights violations by government troops [but] the violations were not widespread or systematic.” No one was ever identified, investigated, arrested or prosecuted for these “human rights violations”. Indiscriminate shelling of civilians in Somalia by the regime’s troops have resulted in mind boggling civilian casualties and displacement of over 1.5 million people from their homes. No one has been charged with war crimes. There are also thousands of cases in which official criminal acts have been perpetrated against individuals in violation of the dictatorship’s own constitution and criminal laws as documented fully in the annual reports of the various international human rights organizations. No prosecutions in such cases have taken place. To add insult to injury, the dictatorship recently drafted a so-called antiterrorism law which aims to provide full “legal” armor to its decadent culture of impunity. (Legal history buffs will no doubt be amused by the curious similarity of the text, tenor and spirit of the dictatorship’s “anti-terrorism law” with the 1933 Reichstag Fire Decree, which accelerated the entrenchment of the Nazis by giving them a legal cudgel to hammer down their opposition on mere suspicion of “terrorism”.)

Ending the Culture of Impunity

Dadge argues convincingly that donor countries and multilateral lending institutions providing “development” funds have significant leverage against the dictatorship in Ethiopia, and could help bring accountability for human rights violations and closure to the culture of impunity:

The European Union and the United States will pump about $2.5bn into Ethiopia this year, a sum that does not even begin to include the cost of medicines, famine relief and countless other services provided by non-profit groups… There are ways to pressure Zenawi: Donors should deny Ethiopian ministers a seat at diplomatic tables… The Development Assistance Group, created by the EU and other principal donors to co-ordinate aid projects in Ethiopia [should] ensure that international resources do not support policies that are anathema to human rights values…. The EU should aggressively enforce the Cotonou Agreement, which requires Ethiopia and other nations that receive European assistance to respect ‘human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law’. The EU and the US should wield more of their clout at the World Bank and other international organisations to link development grants to progress on press freedom and human rights.

Implicit in Dadge’s argument are three vital propositions: 1) The indulgence and benign indifference of the EU, the U.S. and international lending organizations are partly responsible for emboldening the dictatorship to continue to practice its culture of impunity. 2) These same donors and lenders hold the key to ending that culture of impunity by making all non-humanitarian aid to the dictatorship contingent on improvements in human rights. 3) The dictatorship will continue to conjure up the specter of terrorism, regional instability and internal chaos to cling to power and perpetuate reflexive support from the donors and lenders.

We have witnessed the Bush administration turning a blind eye to massive human rights violations in Ethiopia so long as the dictatorship was willing to undertake a proxy war in Somalia. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown chose to be romanced by smooth talk of democracy and intellectual pretensions; they too turned a blind eye. Brown insulted the intelligence of all Africans when he invited the current dictator in Ethiopia, universally condemned for his dismal human rights record, to represent Africa at the G-20 meeting. But that has been the history of duplicity of the Bush-Brown-Gordon axis. The EU must also be outed for its hypocrisy. Not long ago, it rewarded the dictators in Ethiopia with a gift of €250 million shortly after they clamped down on NGOs and civic society institutions. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund suspended some aid in feigned outrage against the dictatorship following the 2005 elections, but later opened up the floodgates of loans to sustain it. None of the donors and lenders did much to stop the killings, mass arrests, imprisonments and persecution of innocent Ethiopians. It is self-evident that for more than a decade, there has been a tragic failure of donor and lender policy in not supporting good governance in Ethiopia based on the principle of the rule of law. Donors have sought to evade the truth about the dictatorship by justifying its egregious human rights abuses as manifestations of benign ignorance, inexperience, incompetence or lack of technical understanding of modern governance. Donors and lenders must be made to support democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia!

From a Culture of Impunity to a Culture of the Rule of Law

Dadge is telling us that the culture of impunity practiced by the dictatorship could be changed by transforming international donor and lender policies. The first step in bringing about this change is to get donors and lenders to take moral responsibility for their complicity in the dictatorship’s human rights abuses. We must do everything possible to get them to publicly condemn the regime’s repression and atrocities. Second, we must demonstrate to them with empirical evidence that the aid and development loans they provide to the regime are pivotal in sustaining the system of repression and human rights abuses. We must make convincing moral, political and legal arguments that show the rule of law and growth of democratic institutions in Ethiopia will serve their practical and long term interests better than the expediency of supporting a regime that can sustain itself only through violence and brutality. In short, we must use all of our resources to force Western donor countries and multilateral lending institutions to publicly chose between democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia on the one hand, and dictatorship and human rights abuses on the other. That should be the cornerstone of our global advocacy strategy!

We challenge Ethiopians exiled in Europe to do their part and follow up with Dadge’s suggested courses of action. They have a powerful legal tool to make their case before the European Union. They must insist that the EU live up to its legal obligations under the 2000 Cotonou Partnership Agreement, and deny aid and loans to governments that do not “respect human rights, uphold democratic principles based on the rule of law and maintain transparency and accountability in governance.”

We are not unmindful of the tired, worn out and silly sovereignty arguments (“no donor or lender can tell us to improve human rights”) of the dictatorship. There is one simple truth the dictators need to understand clearly: Beggars can not dictate terms to their benefactors! They accept graciously and gratefully what they are given. Taxpayers of Western donor countries have no moral or legal obligation to provide material support to regimes who use their aid to commit crimes against humanity. A truly sovereign government takes care of its people, abides by the rules of international law and does not depend on the perpetual charity and goodwill of others to feed its people, run its government and maintain its social institutions.

Zero Tolerance for a Culture of Impunity

We must consistently advocate a policy of zero tolerance of a culture of impunity in Ethiopia. This means torturers, killers and other violators of human rights must be thoroughly and independently investigated, prosecuted, convicted and punished. The time to build a transitional bridge from a culture of impunity to a culture of the rule of law is now. Exiled Ethiopians alone can not build this bridge. We must make allies of the citizens of the EU countries and the U.S. and convince them that their hard earned tax dollars must not be used to bankroll a depraved dictatorship in Ethiopia. In the U.S., many of us have taken that challenge directly. We shall continue to work with Congressman Donald Payne and Senators Russ Feingold and Pat Leahy to bring to fruition the “Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act” (formerly H.R. 2003), which links U.S. non-humanitarian aid to improvements in human rights in Ethiopia. We are also confident that the Obama Administration will be sympathetic to our cause of human rights accountability. We believe the new administration will not turn a blind eye, a deaf ear and a mute tongue to our plea for help in stopping human rights abuses, ending the culture of impunity and in establishing the rule of law in Ethiopia.

Letter writing campaigns, public demonstrations and petitions are important; but to end the culture of impunity and bring human rights violators to justice much more is needed. Persuasive, convincing and cold hard evidence is required. We must expand and develop an ongoing data collection effort that documents human rights violations on a systematic basis throughout the country. We must apply creative strategies to monitor harassment of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, use video and audio technologies to document incidents of abuse particularly by members of the security forces, locate and maintain witness lists for abuse incidents, keep photographic and documentary records of torture and abuse victims and perform other similar activities. We thank those courageous Ethiopians who have undertaken such tasks to date.

Those Who Refuse to Learn From History Should Learn From Their Constitution

George Santayana admonished, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we do not learn from the burdensome legacy of the culture of impunity, we shall be condemned to prolong and tolerate it for ages to come. The old adage holds true in Ethiopia’s case: “The limits of tyrants are set by the level of tolerance of those subjected to tyranny.” The people of Ethiopia have tolerated a ruthless dictatorship for eighteen years. They are now a hungry and angry people. They are hungry not only for food to sustain their bodies, but also a human rights culture anchored in the principle of the rule of law and democratic institutions to nurture their spirits. They are angry because their basic human rights are violated everyday. Freedom from the rule of those wallowing in a culture of impunity comes at a high price. Many Ethiopians pay that price on a daily basis. We believe history is a great teacher; but the law is a formidable disciplinarian. Article 28 of the dictatorship’s constitution is prophetically instructive:

Crimes Against Humanity. There shall be no period of limitation on persons charged with crimes against humanity as provided by international conventions ratified by Ethiopia and other laws of Ethiopia. The legislature or any other organ of state shall have no power to pardon or give amnesty with regard to such offences.”

Those who refuse to learn from history would be wise to learn from their own constitution!

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/19/ethiopia-human-rights
[2] http://ethiopiangasha.org/tmp/ALM_October222008.html

The writer, Alemayehu G. Mariam, is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles. For comments, he can be reached at almariam@gmail.com

UDJ Party denied permission to hold public meeting

Monday, May 25th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (The Reporter) — The Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party dismissed its plan to hold a public meeting at Meskel Square on Saturday, 23 May 2009, as it was not able to secure permission to hold the event from the City Government of Addis Ababa.

In a letter issued by Markos Bizuneh, officer of Peaceful Demonstration and Public Meeting Notification of the City Government, the party was told that it can only hold its meeting in halls of the party’s choosing.

Dr. Hailu Araya, UDJ’s public relations head and vice president, said that the demonstration notification office told them that they can only make facilities available for the party to hold its meetings in a hall.

Although the party notified the city administration on Monday, the response came after three days which, according to him, contravened the law.

Article 6 (2) of Proclamation No. 3/1991 which provides for the establishment of the procedure for peaceful demonstration and political meeting says, “Where the municipal or Awraja administrative office is of the opinion that … it is preferable for the peaceful demonstration or public political meeting to be held at some other time or place, it shall so notify the organizers by giving reasons, in writing, within 12 hours of the time of submission of their notice.”

”We submitted our request on Monday but they responded on Thursday. Here you can see the law had been breached,” Dr. Hailu said.

Denying the party a space to hold its activities has its own danger, Dr. Hailu said.

“In many places, especially in Amhara and Oromia regions, many of our offices have been closed, party members detained and intimidated,” he added.

Despite the problems that the party is facing, they will continue the peaceful political struggle, according to him.

Woyanne reacts to President Isaias Afwerki's interview

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

The Woyanne regime in Ethiopia has issued the following statement in response to President Isaias Afwerki’s interview. It must be a joke for Woyanne, the author of ‘Article 39′ (that gives ethnic groups the right to secede from Ethiopia), to accuse others of being anti-Ethiopia. By his actions, including his vehement opposition to ‘Article 39′ and supporting Ethiopian freedom fighters who stand for united Ethiopia, President Isaias has demonstrated that he is indeed a great friend of Ethiopia.

Read below the laughable statement by the Woyanne junta:

——————————–

President Issayas lectures the World, masquerading as defender of Ethiopia Unity

(MOFA 05/22/09):- President Issayas is taking the opportunity of Eritrea’s 16th anniversary of independence (May 24) to offer the region, Africa and the Middle East, his thoughts on world and regional problem, and at length. In a whole series of interviews, with regional media and those in the Middle East, and more widely, he has been telling the region, Africa, and indeed the world, how to behave and pointing out where they have all been going wrong. Every night for weeks, viewers of Eritrean TV have been able to hear their President’s thoughts at considerable length.

President Issayas finds little to welcome in the world or even in Eritrea. The words that most commonly appear are challenge, conspiracy, hostility, sacrifice, hard work and yet more hard work. The rewards are all far in the future; and Eritrea is always the target. “The United Nations, including the Security Council, has become an unjust and inequitable tool of a few nations” indulging in “illegal and unconstructive” positions, as well as baseless slanders against Eritrea over the supply of arms to Al-Shabaab and opponents of the Somali Government, although the Somali Prime Minister said only this week that the Somali Government had detailed evidence of arms flights arriving from Eritrea. President Issayas told Egyptian State TV this week that the problems in Somalia mainly emanate from the illegal actions of the UN Security Council itself. In a comprehensive attack on the Council, President Issayas claimed it had taken illegal and unconstructive positions, breaching the UN Charter and international law. This, he claimed, had caused the present vacuum in Somalia and become the source for piracy and other activities. He said a government “imposed” from outside had further aggravated the problem. In this context he told Kenyan TV that IGAD was a tool in the service of foreign agendas and was the source of the problem in Somalia. Eritrea, he said, expected nothing good from such an impotent organization and this was why it had suspended its membership.

The African Union came in for similar strictures as doing nothing more useful than “talking about a vacuum”. He referred to the behaviour of its leaders as corrupt and despicable, and in this connection he had much to say about democracy and the media in Africa. According to President Issayas, (talking to SABC TV at the weekend) Africa needs “genuine” democracy. Surprisingly, in view of South Africa’s recent Presidential election, he specifically noted that the South African experience proved that one cannot speak of real democracy when holding elections in which there is no equitable distribution of resources and where the majority of the population lived below the poverty line. President Issayas’ version of democracy, which ignores elections or political parties, does not equate with other peoples’ views. He is against such “meaningless exercises or manifestations of ostentatious behaviour”. In fact, democracy is an ideal and a set of institutions of practices. As an ideal it involves the concept that members of a group should have the determining control over rules and policies, and that members of the group should treat each other as equals. In a modern state this ideal is realized through a framework of citizens’ rights, institutions for representative and accountable government (in particular through a freely elected parliament), an active civil society and a number of mediatory elements of which the most obvious are political parties and an independent media. None of these are present in Eritrea and President Issayas specifically rejects most of these, even claiming, in defiance of Eritrea’s still unimplemented constitution that the people of Eritrea do not want either political parties or an independent media. It was in an interview with Al-Jazeera last year that the President actually put a time frame on elections. Eritrea would have, he said, to wait three or four decades before it held elections, and possibly longer. On the media, President Issayas claimed there was no free press any where in the world today. However the Eritrean people, he claimed, possessed media organs that served as forums for expressing their views and opinions as well as providing them with correct and objective information. Eritrea, of course, has had no independent media outlets since they were all closed down abruptly in 2001 and at least two dozen journalists detained and dozens more exiled.

Few international bodies or countries have escaped President Issayas’ attacks: “conspiracies and hostilities weaved in the name of regional, international and non-governmental organizations,…under the pretext of free press or [humanitarian activities] or…charity are some of the instruments of neo-colonialism masterminded by intelligence agencies.” The US has been one of the President’s main targets. He said it has a strategy of domination through creating problems and crises with the aim of strengthening US influence throughout the region. He attacked the CIA for encouraging and sponsoring human trafficking and encouraging Eritrean youth to flee their country. Hundreds of Eritreans cross into Ethiopia and Sudan every months to avoid conscription and repression. President Issayas told Asharq Alawat newspaper that lying was the culture of the CIA and the “baseless” anti-Eritrean defamatory campaign currently including allegations of Israeli and Iranian bases in Eritrea was no more than a continuation of this historic activity.

Uganda and Burundi are attacked for sending forces for AMISOM in Somalia. They are categorized as far from stable countries, experiencing civil unrest as well as internal opposition. These governments should, said President Issayas, concentrate on their own problems rather than meddle elsewhere. Indeed, the only viable solution for Somalia, said President Issayas was for outsiders to stop meddling in its affairs. He did not include Eritrea in this however. Eritrea’s support for the Somali people was, he said, a moral and legal obligation; and peace and stability could only be achieved by creating a conducive ground for the Somali people to resolve the issue themselves. Kenya was held responsible for the disappearance of three Eritrean journalists in Mogadishu and President Issayas added, ominously, that Eritrea would never overlook the issue. Last weekend it was the turn of long-time ally, the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement. President Issayas, claiming he had the right to criticize the organization, attacked it for failing to fulfill its commitments to the people of Sudan, for corruption and for failing to be definitive on unity or separation.

Perhaps, most bizarrely, in one four hour interview with what claims to be an Ethiopian website though undoubtedly in the pay of the Eritrean Government, President Issayas even tried to portray himself as a defender of Ethiopian unity. The interview indeed appears designed to allow President Issayas to appear in this guise. The truth of the matter is that no other person has worked so tirelessly for the demise of Ethiopia as a country. This is by no means an exaggeration. President Issayas has never been supportive of Ethiopian unity as his current efforts at destabilization make all too clear. Ethiopian officials, of course, are privy to what President Issayas was telling many African leaders during the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia (1998-2000): there is no such thing as Ethiopia and what there is, is no more than a shadow of a country – a country that cannot be taken seriously as a state. In terms of historical background, we would remember what President Issayas told an American, Paul Henze, on 11th March 1991, before he entered Asmara:

“The only reason that there is an Ethiopia is that the US needed it for the Cold War, and recreated it, otherwise it would have disappeared at the end of World War II.”

Ethiopia coffee exports falling, pins hope on sesame

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian coffee exports will fall by 30-40 percent in 2009/2010, but the country hopes to become the world’s biggest sesame seed exporter this year, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) boss said on Friday.

Ethiopian officials have blamed bad weather for near total crop failure in some southern growing zones this season, and ECX chief executive Eleni Gabre-Madhin said the global economic slowdown was also hurting overseas sales.

“This year we’re likely to see a 30 to 40 percent shortfall in coffee export earnings relative to last year,” she told Reuters in an interview at her office in Addis Ababa.

“But we are projecting to export 225,000 tonnes of sesame, earning about $250 million, which is likely to make us the world’s largest exporter.”

The ECX began trading sesame for the first time last month and potential investors in the sector from China and India have already visited the Horn of Africa nation, Eleni said.

Africa’s biggest coffee exporter is also the world’s fourth-largest sesame exporter after China, India and Myanmar, exporting 124,291 tonnes of sesame last year.

Eleni said Ethiopia could set the benchmark price for sesame in the future. “It’s a big ambition for a little country, but we have that potential,” she said.

Coffee accounted for some 60 percent of Ethiopia’s foreign exchange revenue in the 2007/2008 (June/July) season, when it earned more than $525 million from exports of 170,888 tonnes of mostly high quality arabica beans.

But Eleni said the cash-strapped nation would only make about $300 million from its biggest hard currency earner this year, partly due to the global economic slowdown.

“It’s not insignificant that some of the higher-end premium coffee outlets are scaling back,” she said. “Starbucks closing 600 stores around the world has implications for demand for the type of premium coffee that Ethiopia exports.”

Ethiopia has been suffering from a shortage of foreign currency as commodity prices have fallen worldwide and demand for its mostly agricultural exports has slipped.

DIRECT IMPACT ON EARNINGS

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi warned last month reserves stood at just $850 million versus a target of at least $1.2 billion.

The government has said it expects economic growth of 11.2 percent in 2009. The International Monetary Fund has predicted growth of 6.5 percent for Ethiopia this year.

“The global coffee market has had a direct impact on our foreign exchange earnings and our economy is having to face that at the moment,” Eleni said.

The ECX was set up to replace a murky auction system. But some Ethiopian exporters have been reluctant to sell their beans through the new exchange, which began trading coffee in December.
The government seized 17,000 tonnes of the crop in March and revoked the licences of six exporters it accused of hoarding their stocks and waiting for prices to rise.

When a state-owned body then exported the seized stock, some in the industry accused the government of nationalising its most valuable export business. The government denied that.
“It was a one-time corrective action,” Eleni said. “An attempt to send the signal that we have to keep export earnings going because the country is in a crisis.”

Exports have also been shaken by Japan’s insistence on testing Ethiopian coffee beans on arrival after it found some last year that were contaminated with pesticides. That effectively halted exports to a country that once bought about 20 percent of Ethiopia’s beans.

Ethiopia prides itself as the birthplace of coffee. Some 15 million smallholder farmers grow the crop, mostly in the forested highlands in the huge country’s west and southwest.

(Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Maryland: Ethiopian man arrested for sexual assault

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND (ABC News) – A Silver Spring hair salon owner has been arrested for sexually assaulting a 23-year-old female employee, Montgomery County Police say.

Adane Mekonnen Ali, 33, of University Boulevard in Silver Spring, was arrested and charged with second-degree sex offense, first-degree assault and false imprisonment.

According to investigators, the victim was working at the Addis Hair Salon at 11429 Grandview Avenue on May 6 when she was told by Ali to stay after hours to assist a customer. When the salon was empty the suspect allegedly locked the door, turned off the lights and removed her cell phone. He told the girl he wanted to talk, but she refused. That’s when the assault allegedly took place before forcing the woman into a car and driving her home.

Ali, an immigrant from Ethiopia, is being held at the Montgomery County Detention Center on $250,000 bond.

Police are asking anyone with additional information is asked to call the Major Crimes Division, Homicide/Sex Section at 240-773-5070 or the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000. Callers may remain anonymous.

