Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Five soldiers killed by explosion in Mogadishu

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anti-Woyanne forces do not target civilians as we are witnessing in Somalia and other areas. This is just one more indication that the bomb blast in Addis Ababa yesterday is definitely the work of Woyanne.

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(VOA News) — Witnesses say an explosion has killed at least five soldiers in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Residents say they saw the bodies of three Ethiopian Woyanne and two Somali government soldiers lying in the street after the attack Tuesday.

The witnesses say Ethiopian Woyanne troops opened fire after the blast. There has been no word on additional casualties.

Insurgents launch almost-daily attacks on Somali government forces and allied Ethiopian Woyanne troops. More than a year of fighting has killed thousands of Somalis and displaced hundreds of thousands more, mostly from Mogadishu.

U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Djibouti last week ended with no progress toward an agreement.

Israeli Gov't stonewalled on Ethiopian immigrants

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

By Ruth Sinai and Yigal Hai, Haartz

The state comptroller found numerous failings in steps taken by the state and local authorities to absorb Ethiopian immigrants. The government decided back in 1999 that a committee was needed to coordinate between ministries and with the many organizations that deal with Ethiopian Jews, but did not establish the committee for eight years. Lack of coordination severely undermined the efficiency of programs to aid immigrants, and of the budgets allocated for them.

For example, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry conducted a demographic survey of the immigrant community between 2000 and 2003, which could have been of immense help to the Social Affairs Ministry, which for years had no data on families in need of assistance.That survey finally took place in 2006, more than 20 years after Ethiopian immigration began. An inter-ministerial committee was set up only last year, and this year a national program for absorbing immigrants was unveiled, which for the first time established the principle of adapting services to cultural needs.

The comptroller found that through 2006, most social workers dealing with the community were not Ethiopian, and had not received cultural sensitivity training.

Ethiopian boxer goes to Beijing Olympics

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

(AFP) — ADDIS ABABA: Donned in bright red trunks with a mouthguard to protect his teeth, Molla Getachew works on his footwork as part of a daily early-morning routine in a steamy gym in southern Addis Ababa.

With him is Solomon Zinna, a 31-year-old coach who is preparing Molla for the biggest challenge of his career in only three months time – the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The 24-year-old flyweight is the only boxer to have qualified for the tournament from Ethiopia, a country more associated with slender and wiry athletes than for pound-for-pound fighters in a boxing ring.

“God willing, I hope to perform very well and follow in the footsteps of our athletes who have achieved a lot throughout these years,” said Molla.

Diminutive but well-built, Molla has over 50 bouts under his belt, including ten defeats in his nine-year amateur career. His coach however, believes Molla’s athleticism and work ethic could give him the edge in Beijing.

“He is very athletic and strong, his belief in hard work could help him become the most successful Ethiopian in Olympic history,” said Solomon. Despite hailing from a rough neighbourhood in the capital’s Abnet district, where several friends took up boxing, Molla’s heart lay on the football pitch for the best part of his childhood.

He only took an interest in boxing at the age of fifteen, when an unexpected trip to a national championship left him so captivated that he had to climb trees and elude security guards to watch other bouts.

Within weeks, he had signed on to a local project and never looked back.

Molla said his journey to Beijing started in Algeria at the All-Africa Games in July last year, when his inexperience led to an early first round exit at the hands of a Cameroonian fighter.

Bitter over the unsavory defeat a motivated Molla went on to clinch his Olympic berth after a string of impressive results against Seychellois and Zambian opponents during the African Olympic qualifying tournament held in the same country in January this year.

He’s now hoping to shake off Ethiopia’s dismal showing at the Olympics by emulating the success of the country’s fleet-footed athletes.

Ethiopian boxers have featured in all but two editions since the 1960 Olympics in Rome but have only been able to reach the quarter-finals twice in 11 attempts.

In the meantime, Molla and his coach have devised a rigorous four-hour-per day training schedule at a newly inaugurated training facility of the Ethiopian Boxing Federation.

Inside, the thumping sounds of taped fists pounding heavy punching bags reverberate across the yellow-painted concrete walls.

Darting in and out, pint-sized unknowns square-off with sparring partners as trainers send out instructions.

Drenched in sweat, Molla, who fights in the 51kg division, bounces lightly from toe to toe. On the other side of the corner, his ex-trainer Tasew Gebretsadik who coached him through the continental qualifying tournament casts a wary eye on his former protegì.

Gebretsadik, a veteran Ethiopian boxing coach, however believes the Olympics might be a tall order for the unheralded boxer despite his determination to succeed.

“The boy could be psychologically affected since he’ll be participating on the biggest competition of his life,” said Tasew.

Weeks after securing a place in Beijing, a bitter wrangle broke out among members of the federation after the national body decided to replace the coaching staff including Tasew.

Furthermore, four boxers who trained alongside Molla disappeared two months ago in an apparent attempt to get asylum in Namibia after participating in another qualifying competition in Windhoek.

But despite the setback, Molla remains confident.

“I’ve prepared very well. I’m in the right state of mind to be successful in Beijing,” he says.

Climate Change Threatens Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Climate change and climate variability will have far reaching impacts on Africa’s development unless the continent takes measures to adapt to the phenomenon and makes risk management against climate change a development priority… Read more [pdf]

New Radisson Hotel in Addis Ababa

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

The Rezidor Hotel Group arrives in Ethiopia and announces a brand new Radisson hotel in the capital city Addis Ababa. The property will feature 209 rooms and open in Q4 2009. “With this signing we are adding a new country to our portfolio and are now present in 52 countries across EMEA”, comments Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor. “In the Middle East and Africa we are now having 47 hotels with almost 11,500 rooms in operation and under development.”

The new hotel owned by The Emerald Addis Hotels plc is perfectly located in the business and diplomatic centre of Addis Ababa in close proximity to the African Union Conference Centre. Modelled on the successful Radisson SAS EU Hotel, Brussels, which is located near the European Union, the Radisson Hotel Addis Ababa will include an all day restaurant, a bar lounge, meeting facilities, and a fitness&wellness centre.

Addis Ababa is a diverse and riotous capital city with almost 3 million people, roughly 80 different nationalities, and a multitude of religious and language groups. Nestled at the foot of Mount Entoto, the city was founded in the late 1800s by Ethiopian emperor Menelik II and was later occupied by the Italians during the second Italo-Abyssinian War. When Ethiopians regained control, Emperor Haile Selassie immediately set about rebuilding the capital and formed the Organization of African Unity, replaced by today’s African Union, which has its headquarters in the city.

Addis Ababa is also home to the world-renown early hominid Lucy – her fossilised skeleton, as well as a replica, are housed in the Ethiopian National Museum. The city also boasts the largest open market in Africa (in the Merkato district), several interesting mosques and cathedrals, as well as the world’s largest prefabricated building, Shengo Hall, and Menelik’s Old Imperial Palace, which is the official seat of the Ethiopian government.

Facts&Figures:
Property: Radisson Hotel, Addis Ababa (to open)
Rooms: 209
Between 2007 and 2009, Rezidor will add 20.000 rooms to its portfolio.

About the Rezidor Hotel Group: The Rezidor Hotel Group is one of the fastest growing hotel companies in the world. The group features a portfolio of 333 hotels in operation and under development with more than 68,000 rooms in 52 countries.

Rezidor operates the brands Radisson SAS Hotels&Resorts, Regent Hotels&Resorts, Park Inn and Country Inns&Suites in Europe, Middle East and Africa, along with the goldpoints plusSM loyalty programme for frequent hotel guests. Rezidor has signed a worldwide license agreement with the Italian fashion house Missoni, in order to develop and operate a lifestyle hotel brand of the same name: Hotel Missoni.

In November 2006, Rezidor was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. With 42%, Carlson Companies is the main shareholder.

The Corporate Office of the Rezidor Hotel Group is based in Brussels, Belgium.

For more information on Rezidor, visit www.rezidor.com.

This information was brought to you by Cision http://newsroom.cision.com

Child survival in Ethiopia gains threatened by malnutrition

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

UNICEF

GENEVA /ADDIS ABABA – An estimated 126,000 children are in need of urgent therapeutic care for severe malnutrition. UNICEF Ethiopia today cautioned that up to six million children under-5 years of age are living in impoverished, drought-prone districts and require urgent preventive health and nutrition interventions.

The situation is the worst since the major humanitarian crisis of 2003, and is rapidly deteriorating. $50 million is urgently required for health, nutrition and water/sanitation.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the combined effects of drought, food price hikes, and insufficient resources for preventive measures, resulted in an emergency that jeopardizes significant child survival gains in Ethiopia. The mechanisms and capacity to prevent and respond to the increase of severe acute malnutrition are in place but are under resourced,” said Bjorn Ljungqvist, UNICEF representative in Ethiopia.
Widespread drought, poor rainy seasons, heavy loss of livestock, limited food supply and soaring prices of food, fuel and fertilizer linked to the global food crisis are contributing to the troubled outlook for children in Ethiopia. For example, since September 2007, the costs of some cereals have increased between 50 per cent and 90 per cent, stretching the ability of some households to buy and meet all their food needs.

Pastoral areas and farming communities dependent on the failed short rains in the South and Southeastern parts of Ethiopia have been the most critically affected: Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR), Oromiya, and Somali. Other hotspots are developing in Amhara, Afar and Tigray regions. In addition to the eight million Ethiopians who are chronically food insecure and are supported by a national safety net programme, at least 3.4 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency food relief – a figure that is likely to rise.

The number of children admitted to therapeutic feeding centers is increasing, putting a strain on the local communities to respond and on the availability of specialized food for treatment of severely malnourished children.

UNICEF is providing therapeutic feeding to children severely malnourished through ready-to-use therapeutic foods such as Plumpy Nut. Over the weekend, UNICEF received 90 metric tonnes. However, as much as 1,800 tonnes are needed over the next three months.

There is a dire need for additional funding for increased therapeutic supplies. UNICEF has asked for $20 million for emergency nutrition alone. It has received only five per cent – $1 million. The additional $30 million are required for measles vaccination, control of diarrheal diseases, outreach health/nutrition activities, emergency water trucking and sanitation.

UNICEF is also concerned about the wider-impact of this crisis on families and the risk of an increase in child labour and school dropouts.

Attention Broadcasters: Broadcast quality VNS on the Ethiopian food crisis is available at thenewsmarket.com/unicef

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Indrias Getachew, UNICEF Addis Ababa tel: +251 115 18 4026, igetachew@unicef.org
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York tel: +1 212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org
Miriam Azar, UNICEF New York, tel: +1 212 824 6949, miazar@unicef.org
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, tel: + 1 212 326 7452 kdonovan@unicef.org

Explosion hits Ethiopian capital

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

This looks like the work of Woyanne. Opposition groups do not target civilians.

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(Reuters) — An explosion on a minibus shook central Addis Ababa today, killing three people and wounding nine, Ethiopian police said.

All the dead and wounded were on the bus, police said.

“Three people were killed and nine seriously injured by an explosion from a device planted by suspected terrorists inside a minibus taxi,” said Addis Ababa police spokesman Densash Hailu.

The blast on a road between the Hilton hotel and the foreign ministry was the latest in a string of explosions in Addis Ababa that Ethiopia has blamed on extremists backed by its neighbour and rival Eritrea.

Scores of policemen and soldiers rushed to the scene, cordoning off the area as fire engines arrived.

Three killed in Addis Ababa bomb blast

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Three people were killed when a bomb exploded late Tuesday near the Ethiopian foreign ministry in central Addis Ababa, according to state-run radio.

The radio provided no further details but witnesses near the site of the explosion told AFP at the scene that the explosive device may have been placed on a minibus.

“I was in the area when the blast went off and this minibus was blown to pieces,” one eyewitness said, asking not to be named.

The explosion took place at around 7:30 pm (1630 GMT) and all streets leading to the foreign ministry area in the centre of the Ethiopian capital were sealed off by federal police.

When contacted by AFP, the Ethiopian authorities did not provide a casualty toll.

Three people were killed and 18 wounded in bomb blasts at petrol stations in Addis Ababa on April 14.

The authorities had accused the separatist Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which alongside the Ogaden National Liberation Front and Ethiopia’s arch-foe Eritrea, are routinely blamed for such attacks.

IMF's cruel joke on the people of Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

“Ethiopia has recorded impressive growth during the past few years” – IMF

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)
Press Release No. 08/115
May 19, 2008

Statement at the Conclusion of the 2008 Article IV Consultation Mission to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission team, led by Mr. Robert Corker, visited the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia during May 7-19, 2008, to conduct discussions for the 2008 Article IV consultation. At the conclusion of the visit, the mission issued the following statement:

“Ethiopia has recorded impressive growth during the past few years—the fastest for a non-oil exporting country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth has been supported by structural reforms and infrastructure development, as well as favorable agricultural conditions. Rapid growth has contributed to poverty reduction and progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, it has also been accompanied by rising pressures on prices and international reserves, exacerbated by sharply higher world oil prices. In March, the 12-month increase of overall inflation was 30 percent, with food price rises of 40 percent (year on year) having a particularly strong negative impact on the urban poor. Reserves were below 2 months of imports.

“The consultation discussions focused on policies to reduce inflation while preserving the growth momentum. In this regard, the mission supports the authorities’ objectives to return to single-digit inflation and rebuild reserves to three months of imports. It recognizes the measures taken so far to achieve these objectives, including through actions to slow broad money growth to below 20 percent.

“To place inflation on a firmly declining path the mission advised the authorities to support efforts to reduce monetary growth through a tightening of fiscal policy in FY2008/09 (July-June). It also recommended the authorities seek additional external financing on a grant or concessional borrowing basis to buffer the severe effects of high world oil prices on the balance of payments and soften the impact of domestic policy tightening on economic activity. Such financing, for example, could facilitate needed investments in the power sector without crowding out private domestic borrowing.

“Over the medium term, the mission expressed support for the government’s overall strategy to strengthen the foundations for growth—with an increasing role for the private sector—while preserving macroeconomic stability. Key aspects include scaling up public sector investment in infrastructure, health and education, while maintaining a sustainable debt position, and boosting overall economic activity through commercialization of agriculture and fostering the non-farm private sector.

“The mission emphasized that it will be critical to strike a judicious balance between demand-dampening and growth-enhancing measures in the next few years to achieve macroeconomic stability and permit a return of international reserves to a comfortable level. This will allow the Ethiopian economy to become more resilient to shocks.

“The mission would like to thank the authorities for frank and open discussions, as well as the warm hospitality extended to the team.”

Detroit's Taste of Ethiopia opens at a second location

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

By Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Detroit Development News

DETROIT — The sign in the window of the former Cookie Factory-slash-Flying Apron claims that Taste of Ethiopia is opening in that location “By Popular Demand!” That sounds like a bold claim to make but, after talking to owner Meskerem (Meskie) Gebreyohannes, it turns out to be one that is true.

It seems that customers at her Southfield restaurant have been begging her to open one in Detroit. “People requested and requested. I kept hearing ‘downtown, downtown, Detroit, Detroit,’ ” she says. “Demand is what brought us here.”

After scouting locations for almost a year, Gebreyohannes is preparing to open in June in her corner spot.

Taste of Ethiopia will serve food prepared at the Southfield location buffet-style Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday brunch, served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will serve waffles and crepes alongside more Ethiopian fare such as bulghar.

Gebreyohannes is looking forward to joining the Eastern Market community. “I am very excited — and nervous too, since expectations are high,” she says. “Hopefully, we do good and we integrate well.”

ETN interviews ER publisher

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Ethiopian Review publisher, Elias Kifle, PDD, will be a guest on Ethiopian Television Network this coming Saturday at 7:00 PM EDT. Click here to watch live.

Ethiopian woman in Japan arrested over fake marriage report

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

TOKYO, JAPAN (mainichi.jp) –
An Ethiopian woman and two other people have been arrested for filing a false marriage report, police said.

Abigale Mokonnen W/Gebrael, a 38-year-old female part-time worker of Ethiopian nationality, and two other suspects are accused of submitting a bogus marriage report.

The Ethiopian woman living in Nishitokyo, Tokyo, asked a male acquaintance to look for a fictitious marriage partner in order to obtain residential status, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

She was subsequently introduced to a man who pretended to be her spouse when they filed the fake marriage report. The man was among the three who were arrested.

U.S. concerned about election irregularities in Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

(Focus News Agency) — Washington DC. The United States said Monday it was troubled by claims of irregularities in Ethiopia’s elections last month after weekend results showed that the ruling party won nearly all the seats.

“We did not have observers out for local elections. So it’s very difficult to make a judgment about the claims of irregularities in these local elections,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

“However, there have been enough of these kinds of claims by opposition parties that it certainly does raise concerns about the elections,” he said.

The electoral board said Sunday the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) won nearly all seats in local polls and parliamentary by-elections that were marred by boycotts and accusations of repression.

It said the EPRDF won more than 3.5 million of the 3.6 million seats contested on April 13 and 20. The victory brought to 408 the number of seats the EPRDF and its allies hold in the 547-member assembly.

Click here to watch video: Daily Press Briefing

Read the full briefing below:

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 19, 2008

TRANSCRIPT:

12:48 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I don’t have anything to start off with, so we can get right to your questions.

Matthew.

QUESTION: Yeah, Sean, in the last two hours or so there’s been some – a bunch of interesting developments going on down Cuba, Venezuela way. I’m wondering if you can – and I realize you talked a tiny bit about the Cuba situation this morning, but the Cuban Government has now come out and made these accusations formally against Mr. Parmly and linked him with this money from Posada Carriles.

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m – you know, I have not seen any news conference. The only assistance for which I am aware is the U.S. Government providing humanitarian assistance to the families of political prisoners that the Cuban Government has essentially abandoned. But I’m not aware of anything else beyond that.

QUESTION: It’s cash, though, from private American citizens?

MR. MCCORMACK: There are also private groups that provide such humanitarian assistance payments, which are allowed.

QUESTION: Through the Interests Section?

MR. MCCORMACK: I – you know, I’m not aware of the mechanics of it, Matt.

QUESTION: And then on Venezuela?

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: They’re complaining that, apparently, a U.S. military plane has violated their airspace or something, and the Ambassador –

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I saw the report just before I came in here, and we’ll look into it. But as a matter of the basics, we respect Venezuela’s sovereignty. And I’m sure we’ll look into these allegations and provide them with an answer.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: They said that they’re going to summon the U.S. Ambassador – the Venezuelans. Do you know if that’s happened already?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t know. I don’t know that it has. If it has happened, it’s only been very, very recently.

QUESTION: Sean, on Cuba?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there any policy that prevents U.S. diplomats from being a means of delivering cash to those who may be dissidents in Cuba?

MR. MCCORMACK: You mean actually on the ground there? I’m not aware of the mechanics or the regulations that guide it. I’m sure that there’s a careful accounting of all of this that is done by the U.S. Government, as we are good stewards of the American taxpayers’ dollars. We believe that this is a prudent humanitarian gesture and certainly consistent with our policies, and it’s been ongoing for quite some time.

QUESTION: Well, are you saying that all the money – the only money that you’re aware of is for – U.S. Government money, it’s not private –

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, but that’s outside of U.S. Government channels, Matt.

QUESTION: No, I understand that. The accusation, though, is that – and I’m not sure exactly why this accusation is startling or surprising –

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: There may be some rule against it.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: The accusation from the Cubans is that the head of the Interests Section has been delivering cash from private U.S. groups to the political opposition in Cuba. Somehow that –

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I said — you know, again, Matt, I don’t know the specifics of this. I am not aware of the mechanics. I don’t steep myself in these things. I do know, however, that there are – we, the U.S. Government, has programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people that are essentially forgotten by the Cuban Government and that there – we allow, or we do not stand in the way of, private groups doing that as well.

QUESTION: But is it part of the U.S. policy, the head of the Interests Section, can he go ahead and wire money or send money to these groups?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, I can’t – you know, I’m not here to talk about the specific mechanics of this. I’m sure that we can find some expert who can delve into the weeds of this, if you like. I’m certainly not going to do it.

QUESTION: Sean, you’re kind of here to answer questions that we have about –

MR. MCCORMACK: And I have. And I’ve given you the answer. I’ve given you the answer.

QUESTION: — this issue and the Cuban Government has come out –

MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, I’ve given you the answer that I have to give you.

QUESTION: Okay. That you don’t know?

MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, I said I don’t have – I’m not aware of the mechanics of this. You know, if we – if you guys want to delve into the mechanics of this as to who provides money to whom, then I’d be happy to find somebody who has green eye shades on and who can do that for you. I’m not going to do it.

QUESTION: Sean, let’s say this would violate international law. Would the U.S. be ready to sanction the head of the Interests Section?

MR. MCCORMACK: We’re not violating international law.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Well, can I ask you a simpler question then?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: The Sunday Times in South Africa reported over the weekend that Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader in Zimbabwe, was supposed to return home on Saturday but they discovered an assassination plot against him. Do you want to comment on this, looking at the fact that there’s a runoff on the 27th of June and this morning the Government of Zimbabwe said they won’t allow any international observers during their –

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that’s a real concern. We have laid out what we believe are the – (cell phone rings). Sorry to interrupt a phone call. Anybody want to take it and we can –

QUESTION: Sorry, sorry.

MR. MCCORMACK: We’ve been quite concerned about the conditions for a free and fair electoral runoff. If you look at the conditions on the ground at the moment, they don’t exist. You need to have international observers on the ground. You need to have a very clear independent electoral commission. You need to have the military completely outside of any sort of attempts to intimidate those who are opposing the government. You need to have an environment where people who are campaigning in opposition to the government have an opportunity to do so in a way that they feel is – that they are not threatened or intimidated. Those individuals need to have free and fair access to the media. You don’t currently see those conditions on the ground.

We’re going to continue working with, especially, Zimbabwe’s neighbors to try to create those conditions so you can have a free and fair runoff.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: It seems Secretary Rice has just met with the Iraqi –

QUESTION: One more – sorry, I have one more on Zimbabwe.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: On Zimbabwe?

MR. MCCORMACK: Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you actually give any credence, though, to the claims that there’s a plot to kill Tsvangirai? I mean –

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not –

QUESTION: — are you looking into it?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not aware. I’ve seen the news reports. I’m not aware that we can substantiate it one way or the other. Clearly, this is somebody who has suffered injuries at the hands of government or government-supported forces, so he clearly has a well-founded basis for his personal safety.

Now, as to the specifics of these allegations, again, I can’t substantiate it one way or the other. But clearly, this is an individual that has been targeted by the government, or at least forces that support the government.

QUESTION: As the United States has done in other circumstances, would you be – is it a possibility that you could provide protection, the U.S. could provide some sort of protection for Tsvangirai?

MR. MCCORMACK: That’s not something we’re contemplating at this point.

QUESTION: That’s not something you’re –

MR. MCCORMACK: It is not. It is not something we’re contemplating.

Yes.

QUESTION: Can I quickly follow up?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: On Zimbabwe. Given (inaudible) Sean, do you really believe that it is realistic to have this runoff on the 27th of June?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we’ll see. We’ll see if the conditions present themselves such that we can say in good conscience that an election can be held in a free and fair manner and that the will of the people will be reflected in the results of the vote. At this point, we’re not prepared to make a statement about that one way or the other. But we can state serious concerns about the situation on the ground as we see it developing now, and whether or not that portends for a free and fair election. And certainly, at this point, you look at the conditions on the ground, it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean that you stop working the international politics of this and see if you can create the conditions for a free and fair electoral runoff.

QUESTION: Do you trust the Zimbabwean Government?

MR. MCCORMACK: Do we trust the Zimbabwean Government?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think that we’ve given our answer as to, left to their own devices, whether or not they would have a free and fair election.

QUESTION: It seems Secretary Rice has just met with the Iraqi Kurdish prime minister.

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Any details? And was anti-PKK cooperation discussed?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think the – I wasn’t in the meeting, so I can’t – and I haven’t had a chance to talk to the Secretary about it. It was on the agenda, talking about the internal politics in Iraq and how Mr. Barzani saw it, but also talking about issues related to the PKK. You know what our message is. We’ve outlined that quite clearly in public and it’s really the same message in private as well.

QUESTION: Would you be releasing or just preparing a guideline at – about the (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t expect we’re going to say much more about it.

QUESTION: A question on Kirkuk –

QUESTION: Is Secretary Rice traveling to Greenland for an Arctic Ocean’s conference?

MR. MCCORMACK: Greenland?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: No.

QUESTION: Something that Denmark’s organizing. The Russians will be there, Canadians, demarcating the –

MR. MCCORMACK: Not on the schedule.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: I mean, it could always make its way onto the schedule, but it is not on the schedule at the moment.

Yeah.

QUESTION: The United Nations and ASEAN have scheduled a donors meeting for May 25th. Can you comment on what you think – whether this is a constructive response, and also whether the U.S. will be sending a representative and at what level?

MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, we can’t commit to sending anybody. We need to understand the details more of what is being proposed. Certainly, an important question that needs to be answered is how can groups, states, be assured that any humanitarian assistance donations actually make their way down to the people in the affected areas. So we’re going to reserve any sort of judgment on this pending a better understanding of the details of what’s being proposed.

QUESTION: Is it pretty safe to say that Secretary Rice will not be representing –

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t anticipate that she –

QUESTION: They’re inviting at the ministerial level.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I don’t anticipate that she would be there.

Yeah.

QUESTION: More than a hundred countries are meeting in Dublin for about two weeks to negotiate a ban on –

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: – cluster bombs. Is the U.S. position still that you oppose a ban on cluster bombs? You still support the use in some circumstances of cluster bombs?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is – it’s an important question and a complicated question, and so what I’d like to do is actually arrange some special briefing for you on the topic. We’ll have somebody who is an expert in these things talk to you about it.

QUESTION: But could you provide just a comment on whether – do you still support the – you still support the use of cluster bombs or you don’t support the – let me turn it around. You don’t support a ban on cluster bombs?

MR. MCCORMACK: There are two separate processes that are going on. There’s the Dublin conference, which is part of the Oslo process. We’re not participating in that. There’s a separate process, which is the Conference on Conventional Weapons. We are participating in that. But again, beyond that, I’m just going to – I’ll arrange a special briefing for you guys.

QUESTION: But why are you not participating in the Oslo process, along with China and Russia?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we’ll get you a briefing on the matter.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: Can we just get a little bit of a detail about – I know you weren’t there in the talks between Prime Minister Barzani and Secretary Rice, but what are the talking points, and maybe can we get something in the afternoon about it?

MR. MCCORMACK: I just told you basically what they were talking about.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice is going to meet with the Prime Minister of Spain this afternoon.

MR. MCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What is on the agenda?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, he – there was — just recently happened over the weekend, a EU-Latin America Summit. I think that they will talk a bit about the hemisphere and, you know, the – how he sees events in the hemisphere. Certainly, we both have interests here. I know that Spain has been quite active in maintaining its relations with other states in the hemisphere, particularly in Latin America and South America. Probably talk a little bit about Afghanistan, talk about the Middle East. I know that the Foreign Minister has a particular interest in the Middle East, various topic areas having to do with the Middle East. So that’s sort of the broad agenda.

Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. And how would you characterize the relations with Spain?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they’re, you know, a good relationship with the Spanish people and Spain, and we’ve worked together on issues of mutual concern.

Yeah.

QUESTION: This morning I asked you about the subpoenaing of the chief executive of –

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: — British Aerospace. Did you get anything on that? Has the State Department had any role in that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as you might suspect, in cases involving the Department of Justice, the lawyers say that I just refer everything over to the Department of Justice. I think our only role, as I understand it, has been to encourage cooperation by the UK side with the efforts of the Department of Justice. And that really has been, to my knowledge, the extent of our involvement in it. It’s really a legal matter.

QUESTION: By the UK side, meaning by the UK Government?

MR. MCCORMACK: I, you know, that’s — you know, I don’t know who –

QUESTION: Who you encouraged?

MR. MCCORMACK: — the Department of Justice is interested in with respect to this matter. You can talk to those guys over there to see if they have any further elucidation on that.

Yeah.

QUESTION: The Mexican newspaper El Universal attributes to U.S. intelligence the fact that the group Los Zetas, a paramilitary group whose members were formerly trained here, they just became this huge drug cartel. Any comments on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not an issue I’m aware of. We’ll look into it for you.

Yeah.

QUESTION: This morning we spoke briefly about the Kuwait – Kuwaiti elections, and you said you would have –

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Looked into it and, look, as far as our people are able to tell, that these were free and fair elections and the results of the election reflected the will of the Kuwaiti people.

QUESTION: And the fact that almost half the seats have been won by Islamists?

MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, it’s – it is a result that, apparently, reflects the will of the Kuwaiti people.

QUESTION: On Hamas, anything –

QUESTION: It doesn’t seem disturbing to you?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no.

QUESTION: Then how about the absence of women being elected?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, that’s an issue for the Kuwaiti people to decide upon. I know that when the Secretary was in Kuwait, she met with a lot of Kuwaiti women activists. And I suspect that over a period of time, that you are going to have women much more present and represented in the political process. In our view, that is a very positive thing. I think it was – as a matter of fact, it was at that meeting that she was presented with a t-shirt by this woman that said 50 percent of a democracy is not a democracy at all, alluding to the fact that women weren’t full participants in the political process in the parliament. And I think that that is certainly a sentiment that the Secretary can echo.

QUESTION: Do you have any more from this morning on France resuming contacts with Hamas?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I’ll leave it to the French to describe these contacts. As I understand it, it was a private citizen, but I’ll allow them to describe their own contacts and their own policy vis-à-vis Hamas. I understand that it hasn’t changed. They subscribe to the policy that Hamas must live up to the requirements of the Quartet declaration in London. It’s certainly our policy as well.

