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Source: AP, Thursday July 18, 2019
Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, right, and Sudan’s pro-democracy movement leader Ahmad al-Rabiah shake hands after signing a power sharing document in Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The two sides are still at work on a more contentious constitutional agreement that would specify the division of powers.
Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the ruling military council signed a document early Wednesday that outlines a power-sharing deal, but the two sides are still at work on a more contentious constitutional agreement that would specify the division of powers.The signing ceremony held in the capital, Khartoum, after marathon overnight talks, marks an important step in the transition to civilian rule following the military overthrow of long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir amid mass protests in April.
But the military appears to have the upper hand, following weeks of negotiations and a deadly crackdown last month in which security forces violently dispersed the protesters’ main sit-in.
The document signed Wednesday would establish a joint civilian-military sovereign council that would rule Sudan for a little over three years while elections are organized. A military leader will head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18.
It marks a significant concession by the protesters, who had demanded an immediate transition to civilian rule. The pro-democracy movement would appoint a Cabinet, and the two sides would agree on a legislative body within three months of the start of the transition.
But negotiators have yet to agree on a division of powers between the sovereign council, the Cabinet
and the legislative body, which would be enshrined in the constitutional document. That document, which they hope to adopt in talks scheduled for Friday, would also set the terms of military leaders’ potential immunity from prosecution.The military has said the sovereign council should be able to veto appointments to the Cabinet and Cabinet decisions, something the protesters fear would deprive it of any real power. The protesters have also said that members of the council should be stripped of immunity if they are implicated in last month’s crackdown.
The Communist Party said it and some other factions rejected the deal signed Wednesday because it did include the immediate handover of power to civilians and did not provide for an international investigation of the violence.
Protest organizers say security forces killed at least 128 people during last month’s crackdown. Authorities put the death toll at 61, including three members of the security forces. The two sides have agreed on a Sudanese investigation into the violence, but have yet to outline its scope.
The agreement signed Wednesday at a ceremony broadcast by state TV stems from a meeting last month brokered by the U.S. and Britain, which support the protesters, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which back the military . The diplomatic push ended weeks of stalemate that had raised fears of further violence or even civil war.
“We are ushering in a new era,” said Ibrahim al-Amin, a negotiator for the Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and change, a broad-based coalition including independent professional unions, traditional political parties and other groups.
“The upcoming government will be a government of all Sudanese, for all citizens … we have suffered enough from the totalitarian dictatorial regime.”
The military was represented by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who has consolidated power since al-Bashir’s overthrow and whose paramilitary Rapid Support Forces are accused of leading last month’s crackdown. He hailed the agreement as a “historic moment in Sudan.”
Envoys from Ethiopia and the African Union, who had spearheaded mediation efforts, also praised the agreement at Wednesday’s ceremony. The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum welcomed the deal and encouraged both sides to “continue the same spirit of co-operation to conclude a constitutional decree.”
Al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years, has been jailed in Khartoum since his ouster. In May, al-Bashir was charged with involvement in killing protesters and incitement to kill protesters during the popular uprising that started in December, initially over price increases.
He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s, but Sudan’s military has said it will not extradite him to the Hague. He was the only sitting head of state subject to an international arrest warrant.
Source: AFP, Friday July 19, 2019
ADDIS ABABA: Protesters set tyres alight and lobbed stones at security forces on Thursday in the Ethiopian city of Hawassa, where residents are demanding the creation of their own federal state.The Sidama ethnic group, the largest in the southern region, has been agitating for their own semi-autonomous state, and expectations were high they would declare their own region unilaterally on Thursday.
While one prominent party earlier said it had agreed to delay the formation of the state, not everyone appeared happy with this decision.
An activist for the cause, Mate Mengesha, said security forces had blocked a planned meeting of Sidama elders and youth activists in the morning, where it was hoped officials would declare the formation of the new region.
However the officials never showed up, and the activists threw stones at security forces blocking them from the site. “The expectation was today is July 18 and on July 18 they want to have a declaration,” he said. “The meeting didn’t happen.”
Elsewhere protesters set tyres on fire, and blocked off roads, while several residents reported that mobile internet was down in the city.