Ethiopian free press in exile

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

By Jim Bettinger

Abebe Gellaw with Jerry YangAbebe Gellaw, the 2008-09 Yahoo! International Fellow at Stanford this year, is an example of how one person with a great idea can make a difference.

Abebe is an Ethiopian journalist, but the regime in his home country is too repressive to allow true journalism, so he is in exile. He had been in London for years before coming to the U.S. as the Yahoo! International Journalism Fellow at Stanford.

The Yahoo! fellowship was specifically established for people like Abebe, journalists from countries where there are strong challenges to a free press. Yahoo! and the Knight Fellowships agreed that supporting journalists who were directly or indirectly under attack should be at the top of the to-do list, and so we created the Yahoo! Fellowship in 2006, with a generous gift from Yahoo!.

Abebe is the third Yahoo! Fellow, following Imtiaz Ali, from Pakistan, and Violet Gonda, of Zimbabwe. Like Abebe, Violet was in exile, too. Abebe’s great idea is Addis Voice, a London-based website devoted to independent news about Ethiopia. It has become a trusted source of news and commentary for the Ethiopian diaspora. Here’s an interview with Abebe:

Abebe’s fellowship is ending, and we are ready to welcome Nadia Trinidad of the Philippines, one of the deadliest countries for journalists in the world. Nadia is a senior correspondent for ABS-CBN Brooadcasting Company in Manila. She will study the psychological and sociological aspects of corruption in the media. She will arrive in August.

Journalists are under attack around the world, and organizations like the Committee To Protect Journalists make sure that those attacks are brought to light. It makes me feel proud that the Knight Fellowships and Yahoo! have teamed up to provide a fellowship at Stanford every year for someone who is bearing the brunt of those attacks.

(Jim Bettinger is Director of John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists, Stanford University)

Woyanne's desperation – Analysis by Tesfaye GebreAb

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Tesfaye GebreAb analyzes the recent developments inside the Woyanne regime in Ethiopia, including the alleged coup plot, desperate measures against Amhara officers in the Woyanne army, Meles Zenawi’s possible retirement next year, who may take his place, etc.

[click here for PDF]
[Source: EMF]

የግንቦት ማስታወሻ

ከተስፋዬ ገብረአብ

እነሆ! ዛሬ ቅዳሜ ነው።

እለቱም ግንቦት 9፣ 2009።

ትናንት ደግሞ ግንቦት 8 ነበር። በአበሻ የዘመን አቆጣጠር ልክ የዛሬ ሃያ አመት ግድም “ጥቂት ጄኔራሎች” ኰሎኔል መንግስቱ ላይ የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ሙከራ አድርገው ነበር። ሳይሳካላቸው በመክሸፉ ዛሬ በህይወት የሉም። ማንኛውም አጥንት – አስከሬን ሆነዋል። አምላክ የጄኔራሎቹን ነፍስ ይማር። እኒያ ሰዎች ከነሙሉ ችግራቸው ከኰሎኔል መንግስቱ የተሻሉ ዜጎች ነበሩ ብዬ አምናለሁ።

ቀደም ሲል ደግሞ ጄኔራል መንግስቱ ነዋይ ጃንሆይን ለማስወገድ በመሞከራቸው የዚያ ዘመን ወጣት ትውልድ ጃንሆይን መንካትና መድፈር እንደሚቻል ትምህርት ማግኘት መቻሉ ይታመናል። ሰሞኑን ደግሞ ታሪክ ራሱን ለመድገም ሞከረ። የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ሙከራ ርእሰ አጀንዳ ሆኖ ሲያነጋግረን ሰነበተ።

እኔም ታዲያ ምንም ስንኳ የፓለቲካ ተንታኝ ባልሆንም፣ እንደ ጋዜጠኛነቴ በጉዳዩ ዙሪያ አስተያየቴን በጨረፍታ ለማኖር ፈቅጄያለሁ። ለነገሩ ይቺን “ብጫቂ ወረቀት” የመጫር አሳብ የመጣው ከኔው አልነበረም። በፀጥታ ተቀምጬ፣ “የደራሲው ማስታወሻ” የሚል ስም የሰጠሁትን ቀጣይ መፅሃፌን እየፃፍኩ ሳለ የethioforum.org ዋና አዘጋጅ ክንፉ አሰፋ መስመር ላይ አገኘኝና፣

“የሰሞኑ ግርግር ላይ አስተያየትህን ለምን አትፅፍም?” ሲል ጠየቀኝ።

* * *

የሰሞኑን የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ግርግር ጉዳይ ከማንሳቴ በፊት ግን በዚህ ወቅት የማንም የፖለቲካ ድርጅት አባል አለመሆኔን ከወዲሁ መግለፅ ግዴታ ሆኖ አጊንቸዋለሁ። ቀደም ሲል የወያኔ አባል ለመሆን የበቃሁትም ባልጠበቅሁት ሁኔታ ከተራራ ወደ ሸለቆ እንደ ኳስ እየተጠለዝኩ መሆኑን በ“ጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ” አውግቼያችሁዋለሁና እሱን እዚህ አልደግመውም። ይህን ርእሰ ጉዳይ ማንሳት ያስፈለገበት ምክንያትም በቅርቡ ከግንቦት 7 ጋር በተያያዘ እየታማሁ በመሆኑ ነው።

በመሰረቱ በግንቦት 7 አባልነት መታማት የሚያኮራ ነው።

የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች ውስጥ የመግባት ሃሳብ ቢኖረኝ ኖሮ ግንቦት 7 ከአማራጮቼ አንዱ በሆነ ነበር። ቅሬታዬን መግለፅ የፈለግሁትም የአብርሃ በላይ ድረገፅ አትሞት የነበረው አንድ ፅሁፍ ግንቦት 7ን ለማጥቃት ሆን ተብሎ በወያኔ ካድሬዎች የተፃፈ ሊሆን ይችላል ብዬ በመገመቴ ነበር። “የአድአው ጥቁር አፈር” በሚል ርእስ ኢትዮሚዲያ ድረገፅ ላይ የታተመው ፅሁፍ ከኔ በላይ ግንቦት7ን የሚያጠቃ ሆኖ ነበር ያገኘሁት።

በዚያን ሰሞን የፀሃፊውን ማንነት ለማወቅ ብዙ ጥረት አድርጌ ነበር። ፍንጭ የሚሰጠኝ ግን ጠፋ። ‘ያያ አባ ቦር’ በሚል የብእር ስም ግንቦት 7ን ከኔ ጋር ደርቦ በቃላት መድፍ ሲደበድበኝ የከረመው ፀሃፊ ለካስ የሩቅ ወዳጄ ኦቦ በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ኖሮአል።

በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ በፃፍው መጣጥፍ እኔን ‘ወኔ ቢስ፣ፈሪ!’ ብሎ የቻለውን ያህል በሚያጥላሉ ቃላት ሲገልፅ፣ ራሱን ደግሞ ‘የግንባር ስጋ’ ወይም ‘ጀግና’ ‘እውነተኛ ጋዜጠኛ’ ሲል ገልፆአል። እዚህ ላይ ማንበቤን በማቆም ጥቂት ተክዤ ቆየሁ። በፈቃዱ ስለራሱ ጀግናነት በአደባባይ እስኪናገር ድረስ ርግጠኛ መሆን ከቻለ በውነቱ በጣም እድለኛ ሰው ሆኖ ይሰማኛል። ጀግና መሆን መልካም ነው። ሰዎች በምርጫቸው ፈሪ ሆነው አያውቁም። ለነገሩ የጀግንነትና የፈሪነት መለኪያዎች ከቶ ምን ይሆኑ? ስንት አይነት ጀግንነቶችስ አሉ? እና በፍቃዱ ሞረዳ ራሱን ጀግና ብሎ እኔን ወደ ፈሪዎች ቀበሌ የላከኝ በየትኞቹ መለኪያዎች ይሆን?

በፍቃዱ ከ1981 ጀምሮ እንደሚያውቀኝም ፅፎአል።

እውነቱን ነው።

ግጥሞቹን በጣም ስለምወዳቸው ራሴ ነኝ ፈልጌ የተዋወቅሁት። እኔ ከዚያ በፊት በስነ -ግጥሞቹ አውቀው ነበር። እሱም እንደኔው ሃረር ላይ ያቺኑ የፉገራ ፖለቲካ ተምሮ ነበርና እኛ ስንመረቅ በፍቃዱ የኢሰፓ ጋዜጠኛና ካድሬ ሆኖ መጣ። አዲሳባን እንጂ ጦርነትን አያውቃትም። ሃረር ላይ ግማሽ ሰአት ያህል ስነፅሁፍ ነክ ወሬ ተጨዋውተን ተለያየን። በዚሁ አበቃ። በፍቃዱ ሞረዳ ወደ አዲሳባ፣ እኔ ወደ አሰቃቂው ጦርነት ተለያየን። መልአከ ሞት ደግሞ ሬሳ በዝቶበት ነው መሰለኝ፣

“አንተን ለጊዜው አንፈልግህም” ብሎ ሳይወስደኝ ቀረ።

ደርግ ወድቆ አዲሳባ ስንገባ ከበፈቃዱ ጋር በድጋሚ ተገናኘን። አሁን ደግሞ ሁለታችንም ስደተኞች ነን። ከስደቱ በሁዋላ ወያኔን በጋራ እንታገለዋለን ብዬ ስጠብቅ በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ፊቱን ወደኔ አዙሮ በባዙቃ ይደበድበኝ ያዘ። አብርሃ በላይም፣ ምክንያቱ ባልታወቀ ሁኔታ የበፈቃዱ ሞረዳን ፅሁፍ ከድረገፁ ነቅሎ ጣለው። እንዳልኳችሁ ግን “የግንቦት 7 አምባሳደር” ሆኜ አስመራ ልጓዝ እንደተዘጋጀሁ የሚገልፀውን የፈጠራ ፅሁፍ የፃፈው በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ሊሆን ይችላል ብዬ አልገመትኩም ነበር።

ያን ሰሞን ታዲያ ለቀጣዩ መፅሃፌ ከበፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ውብ ግጥሞች፣ “ጀጎል” የተባለችውን ልጠቀምባት በማሰብ፣ “ጀጎል’ የተባለች ግጥምህን ላክልኝ” የሚል ኢሜይል ፃፍኩለት። በጀጎል ፈንታ በኔ ላይ ያለውን ጥላቻ የሚተርከውን ፅሁፍ በፒዲፍ አስሮ ላከልኝ። “የአደአው ጥቁር አፈር” መድፈኛ እሱራሱ እንደሆነም ነገረኝ።

በእውነቱ ወያኔዎች በዚህ ነው የሚበልጡን። የራሳቸውን ሰው በመደብደብ ሃይል አያባክኑም። በፍቃዱ ሞረዳ እኔን በመደብደብ ወያኔን ብቻ ነው ማስደሰት የቻለው። በርግጥ በፍቃዱ ወደ ኦነግ ስለ መግባቱ ያልተረጋገጠ ጭምጭምታ ወሬ ሰምቻለሁ። ወሬው እውነት ከሆነ ለገጣሚው ያያ አባ ቦር መልካም ትግል እመኝለታለሁ…

በዚያን እለት ምሽት ወደ ፕሪቶሪያ ደቡብ ነዳሁ። የከተማችን ደቡባዊ አቅጣጫ ኮረብታማ ነው። ገና ሙሉ በሙሉ አልመሸም ነበር። ባቡሮች የጉልበት ሰራተኞችን እየጫኑ፣ ፕሪቶሪያን እያቋጡ፣ በውበቱ ከቶውንም ተወዳዳሪ ወደሌለው ወደ ኩዋዙሉ ናታል ከፍለሃገር ይከንፋሉ። ኮረብቶቹ በጣም ውብ ሲሆኑ ጃኪቻን የተባለው የፊልም አክተር “…” የተባለውን ፊልም ለመስራት እኒያን ኮረብቶች ተጠቅሞባቸዋል። እዚያ ኮረብታ ላይ ወጣሁና ቁጭ አልሁ። ቁጭ አልኩ ብቻዬን።

በወርቃማው ዘመን ስለ ተፈጠሩት የሩስያ ደራስያን አሰብኩና ቅናት ሰቅዞ ያዘኝ። በአንድ ወቅት ሃያስያን ወደ ቶልስቶይ ቀርበው ስለ ቼኾቭ ጠይቀውት ነበር።

ሳያመነታ እንዲህ መለሰ፣

“ወደድኩም ጠላሁም አንቶን ቼኾቭ እንደሚበልጠኝ አመኜያልሁ!!”

* * *

የሆነው ሆኖ በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ስለ ግንቦት 7 የገመተውን እንርሳውና እንደ አንድ የስነፅሁፍ ሰው በሰሞኑ አጀንዳ ላይ የግል እይታዬን ላውጋችሁ…..

ከትናንት በስቲያ ግንቦት 7 ነበር እለቱ።

መለስና በረከት የኰሎኔል መንግስቱ ርኩስ መንፈስ ምን ሹክ እንዳላቸው ባይታወቅም፣ እንደ መርዶ ነጋሪ በጠዋት ተነስተው፣ “ግንቦት 7 ወንበራችንን ሊሰርቅ ሲል ለጥቂት ያዝነው!!” ሲሉ በጩኸት ነገሩን።

አያያዘናም በረከት፣

“ለግንቦት 20 ሲያስቡን፣ ግንቦት 7 ላይ አስቀረናቸው” አለን።

በርግጥ በረከት እንደዚህ ሲል አልሰማሁትም። አይልም ግን አይባልም።

እንደዋዛ ከጀመርኩት ወግ ወዲያ ማዶ ታዲያ አያሌ መራራ አጀንዳዎች አሉ። በአስር ሺዎች የሚገመቱ ኢትዮጵያውያን የፖለቲካ እስረኞች በየማጎሪያው የከፋውን ስቃይ እየተቀበሉ ይገኛሉ። ቴዲ አፍሮ አንዱ ነው። ብርቱካን ሚደቅሳ – ሁለት። ገመቹ አባቢያ – ሶስት። ገመቹን የሚያውቀው አለ? ምናልባት የምናውቀው ጥቂቶች ሳንሆን አንቀርም። የኦነግ ታጋይ ነበር። ወያኔ አስሮታል። ከናይሮቢ አፍነው ወሰዱትና አሁን የት እንዳለ አይታወቅም።

የስንቱ ስም ተዘርዝሮ ይቻላል?

በርግጥ የሹርሹራ ጓደኛ ስለሆነው ገመቹ በቀጣዩ መፅሃፌ በስፋት አወጋችሁዋለሁ። “ሹርሹራ ደግሞ ማነው?” ትሉ ይሆናል። ለማንኛውም ሹርሹራ በህይወት የለም። የወለጋ ምድር ላይ በክብር አርፎአል። እንግዲህ በየማጎሪያው ከተወረወሩት ወገኖቻችን መካከል እነ ጄኔራል ተፈራ ማሞ የዚህ ማስታወሻ መነሻና ማእከል ናቸውና ወደዚያው ልዝለቅ….

* * *

ወያኔ አብላጫ ቁጥር ባላቸው ብሄሮች መካከል እንዴት አክሮባት እየሰራ መዝለቅ እንዳለበት የቤት ስራውን የሰራው ደርግ ከመውደቁ በፊት እንጂ ትናንት አልነበረም። ቀድሞውንም በተዳከመ የግንኙነት ማእቀፍ ውስጥ የነበረው የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ጣራው ተደርምሶበት፣ የሚያገናኙት የጋራ የስሜት ክሮች እየተበጣጠሱ አንዱ ለሌላው ጠላት በሚሆኑበት ጎዳና ላይ ሲደነቃቀፍ ዘመናት ባጅተዋል።

ጄኔራል ከማል ገልቹ ከ150 በላይ የታጠቁ የሰራዊት አባላትን አስከትሎ የኤርትራን ድንበር ሲያቋርጥ “የወያኔ ሰራዊት ፍፃሜ ተቃረበ!” ተብሎ ነበር። የጄኔራሉን መኮብለል ተከትሎ በረከት ሰምኦን በሰጠው ቃለምልልስ “ተገላገልን!” ሲል ነበር የገለፀው። ወያኔ ራሱን የሚያጠናክርበት በር ተከፈተለት። ከ20 ሺህ ያላነሱ ኦሮሞ ወታደሮች ከየጦር ክፍሉ ተመንጥረው ትግራይ ውስጥ ታሰሩ። በመቶዎች የሚገመቱ ኦሮሞ መኮንኖች ደግሞ ደሴ አካባቢ ወደሚገኝ ወታደራዊ እስር ቤት ተላኩ። መኮንኖቹን የተረከበቻቸው የእስርቤቱ ሃላፊ፣ ኮሎኔል ብራ የተባለች ነባር የህወሃት አባል ስትሆን፣ የአሉላ ክፍለጦር ኮሚሳር ከነበረችበት ጊዜ አንስቶ በጨካኝነቷ ትታወቃለች። ኮሎኔል ብራ የሃገር መከላከያ ከፍተኛ መኮንኖችን እርቃናቸውን አስቁማ ታስገርፋለች። እንደ ወይራ በጠነከረ የጎማ ዱላ ተደብድበው፣ፓራላይዝድ ሆነው ዛሬም ድረስ ማገገሚያ ጣቢያ የተቆለፈባቸው አንድ ሁለት መኮንኖችን አውቃለሁ።

መኮንኖቹ በግርፊያው ወቅት የተጠየቁት አንድ አጭር ጥያቄ ብቻ ነበር፣

“ከኦሮሞ ጄኔራሎች መካከል ከኦነግ ጋር ግንኙነት ያለው ማነው?”