QUESTION: So you’re not bothered by their decision –

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I’m not aware of any deviation from France’s stated policy that Hamas must live up to the Quartet principles.

QUESTION: Would you not prefer that they not have such contacts?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, it’s – you know, we’ve made clear that we don’t think that contact with Hamas is something that brings peace any closer to the people of the Middle East.

QUESTION: This morning you said it was neither wise nor appropriate, and I’m wondering –

MR. MCCORMACK: Don’t believe it’s wise or appropriate, either. Again – but private individuals will make their own decisions. We can counsel otherwise, but ultimately, it’s going to be up to them to make their own decisions.

QUESTION: Will you be counseling them? Will you be in diplomatic contacts with the French talking about it?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s anything further to – that’s needed in this regard. If David Welch thinks that he needs to reach out to his counterparts to understand anything more, reinforce the message, then I’m certain he will–

QUESTION: You know, Sean, Bernard Kouchner is not a private individual.

MR. MCCORMACK: –he will meet with them.

QUESTION: Well, he’s the one who’s talking about having people from his ministry, people – the people who are meeting with him are not private individuals, unless I misread something.

MR. MCCORMACK: I – the quotes that I read refer to a private individual, somebody retired.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) quote that he described that as contacts between France and Hamas.

MR. MCCORMACK: We’ve – you know what our view is.

QUESTION: So do you see it as sort of comparable to President Carter’s visit? Do you see the two in the same light?

MR. MCCORMACK: What we were talking, with respect to President Carter, about a former American president. We have a particular responsibility, when asked a question about the contacts of a former American president, to provide an answer. We did. In general, we do not believe it is appropriate– wise to have contacts with Hamas. We don’t – we firmly believe that such efforts don’t bring the cause of peace any closer. As a matter of fact, it, in certain circumstances, can make it more difficult.

We believe that Hamas should be forced to make a choice. They have failed in governing the Gaza. They have a negative and dark vision for the region. We are trying to work with responsible parties, parties interested in peace, who have renounced violence, who recognize Israel’s right to exist, to provide a better pathway and a more positive vision for the future and provide for the possibility and eventuality of a Palestinian state. That’s where we believe people’s efforts should be focused.

QUESTION: You said that Hamas should be forced to make a choice. Now do you think, as a diplomat, that Hamas could be convinced to make a choice?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we believe that certainly, there are those who are just irreconcilable to any political process and any peace process. They need to be dealt with wherever they are through security measures. Individuals will make their own decisions on the ground. The Palestinian people will make their own decisions on the ground. What we are trying to do is provide them a positive outlet for their energies, a positive vision for the future where they believe and can be assured that their children are going to grow up in a Palestinian state, that they’re going to go to Palestinian schools, that they are going to have the ability to govern themselves. That is the vision that we are trying to lay out, working with President Abbas and his government.

QUESTION: Sean, you said that in general, you opposed – that you – in general, you felt that it was unwise or was not wise or appropriate. Does that apply also to the Egyptian contacts with Hamas over Gaza?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, they have their own contacts and their own policies. You can talk to them about what those are.

QUESTION: But it doesn’t bother you, in other words? I mean, it’s – the reason I’m asking is that you’ve just said that it is unwise and inappropriate for the French and I’m essentially – and then you said generally it’s unwise and inappropriate. And basically, I’m wondering if the Egyptian case is one where you feel that it is perhaps appropriate or –

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we want to see a calm prevail in the region. We believe it’s a good thing that you don’t have rockets falling on Israel launched by Hamas and by others. The Egyptians state that they are trying to play a positive role in bringing some peace and calm to the region. I will allow them to describe their own efforts.

QUESTION: You talked –

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: — about a vision that would encourage extremists and others and the Palestinians to make a bet on the future. But didn’t President Bush discourage many Palestinians? President Abbas seemed pretty negative about it and –

MR. MCCORMACK: How so? The President –

QUESTION: After the speech. I’m talking about the speech to the Knesset.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, he also gave another speech in Sharm el-Sheikh. Look, he – President Bush and Secretary Rice are committed to trying to bring about a Palestinian state. Secretary Rice – I see it up close – devotes a tremendous amount of time and energy to trying to bring that about, working with the two parties as they engage in discussions about all the most difficult political issues that remain between them. We will also focus on trying to bring about a changed situation on the ground. We have made some tentative steps in that regard in a positive way. But there’s a lot more work to be done.

So if the question is whether there is a commitment on the part of this Administration, this President and this Secretary of State, I think the question is really – that commitment is really unquestioned. I know that some would like to see the process move forward faster. If this – look, if this would – if this were easy, then we would have had a solution of this 60 years ago, but we don’t. It’s hard. And we’re doing everything that we can to help the parties come together.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Oh, sorry, on Ethiopia. One – I asked you this morning on the Ethiopian local election?

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, the local elections, right. Well, we do not typically, and in this case, we do not have observers out for local elections. So it’s very difficult to make a judgment about the claims of irregularities in these local elections. However, there have been enough of these kinds of claims by opposition parties that it certainly does raise concerns about the elections. All of that said, I can’t – we can’t, as a government, offer you a final judgment just because we didn’t have people on the ground. What would be particularly troubling is if we started to see a trend of other discrepancies and troubles in future Ethiopian elections where you start to have a trend line in those elections. That would be particularly troubling, but certainly, we have taken note of the claims of the opposition.

QUESTION: But there were problems with the previous election in 2006, I think it was. So do you see this as a trend line generally, then in elections? I mean, you had problems then, there were apparently problems — now Human Rights Watch and others have said that, you know, there’s sort of a – there’s a feeling of – a campaign of repression – or climate –sorry, climate of repression.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. You know, it is – the task of these kinds of elections is trying to make them better and better each time. And also, once you’re – once elected, to govern in a democratic manner. Certainly, there have been issues in the past in Ethiopia in that regard, but I think that we see, generally speaking, an improvement over time. Now, we’ll see whether or not this data point, with respect to this local election, is an anomaly or whether it is, you know, part of – part of a trend that needs to be addressed.

QUESTION: Sean, can I just follow up on the Palestinians, a minute ago. President Abbas yesterday actually was quoted as saying that he was not pleased with what – by what he heard from the President during his trip and that he’s not very keen anymore on the United States playing a major role in mediating between Palestinians and Israelis. Is the Secretary still planning to do what she’s been doing in the past several months and go there often and sit down with both sides together or separately? Because (inaudible) Abbas really sounded disillusioned yesterday.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I didn’t see his quotes, Nicholas. I can’t speak to them. I didn’t see them. The only thing I can tell you is after talking to her and after speaking with the Palestinians after her meetings with them, certainly, they welcome her efforts. I mean, the center of gravity of the discussions is between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and properly so. They are the only ones that can come to an agreement. They have to want this. They have to want to do this.

We are there to push, to prod, to cajole, to sometimes sit with them individually and together to try to see if there are areas of agreement, commonality where we can bring them together. Sometimes they don’t see those things themselves. But I’ve seen nothing, at least nothing – I have observed nothing that would indicate the Palestinians don’t want the United States involved in these efforts in the way that we are.

QUESTION: Can you stay — one more on Cuba, please? Stepping back a little bit, as far as the final months of the Bush Administration is concerned, is there any risk that you might, by your support of prodemocracy dissident group in Cuba, actually taint them in the eyes of the Raul regime for the next White House administration to try and broker some sort of agreement between the two?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not sure I understand the point.

QUESTION: Well, right now there are these allegations that you’re supporting with –

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: — with paying cash and so on. Is there a point in time where the Administration is wrapping up, where you might be more cautious than otherwise because your time’s running out and the next administration is going to have pick up from there? Are you setting the stage for them?

MR. MCCORMACK: Whether it’s Cuba or any other policy, we’re going to do what we think is in the best interest of this country and in the best interest of American foreign policy. This President, this Secretary of State, have responsibilities all the way up until January 20th. And they are – I know Secretary Rice intends to continue to fulfill her responsibilities as long as she is Secretary of State.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:14 p.m.)

DPB # 89
Released on May 19, 2008

Two Ethiopians enter Knesset, Israel's parliament

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Ruth Eglash, THE JERUSALEM POST

It’s been nearly 10 years since the country had an Ethiopian MK (Member of Knesset) — Labor’s Adisu Messele, who held a seat from 1996 to 1999 — but within the last three months two Ethiopian MKs have taken up the challenge. In February, longtime Ethiopian community leader and former Jewish Agency aliya professional Shlomo Mula joined the Kadima list. Less than two weeks ago, Rabbi Mazor Bayana, head of a 10,000-strong Beersheba congregation, took up a Shas seat.

Shlomo Mula
MK Shlomo Mula
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

And while their personal aims and agendas might conflict in the political sphere, one thing the Knesset’s two newest members agree upon is that it’s about time the 110,000-strong Ethiopian community here was represented in the hallways of parliament.

“I’m very happy there is another [Ethiopian] MK and I hope that in the future there will many more,” says Mula, sitting proudly behind a wooden desk in his new Knesset office. “It’s very important for us to show the younger generation in our community that it can be done, that we can be successful in Israeli society.”

While Bayana agrees with Mula’s assessment of leading by example and while the two MKs point out that their community, among the country’s weakest socially and economically, needs immediate attention, that is pretty much where their similarities end.

“I don’t really agree with Shas’s policies. I think they actually cause more social problems with all their hand-outs than solve them,” says Mula. “I plan to focus on the social issues facing my community and Israel in general. I want to be the voice of the people, all people.”

For Bayana, who replaced Shlomo Benizri, his first task is to challenge the government’s intention to wind down the aliya operation in Ethiopia.

“I am already planning a trip to take [Industry, Trade and Labor Minister and Shas leader] Eli Yishai to assess the situation in Gondar,” says the softly-spoken Bayana. “I also plan to invite [Sephardi Chief Rabbi] Shlomo Amar and Ethiopian Rabbi Yosef Adaneh.

“We have no intention of bringing those who are not eligible under the government’s criteria,” points out Bayana. “However, we still need to figure out how to help those who feel they are eligible but have not yet been assessed.”

The issue of Ethiopian aliya, or the immigration of the remaining Falash Mura – Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity under duress more than a century ago – has been a contentious one in recent months. Government and Jewish Agency representatives claim that the process of determining who is eligible to immigrate according to the Law of Entry and convert here will be over by the end of this year. However, many community members already living here claim there are at least another 9,000 people who should be considered.

“At the moment the entire process is not good,” states Bayana, who has not returned to his homeland since leaving as a child in 1984′s Operation Moses. “The people waiting in Gondar have already left their homes and are just waiting there to see if they can make aliya. Israel is talking about closing the gates but it’s not as simple as that; this problem really needs to be dealt with properly.”

SHLOMO MULA

For Mula, the main problems facing his community and the wider population in general are social ones.

“I don’t really want to deal with the issue of the Falash Mura,” he says. “Instead, I want to focus on the people from my community who are already living here. I want to push for full integration.”

Mula, who made aliya at 17, also as part of Operation Moses, decries the dismal conditions of many members of his community.

According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, two-thirds of all Ethiopian immigrants are in need of assistance and in some towns, close to 90 percent require such care. Research has also shown that close to 75 percent of Ethiopian families live below the poverty line.

“I want to help people who are earning minimum wage and address the fact that there are simply not enough social workers to help the community,” says Mula, who previously worked for the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and was elected to an executive position in the World Zionist Organization. “We also need to address the looming food shortages. I have already led a discussion on this issue in the Knesset. We cannot let the price of basic food staples such as bread, rice and milk rise so high.

“There is also the issue of mortgages for young Ethiopian couples and how to break up the low-income neighborhoods where Ethiopian families have congregated, such as Kiryat Moshe [near Rehovot] and make sure the community is spread out more evenly.”

While Ethiopian issues are never far from his mind, Mula also likes cast his net even wider, saying that he is heavily involved in Kadima’s efforts to make peace with the Palestinians and to help build diplomatic relations with the African continent.

But Mula is emphatic of his main goals.

“I want to create a museum to showcase Ethiopian Jewry’s rich history and culture,” he states. “We need to have such a center to instill pride in our people and teach Israelis about our past.”

At the same time, Mula believes that more needs to be done to incorporate Ethiopians into the country’s power base.

In recent months, The Jerusalem Post has reported on the unfair testing system used by the Civil Service, with culturally biased tests automatically disqualifying Ethiopian-born candidates from qualifying for certain government positions.

“I plan to push for a drastic change to the way civil servants are tested,” says Mula, who claims to have already called for a meeting with the heads of the Civil Service. “It is absurd that a man who is brought up in another culture must endure a test designed for someone else. The questions on these tests in no way reflect a person’s capability to do the job.”

He acknowledges similar cultural barriers in other employment sectors and says he’s intent on finding ways to lead “17,000 [Ethiopian] academics who are currently not working in their professions but who must find work as security guards and other low-level positions.”

“I want to see young Ethiopians everywhere,” he finishes. “I want them involved in business and politics at all levels from city council up to other key positions.”

RABBI MAZOR BAYANA

While the Falash Mura issue weighs heavily on his mind, Bayana, who studied at Porat Yosef, one of the most prestigious Sephardi yeshivot, is also focused on helping the community already here.

“My community makes up some of the country’s weakest segments and I hope to raise the subject of aliya and immigration in public consciousness,” he says. “I want to go out into the field and meet with leaders of the community to see what are the real issues and learn from the people themselves about how we can make improvements.”

If the problems facing his community are so acute, how can Bayana justify his primary focus on bringing in more new immigrants from Ethiopia?

“The absorption process is not straightforward but Israel has had enough experience in dealing with immigration and if we all work hard we should be able to improve the situation.

“I think we are too impatient. Success will not be achieved in a year. [The new immigrants] can’t do everything – learn Hebrew and Judaism, and make the necessary cultural adjustments – in just one year. It will take time.”

However, there are certain problems in the long-term process that Bayana recognizes need to be tackled immediately, such as the Chief Rabbinate’s stipulation that the children of Falash Mura immigrants must attend schools in the National Religious education system while their parents are converting to Judaism, thus creating problems for successful integration.

“That is one of the goals of our [forthcoming] trip to Gondar, to see if there is a possibility to start the conversion process over there,” he explains. “We know about the distribution problem of Ethiopian pupils in the education system and realize that in certain locations there are simply not enough places in religious schools. We are aware of the problem but the solution really needs to come from the rabbinate.”

He says that his first week in the Knesset has been “very moving. I have been in the political system for many years. And it feels like the right time for me to be in this position. A lot of important decisions are made here and this is a big chance for me to help the people of Israel.”

6 millions of Ethiopian children face starvation

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: The U.N. and international media are not accurately reporting about the real causes for the food shortage in Ethiopia. The main problem is mismanagement of resources. Just to mention two examples: 1) Massive quantities of food bought at below market prices is being stored in warehouses through out the Tigray region, the base of the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Woyanne), for use by supporters of the regime, while other regions, particularly the south, are suffering. 2) The money that is used to finance the expensive and senseless war in Somalia could have been used to help farmers in drought affected areas to use irrigation. Ethiopia is blessed with numerous rivers. Farmers do not have to rely on rain alone. Egypt’s only source of water to grow crops, for example, is the river that is originating in Ethiopia — not rain. So why are we not hearing about famine in Egypt caused by lack of rain? Solution: Better government.

(BBC) The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF is warning that six million Ethiopian children are at risk of acute malnutrition because of a lack of seasonal rain.

Already, more than 60,000 children in just two of Ethiopia’s regions are in the most severe condition, requiring immediate specialist feeding to survive.

The situation across the rest of the country is still being assessed.

Aid agencies have fresh pictures showing listless children with distended stomachs – the telltale signs of acute malnutrition.

“In just one clinic, we have more than 250 children, who will only survive with immediate treatment,” says David Noguera, head of the Medecins Sans Frontieres emergency unit.

Dr Noguera says the situation is absolutely alarming and a massive effort is needed to turn it around.

More Western donation means more bloodshed in Ethiopia

Monday, May 19th, 2008

By Assta B. Gettu

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21: 3).

Do Western donors know that their donated money to help the hungry in Ethiopia and other poor nations has been used to buy sophisticated weapons ‘to fight terrorism’ instead of preventing hunger, to buy bullets instead of medicine, and to build military barracks instead of shelters for the homeless?

Famine, poverty, and disease have gone rampant in Ethiopia but never terrorism. Ethiopia is blessed for not having foreign terrorism, but cursed for producing famine, poverty, disease, and home-grown terrorists such as Meles, a self-declared dictator who is terrorizing the Ethiopian people for almost twenty years.

Meles Seitanawi (Zenawi) has turned the good intention of the donors into evil acts by misappropriating the donated money into his personal use to buy weapons and to bully his neighbors and his own people. For this reason, donors must be aware of the evil act of Meles Seitanawi before they send their donation to help the Ethiopian hungry children.

The hungry children of Ethiopia may get only a fraction of the donated money, but the rest is gone to buying weapons and military gadgets to maim and kill or destroy the opposing parties. The donors do not understand what I and others have told them what their donated money is doing in Ethiopia: It is killing innocent Ethiopians instead of helping the hungry and the sick.

It is my hope these donor nations will read Dr. Loretta Napoleoni’s books, Terror Inc: Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism and Insurgent Iraq: Al-Zareqawi and the New Generation, on the economics of terrorism. Donors must stop donating money to Ethiopia unless they are hundred percent sure that the children of Ethiopia get all the donated money without being siphoned off the government.

At this critical time, one cannot distinguish the difference between the donated money and the money given to a particular church at certain times. On both cases, auditing is lacking, and that is why we see extremely wealthy preachers in some churches and ruthless dictators in some countries like Ethiopia, Burma, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Every Sunday, millions of Christians pour their money into the offering plates, but most of them do not really know where their money goes. In the same way, many celebrities and wealthy nations like the United States, Canada, England, and others donate their tax payers’ money to help the people of Ethiopia and other poor nations, but their money has become a deadly poison that has killed hundreds of innocent people Ethiopians in Somalia, Ogaden, Oromo, and the Amhara regions. Meles Seitanawi is using the donated money to buy weapons to destroy his opponents so that he could stay in power unopposed for ever and ever.

Ethiopia needs help from the West to overthrow dictator Meles Seitanawi, who has misused the donated money for his political survival instead of helping needy Ethiopians. For sure, Meles’ superficial government will collapse if the West and the World Bank stop supporting him, and instead turn their attention to helping Ethiopians to have a democratically elected government.

When Ethiopians tried to oust dictator Meles from his office by the ballot box at the 2005 elections, the West helped Meles by supporting him financially and politically, instead of condemning him publicly for over turning the people’s choice.

Even now, after Meles has slaughtered hundreds of Ethiopians, the fake election board has declared him a winner of last month’s local elections, which were boycotted by all opposition parties because of the rampant fraud. The West, I’m afraid, is going to repeat the same mistake by accepting the result of this farcical election.

In conclusion, the more money Meles gets from the West, the more harm he will continue to cause on the people of Ethiopia and people of the region.

Noah Samara receives Harvard University's Berkman Award

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Educators, Activists, Entrepreneurs, and Lawyers Win Harvard University’s Berkman Awards for Internet Innovation

Cambridge, MA – On May 16 at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society’s tenth anniversary gala dinner, recipients of the Berkman Awards were chosen for their outstanding contributions to the Internet’s impact on society over the past decade.

The international group of winners was selected from an open nomination process and comes from a range of fields including human rights and global advocacy; academia; communications and media; and law. The five cash award winners received $10,000 with no conditions on how the funds must be spent.

“There is an amazing amount of public interest innovation and activity on the Internet, and selecting these award winners from an extraordinary field of nominees and finalists was a daunting task,” said John Palfrey, Harvard Law School Clinical Professor and Berkman Center Executive Director. “We hope that these Internet heroes will continue to lead and inspire, making the positive potential of networks a reality.”

A Berkman Award was given to Noah Samara, the Ethiopian satellite expert who founded WorldSpace, whose satellite network provides radio and data services to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and Europe. His work has been cited as a major conceptual influence on XM satellite radio. WorldSpace was one of the most innovative uses of communications satellites when it was launched. In addition to the commercial satellite radio and data service offerings, Mr. Samara has provided the leadership to leverage the project to provide information and entertainment services to people in extremely rural parts of Africa and Asia.

A Berkman Award went to Esra’a Al Shafei of Bahrain, the 21-year-old director of student-owned MideastYouth.com, whose mission is “to inspire and provide young people with the freedom and opportunity of expression, and facilitate a fierce but respectful dialogue among the highly diverse youth of all sects, socio-economic backgrounds, and political and religious beliefs in the Middle East.” MideastYouth.com fights for social change with podcasts, blogs, social networks, and online video.

Engineering professor Richard Baraniuk received a Berkman Award for founding Connexions at Rice University. Connexions lets teachers share digital texts and learning materials, modify them, and disseminate them online using a Creative Commons license. This free, open-source platform is a building block towards a system of open educational resources.

John Breen was recognized with a Berkman Award for creating FreeRice.com. FreeRice asks site users to answer multiple-choice vocabulary questions and, for every correct answer, donates 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme. According to the website, over 27 billion grains of rice have been distributed thus far.

Carl Malamud received a Berkman Award for creating Public.Resource.Org. Malamud is making US case law and government documents freely available online. He has also made images from the Smithsonian freely available on the Flickr photo sharing site and pushed to get broadcast-quality video of all congressional committee hearings posted online by the end of the 110th Congress. He is working with the National Technical Information Service to digitize and put NTIS’ multimedia online. Malamud is making the work of governments more transparent and providing citizens around the world with greater access to legal information.

The Berkman Center gave its highest honor, an award for pro bono service, to Jeffrey Cunard and Bruce Keller of Debevoise & Plimpton. Two of the leading Internet lawyers in the world, Cunard and Keller were honored for their pro bono service as lawyers and educators. Over the past five years, despite their demanding private practice, Cunard and Keller have volunteered thousands of hours as classroom and clinical teachers at Harvard Law School. For several years, on a weekly basis during the term, they have flown to Cambridge from Washington and New York, respectively, to teach in person. They have co-authored, and continuously updated, the leading treatise on copyright law in a digital era.

The awards presentation was the finale of the Berkman Center’s year-long, tenth anniversary celebration, Berkman@10, and marked the end of the Berkman@10 conference, a landmark event on “The Future of the Internet,” held on May 15 and 16, 2008, in Cambridge, MA.

About the Berkman Center
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is proud to celebrate its tenth anniversary as a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Founded at Harvard Law School in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is now home to an ever-growing community of faculty, fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society. More information can be found at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu.

Contacts

Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Lexie Koss, 617-384-9100, lkoss@cyber.law.harvard.edu

MideastYouth.com (Esra’a Al Shafei)
(+973) 39755-355, director@mideastyouth.com

Rice University (Richard Baraniuk)
Jade Boyd, 713-348-6778, jadeboyd@rice.edu

World Food Program (John Breen)
Jennifer Parmelee, 202-653-0010, jennifer.parmelee@wfp.org
Bettina Luescher, 646-824-1112, bettina.luescher@un.org

Public.Resource.Org (Carl Malamud)
707-827-7290, carl@media.org

WorldSpace (Noah Samara)
Katie Staker, 301-960-1214, kstaker@worldspace.com

Debevoise & Plimpton (Jeffrey Cunard and Bruce Keller)
Matt Cobey, 212-909-7310, mjcobey@debevoise.com

***

(Photographs of acceptance speeches were taken by Berkman Center intern Yvette Wohn.)

Mekele resident says food prices low for party supporters

Monday, May 19th, 2008

In an interview with Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum (ECADF) Sunday, a resident of Mekele said that food prices are skyrocketing in Tigray region except for party supporters. The elderly gentleman, whose house was confisicated by the Tigray region government, said that one quintal (100 kg) of teff in Mekele costs 900 birr, but Woyanne supporters are provided with food at much lower prices. Click here to listen the interview.

Rally in Ottawa to oppose Ethio-Sudan secret border deal

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Ethiopians in Ottawa, Canada, are organizing a protest rally on May 23, 2008, to commemorate the fallen heroes of May 15 elections, and also to express opposition to the Ethiopia-Sudan secret boarder agreement. More in Amharic >>

የኢትዮጵያን ሉዓላዊነት ለማሰከበርና የግንቦት 2005ን እልቂት ለመዘከር የሚደረግ የሰላማዊ ሠልፍ!

የእናትና አባቶቻችን አጥንት ተከስክሶ፤ ደማቸው ፈስሶ፤ የህይወት መስእትነት ተከፍሎበትና በዚህም ተከብሮ የኖረው የIትዮጵያ ዳር-ድንበር፤ ዛሬ በህወሃት/ኢሕአዴግ አሳፋሪና በታሪክም ምህረት የማይደረግለት ትብብር በሱዳን ወራሪ ወታደሮች ተደፍሯል። ከሰሜን እስከ ደቡብ (ጎንደር፣ ጎጃም፣ ወለጋና ኢሉባቦር) ባለው አዋሳኝ የሚኖረው ወገናችን፤ አሁንም እንደጥንቱ ተጋዳይ አርበኛ አባቶቻችን ሁሉ የአገሩን ዳር ድንበር ላለማስደፈር
ከሱዳን ጦር ጋር ጉሮሮ ለጉሮሮ እየተናነቀ በመዋደቅ ላይ ይገኛል።

ግንቦት ላይ ሆነን ግንቦት 1997 (2005)ን በዓይነ-ህሊናችን ስንቃኝ ደግሞ ለኢትዮጵያ ፍትኅና ዴሞክራሲ ለማምጣት ሲታገሉ የወደቁትን ሰማእታት እናስታውሳለን። ምንም እንኳ በህዝባችን መሃል ተገኝተን የመከራው ገፈት ተቋዳሽ ባንሆንም፤ በስደት የምንገኘው እኛ
ወገኖቹ ግን ከጎኑ በመቆም ለዚህ አገሩንና ክብሩን ለማስጠበቅ ቆርጦ ለተነሳውና እየተዋደቀም ላለው ወገናችን ቢያንስ አጋርነታችንንና ድጋፋችንን ልናረጋግጥለት ይገባል።

ስለዚህም እኛ በቶሮንቶ፤ በኦታዋና በሞንትሪያል የምንኖር ኢትዮጵያውያን በአንድነት ስሜትና በቁጥር ብዛት ወጥተን ከቆራጥ እናት-አባቶቻችን፤ ወንድሞቻችንና እህቶቻችን እንዲሁም የወደቁት ሰማእታት ከተሰዉለት ዓላማ ጎን በመሠለፍ፤

1) ወራሪው የሱዳን ጦር ልቡን፤ ዓይኑንና እጁን ከIትዮጵያ ላይ እንዲያነሳ ሰላም ወዳድ የሆኑ የዓለም መንግሥታትን፤ የካናዳን መንግሥትና ህዝብ እንዲሁም ዲፕሎማቶችና የሰብዓዊ መብት ድርጅቶችን ለመማጸን፤

2) ለኢትዮጵያ ፍትኅ ለማምጣት በምርጫ 97 እንዲሁም ከዚያም በፊትና በኋላ ሲታገሉ የወደቁትን ወገኖቻችንን አስቦ ለመዋል ሰላማዊ ሠልፍ ጠርተናል።

ስለዚህም የምትችሉ ኢትዮጵያውያን ሁሉ በቦታው እንድትገኙልን በታላቅ ትህትና እየጠየቅን፤

ሠልፉ የሚደረግበት ከተማም፡ Ottawa (Canada)
ቀኑ፡ ግንቦት 15፤ 2000 ዓ/ም (May 23, 2008)
ሰዓቱ፡ ከቀኑ 7 ሰዓት (1:00PM) ጀምሮ

የሠልፉ መነሻ ቦታ፡ ከOttawa ማዘጋጃ ቤት ፊት ለፊት የሚገኘው የህዝብ መናፈሻ
ስለሠልፉ ዝርዝር ጉዞም በመነሻው ቦታ መግለጫ ይሰጣል።
ለተጨማሪ መረጃ በስልክ ቁጥር፡ (416) 824-7858 ወይም (613) 867-9292 ይገናኙን
የሠልፉ አዘጋጅ ኮሚቴ

Ethiopians in Dallas pass resolution in remembrance of May 15

Monday, May 19th, 2008

A Resolution from the Public Meeting held in Dallas Fort-Worth in Commemoration of the Victims of the 2005 Ethiopian Election Aftermath

A coalition of major opposition party supporters, civic organizations and patriotic individuals held a meeting on May 17, 2008 in Dallas, TX at Radisson Hotel. After hearing presentations:

* On the memoriam of the victims who were murdered by Melesse’s Agazi forces for peacefully protesting against the stolen election of May 2005
* On the deteriorating human rights and political condition of the country
* On the growing economic hardship prevailing in the country that is driving the majority of our people in to ever growing abject poverty and hidden famine
* On the currently revealed land ceded to Sudan from Ethiopia

The participants of the meeting have adopted the following resolutions:

1. The meeting reaffirms its commitment not to forget our fallen brothers and sisters and vowed to continue the struggle until the goal of establishing democratic Ethiopia is achieved.

2. The meeting also vowed to frustrate the existing ploy of the TPLF/EPDRF regime for dividing our people on the basis of ethnic and regional affiliations.

