Latest News Regarding

Horn of Africa


Sweden holds the Presidency of the UN Security Council

Sweden holds the Presidency of the UN Security Council

 Source: UD, Published 26 June 2018

In July, Sweden will once again hold the Presidency of the UN Security Council. This is Sweden’s second and final Presidency during our two-year membership in 2017–2018. Sweden continues to assume its share of the joint responsibility and to discharge the trust that UN Member States have placed in us by electing Sweden to the Security Council.

Sweden's seat in the UN Security Council.
Sweden holds the Presidency of the UN Security Council in July. This is Sweden’s second and final Presidency during our two-year membership in 2017–2018.Copyright: Lisa Laskaridis

Since 1 January 2016 when it took its seat, Sweden has established itself as a credible and relevant member of the Security Council. During its Presidency, Sweden will assume responsibility for the Council’s agenda and continue to help the Council to fulfil its main function according to the Charter of the United Nations – to maintain international peace and security.

Sweden’s work in the Security Council continues to take its cue from the DNA of Swedish diplomacy: international law, human rights, gender equality and a humanitarian perspective. Our work is permeated by the fundamental insight that peace and security concern everyone. Women must be given a place at the negotiating table. Protecting children today will prevent the conflicts of tomorrow. A preventive and peacebuilding perspective is also a natural priority and characterises our work in the Security Council. ‘Early warning’ must be followed by ‘early action’, not least by the Security Council.

We also want to help the Security Council to be better at tackling the new risks, challenges and threats of our time, as well as the link between climate change and security.

Furthermore, we will continue to provide the opportunity for those affected by the crises of our time to share their perspectives in the Security Council’s meetings.

We need more international cooperation, not less. This is how we can best tackle the challenges, crises and conflicts of our time.

Follow Sweden’s day-to-day work in the Security Council via the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations

More about the Swedish Presidency of the UN Security Council here

U.S. Role in Ending the Ethiopia-Eritrea Conflict

U.S. Role in Ending the Ethiopia-Eritrea Conflict

 Source: Foreign Policy published on 12 July 2018
Foreign Policy published on 12 July 2018 a commentary titled “Trump Needs to Close the Deal in the Horn of Africa,” by Daniel Runde, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The author argues that the United States has an outsized role in the Horn of Africa and this is an historic opportunity to ensure that peace and normalization of relations take place between Ethiopia and Eritrea. While I agree that the United States should do everything appropriately possible to encourage this development, I believe the author has an exaggerated view of U.S. influence in the region. So long as Ethiopia and Eritrea themselves are sincerely trying to end this dispute, it may be more appropriate for outside powers to remain on the sidelines unless assistance is requested by both parties.

Normalization of Ethiopia-Eritrea Relations Brings Joj And Challenges

Normalization of Ethiopia-Eritrea Relations Brings Joj And Challenges

Source: The Washington Post published on 13 July 2018 an article titled “‘Like a Dream’: Families Separated for Decades by Ethiopia-Eritrea Conflict Celebrate Peace Deal” by Paul Schemm.

The article highlights the joy experienced on both sides of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border following the Ethiopian initiative to end the two decade old border conflict. At the same time, it points to challenges ahead, especially the future of more than 160,000 Eritreans registered as refugees in Ethiopia, most of whom escaped military conscription in Eritrea.

The Washington Post also ran an editorial on 13 July 2018 titled “After 20 Years Eritrea and Ethiopia Are Making Peace. We Should All Celebrate.”

Eritrea president hails unity with Ethiopia on historic visit

Eritrea president hails unity with Ethiopia on historic visit
Source: AFP, Saturday July 14, 2018

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki pledged to resolve his country’s dispute with Ethiopia on Saturday in a historic visit to Addis Ababa aimed at cementing peace less than a week after the nations declared an end to their two decades of conflict.

Isaias arrived in the Ethiopian capital just five days after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrea as part of a dizzying peace process aimed at ending years of violence and animosity between the neighbours who were once part of the same nation.

Abiy and Isaias shared laughs and hugs at an official lunch on Saturday as the Ethiopian leader said his counterpart was “beloved, respected and missed by the Ethiopian people.”

“We are no longer people of two countries. We are one,” Isaias told political and cultural elites gathered in a palace built during Ethiopia’s imperial days. “We’ll go forward together.”

Isaias started his three-day visit at Addis Ababa’s airport, where he and Abiy strode down a red carpet as a brass band played and traditional dancers cheered.

The leaders then drove into the city on a road lined with thousands of people dressed in white shawls and waving palm fronds as Ethiopian and Eritrean flags flew side-by-side from lampposts.

There were also banners and pictures of the two leaders who on Monday signed a declaration declaring an official end to the war.

“Welcome home President Isaias!!” Abiy’s chief of staff Fitsum Arega wrote on Twitter as the Eritrean leader arrived.