ድብደባው ሲበዛባችው የአባዱላን ስም ጠሩ።

ኮሎኔል ብራ ወቀጣው እንዲቆም አዘዘችና ያገኘችውን “ምርጥ የምርመራ ውጤት” ለአለቆቿ አቀረበች። አለቆቿ ግን አባዱላ ዝንተአለም እንደማይከዳ ያውቁ ነበር።

ጄኔራል ከማል ሰራዊቱ ውስጥ በህቡእ ካደራጀው የኦነግ ደጋፊዎች መካከል ሲሶውን እንኳ ይዞ አለመውጣቱን ገልዖ ነበር። ይህ ለወያኔ እልል በቅምጤ ሆነለት። በዚያ ሰበብ ምንጠራውን ለማካሄድ በቂ ምክንያት አገኙ። ከጠረጋው በሁዋላ በጎደለ ለመሙላት በተደረገው የስልጣን ሽግሽግ ወያኔ ከአማራ የሰራዊቱ አባላት ድጋፍ ለማግኘት ጥቂት ሞካክሮአል። በዚያን ጊዜ አፍንጫ ሲመታ አይን ሳያለቀስ ቀረ።

ይህን ዘዴ ወያኔ ደጋግሞ ይጠቀምበታል።

ቅንጅት አዲሳባ ላይ በምርጫ ሲያሸንፍ በአንድ አዳር ፊንፊኔ የኦሮሚያ ዋና ከተማ ሆና አደረች። በዚሁ ሰሞንም ኢህአዴግ አዳማ ከተማ ላይ ባዘጋጀው አንድ ግብዣ ላይ የኢህአዴግ አባላት በትግርኛና በኦሮምኛ ብቻ ጨፈሩ። አባዱላም የሚያምነው ታቦት ስላልነበረው በጠመንጃ ስም እየማለ ታሪካዊ ንግግር አደረገ። ግብዣው ላይ የነበሩ እንደሚተርኩት አባዱላ እንባው ባይኑ ቸፈፍ ብሎ፣

“ፊንፊኔ ወደ እናት ክልሏ እንደምትመለስ ህልም ነበረኝ!!” ሲል እንደ ማርቲን ሉተር ኪንግ ድምፁን ቢለቀው ዝቋላና ካካ ተራሮች ደግሞ ያንን በገደል ማሚቷቸው በኩል አገማሸሩት።

አባዱላ እንባውና ህልሙን አጣጥሞ ሳያበቃ መለስ ዜናዊ ጠርቶ፣

“ህልምህን ህፃናት የማይደርሱበት ቦታ አስቀምጠው። ለጊዜው ግን አዳማ ትቆያላችሁ” አለው።

ወያኔ ሁለቱ አብላጫ ቁጥር ያላቸውን ብሄሮች በተመሳሳይ ጊዜ አጥቅቷቸው አያውቅም። አንዱን ሲያጠቃ የሌላው ድጋፍ ስለሚያስፈልገው የፈረቃ ቁማር ይቆምራል። የህወሃት አባላትም ምንጊዜም ፍርድ ሰጪ ዳኛ ሆነው መካከል ላይ ይገኛሉ። የኮሜዲያን ክበበው ገዳ “ገብረመድህን” የተባለው ገፀባህርይ ለዚህ አባባሌ እንደ መልካም ማሳያ ሊጠቀስ የሚችል ነው።

የሰሞኑ፣ “የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ድራማ” ለአየር ከበቃ በሁዋላ ዶክተር ብርሃኑ ነጋ በቃለመጠይቁ ሲገልፅ እንደነበረው ከጄኔራል ከማል ኩብለላ በሁዋላ በሰራዊቱ ውስጥ በተካሄደው ጠረጋ የአገዛዙ ስርአት ዘረኛ አካሄድ ላይ ጥያቄ ያሳደሩ ምርጥ የሰራዊቱ አባላት በአብዛኛው እየታፈኑ ተሰውረዋል።

ወያኔን እንቅልፍ የሚከለክሉ የሰራዊቱ አባላት አንድ ባንድ እየተመነጠሩ ጥጋቸውን ይዘዋል። ሃይሌ ጥላሁን ሊጠቀሱ ከሚችሉት መካከል ነው። በሰሞኑ “የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ሙከራ” ጣት ከሾለባቸው መካከልም ሃይሌ ዋናው መሆኑን ውስጥ አዋቂዎች ያወጋሉ። ዳሩ ግን ወያኔ በዚህ ጊዜ በቀጥታ ጄኔራል ሃይሌን ሊነካው እንደማይፈልግ የምናውቅ ከጥቂት በላይ ነን። በኢትዮ-ኤርትራ ጦርነት ወቅት ጄኔራል ሃይሌን የተመለከቱ ጥቂት አስገራሚ ወጎች ነበሩ። በዚያን ወቅት የህወሃት ጦር ኮማንደሮች በከባድ መሳሪያ ግዢ ሰበብ በሚሊዮናት ዶላር ኮሚሽን እየበሉ የመሆናቸው ወሬ አየሩን በክሎት ነበር። ጄኔራል ሃይሌ ደግሞ እዚሁ ግዢ አካባቢ የተመደበ ባለስልጣን ነበር። እና ድምፁን ከፍ አድርጎ በስብሰባ ላይ እንዲህ ሲል ተናገረ፣

“እኔ እዚህ ተቀመጬ የሃገሪቱን ገንዘብ አትበሉም! ስትዘርፉ እያየሁ ዝም አልላችሁም!”

ጄኔራል ሃይሌ ከነታምራትና በረከት ጋር ኢህዴንን ከመሰረቱት ነባር ታጋዮች አንዱ ሲሆን፣ አዲስአበባ እስክትያዝም በኢህአዴግ ደረጃ ትግሉን የመራ ሰው ነው። በስብሰባ ላይ የህወሃት ኮማንደሮችን እንዲያ ከተናገረ በሁዋላ ግን የሃይሌ ጉዳይ ያለቀለት ሆነ። “ጡረታ!” አሉና አገለሉት። ጉዳዩ ተራ የእድሜና የአስተዳደር ጉዳይ ቢሆን ኖሮ፣ ሳሞራ የኑስ ቀድሞት ጡረታ ሊወጣ በተገባ ነበር። እነደሰማሁት ጡረታ ከወጣም በሁዋላ ሃይሌ አላረፈም። ባገኘው አጋጣሚ ሁሉ፣

“እንተዋወቃለን!” እያለ ይናገራል አሉ።

እነ ሳሞራም “የትም አይደርስ” በሚል ችላ ብለውት ሰንብተዋል።

እንግዲህ በዚህ መረጃ ዙሪያ አንዳንድ ፍንጮችን ማሽተት የሚገድ አይሆንም። ዛሬ በመፈንቅለ መንግስት ወይም በሽብርተኛነት ስም ተይዘው የታሰሩት ከፍተኛና ጄኔራል መኮንኖች ከሃይሌ ጥላሁን ጋር ያላቸውን የጠበቀ ግንኙነት ወያኔም ሆነ የቅርብ የብአዴን አባላት አሳምረው ያውቁታል።

የመፈንቅለ መንግስቱን ወሬ እንደሰማሁ የሚፃፉትን ዜናዎችና ዜና ትንታኔዎች ለማንበብ ሞክሬ ነበር። ወያኔ ጉዳዩን ከመፈንቅለ መንግስት ወደ ሽብርተኛነት ሊለውጠው ለምን እንደፈለገ ገልፅ ነበር። “ሽብርተኛነት ክስ ለመመስረት የሚያመች ሲሆን፣ ባንፃሩ “መፈንቅለ መንግስት” የሚለው ግንቦት 7 የተባለውን ድርጅት ዝና ይበልጥ ከፍ ሊያደርገው ይችላል የሚል ስጋት አሳድሮባቸዋል። “ከሰራዊቱ እየተመነጠሩ ያሉት አማራ መኮንኖች የግንቦት 7 አባላት ናቸው ወይስ አይደሉም?” የሚለው ጥያቄም አከራካሪ አይደለም። ቢሆኑም ብርሃኑና አንዳርጋቸው፣ “አባላቶቻችን ናቸው!” ብለው ይነግሩን ዘንድ አንጠብቅም። ይህ ለታሪክ የሚቆይ ይሆናል። እንደምንሰማው ግን ከግንቦት 7 ጋር ቀጥተኛ ግንኙነት ያልመሰረቱ፣ በአላማው ዙሪያ በራስ አነሳሽነት የተደራጁ ወጣቶች የክፍለ ሃገር ከተሞችን እያጥለቀለቁ ይገኛሉ። በየአካባቢው “ወንድም ጋሻ!” የመሆን የአርበኛነት ስሜት ተቀስቅሷል። ብርቱካን ሚደቅሳ እንደገለፀችው፣ አንድ አላማ በህዝብ ተቀባይነት ካገኘ የሚያደራጀውን አካል ሳይጠብቅ እንደ መንፈስ ይሰራጫል። ቀደም ሲል ለቅንጅት አላማዎች ህይወታቸውን የሰጡት አብዛኞቹ ወጣቶች በአባልነት የተመዘገቡ እንዳልነበሩ እናስታውሳለን። የወያኔ ዘረኛ አገዛዝ ሰለባ የሆነውን ሰፊ ህዝብ እንተወውና በዚህ ቀውጢ ወቅት ተፈራ ዋልዋ ራሱ የግንቦት 7 ደጋፊ ሆኖ ቢገኝ አይደንቀኝም።

ከመነሻው ብአዴኖች ውስጣቸው ጥሩ አለመሆኑን የውስጥ መረጃዎች አሉኝ። ከኢህአዴግ አራት አባል ድርጅቶች መካከል ክፉኛ ሞራሉ ተነክቶ በቀውስ ላይ የሚገኘው ብአዴን ነው።

ኦህዴድን በቀላል ቋንቋ ላስቀምጥላችሁ!

አመራሩ ንፁህ ወያኔ ሲሆን፣ አባላቶቹ ደግሞ በአብዛኛው የስራ እድል ለማግኘት ድርጅቱን የተቀላቀሉ በአመለካከት ወደ ኦነግ የሚቀርቡ ናቸው።

“ደቡብ ህዝቦች” በሚል ስም አባይ ፀሃዬ ያቋቋመው ድርጅት “አለ ይባላል በሳይንስ ግን አልተረጋገጠም” እየተባለ የሚቀለድበት፣ ዶክተር ካሱ ይላላ እንደፈለገ የሚያንገላታው ከሞቱት በላይ ያለ እቁብተኛ ነው።

ወደ ብአዴን ስንመጣ ከፍተኛ አደጋ ውስጥ ወድቀዋል። መለስ ዜናዊ እንደሚለውም ቀዩን የፈንጂ መስመር ረግጠዋል።

አመራሩን በጨረፍታ ላስጎብኛችሁ…

አዲሱ ለገሰ ከጤንነቱ መበላሸት ሁኔታ ጋር ተደማምሮ ስልጣን ላይ መቆየት እንደማይፈልግ ማመልከት የጀመረው ከሚሊኒየሙ ዋዜማ ጀምሮ ነበር። ተፈራ ዋልዋ፣ “የታገልነው ለዚህ አልነበረም!” እና “መምራት አቅቶናል!” የተባሉ ሁለት ነጠላ ዘፈኖችን ውስጥ ውስጡን ማንጎራጎር መጀመሩን በምሰማበት መንገድ ሰምቻለሁ። ህላዌ ዮሴፍ ቀድሞውንም “ከኢህአፓ መንፈስ አልተላቀቁም!” እየተባሉ ከሚታወቁት አንዱ ነበር። ህላዌ “ኢትዮጵያዊነት!” የሚል መንፈሳቸው ጠንካራ ከነበሩ የቀድሞ የኢህአፓ ትንታጎች አንዱ ነበር። የሽግግር መንግስቱ ስራ ከጀመረ በሁዋላ መለስ ዜናዊ፣

“ህላዌ ዮሴፍ ሆይ! አንተ አማራ ብቻ ነበርክ፣ አማራ ብቻ ሆነህም ትኖራለህ!! ስለሌላው አያገባህም!” ብሎት ሲያበቃ አረንጓዴዋን ቀንሶ በቀይና ቢጫ ቀለማት ያማረች ክራቫት አሰረለት። ከኢህዴን ላይ የተቀነሰችው አረንጓዴ ቀለም ሁመራ መሆኗም በሹክሹክታ ተናፈሰ። ጄኔራል ሃይሌ ጥላሁን ቀደም ብዬ እንደገለፅኩት ለይቶለታል። መኮንኖች ክበብ ብቅ ሲል፣ “እነዚህ የቀን ሌቦች፣ ተጫወቱብን!” ማለቱን ቀጥሎአል።

ከምርጫ 97 አንድ ወር ቀደም ብሎ መኮንኖች ክበብ ላይ በተደረገ አንድ ግብዣ ላይ ስብሃት ነጋ፣

“ነፍጠኛው ወደ ስልጣን ይመጣል ብሎ የሚያልም ካለ የዋህ ነው!” ብሎ ሲናገር ህላዌ ዮሴፍ የሚጠጣው ትን ብሎት ወደ መፀዳጃ ቤት መሄዱ ተሰምቶአል።

ብአዴን ማለት እንግዲህ እነዚሁ ናችው። ያልተጠቀሱ ቢኖሩ ታደሰ ጥንቅሹና በረከት ስምኦን ናችው። ታደሰ ብአዴን ውስጥ የህወሃት ትክል መሆኑ ነው የሚነገርለት። በረከት ያው በረከት ነው። በወያኔ ዘረኛ ፖለቲካ ውስጥ ገብቶ የወገኖቹን የስቃይ ጊዜ ከሚያራዝም፣ አንዴ ጎንደር ሌላ ጊዜ ቡግና ከሚንከራተት፣ “አማራ ነኝ!” እያለ በምድረበዳ ከሚጮህ፣ የጎንደር ልጅነቱን አክብሮ፣ በኢትዮጵያዊነቱ ቢፀና እንዴት ባማረበት?

የሆነው ሆኖ ከመነሻው ብአዴኖች ውስጣቸው ጥሩ አለመሆኑን ገልጫለሁ። ከአባላቶቻቸውና ከህዝቡ የሚመጣውን ግፊት ከቶውንም ሊቋቋሙት ተቸግረዋል። ብአዴኖች በህወሃት ላይ የቆየ ቅሬታ እንዳላቸውም “የጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ” ላይ መግለፄ አይዘነጋም። ብርሃኑ ነጋ ጠቁሞት እንዳለፈውም ሰራዊቱ ውስጥ ቁጣ አለ። የሰሞነኛው ግርግር ከግንቦት 7 ባሻገር የብአዴን ውስጣዊ ሁኔታ ላይ እንዳተኩር ያደረገኝም ብአዴን የወያኔን ዘረኛ ፖሊሲ እያስፈፀመ መቀጠል ከማይችልበት ደረጃ ላይ መድረሱ ይበልጥ ግልፅ እየሆነ በመምጣቱ ነው። ከበረከትና ከታደሰ ጥንቅሹ ባሻገር ያሉት የብአዴን የአመራር አባላት የጄኔራል ሃይሌ ጥላሁንን ቁጣ ቢጋሩ አይደንቀኝም።

“የጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ” የተባለውን መፅሃፍ በረከትና ተፈራ ዋልዋ እነዳነበቡት ሰምቻለሁ። በረከት ጠረጴዛ እየደበደበ፣ “ውሸታም!! የውሸት ክምር!!” አለ ተባለ። ተፈራ ግን፣ “የሚያውቀውን ፅፎአል” ማለቱን ሰማሁ። እኔን የሳበኝ ሁለቱ የጥንት ጓደኛሞች የሁለት አለም ሰው መሆን የመጀመራቸው ፍንጭ ነው።

ተፈራ አይኑን መግለጥ ጀምሮ ይሆን?

በርግጥም ሚስቱን እስከ ማሰር ሊደፍሩት የበቁበትን ምክንያት እንደ ተራ ስህተት የሚታይ ሊሆን አይችልም። ተፈራና አዲሱ ያሻውን ያህል የስልጣን ጥመኞች ቢሆኑም፣ የመከላከያ አባላቶቻቸውና የቀድሞ የትግል ጓዶቻቸው እንደ አይጥ እየተለቀሙ ወደ ኮሎኔል ብራ ሲላኩ ድርጊቱን በደስታ ሊያስተናገዱት ከቶ አይችሉም። ለዘመናት ውስጥ ውስጡን ሲበላላ የባጀው የብአዴንና የህወሃት ሽኩቻ ካለፉት ጊዜያት በላቀ ደረጃ ወደ ግጭት አምርቶአል።

ህወሃት ብአዴንን ለማዳከም ይህን ጊዜ ለምን እንደመረጠ መረዳትም ከባድ አይደለም።

ምርጫ 2010 እየቀረበ ነው።

የማጭበርበሪያ ሜዳው ከወዲሁ መደልደል እንዳለበት ግልፅ ነው። “ኢትዮጵያዊነት” የሚል ባንዲራ የሚያስቀድሙ ሃይሎችና የትጥቅ ትግል ያወጁ፣ ኦነግ፣አርበኞች፣የኦጋዴን ነፃ አውጪ የመሳሰሉ አማፅያን “የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ጠላቶች!” ተብለው ተፈርጀዋል። ወያኔ “የግንቦት 7” እና “የአንድነት” ፓርቲዎችን ሁለትነት አለማመኑም ግልፅ ነው። በቀጣዩ ምርጫ ወያኔ እንደለመደው ሊያጭበረብርና ጠመንጃ ሊጠቀም ሲሞክር የግንቦት 7 ትንታጎች መብረቅ እንዳያወርዱበት ሰግቶአል። ብአዴን ለግንቦት 7 የመፈልፈያ ጫካ ሊሆን እንደሚችልም ወያኔ ከምርጫ 97 በቂ ትምህርት አጊኝቶአል። እና ግንቦት 7 ወጣት ወታደሮቹን ይዞ የማይቀርለትን ፍልሚያ የሚጋፈጥ ከሆነ በርግጥም ማእከሉ መከላከያ ነው የሚሆን። የሰሞኑ የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ድራማ እንዲህ ሰፊና አሻገሮ የተመለከተ ስለመሆኑ ከቶ ምን ጥያቄ አለውና?

የብአዴን አመራር በበረከት ሰንሰለት ተጠፍሮ የታሰረ ተስፋ የቆረጠ አካል እንደመሆኑ በህወሃት የሚታዘዘውን የጎጥ አስተሳሰብ ተፈፃሚ የማድረግ ብቃቱን አጥቶአል። ይህ ማለት ግን ህወሃት አልቆለታል ማለት አይደለም። “ኢትዮጵያዊነት” የሚል ባንዲራ ያስቀደሙ ሃይሎች ሲበረቱበት አባዱላ ገመዳን ጠርቶ አንድ የቤት ስራ እንደሚሰጠው ከወዲሁ የሚጠበቅ ነው። አሁንም አፍንጫ ሲመታ አይን ካላለቀሰ ወያኔ ሊሳካለት ይችላል።

ወገኖቼ ሆይ!

ምን ቀረ?

ቀሪው ግልፅ ነው….

በቀጣዩ ምርጫ መለስ ዜናዊ ስልጣኑን እንደሚለቅ ነግሮናል። መለስ ቃሉ አይታመንም። አሳ የላሰው ድንጋይ ነው። በአሁኑ ንግግሩ “አሁንስ በቃኝ! እለቅላችሁዋለሁ!!” ማለቱን ግን እኔ በበኩሌ አምኜዋለሁ። መለስ በርግጥም ስልጣኑን ሊለቅ ወስኖአል። አማራጭም የለውም። ሁኔታዎችንና እድሜውን አስለቶ የቤት ስራውን ሰርቶ አብቅቶአል። ሆኖም ብቻውን እንደማይለቅም አስባለሁ። የፖሊት ቢሮ አባላቱን ሁሉ በትልቅ ዘንቢል ሸክፎ ዘወር ይል ዘንድ እንጠብቃለን። ይሁን እነጂ የዚህች ሃገር መከራ እዚህ ላይ ያበቃል ብላችሁ አትጠበቁ። የሚወራው እውነት ከሆነ አስመራ የተማረው ባለመነፅሩ ዶክተር ቴዎድሮስ አድሃኖም መለስን ተክቶ ኢህአዴግን ሊመራ እጅጌውን ሰብስቦአል። የቅንጅት መሪዎች ከመፈታታቸው ቀደም ብሎ ስዬ አብርሃ ከእስር የተለቀቀበት የስምምነት ምስጢርም ያልተነካ ወሬ ነው። ህወሃት አንድ አስገራሚ ጠባይ አለው። ጥንካሬ ሲሰማው ርስበራስ ይባላሉ። ጠላት ሲበረታባቸው ደግሞ ልዩነታቸውን መሳቢያ ውስጥ አስቀመጠው ባንድ ሰልፍ ለውጊያ ይዘጋጃሉ። የስዬ አብርሃ በድንገት የመፈታትና የተቃዋሚ ንቅናቄ ውስጥ መገኘት የህወሃት ራስን የማዳን ስትራቴጂ አካል ስለመሆኑ የሚጠራጠር ካለም የዋህ ፖለቲከኛ መሆን ይኖርበታል።

ባጭሩ ቀጣዩ የሃይል አሰላለፍ በአንድ ወገን መለስና ቡድኑን የሚተካው ሃይል፣ በሌላ ወገን ደግሞ በስዬና በገብሩ የሚመራው ሃይል ይሆናሉ። ከዚህ ባሻገር ያሉ ሃይሎች እጣ ፈንታ ገብሩና ስዬን መቀላቀል አለያም መጥፋት ይሆናል። ስልጣን ከሁለቱ ሃይሎች እጅ እስካልወጣች ድረስም የህወሃት አላማዎች እንደተጠበቁ ይቆያሉ። ከዚህ ባሻገር መለስ ለግሉ የሚመኛቸው ጥቂት ነገሮች አይጠፉም። የሞ ኢብራሂም ሽልማት ቀዳሚው ይሆናል። ለገንዘቡ ሳይሆን ለክብሩ።

ይህ የወያኔ ሂሳብ ይሳካ ይሆን? ለማንኛውም ትግሉ ቀጥሎአል!…

* * *

እነሆ! ዛሬ ቅዳሜ ነው…

እለቱም ግንቦት 9፣ 2009።

ፕሪቶሪያ ቁጭ ብዬ እኔም ይቺን እጫጭራለሁ። የደቡብ አፍሪቃ ክረምት ከነጓዙ ገብቶአል። ዛሬ ጠዋት ከቤት ስወጣ ቆፈኑና ዝናቡ ፕሪቶሪያ ላይ እንደጉድ እየወረደባት ነበር። ያፍሪቃ መሪዎች አብዛኞቹ ፕሪቶሪያ ገብተዋል። ጃኮብ ዙማ መንበረ ስልጣኑን የሚረከብበት እለት ዛሬ ነው። የኛው አዛውንት ጋሽ ግርማም ገብተዋል። መኖሪያ ቤቴ ከቤተመንግስቱ ብዙም አይርቅ። እንደምንም እየተሹለከለክሁ ወደ ሰኒሳይድ አቅጣጫ ነዳሁ። አብዛኞቹ አበሾች እዚያ ቀበሌ ይኖራሉ። ሰኒሳይድ ውብ ናት። ሰኒፓርክ የተባለ አንድ ትልቅ የገበያ አዳራሽ አለ። እዚያ ገባሁና በረንዳው ላይ ቁጭ አልኩ።

ሰኒሳይድ በደስታ አብዳለች።

የዙሉ ጎሳ አባላት የቆዳ ልብስ ለብሰው ባህላዊ ጭፈራቸውን ያስነኩታል። እኔም ደስ አለኝ። ይህቺን መጣጥፍም መጫጫር ጀመርኩ። ሰጫጭር ቆየሁና ቀና ስል ለካስ አጠገቤ ካለ ጠረጴዛ ላይ አንዲት ነጭ ደቡብ አፍሪቃዊት ብቻዋን ቁጭ ብላለች፣

“ጋዜጠኛ ነህ እንዴ?” ስትል ጠየቀቺኝ።

ለማሳጠር ያህል፣

“ነኝ አዎ!” አልኩ።

“በምርጫው ስራ በዝቶባችሁ ከረመ?”