“There are some fires around the outskirts of the city. Tyre fires in the road and so on. Most of them are on the outskirts,” said Dr Abel Gedefaw, director of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at Hawassa University. “Everybody is not allowed to go out. There are a lot of security forces and nobody is allowed to move.”
He said the university’s medical facilities had not received reports of casualties as of early afternoon.
Latest headache for PM
The Sidama issue is the latest headache for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is determined to reform the nation after decades of iron-fisted rule, but is facing ethnic violence in the diverse country that has displaced more than two million people.
Analysts warn the issue could inflame Ethiopia’s political crisis and lead to bloodshed.
At present, Ethiopia is partitioned into nine semi-autonomous regions. The constitution requires the government to organise a referendum for any ethnic group that wants to form a new entity within a year of them requesting it.
The Sidama have agitated for years to leave the diverse Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region of which they are a part, and create their own state.
The group said the deadline for the referendum was Thursday.However Ethiopia’s election board said this week it would hold a referendum before the end of the year. It said it had not received the referendum request until November 2018, meaning it still had several months to hold the vote.
Though the Sidama Liberation Movement political party earlier said a referendum held after July would be unacceptable, spokesman Desalegne Mesa said on Thursday that the party would accept the new timeline in the interest of peace.
“We agree to that point because even if the electoral board and the [ruling coalition] are ignoring the people and the constitution we are working to minimise the loss of life,” he said.
However many young people who had agitated for the creation of a new state are “not happy” with plans for a November referendum and people are wary of how they might react, one Hawassa resident said.
Resumption of Talks between Somalia and Somaliland?
The ICG urges Somalia and Somaliland to meet for technical talks, focusing on security and economic matters of mutual concern, and avoiding for now the polarizing issue of Somaliland’s political status.
Africa and the world Happiness Report 2019
The 2019 report ranked 156 countries, 45 in Africa. The best ranked African countries were Mauritius (57), Libya (72), Nigeria (85), Algeria (88), and Morocco (89). The poorest ranked African countries were South Sudan (156), Central African Republic (155), Tanzania (153), Rwanda (152), and Malawi (150). Some of the rankings are counter intuitive. Who would have thought Libya is the second best rated African country or that Tanzania and Rwanda are near the bottom. It is important, however, to consider the factors used to construct the index.
Global Corruption Barometer Africa 2019
The report concludes that corruption is on the rise, many governments are failing to do enough, concerns about the integrity of public officials remain high, bribery demands are a regular occurrence for many, people’s experience with bribery varies, and despite fears of retaliation, citizens can make a difference. The percentage of Africans who thought corruption increased the most in the past 12 months live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Gabon, Namibia and Madagascar. The countries where citizens thought it had increased the least in the last 12 months were Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana and Benin.
Source: XINHUANET,unday July 14, 2019
NEW YORK, July 14 (Xinhua) — An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 jolted 171 km north-northwest of Bereeda, Somalia at 19:12:24 GMT Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The epicenter, with a depth of 10 km, was initially determined to be at 13.3039 degrees north latitude and 50.449 degrees east longitude.
Source: VOA, Sunday July 14, 2019
Based on current trends, just 79% of children will complete primary school in low-income countries by 2030. (UNESCO)
Children entering school now should finish secondary school by 2030. But if current trends continue one in six will not be in school in 2030 and only sixty percent will be finishing their secondary education.Leaders are meeting from July 9 through July 18 at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) – the United Nations’ official platform for examining the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They will be measuring progress on education for the first time since 2015.
Silvia Montoya is Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Manos Antoninis is Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report. They say the world does not seem close to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal for education (“SDG 4”) – which aims for all girls and boys completing free, fair and high-quality primary and secondary education – by 2030. So, the two experts say, “business as usual for education must come to an end.”
If the goal is not met the world will have failed a generation of children, they add.
A new report from their groups tells about progress toward each SDG 4 education target, from early childhood education to adult literacy. Montoya and Antoninis say that the world’s countries need to make some changes to meet education goals.
Get children into school
Starting children’s education with preschool is best, the report says. This helps older children attend school. In many countries, more children are in early childhood programs. But in poor countries, the number of children aged six -17 who are not in school has gone down. In 2030, 16.7 percent, or 225 million young people, will not be in school.