Eritrea was once part of Ethiopia and comprised its entire coastline on the Red Sea until it voted for independence in 1993 after decades of bloody conflict.

The move left Ethiopia landlocked, and the deterioration of relations after the outbreak of the war in 1998 forced Addis Ababa to channel its sea trade through Djibouti.

The two countries have shown little signs of rapprochement since the signing of the Algiers peace agreement in 2000 after a conflict which left 80,000 people dead before settling into a bitter cold war.

– Whirlwind reforms –

Analysts say the surprisingly rapid burying of the hatchet was possible only because of Abiy’s ascension to the post of prime minister in April.

As part of a whirlwind set of reforms, Abiy announced last month that Ethiopia would abide by a 2002 UN-backed ruling and hand back disputed border territory to Eritrea, including the flashpoint town of Badme.

However Ethiopia has not announced the pull-out of troops from the area.

Abiy then paid a historic visit to Eritrea, where the two leaders announced the re-establishment of diplomatic and trade ties that could mean big benefits for both nations, and the wider Horn of Africa region, plagued by conflict and poverty.

The emotional reunion between the two countries has allowed residents to speak to each other by telephone for the first time in two decades as communication lines were re-opened.

Direct flights are due to start next week.

“Can one find appropriate words to describe the intensity of popular emotions that has gripped both countries; the depth and significance of the promising changes underway in the region!” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said on Twitter after Isaias arrived.

Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate said Isaias would stay three days during which the Eritrean embassy would be reopened and his delegation would visit an industrial park.

A state dinner in his honour will be held on Sunday.

– Catalyst for change –

Eritrea and Ethiopia are both among Africa’s poorest nations.

However, Ethiopia has seen double-digit growth in recent years and is seeking wider options for importing and exporting its goods by eyeing ports in Somalia and Eritrea.

Meanwhile Eritrea, one of the world’s most isolated nations, has pursued policies that have hamstrung the economy by scaring off investors, including an indefinite military conscription programme the UN has likened to slavery.

Amnesty International said Saturday that the newfound peace should be a catalyst for change in Eritrea, where thousands of people, including rights activists and opposition politicians are “languishing in detention simply for expressing their views.”

“The end of hostilities with Ethiopia is a joyous moment for Eritreans, but it must be followed by tangible reforms that make a real difference in the daily lives of the people and put an end to decades of repression in the country,” said Seif Magango, AI’s deputy director for the region.

In a statement he said Eritrea was the biggest jailer of journalists on the continent, and that its last independent media house was shut down 17 years ago.

Amnesty also called for an end to forced military conscription, seen as a key driver of the departure of hundreds of thousands of Eritreans from their country.

Eritrea’s president arrives in Ethiopia for three-day visit

Eritrea’s president arrives in Ethiopia for three-day visit e

Source: Reuters, Saturday July 14, 2018

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Saturday for a three-day visit, Ethiopia’s state-run broadcaster and a Reuters witness said, days after the two neighbors declared their “state of war” over.

Earlier, Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel confirmed Isaias’ departure. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met him at the airport.

The Reuters witness said thousands thronged Addis Ababa’s main thoroughfare Bole Road sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the pictures of both leaders.

The flags of both countries fluttered from lamp posts, while some waved giant Eritrean flags

Ethiopian Somali region president confessed human rights abuse which he refers to as “mistakes”

Ethiopian Somali region president confessed human rights abuse which he refers to as “mistakes”


Friday July 13, 2018

Abdi Mohamoud, president of Ethiopia-Somali region

Ethiopian-Somali region president, Abdi Mohamoud, has been criticized for egregious human rights abuses in the region and also implicated in the displacement of more than half a million Ethiopians from the region following what seemed to be an orchestrated ethnic-based conflict involving Somalis and Oromo.

A report published today by a government-affiliated media outlet in Ethiopia says that the regional president admitted that “mistake” has been done and his administration will take responsibility for it.

He confessed about the “mistake” at the regular congress of the Ethiopian Somali region council which is underway since yesterday.

“Mistakes are inevitable while working. The culture to keep up the good work and openly apologize for the mistake is a good one and we all need to strengthen such a culture,” The president is quoted as saying by Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

The president added that his party and the regional government has immense respect to what Abiy Ahmed achieved since he took office as prime minister about hundred days ago.Abdi Mohammed also pledged that his party, Ethiopia Somali Peoples Democratic Party (ESPDP), will work toward achieving Ethiopian new prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s motto of forgiveness and unity and he called on Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a movement which the Ethiopian parliament removed from the list of the terrorist group about a week ago, to take advantage of the amnesty and be part of prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s initiative for forgiveness and unity.

The Human Rights Watch report released on July 4 indicates egregious human right violations at “Jail Ogaden” and requested the Ethiopian government to hold those responsible accountable for it.

