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Somaliland government vows defence and timely elections amid rising tensions

Somaliland government vows defence and timely elections amid rising tensions


Source: Hiiraan, Wednesday July 10, 2024

Hargeisa (HOL) – Somaliland government announced decisions to defend Somaliland and hold upcoming elections during an extraordinary meeting in Hargeisa on Wednesday, chaired by Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi.

A press release from the Presidential Palace stated that the people of Somaliland must prepare for the elections and the defence of Somaliland.

“The council of ministers declared that the elections will be held on time and the country will be strongly defended against those who have come together to harm the nationalism of Somaliland, which is threatening new conflict,” said the statement.

Earlier in 2024, the Somaliland Parliament enacted a new electoral law setting the election date for November 13, 2024.

The upcoming election is anticipated to resolve a longstanding political dispute between the ruling party and the opposition. This dispute has previously led to clashes between opposition supporters and the police in several cities across Somaliland.

Kristersson: Sverige är ett stort Nato-land

Kristersson: Sverige är ett stort Nato-land

10 juli 2024 13:51

Source. Sydsvenskan, Sverige tar med sig två tunga faktorer som medlem i Nato. Det poängterar statsminister Ulf Kristersson på en pressträff i Washington.

Sveriges statsminister Ulf Kristersson (M), Natos generalsekreterare Jens Stoltenberg, USA:s president Joe Biden, Finlands president Alexander Stubb och Turkiets president Recep Tayyip Erdogan i Washington under tisdagskvällen.
Sveriges statsminister Ulf Kristersson (M), Natos generalsekreterare Jens Stoltenberg, USA:s president Joe Biden, Finlands president Alexander Stubb och Turkiets president Recep Tayyip Erdogan i Washington under tisdagskvällen.Bild: Evan Vucci

Natomötet i Washington blir nu det första för svensk del som fullvärdig medlem i försvarsalliansen. På pressträffen vid den svenska ambassaden lyfter statsministern att man för svensk del bidrar i högsta grad till Nato, framförallt genom två faktorer:

– Geografi och kapacitet. Den ena är given, titta på var vi ligger geografiskt. Det andra är kapaciteten, vi sökte medlemskap för att vi vill ha skydd av andra men vi tar också med oss kapacitet in i Nato, säger Kristersson.

Han nämner bland annat det svenska flygvapnet och ubåtar som exempel på detta.

– Vi är inte ett litet Natoland utan ett stort Natoland, säger han.

Fokus på Ukraina

Mycket av toppmötets fokus ligger på kriget i Ukraina och det fortsatta stödet till Kiev. Försvarsalliansen väntas i sin slutkommuniké efter mötet förkunna att Ukrainas väg till ett Natomedlemskap är ”irreversibel”.

– Vi kommer att jobba vidare. Det är inte en fråga om utan när, säger utrikesminister Tobias Billström på presskonferensen om Ukrainas eventuella medlemskap.

Redan under gårdagskvällen meddelade också president Joe Biden att en ”historisk” donation av luftvärnsmateriel, däribland fyra Patriotsystem, från USA och flera europeiska Natoländer är på ingång till Ukraina.

Vädjar om stöd

Senare samma kväll vädjade Ukrainas president Volodymyr Zelenskyj om omgående ökat stöd – innan resultatet av det amerikanska presidentvalet i november potentiellt ställer världspolitiken på ända.

– Det är dags att stiga ut ur skuggorna och med kraft fatta beslut om att agera – och inte vänta till november eller någon annan månad för att skrida till verket, sade han på plats i Washington.

Det mesta inför Natomötet har handlat om president Joe Bidens hälsa och de växande kraven på att han ska kliva åt sidan inför valet i november. Amerikanska bedömare konstaterar att presidentens tal inför Nato på tisdagen var betydligt mer kraftfullt och respektingivande än hans hårt kritiserade debatt- och intervjuinsatser de senaste veckorna.

FAKTA

Fakta: Nato

Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) är en transatlantisk försvarsallians som grundades 1949.

Den består i dag av 32 medlemsländer, varav 14 ingick i det forna östblocket. De senaste länderna att ansluta sig var Finland i april 2023 och Sverige i mars 2024.