“እኔ እንኳ ደስተኛ አይደለሁም” አልኳት “….ምንም ስራ የለም። ምርጫው ቢጭበረበርና ግርግር ቢኖር ስራ ይኖረን ነበር..”

ቀልዱ ገብቶአት ሳቀች። እናም፣

“እናንተ ስራ ብታጡ ይሻላል” አለች።

በርግጥም ደቡብ አፍሪቃውያን ዛሬ ተደስተዋል። በጣም ተደስተዋል። ምርጫው በሰላም አለቀ። አልተጭበረበረም። እና ፕሪቶሪያ ደስ ብሎአታል። እንኳን ደስ ያላት።

አዲሳባስ ለዚህ አይነቱ የደስታ እለት የምትበቃው መቼ ይሆን?

(Tesfaye GebreAb can be reached at ttgebreab@gmail.com)

Ethiopia's patriots wage a comeback

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Elias Kifle (center) with officials of the Ethiopan People’s Patriotic Front, Arbegna Meazaw, chairman (left), Shambel Zewdu (right), Arbegna Mengistu (sitting).

By Elias Kifle

After being buried for several years, Ethiopia’s patriots, those who speak the kind of language anti-Ethiopia forces such as Woyanne understand, are slowly waging a comeback. I have been privileged to visit some of them when I went to Eritrea this month to interview President Isaias Afwerki. Due to scheduling conflicts, I could not go to their camp in the field this time, so they drove several hundreds kilometers to meet with me in Asmara.

After spending a few minutes with these patriots, I was more inspired than ever, and left with more determination and sense of responsibility to help free Ethiopia from the Woyanne tribal mafia that is pillaging and plundering our country.

One of those patriots I met is Shambel Zewdu. He is an elected member of the federal parliament from the Gaynt Woreda of “Killil 3″ (the so-called “Amhara Killil”). Following the 2005 elections, when Meles Zenawi unleashed his killers on civilians, Shambel Zewdu told then Kinijit Chairman Hailu Shawel about his intention to join resistance fighters. He said I cannot bring myself to sit down in that ‘parliament’ and allow the murderers who gunned down 12-year-olds go unpunished. He also urged Ato Hailu Shawel to leave the country and lead the struggle from exile.

Shambel Zewdu then went on a 4-month journey through northern Ethiopian jungles and mountains to arrive at the Eritrean border. When Eritrean soldiers saw him, they hugged him with tears in their eyes, gave him food, clothes, medical treatment and shelter. After he recuperated, he asked them to take him to the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF) camp. They tried to talk him out of it because of his old age. But he told them that he would kill himself if they don’t take him to EPPF.

For the past 4 years, Shambel Zewdu has been with the EPPF, first as a rank-and-file member and now a member of the central committee. Two months ago, the EPPF leadership transferred him to Asmara to run the newly opened office.

EPPF has numerous genuine Ethiopian patriots such as Shambel Zewdu who refuse to betray their people and country like those who are currently sitting in the Woyanne parliament and eat crumb. Their stories have not been told so far for various reasons. Ethiopian Review is determined to change that. Ethiopia is indeed blessed with heroes. We still have them. We just need to give them the chance to shine.

Ethiopian Review Asmara trip – video

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

A short video presentation of Ethiopian Review’s trip to Eritrea. The music is by Elsa Kidane, currently Eritrea’s hottest musician.
Click here: http://blip.tv/play/63yBg6cIAA

Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa turns dark

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Most parts of Addis Ababa are currently out of electric light three days a week, according to Ethiopian Review sources. Several business are forced to shut down their operations.

Addis Ababa is also hit with shortage of water. Tens of thousands of houses are with out tap water. People are seen carrying water jugs in the streets.

Ethiopia’s capital is run by Meles Zenawi’s puppet named Kuma Demeksa who is busy doing his own business and taking money out of the country rather than administering the city. He is too dumb to administer a city any way.

Asmara, the cleanest city in Africa

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

We hope translation of the interview with President Isaias Afwerki will be completed by next Monday or Tuesday. The interview is 4 hours long and we want to make sure that the translation is as accurate as possible. Until then, here are more photos from the beautiful city of Asmara, the cleanest city in Africa. It is more clean and safe than Washington DC. By contrast, the savage Woyannes turned Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s once beautiful and vibrant capital, into the 6th dirtiest city in the world, according to Forbes Magazine.

Roma Cinima, Asmara. It is amazing how clean Asmara is, even by Western standard

Asmara’s Merkato

Despite the military preparedness due to the ongoing state of war with the Woyanne regime in Ethiopia, there is a massive residential housing development in Asmara. This construction site is at the outskirt of Asmara. Many of the houses are being built by Eritreans residing in Europe and the U.S. and some of them look like mansions.

More housing development.

Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review (middle), Sileshi Tilahun of EPPF (left), and Arbegna Mengistu of EPPF Radio (right) at a cafe in Asmara, May 12, 2009. Arbegna Mengistu joined EPPF 5 years ago as a fighter. Before that, he was a reporter for Wonchif Newspaper in Addis Ababa. He joined EPPF when Woyanne tried to arrest him for reporting about EPPF activities. After serving as a fighter and political officer for several years, he was recently transferred to the EPPF press office to work on producing a radio program. In one of the many gun battles with the Woyanne army he was hit with a bullet that now causes him to limp when he walks. EPPF is full of patriotic Ethiopians like Arbegna Mengistu who are shedding their blood to free Ethiopia from the Woyanne fascist regime.

Two indicted in killing of an Ethiopian businessman in Atlanta

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

By Josh Green | Gwinnett Daily Post

ATLANTA – A Gwinnett County grand jury has indicted the second half of an alleged four-person robbing crew accused of killing an Ethiopian businessman in Lilburn, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Prosecutors say Marshae Brooks and Demarcus “Money Marc” Crawford played roles in the home-invasion murder of Tedla Lemma, 51. They allegedly beat, gagged and hog-tied the victim, leaving him for dead in March last year.

Unable to breathe through the gag, Lemma suffocated.

Brooks and Crawford face counts of murder, felony murder, burglary and false imprisonment. Brooks is also charged with armed robbery, kidnapping with bodily injury and aggravated assault stemming from three other incidents.

Last month, a jury convicted Brooks’ former roommate in Riverdale, Quincy Jackson, of murder and related charges in Lemma’s death. A judge sentenced Jackson to life plus 30 years. He plans to appeal.

Jackson, who had filed a speedy trial demand, was the first to face the charges in court.

A key witness in Jackson’s trial, Lorna Araya, is accused of masterminding the home invasions against members of the Ethiopian community she grew up in. Prosecutors agreed to not seek a life sentence for Araya in exchange for her testimony.

Brooks and Crawford were arrested earlier this year after Araya, incarcerated since July, told authorities they were involved.

As for the victim, Lemma lived in an upscale Lilburn home with his brother, after the two had fled their native Ethiopia and built a small fortune in the convenience store business. He was paralyzed from a store robbery and shooting several years prior.

Brooks and Crawford remain without bond at the Gwinnett County Jail. Their arraignments, wherein they could enter pleas, are expected within a month.

A fifth co-defendant, Ramon Ferguson, is charged in a December 2007 robbery and kidnapping in Stone Mountain. All but Crawford are said to have taken part in that hit, which involved owners of a Buckhead jewelry store.

Holyfield to fight in Ethiopia for AIDS charity

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Boxing icon Evander Holyfield will fight in desperately poor Ethiopia for an undisclosed fee in a bout to raise money for HIV/AIDS charities.

Organisers hope the clash in July between the four-time world heavyweight champion and little-known local pugilist Sammy Retta will bring in between $5 million and $10 million.

“I continue to strive to be the very best but what got me to come here is the AIDS,” Holyfield, wearing a green safari suit, told reporters in Addis Ababa late on Tuesday.

“If we don’t find a cure to this, we’ll be extinct.”

Everton Boland, chief executive of promoters Golden Globe, said a substantial percentage of the money raised would go to charity, but he declined to discuss the fighters’ purses.

“If you want to talk about money, we ain’t up to that part yet,” Boland said. “Ain’t no boxer fighting for free.”

Organisers said a group set up by 22 African First Ladies to fight HIV/AIDS is the only charity chosen so far to receive funds from the fight, but that they are considering others.

Holyfield’s manager Ken Sanders said the 46-year-old, who some in the sport have argued is too old to still be fighting, plans to have another world title fight in September, possibly against WBA champion Nikolai Valuev.

The huge Russian won a majority points decision against Holyfield in December in Zurich, ending the American boxer’s hopes of becoming the oldest ever title-holder.

Retta — a 35-year-old based in Washington DC — left the Ethiopian capital for the United States at 16 and has since won 18 professional fights and lost three.

He compared the planned July 26 bout against Holyfield in Addis Ababa with 1974′s legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” clash in Kinshasa between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

“I feel so tremendous,” Retta told the news conference. “Fighting Evander is like Ali fighting in Africa.”

Haile Gebrselassie wins 10-km Great Manchester Run

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

MANCHESTER, England (The Canadian Press) — Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie won the 10-kilometre Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 17.

The 36-year-old Ethiopian finished in 27 minutes 39 seconds. He just missed out on breaking the 27:21 course record set by Kenya’s Micah Kogo in 2007.

Ali Mabrouk El Zaidi of Libya was second in 28:13.

Gebrselassie lost his world 10-kilometre road mark in March when Kogo ran in 27:01 in the Netherlands.

More photos from Eritrea

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

The Interview with President Isaias Afwerki has not been posted yet because it is being translated to Amharic and Tigrigna. The translation takes time since it is a 4-hour presidential interview, and that it needs to be accurate. Once ready, the interview will be posted without any editorial change. The full English version will also be posted. Until then, see below photos from our trip to Eritrea.

(l. to r.) Ethiopian Review publisher Elias Kifle, Sileshi Tilahun of EPPF, Eritrea Information Minister Ali Abdu and President Isaias Afwerki inside the Asmara Presidential Palace, May 15, 2009

(l. to r.) Sileshi Tilahun, President Isaias Afwerki, and Elias Kifle in front of the Asmara Presidential Palace May 15, 2009

Ethiopian Review publisher Elias Kifle touring Asmara, May 13, 2009

Crimes of Willful Ignorance

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

This past week, the attack dogs of the dictatorship in Ethiopia were unleashed against Amnesty International (AI) because that organization had requested publication of the names of suspects arrested for allegedly conspiring to assassinate high officials and blow up government buildings. Ermiyas Legesse, a “State Minister of Government Communication Affairs”, offered the incredibly ignorant legal analysis that AI’s request for a list of the suspects represented a human rights violation and an interference in the country’s legal process: “Amnesty was giving a verdict before the Ethiopian court, the only legal institution to make any judgment on the issue. Now Amnesty is committing a prejudice. It is hindering our judiciary system, which by itself is violation of human rights.” Shimeles Kemal, the notorious legal flunkey and spinmeister of the regime and star persecutor of the Kinijit kangaroo court chimed in with his signature gobbledegook: “At a time of conducting investigation against criminal, it is so difficult to release information as it may frustrate the investigation process.” Identifying suspects who are held incommunicado while the regime is stage managing a media circus frenzy about their sinister crimes against the state will hinder a criminal investigation and constitute a human rights violation? Such is the illogic of a regime that is trapped in the throes of political turmoil and survival. Such is the loony logic of a regime in terminal paranoia!

Dictatorship of Ignoramuses

All of the brouhaha about the AI request for the list of suspects would have amounted to no more than comic relief but for the fact that we are seeing laid out before our eyes the makings of a legal lynching in a Kangaroo Kriminal Kourt. We have seen it all before during the two years of “prosecution” of the Kinijit and other pro-democracy leaders. (See my 32-page analysis of those proceedings.[1])The careful observer will no doubt be amused by the spectacle of this manifestly mindlessness make-believe trial of 40 suspects officially dubbed “desperadoes”: 1) Could the regime possibly believe that any reasonable person who has marginal familiarity with their long record of human rights abuses and miscarriage of justice will give an iota of credibility to their silly kangaroo judicial process? 2) Are they so lacking in intelligence that they simply can’t see their legal pretensions are mere exercises in futility? Or are they just playing dumb? Perhaps they think the rest of the world is so. 3) Could it be that they are cleverly trying to distract attention from the real issues facing the country such as endemic corruption, famine, prisons full of political prisoners, skyrocketing cost of living and so on by stage managing a media circus around the infamous “Case of the Desperadoes”? 4) Is it possible that they are taking a preemptive strike against international human rights organizations and put them on the defensive in anticipation of criticisms they expect to get as they proceed with their bogus prosecutions? 5) Could it be that they are just ignorant of general principles of criminal law, their own constitution and criminal law and procedure? We will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are legal ignoramuses.

Criminal Procedure 101 for Kangaroo Court

As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.” The criminal dictatorship put on a dog and pony legal show for nearly two years following the 2005 elections. They fooled some people then, but they won’t be able to fool many people twice with their “40 Desperadoes” kangaroo court road show. We will call them out on their own constitution and laws: Article 9 of their constitution provides, “This Constitution is the supreme law of the land.” No “laws, practices, and decisions of public officials” can negate it. Article 10 provides, “Human rights and freedoms as inherent rights of man are inalienable and inviolable.” Article 13 provides that the rights of Ethiopian citizens “shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights covenants and conventions ratified by Ethiopia.” Among the fundamental constitutional rights of the accused listed in the “supreme law of the land” include the right “the presumption of innocence until proved guilty by a court of law, a public hearing before an ordinary court of law without undue delay” and written notice of the charges. (See also Arts. 19, and 11.)” Art. 61 guarantees the right of “any person detained on arrest or on remand” to “call forthwith” and consult a lawyer of his choice. Article 24 guarantees “Everyone shall have the right to his human dignity and good reputation.

Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is incorporated in the “supreme law” by express reference provides “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Article 9 provides “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention…. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him”. (See also Art. 14 of the Criminal Procedure Code.) A criminal defendant is entitled to a change of venue if “a fair and impartial trial cannot be held in any criminal court.” (Art. 106, Crim. Proc. Code.)

Presumption of Innocence

The “40 Desperadoes” are presumed to be absolutely innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The burden of proving their guilt based on legally admissible evidence rests entirely on the prosecution. As defendants, they do not have any burden of proof whatsoever! In determining the issue of guilt, the judge(s) must rely solely and exclusively on the evidence presented at trial. It is obvious that the “40 desperadoes” have not only been presumed guilty — indeed they have been found guilty — before they are even served with notice of the written charges. Bereket Simeon, a “communications minister” and chief advisor to the regime leader declared, “six of the suspects were army officers on active duty, including one general, 34 of the suspects were ex-army men expelled from the army on grounds of misconduct. [The suspects did not intend] to stage a coup but assassinate individuals, high ranking government officials and destroying some public facilities and utilities … like telecom services and electricity utilities… They intended to create conducive conditions for large scale chaos and havoc.” What is truly appalling is the fact that a statement of such gravity made by the second most powerful man in the regime is tantamount to an irrevocable verdict of guilty. What judge in the land will have the guts to overrule such an outrageously politically-motivated legal conclusion intended to prejudge the defendants’ case, cripple their defense, deny them a fair trial and railroad them straight to jail or worse?

Notice of Charges

Most of the suspects in the alleged terrorist conspiracy were arrested on or about April 24 amidst a media circus complete with pictures and videos of weapons caches allegedly to be used in the plot. To date, none of the suspects has been charged, and all remain in detention. What is required to charge the suspects under the regime’s constitution is a plain and concise statement of the acts constituting the alleged criminal. Indeed, Simeon’s statement alleges sufficient facts which minimally point to “terrorism”, attempted insurrection and conspiracy. If the evidence against the suspects is as ironclad as the regime suggests, there is no need for any delay in charging them or identifying them in public. But we have seen this game played before during the prosecution of the Kinijit and other defendants. (See link at footnote 1.) The regime makes general allegations in the media, shuttle the detained suspects back and forth to “court”, request interminable delays to investigate the case and locate witnesses (fabricate evidence) and let the suspects languish in prolonged pretrial detention until it decides to announce all of them are guilty.

Fair and Impartial Trial

Is it remotely possible for the “desperadoes” to have a “fair and impartial trial” in the regime’s kangaroo courts? Could there be a judge(s) throughout the land who can hear and impartially decide the issue of guilt without improper influence, inducements, pressure, threats or political interference by the dictators? To answer this question in the affirmative is to assert that the rule of law prevails in Ethiopia, and that the “supreme law of the land” is actually followed. As evidenced in the Kinijit kangaroo trials, there will be perjury-fest in the courtroom. There will be funny capers with the evidence. Endless requests for continuances and postponements of court dates will granted to the prosecution to investigate the case (why file charges if the prosecution is not ready for trial?). Possibly, there will be international observers who will sit in kangaroo court and cringe in silence as they see a monumental miscarriage of justice unfold before their very eyes. A troika of the regime’s best judicial hacks will be enthroned on the bench having taken the oath of “see nothing, hear nothing and do nothing”. Fair trial in a criminals’ court, what a quaint idea!

Right to Counsel

The “desperadoes” supposedly have the constitutional right to counsel. It is a universally accepted axiom of the law that there can never be a fair criminal trial in which the defendant is denied the assistance of counsel. The defense lawyer advises the defendant of his rights and explains the various stages of the criminal process, ensures the defendant’s constitutional and procedural rights are not violated, investigates the facts and prepares legal defenses. As the various international human rights organizations have documented for years, access to counsel by pretrial detainees in Ethiopia is non-existent. In ordinary criminal cases, public defenders may be appointed if the matter goes to trial. In political cases, the authorities tightly regulate the attorney-client privilege arbitrarily denying consultations, limiting consultation times, intruding upon privileged attorney-client conferences, intimidating defense lawyers who represent their clients zealously and even sanctioning them for vigorously defending their clientsin court. Under such circumstances, can anyone reasonably expect a fair trial?

Human Dignity and Good Reputation

The 40 individuals suspected of involvement in the conspiracy were officially characterized as “desperadoes” despite their constitutional right to dignity and good reputation. The choice of epithet is calculated. It is intended to ridicule and belittle them, and diminish their status as military officers. They are trying to create a public image of these officers as “good soldiers gone bad”. By describing them as “desperadoes”, the regime aims to caricature them in the manner of the reckless outlaws of the frontier American West who would shoot up the saloon in a drunken rage. They want to depict and demean them as criminal thugs and draw upon them public hatred, ridicule and contempt while destroying the self-esteem of these officers and their standing community. But the fact remains that they have a constitutional right to good reputation as officers and gentlemen, and are presumed innocent until proven desperado!