Unverified information circulating among Ethiopians in social media has it that Abdy Mohammed implicated former intelligence chief, Getachew Assefa who is from Tigray People’s Liberation Front, for human rights abuse in the region

Atrocity Prevention and US Policy toward South Sudan

Atrocity Prevention and US Policy toward South Sudan

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum published in July 2018 a detailed assessment titled “From Independence to Civil War: Atrocity Prevention and US Policy toward South Sudan” by Jon Temin.

The author identified four pivotal periods when the United States could have acted with greater conviction to prevent violence in South Sudan, but did not. For Each period, the author seeks to identify alternative policies that could have been considered and to assess whether those policies may have been able to prevent or limit violence.

Trump announces ambassador picks for Somalia, Nicaragua

Trump announces ambassador picks for Somalia, Nicaragua hare

Source: THE HILL, Thursday July 12, 2018
Emily Birnbaum

President Trump on Wednesday announced his ambassador picks for Somalia and Nicaragua, aiming to reduce the number of vacant ambassador positions.

Trump nominated Donald Yamamoto to be the ambassador to Somalia and Kevin Sullivan to be the ambassador to Nicaragua.

Yamamoto heads the Bureau of African Affairs within the State Department. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia from 2006-2009 and Djibouti from 2000-2003

Sullivan represents the U.S. in the Organization of American States (OAS), the body that promotes solidarity among the 35 independent states of the Americas.Both countries have seen recent U.S. political action.

The Trump administration this year stepped up ongoing American military intervention in Somalia. The move follows violent clashes between the government and Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda-aligned Islamist group.

Meanwhile, the State Department last week sanctioned three Nicaraguan individuals whom officials accused of human rights abuses. State Department officials threatened to take further action as long as government-sanctioned violence against protesters continues in the region.

Trump has left a notable number of ambassador positions open since taking office. More than half of foreign posts remain vacant.

Ethiopian rebel group declares ceasefire in wake of reforms

Ethiopian rebel group declares ceasefire in wake of reforms


Source: AFP, Friday July 13, 2018

An Ethiopian rebel group declared a unilateral ceasefire on Thursday after parliament removed it from a list of banned terrorist groups as part of a reform drive led by the new prime minister.

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has fought for autonomy for the Oromiya region – Ethiopia’s largest – since 1993. It was designated a terrorist group by the government in 2008.

“The temporary declaration of ceasefire will take us to the final declaration of bilateral cessation of hostilities once and for all and conclusion of the conflict,” the group said in a statement published by state-affiliated media.

The move comes a week after Ethiopia’s parliament ruled that the group, along with the secessionist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Ginbot 7 opposition movement, were no longer terrorist groups.

Abiy, who took office in April, is spearheading a bold push to shake the African nation of 100 million people from decades of security-obsessed rule.

He has acknowledged and condemned widespread abuses by security forces, likening it to state terrorism, and in the most stunning development yet, forged peace with sworn enemy Eritrea, ending a lengthy military standoff that followed a 1998-2000 border war in which 80,000 people are thought to have died.

In Eritrea’s capital Asmara this week, the 41-year-old leader said that the neighbouring nations would solve outstanding issues by “building bridges of love”.

He has also rescinded a state of emergency and announced plans to partially open up the economy, including attracting foreign capital into the state-run telecoms company and a national airline – both mouth-watering investment prospects given Ethiopia’s size and rapid growth.

In another break from the past, the prisons chief was fired last week along with four senior colleagues hours before a Human Rights Watch report that detailed torture at one notorious prison and urged the government to hold officials to account.

Also on Thursday, the president of Ethiopia’s Somali region said his provincial government had released thousands of inmates who were jailed for their links to the ONLF, one of the opposition groups that is no longer banned.

“Today, there is no single inmate jailed for involvement with the ONLF. We have released all prisoners under this reform drive,” said Abdi Mohamoud Omar, who said the prisons were in the process of being turned into schools, hospitals and mosques.

“I am not saying we never made mistakes. We did, and we apologise to our people. We need to turn hatred into coexistence and love,” he told reporters, in language that mirrored the prime minister’s tone in recent public addresses.

The shake-up by Abiy, a polyglot former soldier and himself a member of the Oromo ethnic group, has won plaudits from Asmara to Washington and drawn comparisons to the 1980s reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

However, it has also attracted opposition from hardliners in the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ethnic Tigrayan party that has dominated the government and the economy since taking power in 1991.

Eritrea leader visits Ethiopia on Saturday in historic thaw

Eritrea leader visits Ethiopia on Saturday in historic thaw


Source: AP, Friday July 13, 2018

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki is visiting Ethiopia on Saturday, the latest step in an unprecedented diplomatic thaw between the former archrivals that is ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

Eritrea’s information minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, confirmed the visit on Twitter, saying it will “add momentum to the joint march for peace and cooperation.” The 72-year-old Isaias last visited Ethiopia in 1996.