3. The meeting declares its awareness of the regime’s attempt to infiltrate the rank of the Ethiopian Diaspora through its paid agents, Embassy and Consulate officials. The objective of this attempt by the regime is to “bribe” some amongst us by promising land and property in Ethiopia to silence the growing voice of the Diaspora on behalf the Ethiopian people. The meeting declares that it will fight this attempt of the regime and will make sure that this will not succeed.

4. The participants of the meeting demand that the governments of the United States and England to stop aiding the dictatorial regime of Melesse for the sake of short term benefits. Instead it urges these governments to stand on the side of the Ethiopian people in their aspiration for democratic and stable Ethiopia.

5. The meeting calls upon all Ethiopians to protest vigorously against the recent land give-away of Ethiopian land to the Sudan.

6. Finally, the participants of the meeting called upon all opposition forces, civic organizations and patriotic individuals to come together for a united struggle.

The meeting ended after adopting this resolution unanimously.

DALLAS & FORT-WORTH OPPOSITION FORCES COORDINATING COMMITTEE FOR COMMOMORATION OF THE MAY 2005 ELECTION

UDJ asks parliament to investigate Ethiopia-Sudan border deal

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Ato Temesgen Zewdie, an executive committee member of the Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), has asked the Woyanne rubber stamp parliament to investigate the reported give away of Ethiopian land to Sudan by the Meles regime. In a letter to the parliament, Ato Temesgen, who is the parliamentary leader of UDJ, said that currently Sudanese soldiers are occupying several Ethiopian towns and villages, including those located in Methema, Tach Armacheo, and Quara woredas (districts). The letter also states that Sudanese troops have recently killed 17 Ethiopians in these woredas. Another group of 20 members of parliament is circulating similar letters asking discussion on the Ethiopia-Sudan border agreement. Read more in Amharic below.
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Source: Reporter
ሱዳን ወሰን ጥሳ በመግባቷ ፓርላማው እንዲወያይ ተጠየቀ

የሱዳን ወታደሮች የኢትዮጵያን ወሰን ጥሰዋል መባሉን በተመለከተ ለሕዝብ ተወካዮች ምክር ቤት በደብዳቤ መገለጹንና ምክር ቤቱ ውይይት እንዲያደርግበት መጠየቁን ለጉዳዩ ቅርብ የሆኑ የሪፖርተር ምንጮች ገልጸዋል፡፡

እንደምንጮቻችን ገለፃ በአቶ ተመስገን ዘውዴ የሚመራው የፓርላማ ቡድን አባላት የኢትዮጵያን መሬት የሱዳን ወታደሮች ወሰን አልፈው መግባታቸውን የሚገልፅ ደብዳቤ ለፓርላማው አቅርበዋል፡፡ የቡድኑ አባላት ባቀረቡት ደብዳቤ ጉዳዩ ለምክር ቤቱ አባላት ቀርቦ ውይይት እንዲካሄድበት ጠይቀዋል፡፡

በደብዳቤው በሰሜን ጎንደር በመተማ፣ ታች አርማጭሆና በቋራ ወረዳዎች ውስጥ የሱዳን ወታደሮች ሰፍረው እንደሚገኙ ተገልጿል፡፡ ደብዳቤው የኢትዮጵያ ይዞታን የሱዳን ወታደሮች መያዛቸውን ተከትሎ መንግሥት ምንም አይነት ተቃውሞ አለማቅረቡን ወቅሷል፡፡

ደብዳቤው መንግሥት የአርሶ አደሩን መሬት ለሱዳን እያስረከበ መሆኑን በመግለፅ ጉዳዩ በአስቸኳይ ለፓርላማው እንዲቀርብና ግልፅ የሆነ መረጃ እንዲሰጥበት እንዲሁም የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብም እንዲያውቀው ጠይቋል፡፡

በሌላ በኩል በጉዳዩ ዙሪያ ያነጋገርናቸው ስማቸው እንዳይገለፅ የፈለጉ የፓርላማ አባል ጉዳዩ ከ1983 ዓ.ም ጀምሮ የነበረ መሆኑንና በኢትዮጵያ የመንግሥት ለውጥ በተደረገበት በ1983 ዓ.ም የሱዳን ወታደሮች የመተማን አካባቢ መያዛቸውን አስታውሰዋል፡፡ በዚህም ወታደሮቹ ለአንድ ዓመት ገደማ ቦታውን ወረው ከቆዩ በኋላ ለቀው መውጣታቸውን ያመለክታሉ፡፡

ቀጥለውም በታህሳስ 1998 ዓ.ም የሱዳን ወታደሮች ወሰን ጥሰው ከአራት መቶ ሰባ በላይ የአርሶ አደሮችና በግብርና ኢንቨስትመንት የተሰማሩ ባለሃብቶች መፈናቀላቸውን ያስታወሱት የምክር ቤቱ አባል፤ በእርሻ ይዞታው ላይ የነበረው ሰብል በሱዳን ወታደሮች መቃጠሉን አብራርተዋል፡፡ የፓርላማ አባሉ መንግሥት “የተፈናቀለ ሰው የለም” በሚል ባለሃብቶቹን አርሶ አደሮቹን በሌሎች አርሶ አደሮች ይዞታ ላይ በማሸጋሸግ ማስፈሩን አስታውሰዋል፡፡ በወቅቱ በሱዳን ወታደሮች ወረራ 17 ሰዎች መገደላቸውን አስታውቀዋል፡፡

በወቅቱ በተነሳው የይዞታ ይገባኛል ውዝግብ የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥትና የሱዳን መንግሥት የድንበር ማካከሉን ሥራ መጀመራቸውን ጠቁመው፤ እስካሁን አልባት አለማግኘቱን ገልፀዋል፡፡

በዚህም በመተማ ብቻ የነበረው የመሬት ወረራ ተስፋፍቶ በቅርቡ በአርማጭሆና በቋራ አካባቢ መስፋፋቱን እኚሁ የምክር ቤት አባል ገልፀዋል፡፡ ለዚህም በመተማና በአርማጭሆ መካከል የሚገኝ “የዘለቀ እርሻ ልማት ቁጥር 4″ በሱዳን ወታደሮች መወረሩንና የደላሎ የእርሻ መሬትም ተመሳሳይ ችግር እንደገጠመው በምሣሌነት ጠቅሰዋል፡፡ በቋራ ነብስ ገበያ ተብሎ በሚጠራው አካባቢ በተደረገው ወረራ ከ28ሰዎች በላይ ታፍሰው ወደ ሱዳን መወሰዳቸውንም እኚሁ የምክር ቤት አባል አስረድተዋል፡፡

ይህንንም ሁኔታ ለመንግሥት ባለሥልጣናት በተደጋጋሚ መቅረቡንና ምላሽ አለመገኘቱንና በአሁኑ ጊዜም ያለው ሁኔታ ዝም ሊባል የማይችል በመሆኑ ችግሩን በገሃድ የወጣ መሆኑን የገለፁት የምክር ቤቱ አባል በጉዳዩ ዙሪያ ፓርላማው ሊወያይበት እንደሚገባ አሳስበዋል፡፡

በተያያዘ ዜና ከ20 በላይ የሚሆኑ የፓርላማ አባላት የሱዳን ወታደሮች ወሰን ማለፍ አስመልክቶ ፓርላማው እንዲወያይበት ለመጠየቅ የፊርማ ማሰባሰብ ሥራ እያከናወኑ መሆኑን ምንጮቻችን ጠቁመዋል፡፡ በዚህም የፊርማ ማሰባሰብ ሂደት ከ20 በላይ የፓርላማ አባላት ፊርማ መፈረማቸው ታውቋል፡፡

የኢትዮጵያ የውጭ ጉዳይ ሚኒስቴር ባለፈው ሳምንት በሰጠው መግለጫው ደግሞ የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት መሬት ቆርሶ ለሱዳን ሰጥቷል በሚል በአንዳንድ መገናኛ ብዙሃን ህዝብን ለማደናገርና ግጭት ለመፍጠር ሆን ተብሎ የሚደረግ አሻጥር እንደሆነ ይገልፃል፡፡

በሌላ በኩል ይህንኑ ጉዳይ በተመለከተ የቤንሻንጉል ጉምዝ ክልል ርዕሰ መስተዳድር አቶ ያረጋል አይሸሹም በሰጡት መግለጫ “ከቅርብ ጊዜያት ወዲህ አንዳንድ የመገናኛ ብዙሃን ኢትዮጵያ ከሱዳን ጋር በምትዋሰንበት ድንበር በኩል መሬት ተቆርሶ ለሱዳን ተሰጥቷል በማለት የተሰራጨው ወሬ መሰረተ ቢስ ነው”

ሱዳን ነጻነቷን ካገኘች ጀምሮ የቀደሞው ንጉስና ደርግ ከተለያዩ ዓለም አቀፍ አካላት ጋር የሁለቱን አገሮች ድንበር ለማካለል ጥረት ሲያደርጉ መቆየታቸውንና ጥረቱ እስካሁን አለመሳካቱን ማመልከታቸውንና በዚሁ ጉዳይ ሁለቱ አገሮች እየተነጋገሩበትና በጋራ እየሰሩ መሆኑን ጠቁመዋል፡፡

Somali insurgents ambush Woyanne army convoy

Monday, May 19th, 2008

(Garowe Online) — Islamist rebels ambushed an Ethiopian Woyanne army convoy in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, Radio Garowe reported Sunday.

At least 8 people, including four Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers, were killed after the rebels ambushed soldiers on foot.

Three rebels and one villager were also killed during the fighting, witnesses said.

Muse Ibrahim, a villager who fled after the fighting started, told Radio Garowe that the battle started slowly but intensified quickly.

Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers who left [the town of] Burhakaba were attacked,” Muse said.

The troops were guarding Ethiopian Woyanne army trucks that left bases in Burhakaba and were reportedly heading towards the capital, Mogadishu.

The ungoverned area etched between Bay region, where Somalia’s parliament sits, and neighboring Lower Shabelle region has been the scene of insurgent ambushes at least three times in recent weeks.

23 children died from hunger in Shashemene

Monday, May 19th, 2008

By Peter Heinlein, Voice of America

Shashemene, Ethiopia – Humanitarian agencies are rushing emergency aid to drought-stricken central Ethiopia, where a sudden deterioration in food supplies has led to surge of child mortality. At least 23 children have died at hospitals and emergency feeding centers during the past three weeks, and authorities say countless others have died at home for lack of treatment. In this first of two reports from the hardest-hit area around the town of Shashemene 250 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, VOA’s Peter Heinlein reports conditions are expected to worsen over the coming months.

It is bedlam inside a tent on the grounds of the Shashemene hospital. Thirty severely malnourished children, their mothers, and assorted other siblings are scattered over the bare ground, with nothing to do but wait for the next feeding.

Three-year-old Chemeni is a tiny wisp of bony flesh with black eyes wide as saucers. Her mother, Buqre Hussein softly strokes Chemeni’s face, a younger daughter strapped to her back. She says her children are among the fortunate ones.

“I am glad my children are recovering,’ she said. ‘And I expect they will recover. I am glad to see this.”

Every four hours, each child in the tent receives a red cup filled with a high-nutrition supplement known as F-75. But Shashemene’s regional health officer, Dr. Abebe Megerso says many more malnourished children are having to be turned away.

“The supply is not enough because we did not know the problem is this much overwhelming,’said Megerso. ‘And now as the people with problem are appearing, the supply we have at hand is becoming short, and even now, we do not have F-100 and F-75, particularly F-75 is very scarce now.”

This makeshift therapeutic feeding center was erected nearly three weeks ago when health officials realized they had an emergency on their hands.

Dr. Megerso says regional health officials tried to prepare for the effects of the drought, but could not imagine the shortages, and the flood of malnourished children, would be this bad.

“It is unusual,’ he said ‘We have never had problem before because this zone is known by surplus production. We are simply admitting the severely malnourished ones, and we are referring the children with high complications to hospital. But we cannot refer all of them to hospital because we can create high overcrowding in hospital and we are not well prepared.”

Ethiopian officials last month issued an international appeal for enough emergency food aid for two-point-two million people. But U.N. agencies say at least three-point-four-million people, and possibly many more, are already severely affected by the drought.

Viviane Van Steirteghem, deputy country director for the U.N. Children’s Agency, UNICEF, says tens of thousands of children are in danger of starvation.

“We estimate now, and this is a best estimate, that 126,000 children over the country are in immediate need of this therapeutic care to avoid mortality,’ said Viviane Van Steirteghem.

The United States provides the bulk of the food aid to Ethiopia. The U.S. Congress approved an additional $100 million of aid this month, boosting the total for the year to more than $300 million.

But the U.N. World Food Program estimates 395,000 metric tons of food will be needed to get through the immediate crisis. That will cost $147 million more than is currently available.

The WFP’s Lisette Trebbi says the way conditions are deteriorating, the month of June is going to be especially difficult.

“We have new donations coming in, but it is a question of timing,’ said Lisette Trebbi. ‘And we therefore foresee we will have some shortfalls… during the month of June, which will be a critical month, for the population, because they will still not have recovered, we anticipate the crisis to get worse, so we are taking every measure that we can, we are short and will probably have to prioritize the worst and most affected area.”

There has been some rain in central Ethiopia in recent weeks; not enough to produce the desperately needed bumper harvest in September, but enough to spark fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases among a weak and vulnerable population.

Officials here are predicting many difficult months ahead.

Money raised for Africa used for state-sponsored terror

Monday, May 19th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: World Bank, for example, is the chief financier of Africa’s mass murderers. One hundred al Qaedas, or Talibans, or bin Ladens combined cannot do as much damage on a nation as the World Bank did to Ethiopia and eastern of Africa through its blood money that is fueling bin Zenawi’s terrorist regime. This year so far the World Bank rewarded the Butcher of East Africa with $635 million.

———————–
By Linda Herrick, The New Zealand Herald

Billions of dollars raised for African famine relief by celebrities Bono and Bob Geldof have instead funded civil war across the continent, says terrorism expert Dr Loretta Napoleoni.

London-based Napoleoni, in Auckland to appear at the Writers & Readers Festival, has written two books, Terror Inc: Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism and Insurgent Iraq: Al-Zarqawi and the New Generation, on the economics of terrorism.

Her latest book, Rogue Economics, studies the destabilising effect of economic globalisation, focusing in part on why more than half a trillion dollars worth of aid sent to Africa since the 1960s failed to reach the intended destination – developing the nations’ economies.

That huge amount of aid, which includes money from the United Nations and donations generated by Live Aid for Ethiopia, organised by Geldof, and the Live 8 concert in 2005, organised by Bono, has instead “served as a rogue force, notably as an important form of terrorist financing” in countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya. Ethiopia, for example, received $1.8 billion in foreign aid between 1982-85, including a large contribution from Live Aid; $1.6 billion of that, she points out, was spent on buying military equipment.

“The money has ended up making Africa poorer and more violent because the money has been diverted towards warlords, weapons and armed invasions,” she says. “The problem of Africa is corruption.”

Napoleoni says there are parallels with Burma in the aftermath of the cyclone as aid organisations appeal for donations. “What is happening in Burma is a good example. You can have the best intentions but getting the money to the people in need is very hard because you have to go through the bureaucracy. The problem is the governance. You also need expertise. What the international relief organisations are saying is, you should send people from our team who know exactly what to do in these circumstances.”

The cult of celebrity means that people who are famous for nothing more than being pop or movie stars speak out on issues they don’t fully understand. “People like Bono and Bob Geldof are not ill-intentioned,” she says. “But the simple fact that being a celebrity puts you in a position above everybody else is unacceptable.

“These people don’t realise they are being manipulated by politicians and others. That is the case in the relationship between Bono and [American economist] Jeffrey Sachs, who is among the people who caused the chaos of the transition of the former communist countries into free-market economics. Sachs has been trying to relaunch himself as a sort of economist celebrity so he has been linking himself to Bono.

“Bono is repeating what he has been told about Africa. I am sure Bono hasn’t got a clue about economics.”

Napoleoni, who knows Geldof as a neighbour in the London suburb of Battersea, says he told her the first Live Aid was the “worse experience of his life because he found it very difficult to control where the money went. He suddenly realised it’s easy to put famous musicians together to make money but to bring the money to the people in need is another matter.”

Napoleoni adds that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy among stars linked to good causes. Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Bono and the other members of U2 were last year outed as tax-evaders for diverting their funds to the Netherlands, circumventing their democratic responsibilities to their home country of Ireland.

And Brad Pitt, Napoleoni points out, may drive a hybrid car, but he and Angelina Jolie use a private jet. Their trip to Namibia a couple of years ago, she notes, burned up enough fuel to take Pitt’s hybrid all the way to the moon.

* www.writersfestival.co.nz

Why vote? What's in it for us?

Monday, May 19th, 2008

By Ethiopians for Obama

We are Ethiopians who immigrated from our birth land and arrived in America in search of a dream. There are hundreds of thousands of us who live in this great country; working hard and sacrificing so that our children can have a better life than we did. The young generation of Ethiopians who either grew up in American or were born here have benefited from the labor of our parents and have worked hard and studied assiduously to realize the American dream. We have doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, engineers and accountants who have leveraged the sacrifice of their parents to seize the day. More amazing are the thousands upon thousands who work in stores, coffee shops, taxi cabs, and parking lots–Ethiopians whose dedication to their family is the quintessential story of the American dream.

We all have different stories on why we left Ethiopia, but we all have one thing in common as to why we arrived in America—hope. This wonderful country gives us the chance to live our lives freely and the possibility to accomplish anything if we work hard for it. We have the privilege of benefiting from the sacrifices of the many that came before us so that we can pave the way for the next generations’ ascendancy to heights we have yet to imagine. However, this privilege comes with responsibilities. We have a responsibility to be involved politically–to vote–and to take part in the political process that influences our lives here and the lives of millions throughout the world. So it is not only important that we vote, it is incumbent upon us to do so.

There are millions throughout the world that would abandon their earthly possessions to have an iota of the freedoms we take for granted here. Chief upon these is the freedom to elect the officials who work on our behalf. The ballot we cast in the booth has the power to influence the policies—domestically and internationally—that is enacted by our government. Voting is a sacred responsibility that we should all take seriously and take part in emphatically. “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” (Lyndon Baines Johnson)

So why vote? What’s in it for us? This question is asked every time and at every place. The answer—because change starts with us. Ethiopian who live in America are a dichotomy; we are everywhere while being no where at the same time. Ethiopians form one of the largest community of expatriates from Africa, yet there is no reliable data that shows the extent of our numbers in America . When it comes to politics, we are passionate; yet when it comes to voting, collectively we are ambivalent. We march by the thousands in cities around the world, yet the one apparatus that has the most power—the ballot—collects dust as we ignore its ability to deliver change. Senator Obama believes in building a movement from the bottom-up; a profound change is never implemented from the top-down, it metamorphosizes from the desires of the mass to change our circumstances.

So the question is not what can Obama do for us, it is what can we do for ourselves. Ethiopians–like all folks in every corner of the world–have more in common than the insignificant divides that separate us. We share a history that dates back centuries and common heritage that binds us as one. We are not condemned to eternal strife; we have the choice of throwing off the yolk of divisions based on ethnic, religious, or regional differences and coming together to work for the common good. We have the choice to change, we have the choice to unite.

We are presented with a unique opportunity to elect a man who values the value of unity. Barack Obama does not preach unity as a slogan, he lived it throughout his life. He is a man with a Kansan mother and a Kenyan father; a man who lived in almost every corner of the world and has a keen intellect that espouses dialogue on the basis of mutual understanding and respect. He bypassed the chance to earn a handsome living to become a community organizer in the streets of South Chicago making less than $30,000 after graduating from Harvard Law School . He worked with local churches to organize the neglected masses. Barack Obama knew of the importance of organizing people so that they could have a voice in the political process—we, too, should heed this lesson.

The importance of organizing politically extends beyond elections. Our ability to unite and quantify our voice has implications that impact issues concerning health and socio-economic matters. If there is a health issue that impact the Ethiopian community disproportionately, our ability to point to a reliable and quantifiable segment of the population will enable us to lobby congress in order to seek relief. Our ability to unite will enable us to bring light to issues of social and economical concerns that impact our communities. We live in a country that encourages and fosters communities of all stripes and backgrounds to organize and lobby congress to address issues of concern to communities everywhere. This is what is in it for us, the ability to move out of the periphery of relevancy into a posture of note. Our inability to organize will relegate us to the shadows of this great country; our voices muted while living as invisible citizens in the greatest country on earth.

This is a unique opportunity for Ethiopian-Americans to fully take part in the political process. There are many reasons why most in our community do not readily embrace the idea of being involved politically. Most immigrated to the United States to escape the clutches of politics. Most reflexively avoid politics, leery of being labeled one way or the other. For many, organizing politically was a foreboding topic that would only lead to trouble or worse. However, this is America , we are in a land that values a civic responsibility of those who are involved politically. The very fabric of this nation is interwoven with a sense of political participation. In this great nation, friction is resolved through dialogue and disagreements assuaged by discussion. We stand at the precipice of a new era where we see each other not with suspicion borne out of differences but with a purpose based on commonalities. This is what is in it for us, we can continue to squabble and pass on to our children a legacy of derision or we can embark on a new road where we value our differences and respect our viewpoints as we work together for the betterment of all. This is our choice, it is up to us to choose.

Please join Ethiopians for Obama at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ethiopiansforobama/

Secret military court passes death sentence on Ethiopian air force pilots

Monday, May 19th, 2008

By Neamin Zeleke

Sources inside the regime of Tigrean People Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia have disclosed that a secret military court has passed a death sentence on four air force pilots who sought political asylum in 2006 while on a training mission in Israel.

According to the sources, a TPLF-appointed court at the Air Force has passed a “guilty” verdict and a death sentence in absentia on Capt. Samuel Getachew, Lt. Himanot Gebre Mariam, Lt. Fikresleasie Feleke, and Lt. Yitabrek Takele.

The TPLF regime’s military is currently plagued with a series of defections. During the past few years, senior officers, including generals and colonels, as well as scores of junior officers and privates have defected to other countries seeking asylum.

It is also to be recalled that a few weeks following the May 2005 fraudulent elections, Lt. Behailu Gebre and Lt. Abiyot Manguday fled to Djibouti flying a military helicopter. Ethiopians around the world made a vigorous effort to rescue those officers from being handed over to Meles Zenawi’s regime while they remained in Djibouti. Reversing the initial promise it gave to provide them with protection, the Government of President Omar Gulleh sent them back to Ethiopia, to certain torture and death, in flagrant violation of international conventions and protocols that accord protection for political refugees. After their forcible return to Ethiopia, Lts. Behailu and Abiyot have disappeared without a trace. It’s believed that they have been executed.

Other Air force pilots who fled the country, including veterans such as Captain Teshome Tenkolu and eight pilots who were on a training mission in Belarus, have managed to resettle in European countries where they are protected and far away from the sad and cruel fate befallen Lts. Behilu and Abiyot.

Withing the past year, General Alemshet Degefe, head of the Air force, and his deputies were summarily dismissed after a fall out with officials of the ruling party, TPLF, and replaced with party loyalists from Tigray region, including, General Molla Hailemariam, head of the air force; General Tadesse Worede, head of Military Staff School; General Seyoum Hagos, chief for eastern command; and General Yohannes Gebremeskel, chief of central command. General Samora Yunus, a TPLF Central Committee member, remains Chief of Staff.

The TPLF regime’s military continues to face serious discontent and low morale, in part, due to lack of a merit-based system and professionalism. The crisis facing the military is compounded by the quagmire in Somalia.

Military court passes death sentence on Ethiopian pilots

Monday, May 19th, 2008

By Neamin Zeleke

Sources inside the regime of Tigrean People Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia have disclosed that a secret military court has passed death sentences on four air force pilots who sought political asylum in 2006 while on a training mission in Israel.

According to the sources, a TPLF-appointed court at the Air Force has passed a “guilty” verdict and a death sentence in absentia on Capt. Samuel Getachew, Lt. Himanot Gebre Mariam, Lt. Fikresleasie Feleke, and Lt. Yitabrek Takele.

The TPLF regime’s military is currently plagued with a series of defections. During the past few years, senior officers, including generals and colonels, as well as scores of junior officers and privates have defected to other countries seeking asylum.

It is also to be recalled that a few weeks following the May 2005 fraudulent elections, Lt. Behailu Gebre and Lt. Abiyot Manguday fled to Djibouti flying a military helicopter. Ethiopians around the world made a vigorous effort to rescue those officers from being handed over to Meles Zenawi’s regime while they remained in Djibouti. Reversing the initial promise it gave to provide them with protection, the Government of President Omar Gulleh sent them back to Ethiopia, to certain torture and death, in flagrant violation of international conventions and protocols that accord protection for political refugees. After their forcible return to Ethiopia, Lts. Behailu and Abiyot have disappeared without a trace. It’s believed that they have been executed.

Other Air force pilots who fled the country, including veterans such as Captain Teshome Tenkolu and eight pilots who were on a training mission in Belarus, have managed to resettle in European countries where they are protected and far away from the sad and cruel fate befallen Lts. Behilu and Abiyot.

Withing the past year, General Alemshet Degefe, head of the Air force, and his deputies were summarily dismissed after a fall out with officials of the ruling party, TPLF, and replaced with party loyalists from Tigray region, including, General Molla Hailemariam, head of the air force; General Tadesse Worede, head of Military Staff School; General Seyoum Hagos, chief for eastern command; and General Yohannes Gebremeskel, chief of central command. General Samora Yunus, a TPLF Central Committee member, remains Chief of Staff.

The TPLF regime’s military continues to face serious discontent and low morale, in part, due to lack of a merit-based system and professionalism. The crisis facing the military is compounded by the quagmire in Somalia.

4 Woyanne soldiers killed in Somalia clashes

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 17 (Garowe Online) – Heavy fighting erupted in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Saturday between insurgents and Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers, local sources told Garowe Online.

Four soldiers were killed when an Ethiopian a Woyanne army convoy transporting food to a major military base at the former pasta factory, in north Mogadishu, hit a roadside bomb.

A total of seven people were wounded during a brief skirmish immediately after the explosion, as insurgents opened gunfire and the Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers responded with a barrage of bullets.

Seven people –- four Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers and three Somali insurgents –- were wounded in the subsequent gunfire, witnesses said.

The insurgents escaped moments before Ethiopian Woyanne army reinforcements sealed off the area.

Several people were arrested by Ethiopian Woyanne troops, who entered surrounding neighborhoods in search of suspects.

Upwards of 7,000 people have been killed in Mogadishu clashes since January 2007, when Ethiopian Woyanne-backed Somali government forces expelled Islamist rulers from the capital.

Woyanne claims victory in April's fake local elections

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: The ‘opposition’ won only one seat in Addis Ababa, and the guy is not even alive, as reported by The Reporter. The election was a total joke.

——————

By Tsegaye Tadesse (Reuters)

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s ruling party swept local polls largely boycotted by opposition parties who accused the government of intimidating voters and blocking their candidates, results released on Sunday showed.

The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) declared Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) victor of the first vote in the Horn of Africa nation since 2005 elections ended in deadly violence.

Out of 623 districts, the EPRDF won 559 seats and won all but one of 39 parliament seats up for grabs in by-elections, the board said.

The largest opposition party in parliament, the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, pulled out three days before the April 13 start of the polls. The Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement pulled out before a second round was held a week later.

“The election in which a total of over 3.5 million candidates from 30 political parties participated were conducted in a free and peaceful manner and in accordance with the law of the country’, the Election Board said.

It said out of a total over 26 million registered voters, 24.5 million or 93 percent voted.

EPRDF also won all major seats in the administration of the capital Addis Ababa.

It had been run by caretaker administrators after opposition politicians who won most of the seats there were jailed on charges of usurping the state after the 2005 polls.

They have since been pardoned after a genocide and treason trial that dragged for two years and drew widespread criticism from human rights and democracy watchdogs.

Two rounds of post-election violence saw more than 200 people killed in battles between security forces and opposition protesters. The violence and an ensuing crackdown on opposition leaders tarnished Meles’ once-sterling Democratic credentials.

But analysts say the courtroom pursuit of the opposition effectively splintered its cohesion, just after it had made its biggest-ever political gains at the ballot box.

13 Somali journalists seek asylum in Ethiopia

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) Some 13 journalist serving in government and private media in Somalia are seeking asylum in Ethiopia after crossing the border to Ethiopia fleeing “intimidations and persecutions” from the Al-Shabab group, APA learned here on Saturday.

The journalists who entered the country told Ethiopian radio that Al-Shabab has currently been murdering journalists working with concerned bodies striving to bring peace and order in that country.

Mohamed Nor Mo’alim, a journalist serving in the government radio station was qouted as saying that he was repeatedly threatened to death for reporting the efforts of the Transitional Government towards ensuring peace in Somalia.

Kadar Shardi Ahmed from Radio Somali Weyn on his part expressed that his father and brother were murdered by Al-Shabab group for producing programs of immense importance to the country’s peace and stability.

Fardowsa Mohammed, Universal Television journalist, who left Somalia along with her four children told the radio that she lost her brother and was repeatedly threatened by the terrorist group as she became famous for producing programs featuring the reality on the ground.

The journalists said that Al-Shabab threatens even their families through telephone and other means.

The journalists also appealed for the international community to halt the “ill acts” of the Al-Shabaab,which is fighting the TFG of Somalia backed by Ethiopian forces since December 2006.

There are also journalists from state owned media like, Horn Afrik, Darban Radio, Banadir Radio Afrikada Bari, Universal TV, GBC, among others.

