Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

World Bank approved $80 million for the Meles dictatorship

Friday, May 30th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: World Bank, the best friend of dictators and the primary source of Africa’s misery, approves more money to be given to the terrorist regime in Ethiopia led by tribal dictator Meles Zenawi. If and when a government that stands for the interest of Ethiopians comes to power, one of the first things it needs to do is to kick out the World Bank and IMF out of the country.

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World Bank Press Release No:2008/342/AFR

Washington, May 29, 2008 – The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank today approved US$ 80 million International Development Association financing (of which US$56.6 million as grant and US$23.4 million as a credit) to the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) in support of the second phase of the Pastoral Community Development Project.

The project will be implemented in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in 57 woredas of the Afar, Somali, SNNPs and Oromya Regions. About 600,000 rural households or approximately 45% of pastoral and agro-pastoral woredas in Ethiopia will benefit from the PCDPII project.

The objective of the Pastoralist Community Development Project II is to enable pastoralists to better withstand external shocks and to improve the livelihoods of targeted communities. The project will empower local communities by increasing their engagement in woreda processes and local development decision making. It will also provide them increased access to social services; and better access to support for savings and credit activities. In addition, the project seeks to improve and expand the pastoral early warning system and the responsiveness of the disaster mitigation and contingency funds.

‘PCDP II represents a great opportunity for the Government of Ethiopia to realize its commitment to decentralized development in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in Ethiopia,’ said Ingo Wiederhofer, World Bank Task Team Leader for this project. According to him, the Project will support an approach to local development in which citizens are empowered to determine and implement their social and economic priorities. It will also help to expand and institutionalize systems that will enable the country to better identify and manage disaster risks in these fragile areas in a proactive manner adapted to pastoral livelihood systems.

The project has the following four components:

The Sustainable Livelihoods Enhancement component will further strengthen decentralized and participatory planning at the community/ kebele and woreda levels. Women and men in pastoral communities will identify, prioritize, design, and implement micro-projects that reflect their local development priorities. The Community Investment Fund (CIF) subcomponent will finance micro-projects related to water supply, micro-scale irrigation, health care, education, rangeland management, etc. The Rural Livelihoods Program (RLP) sub-component will finance income generating activities identified by beneficiary community groups, and will help to extend savings and credit cooperatives systems to pastoral areas.

The Pastoral Risk Management component will support the expansion of the participatory Early Warning and Response Program to all pastoral and agro-pastoral communities. The system will provide information to trigger early non-food responses to declines in the welfare of pastoralist communities using the proven Household Economy Approach. In addition, technical assistance and staff capacity building will be provided to support the development of regional Disaster Preparedness Strategy and Investment Programs in four regions.

The Knowledge Management and Participatory Learning component will support Participatory Action Learning pilots in selected woredas to develop methodologies for demand-driven approaches to participatory knowledge generation and innovation development. In addition knowledge management and information exchange will be supported at federal and regional levels.

The last component will support overall Project Management.

The World Bank will support the Pastoral Community Development Project II in partnership with the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD). Implementation of the project will be overseen by the Federal Project Coordination Unit of the Ministry of Federal Affairs, with regional governments playing a key role.

For more information on the World Bank in sub-Saharan Africa visit:

For more information on the World Bank in Ethiopia visit:

For more information about this project click here.

In Washington: Aby Toure +1 (202) 473 8302
In Addis Ababa : Gelila Woodeneh (251-1) 662 77 00

Woyanne offers to evacuate Ethiopians from South Africa

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

The Ethiopian embassy in South Africa that is currently occupied by the Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) has told Ethiopians in South Africa that it can help with evacuation if they wish to escape the anti-immigrant violence that is sweeping the country. But Ethiopian refugees went to South Africa in the first place because the Woyanne fascist regime made it impossible for them to live in their own country.

Thousands of Ethiopians, Somalis, Zimbabweans and other Africans are currently being savagely attacked by South Africans who are blaming the immigrants for their economic woes. The South African government has made half-hearted effort to stop this shameful act by its citizens.

Read more from IOM >>

Ethiopian embassy is ready to evacuate nationals from South Africa following anti-immigrant violence there which has killed 56 people, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

“The embassy in South Africa has announced its readiness to work together with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) if Ethiopians want to return home,” it said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of mainly Zimbabwean and Mozambican immigrants have been forced out of their homes since the onset of xenophobic violence.

Foreigners in the continental powerhouse South Africa, many of whom have fled economic meltdown in neighbouring Zimbabwe, are being blamed for sky-high crime rates and depriving locals of jobs.

18 east African illegal immigrants caught at U.S.-Mexico border

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

HIDALGO (U.S.-Mexico border) — U.S. Border Patrol agents Sunday detained 18 people from the horn of Africa – an uncommon but not unheard of origin for illegal migrants to the United States, officials said.

The east African immigrants – 13 from Eritrea and five from Ethiopia – were walking along a road in Hidalgo on Sunday when they were spotted, said local Border Patrol spokesman Daniel Doty.

Agents peacefully took the illegal immigrants into custody, Doty said. None of them was carrying drugs or firearms.

Doty said illegal immigrants who come from countries other than Mexico either face an expedited deportation hearing or can request political asylum in the United States. Illegal immigrants are typically deported from the country within 14 days, he said.

It is less common for a group of illegal immigrants to come to the United States from nations other than

By Jared Taylor, The Monitor

'Nova' visits with Ethiopian women at the fistula hospital

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

By Maureen Ryan | Chicago Tribune

A Walk to Beautiful may be the most moving documentary of the year. I spent parts of this hourlong Nova installment wiping away tears, contemplating the suffering and resilience of the young Ethiopian women profiled.

A Walk to Beautiful, which aired earlier this month on PBS stations and encores at 1:30 a.m. tonight on WLRN-Ch. 17, lets the women and the doctors who treat them at Addis Ababa’s Fistula Hospital tell their own stories. But sometimes words are not necessary. The look on the face of one woman, Aheyu, as she boards a bus and leaks urine on to the floor, tells how wretched she feels.

Like millions of women in developing countries, childbirth caused major damage to her underdeveloped body. The process punched a hole between Aheyu’s birth canal and bladder. As a result of her incontinence, her community shuns her.

A friend tells her of the fistula hospital, where free operations can fix the damage. “How can they bring you back to life?” Aheyu nervously asks of the surgery. But the fact is, these operations bring these women back to life in any number of ways.

For the Ethiopian women, being shunned by their families and villages is crushing to their spirits. Aheyu’s own mother speaks matter-of-factly about making her daughter live in a rough shelter outside the main house. But in an almost wordless scene, the mother weeps and presses scarce money in her daughter’s hand as she heads off to the hospital.

Finding sympathy and a community of other women with fistula is a revelation for women such as Wubete. “They are not revolted by me here,” says the 17-year-old patient, who talks of being married off by age 11.

This poignant film follows three women’s cases and captures daily life at the hospital, which is supported by charity. Wubete’s journey ends in an unlikely place, and the smile on Aheyu’s face after surgery is heart-piercing. Seeing women like her go from contemplating suicide to choosing colorful new clothes for their trip home is, indeed, beautiful.

Ethiopian women in Dubai struggles to recover from a fall

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

DUBAI — The Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) has come to the rescue of an Ethiopian housemaid who plunged from the second-floor balcony of her sponsor’s villa while cleaning.

Bizuwork Girma
The housemaid suffered fractures and will need
medical treatment for at least six months
[Photo: Bassma Al Jandaly/Gulf News]

Senior DNRD officials are negotiating with her sponsor, whom it is alleged has not paid her since she started working for him, and who has threatened to deport her even though she requires medical attention.

Bizuwork Girma, the 33-year-old housemaid is currently being treated in Rashid Hospital and has severe injuries. Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director-General of Dubai DNRD told Gulf News it was the responsibility of sponsors to provide medical treatment at their own expense if domestic helpers are injured at work.

“The UAE domestic helpers’ work contract makes it obligatory for sponsors to give all necessary medical treatment for their employees. If it is proved that the sponsor is ignoring the law he will face punishment,” he said.

Full support will be given to Bizuwork, Major General Al Merri added.

Bizuwork, a mother of a four-year-old boy back in her home country, came to work in Dubai in November last year as a housemaid for a British man, his Lebanese wife and their three children.

According to a social worker from the Ethiopian Consulate Bizuwork’s sponsor told them he had sent the money to her sister but her sister said she has not received any money.

“We asked the sponsor to check with the exchange company why the money did not reach the family but the sponsor said he was too busy for such things,” the social worker told Gulf News.

Bizuwork told Gulf News that on the day of the accident she was cleaning her sponsor’s house when she fell off the villa’s second-floor balcony while she was putting a blanket out to air.

Doctors at the hospital said that Bizuwork was suffering from fractures to her back and would need medical treatment for a while.

They said she will be discharged from the hospital in a week’s time. But she has to come back for follow-up treatment for at least six months.

If she does not receive proper treatment she could be permanently paralysed, the doctor said.

According to the consulate’s social worker Bizuwork’s sponsor will not allow her to stay in the UAE for her follow-up treatment and will try to send her back to her home country as soon as she is discharged from the hospital.

Bizuwork tearfully said that she was from a very poor family who live in a small city in Ethiopia. Her father died a long time ago. She left her young son with her mother and came to the UAE in order to be able to work and support them.

Bizuwork said her life would not be easy if she went back to her country while she was in such a poor physical condition. “I will die. I cannot afford to go to hospital,” said Bizuwork.

By Bassma Al Jandaly, Gulf News

Balance of power in Somalia shifts towards the ICU

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

By Michael A. Weinstein, Purdue University

During the second half of May, the balance of power in Somalia shifted decisively, as the armed insurgency against the forces of the Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) and the Ethiopian Woyanne occupation has begun to seize and control territory in every region of the country. As the T.F.G.’s parliamentary speaker, Sheikh Adan Madobe, put it bluntly, “The situation in the country is very dangerous; the anti-government groups are capturing a new district every day.”

The gains of the insurgency, which is composed of the radical jihadist Youth Mujahideen Movement (Y.M.M.), more nationalist Islamist forces operating through the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (A.R.S.) and anti-T.F.G. clan militias, have revealed the military weakness of the T.F.G., which cannot even pay its forces, and the over-extension of Ethiopia’s Woyanne’s forces, which have been unable to stem the opposition’s rising tide. For the first time since the Ethiopian invasion in December, 2006, which ousted the Islamic Courts Council (I.C.C.) from control over most of Somalia south of the autonomous sub-state of Puntland, central and southern Somalia has become contested territory. The Courts and their allies on the ground are no longer the “remnants” of a defeated movement; they have the military power and popular support to deprive the T.F.G. of even nominal sovereignty.

As the insurgency achieved a new level of success, a strategic split opened up in the A.R.S., which is dominated by the Courts movement, but also includes dissident parliamentarians, ex-warlords and leaders of the Somali diaspora. The split was occasioned by the decision of some A.R.S. leaders, notably its chief executive, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, former chair of the I.C.C.’s executive council; and Sheikh Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, the chair of its central committee and former T.F.G parliamentary speaker, to participate in peace talks with the T.F.G. in Djibouti that were mediated by the United Nations and supported, at least rhetorically, by Western powers.

The decision to take the A.R.S. into a “reconciliation” process with the T.F.G. before a timetable for Ethiopian Woyanne withdrawal from Somalia had been set provoked determined opposition from A.R.S. hardliners, notably Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the former head of the ICC’s consultative council; and former warlord and ICC defense secretary, Yusuf Indha’ade, who — bolstered by the successes of the insurgency on the ground — held out against the Djibouti talks and pressed for a military approach until the Ethiopians Woyannes withdrew from or were forced out of Somalia.

The strategic split between diplomatic and military approaches had always been incipient within the A.R.S., which from its inception in 2007 adopted the familiar dual-track strategy of resistance movements (for example, the Irish Republican Army and Palestine Liberation Organization) of pursuing diplomacy and armed insurgency simultaneously. The dual-track strategy, which is essential for a resistance movement to secure a foothold, tends inexorably to create a division in the movement between a political wing and a military wing, each one wedded to its half of the double strategy.

In the case of the A.R.S., the incipient tension broke into a split, because the non-Islamist elements of the A.R.S., which favor diplomacy, joined with the more nationalist components of the Courts to move toward negotiation at the precise moment that the armed insurgency was achieving its first significant successes.

The strategic split within the A.R.S. should not necessarily be interpreted as a sign that the alliance is weakening. The successes of a resistance movement’s military wing provide its political wing with bargaining chips, and prolonged negotiations conducted by its political wing give the military wing some lee- way for its operations. Obviously, disunity has its dangers, but as long as the two wings understand their own limits and the other’s function, they can create a synergy.

On the Ground

It is an understatement to say that the insurgency’s successes on the ground have been under-reported in the international media, although they have been reported extensively in the Somali media. Under-reporting means under-valuing, impeding accurate analysis; that is, the interests served by the international media – the major world-power concentrations – would rather not publicly acknowledge Islamist gains, but would prefer to pretend that their plans for “reconciliation” and possible international peacekeeping forces still are viable.

Just as an example of a day’s monitoring of Somalia in the recent past, look at May 26 through the Somali media.

In the Juba regions, the Islamic Courts commander, Abdirahman Abdullahi Waheliye said that he was conducting discussions with elders and intellectuals aimed at setting up Shari’a administrations in Kamsuma, Jilib and Jimaame districts, which the Courts forces had recently captured. Waheliye expressed optimism that the districts would defect from formal support of the T.F.G. and join the Courts movement.

Context: The insurgency has been gaining territorial control in the Juba regions throughout 2008, to the point that there were fears that the Courts forces would attempt to take the strategic port city of Kismayo, now controlled by an administration of the Marehan sub-clan of the Darod clan family that is not recognized by the T.F.G. On May 23, there was a report that the Marehan had made an agreement with the Courts, in which the Marehan would give thirty percent of port revenues to the A.R.S. forces and thirty percent to the Y.M.M. in return for the promise that the Courts would leave the present administration in control. Whether or not this report is accurate, it would not
have appeared even two months ago; nobody could have taken it seriously.

In the Middle Shabelle region, Courts leader Sheikh Dahir Adow announced a ban on carrying small arms in the region’s capital Jowhar in response to an increase in arms bearing stemming from inter-clan conflict. The significance of this news bit is the implication that, for the moment, the Courts are taking over security in Jowhar, which has changed hands several times recently.

Context: The insurgency has been taking over districts in Middle Shabelle through the spring and negotiating with local leaders to set up “independent” administrations outside the framework of the T.F.G. Middle Shabelle borders the Banadir region (Mogadishu and its environs); what does it mean that the Courts have been able to establish themselves there?

In the Hiraan region, Ethiopian Woyanne forces were conducting vehicle searches for weapons and ammunition in the region’s capital Beledweyne, after they had been attacked the previous day and had seized a bag of explosives from a car. It was reported that Courts forces were moving towards Beledweyne, which they had briefly captured earlier in the spring.

Context: With their third largest concentration of forces in Somalia in Hiraan (after Mogadishu and Baidoa), the Ethiopians Woyannes have not been able to reverse the insurgency’s momentum. On May 20, thousands or hundreds of people (depending on the source) were addressed by A.R.S. officials who had come from Asmara to the town of Bulo Burde. Col. Umar Hashi, secretary general of the A.R.S., told the crowd to “beware of the deceptions of the enemy” and told the media that the delegation had come “to encourage the people to resist.” This was the first time that high-ranking members of the A.R.S. had appeared openly in Somalia. Hiraan is of key strategic importance to Ethiopia as a the gateway to central Somalia and as a source of instability in the Ogaden region if it fell into hostile hands. The region was one of the first places into which Ethiopia Woyanne made incursions when the Courts were rising in 2006, yet neither it nor the T.F.G. is able to control Hiraan.

In Mogadishu, where the insurgency began and continues, Ethiopian soldiers were reported to have shot dead three civilians after beating them with clubs. The Y.M.M. attacked forces of the small African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) near the strategic Km4 junction. Eleven civilians were killed in the cross-fire.

Context: The insurgency continues to flourish in Mogadishu, with several incidents every day, some of them involving face-to-face combat spreading over several districts. Increasingly, the insurgents have been able to seize checkpoints and government facilities. On May 14, the “peacemaker” in the Hawiye Tradition and Unity Council, Ahmed Behi Ali, said that Somalia had “no government” and that the Somali people had to form their “own administrations.” Hawiye sub-clans that are marginalized and threatened by the T.F.G. and the Ethiopian Woyanne occupation have been unwilling to participate in “reconciliation” and still control much of what remains of Mogadishu after a year and a half of warfare. Their leadership functions independently of the A.R.S., but the situation on the ground is more complex.

May 26 is a representative day in the life of the insurgency. On other days, similar news would have come from the Bay, Bakool, Gedo, Lower Shabelle, Galgadud and Mudug regions. Is it likely that protracted “reconciliation” talks in Djibouti can change the flow of events on the ground? It does not appear that Ethiopia Woyanne has either the will or the ability to reverse the momentum militarily. The “international community” (Western powers) will not back an international peacekeeping force beyond AMISOM (half-heartedly) until there is progress toward “reconciliation.”

The failure of the external actors to secure Somalia has opened the way for the Courts’ comeback. Nobody, including the A.R.S. leadership, knows what to do about what is happening on the ground. The development does not appear to be centrally coordinated and responds to highly localized circumstances, even though it is unified by a resistance struggle against occupation and the general strategy of detaching districts from allegiance to the T.F.G.

In the Halls

In light of the insurgency’s successes on the ground, the brutality of Ethiopian Woyanne responses to insurgent initiatives and U.S. missile strikes against alleged “terrorists,” it is not surprising that the first round of “reconciliation” talks between the T.F.G. and A.R.S., which began on May 12 and ended on May 16, did not result in direct negotiations, but only in a commitment to a second round on May 31 and an agreement to facilitate humanitarian access.

The talks, mediated by the U.N. and pushed by the Western powers as their latest last resort to stabilize Somalia, foundered due to the pressures on the pro-”reconciliation” wing of the A.R.S. to take an uncompromising line. From the outset, on May 13, the A.R.S. stated that it would restrict itself to discussing with U.N. special representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abadallah, an Ethiopian withdrawal from Somalia. On the same day, A.R.S. defense secretary Indha’ade opened the split between the political and military wings, declaring that the Djibouti conference was an attempt to “destroy” the A.R.S., that the pro-”reconciliation” faction did “not represent the opposition” and that there should be no talks with the T.F.G.

The hardline counter attack gained momentum on May15,when Shekh Aweys took
the lead, saying in an interview with Reuters that the ARS delegation in Djibouti should walk out of the talks, which were “hastily” arranged and had not been based on a consensus within the A.R.S. on “thorny issues.” Aweys added that the solution was simple: the Ethiopian Woyanne “enemy” needed to be “removed.”

On the same day, the pro-Courts website Qaadisya carried a statement attributed to the A.R.S. that the A.R.S. representatives to the Djibouti talks had violated the alliance’s constitution by failing to seek and gain approval from the A.R.S. central committee. Charging that the pro-”reconciliation” faction had made a “secret deal” with Western powers in Nairobi in March, the statement went on to assert that there would be no talks with the T.F.G. prior to an Ethiopian Woyanne withdrawal, that no foreign troops should be introduced into Somalia “without the people’s consent,” that “killers of civilians” must be brought to justice and that the “international community” should provide “urgent” humanitarian aid.

When the talks broke down on May 16, the A.R.S. demanded a timetable for Ethiopian Woyanne withdrawal. A.R.S. representative Abdishakur Abdirahman Warsame told the press that there had been an agreement to meet again and “nothing else worth mentioning.” Ould Abdallah commented: “It is a good day for Somalia. We should not minimize what has been achieved.”

On May 17, the U.N. and T.F.G. departed from Djibouti, but the A.R.S. delegation remained there for the arrival of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad and Sheikh Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan. From Asmara, Aweys said that the pro- “reconciliation” faction had not been there for forty days, underscoring the failure to consult.

On May 21, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad was reported to have held talks with the U.S. ambassador to Djibouti. A.R.S. representative Abdirahman Abdishakur announced that the A.R.S. was preparing an agenda for the next round of talks, including prosecution of “war criminals,” the return of internally displaced persons to Mogadishu and improved security. Aweys raised the rhetorical pressure in an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper, saying that the T.F.G. is run by “traitors” who would be exiled or put on trial in the event the Courts prevailed. He remarked that Ethiopia Woyanne would not have invaded Somalia without U.S. backing and that the U.N. was not impartial, concluding that the Somali people would remove the Ethiopians Woyannes by force. Aweys said that the opposition would form a “unity government” based on Islam: “We have no idea of secularism. The people will place their trust in religion.”

Aweys continued his rhetorical offensive on May 25 in an interview with al- Sharq al-Awsat, in which he said that Ould Abdallah’s conduct of the negotiations was “very bad,” emphasizing that he did not oppose talks on principle, but adding that the opposition should not sit down with the “agents” of the occupation.

Aweys’ drumfire attacks finally provoked a response form Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad who complained that Eritrea was trying to break up the A.R.S. (presumably to prevent reconciliation and keep Ethiopian forces tied down in Somalia). He apologized for Aweys’ remarks and assured that “the alliance is a peaceful movement set up to represent the Somali people in the international arena,” quickly adding that if — as Ethiopian prime minister dictator Meles Zenawi said to the country’s parliament in May — Ethiopian Woyanne intended to remain in Somalia until the jihadists were defeated, “they will leave by force.”

On May 26, A.R.S. social affairs secretary, Muhamad Sudan Garyare, said that the A.R.S. would hold a meeting to resolve its internal disputes when a quorum arrived in Asmara.

The West and Ethiopia Woyanne would welcome a split in the A.R.S. that would “isolate” its military wing, and Eritrea would welcome a split in the A.R.S. that would strengthen its military wing. At present, Asmara seems to be more perceptive than Addis Ababa Woyanne and Washington. Indeed, it appears that the pro- “reconciliation” wing of the A.R.S. is feeling the pull of its military wing more strongly than the push of the “international community.”

Fundamentally, the facts on the ground are likely to drive the A.R.S. negotiating position should talks resume. The Courts will not surrender their gains on the ground and those gains give negotiators bargaining chips; protracted negotiations, which even Ould Abdallah anticipates, will allow the armed opposition to continue to succeed and consolidate. From that perspective, the split in the A.R.S. would not be internally destructive, but synergistic. Although uncertainty clouds the future of the A.R.S., it is most likely that the alliance will not dissolve.


The key to the current situation in Somalia is that the balance of power has shifted in favor the insurgency/opposition, throwing Western hopes for “reconciliation” into severe doubt, and presenting Ethiopia Woyanne with bleak prospects.