The visit by the leader of one of the world’s most reclusive countries comes after Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a historic trip to Eritrea last weekend for hugs, laughter and talks with Isaias, setting off the restoration of diplomatic ties after two decades.

Now phone lines are restored and scheduled Ethiopian Airlines flights to Eritrea begin next week.

The thaw began when the 42-year-old Abiy, who took office in April, announced Ethiopia would fully accept a peace deal that ended a two-year border war that killed tens of thousands and separated families.

The decision, which hands disputed border areas to Eritrea, was the boldest move yet in a wave of reforms in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, after years of anti-government protests.

Tiny Eritrea is one of the world’s most closed-off nations, ruled by Afwerki since gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after years of rebel warfare. Eritrea has become a major source of migrants fleeing toward Europe, Israel and African nations in recent years as human rights groups criticize its harsh military conscription laws.

Observers now wonder whether the end of fighting with Ethiopia will lead Eritrea to open up and embrace new freedoms.

Ethiopia requests UN to lift Eritrea sanctions

Ethiopia requests UN to lift Eritrea sanctions hare

Source: The EastAfrican, Wednesday July 11, 2018

Ethiopia has formally submitted a request to the United Nations to lift a decade-old sanctions imposed on Eritrea.

Returning from his Asmara historic visit on Monday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed handed a letter to visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Addis Ababa.

The UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Eritrea in 2009 for an alleged tie with the Somalia extremist groups.

Military service

Mr Guterres expressed his hope that the Security Council would soon lift the sanctions.

“If the reasons that led to the sanctions will no longer exist … they will naturally become obsolete,” Mr Guterres told reporters.
The sanctions were primarily economic and travel ban on targeted military service members and selected officials.

In 2016, a UN investigation team issued a report declaring there was no conclusive evidence to punish Eritrea for alleged ties with Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militants.

Punish Asmara

However, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia and the US and the UK pushed for the extension of the sanctions.

The latest move by Ethiopia to normalise its relations with Eritrea has paved the way to ending the latter’s isolation by the international community.

Eritrea consistently disputed the sanctions as unjust and serving the US’s desire to punish Asmara.

Eritrea and the US have had strained relations since the late 1990s after Washington sided with Ethiopia during the border war.

Their embassies

The US last April sent its top envoy, Mr Donald Yamamoto, to Eritrea as part of an effort to re-establish better relations.

The US, along with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have in the past weeks also facilitated the behind the scenes talks between Asmara and Addis.

Eritrea and Ethiopia have agreed to reopen their embassies, start direct flights from next week, restore direct telecommunication access and allow free movement of their people.

Ministerial taskforces have been established to work out on border and security issues as well as the details of future economic ties between the two neighbours.

U.N. hails renewed ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia, no word on sanctions

U.N. hails renewed ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia, no word on sanctions e

Source: REuters, Wednesday July 11, 2018
Michelle Nichols

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday welcomed warming ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia, but diplomats said it stopped short of pledging that it could review sanctions on Eritrea after the United States, China, Britain, France and Ivory Coast raised concerns.

On Monday, Ethiopia and Eritrea declared an end to their state of war and agreed to open embassies, develop ports and resume flights between the two countries after decades of hostilities.

An initial Swedish-drafted U.N. Security Council statement, seen by Reuters, “reaffirmed that efforts by the Government of Eritrea to engage with the international community enables a review of measures on Eritrea.” But several council members raised concerns about linking the rapprochement to a sanctions review and the reference was dropped, diplomats said.

Ivory Coast also wanted the statement to mention a border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, a move supported by several other members, but it was not included, diplomats said. Deadly clashes broke out between the Horn of Africa countries in June 2008 after Djibouti accused Asmara of moving troops across the border.The U.N. Security Council requested both sides withdraw, before the neighbors accepted a Qatari request to mediate and deploy peacekeepers. Qatar pulled out its contingent a year ago after the two East African countries sided with Saudi Arabia and its allies in their standoff with Doha. Ethiopia, currently a council member, said on Monday it wanted the United Nations to lift sanctions on Eritrea.

Eritrea has been subjected to a U.N. arms embargo since 2009 after U.N. experts monitoring sanctions on Somalia accused Eritrea of providing political, financial and logistical support to armed groups undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia. Eritrea has denied the accusations.

The 15-member Security Council is due to renew in November an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on Eritrea. They could choose to adopt a resolution before then to lift sanctions. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, China, Russia, Britain or France. However, a November 2017 resolution renewing the sanctions also urged Eritrea and Djibouti “to continue to maintain an atmosphere of calm and restraint and calls on them to seek all available solutions to settle their border dispute peacefully.”