Help children complete secondary school
The experts say children also must be supported in completing secondary school. The goal of all children completing primary school was set for 2015, but it will not be met by 2030. The percentage of children completing secondary education in low-income countries is less than half of the world-wide rate.
Deal with earnings inequality
Differences in earnings lead to big differences in education. Four percent of children from the poorest families complete upper-secondary school in low-income countries. Just two percent of the poorest girls — compared to 36 percent of those from the richest families — complete upper-secondary school. The UNESCO officials say earnings inequality must be dealt with.
Push for reading and raise learning ability
Montoya and Anoninis note a strong connection between reading ability and learning rates. Around 20 percent of youth and 30 percent of adults will still be unable to read in low-income countries by 2030. Learning rates will not increase in middle-income countries if reading ability rates remain the same. In French-speaking African countries, rates will drop by almost one-third in 2030.Increase spending
One in four countries does not meet two of the SDG 4 goals. One is to provide at least 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. The other is to use 15 percent of their total government spending on education. Financial support for education has not grown since 2010, the report says. Contract employees are replacing trained teachers in sub-Saharan Africa, hurting the quality of education. Countries need to find and train more teachers.
Collect and examine more information on education
More data is needed to supervise progress in education. Montoya and Antoninis say that “data are a necessity – not a luxury – for every country, which is why partners are making the call to #FundData.”
The UNESCO report authors ask the international community meeting in New York this week to compare their plans for the next ten years with their earlier promises.
Montoya and Antoninis said they hope that the world leaders will “hear this warning” and act to meet the still possible development goal.
I’m John Russell. And I’m Jill Robbins.
Jill Robbins adapted this story for Learning English based on UNESCO report for the World Economic Forum. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Source: XINHUANET, Sunday July 14, 2019
The United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) and its partners have launched a 64-million-U.S.-dollar program to help children in Somaliland in the north of Somalia have better access to education, the UN News said Saturday.
Access to education in Somaliland is extremely limited, with more than 50 percent of children out of school, according to a report of the UN News.
Particularly, the education prospects for children in rural areas and school-age Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are even poorer — only 26 percent of children in rural communities and 16 percent of IDP children are enrolled in primary schools, said the report.
Drought, food insecurity, poverty and inequality are some of the challenges that hinder efforts to get more Somaliland children and youth in schools.
To address the issue, UNICEF partnered with the local authority and the global fund Education Cannot Wait to launch the program.
The program, which will run for three years, has a budget of 64 million U.S. dollars, with initial seed money of 6.7 million dollars provided by Education Cannot Wait. The remaining 57.3 million dollars is being sought from additional donors.
The program is expected to provide more than 54,000 children with an education.
A UNICEF statement released on Saturday said the aim of the program is to “achieve improved learning outcomes for school-aged children who are affected by emergencies” by increasing access to quality, inclusive, gender-sensitive, child-friendly and sustainable education.
Source: EU, Sunday July 14, 2019
The European Union Delegation issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Somalia as well as the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa and the EU Common Security and Defense Missions (EUNAVFOR, EUTM, EUCAP) to condemn the terrorist attack that took place on 12 July in the city of Kismayo.
The EU Delegation is committed to a stable, democratic and prosperous future for Somalia, for the benefit of its people, in a society where pluralism, justice and human dignity prevail. The EU Delegation stays firm against those that target citizens and institutions to undermine stability and progress in Somalia.
We express our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the attack and our solidarity for a prompt recovery of injuries.
UN Secretary-General António Guterressaid on Friday he was “encouraged” by reports of a newly-inked power-sharing deal between the Forces for Freedom and Change – a coalition of opposition and protest groups – and Sudan’s ruling military council.
UAE Behind Removal of Former Sudanese President?
The authors argue that former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir mishandled a critical relationship with the United Arab Emirates and at the end of 2018, as Sudan’s economy imploded and protesters took to the streets, Bashir found himself without this powerful and wealthy friend.