Had Addis Ababa Woyanne been able to reverse or stall the insurgency, the pro- “reconciliation” faction in the A.R.S. might have been tempted to sue for peace and make the concession of talking while Ethiopian Woyanne forces remained in Somalia. That the opposite scenario is unfolding makes any concessions by the A.R.S. less likely, indicating that the Djibouti initiative will not bear fruit, at least in the short term. With no decisive military action to curb the Courts on the horizon, look for them to continue their momentum, threatening the interests of the external actors, except for Eritrea.

The December, 2006 invasion cannot be repeated and the Courts are back.

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Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University, can be reached at

Sovereignty and poverty – IMF and World Bank in Ethiopia

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

By Yilma bekele

There is a line attributed to Queen Victoria of Great Britain, she is quoted to have said “we are not amused’ when one of her court jesters made a feeble joke. That is what I felt when I read the Ethiopian Prime Minster’s remark in Japan during an international symposium on ‘Africa’s development’ organized by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). If you ask me that by itself is an oxymoron, placing Africa and development in one sentence requires a stretch of imagination.

JICA press release reads “Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia said Africa had ‘lost two decades of economic growth’ by following a policy imposed by developed nations of following a simplistic policy that ‘the only thing that mattered was to get the price right’ of the continent’s commodities and other products…that orthodoxy is a failure and it must be scrapped,” he said. A heavy investment in basic infrastructure and technology had been ignored during this same period and this must be urgently rectified, he insisted.’

Stupid me, I always thought we were a sovereign nation charting our own way. It is news to me that others were ‘imposing’ their needs regarding commodities and cheap prices. So these African dignitaries were using this podium organized by some ‘Non Profit Japanese Organization’ funded by Toyota, Sony, Mitsubishi and others to air their grievances regarding their condition.

In a way it is good to know. It is becoming obvious that we are not in charge regarding our economy. What we got here is a symbiotic relationship. The bad kind. In nature biologists have three classifications for symbiotic relationship. The first is ‘mutualism’ where both benefit. The second is ‘commensalism’ where there is no benefit or harm to either, and ‘parasitism’ where an organism is fed sheltered while contributing nothing.

Our leaders are protesting this ‘parasitic’ relationship they have forged with the industrialized world. What exactly are they crying about? Do they want to be left alone and they were disturbed? Are they demanding free money & loans with no strings? How is this policy imposed anyway?

The two ring leaders in this unequal relationship are the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) They are the ‘Trojan horse’ used to control the financial sector of the host country.

Both organizations were established in December of 1945.The agreement that created these two organizations was signed under the auspices of the UN and is commonly referred to as the ‘Breton Woods Conference’ named for the location in New Hampshire. Decision-making: operates on principle: “one dollar one vote”, so G7 (Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Canada) hold 57 per cent of voting power.

Their focus and has changed depending on the need of the period.

· 1968-1981 poverty alleviation

· 1980’s debt management and structural adjustment

· 2000 to now Millennium Development Goals.

We have no quarrel with the aims and goals. The problem is with their practice. Their track record is nothing to write home about. Since the 1970 they have managed to create havoc in the lives of poor people around the world. They have shown a tendency to be associated with dictators, military governments and corrupt democracies. They have successfully used the weakness and greed of these corrupt leaders to aid multi national banks and big corporations to control the economy of most developing nations.

Our country is no exception. We are poor. We have no known precious mineral or oil. Our economy is subsistence level. Our countries whole financial system assets are smaller than a small regional bank in the US. On the other hand we have a large population. We have a strategic location. We are known to be confident people. Properly managed we are a force to be reckoned with. Both the WB and the IMF have been involved in Ethiopia since the Emperors time. The two banks in collaboration with private banks loaned the Derg in the name of Ethiopia over US $9 billion dollars. We have no idea how much we owe today. Even the Ethiopian Parliament is not privy to this information. His Honorable Ato Bulcha Demeksa was quoted asking for such information, politely of course.

They are also cheerleaders of our non-elected government. In fact there was a report by the IMF mission team to Ethiopia this last week. It was a very rosy report lauding the government of achieving impressive ‘growth of the economy, structural reforms and favorable agricultural conditions.’ It is a very important vote of confidence that the regime will be waving like a flag for the next few months. How did such an organization staffed by highly educated and respected economists arrive at this conclusion?

The Ethiopia we know of is in the middle of one of its recurring famines with over 12 million people needing immediate help. Even by the governments own report the inflation rate is around 28%. The unemployment is in high double digits. The budget is still on life support needing donor injection to stay alive. The country is fast becoming a nation of ‘remitance ‘ recipients from family and friends working abroad.

Here is an example of two of their ‘projects’ in Ethiopia. The World Bank financed the projects. Since the Ethiopian Government ‘placed rural development as the fulcrum for faster and more equitable economic growth’ the projects ‘aimed to strengthen institutions, prioritize the development of competitive markets, including private sector participation’.

SSDP (seed systems development project) and NFSP (national fertilizer sector project) were approved in 1995 and closed down in 2002. SSDP was allocated $22 million while NFSP started with $164 million capital. The aim of SSDP was to ‘decentralize and strengthen the government seed producing agency the Ethiopian Seed Enterprise and promote seed production by private firms, and informal seed production by farmers’. NFSP’s aim was to ‘create competitive fertilizer market with private sector participation.’

According to WB mandated Project Performance and Assessment Report both failed miserably. The Ethiopian government was able to use the good will of the bank to strengthen its grip on the economy and control of the rural population. When the dust settled down the Ethiopian Seed Enterprise was the sole monopoly of seed production left standing. By the time the project was discontinued the private sector left the market and the government was the monopoly fertilizer supplier in the country. Close to $125 million was used to finance fertilizer imports through a government-monopolized market.

Why our government is complaining is difficult to comprehend. Granted the WB and IMF are have become experts at ‘central planning’ and ‘managed development’ from afar. The international bankers and the local elite are the two beneficiaries of WB and IMF generosity. The citizen is left carrying the empty bag. The loot is long gone. Shouldn’t it be the Ethiopian people complaining? Aren’t we the ones left with debt to international bankers while the ruling elite has squandered the money usually investing it in the West? The WB and IMF encourage the behavior that creates the problem.

African leaders are expert in the art of ‘blaming others’ for their failed policies. Famine is due to the absence of rain never about the wrong and failed policy of land ownership and obscure economic policies. Under development is blamed on developed counties ‘imposed’ economic policy not about corruption, crony capitalism and dictatorship. Civil war and across border wars is blamed on outsiders not on the ruling elites need that ‘creates’ contradictions as a survival strategy.

If on the other hand countries like Ethiopia relied on unleashing the creative potential of their people they would not be kowtowing to developed countries and their banker friends. It is impossible to invest heavily in weapons, support a large standing army, a robust security system and declare war on ones neighbors and show economic progress. There will be no money left for education, health and local investment.

When it comes to Ethiopia the TPLF minority government has been in power for seventeen long years. That is a long time. The only thing they can truly show for it is:

* Three famines in all corners of the country
* War with a neighbor that claimed thousands of lives.
* Invasion of a neighbor still going full blast with no end in sight.
* Three failed ‘elections’ that does not even meet the minimum standard.
* Government monopoly of land, telecommunications, media, and other important assets that have managed to lock us in a cycle of poverty and backwardness.
* Incremental give away of our territory behind our back.
* Condemning our young generation into ‘drug’ culture for the boys and prostitution and other forms of degradation for the young girls.

Thus, as the Queen said ‘we are not amused’ by this talk of ‘denial’ of the reason why we are poor and non-sovereign. We (the regime) invited the ferengis and the bankers. No one shoved ‘structural adjustment’ and other cute programs on us. Our government needs the ferenjis to stay in power. The ferenjis need our government to keep us in this perpetual state of backwardness and poverty. Poor people are never a threat to no one. As you can see this is a ‘parasitic’ relationship of the highest order. We will be fine if both these entities leave us alone. But that is not going to happen. We have to find the weakest link in this chain and break it to be free. The ferenjis are too powerful. The minority government is a better target. Well don’t just sit there and complain. Do something!

The following documents were used in the preparation of this article.

1. Ethiopia Seed System Development project
2. The IMF formula generating poverty
3. Still waiting- the World Bank fails to alleviate poverty
4. The real cause of famine in Ethiopia

The charge against Teddy Afro

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

In this 5-page report, Gebretsadik Aberra brings to light the circumstances surrounding the charge against popular singer Teddy Afro who is accused of killing a homeless man in a car crash. Teddy is currently detained without bail in Kaliti prison at the outskirt of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Click here to read [Amharic, pdf]

Somali group claims responsibility for bomb attack in Ethiopia

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – A little-known Somali Islamist group claimed responsibility on Thursday for a bomb attack that killed three people in Ethiopia on the eve of national celebrations to mark the 17th anniversary of the current government’s ascent to power.

“We will keep on fighting until we liberate our country from the Ethiopian invaders,”
said Haji Abukar, a spokesman for the Islamic Guerrillas, after claiming responsibility for Tuesday’s bombing in Nagele, 560 kilometers (347 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa. “Our fighters will continue their holy war against the enemy of Somalia and we will target them everywhere.”

The Guerillas are a relatively little known group in Somalia and Ethiopia, and only began making public statements three months ago.

It was not possible to independently verify their claim.

“We are an Islamic group that stands for the liberation of Somalia and have a good relationship with the rest of the insurgents in Somalia,” Abukar said.

Ethiopian troops have been supporting the shaky Somali government since December 2006, when they helped drive out an Islamic group from Mogadishu, the capital, and much of the rest of southern Somalia. The Islamists vowed to fight an Iraq-style insurgency and thousands of Somalis have been killed in the subsequent fighting.

Ethiopian government spokesman Zemedkun Tekle previously said the bombings were probably the work of the rebel Oromo Liberation Front group.

“We suspect that those attacks were aimed to disrupt the public, to horrify the people,” says Zemedkun. “They were ordinary people enjoying themselves.”

Ethiopia’s vast military is currently battling several rebellions in different parts of the country, including one by ethnic Somalis in the country’s Ogaden region that borders Somalia. Those rebels accuse the government of atrocities against civilians and withholding food aid, charges the government denies.
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Associated Press Writer Anita Powell contributed to this report from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Police arrests suspects of bomb blast in Negelle Borena

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: All these explosions are being orchestrated by Woyanne. The speed with which suspects are rounded up is just one indication.

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ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopian Woyanne police said Thursday they had arrested suspects linked to this week’s hotel bomb blasts that killed three people in the south of the country.

“So far, we have captured a few suspects but the case is still under investigation,” said Terefe Disassa, deputy police inspector for the town of Negelle Borena where two bombs exploded in two hotels late Tuesday.

“We are pretty much in the preliminary stages of the investigation at the moment,” he added.

Negelle Borena is a small town located 595 kilometres (320 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa, in the Oromo region, where rebels have fought for years over claims of marginalisation by the government.

No group has yet claimed responsibility.

The twin bomb attack came on 17th anniversary of former president Mengistu Haile Mariam’s ouster.

On May 20, a bomb went off on a minibus near the foreign ministry in Addis Ababa, killing six people, including a US national.

The authorities, who made several arrests, blamed last week’s explosion on Eritrea and the Oromo Liberation Front. They announced making arrests but did not specify the number of arrests.

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

VIDEO: Ethiopian Review publisher on ETN – Part II

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Ethiopian Television Network interviews Ethiopian Review publisher Elias Kifle. This is Part 2 of a 4-part video. Click here for Part I. The rest of the interview is available at ETN, or will be posted here shortly.

McCain appoints Woyanne lobbyist as top campaign official

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

John McCain’s campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail a few hours ago, soliciting supporters to drop $250 for a personalized McCain logo banner. The subject of the e-mail, Frank Donatelli, says he and his wife have “been proud to work for and support” John McCain since his first presidential bid, and are proud to publicly showcase their support for the presumptive GOP nominee.

Frank Donatelli, however, is a longtime lobbyist:

McCain Tapped Lobbyist Frank Donatelli To Run His Efforts At RNC. McCain tapped lobbyist Frank Donatelli to become deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee. The New York Times reported Donatelli will “act as the main liaison between the committee and the McCain campaign.” Donatelli is a lobbyist at McGuire Woods and previously served as a lobbyist at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. His clients have included AT&T, Exxon Mobil, PhRMA, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Verizon. [New York Times, 3/7/08; McGuire Woods, accessed 5/12/08; Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records, accessed 5/12/08]

Donatelli Enlisted to Improve Ethiopia’s Relationship with U.S. In a September 2005 letter sent to Ambassador Kassahun Ayele of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Donatelli set forth his obligations under their contract, namely to provide “government relations and related public communications services to assist and work with Ethiopia in Washington, D.C., in promoting and strengthening Ethiopia’s relations with the United States and, in general, providing such other appropriate advice and assistance as will serve to achieve these purposes.” [FARA Database, accessed 3/18/08, Letter signed by Frank Donatelli on 9/6/05]

Human Rights Watch:

“The Ethiopian Government’s Human Rights Record Remains Poor.” According to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2008, “The Ethiopian government’s human rights record remains poor, both within the country and in neighboring Somalia, where since early 2007 thousands of Ethiopian troops have been fighting an insurgency alongside the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. Government forces committed serious human rights violations, including rape, torture, and village burnings, during a campaign against Ethiopian rebels in eastern Somalia Region (Region 5). Abuses took place in other parts of the country, notably in Oromia State where local officials carried out mass arrests, extra-judicial killings and economic sanctions.” [Human Rights Watch, accessed 5/12/08, emphasis added]

You would think John McCain could find at least one supporter who isn’t a lobbyist, right?
For all those lobbyists staffing John McCain’s campaign, here’s a banner for all of them to share. In fact, I won’t even charge $250 for it.


Shops forced to close down for Woyanne celebration

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Security forces of Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship have forced vendors and shopkeepers to close down their stores in Merkato, Bole and through out Addis Ababa today to celebrate Woyanne’s 17th anniversary in power. Most shopkeepers ignored the regime’s orders and opened their stores for business on their regular schedules, but Kuma Demeksa (Taye Teklemikael), Meles Zenawi’s donkey who is now in charge of Ethiopia’s capital, sent the city’s police officers, backed by the federal police, to roam around and force each store closed. Restaurants, coffee shops, and private offices were exempted.

Later in the evening, ER has learned that Addis Ababa University students had clashed with the police. The source of the disturbance is not clear yet. ER is gathering more information.

Bahrain police detain six Ethiopian waitresses

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

BAHRAIN — FIFTY-SIX women suspected of working as prostitutes have been arrested in two hotel raids. Most of the women are housemaids trying to earn extra cash, Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) acting director general Brigadier Tariq bin Daina said. The women are of different nationalities and many are in the country illegally, he added.

“After investigation, the police concluded that most of the arrested women work as housemaids,” said Brig bin Daina, who is also acting director general of Crime Detection and Forensic Science.

“Many are illegal with expired visas and some are runaways.

“We will now investigate who is behind the racket and those who assist in the illegal activity.”

The GULF DAILY NEWS (GDN) has confirmed that one of the hotels raided was the Concorde International Hotel in Gudaibiya.

Forty-two women were arrested in that hotel alone on Friday night.

A spokesman for Future Hotel Management, which runs the hotel, confirmed that Labour Ministry and Interior Ministry officials raided its premises.

However, he denied there was prostitution taking place inside the hotel.

“Six Ethiopian waitresses who work at our coffee bar were taken into custody, despite their legal status and all papers being in order,” he said.

“These women, who are new to Bahrain, were scared when they saw the police and tried to run.

“We can’t blame them for it.

“They were caught and the officials told us that even though they have proper papers they will have to be taken.

“We were told that the women will be released in a couple of days.”

The hotel has sublet most of its services and claimed it was not responsible for activities inside outlets managed by other companies.

“We have sublet all of the hotel’s outlets except room-service and a coffee bar,” said the spokesman.

“So we are not aware and don’t have any control over what happens in the other outlets.”

He also said an Indian woman who was visiting the hotel with her husband was also arrested during the raid, despite protests by a hotel official.

“There is no logic to this raid,” claimed the spokesman.

“Not every woman who enters a hotel is a prostitute.

“The police also took with them a female guest who was at the coffee bar with her husband.

“When the hotel’s public relations officer objected to this and explained the woman was not even a staff member, but a customer, the police said that she will have to be taken anyway for being there.

“The helpless husband could do nothing but watch his wife being taken away.

“We are trying to change and renovate the hotel and it is not fair for authorities to do this.

“What upsets us most is that these women who were taken away are legal residents with all their papers in order.”

The case has now been referred to the Public Prosecution.

By BEGENA P PRADEEP, Gulf Daily News

Bomb exploded inside a hotel in Borena, southern Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Bombs have exploded in two hotels in a southern Ethiopian town, killing three people and wounding five, security and government officials said Wednesday.

“Two bombs blew up in two hotels last night. The second blast occured just three minutes after the first,” said Tamrat Abera, police chief for the town of Negelle Borena.

Information ministry spokesman Zemedkum Tekle had earlier mentioned only one blast taking place on Wednesday and gave a casualty toll of three killed and five wounded.

Negelle Borena is a small town located 595 kilometres (320 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa, in the Oromo region, where rebels have fought for years over claims of marginalisation by the government.

“Some had their legs blown off. There was also serious damage to private and public property,” Tamrat told AFP. “We are undertaking a massive manhunt as we have been given details of what the bomber looked like.”

He said that the first bomb went off in a hotel called Kidane Mihret and the second in Shuferoch hotel, just a few yards away.

No armed group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The twin bomb attack came as the regime of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi celebrated Wednesday the 17th anniversary of former president Mengistu Haile Mariam’s ouster.

On May 20, a bomb went off on a minibus near the foreign ministry in Addis Ababa, killing six people, including a US national.

The authorities, who made several arrests, blamed last week’s explosion on Eritrea and the Oromo Liberation Front.

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

Ethiopian women, other immigrants rounded up in Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

JEDDAH — Officials of the Passport Department rounded up more than 50 violators of residence and labor regulations in late-night operations in two working class neighborhoods of Jeddah yesterday.

The arrested included those who forged iqamas (residence permits), health cards and other official documents. The officials also arrested Filipino, Syrian and Chadian nationals who were living in the Kingdom legally but were employing or sheltering illegal residents. Housemaids that had run away from their sponsors were among those arrested.

Immigration officials carried out the operations in the Nuzlah and Faisaliah districts after midnight because most of the violators preferred to work in the night for fear of detection during the daytime.

The officials raided a number of illegally run car workshops, electronic repair shops, CD copying shops, beauty salons and tailoring houses. Ethiopian women peddlers of medicated oils and incenses were also arrested.

The officials also arrested illegally staying laborers hiding in some old buildings. While a few of them disappeared in the darkness, several of them were found hiding under beds and inside shelves. Some women were seen pleading for mercy from the officials saying that they were not committing a crime but earning the money to feed their children back home.

Brig. Muhammad Al-Asmari, director of the Passports Department for the Makkah province, supervised the operations.

By Ali Al-Amri, Arab News

Zenawi attacks World Bank at Africa symposium in Japan

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: It is not new for Meles to bite the hands that feed him. We have seen what he did to Eritreans after they helped him come to power. Without the money he is currently getting from the World Bank, this tin-pot dictator cannot survive one week. But it is good to see that he is attacking the World Bank — an organization that is a major source of Africa’s misery.

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Ethiopia’s tribal dictator Meles Zenawi on Tuesday denounced economic policies imposed on African countries in the 1980s by the World Bank and charged that they rather delayed the continent’s development.

“Economic liberalization policies were a failure and delayed Africa’s development. These choices neglected investments in infrastructure, education and training,” he said in the Japanese city of Yokohama during an international symposium on Africa’s development organized by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Zenawi urged African countries to conduct “more pragmatic policies” to accelerate their economic growth by investing in infrastructure to ensure their sustainable development.

“There is no sustainable economic growth without reliable and performing infrastructure. Over the past few years, African countries have been achieving economic growth, but the inadequacy of infrastructure is likely to ruin their efforts,” the Ethiopian Prime Minister said.

“Our partners are exerting pressure on us, but they do not leave us room for man oeuvre to enable us to design and work for our own development.”

Zenawi hailed Japan’s support to Africa, urging the continent to build on its economic model.

“In Ethiopia, we built on Asia’s economic experience in general,” he said before a large audience made up of African and Asian delegates who are in Japan to attend the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development.

The views of the Ethiopian dictator are shared by the other organizers of the symposium, namely the former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Ronald Kaberuka, the head of state of Tanzania and current chairman of the African Union (AU), Kikwete Jakaya Mrisho, and JICA Director, Mrs Sadako Ogata.

Mrs Ogata deplored the lack of investment in the field of infrastructure, saying JICA had not sufficiently taken into account the importance of infrastructure in development policies.

The four organizers of the symposium stressed the importance of the private sect or, as it must play a major role in economic development in Africa.

“Economic growth should not be reduced to mere figures. It must be felt by the population,” the former Mozambican president added.

The President of the AfDB, Kaberuka, said African countries must clearly define their economic policy and work by order of priority.

“There is need to reform the bureaucracy to modernize it and make it more competent,” he said.

“We cannot do everything at the same time. We must move in stages,” Kaberuka said, advocating a reform of the bureaucracy to modernize it in a bid to make it mo r e competent.

Source: Pana

Ethiopia braces against effects of global food crisis

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

(Richard Alleyne, UNICEF USA) — EAST HARARGHE, Ethiopia — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has attributed the current surge in global food prices to a host of factors, including: escalating energy prices, lack of investment in agriculture, increasing demand, trade distortions subsidies and recurrent bad weather.

In the eastern Ethiopian province of East Hararghe Zone of Oromiya Regional State—a region with over 30 million residents—the effects of the food crisis and an extended dry season threaten the tenuous gains the country has made with regard to child nutrition.

Already among the countries in the world with the highest rates of child mortality and malnutrition, just how severe the problem becomes in this part of Ethiopia depends largely on the financial soundness of a community-based intervention model known as Enhanced Outreach Strategy (EOS). Developed and implemented three years ago by UNICEF and its partners, in conjunction with the Ethiopian government, the strategy delivers low-cost, high-impact interventions such as nutrition screenings, vaccinations, deworming pills and vitamin A supplementation to children in order to avert crisis when emergencies crop up.

Subsistence farmers throughout Ethiopia rely on two rainy seasons a year: the “meher” from June to July and the “belg” from January to February. This year the “belg” rains came late.

“Because there were no “belg” rains to speak of this year, we are seeing livestock deteriorate and crops that could not be ready for harvest,” said Samson Desie, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist in Ethiopia. “But what we’re also seeing are children who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.”

At the Bissidimo Hospital in East Hararghe, Desie explains the nutrition screening process and EOS at work:

“By conducting mid-upper arm circumference, height and weight measurements our workers at the community level are able to refer mothers with children diagnosed with moderate malnutrition to a supplemental feeding program,” said Desie. “Those diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition come here to this UNICEF supported therapeutic feeding program.”