Ethiopian Power Crisis Prompts Surge in Generator Sales

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

(African Press Agency) — The current power crisis in Ethiopia prompts surge of the sale of generators, mainly in Addis Ababa where many businesses and international organizations are operating. Owing to poor performance of seasonal rains, there is a short supply of electric power in Addis Ababa where each district receives power five days a week.

According to the Ethiopian Electric and Power Corporation (EEPC), the blackout which started in March 2008 will continue until the rainy season in June 2008.

However, big businesses are purchasing DC generators in an apparent attempt to prevent any impact on their profit making due to power cuts.

Hotels, hospitals, internet cafés, private businesses both small and big ones are the ones being affected by the power cuts in the city, home to around five million people and housing the African Union (AU) headquarters.

“Small generators with 2.0 horsepower have been sold much more than ever before. People who run the business are obliged to increase their supply considering the demand,” Tesema Zelalem, a salesman at a generator shop told APA.

He said that many people are still asking for generators since the government announced a week ago that the power cuts will continue until June 2008.

Private companies such as publishers, printers, and service giving institutions have expressed more interest to generator sellers, Zelalem continued.

“We found it necessary to buy this small generator to run my business. Losing power twice a week for 14 hours a day is too much, especially for the business community,” Meaza Mengistu who owns a cafe and was buying a generator.

The small generators are on sale for US$ 400 and US$ 500 depending on the brand and the guarantee.

“We are forced to buy generators even if the cost of diesel is increasingly on the rise,” Mengistu added.

The EEPC announced the need of power rationing to cope with the 80 megawatts shortfall.

According to economists, the current power crisis can cost the business community around US$ 100 million during the period (March to June 2008).

In 2007, EEPC signed an agreement with Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya to supply them electricity in the coming year, and a multi million-dollar hydroelectric power dam is being constructed in the country.

Somali insurgents seize southern town

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

MOGADISHU (AFP) — Somali insurgents on Saturday seized a southern Somali town after clashes with government troops that claimed at least three lives, elders said.

Their fighters attacked Jilib township, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) south of the capital, touching off deadly clashes with government forces and allied militia.

“Clan militias in the town exchanged fire with the Islamists and three militiamen were killed,” said Mohamed Hassan Warsame, an elder.

“Local authorities emptied the town this morning after heavily-armed Islamist fighters took control of it.”

Abdullahi Mohamed, a local government official said they fled the town, leaving it in the hands of the Islamists.

“We escaped the town early this morning after heavily-armed Islamist militias attacked us. We have been told three militias were killed inside the town.”

Ethiopian Airlines says profits may hit record high

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

(REUTERS) ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian Airlines net profits for the first nine months of 2007/08 reached 484 million birr ($55.67 million), the airline said in a statement.

The state-owned carrier posted net profits of 129 million birr in 2006/07. The statement predicted that, based on the first nine months of 2007/08, the airline would achieve a record net profits and revenues. Expenses for the same period rose by 21 percent, the brunt of which Chief Executive Girma Wake said was spent on fuel.

“Fuel price remains of concern to the industry as a whole and Ethiopian Airlines believes that costs will continue to escalate into the next quarter given the present trend in price of fuel,” Wake said. Revenues for the period rose 29 percent to 6.6 million birr, he said.

The airline transported 1.9 million passengers, a 19 percent increase on last year. Wake said the improvements in revenue and traffic were due to increased frequency of flights, the introduction of new routes and an increase in cargo revenue

The butcher of Addis Ababa University comes to DC in a wheelchair

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Endrias Eshete, who is known as the butcher of Addis Ababa University, has arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington DC today. He was taken to a van provided by the Woyanne embassy in a wheelchair. The tutor of Meles Zenawi’s daughter, Samuel Assefa, who also acts as an ambassador of Ethiopian in Washington DC, was at the air port to greet him.

Meles Zenawi appointed Endrias Eshete as head of the Addis Ababa University to stamp out any criticism of the Woyanne regime by the university’s faculty and students. Endrias allowed, and often invited, Meles’s death squads, the Agazi special forces, and the notorious Federal police to enter the AAU campus and attack the students. Under Endrias’s watch thousands of AAU students have been savagely attacked, tortured, imprisoned and killed.

Endrias Eshete and Ambassador Samuel Assefa are old time drinking buddies and close friends of Meles Zenawi’s family. Samuel is a personal tutor and chaperon of Meles’s older daughter. When she was admitted to Georgetown University in Washington DC about two years ago, Meles removed the previous ambassador, Kassahun Chekol, and sent Samuel Assefa, who has no diplomatic experience, to DC as an ambassador. Samuel’s main job, however, is not diplomacy. He is a personal servant to the dictator’s daughter.

New draft press law raises eyebrows

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

By Bruck Shewareged, The Reporter

The House of Peoples’ Representatives last week discussed the newly drafted press law. The government believes that the bill will be instrumental in creating and developing a “responsible” press. But to the opposition parties, the bill constitutes a tool which the government can use to suppress freedom of expression.

Five years ago, the government introduced a draft press law which many in the country and abroad described as a “draconian” law. Following an outcry by the private press, and an appeal by some of the western embassies here, the government stopped short of putting it into law.

Now, it has come up with a new one that appears to be less “draconian”, albeit a very restrictive law, as some see it. Some parliamentarians argue that there is no way that the law guarantees access to information.

Some of the MPs spoke out against what they called “restrictive” provisions in the draft press law. Temesgen Zewdie, an opposition MP, said that the draft law severely curbs freedom of expression, and is directed at people’s freedom. The draft, according to him, violates the freedom of expression stipulated in Article 29 of the Ethiopia Constitution.

Ownership of the media is another issue which some MPs raised their concerns about. The draft law prohibits multiple ownership of print and electronic media. It prevents an owner of a media outlet from owning another outlet, or having effective control over other outlets.

The new law also forces owners to divulge their sources of capital, and that any source outside the country is completely prohibited. Temesgen argues that the law is intended to curb the right of citizens from setting up press outlets. He added that Ethiopians in the Diaspora, those who adopted other citizenships, will also be barred from investing their money in the media due to the draft law. “Just because government anticipates challenges from the private press, such shameful proclamation cannot be written into law,” he stressed.

The right of access to information as provided in the draft proclamation is another point of controversy for the parliamentarians. According to Article 14 of the proclamation, the possibility of getting information from government institutions heavily relies on the goodwill of the public relations officer of the institution. Article 14.3 stipulates that the public relations officer has thirty working days to respond to the request by the person seeking a specific information. On top of that, he can refuse to give that information if he deems it necessary.

The public relations officer is also empowered to extend the thirty-day period to sixty days, “if many other similar requests are made by others, if compiling the information requires obtaining the information from branch offices or if it becomes necessary for the officer to consult with other government organizations,” as written in Article 14.8. Temesgen raised his concern about getting timely information from government institutions if such provisions are included in the press law.

Tesfaye Fufa of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) opposes the inclusion of articles which by nature belong to the criminal code rather the press law. He said that his party believes that the press law must be re-drafted by an independent board whose members represent different sectors of the society.

The preamble of the proclamation has it that it has become necessary to replace the existing press law i.e., proclamation 34/92 with a more advanced law. Unlike what opposition parties argue about, the preamble stresses that the proposed law guarantees freedom of expression and ensures transparency in government institutions.

Compared to the existing law, the draft proclamation levies heavy fines on press outlets that transgress the law. A media organization can be fined up to 100,000 birr for defamation. This amount of fine has not been stipulated in the previous law.

A federal or regional prosecutor can bar publications from being distributed if he is convinced that irreparable damage could be done once the publications reach the public.

The prosecutor is also empowered to bar the distribution without seeking a court order, if he doesn’t have “enough” time to secure one. After that he has to notify the court of his decision within 48 hours. The court will have 24 hours to approve or disapprove the prosecutor’s decision after it receives notification from the prosecutor.

After the debate in parliament, it was decided to refer the draft press law to the parliamentary standing committees for Legal and Administrative Affairs and the Information and Cultural Affairs. 302 MPs voted in favor and 34 against it.

One could ask what will happen to the several government owned media outlets such as Ethiopian Television, Radio Ethiopia, and the several newspapers if the law is put into effect. Since multiple ownership will be prohibited if the proclamation is voted into law, what will happen to these government owned media organizations? Will they be privatized? Or will the law only apply to private ownership? If that is the case, can the government be above the law?

VIDEO: The Qeranio MedhaneAlem story

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Part I

Click here for part II

The butcher of AAU comes to DC in a wheelchair

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Endrias Eshete, who is known as the butcher of Addis Ababa University, has arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington DC today. He was taken to a van provided by the Woyanne embassy in a wheelchair. The tutor of Meles Zenawi’s daughter, Samuel Assefa, who also acts as an ambassador of Ethiopia in Washington DC, was at the airport to greet him.

Meles Zenawi appointed Endrias Eshete as head of the Addis Ababa University to stamp out any criticism of the Woyanne tribal junta by the university’s faculty and students. Endrias allowed, and often invited, Meles’s death squads, the Agazi special forces, and the notorious Federal police to enter the AAU campus and attack the students. Under Endrias’s watch thousands of AAU students have been savagely attacked, tortured, imprisoned and killed.

Endrias Eshete and Ambassador Samuel Assefa are old time drinking buddies (both full time drunkards) and close friends of Meles Zenawi’s family. Samuel is a personal tutor and chaperon of Meles’s older daughter. When she was admitted to Georgetown University in Washington DC about two years ago, Meles removed the previous ambassador, Kassahun Ayele, and sent Samuel Assefa — who has no diplomatic experience — to DC as an ambassador. Samuel’s main job, however, is not diplomacy. He is a personal servant to the dictator’s daughter.

Merchants of death and destruction

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

By Yilma Bekele

Some things are said to be unthinkable. They are beyond the norms of any behavior. They fall into the territory of No and Never. Unfortunately in today’s Ethiopia nothing is off the table. The regime is open to any and all bizarre, strange and odd happenings. What was reported by the French paper Lemonade is one such story that you would think the reporter was making it up. You actually wish it could be proven to be untrue. Alas, we are dealing with the Ethiopian government where the gulf between fact and fiction is a very razor thin line.

A report by Alain Lallemand of LeMonde claims that the Ethiopian Army and Ugandan ‘Peace Keeping’ force are the major merchants of arms to the resistance forces in Somalia. Yes you read it correct. Our government and the Ugandan Army are supplying arms to the people they are supposedly fighting against. If this is not strange enough for you the so-called Somali government Army is also part of this unholy alliance. They are gunrunners in their own right. They resale the arms seized during raids.

(You can read the English translation here.)

According to LeMonde ‘This arms bazaar has taken such a looming twist in the last six months that it has developed not one but seven markets — six in Mogadishu and one in Afgoi.’ It does not make sense does it? You send your troops to fight and win, but turn around and supply arms to the other side. Thus the Somali resistance militia is using weapons furnished by Ethiopia to kill Ethiopians. How many Ethiopians god only knows

Our government does not consider the people are entitled to such information. We have no idea how many Ethiopians perished in Badme. Somalia is another front where the death and maiming of our people is of no consequences to our enlightened leaders.

The only way one can reconcile this bizarre situation is by understanding the nature of the ‘cadre’ government lording it over our country. A little background information is called for. Before the history book was revised concerning the victory of TPLF over the Mengistu regime the real facts were a little different. Telling and retelling of the fiction by the regime have sort of convinced the liars of their own make believe world. We all know they were invited by Herman Cohen and US intelligence to take the mantle of power. The butcher Mengistu was escorted out of Addis with all the loot he can fit in the specially furnished Boeing plane.

The rag tag militia entering Addis was more of a shock to themselves than the residents by the turn of events. If you remember they were mostly young kids completely disoriented and lost in this Metropolis of millions of people. What they found was a city with no leader but willing and hopeful people to start a new era of peace and justice. They welcomed the militia as one of their own. They showered them with flowers and love. There was no single organized resistance to the new ‘liberators’.

It was a most confusing moment to the cadre leaders. Their very being requires the presence of contradictions and animosity. They are used to asserting themselves by using force and terror. Love and acceptance is not part of their programming. They were forced to create phantom enemies. Thus burning the ‘weapons’ depot and random shooting through out the night was their way of making themselves at home.

They proceeded to dismantle and destroy anything and everything that was not in accord with their psudeo Marxist outlook. Where there was unity they created division, where there was love they replaced it with hate, tolerance gave way to intolerance, hope was gone and hopelessness took its place. The Flag was changed without consultation, the Constitution was approved without due process and the country was divided among ethnic lines. This in a nutshell is the basis of our current situation. The Somali invasion is just another chapter in this grand scheme of staying in power by any means.

We invaded Somalia to curry favors with the Bush administration in general and the Pentagon in particular. Ger ger le leba yemechal, it was another situation which the regime took advantage of. The underlying philosophy was no problem for TPLF. Its chameleon nature has already been recognized. Power is its only central theme. All others serve the need for power. It started as a Marxist Leninist Party, replaced it with Enver Hoxa when the Derg allied with the Soviet Union, replaced that with liberal democracy when the Soviet Union and the Derg withered and now replaced that with ‘soldiers for hire’ in the name of fighting terrorism.

The gun running in Somalia is part of the pattern of lawlessness the regime encourages in the country. Respect for the law is the pillar of democracy. In the absence of that the ‘law of the jungle’ takes over. Those who have the power dictate to those who don’t. In today’s Ethiopia the power is in the hands of a few TPLF cadres. Everything is up for grabs. Thus it is no surprise that military commanders dabble in as weapon merchants as a payment for hazardous duty. Their civilian counterparts are amassing a big fortune selling anything and everything of value in the country. Yesterday’s cadres who entered Addis Ababa with nothing but an AK 47 are today’s millionaires and highly respected entrepreneurs. They are the same geniuses who build five story with water only going to the second floor, beautiful imported chandeliers but no electricity, rows of condominiums but no road and no waste disposal system, commodity exchange but no commodity. The cadres are all form and no essence.

Myopia is a Greek term for short sightedness. For the myopic distant things appear blurred. Our leaders suffer from thought myopia. They do not seem to see what happened a short time back. Wealth amassed using questionable means does not seem to have a lasting value. It usually ends up returned to its rightful owners. In today’s small world it does not travel far. It is traceable. It does not matter where. Geneva is no different from Indonesia, Cayman Islands is the same as Luxemburg. They all cooperate for a fee and legitimacy.

Thus if this business of gun running is to make profit, profit will be made. The unfortunate part is for the poor foot soldier that is thrown into this situation so others can stay in power. The US has made it clear to all who can hear. ‘We fight them over there before they come over here”. The Ethiopian regime benefits by being a recipient of spare weapons and a few good words by the West to IMF, World Bank etc. for loans and grants. The looser in this equation is the poor peasant regarded as a sacrificial lamb so others can live and thrive temporarily. So you think you have seen it all. Patience my friend, TPLF wills mange to come up with more.

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The writer can be reached at yilma@pacbell.net

Ethiopian officials say border demarcation with Sudan is underway

Friday, May 16th, 2008

By Argaw Ashine, The Monitor

Ethiopian officials say a border demarcation with neighboring Sudan is underway although an agreement has not yet been reached.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that the demarcation process was being executed with mutual respect and based on historical evidences.

This border demarcation activity is based on the agreements signed with Sudan and former colonial master Britain.

Both countries, which have shared a common border committee since 1972 have been trying to re-demarcate the border since 2001.

The African Affairs Director in the ministry, Mr Wahde Belay, said there was no disagreement between Sudan and Ethiopia to solve the issue without the intervention of third party adding that the demarcation of 1600km border might take a longer time to finalise.

Ethiopia and Sudan first signed the border agreement in 1903 and 1909 and agreed to re-demarcate the border in 1972.

Ethiopia puts logo on its hottest export – coffee

Friday, May 16th, 2008

By AARON O. PATRICK, Wall Street Journal

London - A small design firm here was recently hired by an unusual client with an unconventional request: The Ethiopian government commissioned Brandhouse to come up with a logo that will make consumers feel like they are drinking a luxury when they have Ethiopian coffee.

[coffee]
Brandhouse
Ethiopia hopes its new ‘e’ logo will help elevate its coffee.

This month, the Ethiopian government is releasing the logos for three varieties of Ethiopian coffee beans that it hopes will eventually appear from the burlap sacks that are used to transport coffee beans to coffee cups in cafes. It is the first time the country has introduced a brand for its major export.

The Ethiopian government hired Brandhouse after deciding that branding could establish Ethiopia’s reputation for high-quality coffee around the world, like French wine, Russian caviar, or Cuban cigars. Drinkers would likely pay more for Ethiopian coffee, increasing wholesale prices and helping farmers, the government figured.

“People associate Ethiopia with drought and famine and that colors the perception of Ethiopian coffee,” says Berhanu Kebede, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom who was part of the coffee-industry committee overseeing the project. “Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, but surveys show only 2% of people know that.”

The logos are the culmination of years of sometimes-bitter wrangling between Ethiopia, British charity Oxfam, Starbucks and the National Coffee Association, a trade association for U.S. coffee importers, wholesalers, retailers and roasters. The Ethiopian government has argued that companies such as Starbucks should sign licensing agreements for its coffee. Oxfam supported its cause and last year, the Seattle coffee chain reached a deal with Ethiopia to license, market and promote Harar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo coffee.

While the Starbucks deal was seen as a breakthrough, it is unclear how it will work in practice. The world’s biggest coffee chain hasn’t decided how or if it will use the new logos, said Dub Hay, Starbucks’ senior vice president for coffee and procurement.

While other coffees have been marketed into brands based on their origin, such as Colombian coffee with a logo of fictitious farmer Juan Valdez, a logo on its own may have a hard time commanding higher prices. Some 83 companies in nine countries have signed up to licensing agreements, which require them to use the logos, says Crispin Reed, managing director of Brandhouse. That said, Mr. Reed hopes coffee retailers will voluntarily use the logos.

Some marketing experts say Ethiopia needs to create a compelling case that its coffee is special. “There is a story behind every country which makes coffee,” says Mark Cotter, chief executive of WPP Group’s Food Group, a marketing agency that works on coffee brands owned by Kraft Foods, including Maxwell House. “They need to put marketing spending behind it.”

Mr. Kebede says there are plans for “some form of marketing” but he doesn’t know the budget.

Ethiopia’s coffee logo, created by Brandhouse, consists of a letter “e” in the shape of a bean over the name of coffee varieties Harar, Yirgacheffe or Sidamo, and the slogan “Ethiopian Fine Coffee.”

Oxfam estimates the branding could help deliver more than $75 million a year in additional revenue to Ethiopia, on top of the current $350 million a year. Some 15 million Ethiopians depend on the coffee industry, Mr. Kebede says.

Brandhouse was paid by the Ethiopian government for its work, but did not charge full price, Mr. Reed says. The agency doesn’t specialize in charity work and is known in the English ad industry for designing food packaging, including bottles and cans for popular Tango line of sodas.

Court convicts prominent Jijiga residents

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Source: Ogaden Human Rights Committee

On May 12th 2008, Suldan Fowsi Mohamed Ali, a prominent community elder and a peace activist was sentenced to 22 years in prison by an Ethiopian regional court in Jigjiga (also Jijiga). On the same date Haji Ibrahim Had, a well-known businessman and financier of an anti-ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front) clan based militia was also sentenced to 16 years in prison by the same court. The two detainees will be transferred to Zuway prison, in ‘Amhara region’.

On August 28th 2007, in Jigjiga, Ethiopian [Woyanne regime] security forces and the local police took Suldan Fowsi Mohamed Ali from his residence in the dead of night. And then he was transferred to an underground military detention in Jigjiga. He was among a number of outspoken critics of the Ethiopian [Woyanne] government’s policies in the Ogaden who were arrested before the arrival of the UN fact-finding mission in the region. He has been brought before the regional court several times. Each time, He was taken back to his cell for lack of evidence.

Recently, Suldan Fowsi was charged with masterminding of two hand grenade attacks which took place in Dhagaxbuur and Jigjiga, on May 28th 2007 and collaborating with the bandits,” a term Ethiopian authorities [Woyannes] frequently use to designate members of ONLF.

Suldan Fowsi was a member of a group of Ogaden elders who were mandated by the Ethiopian Prime Minister [Woyanne leader] Meles Zenawi to negotiate with the ONLF, on June 29th 2005. It should be noted that he was the mediator who successfully negotiated the release of the Chinese Workers who were taken by ONLF fighters, on 24th April 2007, in the Cobolle oil exploration field attack.

It is worthwhile to mention that Suldan Fowsi is a cousin of Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, the Canadian citizen who was handed over to the Ethiopian government [Woyanne regime] by Kenya at Mogadishu airport, on January 21st 2007.Since then Bashir is being held incommunicado without charge or trial.

Suldan Fowsi’s family members and relatives were subjected to constant harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention and extensive torture. Those who are not in detention went into hiding for fear of their lives.

Haji Ibrahim Had was a sworn enemy of the ONLF. After the killing of his elder brother accidentally by the ONLF, he formed an anti-ONLF militia with the help of the Ethiopian Government [Woyanne]. His militia cooperated and collaborated with the Ethiopian [Woyanne] Armed Forces to undermine the ONLF. His younger brother was killed in one of the many engagements between his militia and ONLF fighters.

Haji Ibrahim Had was detained in December 2007. He was accused of collaborating with ‘the bandits,’ facilitating the Cobolle operation and having secret arrangements with the ONLF. He was brought before the regional court, in Jigjiga, on May 07th 2008, and then was taken back to his cell for lack of evidence and witnesses.

The two detainees were maltreated and denied medical care during their detention.

On April 04th 2008, when Mr. Abdi Mohamoud Omar, the head of the Somali Regional State Security and Justice Bureau, verbally attacked, Suldan Fowsi Mohamed Ali with a hateful and offensive language, during an interview with VOA Somali Section, Mr. Omar then confirmed Fowsi’s eventual condemnation. Since that day, court’s ruling had become a fait accoompli.

Suldan Fowsi and Haji Ibrahim Had pleaded not guilty. But regional court’s sentence was 22 and 16 years’ imprisonment respectively. They were not informed the particulars of the charges and reasons for their arrest, have not had access to any evidence presented against them, and were not represented by a proper legal counsel.

Hence, they did not receive fair trial in accordance with recognized international standards. On the basis of available information about their cases, the OHRC believes that there was not credible evidence for their conviction, and their trial was a mockery of justice, and considers Suldan Fowsi prisoner of conscience and Haji Ibrahim Had a victim of personal vendetta.

To the best of the Ogaden Human Rights Committee’s knowledge, Suldan Fowsi was not involved in any illegal or violent activity. He was a respectable community elder and peace activist. Haji Ibrahim Had was a notable businessman, an anti-ONLF and an ally of the Ethiopian [Woyanne] Government.

The Ogaden Human Rights Committee is concerned about their safety and well-being and opposes their transfer to the notorious Zuway prison.

The OHRC condemns the verdict of the Jigjiga Kangaroo Court and demands their unconditional and immediate release.

Zimbabwe attacks 'out of control' – and the U.S. hypocrisy

Friday, May 16th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mugabe is just another blood thirsty vampire like Meles. At the same time, the U.S. Administration has no moral authority to criticize Mugabe while completely ignoring the atrocities of its puppet, the Meles regime, in Ethiopia and Somalia, including throat slashing, rape, indiscriminate firing at civilians, and other types of crimes against humanity as reported by Amnesty International and other international organizations. The hypocrisy and double standard of the U.S. Administration in regards to Mugabe and Meles shameful.

Zimbabwe attacks ‘out of control’

(BBC) — The US ambassador to Zimbabwe warned post-election violence is “spinning out of control”, as the government set a date for a second-round run-off.

James McGee told the BBC he had found evidence of “politically-inspired” violence against hundreds of people.

The diplomat warned the situation made it impossible for the second vote, set for 27 June, to be fair.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round, but not by enough to avoid a run-off with President Robert Mugabe.

The US ambassador said he had uncovered “firm evidence” of state-sponsored political bloodshed against supporters of Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the aftermath of the elections on 29 March.

He told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “Violence is spinning out of control.

“Too many people have been killed, too many people have been maimed, too many people have been dislocated from their homes.”

He said the attacks involved “mainly beatings to the back and buttocks, we’ve seen quite a few broken limbs, we’ve seen cuts to the head”.

He also said he had met an elderly woman who had been struck with a hatchet.

“Her two grand-sons were activists with the MDC party,” said Mr McGee.

“They were beaten up and then the people who beat them up found their grandmother and hit this 80-year-old woman in the head with an axe.”

‘Unadulterated violence’

Mr McGee said he had met the victims on a fact-finding trip with British, Japanese, EU, Dutch and Tanzanian diplomats, during which he said they were harassed by police.

Along with so-called war veterans, he said they had evidence “police and military are involved in these attacks”.

It was “pure unadulterated violence designed to intimidate people from voting in the next election”, he said.

But the state-owned Herald newspaper poured scorn on the US ambassador’s claims in an editorial, accusing the US of trying to demonise Zimbabwe.

And Zanu-PF spokesman Bright Matonga told the BBC: “Let me make it very clear that the Zimbabwe government does not support any violence – whether by MDC or Zanu-PF.”

Mr Mugabe told a Zanu-PF meeting on Friday the party should have been more prepared for the election.

‘Disastrous’

“Although the presidential result did not yield an outright winner, it was indeed disastrous,” he said.

Mr Tsvangirai told the BBC’s Orla Guerin Zanu-PF had made “overtures” to the MDC about the possibility of a national unity government.

He has said he will contest the second-round vote, after originally threatening to boycott it.

Mr Tsvangirai has also accused Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of a campaign of violence and torture against opposition activists, as well as vote-rigging.

The opposition leader has been out of Zimbabwe since the first-round vote because of alleged threats to his life.

But the MDC says he will return to address a rally in Bulawayo on Sunday.

Somali talks end with no meeting (BBC)

Friday, May 16th, 2008

(BBC) — Peace talks on Somalia have broken up without any face-to-face discussions between the government and the main opposition alliance.

After four days meeting UN diplomats in Djibouti, the two sides agreed to attend further talks in two weeks time.

The opposition insists it will not engage in direct negotiations until the government agrees a timetable for Ethiopian Woyanne troops to leave Somalia.

The two sides did, however, issue a joint appeal to improve aid access.

Ethiopian Woyanne troops are in Somalia supporting a transitional government, but an insurgency has led hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The parties decided to meet again in Djibouti for further talks on 31 May.

The communique, announced by UN envoy to Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, called on all Somalis “to put aside their differences to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access and the delivery of assistance to the people with immediate effect.”

Mr Abdallah organised the peace talks, which started on Monday, between the government and the Asmara-based Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, which includes leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

The UIC ruled much of Somalia in 2006 before being ousted by Ethiopian Woyanne forces backed by Somali government troops, who have been struggling to exert their control over the country ever since.

Al-Shabab, the militant wing of the UIC, did not attend the talks.

The talks were held against a backdrop of daily clashes between Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali government troops.

Distribute the food stored in Tigray region

Friday, May 16th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: There is a food shortage in the south, the most fertile region of Ethiopia, because most of the food that is produced there is shipped to the northern region of Tigray and stored in grain silos and food warehouses. As a result, food prices in Tigray are up to 50% less than in other regions of the country. For example, how is it possible that there is food shortage in Wolaita, a region with some of the most fertile lands in Ethiopia, and at the same time we do not hear about food shortages or price hikes in Tigray, a dry region? So instead of begging for money, the Red Cross may want to ask the Meles regime to distribute the stored food in Tigray.

Red Cross seeks $1.7 million for food aid in Ethiopia

(DPA) — Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Geneva – An appeal for 1.7 million dollars to provide emergency food aid to around 40,000 Ethiopians was launched Friday by the Red Cross.

A series of poor rains resulting in under-nourished cattle had sent livestock prices plummeting.

At the same time, inflation had soared and cereal prices rocketed by more than a fifth two years running, the Geneva-based International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said.

“Thousands of people may face starvation in the coming months in the worst-case scenario but the situation is already critical for some 40,000 people,” IFRC’s food security officer in the region Kiflemariam Amdemariam said.

The money would provide food aid for severely-affected people in the Wolaita, Sidama, Moyale and Bale areas south of Addis Ababa for four months until the October harvest.

Further north, the Ethiopian Red Cross had also been distributing millions of litres of water and purification tablets in emergency drought preparedness programmes in East Harage and Afar.

362 Ethiopians and Somalis arrested in Tanzania

Friday, May 16th, 2008

By Amri Lugungulo, Kibaha

(IPP) TANZANIA — A total of 362 aliens from Ethiopia and Somalia were arrested between April 1 and May 8, this year, for entering the country contrary to immigration law.

According to Coast Region Immigration Officer Omari Kipande, the aliens had told immigration officers that they entered Tanzania after fleeing clan and tribal wars in their countries.

Kipande said that the illegal immigrants were arrested at different times and in different groups and places in the region by immigration officers in cooperation with the police.

The Regional Immigration Officer said that most of the aliens were arrested in Bagamoyo and Kibaha districts after disembarking from a boat in which they were travelling through Mombasa, Kenya from their home countries, Ethiopia and Somalia.

“It seems there is a syndicate that harbours them and provides them with transport and food when they arrive in the country, but when they are arrested most of their hosts manage to escape,” he said.

He said 128 aliens were arrested in April this year in Kibaha District and 120 of them were Ethiopians while 234 were also arrested in April, this year and 61 out of them were Somali nationals.

Kipande said that 51 illegal immigrants both Somali and Ethiopia nationals were arrested between May 1 and 8, this year, 13 of whom were Somali nationals.