The resolution said the issue would be a factor in any council review of measures on Eritrea. Both the United States and China have military bases in Djibouti. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols Editing by James Dalgleish)

Abiy Ahmed Ali’s political, economic reforms in first 100 days revive Ethiopia

Abiy Ahmed Ali’s political, economic reforms in first 100 days revive Ethiopia
Source: Washington Post Times, Tuesday July 10, 2018

It’s a first 100 days in office that might have made Franklin D. Roosevelt’s head spin.

Abiy Ahmed Ali, the 41-year-old former intelligence officer who was elected prime minister in early April, has hit the ground sprinting, African analysts say, bringing vitality and movement to one of the continent’s biggest countries.

A short list of his moves to date includes the release of thousands of political prisoners and the lifting of other political restrictions, ending a state of emergency imposed by his predecessor, initiating a historic diplomatic outreach to neighboring Eritrea, and announcing plans to privatize key state industries such as aviation and energy.

Since he was sworn in on April 2, Mr. Abiy’s 100th day in office technically isn’t until Wednesday.

“His impact has been tremendous in all respects. Psychologically, politically, and as to the future of Ethiopia in terms of its ethnic relations and political model, it has been nothing short of amazing,” said Jan Abbink, who chairs the Researchers’ Assembly of the African Studies Center in the Dutch city of Leiden.

The whirlwind start was not anticipated when Mr. Abiy emerged from a pack of candidates to succeed Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned in February in the wake of massive popular protests against the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Hundreds of people were killed in a wave of violence that swept the country, ignited at first by a redevelopment plan for the capital, Addis Ababa, in 2015. As a member of parliament, Mr. Abiy opposed the plan.
“I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” Mr. Desalegn said at the time, though popular hopes for a quick turnaround were low.

Mr. Abbink said Mr. Abiy, the youngest national leader on the continent, “came to power because the EPRDF realized that this could not go on. They had to respond, and they did that by giving the floor to a reformist-oriented person.”

Amid widespread doubts that the ruling coalition could reform from within, analysts say, Mr. Abiy has moved quickly to deal with popular unrest and extend an olive branch to potential adversaries.

“We want to work hand in hand with you,” Dr. Ahmed told a crowd of protesters in Oromia, the largest and most populous of Ethiopia’s nine regional states and the epicenter of the resistance to the Desalegn government.

Mr. Desalegn declared a state of emergency in 2016 when members of the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups began large-scale protests against the government. The Oromo and the Amhara felt marginalized by the EPRDF, which is largely dominated by the Tigray ethnic group, and advocated for greater representation and equity.

Human Rights Watch said thousands were imprisoned and an estimated 500 killed in suppression of the protests.

Upon taking office, Mr. Abiy officially apologized for the government’s actions against the protesters and lifted the state of emergency two months before it was scheduled to expire.

Mr. Abbink said Mr. Abiy’s conciliatory efforts set him apart from previous prime ministers.

“His whole tone of approaching the people and tuning into the concerns they’ve had for the past 20-25 years has made him really stand out compared to any previous prime minister,” the analyst said.

Eritrean outreach

In another major departure from the previous government, Mr. Abiy made a series of bold moves to quell regional tensions by declaring that Ethiopia would fully comply with the Algiers Agreement, a peace accord with neighboring Eritrea.

The two nations warred with each other over territorial disputes from 1998 to 2000. Some describe it as one of Africa’s bloodiest and most futile conflicts, which left some 100,000 dead.

The Algiers agreement, signed in December 2000, was meant to end hostilities, but tensions remained high as thousands of troops from both sides dug in along disputed border regions.

More than 15 years of a cold peace gave way to unprecedentedly warm words as Mr. Abiy personally welcomed an Eritrean delegation that included Foreign Minister Osman Saleh to Addis Ababa late last month, the first such high-level visit in more than two decades. The new prime minister announced that Ethiopian Airlines would resume long-blocked flights to Asmara, the Eritrean capital.

Mr. Osman called the meeting “a day of joy” and said Mr. Abiy’s offer “opened the door to peace.”

Closer to home, a critical goal for Mr. Abiy and the EPRDF is to alleviate Ethiopia’s increasing economic insecurity.

Despite consistent economic growth of 10 percent each year over the past decade, Ethiopia faces a staggering debt crisis. Foreign investors including China have dialed back their investments because of foreign exchange shortages. The International Monetary Fund has warned that the country’s debt ratios — at 59 percent of gross domestic product — are approaching dangerous territory.

Mr. Abiy’s response is to inject a strong dose of free market capitalism into the heavily statist economy. He told lawmakers in a budget debate Friday that the country must do more to spur growth, improve infrastructure and attract outside capital.

“We need to work [so that] investors have full confidence in the country,” he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

The government, he said, must be more effective and targeted in its spending programs. The government said last month that it will end its long-held monopoly over key sectors such as telecommunications, energy and aviation.