Hospital staff members in Bissidimo prepare therapeutic milk supplied by UNICEF and known as F-75. It is administered following UNICEF feeding protocols for case management of severe acute malnutrition. In many cases mothers are also given packets of Plumpy’nut to feed their children in order to combat the effects of malnutrition. A ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), Plumpy’nut is a high protein, high energy peanut-based paste in a foil wrapper that can be administered at home rather than at feeding centers or hospitals and can be eaten without any preparation.

The number of referrals to Bissidimo and similar facilities has risen steadily since last December. One of UNICEF’s partners has been the World Food Program (WFP), which works with the government’s agency responsible for disaster prevention and preparedness in administering targeted supplemental food distribution. This distribution is meant for treatment of moderate malnutrition and prevention of severe malnutrition.

Because of the increase in global food prices, WFP has had to close down a number of supplementary feeding centers. Those in Oromiya region—where there were 118 sites—have now been reduced to 28; and in Haraghe zone where 21 sites were in operation, now only six remain open.

The head of WFP has called the current food crisis a “silent tsunami” which threatens to affect the over 70 million people globally.

“We know the system we have in place works, and we are beginning to notice behavioral change at the community level. Families are beginning to understand what to do to keep their children well nourished,” said Desie. “But if we’re unable to keep the system well oiled with resources and financing, we could end up slipping backward.”

VIDEO: Ethiopian Review publisher on ETN – Part I

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Ethiopian Television Network interviews Ethiopian Review publisher Elias Kifle. This is Part I of a 4-part video. The rest of the interview is available at ETN.

Zimbabwe main opposition says Mengistu's case will be studied

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

By Peter Clottey, VOA — Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the country would not be a haven for criminals under its leadership. This comes after President Robert Mugabe’s government reportedly said former Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam will be protected in Zimbabwe despite being sentenced to death by an Ethiopian High Court. Mengistu, has lived in exile in Zimbabwe since he was overthrown in 1991, is unlikely extradited to Ethiopia to face punishment unless Mugabe loses next month’s election run-off. The Ethiopian government has however, not formally requested Mengistu to be extradited. From Harare, MDC international affairs secretary Eliphas Mukonoweshuro tells reporter Peter Clottey that the imminent MDC government would review the case of the former Ethiopian leader before taking any action.

“The position of the MDC is that it will accept people running away from other countries seeking refuge in Zimbabwe. If they are not needed by any country for crimes committed, then they would be free to stay in Zimbabwe. But Zimbabwe can never be a haven of criminals under an MDC government. If Mengistu has not committed any crime anywhere to the satisfaction of the incoming MDC government, then he has nothing to fear at all,” Mukonoweshuro pointed out.

He said the opposition party would review the case against the former Ethiopian leader to determine its next line of action.

“When the MDC comes to power, the MDC government will study the case pertaining to Mr. Mengistu. If it is satisfied that Mr. Mengistu has not committed any crime anywhere, of course, his refugee status would stand. But if Mr. Mengistu has committed crimes anywhere in any part of the world of course the MDC government would take that into consideration in deciding whether Mr. Mengistu has to remain as a guest in Zimbabwe or not,” he said.

Mukonoweshuro said it was important for the party to ascertain the full scope of the case against the former Ethiopian leader.

“We cannot prejudge the situation, and as a movement and a political party, at the present moment we do not have the facts pertaining to Mr. Mengistu’s case. But what we are saying is that the MDC government through the ministry of justice would have to study the papers, would have to convince ourselves whether or not there is a genuine case against Mr. Mengistu. And if there are no genuine cases he could stay, but if there is a genuine case, then of course the MDC government would not allow the country to become a haven for criminals who are wanted elsewhere for serious crimes,” Mukonoweshuro pointed out.

He described as ludicrous accusations by the government that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is a sellout.

“It’s very unfortunate because these are allegations, which are made without any substantiation at all. Mr. Museka’s statement did not chronicle where the MDC in particular and where the MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai has sold out to anybody. We have never been a government of this country and therefore there is no record to sustain those allegations,” he said.

Mukonoweshuro said the government is using the tactics of division to divert attention from the suffering of the masses.

“This is the tragedy in Zimbabwe. Instead of focusing on the issues that can resolve the crisis, people resort to mudslinging. It’s time that Zimbabweans, it’s time that SADC (Southern African Development Community) and Africa realize that no amount of mudslinging could ever even begin to punt in place the ingredients to resolve the crisis that has engulfed this country for the past 10 years,” Mukonoweshuro noted.

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Mengistu Death Sentence Kindles Expectations for His Extradition

By Howard Lesser, VOA — Ethiopia’s supreme court is awaiting confirmation from President Girma Woldegiorgis of this week’s death sentence against former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. The court overturned a previous life sentence on genocide charges for the Marxist lieutenant colonel and 17 of his associates, who were first punished last year after a decade-long trial. Donald Levine is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Chicago and the author of two widely cited books on Ethiopia, “Wax and Gold” and “Greater Ethiopia”. He says that Ethiopians believe the current government has a strong political stake in the new sentence.

“The current regime believes that it needs to be seen as very strong. They believe that the demonstration against them in June, 2005, following the election called for brutal, extreme, repressive measures and ever since, they felt they needed to be seen as very tough. The prosecution appealed only in July the sentence that had been handed down in January of the previous year. I’m really surprised and bothered that it took so long to bring this trial to conclusion,” he noted.

Mengistu overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974 and assumed absolute control after a bloody coup in 1977. In 1991, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe offered him refuge in Zimbabwe, where he has lived ever since. With the 84-year-old Mugabe seriously challenged with political changes in Zimbabwe after next month’s (June 27) presidential election run-off, Donald Levine sees a possible new opening for Ethiopians hoping to achieve Mengistu’s extradition.

“Not right now, but if President Mugabe is replaced, then his successor may well extradite him if requested to. If the evidence is reviewed, I think if a new government comes to be in Zimbabwe, that they would be wanting to abide by the standards of international law and would consider that he should be extradited,” said Levine.

For a new generation of Ethiopians, many of whom were born after the fall of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam’s regime, the process of coming to terms with the return and execution of an internationally recognized brutal war criminal could epitomize a momentous national experience. Professor Levine says that even though young Ethiopians lack direct personal contact with the troubled past, they have without doubt incorporated the tragedy into their sense of national consciousness.

“Those who were not born at the time, I’m sure have learned from their families about what happened during those years and I don’t know a single Ethiopian at home or abroad who doesn’t regard his (Mengistu’s) regime as absolutely horrible. Probably, almost everyone, even if generally they don’t believe in the death penalty, would say, well in this case, it’s deserved,” he pointed out.

The test of whether Africans living outside of Ethiopia, especially in Zimbabwe, will pass up seizing an opportunity for international justice or pursue it may rest in the hands of Zimbabwe voters and the Mugabe government. University of Chicago sociologist Donald Levine concludes there is no question that the crimes of the Mengistu era should not be overlooked by Zimbabweans.

“No way. The reason they’ve given him a home there is that he helped Zimbabwe during their liberation struggle. But on the merits of his own case and the horrible crimes of which he was guilty, I see that they would certainly have no reason to protect him any further,” he said.

As for Ethiopians’ stake in the Zimbabwe crisis, Professor Levine says he thinks Ethiopians would like to see Zimbabweans overcome President Mugabe’s resistance of the democratic process, much as many of them would like to see greater reform in their own country. In addition to wanting President Mugabe ousted for that reason, he says, they are also interested in seeing Mengistu Haile Mariam extradited back to Ethiopia to face justice.

No functioning democracy has ever suffered famine

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

By Kiflu Hussain

Any report of famine from below the Sub-Saharan Africa has long ceased to be shocking news to the world. Consequently, those to whom it’s incumbent upon to ensure food security to their people have even lost any sense of shame and guilt in the face of massive starvation and plague that wipes an entire society. To one who is familiar with Ethiopian history, for instance, this is the pattern he sees clearly. During the “Great Ethiopian famine” in 1888-1892 known as “KIFU KEN” in local parlance, meaning evil days, Emperor Menilek took measures to avert or alleviate the disaster, albeit inadequate. Starting from ordering national prayer for divine intercession to doling out food to those who made it to the palace, he tried everything at his disposal. By contrast, Emperor Haileselassie hid the 1973 famine that consumed the lives of 200,000 Ethiopians from Wollo and Tigray.In fact, when one of his officials was informed of the influx of people from Wollo to the capital; he reportedly replied “It’s in the nature of Wollo to migrate.” One can see elsewhere in Africa that shirking of ones official duty cruelly like this is still endemic by recalling a news conference addressed by two cabinet ministers of the Ugandan government, Mr. Musa Ecweru and Mr. Aston Kajara (see Daily Monitor, 21 May 2008). After having defended recent deaths in Karamoja as caused largely by poor hygiene and not famine, they added that the Karimojong eat rats and herbs not because they are famished but because the rodents “may be a delicacy.”

The worst cruelty, though, is the holding of starving people as hostages for political ends. During the military regime, Derg used to divert aid meant for victims of drought to its own militias whereas the present regime of Zenawi blocks aid heading for the same victims/see “Ethiopia thwarting food aid to rebel regions in East” by Jeffrey Gettleman, July 22, 2007 The New York Times/.Ironically, the so-called international community, namely the west which blew the cruelty of Mengistu Hailemariam out of proportion became timid to face the callousness of Meles Zenawi even when he suppressed news of impending disaster by expelling journalists and staffs from humanitarian organizations such as Red Cross, Save the children, Norwegian NGO’s etc. Also, tycoons from the Netherlands whose nation achieved a landmark success by becoming the first to eliminate famine in Europe in the early 17th century, are hindering Ethiopia’s chance to do the same by colluding with the present rulers of Ethiopia in a water-thirsty and land hungry flower production business which causes the shrinkage of arable land.

To summarize, as has been said ad nauseam by various scholars, no functioning democracy has suffered famine. Ethiopians too proving themselves as capable of voting in a civilized manner elected those candidates in 2005 that exuded confidence by promising “to do away with famine, if not to step down assuming full responsibility and by apologizing to the Ethiopian people.”Unfortunately, that election was rigged brutally; hence we’re still stuck with tyranny that spread famine inter alia unabashedly with a host of misguided policies.
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The writer, an Ethiopian Refugee in Uganda, can be reached at

Ethiopian patriots and the Italian invasion

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

This is a 20-page article by Berhanu Tessema on the sacrifices made by Ethiopian patriots during fascist Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. There is a lot to learn by our generation from those patriots? Click here to read [pdf, Amharic]

Ethiopian farmers, U.S. companies collaborate with hybrids

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

(By ROGER THUROW, Wall Street Journal) ARSI NEGELE, Ethiopia — Babou Galgo, a 61-year-old farmer, proudly showed off his prized harvest from last season: two shiny gold medals from the regional and federal government and a slick certificate praising his “outstanding performance in increasing agriculture production and productivity.”

What he had done was boost his corn yields on his small farm in southern Ethiopia an eye-popping sevenfold over the past several years. Even more impressive, he had boosted the well-being of his family as well: With the added income, they moved out of a traditional mud-brick tukul and into a brick and concrete house furnished with a refrigerator, television and DVD player, rare luxuries for a farmer in one of the world’s poorest countries.

Indeed, not long ago, Mr. Galgo would have had no need for a refrigerator as meager yields had him struggling to feed his family. “It’s the seeds,” he says, noting the reason for his reversal of fortunes. “Hybrids.”

Africa’s nascent push to finally feed itself is turning the clock back to the early part of 20th-century America. It was in the 1930s and ’40s when Iowa-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International popularized hybrid seeds in the U.S., swelling corn yields throughout the Midwest. Seven decades later, African farmers and U.S. companies are trying to recreate the same boom that turned America into the world’s breadbasket, only this time in the harsh climate — environmental and political — of Ethiopia and greater Africa.

If agriculture has a final frontier, it is Africa. After agriculture transformations in Asia and Latin America since the 1960s, Africa remains the one place where the farming potential has barely been scratched. African agriculture has less irrigation, less fertilizer use, less soil and seed research, less mechanization, less rural financing, fewer paved farm-to-market roads than any other farming region in the world. Conflict in many parts of the continent has chased farmers out of their fields, and neglect by both local governments and international development experts have let Africa’s agriculture infrastructure fall into dire disrepair.

American farming interests, like those of agricultural icons Pioneer and John Deere, have avoided large swaths of Africa in the past, believing that farmers were too poor to pay for their products or wary of political instability that has rocked some of Pioneer’s other African operations. But now, with global grain surpluses down, demand rising and prices soaring, the calculations at home and abroad have changed and progress can’t come fast enough.

In Ethiopia, only about one-quarter of the country’s total corn area is planted with hybrid seeds. Hybrids, produced from conventional breeding to increase yields and to thrive in harsher climates and to resist pests, usually can double or triple harvests over the standard seeds passed down through generations. And there are only several thousand tractors for more than 50 million people who depend on farming to survive.

“Africa is the only continent where per capita food production is declining, so the need is there,” says J.B. Penn, the chief economist of Deere & Co. and a former undersecretary at the U.S. Agriculture Department. The present food crisis “is solved only through higher production,” adds Paul Schickler, president of DuPont Co.’s Pioneer unit. “That is what is needed in Africa, through the use of better technology, genetics and agronomic practices.”

Chombe Seyoum sees the need and potential every day. A farmer himself, Mr. Seyoum began selling John Deere equipment in Ethiopia two years ago hoping both to accelerate the mechanization of his country’s farmers and to fulfill his father’s vision. In 1968, his father bought a small John Deere tractor and introduced machine farming to his region of the country’s southern wheat belt. Several years later, Emperor Haile Selassie was toppled by a communist dictatorship, farmland was collectivized and some of the Seyoum family’s machinery was confiscated.

Mr. Seyoum studied to become an engineer. But when the communists were ousted in the early 1990s, he returned to farming and saw how far his country had fallen behind as he worked to rebuild the family farm.

Now, from his office in Addis Ababa, he sells Deere equipment — 100 in the past two years. While drought and hunger still plague parts of Ethiopia, the fertile Rift Valley and highland regions, given good weather, have the country rivaling South Africa as the continent’s largest cereal and grain producer south of the Sahara. Rising corn and wheat prices have spurred demand for machinery from farmers hoping to expand their acreage. Making up for lost time, Mr. Seyoum welcomes customers ready to purchase big-ticket machinery.

“We are in a rush,” says one customer, Abdi Abdullahi Hussein. Mr. Hussein once worked with nomadic herders before seeing the business potential in farming this year. The spring planting season was fast approaching and he badly needed a tractor. He and a partner have about 60 acres and he intends to rent the tractor to others. “Our idea is to introduce technology in our area and plow more land,” he says.

Mr. Seyoum suggests an 85-horsepower tractor costing about $30,000. Mr. Hussein doesn’t flinch at the price; He has pooled his savings with neighbors’ who will share the tractor. In Ethiopia and throughout Africa, banks are reluctant to lend to farmers who have little collateral; pooling money is a common way to raise the funds. But he cringes at the four-month delivery time from Deere’s factory in Brazil. Instead, he ponders a 65-horsepower tractor, which will be available sooner.

“We’ve got a long list of people coming to us for tractor service,” says Mr. Hussein.

As Mr. Hussein leaves, another farmer arrives to complete a purchase of a combine. Haji Kawo, like most wheat farmers in Ethiopia, plants by hand and harvests with a machine. After years of hiring others to cut his wheat, Mr. Kawo decided to get into the harvesting business himself. He figures he can pay off the $70,000 combine within a year given that there are 20,000 small farmers in his area who need harvesting service. He envisions moving from farm to farm during the harvest season much like combine services that methodically move up from the southern U.S. and into Canada.

Offering to help with financing, Mr. Seyoum sees Mr. Kawo as a model farmer who can demonstrate the benefits of mechanization to others and drive sales. Ethiopian farmers “see a success somewhere, and they want to do it, too,” says Mr. Seyoum.

Melaku Admassu, an Ethiopian who runs Pioneer’s operations here, uses the same farmer-to-farmer sales method that Pioneer employed in the U.S. He began by handing out seeds from the back of his pickup truck, particularly to farmers like Babou Galgo who worked land near the major roads so more people could follow the growth of the hybrids. At harvest time, Mr. Admassu would return with small scales to weigh the yields and compare them to the harvests of farmers who weren’t using the hybrids.

“When I heard that only 1% or 2% of the U.S. population are farmers, and they feed the whole country, I couldn’t believe it,” Mr. Admassu says. “I started dreaming that if every farmer in Ethiopia increases production, we can change the whole country. We can change Africa.”

It has certainly changed lives in the Rift Valley lakes region. When Mr. Admassu first came to his village with the new seeds and advice on how to better till his land, Debebe Ayele, 47, was struggling to feed his family. “We were getting food aid,” he says. “I was ready to try anything to improve my situation.”

The new seeds were a risk. They were more expensive than the standard fare and they were new. He planted two acres the first year, then four and now he rents land from his neighbors to increase his acreage. His harvests multiplied and for the first time in his life he had regular surpluses to sell on the market. He replaced the thatched grass roof of his house with corrugated iron. He bought better furniture and better clothes. He wants his children to go as far as they can in school.

As Mr. Ayele recites his progress, Mr. Admassu beams. “When we see our farmers go from barefoot to shoes, we know that is because of increased production,” he says.

Farmer Galgo is ready for another upgrade. Sitting in his comfortable living room, beneath wall murals of Jesus and a peace dove, he tells Mr. Admassu, “I want to expand my land and buy a tractor. A big tractor, with a lot of power.”

Another tractor customer.
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Write to Roger Thurow at

EOTC issues a resolution on illegal border re-demarcation

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The legitimate synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has issued a resolution regarding Woyanne’s secret border agreement with Sudan. Click here to read [pdf, Amharic]

Protest rally in DC against land giveaway to Sudan – June 2

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008


The Ethiopia and Sudan Border Issues Committee is organizing a protest rally in front of the Sudan and Woyanne-occupied Ethiopian embassy on Monday, June 2, 2008, to oppose the secret land deal between Woyanne’s Meles Zenawi and Sudan’s al-Beshir that carved up tens of thousands of square kilometers of Ethiopian fertile farm lands and gave to Sudan.

ታላቅ የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ በኢትዮጵያ እና በሱዳን ኤንባሲ

ወያኔ ኢሕAዴግ የኢትዮጵያን ጥቅም በማያስከብር ሁኔታ ከሱዳን ጋር ድንበሩን መልሶ ለማካለል የወሰደውን እርምጃ፣ የወገናችንን ከቄያቸው መፈናቀል ታፍኖ መወሰድና መታሰር እንዲሁም የሱዳን ብርጌድ ጦር በሽንፋና በአካባቢው መስፈሩን በመቃወም የኢትዮጵያ ፖለቲካ ድርጅቶች፣ ሲቪክ ማህበራትና ሀገር ወዳድ ኢትዮጵያውያን በአንድነት በመቆም በኢትዮጵያ መንግስትና በሱዳን መንግስት ላይ የተቃውሞ ድምጻቸውን በከፍተኛ ደረጃ እንዲያሰሙ ታላቅ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ

ቀን፡ ሰኞ ጁን 2 ቀን 2008
ሰዓት፡ ከጠዋቱ 9፡00 – 12 ኤ.ኤም

ቦታ፡ ኢትዮጵያ ኢምባሲ ፊት ለፊት
3506 International Dr. NW, Washington DC 20008
(Van Ness – UDC Metro Station)
ከቀኑ 12፡00 – 2:00 ፒ. ኤም

ሱዳን ኢምባሲ ፊት ለፊት
2210 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008
(Dupont Circle Metro Station)

የኢትዮጵያ እና ሱዳን ድንበር ጉዳይ ኮሚቴ

Marching toward Solidarity Movement for a new Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Press Release: May 25, 2008

The Worldwide March Committee for Freedom and Justice, held from May 15-18 was a great effort by hundreds of organizers and participants in Ethiopian cities and communities throughout the world. We want to thank all of those organizers who worked so hard and devoted countless hours to bring it all together in a relatively short period of time!

Many Ethiopians rose up from the silence of the last many months to show that they have not forgotten those back home. More importantly, we have learned that we Ethiopians can successfully work together across many lines of differences that have separated us in the past.

We have learned that we can accomplish exponentially more together than in separate factions—the biggest obstacle to our success in the past. In fact, we would never be where we are today if we had been a more united people. In actuality, even a core group of united people who are willing to work intensely for the greater good, representing the diversity of Ethiopian citizenry can be more effective because of that unity than groups with more resources or members.

Instead, we have learned that we do not necessarily come closer to freeing the country by creating more political parties or civic groups, but instead what is of utmost importance is having a core group of people with commitment, vision, organization and who trust each other.

A major intent of the Worldwide March was to remember our fellow Ethiopians who died back home since TPLF came to power. That mission was accomplished. Most of the people within the executive committee were overwhelmed and touched by the stories reported to them of how people commemorated this day in many different ways—through candlelight vigils, prayer, community gatherings, marches and public meetings.

In eleven countries, Ethiopians presented a petition asking these donor countries to stop supporting this repressive regime and to instead, to start encouraging a democratic process and the opening up of freedoms within Ethiopia. By these actions, Ethiopians showed that our people who died for freedom, did not die in vain and that many of us will not rest until justice and reform comes to Ethiopia.

In Geneva at the United Nations, two letters were presented to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to urge them to take action on Ethiopia and on behalf of Ethiopians refugees who are suffering in Libya, Egypt, Israel, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and many countries.

A second accomplishment was that we Ethiopians demonstrated that we have not forgotten those who are still suffering intense hardships back home. We know of the extraordinarily high inflation in the country that makes food aid essential for the survival of millions, only worsened by the heartbreaking news that a drought is coming to Ethiopia from which 6 million Ethiopians may die.

Neither have we forgotten how many Ethiopians are continuing to face torture, threats and intimidation. We know of the many thousands who are still imprisoned, people like Teddy Afro who was detained for what strongly appears to be a bogus crime. He has been punished like many of his fellow Ethiopians for simply speaking the truth about the oppression found in the country.
In the midst of all this, the phony election last month has left Ethiopians with only one choice of a political party, the same party of the ruling government that is repressing the media, taking away their freedom of expression, giving away their land to Sudan and committing the ongoing genocide in the Ogaden—the EPRDF government of Mr. Meles Zenawi!

Thirdly, our grief over the many deaths and continued suffering of our loved ones has reminded us that shared grief can find greater relief when connected together as one. Some people may have been disappointed by the division within the political parties and the failure of our political leaders to guide us, but despite this, we have found that there are people who will never give up.

Those people are men and women, young and old, from all parts of Ethiopia—from the east to the west to the south to the north. They are from all of the many different ethnic groups, religions, political parties and civic groups. These people came out from many different countries in the world, agreeing to work together because they knew it was the only way to free their country. They knew they could not wait for another foreign country to free them, but that they had to take on the responsibility themselves.