The official said that the recent 51 aliens were arrested by the villagers at Lazaba Village and took them to Makurunge Village in Bagamoyo District.

However, he said that the villagers could not arrest the people who assisted them to enter the country.

In April, 90 Ethiopian immigrants were arrested by Tanzanian authorities

Ninety Ethiopians are each serving a six-month sentence after they failed to pay 50,000/-, being the fine ordered by Kibaha Resident Magistrate`s Court in Coast Region for illegal stay in the country.

The sentence was issued by Resident Magistrate, Hamisi Ali Salum, after the accused pleaded guilty to entering Tanzania contrary to immigration rules.

The Coast Regional Immigration Officer (RIO), Omari Kipande, told PST on Wednesday that the driver of the vehicle that carried them, John Mabena (43), and his assistant, Ayub Uhagile (27), were also sentenced to go to jail for three years in default of paying the fine of 100,000/-.

They had earlier pleaded guilty to assisting the aliens by ferrying them from Mlandizi, in Coast Region to Iringa from where the convicted were proceeding to Malawi.

The driver and his assistant were also still facing another charge of conspiracy to assist ferrying the aliens aboard a Scania truck with registration number T990 ACJ.

Kipande said that in the case of immigration prosecuted by an immigration officer, Mwajuma Mfaume, the 90 illegal immigrants would be deported to their home country after completion of their sentence.

He said that the aliens, all males and aged between 18 and 38 years, were arrested on April 4, this year at Mlandizi area in the region.

The illegal immigrants who hailed from Ethiopia had gone through Mombasa, Kenya before they entered Tanzania by boat and later boarded the truck that would have taken them to Malawi, he said.

Press conference with Ginbot 7 officials – Sunday 3:30 PM

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum (ECADF) will host a press conference with Ato Andargachew Tsige and other Ginbot 7 officials on Sunday, at 3:30 PM Washington DC time. The press conference will be aired live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network. Click here to listen.

IFJ calls for charges against magazine editor be dropped

Friday, May 16th, 2008

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the Ethiopian authorities to drop charges against Alemayehu Mahtemework, the editor of monthly entertainment magazine Enku, and three others who were arrested with him after the publication of a cover story about a jailed popular singer.

Mahtemework and three others, who have not been identified, appeared in court on May 6. The trial will resume on May 19. The charges are still not clear but local sources say the four are accused of publishing “stirring articles that could incite people.” The defendants were held for five days before being released on bail.

“There is no need to hold a trial when there is no offence,” said Gabriel Baglo, the Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “We call on the authorities to drop all the legal proceedings against Mahtemework and the three people arrested with him and to allow the magazine to work in total freedom.”

The case stems from Enku’s cover story for its latest edition on Ethiopia’s most famous pop singer Tewodros Kassahun. Kassahun, known as Teddy Afro, is on trial for murder for a hit-and-run incident in 2006. He is well-known for his songs critical of the government and his fans have protested his trial.

Mahtemework and his three co-defendants were arrested by police on the evening of 2 May in a van carrying 10,000 copies of the magazine for distribution. All the copies were seized. After their first court appearance this week, the judge gave police 14 more days to finalize evidence against the defendants and other journalists who worked on the Teddy Afro story.
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For further information contact the IFJ: +221 33 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

Ethiopian Catholic Church Pastor axed for speaking out

Friday, May 16th, 2008


SUSPENDED: Pastor Diphapang Potsane

Criticised fellow clerics for sinning
A pastor of the Ethiopian Catholic Church in Zion has been suspended for what he says was his outspokenness against sin.

“I spoke against fellow clerics who smoked, drank, stole, had extra-marital affairs and engaged in sex with members of the congregation,” he said.

Pastor Diphapang Potsane of the church’s Soshanguve, Pretoria, congregation told Sowetan that his six-month suspension came four days after he demanded that action be taken against errant deacons and bishops.

He claimed they stole from the church coffers and had extra-marital affairs with members of the church.

Potsane said he raised his concerns during the church’s provincial synod and convention at Voeteen near Bela-Bela, Limpopo, this month.

“I was summoned to an urgently convened hearing and found guilty of gross insubordination and violation of the church’s constitution.

“Leaders who are supposed to lead by example have sexual relationships with youths in the church,” Potsane said.

“ They drink and smoke publicly. I know was suspended because I wanted to bring order in the house of the Lord.”

He said he feared for his life because a priest in his branch was gunned down in September 2001 after complaining about the misconduct of the church’s provincial registrar.

“The registrar wanted to meet the priest to discuss the matter but the priest refused. Later that afternoon he was gunned down in a hijack attempt but nothing was stolen,” Potsane said.

Leader of the church Archbishop Simon Moloisane said: “Potsane wants to do things his way and with total disregard for authority and that is why he was charged with violating the oath of canons which require respect.”

Moloisane threatened to sue Sowetan if it published the story.

Attacker of an Ethiopian immigrant gets 8 years in prison

Friday, May 16th, 2008

The New Zealand Herald

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — The mother of a security guard stabbed outside a Wellington bottle store last year dropped dead when he phoned her in Ethiopia to tell her, the High Court at Wellington was told today.

Justice Denis Clifford sentenced Gordon John Tui, 46, to eight years in jail for wounding Mukter Kadir Wadow with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The judge said Tui had become enraged after a young associate was turned away from The Mill liquor store in Victoria Street for not having identification.

Tui went to the store and stabbed Mr Wadow once in the stomach and once in the back.

Justice Clifford said Wadow was lucky to be alive after the first wound missed his heart by 1cm.

Mr Wadow, a 37-year-old Ethiopian, emigrated to New Zealand in 2001.

When his mother in Ethiopia heard he had been attacked she reportedly fainted and could not be revived, Justice Clifford said.

“This was a severe and serious assault, it was…gratuitous and premeditated.”

Justice Clifford adopted a starting point of 10 years’ imprisonment but mitigating factors, including a guilty plea, reduced the sentence.

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Crown prosecutor Kate Feltham acknowledged the plea as a mitigating factor but said it came very late – 14 months after the attack.

Defence attorney Tony Rickard-Simms said the plea was late because Tui’s understanding on the night of the attack was impaired by alcohol and uncontrolled diabetes.

“When his health improved it soon became apparent that he was responsible and there was no excuse for his behaviour,” Mr Rickard-Simms said.

Tui was sentenced to eight years’ jail with a non-parole period of four years.

He had two previous assault offences.

VIDEO: Teddy Afro steals Beyone's show in Addis

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

VOA coverage of Ginbot 7's formation

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Voice of America (VOA) gave a wide coverage of the formation of the Ginbot 7 Movement on its afternoon broadcast. Yesterday, Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues had announced that Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice and Democracy will be officially created today, May 15, to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the May 2005 elections that were overturned by Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship. Click here to listen VOA’s report

Ethiopian immigrants found in a truck at U.K.-France border

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

By Matt Wilkinson, Oxford Mail

OXFORD, U.K. — Seven suspected illegal immigrants have been found in a truck at Oxford logistics firm.

The six men and one woman were discovered in a truck at Unipart in Oxford Business Park, Cowley, at around 1.30pm today.

They were detained by police and due to be interviewed by immigration officers.
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Police spokesman Vicky Brandon said it is believed all the detainees are from Ethiopia.

The driver was spoken to and his details were taken but he was not arrested, Mrs Brandon added.

The truck had arrived in Oxford from France.

Car crash claims the life of Ethiopian mother in Texas

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Police Searching For Driver In Deadly Hit & Run

By Seema Mathur

GARLAND, TEXAS (CBS 11 News) ― Police have released new information today about a deadly hit and run case that killed a Garland mother.

Juan Pedro Tobias, 30, is wanted for crashing into Tsigereda Kassaye’s car last week at the intersection of Jupiter and Buckingham. Kassaye later died at a local hospital from her injuries.

Police say Tobias fled the scene on foot.

Berhane Hagos, describes his wife as an angel. Without her, he said his life “looks like hell.”

Berhane fell in love with Kassaye in Ethiopia. But he was forced to move to the U.S. without her to seek political asylum. Ten years later, he went back to get and marry the love of his life.

Together they had 9-year-old Esrom, who finds it too painful to speak of his mom. He expressed his love in a Mother’s Day card he can only hope she will see from Heaven.

“He’s never been away from his mom,” Hagos said.

The family recently learned Tobias’s license was suspended for a list of previous offenses.

In 2004 he was sentenced and served two years for a DWI. In 2001 he was arrested for driving with a suspended license. In 2000, he was arrested for another DWI.

“I pray for him, and I forgive him,” said Hagos. “I believe in the system in this country, and I believe the system will take its course.”

Hagos said he has to forgive for the sake of himself and his son. It’s also the type of faith his wife had.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Juan Pedro Tobias, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 972-272-8477. You can remain anonymous, and police say you may be eligible for a reward.

DW radio on the formation of Ginbot 7

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

DW’s (German Radio) Amharic Program gave a prominent coverage to the formation of Ginbot 7 on its broadcast today. DW has millions of listeners as VOA and Eritrean Radio in Ethiopia. Click here to listen.

Meseret joins Kenenisa at Oregon's Prefontaine Classic

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Associated Press

EUGENE, Oregon: A second Ethiopian will try to break a world record June 8 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic.

Meseret Defar will attempt to break her world 5,000-meter mark in a race to be held immediately after countryman Kenenisa Bekele goes after his world 10,000 record, meet officials said Wednesday.

Both races will be held in the morning before the official start of the meet.

Meseret, 24, broke her own world record with a time of 14 minutes, 16.63 seconds last June 15 in Oslo, Norway. She was just 20 when she won the gold medal in the event at the Athens Olympics four years ago.

As with the previously announced race by Kenenisa Bekele, the women’s 5,000 will have a pace-setter, Russian Olga Komyagina, fifth in the 3,000 at the world indoors this year, a race Meseret won. Meseret also won the 5,000 at last year’s world outdoor championships in Osaka, Japan.

Woyanne to assign one police officer for every NGO

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Ethiopian government Woyanne is proposing a new law to restrict activities of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country. The law would allow a government agency to assign a police officer or an official to attend any NGO’s internal meetings without a court order.

By Argaw Ashine, Business Daily (Kenya)

It will also authorise the seizing of property, conducting searches and removing NGO staff if their activities are believed to be unlawful. The law excludes international and non-Ethiopian organisations from democracy, human rights, good governance, and conflict resolution activities. Known as Charities and Societies Proclamation, the law restricts local NGOs to source more than 90 per cent of their funding from within the country.

Observers have protested the development, saying the funding clause was unrealistic for a country dependent on high amount of foreign aid.

Most NGOs depend on foreign aid, and local financing is negligible. Western diplomats and donor groups are preparing to request Meles Zenawi, one of the architects and chairman of African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) forum, to reconsider this move which they believe is another attempt at crippling the country’s democracy. After the 2005 post-election crisis, Meles was seen defiant of Western pressure and he described their aid cut as “a shameful act”.

The government has alleged some NGOs affiliated to international organisations operating in Ethiopia have a hidden agenda. Last year, the government expelled the International Red Cross Society from eastern Ethiopia claiming it was involved in “illegal” activities. The charity dismissed the allegations. In the attempts to have the law reviewed, local and international NGOs have appealed to the government for further discussions.

Minas Hiruy, the head and founder of Hope — a local orphanage — has asked the authorities to reconsider the move. “It’s death penalty against us and we are appealing and crying to the government for dialogue before the law is sent to Parliament,” Minas said.

Getnet Assefa, a consultant with the European Union, said a government that receives the highest percentage of international aid lacks the moral stand to disqualify NGOs based on how they get the funds.

Executive director of Poverty Action Network in Ethiopian (PANE), Eshetu Bekele, asked the government to appreciate the role of NGOs towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals. “The government must respect its commitment in various international conventions including NEPAD and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM),” Eshetu said.

Five religious groups have aslo indicated they will be seeking audience with the authorities, saying the development would not only be limiting participation in development activities, but will also threaten religious rights.

Assefa Kesito, Minister of Justice, however, said the law would first be sent to the Cabinet before it goes to Parliament within a “short period of time.”

“We are running out of time to send out the law and they [NGOs] can forward their inputs in the coming days” Assafa added. Assefa said Parliament had until the end of June this year to approve the law.

There are more than 3,000 NGOs covering various sectors in the country. They are estimated to be controlling more than $1 billion.

Some points on the Ethio-Sudan boarder flap

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

By Fekade Shewakena

News of boundary demarcation between Sudan and Ethiopia that unfairly favored Sudan and reports of harm done to Ethiopian farmers along the border is a subject of intense debate among many Diaspora Ethiopians. The blockage of the internet, the curtailment on the independent media and jamming of radio broadcast from outside, coupled with the raging fear of government seem to have blackened out the news and discussion inside the country. Diaspora Ethiopian community airwaves and cyber media are saturated with the news. Emotions are flaring high at the news that not only was land ceded to Sudan, but also by stories of local villages along the border that were burnt by Sudanese soldiers and that even some workers on farms have been taken prisoners by these soldiers while the Ethiopian government is looking the other way. The government’s response to the demands for explanation is a dismissive and emotional denial and has not been helpful. The press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissed the whole flap as anti-government rumor and rant against people who spread these “rumors”. On the other hand, the evidences trickling out from farmers particularly from western Gondar, that include witness interviews on credible news outlets such as the Voice of America, where investors in the area confirmed their workers have been taken prisoner by the Sudanese, and wide coverage on German Radio, statements from Sudanese officials, and publications on the Sudanese side, do not comport with the denials of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Add to this the low believability credit of Zenawi’s regime. It hasn’t gone far in cooling the rage. The Ethiopian officials seem to be in a position of a thief who stole a camel and wants to hide. There seems to be some fire to this smoke and there is no doubt that the news I just heard as I write this, Siyum Mesfin travelling to Sudan, has something to do with it. But amid the emotional exchange, the substantive issue surrounding the boundary is getting lost and an opportunity for useful public discussion on such an important issue is completely missed. Ethiopia is a country where most of the national boundary is not properly demarcated and whatever the kind of government we have, it has to deal with this issue one way or the other.

The rulers in power in Ethiopia should understand that boundaries are not simple mechanical drawings. They are also mental constructs that develop in culture and history and they are uniquely so in Ethiopia’s case. The fact that this is an emotional subject should not have been a surprise for Meles Zenawi and his officials and to anyone who is familiar with Ethiopia’s history. Ethiopians have fought more than thirty international wars within the last one hundred fifty years alone to secure the country’s territorial integrity. The boundaries and the epic wars that our fathers fought against foreign invaders are part of our folklore and the exhibition of our pride in repulsing aggressive invaders and living in independence throughout the ages. Most Ethiopians have this in their bones. This pride is a good thing that needs to be cultivated. Our parents tell us about these stories when we are yet small kids. For an Ethiopian a map of Ethiopia that doesn’t include Eritrea, even after the separation became real 15 years ago, looks ridiculously ugly because it contradicts that mental construct. Anytime I see Ethiopia and the Red Sea, and look at the strip of land that separated 80 million of us from the Red Sea only 15 kilometers away, I feel a sense of humiliation and shame, not because I am a lunatic “neftegna” land lover as some silly people would want to call me, but because I know a history of Ethiopia that was a big maritime civilization where the red see was at the center. A look at this map lessens our pride in our great Axumite civilization. Even for anyone who doesn’t know the history, the strip of land that appears to be so deliberately carved out of the edge of Ethiopia to look like a fence and to deliberately bar us from the Red Sea, does not appear right. It may look fine for the TPLF leaders who see everything from the point of view of their stranglehold on power, but it affects the psyche of entire generations with serious consequences for our nation building. Pride dignity, and senses of historical achievement are good things in nation building and all countries use it. That is partly why we study our history, is it not? I am happy people are angry and enraged about a boundary issue. Any sane government should be proud of such citizens. It is patriotism in display, it is a national asset and it is good.

What is stunningly surprising is the insensitivity of the Meles Zenawi’s regime and its blind supporters to this aspect of our history and the demand of citizens for transparency of the actions of the government on the Ethio-Sudanese boundary. I know sensitivity is not any of the virtues of Meles Zenawi. But even dictators have a limit to the contempt they have for their subjects. Granted that all governments have to deal with neighbors and boundaries, but I cannot understand why Meles chose to do it in secret, behind the back of the Ethiopian people, if his intentions were good.

Some basics about boundaries:

  1. The boundaries of every nation are inseparable from the evolution of the nation in question. Like the country, the boundaries also evolve and pass through stages of development. In fact, if you look at their history, you will see marked stages in the evolution of all boundaries. At their first stage all boundaries are horizons, zones of land, separating countries or regions. It is only an initial claim to a mass of land whose extent is only an estimate. At later times, and when interaction between the neighbors gets more intense, political forces on two sides of this horizon come into conflict and are forced to make political agreements to delineate the boundary. This is the first political decision in the making of boundaries. This is followed by demarcation, the identification of geographic coordinates and the actual marking on the ground of the boundary mark. In cases where a combination of both history and political decisions are carefully considered and weighed to the benefit of each side, demarcation will be successful and is always good. Where boundaries are made with these considerations, there are little boundary conflicts. The lucky countries that have no boundary conflicts with their neighbors have made it this way.
  1. The highest and last stage in the evolution of boundaries is administration. Administration is the confirmation of your authority within the land bound by the boundary. In fact, administration supersedes every factor of decision making regarding boundaries. Nobody in their right mind, except those who need military conflict for its own sake would dare to demand a boundary mark within the boundary that a sovereign nation is known to have administered without risking war. That is why many countries argue the “administration” argument rather than any cartographic mark when a boundary contest based on colonial cartography threatened their territories. No unilaterally made or superimposed colonial boundary can, for example, be acceptable on a territory that has been administered under the authority of the country, or its regional and local governments. You only have to prove that you always administered it and you can be justified to militarily defend it. The Badame historic mistake occurred because of this egregious mistake on the part of the TPLF. It could have argued it on grounds of administration rather than allowing the admission of defunct colonial boundary treaties that were null and void when the Italians abrogated it and invaded Ethiopia. (This poor student of Ethiopian geography was among those who cried at the top of their lungs to stop the admission of colonial maps in the Algiers Agreement with Eritrea).
  1. Boundaries are of three types and the boundaries of nations are made of one or any combination of them. The first types are natural boundaries that are marked by rivers, mountain chains or escarpments and other physical features. The second types are known as geometric boundaries, where boundaries are marked by drawing lines connecting dots (geographic coordinates) on maps. The straight line boundaries that separate Egypt and Libya or the boundaries that separate many of the states of the United States are examples of geometric boundaries. The third are ethnic boundaries which follow settlements inhabited by ethnic groups. Ethnic boundaries are mostly undefined and often geographic continuum becoming perennially disputed. Inside Ethiopia, such ethnic boundaries have always been zones of conflict between adjacent tribes. Nonetheless, the people often have mechanisms of resolving these conflicts without outside intervention. When outsiders and central governments get involved and do it with little input from local populations, their history and cultures, the conflicts often intensify. If you have heard ethnic warfare and conflicts in Ethiopia recently on a scale unheard of before, the reason is the hasty zoning and regionalization made by the current regime. This ethnic regionalization of the country by central authority was done with complete disregard for history, sociology and local knowledge. That is what the TPLF/EPRDF did in Ethiopia. That is the reason of continuous bloodletting between ethnic groups in parts of Southern Ethiopia. I hear that there are several hundred thousand internally displaced people in southern Ethiopia currently living in tragic conditions. Look at the Guji-Sidama conflict. There are similar situations along the national borders. In some of the cases the boundary lines run right in the middle of tribes and even extended families and make it complicated. This is also a serious factor that makes boundary demarcation with neighbors a difficult exercise.

When viewed from these perspectives, and as a matter of fact, Ethiopia’s national boundaries have not completed their evolution over most of their extents. Most of the boundary of Ethiopia with its five neighbors still remains unmarked. A good part of this is because of the unique history of Ethiopia. Unlike most of the countries of Africa where colonial powers made the decisions sitting on both sides of the border, decisions on Ethiopia’s side have been made by sovereign Ethiopian rulers. In many cases, the decisions have been made unilaterally by the colonial power sitting on the other side. Ethiopian rulers were often pressured and threatened to accept super imposed boundary decisions by colonial forces.

The Ethio-Sudan Case: The boundary between Sudan and Ethiopia is largely unmarked. There have been some agreements on some parts of the boundary, (clique here to read a 1902 Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement written in both Amharic and English). You will see that the British were more concerned about their control of the Nile and its tributaries than the boundaries.

It is true that both Haile Sillassie and the dergue wanted to resolve the boundary between Sudan and Ethiopia but could not succeed simply because it was hard. A lot of time has gone by since the agreements with the British and there have been changes on the ground since then. The Sudanese know that the boundaries lined by their colonial masters, particularly by one British army major, the so called Gwen Line, are useful to them. It gives them a fertile chunk of land that the Ethiopians in the surrounding area have always claimed as theirs and used. Our fathers love land and there is no logical reason they would ever cede to conquer that fertile piece of land full of alluvial soils on the edge of intensively cultivated western highlands, save their fear of seasonal Malaria and other tropical diseases.

Since the TPLF/EPRDF government does its negotiations in secret, I don’t know what they plan to make their agreements on and what actually is going on. I have suspicion that they are going to repeat what they have done in the Badme case, using crude colonial agreements instead of the more plausible “administration” argument. If that is what they are doing they are doing it at Ethiopia’s expense. Yes, there are international laws regarding boundary demarcations that must be accepted. But one has to be so stupid to think that these laws can be applied mechanically without considerations of local circumstances and history and the socio-economy of the area.

Had the TPLF/EPRDF argued the administration argument instead of allowing nullified Italian maps, Badame would not have been given to Eritrea and we should not have been in this shameful position now of rejecting a binding agreement after the fact. Siyum Mesfin and Meles would have saved themselves from that shameful press release calling us to dance on the streets after the arbitration court’s decision. I am ashamed of what they did as an Ethiopian but more than anything else this shame will follow this “tenured” Foreign Minister of 18 years to his grave. If this is the same principle being applied in the Ethio-Sudanese case, there is no doubt that it will be another disaster for Ethiopia. It means loss of a huge chunk of fertile alluvial farmland that would feed a good part of the population.

One sad aspect of the current discourse is that the TPLF and its supporters are twisting the public outrage and demand for clarification as something that has to do with the people of Tigrai. It now has become a pattern that anytime you oppose Meles Zenawi and his actions, it is construed as if you are against the Tigrean people. Any sane human being understands that the Tigrean people are in the dark as the rest of their fellow Ethiopians and have nothing to do with this boundary decision. I am sure, and I personally know that there are many Tigreans who are angry that this is being done behind their backs. I am not sure how the equation of equivalence is made between the people of Tigrai and the handful of TPLF rulers who keep messing the country. This twist being pursued by pro-TPLF media outlets is getting absolutely ridiculous and devoid of responsibility. An editorial on Aigaforum, a TPLF outlet, has gone to an extent of using language that makes the Nazis less vitriolic against the Jews when it insulted the critics as “Zerebisoch” (people with trash origin) before it tries to tell us the role of Tigreans in our history, which no one denies. I only hope this kind of language is coming out from among the most ignorant of the TPLF operatives and not condoned by the leadership. In many places I know in Ethiopia, anyone would feel justified to blow your head off if you call him a “Zerebis.” Another pattern in the blame game is attributing every bad thing on Shabia, OLF or ONLF and attributing this so called rumor on them. This stupid argument is based on the assumption that we are all stupid and cannot find the truth on our own.

I suggest that we all need to take a step back and deliberate on the issue as one people with calm and reason and well founded evidence. I hope the TPLF/EPRDF officials would let us know what actually transpired regarding the boundary issue rather than rant at us. If they choose to keep denying and close us out, we will get the information from somewhere else. Hey, this is the information age. The TPLF supporters should also understand that they are not helping any cause by blindly touting the official line and should instead stand for transparency. On the side of the opponents, I urge calm and the need to build informed and substantive argument. At the end of the day, the Ethiopian people and history will have to give their verdict. Sooner or later there will be someone to account for any misdeed, if not for us as a people, at least for history.
———————-
The writer can be reached at fekadeshewakena@yahoo.com

Big event in Alexandria, Virginia

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Press Release from Ethiopians for Obama

On Saturday, May 17th, Teddy Fikre will be running to represent the 8th Congressional District for the Democratic National Convention supporting Senator Obama. The 8th Congressional District is home to Alexandria–otherwise known as the Addis Abeba of America. There are more Ethiopians in the Northern Virginia area than anywhere else outside of Ethiopia. Alexandria is our home, and our moment is now.

Teddy’s election represents more than one man’s aspiration, it represents our continuing involvement in the democratic process of our adopted home and our collective interests. So the moment is now for us to come together and turn out in mass on Saturday, May 17th to make our voices heard. This could be a significant moment for the Ethiopian-American community; Teddy could be the first Ethiopian delegate to represent a state at a National Convention. Teddy is not the only Ethiopian-American embarking on a historical moment, Shakespeare is also in the running to represent the great state of Washington supporting Senator Obama. Teddy and Shakespeare are members of Ethiopians for Obama, an amazing group of Ethiopian-Americans who have come together to work for a noble effort.

Virginia is a “battle-ground” state during the fall election. The election of our next President could literally come down to a couple of thousand votes. With over 80,000 Ethiopians living in the state of Virginia, we hold in our hands the possibility of electing the next President and determining the direction of this country and of the world. Regardless of whom one supports, it is a sacred responsibility for Ethiopian-Americans to vote in this historic election. We cannot take for granted the democracy we are blessed to have; there are millions in Ethiopia who would trade all their possessions to have the opportunity we have here in the United States.

So take a couple of hours out of your weekend to go out to Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia to support our fellow Ethiopian—Teddy Fikre—as he makes his case to be a delegate for the 8th Congressional District. Our moment is now, go out and be a part of our great political process.

Event Details:

Place: Francis Hammond Middle School
Address: 4646 Seminary Rd. Alexandria, VA
Date: Saturday, May 17th 2008
Time: 9:00 AM

Show up early so that you are guaranteed seating.

The Annual retreat of the UN Country Team opens in Mekelle, Tigray Region in Ethiopia

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The UN country Team composed of 25 agencies opened its first annual retreat today May 14, 2008 in Mekelle in the Tigray region in Ethiopia in presence of the Mr. Tsegaye Berhe, President of Tigray Regional State. In his opening remarks, Mr. Fidele Sarassoro, the UN Resident Coordination indicated that the overall objective of the meeting was to bring the UN system together to take stock of the activities of the agencies, document lessons learnt and agree on a roadmap for the continuous cooperation with the Government of Ethiopia. The agencies will also address strategic elements of the UN Reforms with the view of improving effectiveness in the UN programs in Ethiopia work in a more coordinated manner.
During the two day meeting the heads of the UN agencies in Ethiopia will discuss such important issues as the global food crisis, climate change, the current drought situation and their implications for Ethiopia.

On May 13, 2008 the Representatives of the UN agencies visited Axum the site of a major initiative undertaken by the Government of Ethiopia to restore and erect an obelisk that was returned by at its original site. This project that is supported technically by UNESCO will be completed in September 2008 according to Mr.Nurleldin Satti, the UNESCO representative in Ethiopia.

Ginbot 7, a Movement for Justice and Democracy is formed

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

May 14, 2008
Press Release

Ethiopians’ long quest and struggle for justice and freedom is continuing today. The march, though torturous, towards democracy is on. The millions that participated in the May 15, 2005, general election have vowed that no amount treachery and oppression shall break their will to live in a just, free, prosperous and united Ethiopia.

In 2005, 25 million Ethiopians, trusting the words of the ruling party and its western backers and hoping that the election of 2005 will be different from previous elections, went out and registered to vote. The people, along with opposition, were led to believe that for the first time in the country’s history will have the right to elect those who should assume power and put an end to the chaos and misery associated with the thorny issue of power struggle.

Even though there were tough challenges, both to the electorate and the opposition, in contrast to the 2005 election process before voting day was remarkably fair and free.
On May 15, 2005, over 96% of the 25 million registered voters, went to the polling stations, and voted despite the long wait of eight to twelve hours. In unparalleled dignity and orderliness rarely displayed, Ethiopians proved to the world that they had been ready for democracy long before their rulers allowed them to taste it.

Upon learning that the public had voted for the opposition groups, especially in the major cities across the country, on May 16, 2005 the Prime Minister went on Television at 9:00 P.M. and declared a “State of Emergency”. In the Capital Addis Ababa peaceful gatherings and demonstrations were banned. The Prime Minister personally took a direct command of the Police and security forces. In the rural areas, where international observers were absent and it was easy to apply coercion, the ruling party forcibly removed the opposition poll watchers and began counting votes. On May 17 2005, when less that 20% of the total votes were counted, the incumbent declared the election victory. By blatantly rigging the votes of millions it made its intent how it will cling to power. On June 8 2005, protesters who were outraged by the stolen election went out to peacefully protest in the streets of Addis Ababa. In response over 50 innocent civilian were shot and murdered in cold blood.

All offers of negotiations to placate the wounded ruling tyrants were ineffective. The proposal put by the opposition to allow the ruling party stay in power with votes it has misappropriated, provided it agrees to lay the foundation of democratic institutions necessary to curb the abuse of power by ruling parties and make elections fair, free and meaningful met outright rejection by the government. Further repression ensued.