Source: : Hiiraan Online
Sunday July 7, 2019
MOGADISHU (HOL) – Ugandan National Carrier is set to start flights to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Somali civil Aviation Authority confirmed.
Speaking to Hiiraan Online, Director of Somali Civil Aviation, Ahmed Moalim Hassan said Uganda Airlines will resume flights to Mogadishu on 1st August of this year.
Director of Somali Civil Aviation Authority Ahmed Moalim Hassan
Uganda Airlines will soon joins a growing list of major airlines that have launched flights to
Aden Abdulle International Airport, thanks to an improving security situation in the country.According to Director of Somali Aviation, several airlines including UAE’s private owned Al Arabia Airlines, Air Rwanda, South Africa Airways and Saudi Airlines are also eyeing to start their flight operations to Mogadishu
Qatar Airways started their scheduled flights to Mogadishu on July 1st, 2019 via Djibouit.
These new airline operations are expected to lower the ticket price and will rejuvenate already growing international carrier market in Somalia. Mogadishu is one of the most expensive destination comparing to the neighboring countries.
Source: CAPITAL NEWS, Sunday July 7, 2019
Somaliland has hit back at Somalia for what it termed at the latter’s bullying of her international friends.
This comes in the wake of Somalia’s decision to cut ties with Guinea who are currently hosting the President of Somaliland Musa Bihi on official visit following an invitation by Guinea’s President Alpha Con
The Somalia government says it see the invitation of the Somaliland leader to Guinea as an “egregious violation the Sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Somalia”.
This coming just a week after Somalia hit at Kenya after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nairobi published a tweet that seemingly recognized the self-proclaimed independent Republic of Somaliland.
Subsequently, Somalia’s foreign ministry summoned Kenya’s ambassador and presented him a note of protest about the “offensive tweet”.
“We consider this tweet an affront to Somalia’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity as well as harmful to the relationship between Somalia and Kenya,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
A statement from Somaliland foreign affairs ministry stated: “Somalia government current frosted diplomatic relationship with the international community is causing it to continue making clueless decisions and complaints against Somaliland engagements.”
“The ongoing complaint and bullying of Guinea government is a preemptive action to scare other countries such as Kenya from engaging Somaliland. The International community should ignore the complaints and continue to engage Somaliland which is a fully fledged democracy with its president and legislature elected by popular vote. The current and previous presidents of Somaliland have engaged and continue to engage with other foreign countries at the highest level,” stated the statement.
Somalia termed the visit to Guinea by Somaliland president with its foreign minister Ahmed Isse Awad sending warnings to other countries that were similarly “violating Somalia’s sovereignty.”
Somaliland government stated: “The Government of the Republic of Somaliland is deeply alarmed and disheartened by the Government of Somalia’s widening campaign of aggression towards a growing list of African nations. At a moment when Africa’s leaders are converging upon Niamey to find common solutions to continental peace and security issues, and to promote further integration, the Somalia administration has instead chosen to ratchet up its policy of threat-based and divisive diplomacy, this time aiming its empty but provocative rhetoric against the proud nation and people of the Republic of Guinea, solely for engaging in routine bilateral relations with the counterpart state of the Republic of Somaliland,” added the statement.
“The Somaliland Government would also like to express its deep regret regarding the Somalia’s Government deliberate and offensive mischaracterisation of the Republic of Somaliland as a ‘separatist movement’. The Republic of Somaliland holds a deep-rooted and storied place in African history. Somaliland came into being as a former British protectorate, established through treaties between 1884 and 1897.”
Somaliland said the move by Somalia revealed accurately just how desperate and weak their position was with regard to Somaliland whose links with other African countries is growing by the day.
“The statement issued by the Somali Foreign Ministry said more about the country’s leadership’s paranoia and obsession with doing everything to undermine and sabotage Somaliland’s growing diplomatic and trading links with other African countries and international investors.”
Somaliland is home to over 10,000 Kenyans with Ethiopians, Yemenis, Indians and Turkish citizens too living and working in the country.
Somaliland is seemingly attracting more investors, something that has infuriated the Somali government in Mogadishu.