The Worldwide March Committee is developing a next step action plan which would involve the creation of a Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia—like we have been suggesting for over a year. An important step in this initiative would be to bring together political parties, civic organizations and religious organizations so as to develop a vision and strategy of how to free Ethiopia and how to build the foundation for a new Ethiopia where justice, freedom and harmony could be sustainable.

What we need to do is to have a national conference—with political, civic, religious and other groups involved—in order to discuss and develop a plan for the country’s political future, one based on consensus. This national conference would have two goals: (a) to address the demand for political freedom; in other words, what do we want for Ethiopia and how can we best resolve our differences so we can work together to accomplish it, and (b) what is a viable plan, with all its components and steps, for bringing about the changes we want?

Right now, things look very grim and dark in Ethiopia and everyone knows it. One of the biggest fears many have is that the discontent, division, frustration and anger could boil over and erupt. Many fear that we might be sitting on a time bomb that could explode before we have been able to put into place a strong, multi-ethnic body that could guide the people through such difficulties. None of us want a disaster to unfold. Because of that, we must think ahead and strategize as to how we can avert that kind of disaster, yet not compromise on the push towards the changes we need.

Right now, Meles is using repression and control, but this will not work forever. It is in the interest of every single living Ethiopian to really think of the seriousness of this situation as a motivation to come together with the genuine intention of making some concessions for the good of everyone. If people refuse to so, all of us will suffer for our joint failure.

The Worldwide March Committee has learned that there is still a way to forge a future, as long as we place our faith and hope in God that even when it looks to be impossible, God can help us find a way through this dark valley, especially if we travel this road together.

During these last weeks, we have built new friendships with people throughout the world who we only met through the phone and Internet. We are now enjoying the richness of new relationships and after many intense meetings and discussions with a shared purpose in mind, we feel we know each other despite many of us never meeting in person. This is part of the new family of Ethiopia, but we are still looking for our other family members. If you want to be part of this, please feel free to contact us.

The problem of Ethiopia cannot be solved by one ethnic group, one political party or by one religion. All of us are needed. We are asking Ethiopians to join with us in seeking a new political culture in Ethiopia. In this new political culture, the self-seeking politics of ethnic power barons is replaced by a de-ethnicized, inclusive politics drawing on African traditions of consensus, respect, integrity and participation. The existing repressive politics where leaders grasp for power to ensure their accumulation and that of their followers ignores the ordinary Ethiopian who must suffer government rather than being served by it.

In the existing house of politics where elites rule for themselves, changing the political leadership, only changes the participants who `eat’. The ordinary Ethiopian can only stare in wonder at the rapaciousness of the ruling clique. Currently, human rights are proclaimed to satisfy the national and international community but when human rights clash with the interests of the powerful, then they wither and die. Our rights and lives are exceedingly fragile subject to the whims of the powerful.

The Worldwide March Committee has a vision of a new house. The house we have right now in Ethiopia has become the house of the elite that pushes out the vulnerable and the weak from its protection. Ethiopians are not brought within the house but rather left to languish in the undeveloped bush outside. While the leaders are sheltered and feasting within, the ordinary person is wet and starving beyond the bright lights of the exclusive house.

Now it is time for all of us to build a new house where we will invite everyone to come back in to the hut to live, but it cannot be built by one person. It will require many hands. We want to build a new house where all can enjoy their rights and acquire meaningful opportunities to enhance their lives and those of their children.

All Ethiopians, whether male or female, old or young, whatever one’s ethnic identity or religious affiliation, no matter what region of the country, are invited to participate in this national endeavour of transformation under the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.

We call on donor countries and international institutions to respect our goals and to join with us in the creation of this new Ethiopia under a new political culture of respect, participation and life enhancement.

Keep posted for the next events. We have only begun our march ahead to freedom and justice for Ethiopia. The way before us may be difficult, but with God, nothing is impossible!

For further questions, please contact the Worldwide March Executive Committee at:

Ethiopian student cashes in on Obama's popularity

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Oregon State University freshman Teddy Badege wanted to combine two of his passions and create something for people like him, who support both the OSU Beavers and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

So the 19-year-old printed up 300 T-shirts, which look nearly identical to official OSU merchandise. Only instead of O-State in orange lettering, the name O-bama stands out against the black background.

Badege starting selling shirts for $15 each about two weeks ago. He’s nearly out of them. He sold nearly 40 on election day Tuesday. But he’s more thrilled with Obama’s win in the Oregon primary election.

“I think he’s the right candidate (who) will lead this nation in a new path. And I really think the nation needs his guidance to come out of a lot of the recessions, for lack of a better term,” said the Corvallis High School graduate.

“He definitely does represent the young generation, specifically college students and all walks of life.”

The Illinois senator also is a great inspiration, who exemplifies what a black man can accomplish, said Badege. He was born in Ethiopia, but has lived in Corvallis for 16 years. He attended Obama campaign events in Albany and in Portland on May 18, when an estimated 75,000 people showed up at Waterfront Park.

Badege, who interns for the Obama campaign, also is the equipment manager for the OSU football team.

The latter job helped him get in touch with the company that does OSU’s official gear.

He’ll have to do a new printing of 100 black shirts, and is considering adding white and orange T-shirts.

Badege figures that sales will step up as fall approaches, since he’s confident that Obama will be the Democratic nominee by then. And then, there’s the OSU football season as well.

Although he is making some money from the shirts, Badege is donating some of that money to Obama’s campaign. He also gave a few shirts to Obama’s brother-in-law, new OSU basketball coach Craig Robinson, in the hope those might be passed on — and maybe a certain Democratic candidate might end up wearing one.

Badege also hopes to head to the Democratic National Convention in August as an Oregon delegate.

By KYLE ODEGARD, Gazette-Times reporter
Kyle Odegard covers Oregon State University. He can be contacted at or 758-9523.

To order T-shirts, contact Badege at 760-3790 or

An Ethiopian family calls Rockford (Illinois) home

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

By Coleen Martin Williams, RRSTAR.COM

Coming to America for twins Ananya and Azaria Habtemariam and their younger brother, Kaleab, meant crossing the Atlantic Ocean from their African homeland of Ethiopia.

Kaleab Habtemariam, 13, (from left), Merawit Tefera, Azaria
Habtemariam, 17, and his twin brother Ananya, sit May 2 in
the backyard of their Rockford home.

Merawit, their mother, was granted political asylum by the U.S. in 2000 because she married an Eritrean. Ethiopia and Eritrea have battled over their border. After reaching America, Merawit traveled to Illinois to live with a cousin who had settled in Rockford.

She made the trip having to leave her husband, daughter and three boys behind. In 2005, her three sons were able to join her in Illinois. Merawit’s husband still is seeking political asylum. Her only daughter, a nurse who is unable to find work in Ethiopia, is pursuing a visa that would allow her to enter the U.S.

Ananya and Azaria, now 17, will graduate with the Guilford Class of 2008. Kaleab, 13, attends Kennedy Middle School.

“I am thankful to God,” Ananya says. “Thankful for God’s grace to be in America. I am happy that I left Ethiopia. America has more opportunities. Unlike America, Ethiopian education is not available to all. And, unlike Ethiopia, American education teaches how to relate your education to real life.”

Ananya also appreciates the American culture that allows for different opinions and ideas.

“Ethiopia has one political party,” he said. “America allows more than one.”

Social life in Ethiopia
Not everything about Ethiopia is negative in Ananya’s view. One of the pluses he points out is the social life nurtured by Ethiopian culture.

“The people in Ethiopian communities are close,” he says. “For instance, one does not drink coffee alone — if alone, you would call someone to join you before you would drink your coffee.”

When he first entered school in the area, Ananya remembers the hard time he had making friends.

“Even though I knew how to speak English, I did not know the social customs of what to talk about.”

Pharmacy study plans
This fall Ananya will enter Northern Illinois University to study to become a pharmacist, although he says that choice might change. Whatever major he chooses, he said, his fondness for math will definitely be an asset.

Azaria said he also is glad to be in America. Like his brother, he points out the educational opportunities in America that he would not have in his homeland.

“There is no guarantee to Ethiopian students with high grades that they will be admitted to a college,” he said. “There are not enough educational facilities for all students who have the grades for admission. Even after college graduation, there are not enough jobs for every graduate. My sister, Tezeta, who is 22, is a nurse and does not have a job.”

One of the major differences Azaria sees between American and Ethiopian cultures has to do with religious holidays.

“The biggest (religious) holiday in Ethiopia is Easter, whereas in the United States it is Christmas. Before Easter day, Ethiopians fast for 55 days from morning to 3 p.m.,” he said. “During the fast the evening meal does not include meat. Ethiopians also pray each night and in church during the fast. I think Ethiopians are more religious and take religion more seriously than Americans.”

Engineering a future
Azaria has also applied to NIU, where he plans to major in electrical engineering.

After he receives his master’s degree, Azaria plans to devote some of his time to help other immigrants adjust to America. He and his brother already have experience in this area: they have both been math tutors for Guilford foreign high school students through a special Rock Valley College tutoring program.

Kaleab, like his brothers, said he is grateful to have had the chance to come to America. He too mentions how difficult it was in the beginning to make friends to replace ones left in Ethiopia.

“One reason it was hard for me to make friends,” says Kaleab, “was because of the language barrier.”

Although Kaleab knows how to speak English, his accent and the American accent presented challenges in understanding.

Kaleab is taking advantage of the educational opportunities available to him by studying hard and staying focused. His career goal is to become a surgeon. As for Rockford’s cold weather, he definitely favors the milder temperatures of Ethiopia.

It is not easy for Merawit and her sons to be away from their other family members.

They continue to pray and hope for a future reunion. In the meantime, they said, they will keep building their future here in Rockford.

Somalia heads toward total breakdown

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

(Los Angeles Times) MOGADISHU, SOMALIA — Along the ghostly streets of Mogadishu, just about the only traffic nowadays consists of starving cats and goats searching for food. They race toward the occasional pedestrian, crying for scraps.

Their owners fled the city’s violence long ago, leaving more than half of Somalia’s capital deserted. Shops are closed. Burned-out cars sit abandoned by the side of the road. Other than soldiers and militiamen, only the most desperate of people frequent the streets, including orphans and old women who sometimes are forced to compete with the strays for food.

Most others leave their homes only when necessary. In venturing outside, they hurry to their destinations in silence, heads down, avoiding eye contact with strangers. Few dare use cellphones lest they fall victim to thieves or be accused of spying. There’s no socializing because it’s too risky to stop for chitchat and no one knows whom to trust.

After 17 years of civil war, it’s hard to imagine Somalia could get any worse. It has.

These days, this Horn of Africa nation appears on the verge of a total breakdown, aid officials and residents said.

In addition to a growing insurgency, clan warfare and the lack of a functioning government since 1991, Somalia’s fragile economy is now disintegrating amid hyperinflation and the local effects of a global food crisis that sparked riots this month.

“We are very close to collapse,” said Hassan Rage, a sugar vendor in Mogadishu who earns about $2 a day. Until recently that was enough for his family to survive. But with Somalia’s shilling losing half its value in the last year, he can no longer afford water, lamp oil or charcoal for cooking.

“Sometimes I don’t go home after work and sleep in the mosque,” Rage said. “I can’t face the children empty-handed.”

A United Nations-recognized transitional government, once seen as Somalia’s best hope, is crippled by infighting and largely controlled by former warlords. Ailing President Abdullahi Yusuf, 73, has been in and out of hospitals for the last year. His Cabinet, hunkered down in a heavily guarded district of Mogadishu, retains a tenuous grip on power thanks only to the thousands of Ethiopian Woyanne troops supporting it.

Attacks by insurgents worsen by the day. After a short-lived Islamist government was defeated in 2006, its armed forces shifted to guerrilla tactics, striking government and Ethiopian Woyanne forces and launching hit-and-run attacks in various southern cities.

A U.S. airstrike May 1 killed a top insurgent commander whom American officials accused of having links to Al Qaeda. His followers are vowing to step up their assaults, targeting any Westerners in the region.

This month, the latest in a long string of peace conferences was held in the tiny neighboring nation of Djibouti, but little progress was made.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis is verging on catastrophe, aid groups warn. About one-third of Somalia’s population needs emergency food assistance. One million people have been displaced over the last 18 months, including 40,000 in April. Thousands have been killed in the fighting.

“We are innocent,” pleaded Murayo Siad Roble, a mother of nine. Her husband was killed in November while attempting to find food for the family. “I don’t understand what crime we’ve committed to be punished like this. I’m worried my children will all die.”

U.N. and aid groups, which already had a skeletal presence, are pulling back further because of growing violence. Two World Food Program drivers and three Doctors Without Borders staffers have been killed this year.

Somalia’s social breakdown has hit the young the hardest. They have rarely known peace, stability or even a semblance of order. In one desolate neighborhood, shabbily dressed children played away a recent afternoon. As usual, it was a war game. They carried guns carved from wood and tossed plastic bags filled with ash to mimic the smoke of exploding grenades.

There are three sides in their game: transitional government soldiers, Ethiopian Woyanne troops and insurgents. Insurgents usually trounce the soldiers, who then run to Ethiopians for help. Ethiopians Woyannes chase away the insurgents as they sweep through neighborhoods, terrorizing civilians.

None of the boys seek the role of government soldier. “No one wants to play the ones who are defeated,” said Ahmed Ali, 13, who played the role of insurgent leader.

The real-life drama is not far from this make-believe version. According to an Amnesty International report issued this month, Somalia’s civilians are enduring widespread abuse from all sides. “The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured,” said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Africa program. “Looting is widespread, and entire neighborhoods are being destroyed . . . and no one is being held accountable.”

International human rights groups singled out Ethiopian Woyanne troops for alleged abuses while carrying out anti-insurgency sweeps since November, including an April attack on a Mogadishu mosque in which 21 people were killed, among them seven whose throats were slit.

The insurgents, who have split into at least three rival factions, haven’t spared civilians either. They reportedly killed four foreign teachers in April during an attack on a school. In seaside Merka, Islamic radicals killed four moviegoers by tossing a grenade into a cinema showing a Bollywood film.

The insurgents are recruiting teenagers not much older than those engaged recently in the make-believe game. With offers of $70 cash payments or even just a daily meal, young fighters are being lured into carrying out assassinations, kidnappings and bombings.

Hassan Yare, 17, said he joined Shabab, one of Somalia’s largest militant groups, at age 11. His father, a founding member, brought him to a training camp before he died in battle.

“I promised him that I will continue the holy war after he died,” the teenager said. “And when I have children, I will train them to continue the fight after I am gone.”

By Abukar Albadri and Edmund Sanders, The Los Angeles Times
Special correspondent Albadri reported from Mogadishu and Times staff writer Sanders from Nairobi, Kenya.

Zimbabwe says Mengistu Hailemariam to remain as guest

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

HARARE (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s former Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam, sentenced to death by his country’s supreme court, will remain in Zimbabwe under the protection of President Robert Mugabe’s government, a government minister said on Tuesday.

“Our position has not changed. He remains our guest in Zimbabwe. He will remain in Zimbabwe and we will protect him as we’ve always done,” Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said on Tuesday.

Ethiopia’s supreme court sentenced Mengistu to death on Monday, granting a prosecution appeal that a life sentence he received last year did not match the seriousness of this crimes.

Mengistu, who has lived a life of comfortable exile in Zimbabwe since he was driven from power in 1991, is unlikely to face punishment unless Mugabe loses a run-off election next month and gives up power.

Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai will face Mugabe in a second round presidential vote on June 27, said dictators like Mengistu were not welcome in the country.

“It only takes a dictator to hang around fellow dictators. Birds of the same feather, this is why (Mugabe’s ruling) ZANU-PF is clinging on to Mengistu,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

“We don’t want dictators on our land. The people of Ethiopia suffered for such a long time.”

Chamisa hinted that Mengistu may be extradited if Tsvangirai wins next month.

“Of course we do not condone killing or the death sentence as MDC, but we want justice to be delivered to the victims and to the perpetrators so that there’s restoration,” he said.

The MDC said in 2006 it would withdraw the protection afforded by Mugabe’s government, which considers Mengistu a friend of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

Matonga said there had been no formal request regarding Mengistu from the Ethiopian government.

“Even if they make the request, he’s not going anywhere.”

The prosecution in Ethiopia appealed against a life term imposed on Mengistu in January 2007, after he was found guilty of genocide arising from thousands of killings during his 17-year rule that included famine, war and the “Red Terror” purges of suspected opponents.

He and more than a dozen other senior officers were found guilty after a 12-year trial that concluded Mengistu’s government was directly responsible for the deaths of 2,000 people and the torture of at least 2,400.

(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Writing by Marius Bosch; Editing by Giles Elgood)

VIDEO: Ethiopian Review publisher on ETN – Part IV

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Ethiopian Television Network interviews Ethiopian Review publisher Elias Kifle. This is Part 4 of a 5-part video.

Part IV

VIDEO: Ethiopian Review publisher on ETN – Part III

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Ethiopian Television Network interviews Ethiopian Review publisher Elias Kifle. This is Part 3 of a 4-part video.

Part III

"Land of the Yellow Bull" – A novel by Fikremarkos Desta

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

By Henok Semaegzer | The Reporter

Jamal Mahjoub, an archeologist by training who became a composite multilingual writer, was recently quoted as saying, “it was easier to write about an archeologist than actually becoming one”. So he wrote a book about an archeologist, which essentially gained him worldwide fame and gave him a start in a career in writing.

Fikremarkos Desta, like Mahjoub, was trained to become practical in the world of science. He studied chemistry in college only to find himself as a full-fledged writer. His ethnographic trilogy is one of the few well-read books in the country.

Fikremarkos writes about the Hamar, Kio, Ebore, and other “minor” ethnic groups in the south-western parts of Ethiopia. He has so far published five books, all of them in Amharic (Kebuska Bestejerba, Evanghadi, Ya Zersiewoch Fikir, Achamie, and Ya Nisir Ayene). The sixth one that was launched is written in English.

The title (Land of the Yellow Bull), that does not seem to make sense in English, is a direct translation of a phrase in Hamar language “Wake Alepenon”, that is how the Hamar call themselves; this is roughly translated into English as “land of the heroic people”. All in all the entire the writing of the script took about three years: until it was published abroad a couple of months ago.

Fikremarkos believes that he is blessed to have lived with such “innocent” people for about a decade and most importantly to be writing about their “pure and harmonic” way of indigenous existence. “I usually write about the purity and compassion of these people with a determined mindset. I appreciate such innate human qualities of indigenous life, which can be a symbol of a natural, unruffled and peaceful way of survival,” he said.

Fikremarkos admits that his works revolve around usual themes. The characters in Land of the Yellow Bull are even much similar to the characters in the Amharic trilogy “I write about love, purity, friendship, and calmness,” he says, “I have an optimistic belief that a lot of misunderstandings can be removed through promoting dialogue among people and through interacting in a natural calm way. I promote peace, solidarity, and communication; that is why I write about such usual themes.”

As a writer Fikremarkos says he does not want to limit himself to only one style of writing. However, most of his works are set in the countryside; he actually never published a book about city life. He usually recognizes life in the city in terms of life in the rural country setting. In Land of the Yellow Bull he compares the emergency life of the city with the more or less tranquil way of traditional life. According to the author, the people of Hamar and Kio are serene in their nature that they do not involve themselves in any matter without careful observations. They study nature carefully, their interaction with one another is not disheveled, and most of all peace is the most important fabric of traditional Hamar society. Fikremarkos brings his knowledge of chemistry to create an allegory: “Its like when water full of impurities is allowed to settle, the residue goes to the bottom of the container and pure water remains on top.” An allegory that professes to say: silence and calmness purify the soul.

Synopsis of the novel

An English anthropologist (Charlotte Alfred) goes to Hamar village to conduct a research. There she finds a problem in adjusting with the culture, the climate, and unusual quietness of the people. As the story develops, Charlotte keeps on trying to communicate with the Hamar people, culture, and way of life. In due course the people responded in their silence by giving her friendship. Charlotte finds herself deeply involved in the practices and life of these people. She falls in worship of the “purity and graceful silence of the people”. (The story goes…)

The novel talks about the difference in the livelihood, and the common misunderstandings that prevail in the city and country life. Fikremarkos portrays the disparity in favor of tradition. We see that when the character Charlotte evolves in favor of tradition in the story. Asked if he is advocating going back to tradition from civilization, he said, “I am only making a modest proposal; the trend in civilization had been advancing on western models in the economy, politics, and even individual interactions. Somehow people have stopped going back to tradition. See how civilization has affected our lives; and understand the world from both angles.”

According to Fikremarkos, since the south-westerners had been alienated from the rest of the world in space and time, they have maintained their identity when the world beyond their land was changing. “I am, in that regard, portraying that positivism, because it interests me a great deal,” he said.

Africa's vampires gather in Tokyo

Monday, May 26th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ethiopians and all peoples of Africa would forever be indebted to the Japanese if they round up these vampires and put them in jail for making Africa a land of misery.

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ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s fascist dictator Meles Zenawi left here Monday for Japan to join other African leaders at the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), scheduled to take place in Yokohama city from 28-30 May.

African dictators turned the continent into a hell on earth

The Conference’s main agenda is the continued development of Africa.

Besides reflecting on the 15 years of TICAD, the Summit is scheduled to discuss, among other topics, ways of boosting Africa’s economic growth, ensuring human security, Environmental issues/climate change, Asia-Africa cooperation and African development frontiers.

Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the NEPAD Business Group, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) are organising on the sidelines of TICAD IV a meeting on ‘Innovative Approaches to Private Sector Development for achieving the MDGs in Africa’.

As part of the general campaign to revitalise efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), these partner bodies maintain that there is a particularly acute need to scale up the role and involvement of the private sector in develo p ment.

The meeting is intended to share this understanding of the positive contribution s of the private sector in promoting poverty reduction and sustainable development in Africa, as well as the role of the public sector in development.

Delegates from Africa and Asia, UN agencies and other partners as well as repres entatives of Japanese organisations registered to TICAD and representatives from the private sector will take part in the meeting.

Selected new and innovative approaches by global partners will be showcased to demonstrate how market-based business activities and private sector investments can help achieve the MDGs.

According to the event organisers, presentations will include actual case studies developed by the UN organisations and first-hand testimonials from various local private sector actors who have been beneficiaries or advocates of TICAD-inspired private sector development initiatives in Africa.

UNIDO Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the opening of the meeting on ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Industrial Transformation through investments Value Chains: The scope for Public-Private Partnerships’.

Kangaroo court sentences Mengistu and 18 others to death

Monday, May 26th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: It is the same kangaroo court that stole Ethiopian people’s vote in 2005 and allowed Meles Zenawi’s death squads to unleash terror on civilians. The Derg did not commit half the crime Woyannes have perpetrated against the people of Ethiopia. The Woyanne judged are themselves murderous criminals.