In October 22 2006, the entire leadership of the main opposition party were rounded up and thrown in to Jail. Many more, journalists, civil rights advocates and human rights activists were added to the prison list. A trumped up charge of treason and genocide was prepared and an 18 month illegal incarceration followed. In the same fateful October day of 2005, the prime minister dispatched the heavily armed and equipped special force of the Agazi brigade and murdered over 193 citizens in the Capital Addis Ababa. The carnage in the rest of the country, away from the prying eyes of international media, was brutal and in mass.

The government unleashed a house to house search and hand picked the supporters of the opposition that it has come to identify through their participation and support for the opposition in the 2005 election. In two weeks alone nearly 100,000 innocent citizens were sent to camps and prisons, and were subjected to in human and degrading treatment. The whole country was turned into a mass concentration camp.

In its own perverse sense of justice, the ruling party wanted to pin the mayhem and the killing that took place after the election onto the opposition. The incarcerated CUD leaders became perfect scapegoats. In unimaginable shamelessness and using treachery, deceit and manipulating mediators, the government coerced CUD leaders into signing a document stating: “…taking responsibility or an admission of guilt and plea for clemency” in exchange for their release from prison.

Since the shock the ruling party suffered in an election it called with the certainty of wining it, its sole occupation has become to terrorize, weaken all opposition forces and remain unchallenged in power. Using the cover of legality of the laws that are designed in its favor, the government destroyed all major political parties, thereby destroying the fledgling pluralism in the country.

Upon denying recognition and legal status to CUDP, and after merely three years it had suffered a crashing defeat at the polls by the opposition, the government now claims that it has won back all seats it lost to CUDP in a recent election conducted to replace the parliamentary seats rejected by CUDP. The CUD refusal to take the seats was to protest against the government refusal to negotiate on future election and parliamentary procedures. Ironically, in the recent election, it was only the ruling party that filed candidates making it clear that the claimed victory is hollow.

The giving away of the land from Quara region, a birth place of Ethiopia’s greatest hero Emperor Tewodros to the Sudan, and detaining and abusing Teddy Afro, an artist whose songs of love, unity, hope and tolerance has inspired millions of Ethiopians at home and abroad has no other intent but to cause pain to the public. It is clearly a demonstration of an utter lack of respect and insult to the people of Ethiopia.

It is, therefore, the continuance of these and similar litany of repression, degradation, trampling on individual and national pride and heritage that resulted in the formation of the Movement, Ginbot 7. As proud Ethiopians whose ancestors have paid untold sacrifice to save us from the type of humiliating treatment by others we say no to life without freedom and honor. No to the home made tyrants whose appetite for blood, treachery, embezzlement and betrayal has surpassed all records.

We are continuing what we began on May 15th 2005 and October of 2006 in which we promised to make the people of Ethiopia the sole source of political power, and that is why we decided to form the “Ginbot 7 Movement.”

The primary objective of our movement is to stir our country towards a stable democratic process and transition. We recognize that this effort or task will not be achieved by one political party alone, or by few political parties who share similar ideologies. It needs a willing coalition of and collective effort of all parties who feel or claim to have a stake in Ethiopia’s political future. We see the need that all stakeholders need to discuss and reach a mutual agreement on how to achieve the stated objective. Our movement is fully committed and dedicated in bringing all parties together to begin dialogue. To that end, we are already seeing promising signs.

The government that is subjecting our people to misery and humiliation is being aided and abated by Western governments’ money, material, training, and other benefits as a reward for its questionable services. Thus, we ought to organize and work tirelessly throughout the world to have Western countries support democracy and correct their misguided policies and challenge the tyrants in Addis Ababa. To illicit the support and camaraderie of citizens of Western Nations, in opposing and pressuring their governments to change their misguided policies on Ethiopia, Ginbot 7 will work tirelessly with Ethiopians in the Diaspora. We are certain that with an intense campaign of “Know Ethiopia” we will put the struggle for justice, freedom and democracy in Ethiopia in frame.

Our Movement would like to make it clear, to foes and friends, that in order to avert the current humiliation and disgrace to our country and ourselves the Movement will cooperate, assist, and form alliance with others who believe in the principle of democracy and human rights. The Movement shall not seek the consent or permission of the tyrannical regime of Ethiopia in any of its future undertakings.

While the EPRDF is invading Somalia, ceding land to the Sudan, making our country landlocked, and remaining in power through treason as it has ascended to power trough similar means, we hereby declare that we shall not sit idle only for the sake of holding the moral high ground and watch the dismantling of our beloved country. We will engage in any action the movement deems proper in advancing our struggle for freedom and democracy. Along this line, the Movement has a plan to forge relationships, immediately, with neighboring countries and others based on mutual benefit and in an effort to rid Meles Zenawi’s destructive practices in the region.

Our Movement shall employ all kinds and means of struggle to reach its stated goal. If there is an opportunity to negotiate with EPRDF in implementing basic democratic principles, the Movement remains open to accommodate such discussions or negotiations. In fact, the Movement full-heartedly gives priority and prefers this method of resolving disputes than all others. However this should not be construed as groveling. This is simply a call stemming from calm and rational thinking that dialogue is beneficial for all involved. Still, our call to negotiate and our willingness to talk will not, under any circumstances, delay, derail, or hinder our zeal and passionate determination of our pursuit of liberty, justice, and democracy.

To Ethiopians, who have had enough of atrocity, who can no longer take humiliation, who yearn for freedom/liberty, we are confident that you will join us, and we are certain that our united struggle shall prevail in the shortest possible time.

We will forever remember May 15!!

The Spirit of Ginbot 7 will prevail!!

'There is a limit to people's patience' – Dr Berhanu Nega

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
Kinijit leaders arrive in Seattle
Dr Berhanu Nega and Ato Daniel Assefa at a press
conference today in Virginia [photo: Dereje Getachew, Clear Photo]

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues gave a press conference on Wednesday at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio in Virginia where they announced the formation of a new Ethiopian political organization named “Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Liberty and Democracy.” The group’s web site, ginbot7.org, was also introduced at the press conference.

Dr Berhanu Nega said at the press conference that “there is a limit to people’s patience.”

“We are not going to beg Meles and Sebhat anymore. We are going to push back.”

Representatives of several media, including the VOA, DW, EriTV, Oromo Community Radio, Addis Dimts, Ethiopian Review, EMF, and Hibret Radio, were present to ask questions.

In a stern tone, Dr Berhanu said the people of Ethiopia will never allow an unelected government to rule over them any more. He repeated this message several times through out the press conference.

As far as elaborating Ginbot 7′s methods of struggle, Dr Berhanu said it’s not going to be wise to discuss the details, but all means that are available will be used by the people of Ethiopia to protect themselves from the Meles regime’s brutal rule.

This coming weekend, Ethiopian Review, in collaboration with the other media, will try to interview Ato Andargachew Tsige and other members of Ginbot 7 Movement who were unable to participate in today’s press conference due to technical proglems.

Press conference with Dr Berhanu Nega today at 4:00 PM EDT

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Press conference with Dr Berhanu Nega today at 4:00 PM EDT. Click here to listen

Berhanu Nega aims to lead a movement for change

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues will give a press conference today, Wednesday, to announce the formation of a new political movement. The press conference will be held in the afternoon (4:00 PM Washington DC time) at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio in Alexandria, Virginia — a suburb of Washington DC.

The announcement — which is planned to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the May 15, 2005 elections — has created a great deal of interest in Ethiopian communities around the world. It is currently a subject of much discussion by almost every Ethiopian who follows Ethiopian politics closely. It is not without a reason. Since he was released from prison last July, Dr Berhanu has become the most articulate and forceful voice in demanding the end of Woyanne’s illigitimate rule. His uncompromising stand on respecting the choice the people of Ethiopia made on May 15, 2005, has positioned him as a leading opposition figure. While his colleagues in the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (Kinijit) chose to continue working within the system inside the country, Dr Berhanu has reached a different conclusion: we have seen the extreme savagery and lawlessness of the Woyanne regime and that the people of Ethiopia have the right to use any means necessary and available to them to protect themselves from the regime’s atrocities.

Dr Berhanu is joined by some highly experienced and smart individuals such as Ato Andargachew Tsige, Ato Mesfin Aman, Ato Daniel Assefa and others who are expected to make up the core of the new movement’s leadership.

According to sources close to the group, talks have already started with the Oromo Liberation Front and other major Ethiopian opposition forces to establish a politico-military alliance against the Woyanne junta. The talks could and is hopped to lead to a transitional government in exile.

The press conference will be carried live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network, Current Affairs Discussion Forum, and other media tomorrow, Wednesday, starting at 4:00 PM.

Mahmoud Ahmed performs at the Minnesota Music Festival

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

(jazzpolice.com) — The fourth installment of the Minnesota sur Seine music festival is coming to various Twin Cities locations from May 15 through May 25, 2008. Festival organizers announced the confirmed shows on a lineup that features collaborations between Twin Cities and international musicians performing improvisational jazz, Celtic, hip hop, World Music, spoken word, rock and more. A hip hop show (with La Rumeur and Ursus Minor), a roots show (with the Jacky Molard Quartet and Roma di Luna), an Ethiopian master (Mahmoud Ahmed), two St. Paul Music Crawls, a CD release party for Francois Corneloup’s “Next”, and a celebration of Federico Garcia Lorca (featuring Tony Hymas) are among the events on the 2008 schedule (full schedule follows). Minnesota sur Seine, which debuted in the Fall of 2004, has grown in scope from its Twin Cities-meets-Paris jazz beginnings to become a sweeping showcase of musical styles from around the world.

A NIGHT IN ETHIOPIA
Mahmoud Ahmed and his ensemble
Mahmoud Ahmed: vocals, Moges Habte: sax, Tekle Gebremedhin: sax, Araya Wolde Michael: keyboards, Tamre W. Agede: guitar, Yenesew Tefera: bass, Mikias Abebayehu: drums
Yohannes Tona / Michael Bland / Jef Lee Johnson
Yohannes Tona: bass, Michael Bland: drums, Jef Lee Johnson: guitar
18+ $25 advance, $30 at the door
Doors at 8:00 PM
The Fine Line Music Café
318 First Ave., No.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Read more >>

Obang Metho on VOA's Straight Talk Africa

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Obang Metho will be the guest on VOA’s Straight Talk Africa live starting at 2:30 PM Eastern Time USA time today May 14th 2008 to discuss tomorrow’s 3rd anniversary of the May 2005 elections.

VOA veteran journalist Shaka Ssali hosts this live, one-hour call in program, heard and seen on the Voice of America and affiliated stations.

Please note that the show will be streaming live on the internet here, and Ethiopian Review Radio Network. Callers can call and join in.

Two Ethiopians in Dubai fined for illegal status

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

(Dubai Today) — People who use maids and cleaners who have no official sponsor run the risk of incurring huge fines, the head of the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department warned yesterday. Brigadier Mohammad Ahmad Al-Mur said that these people will face penalties – just like the illegal housemaids. “The problem is that some families recruit housemaids that have run away from their original sponsors. These families often leave them on the old sponsor so they don’t have to pay for another visa,” Al-Mur said.

“These housemaids are cheaper and so more appealing. They know that they can get work quicker, even if it is illegal,” he added. The issue came to light after two families were fined dhs50,000 each by the Dubai Immigration Court for using housemaids they were not sponsoring. One of the two Ethiopian housemaids involved was sentenced to one month in jail and fined dhs10,000 for illegally staying in the country and the second maid was sentenced to two months. They will both be deported after serving their jail terms.

The second housemaid was working for an Arabic family when the owner discovered that somebody had stolen her jewellery. She immediately informed the police. “The owners weren’t to know that the housemaid was a thief, but the family were still fined for accepting the housemaid into their villa without changing the sponsor,” the head of Nationality and Residence Prosecution, Ali bin Khatem said.

“The situation, with no documentation that can link the maid to the house, encouraged the maid to steal, thinking that she would be leaving no evidence behind that could lead to her.”

Bin Khatem claimed that they are pursuing the people involved in such cases. “We are tough with such cases and I ask families not to recruit workers not on their own sponsorship, and also to inform us of anyone who runs away from a sponsor,” he said. The penalty for anyone recruiting a worker not on their sponsorship is dhs50,000. The penalty for illegally working is a maximum of three months in jail and dhs10,000 fine and deportation.

“The families don’t know the backgrounds of these housemaids. What if the housemaid has a criminal record?” Al Mur added.

VIDEO: Britain's got talent (funny)

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

VIDEO: Meles's wife helped police chief to extort money

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Berhanu Nega aims to lead a movement for change

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues will give a press conference tomorrow, Wednesday, to announce the formation of a new political movement. The press conference will be held in the afternoon (4:00 PM) at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio in Alexandria, Virginia — a suburb of Washington DC.

The announcement — which is planned to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the May 15, 2005 elections — has created a great deal of interest in Ethiopian communities around the world. It is currently a subject of much discussion by almost every Ethiopian who follows Ethiopian politics closely. It is not without a reason. Since he was released from prison last July, Dr Berhanu has become the most articulate and forceful voice in demanding the end of Woyanne’s illigitimate rule. His uncompromising stand on respecting the choice the people of Ethiopia made on May 15, 2005, has positioned him as a leading opposition figure. While his colleagues in the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (Kinijit) chose to continue working within the system inside the country, Dr Berhanu has reached a different conclusion: we have seen the extreme savagery and lawlessness of the Woyanne regime and that the people of Ethiopia have the right to use any means necessary and available to them to protect themselves from the regime’s atrocities.

Dr Berhanu is joined by some highly experienced and smart individuals such as Ato Andargachew Tsige, Ato Mesfin Aman, Ato Daniel Assefa and others who are expected to make up the core of the new movement’s leadership.

According to sources close to the group, talks have already started with the Oromo Liberation Front and other major Ethiopian opposition forces to establish a politico-military alliance against the Woyanne junta. The talks could and is hopped to lead to a transitional government in exile.

The press conference will be carried live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network tomorrow, Wednesday, starting at 4:00 PM.

Worldwide Ethiopian march for freedom and justice

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Click here for the Washington DC event
The third anniversary of the failed Ethiopian National Election is almost here. As the time approaches, the Worldwide March Committee members are working hard to plan events in cities across North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Israel.

These events will publicly demonstrate that the Ethiopian peoples’ thirst for freedom, human rights, justice and democracy will not die despite the hijacking of the last election and the increasing repression within the country. This has been a huge organizational task and will not be perfect, but it is the beginning. Let the sleeping giant—the freedom loving people of Ethiopia—awaken and rise up for truth and right!

EPRDF or Woyane reportedly are asking, “Why do these people want to embarrass their government and their country by coming out for this rally?

The real question is, who is embarrassing Ethiopia—those who repress their fellow Ethiopians or those who tell the truth about it? In other words, stop the human rights abuses, injustices and electoral manipulations and we will not have anything to rally about.

Just look at two recent examples, Ethiopian children have the lowest access (83%) to health care in the world!1 Secondly, Ethiopia received another world distinction—the dishonor of being the most backslidden country in the world in regards to freedom of the press!2

Should we admit this? Why not? Are these correctable problems? Of course! Denial of real problems will not do anything to solve them. In all fairness, health care is an enormous problem throughout the world, but Ethiopia is the worst—why? The repression of the press is directly linked to a repressive government. Why should we not rally against this?

We would be happy and proud of our government that was doing its best for the people despite limitations. This is the kind of government for which we are rallying—not a perfect government, but a government that serves the people, not themselves! Anyone who agrees with us should come out this week and not stop working until justice comes to Ethiopia!

This is not about political choices. It is about the basic right to make “a political choice”—whichever choice that might be! If you want a choice, you need to come out from May 15 to 18th and stand up for that right!

One of the greatest joys over these last three to four weeks of planning has been to see so many previous “fighters for liberty” re-emerge to work alongside new Ethiopians at the grass roots level after the deep discouragement among Ethiopians over the last months. There has been a tremendous amount of work accomplished in a very short time—with much more to do—but the highlight has been in seeing new groups and new people joining together to accomplish a shared goal—a free Ethiopia where the rights of all of the people will be respected.

As Ethiopians remember those who have died, let us come together in unity for we have all suffered losses either during this regime or at the hands of earlier ones in our history. These events are meant to remind us that one of the chief roles of government is to protect and uphold the lives of its citizens. How can we do a better job of this as a people and as a nation? These events over these four days are ways to raise the expectations for what we expect as people of Ethiopia, the Horn, Africa and as members of human kind.

Groups will differ in how they accomplish this. The format of these events will take on the creativity, diversity and ownership of the local organizers. In some cities, events will be combined into one or two events. Others will change the dates to accommodate the needs and preferences of various groups.

For instance, Muslims will be having a Day of Marching on Thursday, a Day of Prayer on Friday and a Day of Reaching Out will remain the same, Saturday. For some, celebrating a Day of Reaching Out will mean small gatherings in homes for dinner, tea or coffee while others are organizing community gatherings in town halls or in their places of faith. Prayer gatherings Friday or Sunday might include five earnest people or fifty.

Remember, this is only the beginning. It is an opportunity to reject the worst parts of tribalistic thinking that leave so many out. We can be proud of our own ethnicity while at the same time; we can still embrace others from other backgrounds.

We are hopeful that all these events and suggestions will begin to connect us together in new ways so that the human rights of all Ethiopians will be upheld and valued and so that people will reach out in unity, tolerance, respect, love and care for one another to create a better future for our children.

We still expect more and more people to join by the end of the week, contributing in their own ways to this effort. Some of these efforts will be very simple, but meaningful. Here is one inspiring example of two families from Denmark. We hope many of you will follow this example.

It began with a Tigrayan woman who read about the upcoming events, particularly the suggestion about reaching out on Day Three to your neighbors and those from different groups around you. She immediately thought of an Ethiopian family she regularly met at the grocery store. She said that early on, she had asked the woman, Abasha Neach? the woman replied in English, “I’m an Oromo.”

After that, both of them had merely passed each other in the community for five years. She admitted that she was friendlier with the Danes in the country than with one of her own fellow Ethiopians. She said that after reading about reaching out to others, she had started to feel guilty and knew she had been wrong. She decided she was going to do change.

The next time she saw the woman in the store, she asked her if she could come with her family to her home so she could cook for them and have supper together. The woman asked her why. She explained that it was because those organizing the Worldwide March events had asked people to do simple things such as reaching out to invite someone to your home for supper, not to talk about politics, but to learn about each other. She said she had been passing her in the community for five years and that she wanted to know her better.

At first, the woman told her that she would get back to her, but by the time she had gotten through the store, she went up to the other woman who had invited her and said, “We will come to your home.”

We will not know the end of this story until after next Saturday, but what if more people did this all over the Diaspora and throughout Ethiopia? What would Ethiopia be like if this became common? Changes like this are up to many average Ethiopians, not politicians who sometimes use their hidden agendas or ethnicity to divide average Ethiopians. If many average Ethiopians would extend love and caring actions to others, imagine what could happen!

This is what it means to be human. This is what our complaint is about our government— they have forgotten how to be human. Let us start this week to show each other what it will mean to Ethiopia if each of us is simply “human”, one person at a time!

Let us persist in our struggle for such a society. Come out of your homes and join this week in any way you can to bring about a new Ethiopia! It is up to Ethiopians like you and like me!

For information on events or if you want to participate in some of the planned groups, you should email us at ethiopiansmarchforfreedom@yahoo.ca for details. Events are planned in many different cities in 23 cities and in 17 countries throughout the world.

If you want to join, it is still not too late! If you are already organizing something, email the details to us of the date, the time and the location so we can put it all together with other information. Also, for ideas of possible slogans that are being used throughout the world, contact us.

—————–

For more information please contact
The Worldwide March for Ethiopian Freedom, Human Rights and Justice Organizing Committee
By E-mail at: ethiopiansmarchforfreedom@yahoo.ca

'Children of the Revolution' by Dinaw Mengestu

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Los Angeles Times Book Review: Dinaw Mengestu belongs to that special group of American voices produced by global upheavals and intentional, if sometimes forced, migrations. These are the writer-immigrants coming here from Africa, East India, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Their struggles for identity mark a new turn within the ranks of American writers I like to call ‘the in-betweeners.’ The most interesting work in American literature has often been done by such writers, their liminality and luminosity in American culture produced by changing national definitions (Twain, Kerouac, Ginsberg), by being the children of immigrants themselves (Bellow, Singer), by voluntary exile (Baldwin, Hemingway) and by trauma (Bambara, Morrison).

Dinaw Mengestu was born in Ethiopia in 1978 and is a graduate of Georgetown and Columbia universities. He works as a journalist and reviewer and is researching a book tracing his extended family’s exile from Ethiopia following the 1974 revolution. Children of the Revolution won the Guardian First Book Award in 2007… Continue reading >>

Addis Ababa faces lengthy power outage

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — The Ethiopian capital faces a lengthy power outage until next month because of reduced water levels in the country’s hydro- electric plants, a state-owned generator said Monday.

Addis Ababa, a city of 5 million, will have no power for up to three days a week, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation said in a statement.

“Power rationing will continue until June. Climate change, which is inflicting a great damage worldwide, is the main cause of the poor performance of seasonal rains in Ethiopia,” state media quoted Water Minister Asfaw Dingamo as saying.

Ethiopia lagging behind in telecom due to state monopoly

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Africa mobile subscribers grow 33%… the clear laggard in Africa was Ethiopia which retained a monopoly both on fixed-line and mobile telephone services.

(Reuters) — African mobile operators added 70-million users in the past year, a growth rate of 33 percent, and expanded cell phone coverage by an area the size of France, industry organisation GSMA said on Tuesday.

Africa now has 282-million mobile phone users out of a population of around 960-million, but more than 300-million people living in rural areas still have no cell phone coverage, the GSM Association (GSMA) said.

Around 66 percent of the population are reached by a mobile phone signal, up from 62 percent in 2007.

Some African countries, such as Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, already have a coverage well above 90 percent, the GSMA said.

The industry is committed to spending more than $50 billion over five years in sub-Saharan Africa to boost the coverage to 90 percent of the population, the GSMA said, adding investment could even be higher if the regulatory environment was right.

Gabriel Solomon, a senior vice-president for public policy at the GSMA, told Reuters a study for the industry group concluded last year that an additional 25 percent could have been invested in Africa under ideal circumstances.

“If you look at our $50 billion, that could lead to an incremental $12,5-billion over the next five years invested,” he said at the sidelines of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Telecom Africa conference.

An ITU report prepared for the conference also argued that further privatisation, moves to increase competition and more independent regulators could give Africa’s telecoms industry, whose fast growth has attracted interest from buyers in Europe, the Middle East, India and China, a fresh boost.

Solomon said the clear laggard in Africa was Ethiopia which retained a monopoly both on fixed-line and mobile telephone services.

“I know that our members would be ready to invest in Ethiopia tomorrow if they got a licence,” he said.

In other countries, competition is heating up.

“If you look at Kenya for example, this time last year there were two operators, today there are four… Uganda now has six licences. So you have to ask yourself are these sustainable, will some of these guys drop out, will it lead to consolidation?” Solomon said.

Africa on the move, but challenges remain

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Ethiopia is the only country which still maintains a monopoly for both mobile and fixed voice.

(By Skrevet av Mikael Ricknäs, IDG News Service) — There is a lot of good news in Africa, especially in the mobile space, but regulatory and technical challenges remain for both mobile phones and broadband, industry organization the GSM Association (GSMA) said Tuesday.

The number of mobile connections has risen to 282 million, an increase of 70 million, in the last 12 months. Improved coverage has added another 46 million potential customers, according to GSMA.

Currently an average of 66 percent of the continent is covered, but the industry has set the bar higher: in five years that figure should be 90 percent. There are still about 300 million users, in rural areas, not covered.

“Reaching that goal, and serving those communities will be a great challenge”, said Tom Phillips, the GSMA’s chief government and regulatory affairs officer.

Key to growth on the continent has been increased competition, going from a monopoly to a duopoly, and even more operators battling for market share. But more can be done, Phillips said.

For example, Ethiopia is the only country which still maintains a monopoly for both mobile and fixed voice.

But Phillips’ pet peeve is luxury tax — which is added after regular value-added tax (VAT) — for both mobile phones and usage in many countries.

Removing the tax will actually increase revenue, since phone sales increase, and usage goes up, the GSMA said, after conducting a survey on the subject.

The ones which have the best feel for the African market are the local carriers. High on Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (Etisalat) Chairman Mohammad Hassan Omran’s list is a more stable regulatory environment.

It is common in certain areas for a regulator to accept something one day, only to alter the rules the next, and when there is a change of government there is a change of rules. “Money will not come unless there is confidence,” he said.

Omran also said there is a need to relax rules for the use of foreign workers, which is not always allowed, and would ease the roll-out of networks.

Being able to make calls using is a mobile phone an important step, but getting data access at broadband speeds is as important. Only five African countries had broadband penetration of more than 1 percent at the end of last year, according to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union).

Currently the fundamentals to get broadband moving on a larger scale are broken, according to Sanjiv Ahuja, former CEO of Orange SA, who is starting a new company to roll out broadband in developing markets.

International bandwidth is a big challenge. “People are trying to tackle it, several submarine cables are being built, but it will not fix the problem. Inter-country connections are almost nonexistent. That means you still have to use satellite, which is both slow and expensive. As a continent there needs to a significant focus on connecting countries,” he said.

The problem is exaggerated by the fact that international gateways, which connect local operators to international bandwidth, are still a monopoly in many countries.

“The impact is two-fold, there is no strategic long-term planning, and secondly the prices are very high. Sometimes availability is not high, as well,” said Phillips.

Key to broadband growth will also be the use of frequencies in the lower bands, which become available when analog TV is turned off. The use of 800 MHz will cut the capital expenditure for building networks in half, which will greatly help the roll-out of mobile broadband in rural areas, since base stations can be widely spaced, Phillips said.

“In Africa they have to say that rural wireless communications are an absolute priority, not wait for the backwards and forwards negotiations that will happen with broadcasters,” he said.

Food prices in Ethiopia continue to soar

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

(Panapress) — Food prices in Ethiopia have continued to soar with reports of an alarming hike of the cost of the cheapest grain, maize, in some markets of the drought-hit Somali Region reaching 700 birr (about US$70) per 100-kg bag, up from about 350 birr (US$35).

Meanwhile, poor performance of the short rains (belg) season in the first half of the year has forced farmers to switch to planting early maturing crops, according to reports by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

In a weekly update on the food situation in the east African country, the two agencies Tuesday said that the impact of the rains had been limited in Somali, Oromiya, Amhara, Tigray and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions.

Approximately 80 percent of farmers were switching to plantation of early maturing crops after missing the chance to plant long cycle crops due to the delay and poor performance of the ‘belg’ rains, the UN agencies reported.

There was also concern among farmers that the soaring price of fertilizer, from 400 birr to 800 birr per 50-kg bag in SNNP regions, would further affect production.

Already, Ethiopia’s Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency (DPPA) has allocated one-month emergency food for 1.06 million beneficiaries in the region.

According to the report, the food situation in SNNP regions was becoming critical, as disease has affected the only root crop available for consumption (enset).

Cases of severe malnutrition have been reported in Siraro district of West Arsi zone of neighbouring Oromiya Region, where therapeutic feeding centres have provided treatment for 1,800 severely malnourished children.

Severe water and pasture shortages persist in Warder and Korahe zones of Somali Region, where a recent assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) indicated increased livestock mortality among goats, camels and cattle.

High concentration of livestock was also reported in areas that received some rain, contributing to over-grazing of the limited browse and pasture.

Lost Ark of the Covenant 'traced to Ethiopia'

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

(Telegraph.co.uk) — German archaeologists have claimed to have found one of the fabled resting places of the Ark of the Covenant, the chest holding the Ten Commandments which gave the ancient Israelites their power.

The University of Hamburg say its researchers have found the remains of the 10th century BC palace of the Queen of Sheba in Axum, Ethiopia, and an altar which at one time reputedly held the precious treasure.

Archaeologist Helmut Ziegert, who is leading the dig said: “From the dating, its position and the details that we have found, I am sure that this is the palace.”

Ethiopian legends holds that the Ark was taken to the palace of the Queen of Sheba by King Solomon, the king of the Jews, after they fell in love.

After the Queen’s death her son, Menelek, rebuilt the palace and dedicated it to the cult of Sirius, but kept the Ark in its resting place there.

The team said evidence at the site included Sirius symbols, the debris of sacrifices and the alignment of sacred buildings to the rising-point of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

“The results we have suggest that a Cult of Sothis developed in Ethiopia with the arrival of Judaism and the Ark of the Covenant and continued until 600 AD,” the university said. Sothis is the ancient Greek name for Sirius.

The German research, which began in 1999, is aimed at documenting the origins of the Ethiopian state and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The hunt for the Ark, which featured in the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark, has become almost as legendary as the artefact itself.

The 1981 film has the artefact recovered by the Nazis from a resting place in the “Well of Souls” in Tanis, Egypt – not to be confused with the Well of Souls on Temple Mount, Jerusalem.

The Nazi treasure hunters are later killed when the Ark is opened.

The Old Testament recounts that Moses, on leading the Israelites from Egypt, received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai.

These Commandments, written on stone tablets, were later placed in a chest made from acacia wood, plated with gold and topped with two golden angels. This was the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark was then kept in the Temple of Solomon Jerusalem for centuries, according to the Old Testament.

After Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC, the Bible and it entered the realm of legend.

Ethiopian tradition claims that the Ark was moved to Axum from Jerusalem in 10th century BC.