Trials as a Tool of Political Persecution: The Need to Understand Abuses of Criminal Procedure in Human Rights Cases

It is important to understand abuses of criminal procedural rights in human rights cases because enforcement of the criminal law and denial of procedural rights of suspects is the principal tool used by dictators to accomplish multiple purposes: 1) The misuse, manipulation and denial of procedural rights (the process by which guilt is proven and punishment exacted) to suspects presents dictatorships tremendous opportunities for oppression and human rights violations without attracting much criticism or condemnation. It gives them an opportunity to avoid accountability by claiming that any questioning of what they do or not do is a “hinder[ance] of our judiciary system.” 2) Disregard for lawful procedures in criminal cases often serves as a method for stifling expressions which are critical of the dictatorship. That was precisely what Legesse and Kemal were trying to do in claiming that Amnesty International’s request for a list of suspects is a “human rights violation” and an obstruction to investigation. 3) Manipulation of criminal procedural rights in dictatorships are also often used to send a warning to other opposition members that the full wrath and weight of kangaroo law could be visited upon them at any moment.

Of course, the use of trials as a tool of political persecution is nothing new. Dictatorships in history have used the court system and the trial process to vindicate their own legitimacy as leaders and the legitimacy of their state institutions by prosecuting those they perceive as threats. It is no different here. The dictators in the “desperado” cases are using the kangaroo court show trials as opportunities for the demonstration of their own legitimacy as a government and control of state institutions while impressing the party faithful with their use of an iron legal fist. But Stalin had perfected these techniques decades ago. He consolidated his absolute power in the Great Purges of the 1930s by staging kangaroo court proceedings to eliminate “opportunists”, “counter-revolutionary infiltrators”, “enemies of the people”, and “terrorist organizations and terrorist acts (for which he enacted a special law). During the purge of the Red Army, thousands of military leaders and officers were convicted of treason and other offenses against the state, and jailed or killed. But Stalin spared no one. Workers, peasants, housewives, teachers, priests, musicians, soldiers, pensioners and even beggars were arrested and punished on mere suspicion or no suspicion at all. As terminal paranoia widens its grip, similar outcomes could be expected in Ethiopia as well. The fact of the matter is that the show trials of the “desperadoes” will be used as a tool to facilitate their conviction, and most importantly, as a sophisticated means of repression of dissent and suppression of democratic impulses.

Kangaroo Justice: Verdict First, Trial Second

We know exactly what has happened to the 40 desperadoes. They have been found guilty as sin by the powers that be even before they are charged with a single crime. The coming kangaroo trial is just window dressing for a guilty verdict that has already been reached. It is all a charade, a legal game in which there will be prosecutors and defense lawyers (maybe), party-hacks-in-robes pretending to be judges and endless court dates. Who needs constitutional rights, procedural protections, human rights laws and other such quaint legal niceties when we can play kangaroo court: “The Case of the 40 Desperadoes. Let the Games Begin!”

[1] http://www.ethiomedia.com/addfile/keystone_cops.pdf

President Isaias Afwerki gives interview to Ethiopian Review

Friday, May 15th, 2009

President Isaias Afwerki and Ato Mekuria Woldu, an official of the Ministry of Information, holding a private meeting with Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review and Ato Sileshi Tilahun of EPPF before an interview

ASMARA — President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea gave a 4-hour interview on Friday afternoon to eppfOnline.org, the official website of Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), and Ethiopian Review.

The interview was conducted by Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review and Ato Sileshi Tilahun, head of EPPF International Committee’s organizational affairs and eppfOnline.org.

Before the interview, President Isaias and Ato Mekuria Woldu, an official of the Ministry of Information, held a 40-minute private discussion with both Elias Kifle and Sileshi Tilahun.

Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review and Sileshi Tilahun of EPPF interview President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, May 15, 2009

Video of this historic interview will be available shortly. More details and photos will also be posted later.

The Meles regime closes roads to northern Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Following the recent arrest of several individuals for allegedly plotting to assassinate Meles Zenawi and other {www:Woyanne} regime officials, roads to northern Ethiopia towns have been blocked and only those with identification cards can pass through the several check points.

According to Ethiopian Review sources, the Woyanne regime took this measure to catch more suspects from escaping to the country side and join the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF).

In recent months, the number of Ethiopians who are joining EPPF has been increasing as the political repression in Ethiopia by the Woyanne tribal regime has intensified in preparation for next year’s general elections.

The EPPF radio, YeArbegnoch Dimts, has reported about the blocking of roads to Gondar and Gojjam in its recent broadcast, and Ethiopian Review has been able to independently verify the news.

Ethiopian marathon stars denied entry into Australia

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

By Sophie Smith

SUNDAY’S Great Ocean Road Marathon has been thrown into chaos with four of its African favorites scratched from the event because their visas have been refused.

The Ethiopian athletes were due to touch down in Australia last night but have been denied entry by the Australian Embassy.

Kenyan runners Charles Muturi and 2006 champion James Kariuki are also fighting red tape in an effort to make the race.

Event director John Craven yesterday ruled out the possibility of the Ethiopian crew, including Firehiwot Tesfaye, Jenet Teka, Asamenew Tiruneh and Wellay Amare competing.

He planned to hold crisis talks with embassy officials in Nairobi last night in a bid to seek the urgent approval of Muturi and Kariuki’s visas, which have also been delayed.

“The Ethiopians have told us it would take another four weeks for approval to be granted, if it was granted at all. There is no chance that those four Ethiopians will be coming,” Craven said.

“We have had some runners in the past who, I understand, did not honour the conditions of their visas.

“I believe it’s the reason for the searching credentials that the Australian Embassy in Kenya is now putting these athletes through. That’s only my assessment, I haven’t been given that in writing.”

Craven said the travel costs to bring the overseas competitors to Geelong, about $4000, is refundable.

But he is disappointed the bad news has come just two days before the two-day event.

“We just find it’s getting more and more difficult every year to get visa’s for African athletes. We may have to look where we get our top overseas athletes from in the future. We don’t really need this, not two days before the race,” he said.

“The frustrating aspect of it is that it’s been left so late to get the responses. If I’d known about this four weeks ago our office could have acted upon it.”

The Ethiopian camp will still be represented.

Yared Mekonnen, who finished third in the Melbourne Marathon last year, and Jemechu Woyecha, who is training for the half marathon under the tutelage of Robert de Castella in Canberra, arrived earlier this year.

Craven was hopeful that Muturi and especially Kariuki, who has competed in the event three times, would make the race.

“James and Charles were supposed to arrive last night,” he said.

“Their visas are being delayed and I’m waiting for the Australian Embassy in Nairobi to open. We’re about eight hours ahead of them, so I can make direct contact with someone in the embassy over there to get urgent approval. I’m hopeful but we’re running out of time.”

Ginbot and Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

There are certain dates that mark a special event in our old history. They stand out when ever our history is told. These dates are adorned in red bold color when calendar is made. We are filled with a sense of euphoria and pride. They are not like other holidays. They are more than a holiday. They are a defining moment in our history.

March 2nd. is a special day. It is Victory at Adwa day. We proved that we could function as one when our sovereignty is threatened. April 6th. is another special day. It is the day the Fascist flag was lowered and our green, yellow and red flew high. It is a day we proved that we are unmatched in the art of protracted warfare to rout out an invader from our soil. Ginbot 15 is a special day too. It is the day the Ethiopian people tasted the power of the ballot box. Ginbot 15, 2005 the Ethiopian people woke up early to exercise their god given right to choose their leaders using the pencil instead of the gun.

Ginbot 15 changed Ethiopia for good. The very old, old and the young stood in line under the tropical sun on a hot muggy day to decide who they want to be in charge. It was unprecedented moment in our history. It was a lively campaign. The choice was laid out before them. There was the big, rich, organized TPLF camouflaged as EPDRF on one side and Kinijit, Hebret, OFDM on the other.

TPLF has been operating in a vacuum since 1991. The Derg has decimated both civilian and military leaders. TPLF entered the capital unopposed. For fourteen years TPLF roamed the country in the belief that it was shaping it in its own image. It facilitated the secession of Eritrea, rewrote a new Constitution, reconfisicated property, land and private businesses. It was a dark period in our history. Seventeen years of Derg mayhem left the population in a state of shock. The new leaders were looked at with total indifference. TPLF held a clearance sell of Derg companies and they all went to Tigrai rehab and endowment outfit. It even held an election in 1996 and 2000. TPLF (EPDRF) won everything. There was no organized opposition. It was actually a coronation.

Then came the famous 2005 general election. It was like the nation was waking up from a long slumber. New leaders were emerging. The people were eager to listen to new voices. The voices were smart, organized and defiant. The new leaders were focused, urbane, and fearless. Keste Damena under the leadership Of Dr. Berhanu Nega was the David against the TPLF Goliath. Slowly and methodically the TPLF cadres were goaded to react against their own interest. The Ethiopian people were given a front row seat to view the cadre clique naked flailing like a fish out of water.

The famous ‘television debates’ exposed the bankruptcy of the TPLF mafia. The Ethiopian people saw the cadres were blind leading the blind. Not even one was able to emerge worthy of respect. They were reduced to their old rant of ‘neftegna’ ‘deregist’ and bar room insults. They couldn’t articulate any vision so character assassination and bullying was the only thing left for them.

From Zele Anbesa to Moyale from Gore to Jijiga the Ethiopian people came out to vote on May 15. Using their newfound freedom, fueled by hope and a better future the Ethiopian people raised the banner of Kinijit and other opposition parties. TPLF was not safe even in its own backyard. The rejection of cadre economics, cadre politics and cadre leadership was universal. It was a landslide by any account. The cadres were in disarray. TPLF was the laughing stock of the continent. The only way out was illegal declaration of state of emergency and naked use of private Agaizi force.

Ginbot changed the dynamics of party building, election campaign and the sweet taste of freedom and one-man one vote principle. Ginbot showed that the Ethiopian people are ready and capable of exercising their right to choose their leaders in a peaceful manner.

Since Ginbot 15, 2005 our country has never been the same. We all woke up. The Ethiopian people realized TPLF was a paper tiger. It can kill, it can steal, it can lie and it can intimidate but it is also possible to defeat it. The Diaspora woke up too. You can physically transport the Ethiopian to a foreign land but you cannot take his Ethiopia ness out of him. The events of Ginbot 2005 downed on the Diaspora that silence is not an option.

So by imprisoning the leaders, killing activists, exiling opponents the TPLF regime thought it can turn time back to pre Ginbot state of affairs. What a wishful thinking? Freedom is infectious. Once you taste it there is no going back to slavery. Thus Kinijit became more than a party. It became an idea or as Judge Bertukan said ‘Kinijit is spirit’.

The TPLF regime said it took ‘a calculated risk’ in allowing the election and opening of the media to the opposition. It looks like they better get a new calculator because the old one seems to miscalculate a whole lot. Their love affair with Eritrea was a calculated risk that turned up into a two years war. The cease-fire and the Algiers agreement was another calculated risk that came back to bite them. Say goodbye to Badme. The invasion of Somalia was the mother of all calculated risks that blew up in the face of the cadres.

Can we give the cadres any credit for a job well done? I have tried but unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with one. You might say that is not fair but that is the truth. Ask a cadre to name a few success stories and see what they come up with. I know here in North America it is difficult to come up with an official TPLF supporter. TPLF is the only party in power with all its supporters underground. None of them will reveal their identity in broad daylight. They even use a pen name to write their poisonous propaganda.

Their mouthpiece ‘Aiga’ always posts tall buildings and freeways of the future being constructed. Are we supposed to be impressed by that? Is that what we want? Is that the blue print TPLF has for our country? How sad. Building wide freeways with borrowed money using Chinese labor is nothing to be proud of. A two-lane highway and plenty of primary schools with trained teachers is a better choice. Building soviet type concrete buildings with imported cement, imported metal, imported glass and remittance from the Diaspora is a shameful use of resources. Better to improve agriculture and feed the people instead of housing a few NGO’s in a high rise with no water and electricity.

The invention of the World Wide Web has brought untold advantage all over the world. Even the advanced economies have benefited from this miraculous technology. What did we do before the Web has become a genuine question. How is the TPLF regime using this wonderful invention? They built a ‘virtual network’ for the upper echelon of the party and foreign diplomats, but shut out the people. TPLF is afraid of free flow of information. Somalia a country in disarray is wired better than Ethiopia. On the other hand Ethiopia can boast the most robust firewall and web access blocking in Africa.

All this deep knowledge of the cadre government and Diaspora activism is the result of Ginbot 15. We were feeling defeated and resigned until Ginbot showed us the true strength of mass action. Ginbot 15 was the result of the action of dedicated sons and daughters of Ethiopia. It was the work of Dr. Berhanu, Ato Andargachew, Judge Birtukan, Ato Debebe, Dr. Hailu, Dr. Befekade and numerous others that are still working tirelessly to pave the way so our children can live free.

A lot has happened since Ginbot 15, 2005. The enemy is relentless. The enemy has the resources of the state under its control. The enemy is a big fat and ugly Goliath. But we have adapted too. We have managed to use our limited resources intelligently. We have risen to the occasion and routed the enemy in every encounter. We are lean, mean and smart. We have enjoyed numerous victories. We have forced the regime to release our leaders, convinced the US Congress and European Union to listen to our concerns, shamed paid lobbyists to distance themselves from the cadres, managed to work with such honorable organization as Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and others to echo the cry of our people.

We look back at Ginbot 15 with pride. We honor the memory of those who were slain by the regime because they took the promise of Ginbot 15 to heart. We take solace from the fact that their sacrifice will live forever in our glorious history. Four years later their dedication has borne fruit and here we are in the thousands working hard, working smart and convinced in the end good will triumph over evil. No one can change that.

Democracy at Bay

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

(In memory of those Ethiopians massacred and maimed by the dictatorship in power following the May 15, 2005 elections.)

Reflections on a Democracy Unplugged

“When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom,” said Thomas Paine, one of the inspiring figures of the American revolution. On May 15, 2005, for the first time and for a fleeting moment in Ethiopia’s millennial history, government was forced to kneel down before the people, bow its head in trepidation and submit to their will and awesome power. Over 25 million Ethiopians voted on May 15, 20005; and with their signature dignity and civility, they evicted from the throne of power dictators that had lorded over them for nearly a decade and a half. “Enough is enough!”, the people said softly to the dictators in the voting booths. “We have no use for you. Leave, and live in peace!” But the dictators would have none of it. They declared war on the people. They shot them in the streets. They jailed them by the hundreds of thousands. They intimidated them into silent suffering and did everything in their power to eradicate hope and sow despair and division among them. They triumphantly put democracy on ice: No opposition political parties. No civil society organizations. No free press. No justice. No peace. No problems!

Not quite! Four years later, we have come to know that the dictators have failed in their diabolical plans totally and miserably. Democracy is alive and well in Ethiopia today. It remains safely at bay in the hearts and minds of every Ethiopian who believes in freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The flame of democracy and liberty still burns bright because Ethiopia’s unsung heroes paid the ultimate price.

Tribute to the Unsung Heroes of the 2005 Election

There are thousands of unsung Ethiopian heroes of the 2005 elections; and on this fourth anniversary of that fateful election, we have a solemn obligation to remember them and honor their memory. For if we do not, no one else will. They were not “important” people when they lived, and few cried for them when they were mowed down like blades of grass by the official executioners. None of them ever graced the pages of the newspapers and magazines. No one bothered to interview them on the radio or television. They did not have Ph.Ds or college education; they did not have money, cars or fancy houses. Nobody gave them medals; no public buildings were named after them; no statutes erected to remind the living of their sacrifices; no public holidays or awards to honor their memory. No flags draped their caskets and no memorials were ever held for them in their deaths. They don’t even have grave markers. But to me they will forever remain Heroes of Ethiopian Democracy: Tensae Zegeye, age 14, was gunned down peacefully protesting theft of the 2005 election. So were Debela Guta, age 15; Habtamu Tola, age 16; Binyam Degefa, age 18; Behailu Tesfaye, age 20; Kasim Ali Rashid, age 21; ShiBire Desalegn, age 21; Teodros Giday Hailu, age 23; Adissu Belachew, age 25; Milion Kebede Robi, age 32; Desta Umma Birru, age 37; Tiruwork G. Tsadik, age 41; Admasu Abebe, age 45; Elfnesh Tekle, age 45; Abebe Huletu, age 50; Etenesh Yimam, age 50; Regassa Feyessa, age 55; Teshome Addis Kidane, age 65; Victim No. 21762, age 75, female; Victim No. 21760, male, age unknown…. and the thousands of other victims of dictatorship who shall rest for eternity in honored glory known but to God. I remember them all, and I honor their memory and their sacrifices.

May 15, 2005: A Flash of the Possible

What occurred in Ethiopia in May, 2005 was a variation of a global theme that had been played out in the past two decades. Throughout the 1980s and thereafter the world witnessed the implosion of dictatorships and the explosion of democracy in the former Soviet bloc countries and many authoritarian societies in Asia and Latin American. Crippled by lack of legitimacy and intense popular demands for greater political space and economic liberalization, many of these dictatorships fell like dominoes. In Africa, a few slick operators — previously sworn enemies of imperialism and champions of socialism — took advantage of the situation and seized power promising free elections, free speech, free media, free markets and free everything. They pulled a huge wool over the eyes of Western donors and managed to get themselves canonized as the “New Breed of African Leaders”. But within a few years, the New Breed had morphed into the Vicious Breed of African Leaders. They filled their prisons with their opponents, killed as many as they could, banned the independent media, subverted the judiciary, held make-believe elections and fastened themselves to power like barnacles to a sunken ship. They secured their ship of state with the glue of corruption and one-party rule.

In May, 2005, the unimaginable had suddenly become the inevitable in Ethiopia. A system of criminal enterprise based on corruption, theft of the public treasury and repression collapsed in a tidal wave of popular repudiation at the polls. In that fleeting moment, we saw a flash of the possible. We witnessed a miracle: Peaceful transfer of political power through fair and free elections, the birthing of a government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, scattered seedlings of a functioning democracy complete with competitive political parties, burgeoning civil society institutions and wide political space for ordinary citizens to participate in government and express themselves. But that miracle of democracy was snuffed in its cradle; and a virulent dictatorship of mercenaries stood naked for the whole world to behold.

The Sun Always Rises

There is much to be learned from the elections of 2005. The greatest lesson of all is: Ethiopians united can never be defeated! When opposition political parties came together to oppose dictatorship, they won handily. When civic society institutions banded together, they won mightily. When Ethiopians in exile worked together to support democracy, freedom and human rights together, they won beautifully. But winning is not a one time event. Winning an election is great, but winning the hearts and minds of the people is the greatest victory of all. Those societies that have overthrown dictatorships and consolidated their electoral victories managed to do so by using the power of persuasion together with the power of the ballot to win hearts and minds. Solidarity (the first non-communist union) in Poland led a broad-based anti-communist movement by winning hearts and minds. So did the teachers, writers, journalists and students that spearheaded Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution”. Even in East Germany, pastors and laymen became the nucleus for a broad-based anti-communist movement. It was within these civil society institutions that the people’s imaginations about freedom, democracy and human rights were stoked and a successful overthrow of the communist dictatorships achieved. Civil society institutions actually defeated the most entrenched and most encrusted dictatorships the world has ever known. The story was no different for the military bureaucratic authoritarian dictatorships of Latin America.

There is no reason to believe that civil society institutions in Ethiopia could not prove to be important mechanisms in the struggle against dictatorship and in sustaining a functioning democracy. The best proof of this proposition is manifest in the current regime’s maniacal obsession to regulate and choke civil society organizations. The so-called “Charities Proclamation” of the regime has only a single purpose: Prevent the explosion of popular democratic impulses and growth of civil society groups that can challenge the arbitrary rule of the dictators. The regime’s explanation that the “law” is passed to hold the foreign NGOs and other domestic groups accountable, promote transparency and safeguard against corruption is as absurd as having bank robbers guarding the bank from other robbers.

The foundation of politics in Ethiopia today is ethnicity and the elimination of unity of the people in all forms by accentuating historical, social, political, economic, regional, etc. differences and grievances. Ethnic identity and loyalties are glorified, and identity in a common nationality mocked, scorned and ridiculed. The governing principle of the dictators is “Ethnicity before one’s humanity, and definitely before one’s nationality.” The evidence on the current dictatorship for the last 18 years unambiguously shows that they have succeeded to some extent in “atomizing” Ethiopia into ethnic enclaves. As a result, the country has outwardly become an archipelago of ethnic and linguistic “homelands” or bantustans. This type of ethnic policy and practice has spawned a culture of distrust, and forced people to develop deeply embedded habits of fear, loathing, doubt and suspicion that will have serious consequences in a post-dictatorship democratic society.