(The Associated Press) — ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s Supreme Kangaroo Court sentenced an exiled former president — dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam — and 18 officials to death Monday, a prosecutor said.

Yoseph Kiros said the judgment delivered justice for the thousands of people murdered during Mengistu’s 17-year rule.

“I believe it is the right verdict because these people committed serious crimes against humanity,” Kiros said.

Mengistu, a Marxist leader who was driven from power in 1991 by the current regime, is living in comfortable exile in Zimbabwe and is not expected to be extradited while Robert Mugabe remains Zimbabwean president.

A runoff in Zimbabwe’s presidential race is scheduled for June 27. Mugabe’s opponents say he is using violence and intimidation in an attempt to win the runoff and retain power. Nevertheless, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he is confident of victory.

The 18 other officials sentenced to death Monday are all in Ethiopian custody.

Some experts say 150,000 university students, intellectuals and politicians were killed in a nationwide purge by Mengistu’s regime, though no one knows for sure how many suspected opponents were killed during the Soviet-style purges.

Human Rights Watch has described the 1977-78 campaign known as the Red Terror as “one of the most systematic uses of mass murder by a state ever witnessed in Africa.”

Mengistu had previously been sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2007 for genocide, but the prosecution appealed the sentence in July as unduly lenient.

Under Ethiopian law, the current president must approve the death sentences before an execution date is set.

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ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Ethiopia’s Supreme Court sentenced former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam to death in his absence Monday, along with 17 senior officials of his regime, overturning a previous life term on appeal.

The court followed the request of the prosecution to toughen the sentence imposed in January 2007 on Mengistu, who has lived in comfortable exile in Zimbabwe since he was toppled in 1991, after he was found guilty of genocide at the end of a decade-long trial.

Mengistu, an army lieutenant colonel, was a member of the Marxist junta known as the Derg which ruled Ethiopia from 1974 after the ousting of Emperor Haile Selassie, assuming control of it in a bloody coup in 1977.

The genocide charges arose from a crackdown against opponents in 1977-78 known as the Red Terror in which tens of thousands were killed or disappeared.

The court that passed life sentences in 2007 accepted pleas for leniency from the defence, but Supreme Court judge Desta Gebru rejected them Monday.

“The court has decided to revoke the leniency appeal from the defendants,” he said in his ruling. “It has sentenced them to death.

“They have tortured and executed thousands of innocent people in public, which applies as genocide according to Ethiopian law.”

“Despite claiming that the killings resulted from the chaos that ensued after the (1974) coup, the defendants ordered massacres and abuses several years after the death of the emperor,” the judge added.

“All defendants are guilty of genocide, murder and illegal confiscation and detainment of innocent people. As a result, they will be handed out the most severe punishment in Ethiopian law.”

Desta said the court would await the confirmation of the sentences by President Girma Woldegiorgis — who has the power to amend them again — before fixing an execution date.

Those sentenced to death along with Mengistu included Legesse Afsaw, known as “the butcher of Tigre”, former vice-president Fisseha Desta and former prime minister Fikresellassie Wogderes.

On the reading of the Supreme Court’s verdict, many relatives of the accused in court burst into tears. None would comment to AFP.

Although the death sentence is sometimes pronounced in Ethiopia, only two people have been executed in the past 10 years and none since August 2007.

Following the end of Mengistu’s trial last year, Robert Mugabe’s government in Zimbabwe ruled out his extradition, saying, “Comrade Mengistu still remains a special guest”.

The Federal High Court had convicted Mengistu and 11 of his top aides in December 2006 on 211 counts of genocide, homicide, illegal imprisonment and illegal property seizure.

A further 60 defendants were also found guilty of genocide, but only by a majority 2-1 ruling by the judges, who acquitted some but not all on several of the lesser charges.

Only one defendant was acquitted on all charges.

Mengistu and his former top aides were also accused of the murders of former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, whom they overthrew in 1974, and Orthodox Patriarch Abuna Tefelows.

Of the 73 accused, 14 had died and only 33 were present in court. Mengistu was among 25 defendants tried in absentia.

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(VOA) — Ethiopia’s highest court threw out a January, 2007 court ruling giving Mengistu and 17 of his senior associates life sentences for their part in the deaths of thousands of people between 1974 and 1991.

In a three-hour reading of the verdict, Justice Desta Gebru said the court has decided to revoke the leniency appeal from the defendants. It sentences them to death.

Justice Gebru agreed with a prosecution appeal that the life sentence was not commensurate with the crimes. After the original trial, which lasted 12-years, the defendants were convicted in 2006 of genocide for torturing and executing political enemies.

Many of the deaths occurred in 1977 and 1978, when Mengistu’s Marxist government, called the Derg, or “the committee,” carried out a purge known as the Red Terror.

Mengistu was an army lieutenant colonel when he led a military coup that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie. He has been living in exile in Zimbabwe since he was ousted by Ethiopia’s current government in 1991.

But several senior Derg officials were in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

Prosecutor Yoseph Kirkos expressed satisfaction at the high court’s decision. He said the difference between a life sentence and death in absentia may be meaningless now, but it could make a big difference if Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is ousted in next month’s election.

“For now you can say is no different,” said Yoseph Kirkos. “But for tomorrow maybe the country which protects him, which gives him the right to live there, maybe knows the gravity of the crime, and his involvement in the crime. Maybe one day they can return him. When they look he is a criminal and he is a dangerous guy.”

Former Ethiopian president and historian Negaso Gidada says persons convicted of genocide cannot be pardoned or granted amnesty. He says under Ethiopia’s constitution, only the current president, Girma Woldegiorgis, could commute the sentences.

“In case of person convicted of any crimes stated in sub-article one in these articles and sentenced with the death penalty, the head of state may, without prejudice, commute the punishment to life imprisonment,” said Negaso Gidada.

Negaso and prosecutor Kiros said while the issue of a commuted sentence may be moot for Mengistu, 17 other senior Derg officials are facing death. It was not immediately clear when or how the sentences might be carried out.

Coincidentally, the Supreme Court’s decision came two days before Ethiopia’s national day, when it celebrates the downfall of the Mengistu regime.

Ethopian stars take first in Buffalo New York Marathon

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Sunday’s running of the Buffalo Marathon had a definite Ethiopian flavor to it. The men’s and women’s winners were both from that African country. Habtamu Bekele won the men’s race in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 5 seconds. Meserte Kotu took the women’s race in a course-record time of 2:43:10; the previous mark was 2:44:57 set by Beth Anne De- Ciantis in 1991.

Kotu was far too good for the field, taking the victory by more than 10 minutes over defending champion Jessica Allen. Kotu has a personal best of 2:30:02, so she figured to be a top contender Sunday. Kotu finished an impressive eighth overall.

“She was great. I’m honored to even share the same turf,” said Allen, who finished in 2:54:48 –almost two minutes faster than her winning time in 2007. “That’s pretty cool. It’s pretty prestigious for Buffalo to get such a runner from so far away.”

Allen said it took Kotu a while to get ahead, but there was no catching her once she moved in front around the 11-mile mark.

“She broke away right after Tifft Farms –pretty much at the bridge coming back into the First Ward,” said Allen, of Hampton Bays, L. I. “That’s where I started to be by myself.”

Allen held off Jennifer Boerner (2:58:14) of Amherst for second place.

Kotu does not speak English and thus was unavailable for interviews. She had the most profitable day of any of the participants, earning $2,000 for the victory plus $1,000 for the course record.

Bekele, who runs out of Marietta, Ga., won by a a relatively comfortable 16 seconds. Jason Lokwatom, a Kenyan running out of Troy, Ohio, was second at 2:26:21.

Bekele has raced throughout the world. He ran the 26-mile, 385-yard distance in an impressive 2:10:43 during the 2003 Rome Marathon. Bekele was second in the Bermuda Marathon earlier this year, finishing in 2:31:26. He ran a 2:26:19 in Atlanta early in April.

Bekele speaks little English, but he did say that he was “very, very happy about winning” and that the Buffalo course was “very good.”

Andrew Carnes of Canton, Ohio, had the lead in the race through the 10-mile mark, but went out too fast then faded under some persistent pressure of the lead pack. Carnes was fourth in 2:33:28. Darrin Pocza of Bemus Point was the top Western New York runner at 2:51:18, placing 12th.

In the masters division, James Derick of Big Flats was the men’s victor in 2:40:40. Gina McGee of Johnstown, Pa., won the women’s division in 2:59:28.

Mackey Tyndall of Panama City, Fla., was the fastest wheelchair competitor in a time of 2:06:59.

“It was a great day,” he said. “The roads were a little rough, but it was a flat, smooth course. I had a pretty good pace. I got a little bit fatigued at the end, but it was a good time overall.”

Tyndall is a retired Air Force captain whose injuries led to doctors doing two total hip replacements and the placement of a metal rod and some screws in his back. This was his sixth marathon of the year, and he says wheelchair athletes have gotten plenty of exposure in events like the Boston Marathon.

“It’s gotten a lot bigger, especially because of the military factor,” he said. “Last year at the Marine Corps [race in Washington], there were double the amount of hand-cycles. The hand-cycles are getting more popular, because of the ease of going from an injury to hand-cycle as opposed to a push-chair.”

In the half-marathon, Fernando Cabada showed why he is considered one of the top distance runners in America. He ran the 13.1-mile course in 1:08:52 to win. Cabada, running out of Boulder, Colo., ran his first-ever marathon in 2:12:26 in 2006. On the women’s side, Natasha Filliol won in 1:22:59. A native of Paris, Ont., she is one of Canada’s top triathletes.

By almost any definition, it was about a perfect morning for running, with sunshine and temperatures in the 50s. Some wind may have kept the times down just a bit.

Race director John Beishline said the final total of entrants was more than 3,000. That’s a big jump from last year’s 2,200.

Men’s Marathon

1. Habtamu Bekele 2:26:05
2. Jason Lokwatom 2:26:21
3. Paul Simboli 2:27:06
4. Andrew Carnes 2:33:28
5. Samson Mulli 2:33:49
6. Gerardo Avila 2:34:26
7. James Derick 2:40:40
8. Benson Osoro 2:44:16
9. Nelson Chavez 2:45:42
10. John Piggott 2:49:46
11. Mark Looney 2:51:11
12. Darrin Pocza 2:51:18
13. Gary Cattarin 2:54:12
14. Daniel Garrett 2:54:18
15. Derek Dunstan 2:54:22
16. Adam Bross 2:58:47
17. Christopher Ciamarra 2:58:54
18. Doug Hall 2:59:07
19. Craig Rudzinski 2:59:41
20. Christopher Occhino 2:59:46

Women’s Marathon
1. Meserte Kotu 2:43:10
2. Jessica Allen 2:54:48
3. Jennifer Boerner 2:58:14
4. Katherine Danner-Aldri 2:58:34
5. Gina McGee 2:59:28
6. Jill Skivington 2:59:35
7. Tammy Slusser 3:01:41
8. Jennifer McNutt 3:05:37
9. Michele Chille 3:18:32
10. Lisa Benzer 3:18:40
11. Emily Johnston 3:19:23
12. Katherine Fredlund 3:22:26
13. Mary LeBrun 3:22:37
14. Jackie Horvath 3:25:39
15. Kimberly Schenk 3:25:52
16. Kim Whitaker 3:26:00
17. Danielle Harmon 3:26:07
18. Kristin Winiewicz 3:26:16
19. Laura Richenderfer 3:26:59
20. Rosemary Wedlake 3:29:04

By Budd Bailey,
Buffalo News

U.N. eyes Ethiopian crop for rules on natural riches

Monday, May 26th, 2008

BERLIN, May 26 (Reuters) – A deal to market Ethiopia’s staple cereal, teff, to health-conscious Westerners may provide a model for ensuring the benefits of biodiversity are shared between local people and firms exploiting natural resources.

Teff, which looks like wheat and has a sour taste, is free of the protein gluten and research shows it can boost the body’s vitality and reduce fat production.

Realising its potential, Dutch entrepreneur Hans Turkensteen set up a company in 2002 to introduce the crop to the West.

But, aware of concern about “biopiracy” under which foreign companies have been accused of plundering foreign plants or animals, he worked out a deal to give some of the profits to Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest countries.

The case illustrates one of the most difficult issues at a May 19-30 United Nations conference in Bonn where delegates are discussing ways to protect the diversity of life on earth.

Nearly 200 countries are trying to thrash out a framework for a 2010 deal on binding rules on access to genetic resources and the sharing of their benefits.

Developing nations want to reap financial rewards from natural resources which firms in sectors from pharmaceuticals to horticulture and cosmetics are keen to tap.

“We understood teff was not ours and wanted Ethiopians, who have cultivated, conserved and refined it for centuries to benefit from its use elsewhere,” Turkensteen told Reuters.

Health and Performance Food International (HPFI) signed a deal with the Ethiopian government in 2004 allowing the firm to bring the iron- and calcium-rich cereal to the West, to sell and promote it and to help develop teff-based foods.

HPFI gives 5 percent of its net profits to job-creation projects in Ethiopia, which also gets royalties from the profits on teff seed sales and cash for land cultivated by the firm.

Apart from teff, other deals have been made giving companies access to flowers in South Africa or micro-organisms in Kenya.


“The complexities of the issue are absolutely enormous,” said Rachel Wynberg, co-author of a report on the subject comissioned by the U.N.’s Convention on Biological Diversity.

For example, the pharmaceuticals branch spent about $55 billion on research and development in 2006 but only a small, and unknown, part went on natural products, said Wynberg.

Wynberg says industry should get more closely involved in the U.N. talks on global rules and on compliance mechanisms.

Compounding the problems are ideological differences between firms and governments over “access and benefit sharing”.

“The negotiations are seen as a proxy for addressing huge disparities in income across the world,” Wynberg told Reuters.

Developing countries put a very high value on their genetic resources but often fail to recognise that hefty investment is needed to develop products — and often leads nowhere.

HPFI, which had 2007 turnover of 1 million euros ($1.57 million), has invested 3 million euros and four years of work in researching teff.

It is trying to breed teff seeds outside Africa and is working on gluten-free recipes for bread, cake and beer for consumers allergic to the protein, as well as food for athletes.

All sides agree on the daunting task they face but activists say getting at least a roadmap for the way ahead is crucial.

“We need to send a signal to developing countries to make sure they are respected,” said Greenpeace’s Christoph Then.

By Madeline Chambers, Reuters
Editing by Catherine Evans

Mengistu Hailemariam sentenced to death

Monday, May 26th, 2008

(Agence France Presse) — ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia’s exiled former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who was sentenced to death Monday, oversaw the 1977-78 “Red Terror” when tens of thousands were tortured, murdered and disappeared.

Now 71 and living a comfortable life in exile in Zimbabwe, the man who came to be known as the Red Negus (“emperor” in Amharic) was convicted in December 2006, after a marathon trial, of genocide, homicide, illegal imprisonment and illegal confiscation of property.

The purge of politicians, intellectuals and other perceived foes came as his regime began trying to transform imperial Ethiopia with its ancient Christian heritage into a Soviet-style workers’ state.

Mengistu, a lieutenant colonel in the army, was a member of the Derg, the military junta which ran the country after the fall of emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.

Three years later he became head of the Marxist regime in a bloody coup which saw head of state General Teferi Bante assassinated.

Mengistu became the de facto ruler, running the cabinet and the military council, and instituted the Red Terror, which saw numerous arrests and thousands of killings across the Horn of Africa nation.

Already chief of the armed forces and secretary general of the Workers’ Party of Ethiopia (WPE), Mengistu was in September 1987 officially confirmed president of the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Seriously threatened from February 1991 by a coordinated offensive by the separatist Tigre People’s Liberation Front and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe the following May.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, an old ally of Mengistu, offered him political asylum and has since refused to extradite him to Ethiopia. In 1996, he escaped an assassination bid in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.

Born in 1937 at Wallayata, Mengistu Haile Mariam became a career soldier like his father, graduating from the officer training college at Holetta in 1966 and doing a brief spell of further training in the United States.

After taking part in an uprising against Haile Selassie in 1960, he was a delegate in the armed forces coordinating committee at the time of the February 1974 revolution.

Many Ethiopians still remember Mengistu, with his dark skin and big moustache, haranguing crowds at Revolution, now Meskal, Square, in the heart of Addis Ababa, along with the interminable military parades he organised.

Considered as the brain behind the revolution and a leading member of the Derg from the start, Mengistu in seven months put an end to the world’s oldest surviving empire.

In his rise to power, he showed considerable political skills and was brutally intransigent regarding his opponents.

As well as the Red Terror, Mengistu and his former top aides were also accused of the murders of Haile Selassie and Orthodox Patriarch Abuna Tefelows.

Backed by the pro-Soviet socialist movement during a conflict with Somalia over the eastern Ogaden region, then faced with a nationalist rebellion in Eritrea, Mengistu signed an alliance with the Soviet Union in 1978 and created the Marxist-Leninist WPE in 1984.

He held the rotating presidency of the Addis-Ababa based Organisation of African Unity (today’s African Union) in 1983-84.

In May 1989, Mengistu crushed a coup attempt and executed 12 generals. The following year, he announced more liberal policies aimed at pulling Ethiopia out of economic disaster and civil war. He took accompanying steps to woo the West after renewing diplomatic ties with Israel.

Boston Archdiocese ordains Ethiopian priest for first time

Monday, May 26th, 2008

As a boy growing up in a small village in Ethiopia, Tamiru Atraga felt called to do God’s work. But he couldn’t have imagined it would take him halfway around the world.

Tamiru Atraga

Atraga was one of seven priests ordained yesterday in a Mass at The Cathedral of the Holy Cross. He is the first Ethiopian priest to be ordained in the 200-year-old Boston Archdiocese, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said during the service.

“It is a very historic event,” O’Malley said, prompting applause from the crowd of several hundred that gathered to witness the ordination.

Ethiopians from across the region attended the event, clearly delighted to see one of their own become a man of the cloth. A small group of Ethiopian Catholics attends Mass each week at the cathedral and many of them live in the Boston area.

“Everyone has been wanting to have a priest from our community,” said Bisrat Abebe, who came to Boston with Atraga from Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa in 2000 as a fellow seminarian. “Tamiru will be a great priest. He’s very prayerful and easy to interact with.”

Fiori Hailemaram traveled to Boston from Washington, D.C., yesterday with her mother to see Atraga ordained.

“This is a blessing,” she said after the service. “I’m very proud of him, very happy. It’s another confirmation of the unity of the church.”

Less than 1 percent of the population in Ethiopia is Catholic. Most Ethiopians are Muslim or Orthodox Christian. In 1993, the country’s northern province of Eritrea declared independence and became a sovereign nation.

“The countries are broken up, but the Church has remained the same,” Hailemaram said.

The youngest of 11 children, Atraga was raised in a devout Catholic family in the southern part of Ethiopia. He felt God’s calling early and entered seminary when he was just 14.

“The voice inside was killing me,” said Atraga, who is now 30. “It was a constant ache.”

In 1996 he met a visiting priest who asked whether he wanted to come to the United States to finish his studies. The pair corresponded for years, and in 2000, Atraga left his homeland to fulfill his destiny. He has not been home since.

But after growing up in a village without any roads or street lights, Atraga had a hard time adapting to life in Boston. Driving was scary. It was cold. The cultures were completely different.

“The most difficult thing was getting to know people in terms of spirituality,” he said. “Yes, you might go out and enjoy a dinner with someone, but it was very difficult to get to know them.”

Over the next eight years, Atraga set about establishing his life in Boston, studying at St. John’s Seminary and working at St. Ann Parish in Neponset as a deacon.

“He’s a very humble and a very joyful man,” said the Rev. Daniel Hennessey, director of vocations for the archdiocese.

With his story of immigration and perseverance, Hennessey said he sees Atraga as a bridge to bring people facing adversity back to the church.

“He’s a man who has asked serious questions about life and faith,” he said.

He has been assigned to Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden and will assume his new responsibilities in the next few weeks.

Tania deLuzuriaga, The Boston Glob

Obama and Ethiopia: Time for new visions

Monday, May 26th, 2008

By Donald N. Levine

At a session on African development a couple decades ago I spoke about the damage Ethiopia suffered from having imported a Marxist-Leninist ideology. One colleague, a respected Africanist anthropologist, objected: “We are not here to engage in paradigm-bashing.” Like so many American academics, my colleague simply had no idea of the enormity of the bloodshed, political repression, economic regression, and cultural derangement that that misguided Western ideology brought to a country that had been modernizing in ways congruent with its longstanding national traditions.

The wholesale adoption of a Leninist creed by so many progressive Ethiopians of the late 1960s continues to have deleterious repercussions, much as the slaughter of a generation of modern-educated Ethiopians by the Fascist Italians had repercussions for the generation after Liberation. It meant that all militant progressive forces of that Generation took cover behind a worldview that considered itself scientifically corroborated, thus legitimating the forceful imposition of collectivist values by an “enlightened” elite. Besides the Derg, many have noted, most dissident movements of the time subscribed to such a doctrine, the difference being that they extended it to a derision of Ethiopia’s national history on behalf of Eritrean, Tigrayan, Oromo, Somali, and other irredentist claims.

The present regime in Ethiopia is the hapless heir of those days. This means that however much they would like to implement a liberal democratic regime-and I am convinced that many EPRDF members want very much to do so-they are stuck with certain policies and procedures that derive from their Leninist origins.

(And to make matters worse, although many who oppose them are now committed to a liberal
democratic ethos, the rhetoric and tactics used by a vocal minority recall the arrogance, Manicheanism, and ruthlessness of the Leninists who indoctrinated them years ago.)

Some of this is all too familiar to those of us who have lived in the United States during the Bush administration. In place of Marxist-Leninist certainty, read right-wing ideological certainty. In place of the messianic vision of a classless society, read the messianic vision of a world made safe for American-business-led democracy (if not the vision of the grand Apocalypse of the Second Coming.) In place of harassment of opposition parties, read what many regard as the theft of the presidency in 2000 and possibly in 2004. In place of the imprisonment of journalists, read anxious self-censorship. In place of the wanton assassination of innocents and brutal tortures in out-of-the-way prisons, read the
monstrosities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanámo.

In place of an invisible inner politburo, read an invisible White House clique. Yet it is easy to focus on miscarriages of liberal democracy in the United States in order to deflect attention from Ethiopia’s failure to move faster toward liberal democracy and then, after a glorious springtime of freedom, to regress in crucial respects afterward. Or else, to give up all hope. When I spoke in Addis Ababa in January of this year, in a talk entitled “The Promise of Ethiopia: Public Action; Civic Forgiveness; Creative Power,” a group of journalists I met with asked, “Is there any promise for Ethiopia?” Since
then, leaders of parties who sincerely wanted to conduct themselves as a loyal opposition felt constrained to withdraw from local elections due to a parade of harassments and worse affecting their
followers. Meanwhile the EPRDF leaders, in some respects like the Bush regime, find themselves
embattled at home as well as mired in a war against perceived terrorist enemies. In this worsening political situation, can we find the Audacity to Hope?