“They’re trying to open up the market for foreign competitors as well as domestic competitors. This is, of course, a short-term measure to gain currency,” Dr. Abbink said. Both the government and private economists say one key factor hampering growth is the lack of foreign currency.

Among the state assets targeted for partial privatization is Ethiopian Airlines, the continent’s largest and one of its most successful carriers. The government also announced last month that it would allow local companies to provide internet access via the state telecommunications provider, Ethio Telecom.

Despite widespread praise, Mr. Abiy faces monumental problems at home and abroad, and analysts say his political base has not been fully secured. His political liberalization and outreach to Eritrea has unnerved many in the ruling EPRDF, which consists of factions representing the country’s four major ethnic groups. Mr. Abiy hails from the Oromo ethnic group, making up roughly a third of the population.

In a tangible sign of the tough road ahead, an attacker disguised in police uniform hurled a grenade onto the stage at a June 23 rally in Addis Ababa, where Mr. Abiy had spoken to a crowd of supporters.

Two people were killed and 156 were injured in the attack. The prime minister was the target, authorities said, but he managed to escape unscathed.

Though no faction has claimed responsibility, 30 people, including nine security officials, have been arrested in connection with the attack. The FBI has said it will send agents to assist Ethiopia in its investigation.

The bigger risk may be that Mr. Abiy’s fast start — which has earned positive reviews across Africa — may have set popular expectations too high.

“There is political expectation on the part of the public for very quick change,” Awol Allo, an Ethiopian commentator who teaches law in Britain, recently told Agence France-Presse. “My worry is that he’s moving too fast in a country without the institutional safeguards to implement these policies.

EU Support for Somalia

European Commission – Fact Sheet

EU Support for Somalia

Source EU, Brussels, 10 July 2018

Political relations

The EU, together with Somali authorities and international key partners, is engaged in Somalia through an integrated approach based on active diplomacy, support for political change, improving security, development assistance and humanitarian aid.

  • For the period 2015-2020, the cooperation of the EU and the Member States amounts to more than €3.5 billion, and includes development aid, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations.

In line with the New Deal principles for fragile states and the Somali Compact (2013-2016) endorsed at the 2013 EU-Somalia summit in Brussels and guiding the relationship between Somalia and the international community, Somalia undertook several reform efforts.

With the end of the Somali Compact and with the newly elected President Farmajo and a new Somali government in place, the London Somalia Conference in May 2017, set the new framework for relations between Somalia and the international community. The meeting agreed on the Security Pact – based on the Somali agreed National Security Architecture and setting out the vision of Somali-led security institutions and forces and international support, and endorsed the New Partnership for Somalia, in support of the National Development Plan – the first in 30 years.

Peace and security

The EU plays a significant role in supporting Somalia’s efforts to become a peaceful, stable and democratic country and to take progressive ownership over its own national security.

Through the three EU security and defence missions, the EU is contributing to capacity building within the Somali Security Sector:

  • The Military Training Mission (EUTM), which directly supports the build-up of the Somali National Army through training, advising and mentoring activities
  • EU Operation ATALANTA has made a significant contribution to deterring/repressing acts of piracy through continuous at sea presence and contributing to prevent other international crimes through information exchange with partners. It lead to a reduction in piracy: in 2011, 174 merchant vessels were attacked and 25 ships pirated with 736 seafarers held hostage. In 2013, 7 ships were attacked, none pirated. In 2014 two ships were attacked. There were no attacks in 2015 and one in 2016. In March 2017 a ship was pirated and held for 4 days.
  • EUCAP Somalia, which aims to improve Somalia’s maritime security capacities.

The EU is committed to remaining an important partner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and supports its current reconfiguration to align with the Somali Transition Plan. The EU is one of AMISOM’s main financial contributors, having committed more than €1.73 billion for AMISOM over the period March 2007 to December 2018.

Over the past ten years, AMISOM enabled Somalia’s considerable peacebuilding and state-building progress and it will continue to play an important role throughout the transition process which should lead to the gradual hand-over of security responsibilities to the Somali security institutions, as laid down in the Transition Plan.

Development cooperation

The EU is one of Somalia’s key development partners, providing comprehensive support to the country in different areas such as stabilisation, state building, security, basic services and job creation. The EU supports the country in achieving its development goals with €286 million for the period 2014-2020. It reflects the priorities identified by the Somali Compact:  state-building and peace-building (€100 million); food security and building resilience (€86 million); education (€60 million); measure in favour of civil society (€14 million); and support measures (€26 million).

This funding is complemented by other allocations from the EU budget such as the EU Trust Fund for Africa, covering specific issues such as: democracy and human rights, boosting local government, training, food security, and energy and water supplies.

To help Somalia expand its trade the EU’s National Indicative Programme is being deployed to improve productivity in the agricultural, livestock and fisheries sector. Programme interventions also seek to support growth by nurturing Somalia’s private sector and business environment.