As we reflect on the sacrifices of the victims of the post-2005 election violence, we must honor their memory by creatively developing and cultivating civic society organizations that could lead a broad-based anti-dictatorship movement; and evolve into vital institutions that can mediate conflict, build bridges across ethnic lines, promote consensus and national unity and institutionalize a functional democracy in a post-dictatorship Ethiopia. The fact of the matter is that an active civil society offers unlimited opportunities to challenge dictatorships and usher in democracy. It will not be easy to sustain such institutions given the inhuman brutality of the current dictators. But that was exactly what the people of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union believed until they did what they had to do in creative ways to bring about freedom, democracy and human rights in their societies: Mobilize, catalyze, organize, educate and ACT.

Long live the memory of the victims of the post-2005 elections violence!

Ethiopia exports fewer flowers for Mother's Day

Monday, May 11th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a good news since the flower exporters are affiliated with the {www:Woyanne} regime, and the fertilizer they use to grow flowers for export is destroying nearby lakes and rivers.

By Aidan Jones | The Christian Science Monitor

Sabeta, Ethiopia – A local pop song trills out from the radio, filling the cavernous packing hall at the Ethio Highland Flora farm in Sabeta, a 45-minute drive from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Dozens of workers tackle a seemingly endless stack of exotically named roses, separating the short stems and rotten petals from the bright Valentino, Duo Unique, Wild Calypso, and Alyssa blooms destined for Europe.

Most of the farm’s 400 employees earn less than a dollar a day, but it is a steady wage in one of the world’s poorest nations where 80 percent of the population lives off the land.

This year the 20-hectare farm, a sprawl of irrigated and temperature-controlled greenhouses, is set to beat its target for growing, cutting, and exporting 21 million stems.

That is a 15 percent rise on its contribution to the 1.5 billion stems exported by Ethiopia in 2008, earning an estimated $175 million for the industry.

But the positive figures belie a dramatic slump in demand for flowers as the global economic crisis forces European consumers, Ethiopia’s main market, to curb spending on perceived luxuries. It’s a tough blow for Ethiopia, where flower power was touted to supplant coffee as Ethiopia’s main export and highest earner of foreign exchange.

Many analysts now fear that, without swift assistance, Ethiopia’s nascent flower industry will wilt in the heat of global recession.

“We’re not talking about falling profit this year, just survival,” says farm manager Emebet Tesfaye. “Even Valentine’s Day was down from last year. The problem is Europeans don’t want flowers right now. The buyers in Amsterdam control the market, and they are setting prices very low – there is no minimum price for our stems. Every loss is on the growers’ side: transport, water, electricity, wages, and even fees to the rose breeders.”

Sales down on Valentine’s Day and ‘Mothering Sunday’

Sales forecasts are traditionally pegged to an expected bonanza at Valentine’s Day and Mothering Sunday (Europe’s version of Mother’s Day on March 22). This year Ethio Highland Flora Farm sold 20 to 30 percent fewer flowers, punching a hole in expected revenues and compounding the pain caused by low stem prices.

Prices per stem are now 10 cents (euro) or less, down 15-20 percent from last year.

On bad days, the flower auction houses of Amsterdam – where the majority of stems from Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, and Tanzania vie for buyers – have reported dips of up to 40 percent.

Four farms have already filed for bankruptcy – out of 85 – while at least half of the remainder are operating at a loss.

Oh, what a difference half a year makes

Just six months ago, things looked very different.

Foreign and local investors piled into the sector lured by predictions of revenues of $1 billion within five years, tax incentives, and a surfeit of cheap labor.

One thousand hectares of land went under cultivation, more than 50,000 people were directly employed on the farms, with tens of thousands earning a crust along the supply chain, as Ethiopia threatened the regional primacy of Kenya’s longer-established floriculture.

Keen to banish Ethiopia’s famine-ridden reputation, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi played his part, hailing flowers as the flagship of an increasingly buoyant economy – the government says that in 2008 gross domestic product grew at just under 10 percent.

And it is to him that the flower farmers are now turning, calling for a reprieve from the banks which are nervously eyeing their loans, and the freight firms and airlines, who currently charge $1.85 per kilo of cargo to fly the flowers to Europe.

“This is a problem caused by the developed world, but we are paying for it in Africa,” says Tsegaye Abebe, president of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers and Exporters Association (EHPEA). “We can tolerate low market prices for a time, but if prices continue like this for many more months our industry will be under serious threat. It is time for all the businesses with a stake in the sector to help each other out.”

Despite a recent pledge to support the industry “through thick and thin,” Meles – as he is widely known – can not hold back the confluence of global and local forces sweeping across the Ethiopian flower business.

Too much power in hands of European middlemen?

It is a tough trade; cheap and high quality stems pour into the market from across Africa and Latin America, putting European buyers in the driving seat.

Prices are set low in the knowledge there is a surplus of supply from desperate growers, and farm owners have yet to build the capacity to trade directly with supermarkets – the major sale point for flowers.

As a newcomer to the market, Ethiopia does not benefit from the same economies of scale as neighboring Kenya, raising fears it is particularly vulnerable to the price shock.

Mr. Tsegaye believes survival can be secured through a diversification of products to include herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and markets to reach Japan, Middle East, Russia, and the United States. “But that depends on the short and medium term being kind to us,” he says.

The social impact of decline will also be keenly felt in Sabeta – where small holding farmers were convinced to sell their land to flower farms by the promise of big rewards to come.

The majority of flower workers are women, and the recession threatens to stymie plans to empower them with minimum labor standards and unions.

It has deflated Emebet Tesfaye’s hopes. She may soon be left with the awkward choice of dumping some of the 70,000 flowers a day produced at Ethio Highland or flooding the market with roses no one is buying.

A recent visit to a Dutch auction house intensified her gloom as she witnessed the pecking order of a market which roots flower-producing nations to the bottom.

“Each morning the buyers look at their computer screens and click one button that determines the life of all these people,” she explains gesturing to the female packers. “We have no power.”

A former judge among accused coup plotters in Ethiopia

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Addis Neger, a local Amharic language newspaper in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa reports that a former judge who is currently prominent lawyer is among 40 people jailed after being accused of plotting to assassinate Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi and other high ranking Woyanne regime officials.

Goshyirad Tsegaw, who along with Birtukan Mideksa has presided over a high-profile case of the former Defense Minster and top ranking Woyanne official, Siye Abrah, was arrested on April 24, according to Addis Neger

Goshyirad got his first degree from the Addis Ababa University in 1999 and started his career working as an Assistant Judge at the Federal First Instance court where he worked for a year. He served for eight more years as a judge in the same court where he came to preside over Siye’s case.

Starting from 2009, he has been practicing law independently and doing his second degree at the Addis Ababa University in Human Rights Law.

Sources: Addis Neger and Addis Journal

Tag: Ethiopian News

Ethiopia: Long Live Ginbot 7

Monday, May 11th, 2009

By Tedla Asfaw

I am not endorsing the Ginbot 7 party led by Dr Birhanu Nega on its first anniversary; rather to congratulate the Ethiopian masses who went out in millions in all corners of Ethiopia and voted TPLF out of office four years ago on May 15, 2005 (Ginbot 7, 1997 Eth. Cal.). I am also remembering the fallen heroes — unarmed peaceful protesters — who were gunned down by Agazi commandos on broad day light.

Here is my difference with former minister of defense Ato Seye Abraha, one of the founders of TPLF, who wanted to accuse both the victims and crime perpetrators by characterizing what follows May 15 elections as “unprepared for peaceful election.” Wait a minute, how did he forget the Miazia 30 rally of more than two million people in Addis Ababa who went out on pre-election rally without a single incident? The only reason our people were left alone on that day was because of the arrogance of TPLF cadres who believed that the paid rally in support of TPLF could beat any opposition by the Kinijit/CUD.

The May 15, however, proved that TPLF arrogance was unparalleled and it lost overwhelmingly in Addis Ababa and to avoid defeat it massacred our peaceful people. That is the fact and any attempt to paint our people as “violent” is just covering up the TPLF crime.

The theory of participating on peaceful election in Ethiopia has been dead since May 16, 2005 after our people’s aspiration for democracy was stopped by the brutal forces of TPLF leaving more than two hundred dead and tens of thousands in concentration camps. Now TPLF is preparing to control power and get legitimacy it never got during the last eighteen years by preparing a fake election and recruiting new comers on Mederk platform run by Gebru Asrat and Seye Abraha.

Accusing our people for violent behavior and “opposition organizations” unprepared to challenge the “strong and powerful TPLF” they are working to get a seat with their former brothers until “the unorganized oppositions” are ready in 2015 to challenge TPLF. We haven’t heard from them on the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the army which Bulcha Demeksa accurately characterized as pre-election terror.

Another major election campaign was orchestrated by Meles Zenawi in the Amhara Region a month ago. A poem was read to congratulate “Talaku Mereyachenen” Meles Zenawi and read like this: “Do not worry, all of them will come back to you, Meles; Hulum Meles Bilew Yematalu.”

The person who wrote this poem accurately captured the so called participants of the the 2010 peaceful elections led by Medrek.

Our people’s readiness to elect their leaders peacefully was well documented even by those who financed and armed TPLF and what our people demand right now is their right to organize, speak and print freely; not another Lidetu Ayalew type Democracy Talk. Without basic rights of democracy, the new formation like “Mederek challenging TPLF/EPRDF” in the June 2010 election is just betrayal of our people much worst than Lidetu Ayalew’s betrayal four years ago.

TPLF is running a one party state until our people economy reached to that of Communist China. It transferred itself to a “development party” and can now be called also Tigray People Development Party (TPDP). Do not worry about the name Tigray — they mean business and is all clear for all doubters. TPLF/TPDP Oromo’s wing was dealt with before and the Amhara wing of TPDP is being hit by imprisoning Amhara officers in the army who were “conspiring” with Ginbot 7 weeks ago.

Does any one still doubt that TPLF does not mean EPRDF. I hope the Mederek people will tell us if there is anybody in EPRDF except TPLF that has real power. I hope they will not mention Teferra Walewa who will soon be accused of eating the left over “sugar” from Pastor Tamrat Layne who was thrown in jail for over decade for “sugar crime” (profiting from the sale of sugar).

Our generation has the same choice our fathers and mothers had seventy five years ago: either to live in dignity or die fighting. I choose the latter one and support all real oppositions, including Ginbot 7, for the common struggle to remove TPLF and empower our people.

(The writer can be reached at tedla.asfaw@gmail.com)

Court ordered coup suspects to remain in jail

Monday, May 11th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (AP) — Lawyers say an Ethiopian [kangaroo] court has granted authorities permission to keep 40 people [including an 80-year-old father of an opposition party leader] who allegedly plotted to overthrow the government in custody for two more weeks.

The suspects have been jailed without charge since April 24, when officials said they were found with weapons, coup plans and information that linked them to a prominent opposition group started after Ethiopia’s disputed 2005 elections.

For Monday’s ruling, the suspects were brought to court under tight security. Relatives and others were kept at a distance as they tried to see if they knew the suspects as they were driven to the courtroom door.

The prisoners have not been publicly identified.

The two lawyers who took part in the closed hearing declined to identify themselves or their clients.

Tag: Ethiopian News

55 Ethiopians convicted of helping rebels groups

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

A Woyanne Kangaroo court in Ethiopia has sentenced 55 Ethiopians to 3-15 years in jail this week for collaborating with rebel groups. Some of the charges are over 3 years old and accuse the detainees of working with the late Dr Kitaw Ejigou’s Ethiopian National Unity Front (ENUF).

Many of the prisoners are being kept in dark prison cells without even access to toilet.

The following is a list of some of those who were convicted:

1. Yonas Getachew
2. Hirut Kifle
3. Alemayehou Seifu
4. Gezahegn Aredda
5. Sultan Mohammed
6. Endalkatchew Melese
7. Tadesse Zenebe
8. Fassica Taffa
9. Bruke Mammo
10. Alemayehou Tamre
11. Fikre Wold-Amlak
12. Lijalem Takele
13. Desalegn Serke
14. Wolde Danna
15. Birhanu Abba
16. Tsegaye Ayale
17. Belai Kefyalew
18. Gadlu Ayale
19. Mesfin Lemlem
20. Girma Sawinet
21. Zawdu Liyew
22. Anteneh Getnet Mulat
23. Mekecha Mengesitu
24. Getinet Ayalew
25. Tilahun Ayalew
26. Fekadu Andualem
27. Argata Gobena
28. Col. Daniel Tessema
29. Mohammed Surur
30. Eng. Abiyu Ali
31. Dr. Lakew Alemu
32. Abate Andarge
33. Amsalu Kassa
34. Tsigie Desta

Ethiopian Review will try to get the names of all those were sentenced. The Woyanne prosecutors have no evidence to charge any of these innocent Ethiopians and the Kangaroo court is known not to care about evidence.

Gebremedhin expelled from Ethiopian church in Jerusalem

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

The Woyanne-installed illegitimate patriarch in Ethiopia, Aba Gebremedhin (formerly Aba Paulos), was chased out of an Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem last week, according to Ethiopian Review sources.

Aba Gebremedhin, along with Aba Gerima and other members of his entourage, had traveled to Israel on a working visit after his agents in Jerusalem promised him that he will be received well.

When the monks, priests and other members of the Ethiopian church in Jerusalem found out about his presence, they started shouting: “get out”.

Shaken by the opposition, Aba Gebremedhin (aka Aba Diabilos) sneaked out as he sneaked in like a thief.

The gun-toting Aba Gebremedhin was named “patriarch” in 1991 only because he is a loyal Woyanne tribal cadre. He has no qualification and no moral standing to become a patriarch of the EOTC.

After he was named patriarch by the Woyanne regime, he built a huge palace for himself in Addis Ababa while ancient Ethiopian churches fall apart due to neglect. Extremely rare church manuscripts have also started to be sold to tourists by other Woyanne cadres he brought with him. Such national treasurers as the cross that belonged to Abune Petros, who was gunned down by Fascist Italian forces for refusing to cooperate, were handed out to Qes Zebene and other friends of Aba Diabilos as gifts and wedding presents for being loyal agents.

Aba Diabilos travels with an army of bodyguards in armored vehicles. A short time after he took over the EOTC, one of his bodyguards shot dead an unarmed monk, Bahitawi FekadeSelassie, right in front of him. The Bahitawi was trying to deliver a complaint letter when he was gunned down in cold blood.

After the 2005 elections, when students were trying to hide from death squads of the Federal Police and Agazi special forces, he ordered churches in Addis Ababa to close their gates and those who managed to get inside were handed to the security fores.

The damage that has been inflicted on the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) by Aba Gebremedhin can only be compared to that of Ahmed Gragn hundreds of years ago.

Tag: Ethiopian News

U.S. students help fund donkey bookmobiles for Ethiopia

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

By Alicia Rudnicki | examiner.com

Imagine a life without the {www:imagination} of the printed page. Imagine a life without libraries in dusty African villages. Imagine the soaring imagination of two librarians who decided to solve this problem with the help of donkeys.

Next week school children around the United States will participate in fundraising events to help pay for mobile donkey libraries and other projects to improve literacy for children in Ethiopia. They will do this by participating in the first annual Ethiopia Reads Book Week U.S.A., which is supported by Scholastic Literacy Partnerships in conjunction with the organization Ethiopia READS.

You can enjoy presentations by Ethiopian dancers and storytellers today during the kickoff of Ethiopia Reads Book Week at Aurora’s Central Library, 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can also meet a donkey and see a {www:replica} of a book mobile cart.

Fifty years ago, when librarian Yohannes Gebregeorgis was learning how to read from Peace Corps volunteers in his Ethiopian village, he probably would never have imagined such an event. After all, the only reading materials available were the textbooks at school.

He also probably never imagined that he would establish a publishing company—Ethiopian Books for Children and Educational Foundation—or become a children’s author or be named one of CNN’s Top Heroes of 2008 for “championing children.”

There were no public libraries in Gebregeorgis’ homeland, and he didn’t own a book until he was 19. It was this ownership, according to the International Reading Association, that “sparked a sparked a lifelong commitment” to improving literacy in his homeland.

That commitment, coupled with the degree in librarianship that he gained in the U.S. after having to flee here as a political refugee, resulted in the organization Ethiopia READS. Gebregeorgis created it along with his friend and fellow librarian, Jane Kurtz,  a children’s author who lived in Ethiopia as a child.

The International Reading Association quotes Gebregeorgis as saying that most Ethiopian children still only “have {www:access} to textbooks in the classroom. Books children read outside of school, those are the spices of education.”

How can you help? Visit the “Get Involved” webpage at Ethiopia READS.

For More Information: Here are two great YouTube videos. The first one, from Voice of America, shows Yohannes Gebregeorgis and the donkey bookmobile. The second, is a lyrical view of Awassa, the first Ethiopian village to receive the bookmobile service.

Questions for President Isayas Afwerki – Part 2

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Click here to read some of the questions that we have received so far.

You can type Amharic by clicking here.

A minority domination and ethnic federalism in Ethiopia

Friday, May 8th, 2009

By Berhanu G. Balcha

Ethnicity and federalism have become the major factors in organizing the political and territorial space in Ethiopia since 1991. The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which had started its movement for the liberation of its ethnic territory from the central Ethiopian administration, has advocated ethnic- federalism by vowing to reduce conflicts and equalize the diverse ethnic communities. As a result, the overall centralized structure of the previous regime has been replaced by a ‘federal’ system consists of nine ethnically and regionally delimited regional states.

The ‘ethnic- federal’ experiment of devolving public sector powers to ethnic groups goes against the centralized nation-building project of the previous regimes. The previous regimes used a different model; they gave much emphasis to ‘Ethiopian nationalism’ as a unifying concept and promoted centralization rather than regional or ethnic autonomy. The rule of the emperor was based on absolutism and concentration of power on the king himself through a patrimonial network of power, resource and privilege accumulation and distribution system that benefits the rulers and their few collaborators at local, regional and central levels. The major orientation of the imperial state was to use the state power for voracious appropriation of resources mainly from the peasantry in order to reward the few ruling nobilities, viceroy and their clienteles that maintain the survival of the highly centralised state. Although the brutality of appropriation and mode of domination differ from place to place due to the historical process and mode of incorporation into the centralized state structure, the expansion toward the south accompanied with the assertion of the cultural superiority of the core and the serfdom and exploitation of the people of the south (Clapham 2002: 10, Teshale 1995: 176, Bahiru 1994, Messay 1999). In the process, many of the southern Ethiopian peasantry were turned in to serfs in their own land when the ‘ownership’ of their land was transferred to the emperor, nobilities and loyal followers of the imperial authority. Though the predatory state had showed some favouritism based on provincial ethnicity for functional purpose, it promoted ‘state nationalism’ and ‘national integration’ with the perception of national identity as the mirror-image of the ruling elite’s ethnic and cultural manifestations in terms of language, religion and, self-proclaimed moral superiority and military triumph over others. It is indisputable that language proficiency plays a significant role to determine better access to education and employment by putting in a relatively disadvantageous situation those groups whose language is not used in employment and education.

The military regime, after 1974, repeatedly stressed that it preferred ‘socialist’ solution to the nationalities question but promoted militaristic nationalism by means of authoritarian and highly centralized political system. It initiated, however, few measures like broadcasting radio programmes in Afar, Somali, Oromiffa and Tigrgna languages, establishing national research institution for studying nationalities and finally drawing a new internal boundary based on linguistic and territorial bases. Most importantly, it made a radical shift in the landownership in 1975, particularly in the southern part of Ethiopia by destroying the exploitative and unjust land appropriation of the nobility and others. Although the radical change had abolished serfdom by distributing the land to the peasants, land remained the property of the state and thus made the peasantry highly intervened and controlled by the state. Nevertheless, it did not make any attempt to link ethnic rights with politics or governance issues. Rather without any regional or ethnic prejudices, it imposed its greater centralization and brutal governance system, controlled at the core by junior military officers regardless of their ethnic affiliation or orientations. Militaristic state nationalism blended with socialism was promoted by hoping to obliterate regional and ethnic movements. However, excessive centralization backed by ruthless coercion did not abate regional and ethnic movements. Rather, it exacerbated internal turmoil and massive resentment of the population, which provided a good opportunity for the expansion of ethnonational movements that finally overrun the state’s centre in 1991 by defeating the military regime, and introducing a rhetoric of ethnic autonomy and ethnic entitlement.