Somaliland has considerable yet untapped mineral wealth as well as oil and gas potential, and it’s located in a vitally strategic point at the mouth of the Red Sea where 68% of western trade with Asia passes along its shores.
The country has been de facto independent for nearly 30 years since breaking away from Somalia, and enjoys strong diplomatic links with regional powers such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti – as well as strong support from UK, EU and Arab powers.
Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 and has maintained a measure of peace and stability. But the territory, which is in northern Somalia, is not recognized by any foreign government. Somalia insists that Somaliland is not independent.
Source: AFP, Sunday July 7, 2019
After months of political uncertainty, Sudan has taken its first step towards a democratic transition, but getting the ruling generals to deliver on a power-sharing accord with protesters remains a challenge.
“The only path forward is a negotiated deal between the two sides,” said Alan Boswell, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank.
Sudan’s ruling military council and protest leaders reached the tentative deal in the early hours of Friday, agreeing to form a joint civilian-military governing body.
That body is to oversee the formation of a transitional civilian administration that will govern for three years — the main demand of demonstrators.
The two agreed the ruling body would have a rotating presidency, a breakthrough following months of political impasse after the army in April ousted long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir on the back of a popular uprising.
Tensions climaxed on June 3 when armed men in military fatigues stormed a longstanding protest camp in Khartoum, shooting and beating crowds of demonstrators in a pre-dawn raid.
Dozens were killed, triggering international outrage, although the generals insisted they did not order the violent dispersal of protesters.
The power-sharing deal comes after intense mediation by Ethiopia and African Union diplomats.
“Any agreement is a positive step. The challenge will be actually getting the military council to do as it promised,” Boswell told AFP.
On Saturday, the head of that council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan vowed to “implement” the deal and to work “in close cooperation” with the protest leaders.
The governing body will have a total of six civilians and five military representatives. The six civilians will include five from the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change.
A general will head the ruling body during the first 21 months of the transition, followed by a civilian for the remaining 18 months, according to the framework agreement.
Against the backdrop of the June 3 raid, experts doubt whether the military will keep its part of the deal.
“The key question is whether the military or the security sector more widely will cooperate fully with civilian members of the board or is cooperation mere window dressing,” said Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at King’s College London.
“It is the security sector’s intent to accept civilian control that will determine whether Sudan can move to a fully civilian rule in the future.”
Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, ruled Sudan with an iron fist thanks to the security apparatus, especially the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) — accused by rights groups of trampling human rights and freedoms.
Experts say the power-sharing accord is far from a long-term solution to the country’s overall political crisis.
One potential dispute is over the eventual formation of a transitional parliament.
Friday’s agreement postponed the creation of a 300-seat transitional legislature — 67 percent of which would be lawmakers from the protest movement — that had already been agreed in previous talks.
“Failing to agree yet on the legislative body is a giant red flag. This risks becoming the new impasse,” said Boswell.
“Even in a best case scenario, Sudan will be navigating a very challenging transition for years to come.”
Boswell said the protest movement “will almost certainly need to continue mobilising its street power to pressure the military council to uphold its commitments”.
Prominent protest leader Babikir Faisal said that while the deal may not be a cure-all, an agreement with the generals was needed.
“Given the overall tension, agreeing on a sovereign council and a government is a step forward,” he told AFP.
“The other choice would have been to take the path of confrontation.”
The protest alliance says it is now in charge of appointing the new prime minister and a transitional government of technocrats.
Faisal said the first priority of the new administration will be to offer a “relief programme” aimed at tackling Sudan’s economic crisis.
“The economic situation is very difficult,” he said.
“This is one of the major challenges. This revolution was also triggered by the crisis of bread.”
Protests first broke out after the government tripled the price of bread, but they swiftly escalated into nationwide rallies against Bashir’s rule, culminating in his ouster on April 11.
And while addressing economic concerns will be key, it will be just one of many challenges facing the protest leaders in their new role, said Khalid Tijani, editor of Sudan’s economic weekly Elaf.
“The government will be formed by the alliance, which means revolutionaries,” Tijani said.
“They have taken on a huge burden of responsibility, because any failure will be blamed on them ultimately.”
Source, AMISOM, Friday July 5, 2019
The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) yesterday launched an exercise to incorporate forces of the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) group into the Somali Security Forces.