Humanitarian aid

The EU has supported humanitarian aid operations in Somalia since 1994. The assistance is essential as the country has been struggling with internal conflict and natural disasters for decades.

In 2017, the EU, together with other donors, provided flexible and early funding enabling to successfully avert the famine looming in Somalia. The EU indeed mobilised considerable funding for the drought response, totalling €119 million for that year. These funds allowed partners to provide life-saving aid to persons in the regions hardest hit by the water and food shortages, as well as disease outbreaks. The EU prioritised the delivery of cash assistance to respond to most vulnerable people’s basic needs, proving to be an effective and dignified way of giving assistance. Together, the European Union and its Member States currently provide approximately 60% of all humanitarian aid in Somalia.

Economic relations

The EU is committed to helping Somalia develop a strong, sustainable economy which can support the country’s state and peace-building processes. Relations in this area are guided by the Somali Compact, New Deal process and the National Indicative Programme. Objectives, priorities and actions are also closely linked to the Somali government’s Economic Recovery Plan.

EU engagement therefore aims to revitalise and expand the Somali economy with a focus on improving livelihoods, generating employment, and encouraging inclusive growth. Special attention will be paid to improving economic opportunities for women and young people, ensuring they have greater access to profitable, income-generating activities.

Egypt welcomes peace deal between Eritrea, Ethiopia

Egypt welcomes peace deal between Eritrea, Ethiopia hare

Source: XINHUANET, Tuesday July 10, 2018

Egypt welcomed on Monday the signing of an agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia to end their two decades of dispute.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Eritrea had started new relationship between the two countries in order to reach security and stability in the region, Egyptian foreign ministry said that in a statement.

Egypt also hopes that the deal would be a model for all countries suffering from disputes in Africa.

The ministry reiterated that Egypt is keen to enhance cooperation with Eritrea, Ethiopia and other African countries in order to cement stability and development.

A delegation led by Ahmed on Monday signed a peace declaration with its Eritrean counterparts to end mutual hostilities, settle border disputes and resume economic, political and diplomatic ties.

Speaking to media in Addis Ababa after his return from Eritrean capital Asmara, Ethiopia Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu said there will be a technical committee to resolve the countries’ bitter border dispute and help implement the peace agreement signed in Algiers in 2000.

On June 5, the executive committee of the Ethiopian ruling party passed a decision, expressing commitment to an unconditional implementation of Algiers peace agreement with Eritrea.

The peace deal ended a two-year border war from 1998 to 2000 that killed an estimated 70,000 people from both sides, but a tense armed standoff continued, with the two countries engaging in skirmishes occasionally.

East Africa bloc commends historic meeting of Ethiopian, Eritrean leaders

East Africa bloc commends historic meeting of Ethiopian, Eritrean leaders Sharehare

Source: XINHUANET, Monday July 9, 2018

The Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) hailed on Sunday the historic meeting of Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders after 20 years of hostility.

On Sunday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed became the first Ethiopian leader to visit Eritrea in more than 20 years.

Ahmed was greeted at the Asmara International Airport by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and is expected to hold discussions on efforts to bring lasting peace between the two nations.

The visit comes after the two countries started tentative steps to end a two-decades-old bitter border dispute that led to a bloody war from 1998 to 2000 which left an estimated 70,000 people dead from both sides.In a press statement, IGAD Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim said the normalization of bilateral ties would benefit the peoples of the two countries and would contribute to the realization of the shared aspiration of peace and integration in the East African region and the African continent.

Ethiopia and Eritrea are members of the eight-country trade bloc whose mission is to economically integrate the East African region.

Former South Sudan VP to Be Re-Instated in His Position

Former South Sudan VP to Be Re-Instated in His Position
Source: VOA, Monday July 9, 2018

Riek Machar will be reinstated in his position as part of a peace deal to end a near five-year-old war that has killed tens of thousands and devastated Africa’s youngest nation.

The agreement was reached in talks held in Entebbe in Uganda mediated by President Yoweri Miseveni and attended by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and Machar, the country’s presidency said in a statement.

“After a 10-hour-long meeting, the parties agreed… there will be four vice presidents and Dr. Riek Machar will be reinstated as first vice president,” the statement said.

It added that although the government and the opposition had agreed to the proposal, “there will be more consultation to come up with the final decision.”

South Sudan has been gripped by civil war since 2013, when a political disagreement between Kiir and Machar exploded into a military confrontation.

Puok Both Baluang, the opposition SPLM-IO’s deputy spokesman, told Reuters they had no immediate comment on the statement from the presidency.

The war, which has mostly seen Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer ethnic group pitted against each other, has killed tens of thousands, uprooted about a quarter of the country’s population of 12 million and slashed oil production, on which the economydepends almost entirely.