A sect in Ethiopia maintains that the Ark is kept at the church of St Mary of Zion, but the site is defended by monks and only one guardian is allowed to see it, making the claim impossible to verify.
Story from Telegraph News:

U.N. High Commissioner mission to Yemen

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Source: UNHCR

High Commissioner António Guterres leaves for Yemen tomorrow (Wednesday) for a five-day visit that will include a first-hand look at UNHCR’s efforts there on behalf of refugees and internally displaced people and the opening of a regional conference on refugee protection and migration in the Gulf of Aden. The two-day Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration will be held in Sana’a on 19-20 May.

Prior to the conference, Mr. Guterres is scheduled to visit UNHCR’s offices in Sana’a and Aden, as well the Kharaz refugee camp. He will also meet with urban refugees in Basateen in Aden, and visit UNHCR’s reception centres along the southern coastline of Yemen.

At each stop, the High Commissioner will meet with Yemeni officials as well as with some of the Somalis and Ethiopians who have recently made the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden in search of protection or a better life. So far this year, more than 15,300 people have made the dangerous crossing aboard smugglers’ boats, double the number for the same period a year ago. More than 360 people died making the voyage during the first four months of 2008.

The regional conference is being convened by UNHCR in cooperation with the Mixed Migration Task Force for Somalia, composed of international agencies working in Somalia and funded by the European Commission. The objectives of the conference include establishing a regional mechanism and longer-term plan of action on refugee protection and mixed migration in the Gulf of Aden region. The mixed flow of people across the Gulf of Yemen includes a significant number of refugees. Yemen has carried a major burden in dealing with irregular migratory movements in the region, yet has maintained an open-door policy to refugees. But it has been calling for more support from the international community. UNHCR and other international agencies have stepped up their efforts to assist Yemen and other countries in the region, and are jointly calling for global action to better address the challenges.

At the regional conference, participants will review the challenges in the main countries of departure, transit and arrival in the region and develop appropriate responses. The resulting action plan will in part be based on aTen-Point Plan developed by UNHCR in 2006 to assist governments in developing protection-sensitive migration strategies. The conference will bring together senior level government authorities from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia (including Somaliland and Puntland), Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation countries, as well as representatives from the African Union, the European Commission, various UN agencies, NGOs and members of the civil society.

Neha International to acquire floriculture units in Ethiopia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

India’s Neha International Ltd. has informed that its board of Directors at its meeting held on May 12, 2008, inter alias, has considered the acquisition of two floriculture units in Ethiopia.

These units have 56 hectares of land with 12 hectares growing under green houses. The acquisition will be made through its wholly owned subsidiary in Mauritius.

Neha International Ltd. engages in the production and export of cut flowers in India.

The board expects the deal to be completed by the end of June, 2008.

The stock of the company closed today at Rs 79, up 1% compared with previous close of Rs 78. The stock touched an intraday high of Rs 82 and low of Rs 75.

MN doctors offer Ethiopian woman a chance at a new life

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio

Listen to feature audio

A 20-year-old Ethiopian woman is recovering at a St. Paul hospital after having a massive tumor removed from the base of her brain and face. Her case is remarkable because of the disfigurement the tumor caused. As the mass slowly grew over many years, it forced its way out of the woman’s head through her right eye socket. Numerous doctors declined to treat her because her case was so severe and complicated. But a fortuitous meeting between two doctors at a Twin Cities synagogue last fall changed her fortunes.

St. Paul, Minnesota — Dr. Rick Hodes first met Merdya Abdisa a year ago, when she wandered in to the Catholic Mission where he works on behalf of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Addis Ababa. Hodes is an internal medicine doctor who has lived in Ethiopia for 20 years.

His practice is filled with patients suffering from ailments that have gone untreated for far too long. But he had never seen anything like Merdya’s tumor.

“It’s deformed her face. She has to cover half of her face. Her eye is popped all the way out. It’s really quite unnerving to see it,” said Hodes. “And for the last three years she’s basically been inside, because she doesn’t want to walk on the street because people are afraid if they see her.”

Even Hodes’ description doesn’t quite capture the way Merdya’s face was deformed. A cone-shaped mass of skin protruded from her right eye socket. Her eyeball rested at the tip of the cone. She was unable to close the eye because her eyelid was too stretched out.

Hodes was deeply moved by Merdya’s plight. He immediately began sending photos of her to brain specialists, asking if they could help. He contacted at least six world-renowned neurosurgeons without success.

“They all throw up their hands and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen anything like it.’ And that’s it. That’s like the end of the story,” sayd Hodes. “It was very frustrating for me, knowing we could potentially save her life. But it was a great challenge because nobody was interested in helping her.”

During a fundraising trip to Minneapolis last November, Hodes said God led him to a doctor who could help Merdya.

An observant Jew, Hodes intended to wake up early and attend morning prayers before his fundraising meeting. But his alarm clock didn’t go off. So he delayed his prayers and went to the synagogue after his meeting.

It was so cold outside that he brought his laptop with him into the synagogue. That’s where he ran into Dr. Eric Nussbaum, who was studying with a rabbi.

“When I heard this guy’s a neurosurgeon I said, ‘Oh, let me show you the type of neurosurgery that I deal with. These are my challenges.’ And I opened up the computer and I showed him these pictures of Merdya,” Hodes recalled. “And he said, ‘Oh my gosh. I’ve never seen anything like this.’ But then he said one sentence that nobody else has said. He said, ‘I’d love to try to help this lady.’”

Nussbaum directs the National Brain Aneurysm Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown St. Paul. Merdya’s case is exciting for doctors in the U.S. because they never see this kind of extreme deformity, Nussbaum says. That’s because even patients with no money would have access to care long before a tumor could inflict this kind of damage.

Nussbaum was willing to attempt what many other doctors had declined to do, because he knew he could assemble a top-notch team of specialists to help him with the surgery — including some doctors who are competitors from other hospitals.

It’s doubtful that one neurosurgeon alone could have handled a tough case like Merdya’s because her tumor formed in a tricky area at the base of her brain, Nussbaum says.

“Problems with the tumors in that location, or any abnormality in that location, is that it tends to cross disciplines between physicians of different sub-specialties,” said Nussbaum.

For Merdya’s surgery, Nussbaum recruited a cranial-facial plastic surgeon from nearby Region’s Hospital, and a neuro-opthamologist from the University of Minnesota to reconstruct the area around her right eye.

All of the surgeons agreed to do the work for free and St. Joseph’s Hospital didn’t charge for time in the operating room.

Money never factored into the decision of whether or not to help Merdya, Nussbaum says. She would have died without the surgery as the tumor put more pressure on her brain.

“In addition to the potential medical issues, you just look at a young woman who is so disfigured and have to kind of feel for her, and what it must have been like growing up with that,” he said.

Merdya Abdisa’s life has not been easy. She is an orphan with no job. She depends on the good will of others to survive.

Her trip to America has been exciting, but also overwhelming at times. She took her first plane ride, stepped on an escalator for the first time, and is now recovering in a hospital where almost no one but the interpreter speaks her native Oromo language.

The day before her surgery, Merdya sat quietly in a chair in her hospital room. The soft-spoken woman hid half her face with a scarf as hospital workers filtered in and out of her room. She cooperated and even smiled, but tears would occasionally fill her good eye.

She wanted the surgery and was grateful to get it, Merdya explained. But she also felt alone being so far away from home. It’s a feeling she has felt many times even in Ethiopia because of her deformity.

She spoke through Oromo language translator, Fowzi Hassan, before her surgery.

“(I was) unable to go to school because of this problem; shame and not going out in public without me covering (my head), a lot of questions.”

She wasn’t able to marry because of her tumor, Merdya says. She will leave it in God’s hands to determine what her life will be like once she returns home, she says.

From her surgeon’s perspective, her life should be much better. The tumor turned out to be cancer-free and the reconstruction went “spectacularly well,” Dr. Nussbaum said the day after the procedure.

“It was very dramatic. The people who were working in the recovery room, the interpreter who was working with her immediately before surgery and then was back with her after surgery, people were really just shocked, which was great,” said Nussbaum.

Merdya’s result should not only alter the way others perceive her, Nussbaum predicts it will change the way she perceives herself.

Merdya will spend several more weeks in Minnesota recovering from her operation. She will stay with an Oromo family until she is well enough to return home to Ethiopia.

Kenenisa Bekele to attempt 10k record in Oregon

Monday, May 12th, 2008

(Reuters) –Ethiopian Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele will attempt to break his 10,000m world record at next month’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, organisers said today.

The race will take place at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field on June 8. The stadium is also the site of the June 27-July 6 US Olympic trials. Bekele set his current record of 26 minutes 17.53 seconds on August 26, 2005 in Brussels.

“The record is not easy,” Bekele’s manager Jos Hermens said in a statement. “But this is an absolutely serious attempt. His training is going well, and he is 100% ‘go’ for the record.” It will be the 25-year-old Bekele’s first outdoor appearance in the United States.

Bekele, who also holds the world 5 000m record, will run in the morning ahead of other events at the 34th annual grand prix meeting to take advantage of what should be more favourable wind conditions.

“We compiled 20 years of data about wind conditions, humidity, temperature – you name it,” meet director Tom Jordan said. “The conditions are slightly better during the morning than the evening.”

Ethiopia's dictatorship confident of its Djibouti trade corridor

Monday, May 12th, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopia’s dictator said Monday that his regime has the means to secure its vital trade corridor with the Gulf of Aden in the event of conflict between Djibouti and Eritrea.

Tensions have grown between the two Horn of Africa nations since Djibouti accused Eritrean military forces of trench-digging along their common border and infiltrating Djiboutian territory by several hundred metres (yards).

Djibouti denies the allegation.

“They do act silly sometimes, but I don’t think they would go totally insane,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at a meeting with trade officials, referring to the Eritrean government.

“Even so, Ethiopia has a capacity of protecting the safety of the Ethio-Djibouti trade corridor,” added Zenawi, who was quoted by Ethiopia’s state-run news agency ENA.

Eritrea — which has twice clashed with Djibouti over their common border — broke away from Ethiopia and won independence in 1993 after three decades of conflict. A second, two-year war broke out in 1993.

Ethiopia depends on Djibouti’s seaport for its international trade.

[Posted with minor editing by Ethiopian Review]

Woyanne officers linked to Somali arms trafficking

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Alain Lallemand, lemonde
(Translated from the French)

No less than 80 percent of weapons and munitions sold today in the Somali black markets are transported by commanders of the Ethiopian Woyanne Army and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), although the chiefs of staff of the former are interested in ceasing the traffic. The gun-running represents millions of dollars. More surrealist yet: while they purport to be there to stabilize the sub-continent, the Ugandan commanders of AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) engage with abandon in the small but lucrative suicidal business; instead of destroying them, they resell arms seized during raids against the Islamist militia known as Shabaab in the clandestine market. One recent transaction alone has fetched 20,000 dollars.

When the UN Security Council has taken note of the latest report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia, Le Soir has received leaks of some of those disclosures in the report to New York. One of the most disquieting elements in that report is the extent of compromise of principle that Ethiopian Woyanne forces have gone to; the level and volume of arms trafficking implies very high level involvement of the high command in the Ethiopian capital. In the first instance, Ethiopian Woyanne commanders sold –- instead of destroying -– weapons seized from their enemies: the Shabaab militia, the ex-Islamic Courts and the Classic National Resistance (“Muqawama”). Then, they sold weapons from their own arms arsenals (warehouses) to the bafflement of the general headquarters in Addis Ababa who did not understand where the large quantities of weapons and munitions had disappeared to. Lately, the situation has further deteriorated: containers laden with weapons and munitions have been spirited away from the arms depots of the regular army in Addis Ababa to be resold directly on the Somali back markets.

Such a level of massive interception of Ethiopian arms is not possible without complicity hatched within the armed forces high command, although the Ethiopian Woyanne Minister of Defense has not apparently been implicated.

And then officers of the regular Somali troops are not immune either. Arms belonging to their troops fallen on the battle field find their ways into the black markets within hours of skirmishes. The chief of national security of the transitional federal government himself is said to be one of the three big arms dealers in the black market.

This arms bazaar has taken such a looming twist in the last six months that it has developed not one but seven markets — six in Mogadishu and one in Afgoi. From the latter location, weapons find their way to neighboring Kenya for the purpose of not only cattle herding, but also to feed the growing insurrection there. Weapons so traded include AK 47 assault rifles, RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), PKMs (heavy Kalashnikovs mounted on tripods).

The collusion of these regular armed forces (Ethiopian Woyanne, Somali and AMISOM) in these criminal activities explains why arms circulating in Somalia have become more and more sophisticated. However, other forces are at work too. Eritrea continues to be the principal platform of arms supply to the Shabaab militia, and through them, to the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front) of Ethiopia. This is why SA-7 and SA-18 surface-to-air missiles have been captured. One of these weapons bearing a Russian serial number has been acknowledged by Moscow to have been sold to Eritrea in 1995. At least one French Milan missile has equally been captured and Paris has confirmed without much ado that it had sold it to “a [Persian] Gulf nation”. The high point of this sophistication was attained when Shabaab fired an American TOW missile on Somali troops two weeks ago. It goes without saying that every time one of these missiles is fired in Somalia, there is behind it an insurgent who has inevitably been trained in operating it by a foreign army.

According to one of the UN regional specialists in the matter, the connections among the Somali, Iraqi and Afghan conflicts have become even more disturbingly close with the combatants moving from one theatre of operation to the other. Palestinian fighters continue to support Shabaab militants, as do the Yemenis and Sudanese — or even native Americans and Britons. In this context, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia reaffirms its accusations contained in a previous report which implicates Iran and Hezbollah. Just like in south-east Iraq at the beginning of 2006, Somalia has become the scene of sophisticated explosives with the uncanny mark of Iran developing on its territory: the device is more and more compact; its fire is GSM remote-controlled; it is equipped with a homing device that can slam into armor plating of heavy duty equipment that was used with devastating effects in Iraq and, a few months later, in Afghanistan.

UN says Ethiopians, Somalis crossing Gulf of Aden doubled

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Lisa Schlein, VOA News, Geneva

The U.N. refugee agency reports the number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. At the same time, the UNHCR says the number of deaths has gone down by half.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that by the latter part of April, more than 15,300 people reportedly arrived in Yemen. About 360 were reported killed or missing during the hazardous voyage.

UN refugee agency spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis says records show that during the same period last year more than 7,000 people had arrived in Yemen and about the same number had perished.

“Any reduction in the death toll is incredibly welcome. We do not really know whether this is a new phenomena that is going to continue or not. But, some new arrivals have mentioned receiving water and food during the crossing, which is quite new. And, the boats seem to be less crowded than in previous years,” said Pagonis.

The UNHCR says the surge in arrivals early this year was largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the asylum seekers also said they were forced to leave because of crop losses due to drought.

For years, the death toll has been mounting among Somalis and Ethiopians crossing the Gulf of Aden in rickety smugglers boats. People pay smugglers up to $150 to make the treacherous journey, which usually ends up being a nightmare and often fatal.

Pagonis says survivors tell horrific tales of brutality, about passengers being beaten, stabbed, and raped. She says many people have drowned after smugglers have forced them to jump into the sea before arriving on the coast of Yemen.

“What we have been trying to point out to people are the dangers of crossing. When you have refugees who are fleeing, it is one of these tricky situations,” added Pagonis. “You cannot say we do not encourage you to leave your own country because the risks are really great. People who are fleeing for their lives are going to take whatever means they can to get out of there. But, we just need to point out the risk to them that they may well lose their lives.”

Pagonis says the UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. She says the agency is stepping up an information campaign to inform refugees of the dangers of traveling in smugglers’ boats.

And, she says, the UNHCR is expanding its work in Yemen to provide additional shelter and assistance, as well as protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

WFP cuts food aid in Ethiopia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: There is no food shortage in Ethiopia. The problem is caused by mis-allocation of resources, mismanagement, and extreme greed by the tribal Woyanne regime. Large quantities of food produced in southern Ethiopia is loaded up daily on thousands of trucks and sent to the northern region of Tigray by the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne). As a result, in Tigray today food prices are about 50% lower than in other parts of Ethiopia. Food is also being stored in massive grain silos that are being built in Tigray, while the rest of the country is facing shortages.

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ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A lack of funds has forced the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) to cut by more than half the number of districts in drought-hit Ethiopia it serves, the food agency said on Monday and appealed for $76.4 million in aid.

WFP said shortages would prevent it from providing food supplements to malnourished mothers and children.

“Due to a funding shortfall, WFP has less food in its warehouses and as of the end of last month, it was forced to cut back food assistance operations … from 342 districts to 163 districts,” WFP said in a statement.

“Despite evidence of malnourishment in some drought-affected areas, a food deficit will prevent the agency from providing nutritious, life-saving food supplements to acutely malnourished children and mothers.”

WFP said it needed $76.4 million to feed mothers and children under five and to support the government’s emergency relief programme.

WFP said that in 2007 it provided supplementary food to over 1.1 million Ethiopians.

A U.S.-based early warning system, FEWSNET, had said that up to nine million Ethiopians may need food assistance due to drought in 2008.

(Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; Editing by Giles Elgood)

WFP cuts assistance to malnourished children, mothers in Ethiopia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said last week it was forced to cut assistance to malnourished mothers and children in Ethiopia because it could not respond to increasing hunger resulting from the drought in southern Ethiopia.

The UN agency said that, due to funding shortfalls, it has less food in its warehouses than it needs, and as of the end of last month, it was forced to scale back food assistance to beneficiaries in drought-affected areas.

It said that, despite evidence of malnutrition in some drought areas, a food deficit will prevent the agency from providing nutritious life-saving food supplements to all of the acutely malnourished children and mothers on the agency’s Targeted Supplementary Food (TSF) Programme, which it said provides a special fortified food that facilitates rehabilitation of malnourished children and mothers.

According to the statement, in 2007, the TSF Programme assisted over 1.1 million beneficiaries.

“This year, WFP has had to cut back the number of districts where TSF is operational from 342 to 163, leaving malnourished mothers and children in many areas, with no assistance,” Mohamed Diab, WFP’s Country Director in Ethiopia said in a statement.

“This scaling back of support during a drought threatens to de-rail the Government’s successful strategies for combating food insecurity in Ethiopia,”he added.

The recently launched Ethiopian Government and Partners Joint Document called for US$ 13.7 million to assist some 238,500 mothers and children under five living in areas worst affected by drought through WFP’s Targeted Supplementary Programme. Some 13,285 metric tons of nutritious food supplements is required.

But the organization said it urgently needs a further US$ 28 million to assist malnourished mothers and children who live outside of the immediate drought stricken areas. In addition, WFP faces a shortfall of US$ 48.4 million to support the government’s emergency relief programme.

The world’s largest humanitarian agency said it remains concerned over serious gaps in meeting other food assistance requirements, particularly as the number of people suffering from drought and harvest failure may increase over the next few months.

83% of Ethiopian children don't get basic health care (VOA)

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Faiza Elmasry, VOA

Listen audio report >  

Over 200 million children around the world lack basic health care, and nearly 10 million youngsters under the age of five die every year. These are some of the findings of Save the Children’s 9th annual State of the World’s Mothers report.

This year, the global humanitarian organization’s report included the first-ever Basic Health Care Report Card. It ranks 55 developing countries according to their ability to reach children with basic health care.

At the top of that list are the Philippines, Peru, South Africa and Indonesia. Although these countries have been able to extend health care services to many children, the benefits usually go first to the richer segment of society.

“The poor are dying at alarmingly higher rates,” Save the Children’s Mary Beth Powers. “We really have to double efforts to reach the poor with basic health care.”

Powers says common diseases among children in developing countries, like pneumonia, diarrhea and measles, can be treated easily and inexpensively. However, millions of mothers still lose their children to these diseases every year. They are either unaware of the treatments or unable to get them.

“As a mother, the tragedy of losing a child is, I imagine, unbearable,” says actress Jessica Lange, Save the Children’s newest spokesperson, “but to lose a child for something that’s treatable is a thousand times worse.”

Last month, Lange, a mother of three, visited Ethiopia, which ranks last on the Basic Health Care list. Eighty-three percent of Ethiopian children don’t get basic services, such as immunizations, antibiotics and skilled care at birth.

“In Ethiopia, only 6 percent of deliveries are attended by a skilled practitioner,” she says.

During her trip to Ethiopia, Lange visited a community-training program that Save the Children established in a remote area.

“I think one of the biggest things that surprised me was the idea of the community training of health care workers and establishing clinics that are accessible to people because traditionally transportation was almost impossible for them,” she says. “They would talk about having to walk a full day to bring their child who was sick to health care centers.”

Training local caregivers in remote areas is essential for bringing health care services closer to home, according to Mary Beth Powers. Those local health workers, she adds, can also help raise awareness among mothers who are usually uneducated.

“Knowing the difference between a bad cold and something that’s more severe, suggesting pneumonia, that’s a critical judgment,” she says. “A lot of parents are not well enough educated to know the difference so you need a health worker or a Mom in the village who can help them make the assessment.”

Another section of Save the Children’s report compares the well-being of mothers and children in 146 countries. Sweden is rated the best country in which to be a mother, Niger is last.

The United States ranks 27th, and Powers says there’s a reason. “So many mothers do not get adequate health care during pregnancy and at childbirth,” she says. “We have high rates of maternal mortality and child mortality especially among minority communities in the U.S.”

Save the Children Ambassador Jessica Lange says fixing the U.S. health care system is one of the top issues in this year’s Presidential election campaign. She’d like to see more health services available for all Americans regardless of their financial situation. She also hopes the United States and other Western countries will do more to help save children’s lives in the developing world.

“I think people have to become aware. They have to become conscientious about it,” she says. “We have before the Congress right now the Global Child Survival Act. I think people, if they care about children around the world, can contact their [representatives in] Congress and let them know how important it is for this to be passed.”

The act would expand funding for proven health measures like antibiotics and immunizations. Passing it, Lange says, will recommit the United States to leading the way in improving children’s health. She says with such efforts, the global community will be able to save millions of young lives every year.

Bomb blasts killed 16 Woyannes in Somalia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

(Press TV) — Landmine explosions have killed more than 12 Ethiopian Woyanne troops, and eight Somali government soldiers, in the war-torn East African nation.

Anti- Ethiopian Woyanne groups detonated a massive landmine in Towfiikh district, killing at least eight soldiers, and destroying their vehicle, Press TV correspondent in Somalia reported on Monday.

Elsewhere, at least four Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers were killed and more than 10 others injured in southern Mogadishu when their vehicles hit land mines near a military base.

In another incident on Monday, at least six Somali government troops were killed as their vehicle exploded by a land mine, near the Adan Adde International airport in Mogadishu. More than two other Somali soldiers were also killed in attacks in Mogadishu’s Buulo Hubey.

Meanwhile, security forces have arrested at least 25 civilians for unknown reasons in Baidoa.

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Three civilians killed in Somalia attack

MOGADISHU (AFP) — At least three civilians were killed Monday when Islamist insurgents attacked an Ethiopian Woyanne military convoy south of Mogadishu, witnesses said.

“Heavily armed insurgents ambushed an Ethiopian Woyanne military convoy that left Afgoye and the attack occurred between Lego and Jameo,” local resident Hussein Abdullahi told AFP by telephone.

Lego is a small town around 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of the capital.

“The Ethiopian Woyanne forces killed three civilians after the attack and their dead bodies were brought here in Yakbiriweyne,” Abdullahi said.

“We heard an intense gunbattle that lasted for about 35 minutes just after the Ethiopian Woyanne military convoy passed through our village,” said Madkarin Moalim Nur, another resident.

“There were casualties (among the fighters) but we could not confirm a figure except the three civilians that the Ethiopians Woyanne killed in a nearby village after the attack,” he explained.

Sheikh Abdirahim Ali Ise, a spokesman for the insurgents, claimed responsibility for the ambush and said Ethiopian Woyanne troops were killed.

“Our forces ambushed a military convoy of Ethiopian Woyanne invaders near Lego. We destroyed three of the trucks and killed many of them,” he said. No separate confirmation of this claim was available.

Woyanne's invading army removes Somali governor

Monday, May 12th, 2008

(Press TV) Ethiopian Woyanne troops have removed the governor of central Somalia’s Hiiran district from his post and disarmed his supporters, a report says.

Hundreds of Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers marched into the main town of Baletweyn in Hiiran district and asked governor Yusuf Ahmed Hagar and his supporters to surrender and lay down their guns, a Press TV correspondent reported Sunday.

Hagar and his supporters refused to give in first, but the soldiers managed to take the governor’s headquarters and beat his supporters.

The Ethiopian Woyanne army disarmed Hagar and his supporters collecting at least 2000 guns and 21 military vehicles.

They said they would appoint a new governor for the region who is due to come soon from Baidoa.

Meles-backed Eritrean opposition elects new leader

Monday, May 12th, 2008

This is part of Woyanne’s preparation to invade Eritrea. They did the same thing — creating a puppet Somali government — before invading Somalia.

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ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — A coalition of Eritrean opposition groups elected a chairman over the weekend, ending a long-running leadership dispute that had crippled efforts to topple the Asmara regime, officials said Sunday.

The Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA), made up of 13 opposition groups, elected Tewolde Gebreselassie as its new leader on Saturday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“Following agreements reached among members, we will now be able to step up our efforts against the government in Eritrea,” Tewolde told a press conference Sunday.

“We will enhance our activities on the diplomatic front as well as holding demonstrations and propaganda (campaigns).”

The EDA had failed to elect a new leader during last year’s conference in Addis Ababa because of tribal rivalry.

The coalition is also hoping to strengthen ties with Eritrea’s large diaspora, which is nearly the same size as the entire population at home.

The Eritrean government relies heavily on the hundreds of millions of dollars in remittances it receives each year as budgetary support from its citizens abroad.

“The diaspora has urged us for a different outcome. They are against (President) Issaias (Afeworki) but they aren’t with us because of our differences,” Noor Idris, head of an opposition party, told AFP.

“They are seeking our unity because the tyranny there is committing abuses,” he added.

Mohammed Noor Ahmed, another opposition official, added: “If we can mobilise our people, there will surely be uprisings. The Eritrean people definitely want to overthrow the government because of its violations.”

Only a few of the group’s members have armed wings to face Issaias’ 300,000-strong army, but they claim to have carried out sporadic hit-and-run attacks inside Eritrea.

Their leaders admit to receiving support from Ethiopia, Eritrea’s arch-rival.

Authorities in Asmara generally charge that opposition movements meeting in Ethiopia have no legitimacy and are nothing more than stooges of the regime in Addis Ababa.

The dictator and his sidekick

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Yilma bekele

Two of my favorite characters were in the news last week. I do not think they know each other. I am sure of that. But they were both in the news. One was pleading for his life in jail somewhere in the Iraqi desert. His African counterpart was duplicating his past deeds and misdeeds. You know sooner or later he is going to find himself in the same predicament as the Iraqi prisoner. Some of us do not learn from history. Some people think they think they are an exception. ‘That won’t happen to me’ syndrome. Anyway I was surprised to read the small headline in the second page way down at the bottom, ‘Tariq Aziz goes on trial in Baghdad.’ Good old Tariq is still around. I had completely forgotten him.

Let me refresh your memory. His Excellency Tariq Aziz was the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq. For some reason he is always the Deputy. We have no idea who the Prime Minister was. Tariq Aziz was an advisor to Saddam Hussein, and the ‘voice of Iraq’ to the outside world. Saddam was not much of an English speaking urbane and savvy leader. He did not care for the foreign press.

Saddam was a Sunni Muslim from the central part of Iraq. His father left before he was born. His stepfather was a brutal person and Saddam left home and was raised by his uncle. He drooped out of Law School and joined the Iraqi Ba’ath Party. In 1959, with the backing of the CIA and US intelligence he took part in an attempt to assassinate the head of state General Qassim. The coup failed. Saddam’s next attempt in 1968 was a success and he was appointed Deputy President and Deputy Chairman of the party’s ‘Revolutionary Command Council.’ He consolidated his power and became President of Iraq in 1979.

Saddam and Tariq Aziz met in the 50’s as activists in the Ba’ath Party. When Saddam assumed the presidency, Tariq Aziz became Information Minister. The madman and his sidekick were inseparable. One was prone to moments of irrational action while the other will dutifully try to explain the logic of the madness.

In June of 1972 Iraq nationalized all the assets of the western oil companies. (http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/oil/5873nation.htm) The Oil crisis took place in 1973. The price of oil had a dramatic increase. Iraqi economy was booming. Education, health and welfare showed a marked difference and Iraq was becoming the envy of the Arab world. Politically, Iraq was weaning itself from the ‘iron fist’ of the West and forging closer ties to the ‘Soviet bloc’. Iraq became a member of the ‘non aligned bloc’ of countries.

It was under these circumstances our friend Saddam assumed the presidency. The most logical and rational policy would have been ‘steady as she goes’. Build up the education system and the infra structure of the country and lay a solid foundation for future growth. Unfortunately matters took a wrong turn.

Saddam of Tikrit village was not born to lead positively. The aphrodisiac of power went to his head. He believed his own press and the sycophants around him. He was viewed as the most intelligent Iraqi alive. The year he became president was the year the Shah was overthrown in Iran. Iran was in turmoil. Saddam thought he saw an opportunity to control the Gulf. He invaded Iran. Bad mistake. Iran fought back with everything it got. The war went on for eight years. Iraq lost miserably. It was stuck with $75 billion debt with its economy in ruins.