Barack Obama’s message has appealed awesomely to a majority of Democrats and numerous Republican voters in the U.S. and to citizens all over the world. Ethiopians in the U.S. responded with enthusiasm to calls to action from the likes of Mike Endale and Yohannes Asssefa, Emebet Bekele and Teddy Fikre. Like other nationals, they resonate with Obama’s call to stop endless rounds of animosities old and new, of blame and counter-blame, and get on with solving the world’s compelling problems: poverty;
disease; famine; overpopulation; environmental damage; gender violence; loss of species; wars; terrorism.

Ethiopian culture includes many ways to move toward inclusiveness, open communication, and consensual action. Perhaps these ways can be invoked to consider items like the following.

. Diaspora Ethiopian doctors, like the many hundreds in Dr. Ingida Asfaw’s Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association, go regularly to Ethiopia to offer medical services, provide advanced
training, and improve maternal and child healthcare.

. Dr. Sisay Assefa has initiated an organization of social science professionals-from ye-bet agar, ye-wutch agar, and ye-cyber agar-to develop and exchange critically tested ideas regarding Ethiopia’s development potential.

. The Government has undertaken big initiatives on long-standing issues like expanded schools, health clinics in each village, vast road projects, expanded power generation, and now, forced marriage of young girls.

. Opposition political parties are taking a long view and rebuilding their strength.

. The quest for a free press and fair elections has suffered severe setbacks but still goes on.

. After decades of abuse and decay, Addis Ababa University is striving to regain and surpass its the high quality it achieved as HSIU. Under the leadership of Dr. Abye Tasse and Prof. Tsige Gebre-Mariam, AAU has just embarked on a multi-national initiative, directed Dr. Abye Tasse to provide highest-level training for new cohorts of Ethiopian academics.

. The millennium celebrations stimulated some serious initiatives. In Addis, the InterAfricaGroup organized two symposia on ways to promote communication among Ethiopia’s different constituencies. In DC, Abiyu Berlie and Samson Teffera organized a video conference on Information and Communication Technology for many kinds of IT professionals in Ethiopia and the United States.

You tell me more.

Tadia, yagere sewotch, min zefan yishalal:
Al-chalkum! weynim menalbat, YICHALAL?

Ethiopians win Buffalo Marathon

Monday, May 26th, 2008

The winners of Sunday’s Buffalo Marathon were a long way from home.

The men’s and women’s champion were from Ethiopia in the annual race held throughout the city. Habtamu Bekele won the men’s division in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 5 seconds. Meserte Kotu took the women’s title in a course-record time of 2:43:08; the old mark was 2:44:57 set by Beth Anne DeCiantis in 1991.

Kotu was far too good for the field, taking the victory by more than 10 minutes over defending champion Jessica Allen. Kotu has a personal best of 2:30:02, so she figured to be a top contender Sunday.

Kotu had the most profitable day of any of the participants, earning $2,000 for the victory and $1,000 for the course record for a total of $3,000.

Bekele, who runs out of Marietta, Georgia, won by a a relatively comfortable 16 seconds. Jason Lokwatom, a Kenyan running out of Troy, Ohio, was second at 2:26:21.

Bekele has raced throughout the world. He ran the 26-mile, 385-yard distance in an impressive 2:10:43 during the 2003 Rome marathon.

For more details on the race, see Monday’s editions of The Buffalo News.

By Budd Bailey – The Buffalo News

Haile Gebrselassie makes his case for Olympics

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Haile Gebrselassie could have secured his Olympic selection at 10,000 metres with an impressive performance at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games in Hengelo, Holland.

Having opted out of contesting the marathon in Beijing because of his worries about the pollution, Gebrselassie came to the meeting where he had previously broken three world records to prove he was still good enough to compete at the distance at which he won his two Olympic titles in Atlanta and Sydney.

At 35, there appear to be no signs, however, of the Ethiopian slowing up. In a race billed as a trial, Gebrselassie clocked 26min 51.20sec to finish second behind his compatriot Sileshi Sihine, who crossed the line in 26min 50.53sec. They were the two fastest times in the world this year and should guarantee them selection alongside the world-record holder and defending Olympic champion, Kenenisa Bekele, who won the 5,000m.

“Running under 27 minutes was my goal,” Gebrselassie said. “Now we have to wait and see the results from a few other 10,000m races over the next few weeks and then the (Ethiopian Athletics) federation will decide.”

According to Jos Hermens, Gebrselassie’s long-time manager, the federation’s decision should be an easy one.

“Conditions were not ideal and Haile could have run 10 or 15 seconds faster,” he said. “If the federation is smart, it should pick Bekele, Sihine and Haile.

The highlight of the meeting saw Panama’s Irving Saladino produce the world’s best long jump for 14 years with 8.73m.

Only six men have jumped further and the world champion will go to Beijing as the outstanding favourite to add the Olympic gold medal to the world title he won in Osaka last summer.

Britain’s best jumpers can have little hope of beating Saladino, but the competition did see the re-emergence of Nathan Morgan, the 2002 Commonwealth champion whose career has been blighted by injury.

Morgan, who lost his lottery funding long ago, was fourth with 8.01m, while British number one Chris Tomlinson came sixth.

By Tom Knight,

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
More from AFP

Haile Gebrselassie

Concern over pollution has led Haile Gebrselassie to opt for the 10,000m rather than the marathon at Beijing. Photograph: Reuters

It was a run that would have brought him a medal at last summer’s world championships in Osaka, but Haile Gebrselassie was not being so presumptuous.

As he crossed the line in Hengelo, smiling and offering a thumbs-up for the cameras, he found himself in a strange position: on a track in the Netherlands where he had broken numerous world records, this time he was in second place but no one would forget this runner-up.

“I have achieved my goal,” said Gebrselassie after the clock registered 26:51.20 for his most important 10,000m in almost four years. “I wanted to run under 27 minutes. The time was good if it allows me to go to Beijing. But it is not decided yet. The choice of my federation depends on other athletes. You never know. If others run faster, they will not take me. We must wait for the next 10,000m in Eugene or Berlin.”

In the past 15 years it has not been often that the great Ethiopian has had to talk about indecision over selection for a major championship. But at 35, his aim for Beijing this summer has switched from the marathon to the distance where he won Olympic gold in 1996 and 2000 and he understands he is not guaranteed a place.

Gebrselassie, who suffers from asthma, has opted for the track again, fearing the expected pollution in Beijing to be too difficult to handle in 26.2 miles on the road. It was not an easy choice for the world record-holder, but as he demonstrated with this performance, he remains a star attraction on the track.

“Everyone would like to see me run the marathon in Beijing and not just my federation,” said Gebrselassie. “But in the end I am the one to decide. It was a difficult decision. The conditions will be very difficult, and I decided it’s better not to take the risk. I am not as good any longer as I was at the end of the 1990s when I broke [track] world records but I am training well and I have done training sessions on the track again.”

Gebrselassie, who has a 10,000m best of 26:22.75 from Hengelo nearly a decade ago, had bowed out of the distance in Athens in 2004 when he finished fifth in the Olympic final as another Ethiopian superstar, Kenenisa Bekele, took gold ahead of his team-mate Sileshi Sihine. But it was like turning back the clock on Saturday evening in the Netherlands at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Stadium.

This race was seen as an unofficial Ethiopian trial and the little man delivered as though he had never been away. Gebrselassie was always near the front, and took his turn to lead in a race that at first was not even at the pace to which he has been accustomed. “I didn’t expect the pacemakers to be this slow,” he said.

Bekele, the triple world 10,000m champion, opted for and won the 5,000m, yet he is all but guaranteed a spot at the longer distance in Beijing, leaving Sihine to triumph in Hengelo in 26:50:53 with Gebrselassie an equally impressive second. They were the two fastest times in the world this year while, perhaps significantly for the selectors, fellow Ethiopian Gebr Gebrmariam was only seventh in 27:20.65.

Gebrselassie has the upper hand, but if he misses out on the team in Beijing, he has not given up hope on London. “I am serious about still running in 2012,” he said.

Paula Radcliffe, the women’s marathon record-holder, could be left contemplating those Olympics too if she loses her battle to be fit for this summer, which would leave Mara Yamauchi, the British No2, as the team’s leading contender in Beijing. This morning in the capital Yamauchi will have another test of her preparations when she runs in the BUPA London 10,000m in a race that includes Germany’s Irina Mikitenko, the winner of last month’s London Marathon.

Woyanne fabricates suspects for Addis Ababa bomb blast

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: There is no doubt that the ‘suspects’ have been framed by Woyanne. The bomb blast was orchestrated by Woyanne to kill a U.S. citizen and blame it on the opposition groups and Eritrea so that the U.S. would go after them. It is also curious why the U.S. Government is not sending a team of FBI agents to investigate the killing of its citizen. Is the State Department afraid that any serious investigation could point to Woyanne?

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopia Woyanne has arrested suspects linked to last week’s bomb blast near the foreign ministry in Addis Ababa that killed six people, including a US national, state media reported Sunday.

Ethiopian Woyanne police did not specify the number of arrests, but blamed the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and its arch-foe Eritrea for last Tuesday’s blast in a minibus near the entrance to the foreign ministry. Seven people were injured.

“Some of the alleged terrorists that blew a minibus taxi with an explosive on May 20 in Addis Ababa were put under custody,” Ethiopian News Agency quoted police and security officials as saying.

Evidence indicates “that the terrorist act was coordinated by the Eritrean regime and the anti-peace group ‘Oromo Liberation Front’ which is an instrument of the regime,” it added.

The US victim was believed to be a teacher at the University of Addis Ababa, from which the minibus had originally departed.

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

The authorities routinely accuse OLF, the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front and Eritrea, for such attacks.

Kuma Demeksa defeated a dead candidate to become mayor

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Addis Ababa-based business journal, Fortune Ethiopia, reports that Kuma Demeksa (real name Taye Teklemariam) was selected as mayor of Addis Ababa after defeating a candidate in his district who had died several days before the local election in April 2008. This guy has no conscience, no self-pride what so ever. Even some Woyanne cadres who want to revamp their image among Addis Ababa residents are not happy with the appointment of this fool as a mayor, according to Fortune. Most of the officials serving Meles share common traits with pigs and donkeys — no sense of self-worth.


(Fortune) — The coronation of the new Mayor, Kuma Demeksa, 50, as Addis Abeba’s 35th mayor will be the main political event this week. A father of seven, a person rather known for his composure, Kuma will be taking over the reins of a city with so many woes. Perhaps Addis Abeba will now have a mayor who stands taller and sees farther. Michael Chebud, Fortune Staff Writer, has researched on the background of the man who will be stepping into the mayoral boots, replacing Berhane Deressa.

This week will certainly be a busy one for Addis Abeba; senior officials of the Caretaker Administration, as well as their lieutenants at district and kebele levels, will relinquish their offices leaving behind the cumbersome responsibility of meeting the abundant needs of residents of the capital in the hands of a new administration, which will be led by Kuma Demeksa.

Kuma will be at the helm of political power in the diplomatic and political capital of Africa, where Revolutionary Democrats have promised to throw the whole weight of their party machinery into overwhelming Addis Abeba, hoping that whatever they accomplish in this melting pot city will secure them a legitimate rule of the country come national elections in 2010.

This view is well reflected by a posting on, a pro-EPRDF blog based in the United States. It stands tall on the row of those websites that support Ethiopia’s ruling party in that it has created “EPRDF Supporters’ Forum” and encourages visitors to the site to become members.

“We have to fight [for] EPRDF to transform before the election,” says one of its latest postings in response to the news that Kuma will become the 35th mayor of the 122-year old Addis Abeba. “Or, we will fight ten-fold the useless opposition after the election.”

The genesis of aigaforum’s desire to transform the EPRDF comes from its disappointment with the ruling party’s decision to install Kuma as its man in town. The blog describes Kuma as a, “typically opaque party hack”. For a web-blog that has been consistent in its support of the Revolutionary Democrats for the past few years, and one considered to be an insider, such rare statements tell something about the discontent within the establishment.

“There is nothing that stands out about him,” says aigaforum. “He was everywhere and nowhere.”

Kuma’s coming to the city council followed his departure from the Oromia Regional Council, which he was elected to, during the May 2005 national elections. In April this year, he ran for the City Council in Bole District, which featured the lowest turn out of voters (52.3pc), from the 91,777 registered in the district.

Kuma stood second in this district with an aggregate vote of 45,271, trailing behind Tesfaselassie Mezgeb, who amassed 47,059 votes, representing the same party. It is in this district that the only candidate from the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), now under Ayele Chamiso, was elected for the City Council. Bededit Anteneh, the only non-EPRDF addition to the 138 council-members, had died days before the election. She was given 6,037 votes, in vain.

Another Revolutionary Democrat who secured a sweeping victory in Addis Ketema District was Melaku Fenta, minister of Revenues; his district featured a 70.7pc turnout of voters.

Although it was rumoured a few weeks ago that Melaku would become Deputy Mayor, it has become very unlikely for him to stand alongside Kuma when the handover of power takes place this week, according to reliable sources.

Indeed, Addis Abeba will welcome its new mayor, Kuma Demeksa, the tranquil member of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), and bid farewell to the outgoing mayor of the city’s Caretaker Administration, Brehane Deressa, who held office for two years beginning May 2006.

After managing the chartered city for the past two consecutive years, the accidental faces of the Caretaker Administration have not been able to inspire Addis Abebans with achievements in bringing the city’s woes to an end. In fact, the excitement aroused among the residents of the city by its predecessor – the provisional administration of Arkebe Oqubay, now state minister for Works and Urban Development – has long disappeared.

Apart from calming the political instability that had prevailed in the city, the custodian administration was, among others, tasked with cutting down the unemployment rate, taking swift decisions on illegal land transfers, constructing condominiums for low-income city dwellers, as well as raising access to potable water. It has hardly achieved most of these objectives.

One person disappointed with the ailing performance of the Caretaker Administration is Beyene Petros (Prof.), an MP representing UEDF.

“I’m very disappointed with the mal-administration of Brehane Deressa,” Beyene told Fortune. “Addis Abeba has been swimming in corruption. It is shameful to the administration.”

An alarming rate of corruption is just one of the hurdles that Addis Abeba’s Mayor Brehane leaves behind for his successor. The new mayor will be confronted with a long list of problems, including a high cost of living, unemployment, a shortage of housing, lack of adequate public transport, a deteriorating civil service, and an acute shortage of water supply.

Many are questioning whether Kuma is up for the challenge, and if he has the personality to become the kind of mayor who stands taller and looks farther.

Kuma’s ability to assume these daunting tasks is not questioned by some of his former colleagues, who are familiar with, and confident in his competence for the job. In fact, they identify him as a capable leader. At the mature age of 50, and serving as the Minister of Defense, Kuma is believed to have immense leadership experience under his belt.

No one is better placed to give testimony on Kuma’s ability than Negasso Gidada (PhD), former president of Ethiopia, now an MP, although they are on the opposite sides of the political fence.

“He is good at developing good plans and monitoring them,” Negasso told Fortune. “He is clever in implementations, too.”

The two first met in May 1991, when Negasso had come back from Germany for a brief one-month stay. Kuma was then chairman of the OPDO, one of the parties that form the ruling EPRDF, which also includes Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (SEPDF).

In August 1991, Negasso had already become a member of the OPDO, which was based in Nekemte, Wellega, and had been closely working with Kuma, who was one of the few rebels fighting the military government and instrumental in the creation of OPDO a year earlier.

Kuma’s passion for politics goes back to the 1970s; it was instigated by the recurrent tussle between the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) and the Provisional Military Administrative Council – often called Derg – which held political power after ousting Emperor Haileselassie in 1974.

Born in Gore of the Illubabor Zone, 620Km west of Addis Abeba in the Oromia Regional State, Kuma is the oldest of three children. His father, Wodajo Tokon, a priest, was renamed Teklemariam after baptism. His family, including his mother, Muluye, lived in Kotore Kebele, Bure Woreda of Gore. Presently, however, his brother, Girma Teklemariam, has moved to the United States, and his sister, Abaynesh Teklemariam, currently lives in Addis Abeba.

Like many of his comrades-in-arms did during the fight against the Derg, he changed his original name, Taye Teklemariam, to Kuma, the nomme de guerre he has retained to date.

Unlike most Ethiopians from such remote parts of the country, in 1965, he began going to the Menelik II Primary School in Bore at a tender age. His perseverance was so strong that he completed his primary classes after daily enduring a 12Km long walk to and from school.

He was transferred to a high school even farther, Hailessselassie I Senior Secondary School, where he did secondary education up to Grade 10.

An exacerbating political conflict between the EPRP and the military officials led to the temporary closure of schools in 1975. Kuma’s strong desire to pursue his education the following year was futile in the face of the continued instability in his area, and across the country, according to an account by a childhood friend. The boys of his age were all afraid of the potential danger posed against them, although the severe massacres reported in other regions, such as Jimma and Wellega, did not occur in the Illubabor Zone.

The EPRP conducted urban guerrilla warfare against the military regime, referred to as the “White Terror” and the government responded with its own brand of terror, the “Red Terror”. The government provided peasants, workers, public officials, and students considered loyal to the government with arms to help its security forces root out those deemed anti-revolutionaries. Indeed, it was a trying period for Ethiopia.

Kuma and a few of his friends subsequently joined the army and moved to Jimma Police Training Camp in 1976. Not much is known about his years within the military. Nevertheless, six years after his departure, his parents and family members, as well as his peers, had thought he was dead, as they had not heard from him for a long time, according to a friend who grew up with him in Gore.

“We were all under the impression that he had died eight years prior to his return in 1991,” this friend told Fortune.

Other sources claim that he spent several years as a prisoner of war (PoW) in the fight with Eritrean separatist groups, and languished in EPLF’s jails in Nakfa. Much to the relief of those who had known him, he returned – very much alive – to visit his native land, Illubabor, and to search for his parents.

They were glad to learn that he had not come back alone; with him were his first wife, Asres, and his eldest daughter, Chaltu, who was born in the field. Chaltu now lives in the United States. The couple had three more children before getting divorced. Kuma is now a father of seven, after having had three more children with a second wife, Debabe Eshetu, the daughter of the late Eshetu Desta who was the administrator of Illubabor during the military regime.

In circumstances that remain murky, Kuma and several other PoWs were released from Eritrean rebel jails and joined in the fight against the military government under the Ethiopian People Democratic Movement (EPDM), a junior partner to the TPLF, who jointly waged a guerilla war up in the north. It was these two groups that originally formed the EPRDF in 1990 before they were joined by what is today known as the OPDO.

Spearheaded by what they called ‘Duula Bilissummaaf Walqixxummaa’ in Afan Oromo, (literally translated as ‘Operation Freedom and Equality), those Oromifa speakers within the insurgent movement decided to form another party, representing the Oromo people in the struggle. In the early 1990s, the OPDO was officially established by rebels such as Kuma, Abadula Gemeda, also reported to be a former PoW and the current president of the Oromia Regional State, and a few hundred other members in Dera, a town in northern Shoa. Kuma was elected as its first chairman, while Ibrahim Melka was appointed as the first secretary-general.

Eventually, the OPDO joined the EPRDF.

Following the fall of the military government in 1991, Kuma was appointed as the minister of Internal Affairs, a security agency embraced by the rebels before it was dissolved four years later in 1995.

When the constitution got ratified and the regional governments were established, Kuma became president of the Oromia Regional State, replacing Hassen Ali, chief of the region during the transitional period.

He remained in charge of the Oromia Regional State until reality dawned on him in 2001, his sixth year in office, during a membership appraisal conducted within the ruling party. Kuma was subsequently sacked from his position as president on July 24, 2001, as well as fired from the Central Committee.

The appraisal and course of party renewal were made following the internal split within the senior partner in the alliance, TPLF, which created two opposing factions. The division within the ruling party had become apparent following the incursion of Ethiopian territories by Eritrea forces. A vote made by 60 executive committee member of the EPRDF dropped a technical arrangement before the Algiers Agreement which was proposed by the United States and European Union; only two of them, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Kassu Yilala (PhD), now minister of Works and Urban Development, voted for it.

The division went deeper among the central Committee members of the TPLF. Leaders of other parties were also haunted by this division at the core of the TPLF: Meles, Sebehat Nega and Arkebe’s group on the one side, and Tewolde W. Mariam, Seeye Abraha and Gebru Asrat’s group on the other.

Kuma’s role at the time was reconciliatory, according to a politician who was close to the issue at the time. He was trying to bring about a consensus between the two groups that were up against each other. This was deemed as an indecisive move on his part as it was not clear where his heart was, he was in a wishy-washy position.

His seat at the Oromia Regional State was given to the relatively less known Junadin Sado, who was the Investment Bureau Chief of the region then, and now minister of Transport and Communications.

The fall out seemed to have left a bold scar on his political career, as it took him two years to regain the sympathy and confidence of the top leadership of the party.

In 2001, right after Kuma was removed from the Central Committee, he was appointed as an expert on immigration and security issues, within the office he once was a minister but which had been restructured to into an agency after his departure. Credited for accepting his fate, and the party’s decision, with unreservedly, he made a comeback to the Central Committee of the OPDO in 2003. He was also appointed as one of the three state ministers for Capacity Building, under the sturdy watch of Tefera Walwa, minister of Capacity Building, and one of the close political allies of the Prime Minister. He replaced Woredewold Wolde, once a minister of Justice.

While in this office, Kuma obtained his first and second degrees from the London based UK Open University, and was an active participant when the Civil Service Reform was developed by the Ministry of Capacity Building.

Prime Minister Meles testified to Kuma’s loyalty and commitment to the party before parliament when he nominated him as Minister of Defense, when he set up his current administration after the most contested elections in 2005.

Up until last week, the embattled politician was chief of the country’s defense force. That will be over soon. This week, he will become the 35th mayor of the 122-year old Addis Abeba.

“He is not supposed to stand out by design,” said aigaforum.

The pro-EPRDF web-blog is not pleased by the party’s “communistic style” of the past, which it says is still making the party devoid of “witty, funny, humble, and caring individuals” within the leadership who are able to come forward in fear of personality cult.

The blog referred to Arkebe Oqubay and his popular years in the city government; but it criticized the party for its failure to capitalize on this popularity, while arguing that the opposition parties which waged electoral battle successfully separated him from the EPRDF and used it against the Revolutionary Democrats.

Like Arkebe, Kuma has to begin from scratch, according to observers, in order to win back the hearts of Addis Abebans. These observers say that the new mayor needs to act vigorously as he will only have a reign that will last two years, like his predecessor, if he is not elected in the next national election of 2010.

The new boss in Addis Abeba is expected to become a more familiar face to the residents of Addis who are scorched by a multitude of enigmas, ranging from a lack of adequate housing to a hike in consumer prices.