Hassan Ali Khaire, the Prime Minister of Somalia, officiated at the launch of the exercise in Dhusamareb, the capital of the Galmudug State of Somalia.
Also present were officials from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional bloc.
The ASWJ militants will be integrated into the security agencies that include the army, police, intelligence service, and custodial corps. The integration, which involves capturing an individuals’ biometrics, supports efforts to build active Somali Security Forces.
Prime Minister Khaire called on the integrated ASWJ forces to join in efforts to defend their state and Somalia.
“We will not give up on ensuring the achievement of stability in Galmudug,” he added. The ASWJ forces based in Dhusamareb is responsible for kicking the extremist group Al-Shabaab from most parts of the region. In December 2017, ASWJ signed a power-sharing agreement with the state administration.
Ambassador Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, described the process as a milestone in reconciliation efforts.
He praised Somali leaders for the commitment to peace and cooperation and commended the efforts of the government to reach out to all political forces to reach lasting peace and stability in Galmudug. Ambassador Madeira, who is also the Head of AMISOM, remarked that the integration of ASWJ militants reinforces AMISOM’s mandate.
“This initiative is a clear testament that the journey to unity, integration, and reconciliation is in full swing,” remarked Ambassador Madeira, before adding, “We are leaving this place assured that Somalia’s future is bright. Somalia is on the path to overcoming challenges.”
Dr Mohamed Ali Guyo, the IGAD Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, appealed to all stakeholders in Galmudug State to support initiatives that promote peace, reconciliation and stability. “We look forward to an inclusive process, accommodating all forces that can take the fight to Al-Shabaab and recover the remaining areas,” Dr Guyo said.
Dr Sheikh Mohamed Shakir Ali Hassan, the leader of Ahlu Sunna, commended the federal government for taking the path to peace, reconciliation and unity.
“This initiative will herald a unified Galmudug and Somalia. We are doing this with a clear conscience,” said Sheikh Shakir, who is also Galmudug state’s Chief of Ministers.
Present were Abdi Mohamed Sabriye, the Federal Minister of Interior and Federal Affairs, as well as Mohamed Abukar Islow Dualle, Federal Minister of Internal Security as well as lawmakers, military and police chiefs, regional leaders and elders.
Source: Reuters, Friday July 5, 2019
Ethiopia’s destabilising regional frictions may worsen this month if the small Sidama ethnic group carries out a threat to unilaterally declare a new semi-autonomous region in defiance of the federal government, a global think-tank said on Thursday.
The Sidama, who make up about 5 percent of Ethiopia’s 105 million people and are the largest of more than half a dozen ethnic groups in the Southern Nations region, say they will declare their own region on July 18 unless granted a referendum.
Ethiopia already has nine regional states, mainly along ethnic lines, with considerable autonomy which the Sidama also want.
They are emboldened by a more open political climate – and a weaker ruling coalition – since reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April 2018 and eased the iron first of his predecessors.
However, that has also brought a surge of long-repressed rivalries between Ethiopia’s 80 plus ethnic groups, forcing 2.4 million people out of their homes and killing hundreds, according to the U.N. and monitoring groups.
The Crisis Group, which seeks to help reduce conflicts worldwide, said acceding to the Sidama could encourage other groups to follow suit and cause more chaos.
But blocking them could bring mass protests that may turn lethal in Ethiopia’s volatile and violent climate. “All options for managing the Sidama’s statehood demands come with risks,” it said, criticising government neglect of the issue.
While Abiy has been widely praised for freeing prisoners and easing restrictions, troubles in the regions have brought global concern for the future prospects of a regional powerhouse with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.AMHARA UNREST
Last month, the security chief in Amhara region led what the federal government described as a failed coup attempt in which dozens of people, including five top officials, were killed.
Abiy addressed the Sidama issue on Monday, telling parliament the government had received their referendum request.
He urged patience and warned against “unlawful” action.
“The government will not bargain away the unity of Ethiopia,” he said.
The reforms and the regional muscle-flexing have weakened his ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which faced down years of protests and unrest before appointing him.