Saddam was in debt to western banks and rich Arab monarchy’s. The price of oil was dropping and his economy was in trouble. His response was to invade Kuwait. He figured he can control the oil fields and decrease production at the same time forgive himself of his debt to Kuwait.

This became his undoing. The west helped him to come to power. They encouraged him with his war against Ayatollah Khomeini and Islamic power. He was doing their dirty job. They turned a blind eye when he used poison gas against both Iran and his own Kurdish minority. They forgave his human right abuse so long as he did not join the Soviet camp.

Control of the vast Kuwaiti oil field was a no no. Friend Saddam became public enemy number one. All his past transgressions were brought up. There was no lack of evidence. All those massacres, tortures and corruption came back to bite him. He was no longer the ‘enlightened’ leader. No more the ‘bulwark’ against communism. Just a two bit dictator made into playing cards ‘wanted dead or alive’ poster boy.

So we come back to Tariq Aziz. Since the Ba’athist days he stuck with Saddam. First he was the “Information Minister’ then Deputy Prime Minister. He gave interviews and tried to make sense of all the irrational and bizarre acts of Saddam. He had the toughest job in the world. In one of his interviews he said ‘Saddam Hussein is my friend and my leader. But I have to be honest in my description of this man. Saddam Hussein is really a special leader. He cares about everything concerning the life of the people, and the development of the country. He gets interested in any minute detail when it concerns the fate of the country.’

Today Tariq Aziz is a jail in a US run prison camp somewhere in the Iraqi desert. The evidence against him is his signature on a paper ordering the execution of Iraqi citizens found guilty by Saddam’s court. As we all know Saddam was hanged unceremoniously. Aziz is waiting his turn.

What brought all this was an interview with special advisor to the PM of Ethiopia Ato Bereket Semeon. When asked about the PM running for the fourth time he is quoted to have said ‘I think that is the right signal that he can give. He is a loyal soldier and leader of the party who is exemplary in everything. It is for the EPRDF to decide on each one of our fates because we are soldiers of the party. I do not think that we, as individuals, can decide where we work; the culture of the EPRDF is such that any member takes his assignment whether it is to his liking or not and delivers on his task. That has been the case in the past and it will remain so in the future. The party does not believe that the Prime Minister has finished his job. None of us believes that; he has a lot to do and he is capable of doing a lot of things. The party knows its strategic interests and we will adhere to them.’

Well said Ato Bereket, but this proximity to the PM might pay negative dividends in the long run. The once mighty have this tendency to fall from grace with changing of the priorities of the ferenji masters. What is considered a friend is described as a fiend tomorrow. The fernjis have this nasty habit of freezing all accounts and investments, denying of residency permits and even hauling their former allies in front of the International Tribunal in The Hague. No one is immune. Aziz used to wine and dine with President Ronald Regan, Cyrece Vance, US Secretary of State, the Pope and other notables. Today he is dining in a small cell using aluminum plates and plastic forks. Watch and learn.

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The writer can be reached at yilma@pacbell.net

VIDEO: Woyanne official flees after extorting huge sums

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Kinijit Dallas opposes giving Ethiopian land to Sudan

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

The Kinijit Support Group in Dallas, Texas, has issued the follwing statement opposing the illegal land give away of Ethiopian land to Sudan.

መሐል ዳር እንዳይሆን

ከዳላስ ቅንጅት ድጋፍ ቻፕተር የተሰጠ መግለጫ

የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ፀር እና ባላንጣ የሆነው የወያኔ ኢሀአዴግ ፋሽስታዊ አስተዳደር ገና ከመነሻው የጀመረውን አገርንና ህዝብን የመከፋፈል አባዜ በመቀጠል ለዘመናት ተከባብሮ፤ ተስማምቶና ተግባብቶ የኖረውንና በጋራ መተሳሰብ ፤ መረዳዳት እና በጽኑ ወዳጅነት ላይ የተገነባውን የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ እንድነት ለመናድ በጎሳ እና በዘር እየከፋፈለ እንዱ ወገን ከሌላው ጋር እንዲጋጭ እና ህዝቡ እርስ በርሱ እንዳይተማመን ለማድረግ የሚሽርበው ሴራ እና እፀያፌ ድርጊት በሰፊው ቀጥሎ ባለበት ባሁኑ ወቅት ይኽው እረመኔ መንግስት በህዝቡ ላይ የግፍ እገዛዝ ቀንበሩን ከጫነበት ጊዜ እንስቶ እስካሁን ህዝቡን ብፋሽስታዊ እገዛዙ ከማሰቃየቱም ሌላ እገርን ቆርሶ ለባእዳን የመስጠት ደባውንም ቀጥሎበታል።

ሁላችንም እንደምናውቀው ከዚህ በፊት ኤርትራንና የባህር ክልላችንን ያለምንም ህዘበ-ውሳኔ በራሱ ፈቃድ ብቻ ለፈጣሪዎቹ ለኤርትራ ገንጣዮች አሳልፎ በመስጠቱ ይኽው ዛሬ በባህር ንግድና በወደቦቿ ታዋቂ የነበረችው ሐገራችን ወደበ-አልባ ሆና የጎረቤት አገሮችን ወደቦች በመጠቀም ለነዚህ ሀገራት የወደብ ግልጋሎት ፣ የ ጉሙሩክ እና ኤክሳይዝ ቀረጥ ሲሳይ ለመሆን በቅታለች ። ይህም ብቻ አይደለም ወያኔ የሰሜናዊ ትግራይ ግዛት የሆነውንና ከሁሉም የኢትዮጵያ ግዛቶች የተውጣጡ ከ 70 ሺህ በላይ ኢትዮጵያውያን መ ለዮ ለባሾች የተሰውበትን ባድመን አስመልከቶ ከሻብያ ጋር በተነሳው የግዛት ይገባኛልጥያቄ ላይ ውሳኔ ለመስጠት በሄግ ተሰይሞ በነበረው አለም አቀፍ ፍርድ ቤት፣ ወያኔ ያለበቂ ጥናት ዝግጅትና ማስረጃ ለይስሙላ ብቻ ለክርክር በመቅረቡ እነሆ የዓለም እቀፉ ፍርድ ቤት ባድመ የኤርትራ ግዛት እንደሆነች አድርጎ ፈርዳል።

ይህ በእንዲህ እያለ ሰሞኑን ደግሞ አንድ አስገራሚና አሳዛኝም የሆነ ጉዳይ ተፈጥሮ በሐገር ውስጥም ሆነ በዓልም ዙሬያ ያሉ ኢትዮጵያውያንን በሰፊው እያነጋገረ እያስቆጣና ምናልባትም ኢትዮጵያውያን በዘረኛው አገዛዝ ላይ ላንዴና ለመጨረሻ ጊዜ የማያዳግም እርምጃ እንዲውስዱ እየገፋፋ ይገኛል፣ ይኸውም ጉድይ የ 1600 ኪ/ሜ ርዝመትና ከ 30-50 ኪ/ሜ የጎን ስፋት ያለውንና ከሰሜናዊ ጎንደር አካባቢ ጅምሮ አስከ ጋምቤላ ድረስ የሚዘልቀውን የኢትዮጵያ ለም መሬት ለሱዳን መንግስት አሳልፎ መስጠቱ ነው። ይህ አይነቱ የወያኔ ተግባር ከ ሐገር ክህደት ወንጀል ተነጥሎ የሚታይ አይደለም። ውያኔ ዝም ከተባለና በዚሁ ከቀጠለ እገሪቷን በየአቅጣጫው ቆራርጦና በጣጥሶ በመቸብቸብ መሃል ዳር እንዲሆን ካማድርግ አይመለስም። ስለሆንም “መሃል ዳር እንዳይሆን” መላው የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ እንደቀድሞው ሁሉ ዛሬም እምቢ ለሃገሬ ለዳር ድንበሬ ብሎ ክንዱንና አንድነቱን አስተባብሮ በግፈኛው አገዛዝ ላይ መነሳቱና የግዛት አንድነቱንና ሰብአዊ ክብሩን ከማስጠበቅ ሌላ አማራጭ ይኖረዋል ብሎ መገመት የዋህነት ይሆናል።

በዳላስ እና ፎርትዎርዝ የቅንጅት ለአንድነትና ለ ዲሞክራሲ ፓርቲ ድጋፍ ቻፕተር በወያኔ መልካም ፈቃድ ለሱዳን የተሰጠውን የኢትዮጵንያ ግዛት በሚመለከት ይህ ድርጊት ፍጹም ሃላፊነት የጎደለውና ከሃገር ክህደት ወንጀል ተለይቶ የማይታይ በሃገር ላይ የተፈጸመ ደባ መሆኑን በማመን የከረረ ተቃውሞውን ያሰማል ። ከዚህም በተጨማሪ ይህን አምባገነናዊ የወያኔ ኢህአዴግ አሳፋሪና በሃገር ዳር ድንበር ላይ የተቃጣ ሴራ ለማጋለጥ እና የሱዳን መንግስትም በህገወጥ መንገድ ከያዘው የኢትዮጵያ ግዛት በአስቸኳይ ለቆ እንዲወጣ በሚደረገው ሁለገብ ጥረትና ትግል ሁሉ የበኩሉን ድርሻ በቆራጥነት ለመወጣት ዝግጁ መሆኑን አበክሮ አየገለፀ፣ በሐገር ውስጥም ሆነ በውጭ ሐገር የምንገኝ ኢትዮጵያውያን እንዲሁም መላው የኢትዮጵያ መለዮ ለባሽ ይህንን የወያኔ አሳፋሪ ድርጊት ለማጋለጥ እና በህገ-ወጥ መንገድ ግዛታችንን የያዘው የሱዳን ጦርም አካባቢን ለቆ እንዲወጣና ከመሬታችው ላይ በግፍ የተነሱትና የደረሱበት ያልታወቀው ወገኖቻችን ወደ ነበሩበት ቀያቸው እንዲመለሱ ለማስቻል ከመቸውም ጊዜ ይልቅ አሁን የተባበረ ክንዳችንን በወያኔው ዘረኛ አገዛዝ ላይ ማንሳት እንደሚገባ ለማስገንዘብ ይወዳል።

ድል ለ ኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ!!!!

በዳልስ የቅንጅት ለአንድነትና ለዲሞክራሲ ፓርቲ ድጋፍ ቻፕተር
ዳላስ ሜይ10/2008

Ethiopian opposition leader to make major announcement

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues are preparing to make a major announcement next Wednesday in Washington DC, about their future political move. They have scheduled a press conference at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio on May 14 at 10:00 AM. All Ethiopian and other media are invited to the press conference.

According to sources close to Dr Berhanu, the group will announce the formation of a new political movement that will aim to bring about an end to the Woyanne bloody regime in collaboration with other Ethiopian organizations, including those that are waging armed struggle.

The press conference will be aired live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network, Ethiopian Current Affair Discussion Forum, and other media.

VOA, DW, EriTV, Addis Dimts and other radio programs are also expected to air the press conference to their audience in Ethiopia.

Queen of Sheba's palace discovered in Ethiopia

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

By Catherine Hickley

(Bloomberg) — A team of archaeologists from the University of Hamburg said they discovered the Queen of Sheba’s palace and an altar that may have once held the Ark of the Covenant in Axum, Ethiopia.

A Christian king built a new palace over the 10th-century B.C. structure, which probably didn’t survive for very long, the university said in a statement. The altar, oriented toward the star Sirius, has two columns and may have been where the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest treasure of early Judaism, was kept until the first temple was built in Axum, the researchers said.

“The special significance of this altar must have been handed down over centuries,” the statement said. “This is shown by the many sacrifices found around this spot.”

The Ark of the Covenant, featured in the Indiana Jones movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” was kept in Jerusalem for centuries, according to the Old Testament. After Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians in the 6th century B.C., the ark’s fate isn’t documented in the Bible and it entered the realm of legend.

Ethiopian Christians contend that the ark left Jerusalem much earlier — during the realm of Solomon — and was brought to Ethiopia, where it has long been enshrined in a church and is now accessible only to its guardian, a monk. This theory was explored by the British author Graham Hancock in “The Sign and the Seal.”

Fate of the Ark

The Hamburg team led by Helmut Ziegert has for nine years been investigating the origins of the Ethiopian state and the Ethiopian orthodox church. The central purpose of the field trip was to find out how Judaism arrived in Ethiopia in the 10th century B.C., and to seek clues to the present location of the Ark of the Covenant, the university said.

The palace built over the Queen of Sheba’s home was also aligned with the star Sirius, the statement said. The researchers conjecture that the second palace was built by Menelik, who, legend has it, was the son of Sheba and King Solomon.

The results of the Hamburg field trip suggest that together with Judaism and the Ark of the Covenant, a cult worshipping Sirius came to Ethiopia and practiced its religion until about 600 A.D., the university said.

According to the Old Testament, God ordered Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant, a box made of acacia wood and plated with gold. It is believed to have contained the tablets listing the Ten Commandments.
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To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at chickley@bloomberg.net.

Sudanese government hunts rebels after attack on Khartoum

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) – A curfew in the Sudanese capital has been lifted a day after Khartoum was assaulted by rebels.

That’s according to state-run radio in Sudan. It also reports that a curfew remains in effect in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, where rebels are said to be still on the loose. Extra checkpoints are still in place throughout Khartoum.

The surprise assault late Saturday is the closest Darfur rebels have ever come to Sudan’s seat of government, which is hundreds of miles from their bases in the far west of the country.

Sudan’s government has issued several statements claiming to have crushed the rebels.

Sudan has also severed relations with Chad, which it accuses of supporting the fighters.

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Last Darfur rebels leave capital, officials say

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – The last of the Darfur rebel forces left Sudan’s capital on Sunday after unprecedented battles in the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman, a government official and a security source said.

“All rebel forces have now left the capital,” Mutrif Siddig, the under-secretary at Sudan’s Foreign Ministry, told Reuters.

A security source from Umm Bedda, the furthest outlying reach of west Omdurman, said rebels had retreated to some 70 km (45 miles) outside the city.

Searches continued inside Khartoum for individuals thought to be insiders due to meet the rebels who fought their way into Omdurman with about 70 vehicles on Saturday afternoon.

“And even those are being chased down by security forces,” Siddig added. Dozens of people were being arrested throughout the capital.

No one was available to comment from the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). On Sunday morning, a JEM commander told Reuters they were in more outlying areas of Omdurman. But no shooting has been heard there since late morning. (Reporting by Opheera McDoom)

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Sudan cuts Chad ties after Darfur rebel attack

KHARTOUM (AFP) — Sudan on Sunday severed diplomatic ties with Chad, accusing Ndjamena of backing a first Darfur rebel assault on Khartoum, and slapped a multi-million dollar price on the head of the alleged mastermind.

The government said it had repulsed the assault by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), allegedly backed by Ndjamena, which saw the insurgents reach Khartoum’s outskirts with the declared intent of toppling the regime.

“We are forced to sever diplomatic relations with this regime” in Chad, President Omar al-Beshir said on state television following the attack on the capital’s twin city of Omdurman just across the river Nile.

“We place the entire responsibility for this attack on Chad,” he said, dressed in his field marshal’s fatigues.

Chad said it regretted Khartoum’s decision, denied any involvement in the attack and condemned a raid on the Chadian embassy. “Chad can only take note of this hasty decision with regret,” said the government in a statement.

Uniformed Sudanese men ransacked the Chadian mission in Khartoum, taking away documents and computer equipment, it added.

The Darfuri attack in broad daylight, one day after Khartoum warned that rebels were marching towards the capital, marks the first time regional rebels have ever brought decades of violence so close to the seat of Sudanese power.

A senior official in the military command told the state SUNA news agency that 250 million pounds (123 million dollars) would be paid to anyone who arrests JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim or provides information on his whereabouts.

Beshir convened an emergency session of the national security council, which included Salva Kiir, the leader of south Sudan that fought its own two-decade civil war until reaching a power-sharing agreement with Khartoum.

Government forces were on Sunday hunting down remnant rebel forces all over the capital and in neighbouring states, rounding up arms and explosives.

The official SUNA news agency said the Sudanese military had killed a leading JEM commander, had chased down, fought and wiped out a 45-man rebel force 50 kilometres (31 miles) from western Omdurman and arrested 300 rebels.

Omdurman remained under curfew but restrictions were lifted elsewhere. The Egyptian news agency MENA said Khartoum international airport was closed and commercial airlines told passengers that flights to Sudan were cancelled.

There were no clear indication from either side on casualty numbers.

JEM’s deputy chief of staff Suleiman Sandal said that his forces had taken Omdurman but were having trouble with the urban fighting environment having come from the desert of Darfur, and had suffered deaths and injuries.

“This is the first time for them to fight in towns and now we are gathering our troops and thinking about what we’re doing,” he told AFP.

He said his forces had been prevented from crossing a key bridge into Khartoum overnight after taking three days to drive from Darfur in a convoy of 400 vehicles in order to depose the regime.

Sudan and Chad have long accused each other of backing rebels seeking to topple their respective regimes.

Foreign ministry official Ali Yousif said that Sudan had evidence of communication between the rebels, the Chad government and the Chadian embassy in Khartoum. He said five or six Chadian diplomats were expected to leave.

One Omdurman resident told AFP he could see smashed cars in the streets and plumes of smoke rising after a night of fighting.

“Up until six o’clock (0300 GMT) this morning there was very heavy bombardment. I can see smoke out of the window and smashed cars from the roof of the building,” said the father of one.

“We’re just being told to stay in and keep a low profile,” a US diplomat said, also asking not to be named.

In February, rebels allegedly backed by Khartoum advanced as far as the gates of the presidential palace in Ndjamena before being repulsed.

Sudanese television on Saturday showed images of what it said were captured rebels cowering in the back of an armoured personnel carrier, along with footage of captured rebel all-terrain vehicles, field artillery and shells.

The White House said it was “very concerned” about the violence and urged both the Darfur rebels and government forces to cease hostilities.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the “use of armed force and military means by JEM” and called for “an immediate cessation of fighting.”

Insurgents ambush Somalia's interior minister

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

MOGADISHU (Garowe Online) – Islamist rebels ambushed an armored convoy transporting Somalia’s internal affairs minister Saturday in the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu, sources said.

Muse Nur Amin, the Interior Minister, was in one of the vehicles but his car was not directly hit by the insurgents.

But two other cars which were part of the Interior Minister’s convoy were laced with bullets and later captured by the insurgents, according to witnesses.

At least four government soldiers were killed and two others wounded, with the Interior Minister escaping the ambush unhurt.

Ali “Ganey” Adan, a police commander in Lower Shabelle region, confirmed to reporters that Interior Minister Amin’s convoy was attacked and local authorities dispatched police units to the area reinforce the government minister.

Al Shabaab spokesman Muktar Robow “Abu Mansur,” who claimed responsibility for the deadly ambush in Lower Shabelle region, bragged that no one on their side was hurt during the skirmish.

In Mogadishu, at least 11 people died from a series of overnight attacks, including two Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers who were killed when their vehicle came under rocket fire in northern Mogadishu.

Five civilians were reported dead when shells hit their homes following street fighting between insurgents and government forces, locals said.

Somalia has been mired in armed conflict since 1991, but the ongoing war is being waged between Ethiopian Woyanne-backed government troops and Islamist-led rebels.

Ethiopian-American completes tours of duty in Iraq

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

ST LOUIS, MO (KSDK) – Saturday night on the University City Loop, a homecoming party at the restaurant known as Red Sea had a distinctly international flavor. The red, white, and blue sat silently next to the green, yellow, and red…colors on the flag of Ethiopia.

Sgt. Meron Aymiro, 24, is a U.S. Army Transportation Coordinator and Radio Transmission Operator, and she just completed her second tour of duty, in Iraq.

Sgt. Aymiro says she rarely had an opportunity to work with the Iraqi people. Still, her name and her ethnicity were occasionally a factor. “They had a lot of Indians, people from Sri Lanka, third country nations, and like they kind of… what’s the word?”

Sgt. Aymiro was asked if people related to her, differently than other soldiers. “Yeah,” she said, “They react to me, differently. They see me smile, and I figured they think I’m from the same country as them.”

So was that helpful?

“That would help, they were more friendly and they want to talk more.”

Gedlu Metaferia is executive director of AMAAM, the African Mutual Assistance Association of Missouri, a group that serves African refugees and immigrants.

Metaferia presented Aymiro with a special certificate.

“This certification of appreciation is given to Sergeant Meron Aymiro for unwavering commitment of sacrifice to the public good. New Americans also serve our military with dedication, defending their adopted country. Meron Aymiro had two tours of duty in Iraq, and she came successfully. And this homecoming encouraged our young people to participate, to give to this country, and to serve in honor, duty, and commitment, to sacrifice.”

Metaferia was asked what this occasion should mean to people who know no country, other than America.

He said, “They can understand when they see this, an Ethiopian-born young lady, who gave the commitment of sacrifice… that is an awesome story. The significance is that immigrants also are becoming citizens and permanent residents are serving our troops.”

Sgt. Aymiro’s decision to join the United States military was met with concern, initially, among her relatives from Ethiopia, and America.

Billie Smith is Aymiro’s grandmother.

“American grand-mother,” she points out. “Oh, my. Oh we worried so much about her. But we’re just thankful she’s made it through, and she’s home. She wanted to further her education, and this was a way to help.”

Alemayehu Assfaw is Aymiro’s father.

“I’m very proud,” said Assfaw. “Actually, the first time she asked me to join the Army, I was shocked. But, I said, ‘If you want to serve your country, go ahead.’ Because her momma, she’s an American.”

Kimberly Smith-Assfaw, Alemayehu’s wife, is Aymiro’s step-mother.

“Initially I was not happy, at all,” said Smith-Assfaw, “I was totally against it. I walked along with her until the very last minute, and that’s what she decided to do. So I supported it.”

An observer pointed-out that Sgt. Aymiro is an American, now.

“Correct. I mean, I still got my Ethiopian blood in me, and I’m still an American… a good combination.”

Sudan rebels say they entered Khartoum

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – A Darfur rebel commander said on Saturday his JEM group had entered Khartoum and was aiming to take power in Sudan.

Khartoum was placed under an overnight curfew after fighting in the west of the capital on Saturday. It would be the first time a rebel group has entered Khartoum.

Heavy gunfire was heard in the west and helicopters and army vehicles headed towards the suburb of Omdurman, witnesses said. Later, artillery was heard.

The Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels said they had taken control of Omdurman which lies on the opposite bank of the River Nile from Khartoum.

“We are now trying to control Khartoum. God willing we will take power, it’s just a matter of time,” senior JEM commander Abdel Aziz el-Nur Ashr told Reuters by telephone.

“We have support from inside Khartoum even from within the armed forces.”

Darfur rebels fought battles with Sudan’s army in the North Kordofan province bordering Khartoum on Friday and Saturday, according to a local government official and witnesses.

The army said the curfew was to preserve the safety of the civilians and the situation was under control.

“We are announcing a curfew in the state of Khartoum from 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) until 6 a.m. starting from today May 10th, 2008,” an army spokesman said on state television.

The shooting in Omdurman could be heard down the telephone of one resident who telephoned Reuters on Saturday.

“There is very, very heavy shooting here and we are all terrified,” the resident called al-Sadig said.

“It’s all green here because of the military uniforms. There is a lot of army on the streets, security men and military trucks,” another witness in the suburb said later.

Many in Khartoum hunkered down at home and the streets were filled by people rushing to their houses.

Diplomatic missions held emergency meetings early on Saturday. They have been on alert since Friday morning. The main phone network crashed in the capital because it was overloaded.

Khartoum houses the bulk of Sudan’s population with an estimated 8 million people living in the state. Despite civil wars ravaging Sudan’s peripheries for decades, the capital has remained a haven of safety with armed clashes unheard of.

ATTACK REPULSED

Earlier, JEM said it was strengthening its forces in Kordofan but not attacking government troops to avoid causing civilian casualties.

But a local government official said the heavily armed rebels had scattered after an army counter-attack.

“The government and the armed Darfur movements are engaged in battles and there was bombing by planes and the rebels have scattered,” Abdel Majid Abdel Farid, a member of the administrative council of North Kordofan’s eastern town of Hamrat al-Wizz told Reuters from the area.

He said the Darfur rebels had spread out on Friday all over the state in an “unprecedented manner,” carrying very heavy weapons.

The army accused Chad on Saturday of backing the rebels. State minister for information, Kamal Obeid, called the events strange and unacceptable. Clearly flustered, he told state television that JEM was “paying the bill for Chad.”

The army told the state news agency SUNA in a statement it had repulsed an attack from the Chadian army which used heavy artillery in the Chad-Darfur area of KashKash late on Friday.

Chad accuses Sudan of supporting rebels who tried to overthrow President Idriss Deby earlier this year.

JEM said earlier it was tightening its control on Kordofan.

“We are deploying our forces as and when we see fit to,” said senior JEM official al-Tahir al-Feki. “We are making a total deployment and getting a grip on Kordofan.

Darfur’s JEM have attacked government forces in Kordofan in the past in hit-and-run raids.

International experts estimate some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million made homeless in five years of fighting in Darfur after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms accusing central government of neglect.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for a junior government minister and an allied militia leader accused of war crimes. Khartoum refuses to hand them over and blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict.

——————
Clashes with Darfur rebels reported near Sudan’s capital

By MOHAMED OSMAN and SARAH EL DEEB

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Hundreds of Darfur rebels reached the outskirts of Sudan’s capital and were clashing with security forces, a rebel leader said Saturday.

Sudan’s army deployed on the streets of Khartoum, putting up checkpoints and imposing an overnight curfew. An Interior Ministry statement said the curfew was in effect while the government was “dealing with the infiltrators.”

The clashes come after days of government warnings that the Justice and Equality Movement, one of Darfur’s most effective rebel movements, was going to target Khartoum. Saturday’s attack is the closest the rebels have ever gotten to the capital.

An Associated Press reporter in Khartoum said security forces ordered residents to clear the streets and armored vehicles were patrolling the capital. Bridges to Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, have been cut by government forces.

In a statement, the military said that “elements” of JEM had infiltrated northern Omdurman.

“Your heroic forces are confronting them now,” the statement said, urging citizens to come forth with information.

The statement said the Sudanese forces had stopped the main advance of the JEM forces in neighboring province Kordofan, but that a few had reached Khartoum.

JEM leader Abu Zumam, however, told The Associated Press by telephone that hundreds of his fighters had reached the Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman and engaged government forces. Gunfire could be heard in the background.

“We entered Omdurman by force,” he said, adding that his army of some 700 vehicles planned to take over the state radio building in the city.

JEM once confined its activities to Darfur, where local ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government in 2003 complaining of discrimination.

In the last year however, JEM has widened its activities to include Kordofan, the vast province between the capital and Darfur.

More than 200,000 have died in Sudan’s Darfur region and 2.5 million have fled to refugee camps since 2003. Sudan denies backing the janjaweed militia of Arab nomads accused of the worst atrocities in the conflict.

Sudan officially accused neighboring Chad of attacking a border area to provide cover for JEM’s attacks against the capital.

The Sudanese army spokesman, Brigadier General Osman al-Agbash said Chadian forces on Friday attacked the border and were repelled with “heavy losses on the attacking Chadian forces,” he said according to the official state news agency SUNA.

Relations between the two countries, which share a long arid border region home to numerous armed groups have long been strained.

Chad has accused Sudanese authorities of arming rebels who launched a failed assault February on the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. The rebels reached the gate of the presidential palace, but fled toward Sudan after Chad’s army repelled them in fighting that left hundreds dead.

Sudan, meanwhile, has repeatedly accused Chad of supporting the rebellion in Darfur.

Though the two countries signed peace agreement in March promising to prevent armed groups from operating along each other’s shared borders, the accusations have continued unabated.

Associated Press Writer Sarah El Deeb contributed to this report from Cairo, Egypt.

Woyanne gives 1,600 sq km of farm land to Sudan

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

The Ethiopia-Sudan Border Committee is reporting that the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) has given to Sudan 1,600 square kilometers of fertile farm land. Click here to read the full report [pdf, Amharic]. The Woyanne regime denies the report, but a few months ago, the Sudanese media had reported about it quoting Sudanese government officials. Reportedly, this secret deal between Meles Zenawi and Al Bashir, in return would allow the Tigray region to build a railway from Tigray to Port Sudan. All of the land that was given to Sudan was carved out of Gonder and Oromia regions. Meanwhile, ER Research Unit has learned that the Woyanne regime has moved all air force fighter jets to Tigray. According to eyewitnesses, only a few transport planes and helicopters are left in Debre Zeit.

See also satellite map [click here]

Ethiopian govt gives 1,600 sq km of farm land to Sudan

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

The Ethiopia-Sudan Border Committee is reporting that the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) has given to Sudan 1,600 square kilometers of fertile farm land. Click here to read the full report [pdf, Amharic]. The Woyanne regime denies the report, but a few months ago, the Sudanese media had reported about it quoting Sudanese government officials. Reportedly, this secret deal between Meles Zenawi and Al Bashir, in return would allow the Tigray region to build a railway from Tigray to Port Sudan. All of the land that was given to Sudan was carved out of Gonder and Oromia regions. Meanwhile, ER Research Unit has learned that the Woyanne regime has moved all air force fighter jets to Tigray. According to eyewitnesses, only a few transport planes and helicopters are left in Debre Zeit.

See also satellite map [click here]

Kinijit North America opposes land give away to Sudan

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

The Kinijit North America support group takes a stand against the give away of western Ethiopian farm lands to Sudan by the ruling Tigray People Liberation Front (Woyanne). Click here to read [pdf, Amharic]