“With his calm, yet wise personality, I hope he makes it,” says a senior party official who has worked with him closely.

Kuma declined to be interviewed for this piece.

25 people died in Benishangul region over land dispute

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Addis Ababa – At least 25 people have been killed in clashes over land between rival tribes in southwestern Ethiopia over the past week, a police spokesperson said on Saturday.

“Some 25 people were killed in clashes that erupted over land in Benishangul, but we expect the number to rise,” said Demsash Hailu.

He said the fighting had stopped after police were deployed in the Oromiya and Benishangul states that lie in the country’s southern region.

In 2006, some 150 people were killed in southern Ethiopia in more than a week of clashes between rival clans over land ownership following a jurisdictional re-alignment.

Source: AFP

Haile Gebreselassie wins the 10k race in Hengelo, Netherlands

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

(AP) — HENGELO, Netherlands: Haile Gebrselassie discovered his old legs still carry him well in the 10,000 meters. Irving Saladino found a new spring in his step and marked it with the longest jump in 14 years.

Haile Gebrselassie ran his fastest 10,000 meters in four years at the FBK Games on Saturday, well within the 27-minute mark he sought to push his case to be included on the Ethiopian Olympic team for the Beijing Games.

Gebrselassie finished second in blustery winds in 26 minutes, 51.20 seconds, only .67 seconds behind compatriot and Olympic silver medalist Sileshi Sihine.

Gebrselassie has converted into a marathon runner and, at 35, could no longer find the finishing kick to distance his opponents. Still, he had made his mark, beaten his target by almost 9 seconds, and his thumbs-up and beaming smile showed his happiness.

As Gebrselassie was circling the track during his race, Irving Saladino of Panama leaped 8.73 meters to become the seventh biggest long jumper of all time.

On his first attempt, the world champion had a back wind of 1.2 meters to set the mark.

Saladino is working on a new technique which he hopes will allow him to break the world record of 8.95 meters of Mike Powell, hopefully at the Beijing Olympics in August.

The 25-year-old Saladino jumped 8.53 at last year’s FBK Games, but complained he had to contain himself because the sand pit was too short. Organizers extended the runway this year and it paid off for the world champion.

In the 800 meters, Pamela Jelimo set the fastest time in five years, clocking 1:55.76 to set a world junior record. The 19-year-old Kenyan burst onto the international scene, easily beating 1,500 world champion Maryam Jamal of Bahrain by 2.9 seconds.

Kenenisa Bekele wanted to break his own world record in the 5,000, but blustery winds and a lack of good pacemakers decided otherwise. Forced to run the second half of the race all alone, with only the crowd to cheer him on, the Ethiopian finished in 12:58.95, a world leading time but more than 20 seconds off his record.

Gebrselassie has long excelled in Hengelo, setting four world records here over the years. The runner-up finish made him just as happy since he needs to get on the 10,000 squad after pulling out of the Beijing marathon for health reasons.

So, he is seeking to recover time and get back into the race where he already won Olympic gold in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.

In the sprint hurdles, world indoor champion Lolo Jones won in 12.87 seconds, a mediocre time if not for the strong headwind she faced. In the absence of injured indoor world-record holder Susanna Kallur, she beat Vonette Dixon of Jamaica by .10 seconds, with U.S. compatriot Kellie Wells crossing in 13.01.

Christian Cantwell, another world indoor champion, threw 20.88 meters to win the shot put, ahead of Germany’s Peter Sack with 20.60, and Canada’s Dylan Armstrong with 20.24.

Year best 5000m time for Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka

HENGELO, Netherlands (AFP) — Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka set a year best time of 14min 45.84sec in the 5000m in a meet here on Saturday.

The 22-year-old 1500m African champion took almost 15sec off the 15:00.6 mark set by Romania’s Elena Antoci on May 11 in Craiova.

Burka beat compatriots Meselech Melkamu (14:46.25) and Belaynesh Fikadu (14:46.84).

Woyanne, Uganda deny breaking U.N. Somali arms ban

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia Woyanne and Uganda on Saturday denied accusations by a U.N. weapons sanctions committee that their soldiers broke the world body’s arms embargo on Somalia.

The United Nations says the Horn of Africa nation is awash with weapons despite a 1992 arms ban that followed the collapse of the central government a year before. Somalia has been engulfed in civil conflict ever since.

Dumisani Kumalo, chairman of the U.N. Security Council’s Somalia sanctions committee, accused “elements” of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Somalia and Ethiopian Woyanne and Somali government troops of arms trafficking.

“We want to assure the world community that this accusation does not have an iota of truth,” Wahade Belay, spokesman for the Ethiopian Woyanne Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Reuters.

“In fact our troops were and still are playing an exemplary role in mitigating the arms trade inside Somalia,” he said.

Kumalo said 80 percent of the ammunition on sale in Somalia’s numerous arms markets comes from Ethiopian Woyanne and Somali troops.

Ethiopia Woyanne sent thousands of soldiers into Somalia in late 2006 to help the Somali government oust an Islamic Courts movement from the south. Since then, the two allies have battled an insurgency led by members of the Islamists.

Kumalo said the presence of Ethiopian Woyanne troops inside Somalia was itself a violation of the 16-year-old arms ban.

The sanctions committee report comes as the world body unanimously adopted a measure for a stronger U.N. presence in Somalia and opened the door for a possible U.N. force.

A 2,200-strong AU peacekeeping contingent, known as AMISOM, has been unable to stem the mounting violence.

Uganda, which has 1,600 troops in Mogadishu, joined Ethiopia Woyanne in condemning the sanctions committee’s accusations.

“I can assert that none of the AMISOM commanders is involved in any form of arms trafficking in contravention of the U.N. arms embargo,” said Captain Barigye Bahouku, spokesman for the mission.

Both Ethiopia Woyanne and Uganda said they would investigate the claims if provided with evidence.

An AU official said he had no information confirming the allegations against its troops but promised an investigation.

“We are going to analyse the report in detail,” El Ghassim Wane, head of the AU’s conflict management division, told Reuters. “We are requesting AMISOM to carry out an investigation.”

Last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister dictator Meles Zenawi said his troops would remain in Somalia until “jihadists” were defeated.

The United States, whose main ally in the region is Addis Ababa Woyanne, says some of the Islamist-led insurgents have links to terrorist organisations.

(By Tsegaye Taddesse. Additional reporting by Frank Nyakairu in Kampala; Writing by Jack Kimball; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Ethiopia’s humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorating – UN

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that it is concerned by conditions in Ethiopia and that the situation will deteriorate further without an immediate infusion of resources to carry out life-saving interventions.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that eight million Ethiopians are chronically food insecure and at least 3.4 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency food relief – a figure that is likely to rise.

The agency estimates that 176,000 children are in need of urgent therapeutic care for severe malnutrition and says that the rapidly deteriorating situation is the worst since the major humanitarian crisis of 2003.

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.

“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 child survival gains in Ethiopia,” said Bjorn Ljungqvist, UNICEF’s Representative in the Horn of Africa nation.

UNICEF is providing therapeutic feeding to severely malnourished children. Over the weekend the agency received 90 tons of food supplies, noting that as much as 1,800 tons are needed over the next three months.

The agency also estimates that $50 million are needed for life-saving health, nutrition, water and sanitation interventions, but has received only $6 million to date.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is facing a total relief shortfall of 181,000 tons of food, valued at $145 million.

Source: UN News Center

UN accuses Uganda and Woyanne officers of arming rebels

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

NAIROBI (AFP) — United Nations monitors have accused Ugandan peacekeepers of selling arms to Islamist rebels fighting the government and Ethiopian Woyanne troops in Somalia.

Amid a row over the acquisition of military hardware by bickering factions in Somalia’s transitional government, the UN panel charged with monitoring the situation there said it was alarmed by “continued militarisation and an increase of armed action” between the rival camps.

“The fact that members of the transitional federal government are buying arms at the market in Mogadishu is not new to the monitoring group,” it said.

“But during this mandate period, the monitoring group received information on sales of arms by prominent officials of the security sectors of government, Ethiopian Woyanne officers and Ugandan officers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).”

The report, seen by AFP on Friday, was sent to the UN Security Council on Thursday by the panel which is charged with reviewing the 1992 arms embargo slapped on Somalia after it descended into anarchy a year earlier with the ouster of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre.

In it, the experts said arms on sale originate from army stocks or are seized following battles with Islamist insurgents.

“According to arms traders, the biggest supplier of ammunition to the market are Ethiopian Woyanne and transitional federal government commanders, who divert boxes officially declared ‘used during combat’,” the report said.

Since Barre’s ouster, several well-armed clan-based factions have been in an almost constant state of low-level war, hindering effective monitoring of the UN arms embargo.

The UN Security Council has rejected several pleas by President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed to ease the arms ban, warning that such a move would exacerbate fighting in the lawless nation.

The experts accused neighbouring Ethiopia, Yemen and Eritrea of continuously violating the embargo by sending weapons shipments to the increasingly hostile factions within Somalia.

Somalia’s breakaway northern regions of Puntland and Somaliland are other entry points for weapons.

“The routes are more covert, and the weapons reach Somalia either by a large number of small vessels, or through remote locations along the land borders,” the report said.

“The Somali police force no longer differs from other actors in the armed conflict, despite the fact that many of its members have received training in accordance to international standards,” it added.

The panel lamented that the Somali government’s budget, heavily supported by international donors, lacks even the most minimal standards of transparency.

“Some donors expressed discontent that some of the funding provided, despite being earmarked for civilian and peace-building activities, may have been used for military activities and purchase of military materials.”

Somali troops, their Ethiopian Woyanne allies and AU peacekeepers have been routinely targeted by Islamist insurgents over the past year, worsening security and choking humanitarian operations in the country.

Kenenisa says he won't run 5,000-10,000 double at Beijing

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

DELDEN, Netherlands — Kenenisa Bekele has ruled out attempting to win both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the Beijing Olympics, a feat he nearly accomplished at the Athens Games in 2004.

Bekele says he is the best form of his life after winning the world cross-country title again, but announced on Friday that tougher competition and a tight schedule ruled out challenging for both golds.

“I don’t want to run the double this time,” Bekele said on the eve of his attempt to run a world record in the 5,000 at the FBK Games on Saturday.

On June 8, he will also attempt to break the 10,000 mark at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.

In Beijing, Bekele will focus on defending his gold in the 10,000, a title held by Ethiopians since Haile Gebrselassie won at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

In Athens, Bekele was beaten by 0.2 seconds in the 5,000 by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj in a sprint to the finish.

Few athletes have achieved the distance double, though Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia did a triple in 1952 by adding the marathon. The last runner to win the double was Miruts Yifter of Ethiopia at the 1980 Moscow Games.

Associated Press

Ethiopian in Utha sentenced to 4 months in prison

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY — An Ethiopian refugee has been sentenced to serve four months in federal custody for conspiring to import more than 400 pounds of an exotic plant used as a drug.

Sherif Kadir Sirage, known as Sherif Sherif, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court with four months’ credit for time served. Another man, Patrick Bahati, is awaiting sentencing on a similar charge.

Prosecutors say Sirage and Bahati arranged to have a plant called khat flown into Salt Lake City from Ethiopia.

Khat is a flowering evergreen shrub that is chewed like tobacco in East Africa and the Arabian peninsula. It is considered a narcotic and is illegal in the U.S., as well as parts of Europe, east Africa and the Arabian peninsula. The plant’s effect on the human body is similar to ephedra.

Sirage is expected to be released, since he already has served the time the court sentenced him to.

SOURCE: Desert News

Voice of Ginbot 7 calls the land gift to Sudan 'treason'

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

In its latest issue, Voice of Ginbot 7 has accussed the Meles regime of treason for giving away undisputed land to Sudan. Before the news broke out about the border re-demarcation deal with al-Bershir’s regime, Sudan had never been heard claiming the area that Meles gave away.

Ginbot 7 also sends a message to members of the armed forces not to be part of the Meles region’s treachery. Click here to read Voice of Ginbot 7

Ogaden rebels deny gov't assertions of defeat

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

NAIROBI (AFP)–Ethiopia’s Ogaden rebels Friday scoffed at government statements they were losing their battle and said that Addis Ababa was attempting to divert world attention from a spiraling famine.
Ethiopian Prime Minister dictator Meles Zenawi Wednesday said that 95% of rebels in the Ogaden, an oil-rich region populated by ethnic Somalis, had been killed or captured.

However, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, or ONLF, laughed off the assertion as “a sign of the level of desperation the current regime has reached in dealing with the realities in the Ogaden.”

“ONLF is stronger and more effective than ever and is capable of launching operations at will, when and where it wants,” the rebel group said in a statement received by AFP in Nairobi.

The Ethiopian Woyanne army launched a crackdown in Ogaden after ONLF rebels attacked a Chinese oil venture in April 2007 that left 77 people dead.

Access to the area has been largely denied to humanitarian groups and journalists, sparking international concern over the fate of its estimated 4 million inhabitants.

“These utterances of Meles are PR exercises intended to divert attention from the fact that millions of Ethiopians are facing famine and hunger,” the ONLF said.

According to the U.N., 3.4 million Ethiopians require food aid in southern and central regions as a result of a devastating drought.

EMPLOYMENT: The Swedish Clinic in Addis Ababa

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

InDevelop Uppsala Ab is a Swedish consultancy company specialising in health and social sector reform and private sector development worldwide. On behalf of the Nordic Embassies in Ethiopia and Mozambique respectively, InDevelop operates two medical clinics; one in Addis Ababa and one in Maputo.

The clinics provide outpatient health care services to expatriate personnel, and InDevelop is now looking to recruit a medical doctor on a two year basis to the clinic in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. The recruitment is under the condition that the contract with the Embassy of Sweden will be prolonged for another two year term.

Besides medical responsibility, the doctor will also be in charge of the clinic including administrative, financial and managerial responsibilities.

The qualifications required are, in short:

- Experience as a general practitioner, with an extensive medical background.
- Experience in tropical medicine.
- Managerial experience.
- Languages: English and either Swedish, Danish or Norwegian.

For further information, please contact:
Anders Wikman, InDevelop Ab, Biblioteksgatan 24, SE- 114 35 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail:

Cellphone +46 (0) 70 714 50 85. Fax No.: +46 (8) 678 72 17.

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV via regular mail or e-mail to the above address.

Closing date: 20 June, 2008.

Mom's passing sends boy from Ethiopia on quest

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA — A 10-year-old boy is on a fundraising quest in memory of the care received by his dying mother.

In 2006, young Fikreab Mekonnen and his older brother left their home in Ethiopia and arrived in Truro, Nova Scotia. They had come to be with their father, Mekete Gebrehanna, who arrived here in 2003 to attend the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. Their mother, Senait Manahele, arrived in 2004 after being diagnosed with breast cancer in Ethiopia, where there was little chance of receiving the medical care she required.

“I wanted to come here to see mom because she was sick,” explained Fikreab.

Senait died last Oct. 19 but Fikreab believes the attention she received here —especially in palliative care — allowed them more time with her then they might otherwise have had.

“(Palliative care) was very important because they helped mom … and I just want to pay them back,” he said. “If she could not have come here and get that help she would have died earlier.”

The youngster’s way of offering thanks is to raise $1,000 for the needs of the area’s palliative care. He has saved about $170 that will go toward the goal and is hosting a bake and plant sale this weekend as well.

“I think I can make a difference. Every year I want to try to raise $1,000 to help people,” said Fikreab, who aspires to a career as a scientist/researcher.

“Mom died of breast cancer and I don’t want other people to die of it. I would say mom would be very proud of me,” he said, adding he hopes the community will support his cause.

“(Palliative care) is still helping people even if it’s not helping you.”

Mekete is thrilled his son is taking an active role in the community they have come to love. He hopes his family can remain here but that will depend on whether he finds employment.

“I feel I owe this community for everything it has done for Senait,” he said. “And I am proud of my son. He doesn’t want to have money but wants to raise it and give it away. He’s a good member of society and he doesn’t take his health for granted.”

By Monique Chiasson, The Truro Daily News

Is an Ethopian national treasure being exploited for money?

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

WADE STEPHENS, The Tampa Tribune

For 30 days in January, Wade Stephens III and his 20-year-old daughter, Annie, traveled in North Africa and the Horn of Africa. They shared writing, audio and photography duties as they absorbed the culture conflicts in Egypt, Tunisia, the Sinai, Ethiopia and unfolding events in Gaza, Kenya and Somalia. Annie Stephens also did an independent study project for her college’s international studies curriculum.

ADDIS ABABA – The Great Rift Valley stands out from space. It’s a 3,100-mile gap that runs from Syria in Asia Minor to Mozambique in southeast Africa. It’s 8 million years old, but the American trekkers are on their way to a small dark green basement room that is home to fossils dug from the Horn of Africa.

The old-man father and college-student daughter were going to see an exhibit of real fossils in the state museum of natural history in the capital of Ethiopia, and to track down “Lucy,” whose 1974 discovery revolutionized theories of early man

There is a question where the real Lucy is. Is she in residence in Ethiopia, or off at Houston’s Museum of Natural Science on a controversial six-year tour of America? It depends on who is believed, but it’s certain that her name came from a Beatles song that was playing at the time of her discovery in 1974.

This much is known about Lucy these days: Without public announcement and under the cover of darkness in August 2007, the 3.3 million-year-old fossil, or her replica, was shipped to America to earn money for the Ethiopian government. It will be exhibited publicly in America, but in Ethiopia it is kept in a vault and Ethiopians view a replica.

Lucy’s so-called child, Dikika (da-KEE-ka) Baby, is in Germany with Zeresenay Alemseged, the Ethiopian paleoanthropologist who painstakingly nudged her out of the hard sandstone of a hillside in Ethiopia’s Dikika Valley in 2000. The site above the Awash River is one of the most remote on Earth, full of lions, warring tribes, malaria, flash floods, high heat, invaders from neighboring countries and hyenas. At the Horn of Africa are the counties of Ethiopia, Chad and Kenya, which most likely are the birthplaces of Man.

The nearly intact Dikika fossil followed by 30 years the discovery of the adult Lucy in a hill six miles away, connecting the “baby” to Lucy. But the baby actually lived 100,000 years before Lucy. The 3-year-old juvenile most likely was buried by a flood in a pile of protective pebbles and sand that time turned into rock.

Addis Ababa attorney Kine Arega (CQ) told The Associated Press that “she is a national treasure. “How come the public has no inkling about this?” said Zelahem Assefa, an Ethiopian who works at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. “Money cannot be a justification to export original specimens.”

Citing ethical problems and a conviction that Lucy’s fragile remains should not travel, The Smithsonian refused an exhibition. Richard Leakey, a renowned fossil scientist, said “It’s a form of prostitution … it’s a gross exploitation of the ancestors of humanity.”

The real Lucy remains in its vault here, the consensus goes in Addis Ababa, and a replica was sent to America. The final word rests with a tall thin museum guard in a green semi-uniform who said in the Amarigna language to the trekkers’ translator, “Who would be so stupid to take that risk?”

The Dikika fossil is remarkable for its implications of development of society. At some point, our human ancestors lost the opposable big toes of chimpanzees and other apes, which were used by a baby to grip its mother with all four limbs, allowing the mother to forage, travel and escape.

The biological loss of opposable toes is momentous. The mother would have had to limit her mobility because now she had to carry her baby. That meant she would have had to limit her ability to provide for herself. And that meant depending on others, and others depending on her.

That is a social bonding that leads to large social groups and monogamy. There were friends and mates along the Great Rift Valley before the hominins started the first migration out of Africa.

Dikika’s big toe is still locked in sandstone awaiting the excavation that will reveal its structure, and a significant evolutionary advance.

The student and old man tried to visit the site, but even the people who charter helicopters into the Afar declined to actually land in the Dikika Valley – a matter of being mistaken for a military craft of area combatants. Dikika and her relatives are safe in the rocks, and Lucy is in the sky with diamonds.

Wade Stephens III is a former Tribune editorial writer.

New Red Cross head is a former refugee from Ethiopia

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

GENEVA — A former Ethiopian political prisoner, who made a new life for himself in Ottawa after arriving as a refugee in 1992, is the new head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Bekele Geleta’s new position as secretary-general of the world’s largest humanitarian organization was announced late Wednesday.

The organization co-ordinates the relief efforts of more than 186 member Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.

Geleta, 64, is currently the general manager of international operations for the Canadian Red Cross. He spent five years in prison in Ethiopia.

After coming to Canada as a refugee, he started to build a career in humanitarian work.

Source: Canwest News Service

Statement from Ethio-Sudan Border Committee

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

The Ethiopia and Sudan Border Issues Committee has issued a statement today denouncing the latest lie by Meles Zenawi who told the fake parliament in Addis Ababa that no body was displaced because of the border re-demarcation. Until this week all Woyanne regime officials, cadres, and opportunist supporters were denying that there was a land give away deal with Sudan. Finally, after the VOA and DW radios interviewed the displaced people at the border, Meles was forced to admit that there was in fact a border agreement with al Bashir’s regime in Sudan. The fake parliament was not informed about the agreement, proving that every one of those members of parliament are no better than potted plants. Read the Committee’s statement here [Amharic, pdf]

A donkey named mayor of Addis Ababa

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Kuma Demeksa

Meles Zenawi’s pack animal (donkey) Kuma Demeksa has been named mayor of Addis Ababa by the fake city council on Tuesday. Kuma is a person without conscience. He would sell his own mother for the highest bidder. According to ER sources, these days Kuma is busy working on multi-million-dollar real estate deals. He is building several condos. He will not have time to run the city. Even if he has the time, he is too dummy to run any thing except carry load for Meles.

The legitimately elected mayor, Dr Berhanu Nega, has the legal and moral authority — and obligation — to issue a directive outlawing Kuma’s fake mayorship. As a matter of fact, it is appropriate for Dr Berhanu to warn any one from engaging in any type of long terms deals, such as construction projects, with Kuma’s illegal city administration. This will freez a lot of activities by opportunist businessmen who will be scared that they will lose their investment after Woyanne is gone — which will not be too far.

Ireland businesses invited to connect with Ethiopia

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

MIDLAND, IRELAND — Supporting business development in Ethiopia will be the subject of a breakfast meeting hosted by Connect Ethiopia, to take place in Mullingar in June.

Businesses from across the Midlands who are interested in learning how they can offer direct training or mentoring to their Ethiopian counterparts are invited to attend the breakfast meeting, which will take place on Tuesday June 10 in the Mullingar Park Hotel.

Connect Ethiopia is a business initiative established in 2005 to develop trade and business partnerships between Ireland and Ethiopia. The initiative also encourages trade and investment in Ethiopia by Irish investors.

The objective of the forthcoming breakfast meeting is to engage with businesses interested in travelling to Ethiopia to share their skills, business knowledge, and possibly set up a partnership in business initiatives with similar companies. Connect Ethiopia plans to bring a delegation of business people to Ethiopia in November.