Ethiopia’s constitution guarantees all ethnic groups the right to vote on forming a new regional state if their leaders request one, as the Sidama did on July 18, 2018.
Achieving that status would gain them rights to levy some taxes, choose their official language, run their own security force and pass laws on issues including education and land administration.
Sidama activists held a rally on Thursday in Hawassa, the capital of Southern Nations region and the city they want to be their capital.
“The people have already decided and we are making a lot of preparations,” said activist Tessema Elias, 33, an assistant professor of law at Hawassa University.
“The government simply has to recognise us and if they refuse to, this will lead to a crisis.”
Crisis Group said at least eight more ethnic groups are campaigning for region status.
Responding to the report, a spokeswoman for prime minister Abiy’s office said Crisis Group was “erroneous” in assuming government neglect of the Sidama issue.
“The Federal Government has heeded the request of the Sidama people and is following due process which is currently in the pipeline of the National Electoral Board,” she said.
Source: Reuters, Friday July 5, 2019
Sudanese people gather outside al-Huda prison in the capital Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, July 4, 2019, during a ceremony marking the release of 235 members of a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army, which has fought government forces in Darfur.
KHARTOUM – Sudan’s ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups reached an agreement to share power during a transition period leading to elections, setting off street celebrations by thousands of people.The two sides, which have held talks in Khartoum for the past two days, agreed to “establish a
sovereign council by rotation between the military and civilians for a period of three years or slightly more,” African Union mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt said at a news conference.They also agreed to form an independent technocratic government and to launch a transparent, independent investigation into violent events in recent weeks.
The two sides agreed to postpone the establishment of a legislative council. They had previously agreed that the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition would take two-thirds of a legislative council’s seats before security forces crushed a sit-in protest June 3, killing dozens, and talks collapsed.
Joy in the streets
The streets of Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city across the Nile River, erupted in celebration when the news broke, a Reuters witness said. Thousands of people of all ages took to the streets, chanting “Civilian! Civilian! Civilian!”
Young men banged drums, people honked their car horns, and women carrying Sudanese flags ululated in jubilation.
“This agreement opens the way for the formation of the institutions of the transitional authority, and we hope that this is the beginning of a new era,” said Omar al-Degair, a leader of the FFC.
“We would like to reassure all political forces, armed movements and all those who participated in the change from young men and women — that this agreement will be comprehensive and will not exclude anyone,” said General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the Transitional Military Council.
“We thank the African and Ethiopian mediators for their efforts and patience. We also thank our brothers in the Forces for Freedom and Change for the good spirit,” said Dagalo, who heads the Rapid Support Forces accused by the FFC of crushing the sit-in.
Opposition medics say more than 100 people were killed in the dispersal and subsequent violence. The government put the death toll at 62.
Source: UNSOM, Thursday July 4, 2019
Belguim, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the European Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations, as major international partners of Somalia, commend the ongoing dialogue in Galmudug to unify the state, promote stability, and bring parties together for the benefit of its people and the whole of Somalia
We encourage all stakeholders to continue these endeavours and to take forward broad-based and inclusive reconciliation, leading to the transparent and fair selection of a new Parliament and President, free from violence.
We reaffirm our support for Somalia.
Source: africanews, Thursday July 4, 2019
Somalia has announced the severing of diplomatic ties with West African country Guinea. The decision was announced in Mogadishu today after a cabinet meeting.
The development is linked to relations between Guinea and Somaliland – the semi-autonomous region of Somalia.
Leader of Somaliland flew to Conakry earlier this week according to officials on official invitation from the president of Guinea, Alpha Conde.
Foreign Minister of Somalia Ahmed Isse Awad whiles announcing the decision also cautioned other countries against violating the sovereignty and unity of Somalia.Somalia-Somaliland history
Formerly a British protectorate, Somaliland merged with former Italian Somaliland in 1960 to create Somalia.
But it seceded and declared itself independent in 1991 as Somalia plunged into chaos after the fall of autocrat Siad Barre. Somaliland has been pushing for independence ever since.
It has its own government based in the self-appointed capital of Hargeisa, its own army and prints its own currency.
