Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

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, telegraph.co.uk

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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.

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(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 www.aigaforum.com, 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: anders.wikman@indevelop.se

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
mchiasson@trurodaily.com

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 sandra@connectethiopia.ie

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.”

‘GREAT PROFITS’

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 http://africa.reuters.com/). (nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com; +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.


SUSPENDED: Pastor Diphapang Potsane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moloisane threatened to sue Sowetan if it published the story.

Attacker of an Ethiopian immigrant gets 8 years in prison

Friday, May 16th, 2008

The New Zealand Herald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He had two previous assault offences.

VIDEO: Teddy Afro steals Beyone's show in Addis

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

VOA coverage of Ginbot 7's formation

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

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

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

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

By Matt Wilkinson, Oxford Mail

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

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

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

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

The truck had arrived in Oxford from France.

Car crash claims the life of Ethiopian mother in Texas

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Police Searching For Driver In Deadly Hit & Run

By Seema Mathur

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

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

Police say Tobias fled the scene on foot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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