Ethnicity: a theoretical challenge and empirical nuisance

Structuring of society and politics on the basis of ethnicity has been viewed by many scholars as a risky approach for the reason that politicisation of ethnicity could excessively awaken ethnic consciousness and unleash ethnic groupings at the expense of shared identities and interspersed settlements (Horowitz 1985, Messay 1999, Clapham 2002). It is held that ethnic entitlements could give much more leverage to blood relationships and ascriptive loyalties in place of rights and duties (Kedourie 1993). It could also promote the rule of kin, instead of the rule of law, because ascribed ethnic solidarity is more important than merit and other achieving qualities in the ideology of ethnic entitlement, therefore sharing the same genealogy will be a reassurance for assuming political leadership. Ethnic entitlement can also be used by ethnic leaders to gather justification or legitimisation for autocratic rule in the name of their ethnic community. Most importantly, the adulation and preponderance of affinitive or kinship ties within societies would pose formidable barriers to build tolerant multiethnic societies (Ali. A. Mazrui 1967).

On the other hand, scholars concerned about ethnically fragmented societies suggest that in order to reduce ethnic tensions and conflicts, it is imperative for multiethnic states to engineer accommodative structure in order to achieve peaceful coexistence (O’Leary 2002, Lijphart 1994; 2002). A prominent scholar in the field of ethnicity, politics and power-sharing in multiethnic societies, Arend Lijphart (1994) advises for designing ethnic power sharing arrangements or consociational model in segmented or divided societies. According to Arend Lijphart that successful political accommodation of diverse ethnic groups could be achieved through recognition and devising appropriate institutions for accommodation and power sharing. In his discussion of consociational politics, Lijphart enumerated four necessary institutional arrangements in accommodating diversities. These are power sharing government (grand coalition), mutual veto, proportionality and segmental autonomy (Lijphart 1977). In his discussion Lijphart outlined the necessity to have proportional representation from all significant groups, a protection for minority groups and a territorial autonomy or non-territorial division of power or functional autonomy. Although Lijphart’s consociational democracy is criticized for its high reliance on the good will of elites, it can be used as a model for engineering appropriate institutional structures in places where diverse ethnic groups are competing and fighting for controlling the state power.

In line with Lijphart’s argument other scholars suggest also that stability in culturally fragmented countries increases if these countries adopt a political system characterised by proportionality, grand coalition, federalism and strong veto points (Steiner et al 2003: 82). Ethnic federalism is suggested as a relatively preferable institutional arrangement in case of geographically concentrated ethnic groups. Federalism can provide an autonomous space for power exercise and a space for expression for territorially concentrated homogeneous ethnic groups. In such case it could reduce demands for separation and other tensions associated with secession.

However, scholars like Donald Horowitz (1985 & 2002) and Basta Fleiner (2000) argue that ethnic arrangement as a means to ensure ethnic self-government could further radicalise ethnic problem by turning ethnic demands into political principles rather than providing a remedy or cure. In this connection, federal framework based on ethnic coalition could be very unstable form of government, because ethnic elites could be possessed by their own sectional self-interest to pull apart the framework or the coalition. They could also be constrained by their ethnic community if they concede much for the sake of cooperation. Horowitz (2002) therefore argues that federalism should aim to create an integrative dynamics by encouraging ethnically heterogeneous groups or political units to work together within a shared structure that can provide incentives for inter-ethnic co-operation. For Horowitz, non-ethnic federal units could help to forge common interests, other than ethnic identities, among people living within the same federal units in order to compete against the other federal units beyond ethnic interests. Horowitz believes that the remedy for ethnic problem is institutionalisation of ‘ethnically blind’ structures and policies that could reduce or undermine ethnic divide. However, he recognises that in a climate of elite competition ‘a fear of ethnic domination and suppression is a motivating force for the acquisition of power as an end and it is also sought for confirmation of ethnic status’ (Horowitz 1985: 187). ‘An ethnic contrast that has produced an extraordinary amount of conflict in many African, Asian, and Caribbean states is the juxtaposition of ‘backward’ and ‘advanced’ groups’ (Horowitz 1985: 148). Thus, Horowitz advises that ‘if indeed ethnicity and ethnic organisations provide security to groups in an uncertain environment, then attempts to replace or outlaw them may have the effect of increasing insecurity’ (Horowitz 1985: 567-8). It could be essential, therefore, to recognise the importance of power-sharing and territorial devolution. Territorial compartmentalization with devolution of generous power can have tranquillising effects in countries with territorially separate groups, significant sub-ethnic divisions and serious conflict at the centre (Horowitz 1985: 614). It is very vital to consider the importance of timing in engineering a political process and structure, because ‘accommodation long delayed may be accommodation ultimately denied’ (Horowitz 1985: 617).

As Walker Connor (1999) articulates that ethnonational movements’ are found worldwide, they ‘are to be found in Africa (for example, Ethiopia), Asia (Sri Lanka), Eastern Europe (Romania), Western Europe (France), North America (Guatemala), South America (Guyana), and Oceania (New Zealand). The list includes countries that are old (United Kingdom), as well as new (Bangladesh), large (Indonesia), as well as small (Fiji), rich (Canada), as well as poor (Pakistan), authoritarian (Sudan) as well as democratic (Belgium), Marxist-Leninist (China) as well as militantly anti-Marxist (Turkey). The list also includes countries which are Buddhist (Burma), Christian (Spain), Moslem (Iran), Hindu (India) and Judaic (Israel). (Connor 1999: 163-4).

Ethnic associations and ethnic parties have been discouraged and banned in many countries and in majority cases due to fear of the presumed radical and destructive backlashes of ethnic demands and ethnic rights. Vindictive horrors of ethnic conflicts, genocide and ethnic cleansing in cases like in Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, Nigeria and also unrelenting and destructive ethnic strives in places such as in Sudan, India, Malaysian, Sri Lanka and others are signalling the recalcitrance nature of ethnic demands and also indicating the difficult challenges connected to ethnic entitlement and ethnic rights.

However, in his cross-national study of communal based conflicts, Ted Gurr (1994) shows that ‘ethnic identity and interest per se do not risk unforeseen ethnic wars; rather, the danger is hegemonic elites who use the state to promote their own people’s interest at the expense of others (Gurr 2000: 64). Thus, he warns that ‘the push of state corruption and minority repression probably will be a more important source of future ethnic wars than the ‘pull’ of opportunity’ (Ibid). Horowitz also asserts that even if ethnic problems are intractable, they are not altogether without hope; ‘even in the most severely divided societies, ties of blood do not lead to ineluctably to rivers of blood’ (Ibid. p. 682). Power-sharing and coalition political frameworks that could encourage inter-ethnic cooperation by ensuring recognition of some prominent group’s rights could be one option to minimise group’s resentments and mitigate destructive conflicts.

A paradox in Ethiopia: a tiny minority and relatively poorer region demands and monopolises federalism

In the Ethiopian context, the TPLF was inherently and structurally deficient in establishing a genuine accommodative federal political framework in the country. The TPLF officially and proudly claims to represent the Tigray province and the Tigray people. The Tigray people constitute only 6 percent of the total population of Ethiopia, a very tiny minority in Ethiopia’s ethnic configuration when compared to the Oromo and Amhara people that represent about 35 and 30 per cent of the Ethiopian people respectively. The Tigray province has been relatively the most impoverished, environmentally degraded and highly vulnerable to frequent draught and famine. Without siphoning or supplementing resource from the other part of Ethiopia, it is unlikely that the province could sustain the current, though still precarious, life standard. Conceivably, therefore the TPLF’s ethnic empowerment discourse could damages more the interest and benefit of the Tigray elite and the TPLF, if it is to be implemented genuinely. The TPLF and the Tigrayan elite would have lost their privileged position with a genuine ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia.

As a result, the TPLF was not interested to create a genuine ethnic coalition government and a genuine ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia that would certainly put it in a gravely disadvantageous position. More importantly, the Tigray province, a home of the TPLF, would be the least to be benefited from a genuine federal arrangement in Ethiopia, therefore the TPLF has not worked for a genuine federal arrangement. From the beginning, the intention of the TPLF has been a sham federal arrangement through a superficial ethnic coalition arrangement. Hence, it has been embarking on sustaining a political travesty via EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Force) that would assure its hegemonic project by using ethnic rights as a discourse to attract and subdue the disoriented ethnic elites.

Ethnic rights and ethnic entitlement have become an attractive inducement for many of elites from various ethnic groups to fell so easily in the trap of the TPLF’s manipulation and machination. Many of surrogate ethnic parties, which have not have any legitimacy from their respective ethnic communities, have become an instrument of the TPLF’s hegemonic desire, as they have been easily susceptible to TPLF’s rewarding or/and coercing power. In this case, the TPLF has been consistent in its core policy in promoting first and foremost the interests of the Tigray elite.

From the beginning, the hegemonic ambition of the Tigrayan elite or the TPLF has been the major factor in blocking an effective power-sharing federal government in Ethiopia. The TPLF single-handedly dominated the constitutional drafting process and the procedures for establishing an elected government that replaced the transition government. The TPLF was more interested to promote its project in reasserting the hegemony of the Tigrayan elite in Ethiopia. The Tigrayan elites have been very nostalgic about the past glory and standing of Tigray in the history of the Ethiopian state (Aregawe 2004: 576). Marcus states that ‘Tigrayan felt marginalized, even though the Tigray had participated in Emperor Menelik’s empire building and in Emperor Haile Selassie’s effort to establish a nation’ (Marcus 2002: 221). Kinfe Abreha argues also that ‘the Tigrians also resent the unfair historical process through which the Tigrians overloardship of Emperor Yohannes IV was lost to Menelik II, leading to the gradual decline of the region from the citadel of the Empire’ to a quasi autonomous one’ (Kinfe 1994: 159). He writes that: ‘The Tigray resistance is naturally the outcome of the gradual decline of the region whose human and material potentials was spent in the preservation of the territorial integrity of Ethiopia. It was the case of a candle that consumed itself while giving light to its surroundings’ (Ibid.). Adhana also claims that Tigray, defined by its predominant Christian character, formed not only a durable component of the Ethiopian nation but was also part of the backbone of the Ethiopian state and thus ‘everything that defined the Ethiopian state was a result of Aksumite invention and innovation.’ (Adhana 1998: 43). These assertions may reflect the disquiet of the Tigrayan elite on lost pride due to ‘a humiliating sense of exclusion from the important centre of power’.

Is the TPLF empowering ethnic groups?

Many critics have accused the TPLF for excessively empowering ethnic groups, however the real practice has been that the TPLF has co-opted elites from the various ethnic groups who have not make an effective resistance against the dominance of the Tigrayan elite in the Ethiopian state. Here, the most important point to understand is that the TPLF has not been an honest force in implementing a genuine ethnic federalism. Actually, the TPLF is not giving a real power to the ethnic communities, but it is promoting surrogate elites and ethnic entrepreneurs from various ethnic communities who have facilitated the expansion of its influence and rule in their respective areas. The implication is that the ethnic federal arrangement has been used by the TPLF in order to extend its authority beyond its own territory in order to make the Tigrayan elite a dominant political and economic force in the Ethiopian state.

Although the TPLF claims that it has been struggling, first and foremost, for the rights of the Tigrayan people for self-determination, its legitimacy in Tigray has not been confirmed democratically. Nevertheless, it is evident that the TPLF has been able to secure immense moral and political support from some section of the elite of Tigray because of its ‘commitment’ for the reassertion and promotion of the Tigrayan nationalism. It is becoming clear that the ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia has been used by the TPLF to establish the hegemony of the Tigray nationalism over other nationalisms, including the ‘Ethiopian nationalism’. Though it is difficult to know whether the Tigrean people as a whole support or benefit from the strategy of the TPLF, there is ample evidence that some of the Tigrayan elites have been benefiting significantly in getting a dominant political and economic position in disproportionate to the share they should have been given in accordance with the ethnic entitlement principles of the motto of ethnic federalism as it has been proclaimed by the TPLF itself.

According to the principles of its own ideology of fair and equal representation of ethic groups, the TPLF, which represents the Tigray province with its 6 percent of the Ethiopian population, should have assumed a minority role, if its intention has not been a minority ethnic hegemony via ethnic federalism. Because it has operated contrary to the rule of its own game, the TPLF is operating as an instrument of coercion and domination rather than equality and freedom. As a result, the ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia has been characterised by economic monopoly, militaristic domination, and brutal suppression of the rights of the majority of the Ethiopian people, by the TPLF. In a nutshell, the ethnic federal project in Ethiopia has become a device for the implementation and protection of the hegemonic position of the tiny minority Tigrayan elites who have been aiming to have a dominant control of resources that the Ethiopian state controls and generates.

Conclusion

There will be no a magic democratic formula or military adventure that can make the TPLF or the Tigrayan elite a majority group in the present day Ethiopia. A continuation of brutal and forceful rule of a minority rule in long run could lead to a chaotic scenario in which the majority may rise to take a desperate violent action to free themselves from the despotism of a minority group. It is totally unfeasible and unsustainable for an elite from a minority ethnic group to assume a hegemonic position in a context where the consciousness of the people as well as of the ethnic communities is sufficiently mature to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is not. Military force and other deceptive strategies such as co-option of elites, and divide and rule tactics may work for some time, but such strategies can not create a genuine framework that can nurture a workable political system in a sustainable way. The TPLF has got a considerable support from the US because of its tactical alliance in the ‘coalition of the willing’ and the ‘war on terror’, however, it is unwise to rely on external patron in a sustainable manner. Neither the imperial rule, nor the military regime was saved by its external patron. It is evident that the willingness of the people to accept the rule of the TPLF has been weakening. The May 2005 Ethiopia’s election, in which the TPLF forcefully and brutally changed the outcome of the election’s result (as reported by the European Union’s Election observers mission and by all civil society groups in Ethiopia), was a clear message from the Ethiopian people to the TPLF that the Ethiopians are badly in need of a democratic change and they are also ready to make it to happen.
 
(The writer, Berhanu G. Balcha, Ph.D., can be reached at berhanugbnes@yahoo.com)

References

* Adhana H. Adhana 1998. ‘Tigray- The Birth of a Nation within the Ethiopian Polity’. In Mohammed Salih, M. A. and J. Markakis (eds.) Ethnicity and the State in Eastern Africa. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikaninstituten

* Aregawi Berhe 2004. ‘THE ORIGINS OF THE TIGRAY PEOPLE’S LIBERATION
FRONT’, in African Affairs (2004), 103/413, pp 569–592, Royal African Society

* Bahiru Zewde 1991. History of Modern Ethiopia 1855-1974, Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University

* Clapham, Christopher 2002. Controlling Space in Ethiopia in James, Wendy, Donham, Donald L., Kurimoto, Eisei, and Triulzi, Alessandro. (Eds.) Remapping Ethiopia. London: James Currey

* Connor, Walker 1999. ‘National Self-determination and Tomorrow’s Political Map’. In Alan Cairns (ed.) Citizenship, Diversity and Pluralism. Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press.

* Fleiner, Lidija R. Basta 2000. ‘Can Ethnic Federalism Work?’- Paper for the Conference On “Facing Ethnic Conflicts”, Bonn, Germany 14-16, December 2000 – Center for Development Research (ZEF Bonn)

Gurr, T. Robert 2000 ‘Ethnic Warfare on the Wane’ in Foreign Affairs, May/June 2000, Volume 79, Number 3, pp 52 – 64

* Horowitz, Donald L. 1985. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press)

* Constitutional Design: Proposals versus Processes. In Andrew Reynolds (ed.), The Architecture of Democracy, Constitutional Design, Conflict Management, and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press

* Kedourie, Elie 1993. Nationalism. London: Hutchinson

* Kinfe, Abraham 1994. Ethiopia from Bullets to the Ballot Box. NJ: The Red Sea Press

* Lijphart, Arend 1977. Democracy in Plural Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press
 
* ‘Prospects for Power-Sharing in the New South Africa’ in ReynoldsA. (ed.) Election ’94 South Africa: The Campaigns, Results and Future Prospects. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

* ‘The Wave of Power-Sharing Democracy’ in Andrew Reynolds (ed.) The Architecture of Democracy: Constitutional Design, Conflict Management, and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

* Marcus, Harold 2002. A History of Ethiopia. Berkeley: University of California Press

* Mazrui, Ali A. 1967. Soldiers and Kinsmen in Uganda: The making of a Military Ethnocracy. Beverly Hills: Sage

* Merera Gudina 2003. Ethiopia: Competing ethnic nationalisms and the quest for democracy, 1960 – 2000. PhD dissertation.

* Messay Kebede 1999. Survival and Modernisation: Ethiopia’s Enigmatic Present: A Philosophical Discourse. New Jersey and Asmara: The Red Sea Press, Inc.

* O’Leary, Brendan, 2002. ‘Federations and the Management of nations: Agreement and arguments with Walker Connor and Ernest Gellner’. In

* Daniele Conversi (ed.) Ethnonationalism in the Contemporary World: Walker Connor and the study of nationalism, London and New York: Routledge. pp 153-183

* Steiner Jürg, André Bächtiger, Markus Spörndli, Marco R. Steenbergen, 2003.

* Deliberative politics in action: Crossnational study of parliamentary debates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

* Gurr, T. Robert and Barbara Harff, 1994. Ethnic Conflict in World Politics. Oxford, Boulder, and San Francisco: Westview Press

* Teshale Tibebu 1995. The Making of Modern Ethiopia 1896 – 1974. NJ:
Red Sea Press
 

Ethiopia, France sign 210 mln Euros loan for wind power

Friday, May 8th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: Meanwhile, Addis Ababa and other cities use electric light in shifts as a result of Meles Zenawi’s tribalist regime policies of every thing to Tigray. The following is reported by the Woyanne-hijacked Ethiopian News Agency.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ENA) – Ethiopia and France on Thursday signed a financing agreement amounting to 210 million Euros for implementation of the Ashegoda Wind Power Project in Tigray State.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), Mihret Debebe and ambassador of France to Ethiopia, Jean-Christophe Belliard signed the agreement.

With an installed capacity of 120 MW, along with annual energy production of 400 to 450 GWH, the Ashegoda wind harnessing project came as the first of its kind for Ethiopia.

It is believed to improve the country’s energy mix, thereby reducing the impact of possible hydrological risks.

Mihret said on the occasion that the fund will be used for implementation of the Project.

The project has an implementation schedule of 36 months from the date of commencement to bring the whole wind energy converter units into commercial operation. However, the first phase yielding 30MW capacity will be commissioned in 16 months after contract commencement.

Ambassador Jean-Christophe Belliard also said the project will contribute to ongoing efforts of Ethiopia to distribute electric power service in Africa.
The ambassador also said it will help to strengthen the age long friendship between the two countries.

Frightening facts Ethiopia's regime wants to hide

Friday, May 8th, 2009

By Ginbot 7

The recent accusation by Meles Zenawi’s clique of an alleged ‘coup’ attempt led by {www:Ginbot 7}, which in a matter of days, was revised and heralded as an ‘assassination’ attempt is a vivid indication of a very serious internal danger that the dictatorial regime in Ethiopia has begun to face. The only objective of the confusing and the constantly changing statements coming from the Prime Minsterís office is to distract Ethiopians and the international community from seeing the real crisis engulfing the regime.

For a long time, high military positions and exclusive military training and educational opportunities both at home and abroad have been monopolized by ethnic Tigrean officers; and this has created immeasurable discontent in the highly polarized Ethiopian army. Officers affiliated with the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (TPLF) routinely disobey their superiors from other ethnic groups, ignoring military codes of conduct and discipline. For example, a major affiliated with the TPLF scolds a General from other ethnic group in a breach of strict military protocol. The absolute majority of the Ethiopian army is composed of non Tigreans; however, most of the high ranking commanding officers, including the Army Chief of Staff are from the ruling Tigrean ethnic clique. In addition, 22 of the 23 Army Divisions and all of the five Regional Army Commands are headed by ethnic minority Tigrean commanders.