It is also considered much more stable than the rest of Somalia, which is plagued by clan disputes, corruption and a violent insurgency waged by the Al-Shabaab militant group.
Source: AFP, Tuesday July 2, 2019
Ahmed Mustafa, AFP | A Sudanese protester covering his face with a jersey flashes the victory gesture while marching with others in a mass demonstration against the country’s ruling generals in the capital Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman on June 30, 2019
Sudanese protest leaders called for a one-day nationwide “civil disobedience” campaign on July 14, in an announcement on Monday a day after they organised mass protests against the ruling generals that rocked the country.
The move, which aims to increase pressure on the ruling generals to hand power to a civilian administration, will be preceded by mass protests on July 13, the Alliance for Freedom and Change said in a statement.The civil disobedience campaign, the second such general strike in less than a month, comes as protest leaders and ruling generals traded blame for the latest violence during the mass “million-man” march on Sunday that left 10 dead and scores wounded.
The Alliance for Freedom and Change’s announcement of the civil disobedience campaign was posted on the Facebook page of the affiliated Sudanese Professionals Association group.
“On Sunday, July 14, a civil disobedience and total political strike in Khartoum and across all provinces will be held,” the movement said.
The SPA initiated the huge protests in December that finally led the army to topple longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April.
In the political instability that followed the generals seizing power, the protest leaders launched a similar civil disobedience campaign on June 9 that paralysed the entire country, although they called it off three days later following mediation by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Tens of thousands took to the streets for Sunday’s “million-man” march, seen as a test for protest organisers after a June 3 raid on a Khartoum protest camp left dozens dead and a subsequent internet blackout curbed their ability to mobilise support.
But that did not prevent vast crowds of men and women, chanting slogans demanding “civilian rule”, flooding the streets of Khartoum, twin city Omdurman and other towns and cities, AFP correspondents and witnesses reported.
Security forces were deployed en masse in key Khartoum squares, firing tear gas in several areas including at protesters attempting to reach the capital’s residential palace.
The official SUNA news agency quoted a health ministry official and police as saying 10 people were killed in protest-related violence since Sunday and more than 180 wounded, including 27 by gunfire.
A doctors’ committee linked to the protest movement said five protesters were killed on Sunday, four of them in Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum.
It also said several more were seriously wounded by gunshots fired by “military council militias,” a term used by protesters for the feared paramilitary the Rapid Support Forces.
The 10 killed included three men whose blood-stained bodies were found on Monday in Omdurman where protests were held the day before.
The doctors’ committee said the three men had been “tortured” before being killed. The police confirmed finding the three bodies.
Crowds of people gathered around the bodies, chanting “Just Fall, Just Fall” — a slogan of the protest movement — an AFP correspondent reported, adding that riot police later dispersed the crowd with tear gas.
Protest leaders blamed the generals for Sunday’s bloodshed.
“The military council is completely responsible for these lives lost,” prominent protest leader Mohamed Naji al-Assam said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
“Peaceful Sudanese protesters are exposed to excessive violence, live bullets and beatings,” he said.
But, he added, “the Sudanese have proven that they will not back down”.
Generals blame protest leaders
The generals in turn blamed the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, for Sunday’s violence.
“Freedom and Change… incited protesters to go toward the republican palace (prompting) police forces to use tear gas to disperse protesters,” General Jamal Omer said in a video posted on the ruling military council’s Facebook page.
“Freedom and Change bears the entire responsibility for these violations and the casualties among regular forces and citizens.”
Tension remains high between the protest leaders and generals since the June 3 raid, when armed men in military fatigues shot demonstrators who had camped for weeks outside army headquarters.
According to the doctors’ committee, at least 136 people have been killed since the raid, including more than 100 on the day of the crackdown.
Health ministry figures show 71 people have died nationwide since the raid, including the 10 killed since Sunday.
The generals insist it did not order the dispersal of the sit-in, but acknowledge “excesses” after orders were given to purge a nearby area allegedly a notorious hotspot for drug dealers.
The raid came after previous talks between the protesters and generals collapsed over installing civilian rule.
Ethiopia and the African Union have been mediating between the two sides but have yet to achieve a breakthrough.