According to Brody Sweeney, one of the founders of Connect Ethiopia, “most businesses are interested in corporate social responsibility, but want to know that in engaging in such activities, they can achieve rewarding and tangible results, including new business opportunities. This is at the heart of what Connect Ethiopia is trying to achieve.

“Our focus on Ethiopia comes at a time when the Government there has prioritised efforts to grow the economy and provide a more conducive environment for business growth and development. This represents our third year of bringing missions to Ethiopia. Previous missions included delegates from the banking, insurance, textile retail, and coffee retail sectors. As a result, ongoing business support and mentoring has continued and trade has now opened up in a number of areas.”

The Connect Ethiopia breakfast meeting takes place on Tuesday June 10 at 8am in the Mullingar Park Hotel.

Those wishing to attend should contact Sandra O’Sullivan, Connect Ethiopia at (087) 4171809 or email

Woyanne is involved in Somali weapons market – UN

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Despite a U.N. arms embargo, arms shipments to Somali militants have not stopped and Somalia’s security situation is getting worse, South Africa’s U.N. envoy told the Security Council on Thursday.

South African Ambassador to the United Nations Dumisani Kumalo, chairman of the U.N. Security Council’s Somalia sanctions committee, also reported to the 15-nation body that corruption in the lawless Horn of Africa country was rampant.

Kumalo said the committee had received worrying reports that “elements” of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) were involved in arms trafficking activities, which have the potential to undermine the peace process.

Some Ethiopians Woyannes are also creating problems, he said.

“Eighty percent of ammunition available at the Somali arms markets was supplied by TFG and Ethiopian Wjoyanne troops,” Kumalo said in the written text of his remarks to the Security Council.

He said his committee viewed the “continued presence of Ethiopian Wjoyanne troops on Somali territory as a violation of the arms embargo” on Somalia, where warlords, Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali government forces clash almost daily.

The monitoring committee received details of some 25 military flights by Ethiopia into Somalia and knew that Ethiopian Wjoyanne troops had brought military equipment into the country to arm “friendly clans,” Kumalo said.

Arms and military hardware are mainly transported to Somalia by boat and airplane, but traffickers also use horses and donkeys, making shipments difficult to track, he said.

Kumalo said boats often came from Yemen “with goods for general trade and with weapons, (and) … arms shipments were reaching Somalia at points along the entire coast.”


Kumalo told the council the security situation in the northeastern region of Puntland was worsening and the conflict there expanding. He also said Somalia’s “business community was profiting as well from the general situation of lawlessness.”

“Somalia is affected by a war economy, with great profits made by military commanders, who therefore have little incentive to change the status quo,” he said.

The committee is also probing possible links between piracy and arms trafficking, as well as allegations that Somali port officials were actively supporting piracy, he said.

Kumalo said the Somalia sanctions committee backed the idea of independent investigations of Somalia’s TFG, the Ethiopian Wjoyanne government and AMISOM. He said “only some elements in AMISOM and TFG” appeared to be responsible for such illegal activities, not the institutions themselves.

The committee is also exploring measures to strengthen the arms embargo.

Earlier this month the Security Council passed a resolution opening the door to a stronger U.N. presence in Somalia and the possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers there.

While all 15 council members agree the situation is dire, most remain reluctant to send U.N. peacekeepers to Somalia.

By Louis Charbonneau, Reuters

Exodus to Israel – Eyewitness Account from Ethiopia

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — It is nearly 11 p.m. one night last week in Addis Ababa, and large parts of the Ethiopian capital are bathed in darkness, the result of increasingly frequent power shortages in recent months.

Father and Son enroute to the Promised
Land (Photo: Michael Freund)

Soldiers and policemen stand guard on the road in front of the Israeli Embassy, as Kalashnikov rifles hang precariously across their chests. As they adamantly turn away traffic from both directions, a large bus pulls up and is waved through, before parking on the dusty thoroughfare.

While its noisy engine takes a much-needed respite, Israeli officials review an assortment of paperwork as they prepare the vehicle’s prospective passengers for the short ride to the airport. It is from there that they will board an Ethiopian Airlines flight to complete the millennial-old journey home to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.

Meanwhile, inside a neighboring compound, 42 Falash Mura (descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity in the 19th century) sit quietly and patiently on wooden benches, waiting to board the bus. Their features betray a silent dignity, but little else. There is no trace of excitement or exhaustion on their faces.

Only Yossi, a charming three-year old with an infectious grin, dares to beam with enthusiasm, as though he can sense the momentous nature of what they are about to undertake.

Ten days ago, Yossi and the others arrived in Addis Ababa after a two-day bus journey from Gondar in Ethiopia’s north. After recuperating from the arduous trip, they were put through an intensive mini-seminar by Israeli officials to familiarize them with the ins and outs of aliya.

This group, which numbers 38 adults, two children and two babies, is among the last batch of Falash Mura that the Israeli government plans to bring to the Jewish state. According to embassy officials, another 300 or so Falash Mura will be brought to Israel by the end of June, and then the operation will be complete.

Embassy staff have already begun seeking employment elsewhere, as rumors of impending cuts in personnel make the rounds. It is the end of an era, one official says, proudly adding that the ancient community of Ethiopian Jewry has at last found its way home.

Activists in Israel and the United States disagree, saying that there are at least 8,700 Falash Mura in the Gondar region whose eligibility for aliya has not even been reviewed by the Israeli government, which they accuse of wanting to shut down the process in haste.
And they vow to press on until every last member of the Falash Mura who wishes to return to Judaism and the Jewish people is allowed to do so.

But such disputes seem far from the minds of everyone present, as the group of would-be Falash Mura immigrants noiselessly makes it way to the bus after getting the go-ahead from the organizers.

Even the most cynical of observers cannot help but be moved by their solemnity and poise, as they leave behind everything they know and head off in Abrahamic fashion into the uncertain future that beckons them.

Upon reaching the airport, they disembark from the bus, calmly helping one another. A mother carries a baby, gently rocking her to and fro as she settles into a peaceful slumber. An elderly woman, barely able to see or walk, is escorted across the parking lot by two young men as she determinedly makes her way to the terminal.

Behind her, a man on crutches struggles along, keeping up with the group, each tedious step bringing him closer to his goal of reaching Jerusalem.

Watching the scene unfold, the verse from Jeremiah (Chapter 31) quickly came to mind: “and I shall gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child; a great assembly shall return here.”

Indeed, it is easy to imagine that this is how the Exodus from Egypt must have appeared, as these remnants of Ethiopian Jewry walk out of the pages of history, and head to the Promised Land.

There are those who see the Falash Mura as economic migrants, or even hitchhikers taking advantage of the Zionist dream. After all, say the critics, their motivation is simply to improve their lives and escape to the West. But all the cynicism in the world can’t take away from the fact that these precious souls, these “lost Jews,” are at last returning to their people and their land.

It is surely a cliche, but what other country would go to such efforts? At a time when America is clamping down on Mexican migration, and France and Spain battle to contain a flood of North Africans, little Israel reaches out across kilometers of desert and centuries of travail to bring thousands of black Africans in as equal citizens.

As they make their way through Ethiopian airport security, with their meager belongings in hand, one cannot help but see in the fulfillment of their dreams that of ours, too.

By Michael Freund, Israel Insider

Quarrel inside Puntland Cabinet over Ethiopia extradition

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

A disagreement has erupted within the government of Puntland, in Somalia’s northeast, during Thursday’s regular weekly Cabinet meeting, inside sources told Garowe Online.

Gen. Adde Muse, the Puntland leader, chaired the meeting in the port city of Bossaso, where issues including security, finances, exploration agreements and an extradition program to Ethiopia were heatedly discussed.

Vice President Hassan Dahir Afqura left his office in Garowe, the region’s administrative capital, to participate at the Cabinet meeting.

President Muse offered a brief review of his nearly two-month-long trip aboard, where he visited the capitals of the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

The Puntland leader told his Cabinet that, while in Addis Ababa, he signed an agreement with Ethiopian government officials to “hand over” any individual who is a “threat” to Ethiopia’s national security.

The Cabinet meeting erupted in discord immediately after President Muse’s revelation, with many Puntland government ministers expressing their opposition to the extradition program, a Cabinet source who did not want to be named in print told Garowe Online.

Since April 22, a handful of Somalis have been arrested by Puntland security forces and extradited to neighboring Ethiopia, a country that human rights groups accuse of torturing domestic dissidents.

Further, Cabinet ministers discussed the nonpayment of the regional government’s civil servants and members of the security forces. According to the Ministry of Finance, Puntland government employees have not received their regular salary for the past five months.

President Muse announced that he had appointed a committee to investigate the Ministry of Finance and the continued lack of payment for government employees, a development that reportedly angered Finance Minister Mohamed “Gaagaab” Ali.

Mr. Gaagaab defended himself by arguing that 80% of revenue managed by the Ministry of Finance was used directly by President Muse and Vice President Afqura, “for operations or other purposes.”

However, the Finance Minister did not detail exactly how those funds were allegedly used by the President and his deputy, according to our sources.

People familiar with President Muse’s governing style told Garowe Online that the Puntland leader’s announced investigation into the Ministry of Finance is nothing more than lip service, adding that such bold statements are aimed at regaining public confidence.

During the Cabinet meeting, the Puntland leader was specifically asked how money donated by foreign exploration companies was used.

At one point during the heated debate, a Cabinet minister accused President Muse of spending public funds “like a store he personally owns.”

The comment angered the Puntland leader, to which he replied by threatening to “fire” Cabinet ministers, although he did not mention any specific names.

When Garowe Online asked one of our Cabinet sources why Puntland government ministers are now bold enough to question Muse, he replied: “Less than one year remains for this government, so there is no fear.”

Source: Garowe Online

Ethiopian hip-hop band in Israel entertains, educates young fans

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

While many of their peers are wiling away their hours playing video games and chatting on MySpace, Eli Ezra and his band are holed up in a recording studio in Kiryat Nordo in Netanya, Israel. There, amid the sound-mixing boards and microphones, they sing about racism, poverty and violence, for what they hope will become their first album.

Ezra, 18, is the lead singer of Café Shachor Hazak, a teenage hip-hop band that has been turning heads in Israel. Since forming in 2006, the group has toured around the country and appeared on “A Star Is Born,” Israel’s version of “American Idol.”

The band is currently touring the United States, and had a stopover for performances in the Bay Area in early May.

All members of Café Shachor Hazak (Strong Black Coffee in English) are Ethiopian Jews either born in Israel or brought there during one of the three airlifts Israel made between 1984 and 1991. Ezra, who was 2 years old when he immigrated with his family, grew up in Netanya and turned to music at an early age.

Spending time at a local community center, Ezra and his friends Moshe, Elak, Uri and Aviram, who today make up the band, started taking classes in music.

There, they learned how not only to write songs, but also to record them on professional studio equipment, much of it donated by Israeli cell phone company Cellcom.

That led to gigs around the country and collaborations with Israeli musicians such as Hadag Nahash and Eli Luzon.

“I hope that our music will be spread all over,” Ezra said in a recent telephone interview.

“We want to pass our message to people who can listen to us and make changes in themselves and the world.”

The promoters hope that Café Shachor Hazak’s Bay Area visit inspires and educates local teens about Israel and breaks down stereotypes about the country’s music and people.

“We want to talk about Israel not as a myth, but as a place that is real and struggling with important issues,” said Ilan Vitemberg, director of the Israel Education Initiative, which helped to sponsor the band’s Bay Area visit.

“We’re facing an uphill battle as Israel runs the risk of becoming less and less relevant to young Jews in the U.S.”

Because members of Café Shachor Hazak are all 17 and 18 years old, they are the perfect cultural ambassadors to carry this message to American youth. Clad in baggy jeans and baseball caps turned backward, they sing about going to school, the mall, fitting in — issues other teens can relate to.

Singing in Hebrew, English and Amharic, an Ethiopian language, the group also tackles adult themes, such as in “A Moment of Quiet,” a song about suicide bombers, poverty and unemployment.

Another is a version of famous Israeli singer Ofra Haza’s “Hand in Hand” that expresses hope for peace and coexistence between Jews and Palestinians.

“They write about issues that are an integral part of their life,” said Yarden Schneider, co-founder of Taste of Israel, another organization behind the band’s Bay Area visit. “They sing about difficulties, but each of their songs encourages hope, love and understanding. Their appeal is that they can see beyond the conflict and stick to their dreams.”

Another topic the group sings about is growing up straddling two cultures. There are more than 90,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel, a community that, as a whole, has had a difficult time assimilating into Israeli society. Most adults lacked an education — many were illiterate upon arriving in Israel — and have struggled with learning Hebrew, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. They also have lower incomes than most other immigrants and are more likely to live in impoverished communities where they are segregated from other Israelis.

Despite the problems, the young generation — a whopping 40 percent of Ethiopians in Israel are under 15 years old — is imbued by a sense of hope. Many, like Ezra, have opted to do Nahal, a yearlong community service project, instead of going to the army, and are more prepared for jobs in a modern economy than their parents.

Their Bay Area hosts hope that American audiences will be inspired by the group’s optimism and energy and make more of an effort to connect to their Israeli counterparts.

Says Schneider: “They love their home, and are true leaders in the sense that they have the courage and talent to address difficult issues in order to better their environment in service of their community … And that is a great force.”

By Karina Ioffee, Jewish News Weekly

Ethiopia to re-erect Axum obelisk in June

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Ethiopia’s famed Axum obelisk is to be reinstalled at its original site next month, 70 years after the 1,700-year-old treasure was removed by Italian troops, UNESCO said on Thursday.

The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has overseen a multi-million-dollar operation to restore the obelisk to Axum in northern Ethiopia, where it once stood alongside around 100 other stelae.

Work will finally begin on June 4 to resurrect the 150-tonne stela — returned to Ethiopia in three pieces in 2005 — at Axum, a listed World Heritage Site, with an inauguration planned for September 10.

“This is an operation carried out under the sign of peace,” the head of UNESCO’s world heritage centre Francesco Bandarin told a news conference, insisting on the event’s “major importance for Ethiopia and for Italy.”

Italian soldiers carted away the 24-meter (78-foot), third-century AD granite funeral stela on the orders of then-dictator Benito Mussolini in 1937 during his attempt to colonise Ethiopia.

Despite a 1947 agreement to return the obelisk, it remained in Italy until 2005, standing outside the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“It is a symbol of Ethiopian identity. We say, ‘hawult’, which means this is an eternal monument,” Ethiopia’s ambassador to France Tadelech Haile Michael told reporters.

“Our relations with the Italian government are good, but this operation has allowed us to fill the void that existed between the two countries.”

Axum was the capital of the Axumite kingdom that flourished as a major trading center from the fifth century BC to the 10th century AD.

At its height, the kingdom extended across areas in what are today Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.

Israeli professor killed in Addis Ababa minibus explosion

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Professor Jeheskel Shoshani
Professor Jeheskel Shoshani [Photo: Haaretz

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Israeli Professor Jeheskel Shoshani, a world-renowned researcher of elephants at Addis Ababa University, was among the victims of Tuesday’s minibus explosion in the Ethiopian capital’s downtown area.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it remains unclear whether the explosion was terror-related and if Shoshani was aboard the minibus when it exploded.

The transfer of Shoshani’s body is being handled by the US consul general in Addis Ababa, as the professor also holds American citizenship.

Minibus after blast
Minibus after blast [Photo: AFP

Three people were killed and nine others were injured in the explosion, which occurred as the minibus was traveling on the road which runs between the Hilton Hotel and the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry.

Source: Ynet

Heavy explosion hits Woyanne soldiers

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Mogadishu – At least two Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers were killed and five others wounded on Thursday in a roadside bomb explosion in southern Mogadishu, witnesses said.

“A heavy explosion hit the Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers as they were inspecting suspected mines off Maka Al Mukarama road,” eyewitness Mohamed Farah said.

“I saw two dead soldiers and five others wounded. The soldiers then sealed off the area and civilian movement was restricted,” he added.

“One of the soldiers was inspecting the roadside with a stick when the explosion went off. He was torn to shreds and several other soldiers were wounded by the shrapnel,” said Ali Yare, another witness.

On Wednesday, three aid workers — a Somali and two Italians — were kidnapped by gunmen south of Mogadishu, the latest in a spate of attacks and kidnappings targeting humanitarian workers.

In an interview to Britain’s The Guardian published on Thursday, Eritrea-based Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys vowed to continue the armed struggle until Ethiopian Woyanne troops leave Somali territory.

Talks between the Islamist-dominated political opposition and the Western-backed transitional government were launched in Djibouti earlier this month, under the aegis of the United Nations. But Sheikh Aweys dismissed the UN as a partial mediator, leaving opposition ranks divided ahead of the resumption of talks later in May.

Source: AFP

Somali parliament building raided

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Somali rebels attack the parliament building in the southwestern town of Baidoa, killing five guards amid more blasts in the town.

Somali lawmakers were shocked as they found anti-government militias shooting mortars at parliament compound, also known as ADC Building, Press TV correspondent said.

Five parliamentary guards were killed in the crossfire that followed and continued for less than an hour.

Meanwhile, many civilians have left their homes to go to safe places outside Baidoa since hundreds of insurgents entered the town and targeted the parliament premises.

The attack marked a rare incident among the usual hit-and-run skirmishes between the Ethiopian Woyanne-backed Somali soldiers and anti-government gunmen.

The clashes are still going on in Baidoa while the insurgents have vowed to drive the foreign troops and their ‘puppets’ out of Somalia.

Source: Press TV

Int'l Red Cross appoints Bekele Geleta as its new head

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has this afternoon announced the appointment of Mr Bekele Geleta as its new Secretary General. Mr Geleta will replace the current Secretary General, Mr Markku Niskala, who is retiring after a long and successful Red Cross Red Crescent career.

“It is my pleasure to inform you that today, 21 May 2008, during its 17th session, the Governing Board of the IFRC appointed Mr Bekele Geleta as the new Secretary General,” said Juan Manuel Suàrez del Toro, president of the IFRC, in a letter to all Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, and to all IFRC delegations and staff.

Mr Geleta was born in Ethiopia on 1 July 1944 and has a Masters degree in economics from Leeds University in the United Kingdom.

He has worked as general manager of the Franco-Ethiopian Railway Company, as urban development officer for Irish Concern International, and as a programme manager for Kenya and Somalia for Care Canada. He was Ethiopia’s ambassador to Japan, and its vice-minister of transport and communications.

From 1984 to 1988, during one of the most challenging times in recent African history, he served as Secretary General of the Ethiopian Red Cross. From 1996 to 2007, Mr Geleta was head of the Africa department at the IFRC secretariat in Geneva, deputy head of the IFRC’s delegation to the United Nations in New York and head of the IFRC’s regional delegation in Bangkok, Thailand.

His appointment came while he was General Manager of International Operations for the Canadian Red Cross at its headquarters in Ottawa.

“I wish the new Secretary General of the IFRC success in his new position,” said Mr Suàrez Del Toro.

“I also want to express my thanks and appreciation for the solid work done by Markku Niskala, now Secretary General Emeritus, for his commitment and leadership in guiding the IFRC secretariat through some of the most challenging times in humanitarian history.”

Ethiopia to import 150,000 tonnes wheat

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia will import 150,000 tonnes of wheat to stabilise grain prices amid rising world commodity costs, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Higher prices for staple foods and fuel have hit developing nations hard as government of some food-growing countries impose export curbs because of worries about domestic shortages.

“The government has signed an agreement to import 1.5 million quintals (150,000 tonnes) of wheat within the next one and half months to stabilise food grain prices,” Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament.

“Food grain price stability was not achieved in some communities due to illegal practices by traders operating outside the law,” he said.

The leader of sub-Saharan Africa’s second most populous country did not say where the grain would come from nor how much it would cost.

The Ministry of Finance says inflation stands at 19 percent, mostly due to high petrol prices.

Meles said the government will take action against black market operators. Last week, police arrested 45 traders.

Food shortages are worse in sub-Saharan Africa because per capita production has fallen in recent years. Drought-prone Ethiopia was one of the most-affected African countries.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday that Ethiopia should tap low-interest loans or grants to help it deal with rising food prices.

A U.S.-funded early warning system, FEWSNET, has said that up to nine million Ethiopians may need food assistance in 2008 due to drought.

(Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse, editing by Jack Kimball and Peter Blackburn)

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit (; +254 20 2224 717)

Kangaroo court sentences 8 residents of Ogaden to death

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – An Ethiopian [kangaroo] court sentenced eight people to death for a grenade attack that killed five people last year in the Horn of Africa nation’s restive Somali region, local media reported on Thursday.

The assault at a packed ceremony in 2007 was blamed on the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist movement in the remote eastern area. A stampede after police fired over the crowd killed another six people.

“The Somali state high court sentenced to death the eight people after evidence presented by the prosecution proved that the accused killed and wounded civilians,” the state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted the court as saying.

The eight have a right to appeal to higher courts under Ethiopian law. Death sentences must also be approved by the state president.

The ONLF says it is fighting for autonomy of the ethnic-Somali region. Both the government and the rebels accuse each other of human rights abuses.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament that the rebel group has been largely “neutralised” by a military offensive going on for the past year.

The ONLF denies this, saying it still has operations in the countryside. Addis Ababa says its neighbour Eritrea is training and supplying the ONLF, but Asmara denies that.

Etete named among the '100 Best Restaurants' in DC Metro

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

The Washingtonian ranks Etete Ethiopian Restaurant 77th in its ’100 Best Restaurants’ list for 2008.

100 Best Restaurants 2008

The Washingtonian

#77 Etete

Reviewed by Todd Kliman , Cynthia Hacinli , Ann Limpert , Dave McIntyre

Cuisine: Ethiopian cooking, homey and assured—prepared and sometimes ladled out tableside by Tiwaltengus Shenegelgn, the gentle-souled etete (“mama” in Amharic) of the restaurant’s name.

Mood: The dark, incense-filled Ethiopian restaurants of a generation ago have given way here to an almost slick space—polished wood floors, dangling lights—that could pass for a wine bar.

Best for: Diners who can appreciate the sensual experience of an Ethiopian repast—you eat with your hands—and who like to linger. Westerners may find the service slow, but a leisurely style is not the prerogative of the French alone.

Best dishes: Sambusas, crispy, three-cornered pockets stuffed with lentils; lega tibs (lamb) and doro wat (chicken and egg), swimming in a complex red sauce that derives its heat from the Ethiopian compound spice berbere; the cool, mustard-spiked green-lentil dish called azifa, a necessary cooling agent; dark-roasted coffee.

Insider tips: Ordering a fasting platter—an assortment of vegetarian dishes—is a smart way to counteract the heaviness of the meat-based stews and to experience the full range of the cooking. In your choice of seven, include the gomen, or buttery collards, and the creamy yekik alicha, or yellow lentils.

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