Such disproportionate Tigrean domination is not limited to the military, it encompasses the Police Forces, Intelligence services as well as the political and economic spheres of the country. Moreover, almost all important civilian assignments within the government and key posts in the economic and social sectors are occupied by a small group of loyal ethnic Tigreans affiliated to the TPLF. The recent uproar in the military was to challenge the inequity and the injustice inherent in the system. General Kemal Gelchu from Oromo ethnic was the first high ranking officer to officially break rank with the ethno-racist politico-military rule of Meles Zenawi.

General Tefera Mamo, the recent victim of the brutal regime, has been a long time outspoken opponent of the ethno racist policies of Zenawi’s regime. The view of this courageous general is shared by tens of thousands in the highly politicized and polarized members of the Ethiopian Armed Forces.

Ginbot 7 is acutely aware of the simmering discontent within the army and defense forces, shares their solemn belief that only a genuinely democratic Ethiopia will remove the scourge of preferential treatment and nepotism in the army and in the country at large.

What shook Meles Zenawi’s regime to its core is the realization that the Army has now joined the civilian population in concluding that Meles and his band of ethno-racists are the main impediments to Ethiopia’s peace, stability, economic prosperity and forming a truly democratic government accountable to its citizenry. This is the frightening fact Meles and Bereket want to hide underneath the confusing allegations and denials of the last few days.

Meles and his colleagues are failing to understand that the problem they are facing now is of greater magnitude than anything they have faced in the last 18 years. The festering problem will not disappear just because the regime clumsily accuses and imprisons a handful of officers and a motley crew of alleged collaborators — including an eighty year old senior citizen. Ginbot 7 would like to inform Ethiopians at large, and the international community in general, the simple truth behind the smoke screen of alleged ìcoupsî, ìplotsî and ìassassinationî attempts concotted by the Zenawi regime.

The primary link between Ginbot 7 and General Tefera Mamo as well the civilian prisoners of the brutal regime is our shared vision of creating a democratic Ethiopia where citizenship and merit, rather than blood line will become the route to high office and wealth and where civil liberties and the rule of law will flourish in every corner and every hamlet of our proud and ancient land.

(The above is a statement by Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy)

Environment group calls to suspend funding of Omo River dam

Friday, May 8th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — An international environmental group urged the African Development Bank (AfDB) to reconsider their commitment to fund the ongoing construction of a dam in southwest Ethiopia saying it would affect the ecosystems and livelihoods in the region.

The Gibe III Dam, located 190 miles (300 km) southwest of Addis Ababa, on the Omo River, is Ethiopia’s largest investment project. The project costs $1.7 billion.

In order to diversify and develop its economy, the government of Ethiopia has initiated an aggressive plan to develop hydropower for export, long seen as one of the country’s few exploitable resources. Foreign aid covers 90% of Ethiopia’s national budget.

International Rivers urged the AfDB to not fund the construction of Gibe III saying it will reduce food security of up to half a million poor farmers, herders and fishers in southwest Ethiopia and northern Kenya.

“An oasis of biodiversity in a harsh desert, Lake Turkana supports 300,000 people and rich animal life. Hundreds of thousands of fishing families and pastoralists will be affected if the lake’s fragile ecosystem is stressed to the brink of collapse.”

“The project would spread war and famine in a region that is already affected by climate change,” further said International Rivers.

Next week from May 13-14 the AfDB directors will discuss during a meeting to be held in Dakar, Senegal, the funding of Gibe III which is under construction since 2006. The African bank agreed to contribute to finance the project but it has to determine how much it would pay.

European Investment Bank is considering financing Gibe III, up to € 250 million, while Italy is mulling financing Gibe III with up to € 250 million.

In complaints filled to the AfDB, Kenyan NGOs and International Rivers assert that the project violates five binding AfDB policies.

Construction of the Gibe 3 Project began in July 2006 with flagrant violations of Ethiopia’s laws on environmental protection and procurement, said the environment advocacy group.

It also alleged that the contract was awarded without competitive bidding to Italian construction giant Salini, raising serious questions about the project’s integrity.

The nongovernmental group said the AfDB should suspend its plans to fund this project until a thorough review and consultations with all affected peoples have taken place.

“The AfDB should in the meantime help Ethiopia drought-proof its energy sector, diversify its energy mix, and tap its abundant renewable energy resources.”

- Sudan Tribune

Denver: Man arrested in death of Ethiopian 7-Eleven clerk

Friday, May 8th, 2009

(Examiner) — Police say a 46-year-old man is in custody in the weekend fatal shooting of a convenience store clerk in south Denver.

Dale Wayne Baylis was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder Wednesday evening outside his home. He is suspected of killing 28-year-old Natnael Mulugeta, an immigrant from Ethiopia.

The shooting happened at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday at a 7-Eleven store near Baylis’ home. Officers say they arrived to find the store empty. They later found Mulugeta in a nearby alley with a gunshot wound to his chest.

Mulugeta was taken to a hospital, where he died about two hours later.

Friends, Family Remember Natnael

DENVER (CBS4) — Denver police say they’re following up on tips that could help solve the murder of a 7-Eleven clerk over the weekend.

Friends and family remembered 27-year-old Natnael Mulugeta Wednesday. He was an immigrant from Ethiopia.

Mulugeta and his younger sister came to Colorado to work and study. He was a clerk at the 7-Eleven located at 567 East Louisiana in Denver. His sister is a full-time college student. She is smart, articulate, but was unable to speak of the brother she adored Wednesday afternoon.

There is a language barrier, but the tears spoke clearly about the loss of a young man called “Natchee.”

“He was a wonderful young man, very quiet, very polite and loving,” family friend Yen Kebede said.

The small, tight community of Ethiopians has a single question — why?

“He hasn’t done anything wrong, so somebody or someone did him wrong,” Kebede said.

This week Natchee’s sister will take his body back to Ethiopia, to their parents. Because of Ethiopian tradition, the parents have not yet been told of Natchee’s death — not until the body arrives back in their country.

The Ethiopians aren’t bitter about what happened in their adopted homeland. They are grateful to a community that has adopted them. The horror, they say, will be buried Wednesday, so they can focus on living.

Denver police say there was a surveillance camera at the time of the shooting. Police have not released any video.

Additional Resources

The local Ethiopian community is setting up a fund to help the sister of murder victim Natnael Mulugeta. CBS4 is donating $1,000 as part of the Pay It Forward program. You can make donations at any Wells Fargo bank. Mention Natnael Mulugeta’s name as the fund.

Sister of murdered 7-Eleven clerk talks; suspect in court

DENVER (9News.com) – The sister of Natnael Mulugeta says she takes comfort in the fact that police arrested a suspect in her brother’s murder.

“My brother was just everything to me, he was my only brother too,” said Belen Mulugeta. “We were very close.”

“I hope we will get justice,” Mulugeta told 9Wants to Know.

A judge ordered Dale Wayne Baylis, 46, to be held without bond when Baylis appeared in Denver County Court Thursday. Baylis is being held on a first degree murder complaint.

Natnael Mulugeta, a 27-year-old Ethiopian immigrant, died after being shot by a rifle at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday while working alone at the convenience store at Louisiana Avenue and Pearl Street. He managed to crawl to the alley and call for help. That’s where police found him.

He was rushed to Denver Health Medical Center where he died about two hours later.

Mulugeta and her brother moved to the United States in 1999, she told 9NEWS.

“Myself and my family are very, very glad that they did arrest a suspect and we hope that it is the right person,” Belen Mulugeta said.

“Even if it wasn’t my brother, a person like that should not be walking on the street,” she said.

Belen Mulugeta boarded a flight from Denver to Washington, DC with her brother’s body Thursday afternoon. She then planned to fly to Ethiopia.

Police say they did not use surveillance video in identifying the suspect. Immediately after the shooting, investigators say they conducted interviews and were able to develop leads.

This isn’t Baylis’ first encounter with authorities. In 2003, he was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. According to a report from the Rocky Mountain News archives, Baylis stabbed a woman in Arapahoe County. He was eventually charged and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. The report says his mental competency was an issue in that case.

Police set up surveillance outside Baylis’ home at 1308 S. Logan Street on Wednesday before making the arrest. Baylis was injured by police dogs during the arrest.

7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris says Mulugeta had worked at the store for five years.

On Wednesday, Mulugeta’s family held a funeral service at an Aurora church.

Kenya arrests 30 Ethiopians in a police raid

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

By The Standard

NAIROBI– Kenyan Police arrested 32 Ethiopians, among them two terror suspects, in a house at Nairobi’s Umoja Estate.

The operation by anti-terror police unit is believed to be a breakthrough in their investigation.

Head of anti-terror police Nicholas Kamwende confirmed the arrests, but declined to give more details.

He said they were investigating various crimes, which led to the raids. Witnesses said contingents of police surrounded the building where the foreigners were arrested before the officers stormed in and ordered them out one by one.

The officers left with two of the suspects, but left the rest behind. It was not immediately clear why they decided to go with the two, but sources said they were terror suspects.

The Ethiopians arrived in groups of five and stayed in a rental house in the estate for more than a week before the police raid.

They told police they planned to travel to South Africa at a date only known by their leaders.

The 30 suspects were expected in court yesterday to face charges of being in the country illegally. Police said they are looking for a Kenyan who had allowed the foreigners to stay in his house illegally.

The involvement of anti-terror police has raised suspicion of the foreigners’ mission here.

Porous borders between Kenya and her Ethiopian and Somali neighbours have led to infiltration of terrorists blamed for the 1998 US Embassy and 2002 Kikambala Paradise Hotel bombings.

Ethiopia's desperate regime attacks U.S. State Department

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship in Ethiopia attacks the United States Department of States officials as liars for publishing a report that exposes the regime’s massive human rights violations.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Meles regime said that normally they do not respond to such reports, but in this case they have to protect Ethiopia’s name!

The TV reporter who read the statement must be a skilled actor because he was not laughing as you can see in the video below.

A spiraling crack in Ethiopian regime's core

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Zeinab Amde

The ongoing melodrama that is unfolding in the Ethiopian army and security machinery, albeit in fits and starts, is another devastating and fatal crack in the inner walls of the Meles-Bereket tyranny. The staggering effect of the plot has sent the shaken Meles-Bereket clique running in all directions trying to limit the damage of the plot to the conventional “fringe” elements in the army in terms of commanding actual and effective power. The dripping of name of participants and withholding of their identities is intended to show that those behind the plot are non-Tigreans (largely Amharas and Oromos) in the army.

The fact that real power in the military and security machinery is held by Tigreans makes it improbable to topple the Meles-Bereket clique from within the government system. But what comes as a blow is the information that is was circulating in the security machinery which reveals that a Tigrean military officer General Tadesse Worede and a handful of mid- and low-level Tigrean officers are at the center of the plot to topple the clique. This reality is a devastating phenomenon for the regime as it has fatal reverberations on the viability of the EPRDF political system.

Most of all, with the support for the TPLF eroding and budding of an all Tigrean opposition factions inside and outside the TPLF, this event ushers in a new chapter dealing a blow that damagingly cracks the inner walls of the decaying the Meles-Bereket clique. The ballooning of the repressive machinery built by Meles has come to a point where he himself has become unable to reign in control to all tentacles and outgrowths of the system.

With regard to the security machinery, the wavering loyalty to the clique is astonishing. This is a terrifying fact as the information of the plot primarily came to the attention of the Meles-Bereket clique, not from the security apparatus of the government, but from foreigners like Israelis and others in the region. While the conspiracy to neutralize the Meles-Bereket clique was thickening, a significant portion of the security machinery, which is fed up with the unpredictable and unpopular rule of Meles, was silently nodding, or at least giving a blind eye, to the successful execution of the plot. Information from sources argues that the outing of the plot was mainly the result of the plotters’ overconfidence in success.

Even from the carefully choreographed message that is being painted by the Meles-Bereket clique on the plot (which keeps to be upgraded and rebooted by the minute), it is not hard to discern the extent of disorientation and confusion that has plagued the inner core of the TPLF/EPRDF. The way the story is being changed, the concealing of the plotters’ identities, the unfolding drama make believe accusations all shows that the regime is even having a hard time to coin a line of story that sticks.

If possible, what the Meles-Bereket clique wants us to believe is that there is no such plot to change the government or even to portray the whole drama as a fabrication for the sake of rounding up opponents. Alas, who would expect Meles to shout to the world of a “coup attempt” and put precedence in the minds of his servants in the military and security machinery such a dangerous idea? Why would Meles risk in exposing the fragile and untrustworthy nature of his military and security machinery with a coup fairy tale as he makes it seem look like? Now the regime seems to be in damage control mode by trying to contain the alcohol that has already escaped from the bottle where in fact the damage is real and irreparable.

If one connects the dots of the political message that the Meles-Bereket clique is trying to sell, it is evident that the attempt to conceal the involvement of Tigrean military and security officers like General Tadesse shows the desperation to keep TPLF followers in the dark and isolated in a dreamland. Plus, portraying the TPLF followers as being out of any revolt against the Meles-Bereket clique is intended to show a curtain of strength to hide behind as having a solid and undivided military and security machinery whereas the reality is being concealed.

Now Meles hopes for an engagement for the army and security to keep them busy. In this whole picture, it is more than probable that Ginbot 7 is being used as means of diverting the internal and external attention from the debilitating crack evolving from within the-outwardly-strong-looking-EPRDF. Change from within is a dimension of danger for Meles as this start has set precedence for future revolts be borne out of the military and the security machinery. Mark my words! For the Meles-Bereket clique, the damage is already done and such a phenomenon is an accident that is waiting to happen.

(The writer can be reached at zeinab.amde@gmail.com)

Tag: Ethiopian News

Potential for violence shadows Ethiopia's 2010 election

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Peter Heinlein | VOA

Addis Ababa — Ethiopia’s next national election is a year away, but tensions are already increasing. At least two opposition politicians have recently been jailed, both possibly facing life in prison, and security forces have arrested dozens of others, accusing them of plotting against the government. Both government and opposition leaders are expressing concern about the potential for election-related violence.

No Ethiopian needs reminding about the horrors that followed the disputed 2005 election. Nearly 200 protesters killed in the streets by security forces, more than 100 opposition leaders arrested, convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison before being pardoned.

When government spokesman Bereket Simon kicked off the 2010 election season, he said a top priority of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) would be preventing violence. “This election must be peaceful. Government must do whatever it takes to ensure that our election will be peaceful,” he said.

Prime Minister Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi warned that government forces would have little tolerance for street protests. “The 2005 experience was experience enough for anybody to be able to learn from, and so I’m sure our law enforcement entities will be much better prepared for any eventuality than they were in 2005, not only in terms of handling riots, but also in terms of deterring and preventing riots,” he said.

Opposition activists are equally concerned. It was their supporters that were killed in the streets four years ago. Many fear 2010 could be as bad or worse than 2005.

Already, several government opponents have been jailed. Among them, Birtukan Mideksa, a charismatic young former judge who was among those sentenced to life and then pardoned after the 2005 election.

Birtukan had been touted to be a potent force in the 2010 vote. But she was re-arrested and ordered to serve out her sentence after saying she had not asked for the pardon.

Another prominent member of Birtukan’s party, Melaku Teferra, was among 40 people accused last month of involvement in a coup plot directed by {www:Berhanu Nega}, who was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005.

Berhanu and Melaku were also among those jailed for life after the last election. Melaku stayed in Ethiopia after being freed. Berhanu fled to the United States, where he teaches economics at a Pennsylvania university and heads a political group that advocates the overthrow of the Meles Zenawi government.

Merera Gudina is another political science professor who doubles as an opposition leader. Merera teaches at Addis Ababa University. His party is among eight opposition groups banding together in hopes of mounting a serious challenge to the ruling EPRDF.

Merera worries, however, that next year’s vote may turn into a replay of last year’s local and bi-elections, in which the EPRDF and its affiliates won all but three out of nearly 3.6 million seats being contested. Most opposition parties pulled out of the contest in advance, complaining the rules were written so only pro-government parties could win.

Merera says given that the EPRDF now controls all local administrations, this election will be a struggle to prevent Ethiopia from becoming a one-party state.

“Our role is… to make sure this government cannot rule without accepting the rules of multi-party democracy. We are in a struggle. This government is not ready for change, and this government is cheating left and right and its ultimate agenda is revolutionary democracy. We know all these things, and in fact people who were with (Prime Minister) Meles, who used to play those games and clearly know these games, are now with us,” he said.

Seeye Abraha Hagos is a former member of Prime Minister Meles’s inner circle. He was military commander of the guerrilla force that brought the Meles government to power. After a falling out with the government, he was convicted of corruption and spent several years in prison. But he is still popular among his former military colleagues

Seeye is now a member of the coalition of opposition groups know as the forum. He says the only ways of breaking Ethiopia’s long tradition of violence-plagued elections is to ensure opposition parties and their supporters know change is possible through the ballot box.

“There is always violent opposition in Ethiopia. Even if you take out the 2005 elections, there was violent opposition in this country. So if we are ever going to control violence in this country, the only way out is to chart a peaceful political transition. No peaceful elections, no peaceful political transfer of power would mean there will be continuous violence in this country, and this can take this country down the drain given our poverty,” he said.

A year before the May, 2010 election, Ethiopia displays all the outward signs of calm. Despite grinding poverty, frequent power cuts, and a severe foreign exchange shortage that has seen imported goods disappear from stores, there is little evidence of the country’s violent past.

But opposition leaders and political analysts caution that the outward appearance masks a deep-seated longing among Ethiopians for freedom of political expression. Former defense minister Seeye Abraha likens the country to a dormant volcano. It might look calm, but even a small disturbance could set it off.

Tag: Ethiopian News

Ethiopia regime official Tefera Walwa's wife arrested

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA — The wife of a cabinet minister in the Ethiopian regime, Ato Tefera Walwa, was arrested and later released.

Wzr. Ayne Tsige was taken to jail when she tried to stop the police from taking away her 80-year-old father, Ato Tsige HabteMariam, who went through a heart bypass surgery recently.

Ato Tsige was arrested, along with 40 other individuals, after being suspected of plotting to assassinate Meles Zenawi.

Ato Tsige HabteMariam is the father of {www:Ginbot 7} secretary general Ato Andargachew Tsige.

Ato Tefera Walwa, Minister of Capacity Building, was in a meeting when his wife was taken to jail. When he heard about his wife’s arrest, he interrupted the meeting and walked out, according to The Reporter… [MORE]

Ethiopian murder victim in Minnesota identified

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office is identifying the woman found stabbed to death in a Richfield parking lot. She’s 22-year-old Tobista Beyena Mokonnen of Richfield.

Hennepin County prosecutors charged her 24-year-old brother, Guuci Beyena Mokonnen, with first-degree murder in her death on Tuesday. He remained in the county jail Wednesday, with bail set at $2 million.

Both the victim and the killer are natives of Ethiopia.

The medical examiner says Tobista was found about 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Buena Vista apartments.

The criminal complaint filed in the case says she was holding an eight-month-old child, who wasn’t harmed in the attack.

Her brother allegedly confessed, telling investigators that he was angry his sister wouldn’t allow him to live with her, which led him to become homeless.

If convicted, Mokonnen faces life in prison.

Wanted to kill sister for 3 Years

A man who said he has been thinking about killing his sister for three years was charged with first-degree murder for her death.

Prosecutors charged Guuci Beyena Mokonnen, 24, with the stabbing death of his sister in a parking lot of the Buena Vista Apartments on East 78th Street in Richfield on May 2.

According to the criminal complaint, two people found the victim, lying in a parking lot, holding an 8-month-old child. The witnesses said they called police after they saw the woman’s eyes moving back and forth and heard her make gurgling noises. The child was crying.

When police arrived, the woman was surrounded by a pool of blood and was bleeding from the head and neck. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.

Officers took the child, who was not injured, to Hennepin County Medical Center. The child has since been released to family members.

A short time after the victim was found, police said Mokonnen phoned them from the Mall of America in Bloomington, saying he had killed his sister. When officers picked him up, they noticed what appeared to be dried blood on his hands, coat and pants.

Mokonnen told police he was angry with his sister because she wouldn’t let him live with her. He said that because of that, he became homeless and unemployed. He had been staying with his brother, and he took a knife from his brother’s apartment, the criminal complaint said.

Police found a knife that appeared to have blood on it in a storm sewer on East 77th Street. Mokonnen told police he walked to 77th Street and then to Portland and threw the knife down a storm drain.