The agreement on Machar’s position marks a potential
breakthrough in new efforts mediated by regional leaders to find
a power-sharing and peace agreement to end the war.

A similar deal in 2015 failed the following year after Machar returned to the capital and disagreements quickly developed, reigniting fighting.

On Friday the government and opposition signed an agreement on security arrangements which follow on from a cease-fire deal last month, both crucial steps toward a final peace pact

Somalia: The Limits of the AMISOM Model

Somalia: The Limits of the AMISOM Model

 Source: The summer 2018 edition of The Washington Quarterly
The summer 2018 edition of The Washington Quarterly published an article titled “Subduing al-Shabaab: The Somalia Model of Counterterrorism and Its Limits” by Paul D. Williams, George Washington University. Somalia: The Limits of the AMISOM Model

The author argues that while AMISOM delivered some notable achievements, the model could not and should not be replicated elsewhere. It generated several problems that permitted AMISOM to degrade and displace al-Shabaab forces but not to defeat them, and unable to turn its military success into sustainable political gains.

Ethiopia’s leader arrives in Eritrea for unprecedented summit between former enemies

Ethiopia’s leader arrives in Eritrea for unprecedented summit between former enemies
Source: The Washington Post, Sunday July 8, 2018

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethio­pian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed traveled Sunday to Eritrea, once a bitter rival, for an unprecedented summit with its longtime leader, Isaias Afwerki.

State Eritrean television showed an Ethio­pian Airlines plane landing at the sparse airport in the Eritrean capital of Asmara, where a brass band was drawn up to greet the prime minister for the first such visit in two decades.

The two Horn of Africa neighbors have been sworn enemies for the past 20 years since fighting a brutal ground war from 1998 to 2000 that saw at least 70,000 killed. In the intervening years, the two sides have clashed repeatedly and supported rival rebel movements.

Abiy was greeted by Isaias himself at the airport and they strode past the uniformed band and honor guard, occasionally smiling and laughing together — a marked contrast to the Eritrean president’s normally stone faced public appearances.

The two men were welcomed by women in traditional dress waving palm fronds as well as rows of officials before they retired to the airport VIP lounge and sat beneath portraits of themselves sipping juice.

Before departing from the airport, Abiy waded into the crowd of welcoming women and exchanged hugs.

As the convoy of vehicles carrying Abiy passed through downtown Asmara, crowds lined the street and cheered loudly, spilling into the road and slowing the cars to a crawl.

The change in relations between the two countries has stunned observers. For the first time in decades, Ethio­pian flags adorned the streets of Asmara and other cities in preparation for Abiy’s visit, according to photos tweeted by Natalie Brown, the U.S. chief of mission in Asmara.

The rumored visit was confirmed by Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, on Sunday morning.

“Abiy Ahmed has left to Eritrea, Asmara today to further deepen efforts to bring about lasting peace between the people of Ethiopia & Eritrea,” he tweeted. “Our two nations share a history & bond like no other. We can now overcome two decades of mistrust and move in a new direction.”

Nearly 30 years ago, the future leaders of the two countries were comrades in the struggle against Ethiopia’s communist dictatorship. But after its overthrow and Eritrea’s declaration of independence, relations soured despite close cultural and linguistic ties.

Ethi­o­pia’s new reformist prime minister, Abiy, broke the deadlock between the two countries on June 5 by accepting the 2000 peace agreement that ended the war, which would involve ceding territory still held by Ethi­o­pia.

Events moved quickly after that, with Isaias accepting the overtures as a “positive” move and sending a delegation led by his foreign minister to Addis Ababa a week later. Now there has been talk of reopening long-closed air links between the two countries this year.

The summit will probably involve negotiations on how to begin the complex process of returning territories to each other and separating populations as well as restoring ties.

Under Abiy, Ethi­o­pia appears to be embarking on a new path of reform, but Eritrea has been characterized as one of the most authoritarian states in Africa.

For much of the last 20 years, Eritrea has been focused on its conflict with Ethi­o­pia with substantial spending on its military and indefinite mandtory military service that has sent hundreds of thousands Eritreans seeking to immigrate to Europe.

The meeting “heralds a new era of peace & cooperation,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Meskel tweeted Sunday.

In interviews broadcast live on Eritrean state television interviewed, people praised the visit and welcomed peace between the two countries.

“Peace is everything,” said an elderly man wearing a turban and sunglasses.

Righting Past Wrongs in Ethiopia

Righting Past Wrongs in Ethiopia

 Source: The Ethiopia Observer published on 22 June 2018
The Ethiopia Observer published on 22 June 2018 a commentary titled “Admitting Guilt in Ethiopia: Towards a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?‘ by Kjetil Tronvoll, a professor at Bjorknes University College in Norway.

The author commented favorably on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s acknowledgement of widespread human rights violations by previous Ethiopian governments and wonders if this will result in a historic change of culture in Ethiopia.