Nato skapades i syfte att bevara freden i det nordatlantiska området genom att avskräcka från väpnade angrepp mot alliansens medlemmar.

Sudan after 15 Months of Civil War

Sudan after 15 Months of Civil War

 Source: Aljazeera published on 7 July 2024 an article titled “What’s Sudan Like after 15 Months of War, Displacement, and Inhumanity?

Approaching its 16th month of war, conflict is spreading to new areas, some IDPs are fleeing to yet different locations and their numbers are growing, refugees continue to increase, and deaths are mounting.  The risk of famine is growing, relief agencies are severely stretched, and peace talks are going nowhere.

Ethiopia Needs Peace before Transitional Justice

Ethiopia Needs Peace before Transitional Justice

 Source: Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 3 July 2024 an analysis titled “Without Peace in Ethiopia, Transitional Justice Will Be Difficult” by Tadesse Simie Metekia, ISS Addis Ababa, Tessema Simachew Belay, Bahir Dar University, and Wubeshet Kumelachew Tiruneh, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.

One of the primary goals of Ethiopia’s policy is to end the cycle of violence through institutional reform.  The authors argue, however, that without first ending ongoing conflicts and addressing the structural issues that led to the fighting, it might be impossible to guarantee the non-recurrence of violations.

Ethiopian PM meets Sudan army chief in push for ‘peace and security’

Ethiopian PM meets Sudan army chief in push for ‘peace and security’

Abiy Ahmed’s is the highest-level state visit to Sudan since the war began between the army and the paramilitary RSF in April 2023.

The President of Sudan's Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (R) welcomes Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Video Duration 06 minutes 21 seconds06:21

Source: Aljazeera News, Published On 10 Jul 202410 Jul 2024

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has met Sudan’s armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as regional and world powers seek an end to the conflict between the military and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Sudan has been racked by war since April 2023, when fighting erupted between forces loyal to al-Burhan and the RSF led by his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, widely known as Hemedti.

KEEP READING

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Sudan’s army chief says many countries ‘turn a blind eye’ to RSF crimes

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What’s Sudan like after 15 months of war, displacement, and brutality?

list 3 of 3

Sudanese refugees hiding in Ethiopian forest to escape bandits and militias

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Ahmed’s visit on Tuesday to the Red Sea coastal town of Port Sudan, where the army-aligned government is based, is the highest-level state visit since the start of the conflict, which has threatened to destabilise the region, displaced millions of people and created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

The Sudan Sovereign Council said in a statement that the meeting was “a testament to the depth of relations” between the two countries.

Ahmed’s press secretary told Al Jazeera the purpose of the Ethiopian leader’s visit was to “achieve peace and security” in Sudan.

Reporting from Port Sudan, Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall said, however, “it’s not clear” what Ahmed’s proposals are.

In a closed-door meeting, al-Burhan briefed Ahmed on what he called the “crimes and atrocities” committed by the RSF as part of its “rebellion against the state and its institutions”, the council said.

Both sides have been accused of committing war crimes by United Nations officials and international rights groups

Somalia: U.S. Advised to Back Reconciliation Efforts

Somalia: U.S. Advised to Back Reconciliation Efforts


Source: By Jim Lobe*
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

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WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (IPS) – Two years after the administration of President George W. Bush backed Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, President Barack Obama is being urged to pursue a much more flexible policy toward the East African nation than his predecessor and let Somalis, including Islamist leaders who were targeted by the invasion, sort things out for themselves.

Recent events in Somalia, notably Ethiopia’s withdrawal and the installation as president of the former chairman of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, have created a major opportunity for patching together a government of national unity capable of restoring and maintaining stability for the first time since the overthrow of former President Siad Barre in 1991, according to experts here. 

“There’s a real opportunity for a positive breakthrough,” according to David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia who teaches at George Washington University here. “The chances for this happening are perhaps only fifty-fifty, but, in the Somali context, a fifty-fifty chance of achieving a positive breakthrough is brilliant.” 

Another regional specialist, Ken Menkhaus of Davidson College, is not quite so sanguine but nonetheless agrees that the new unity government headed by Sharif offers “the best hope” to end the violence and avert a takeover by Al-Shabaab, a radical group of armed Islamists, some of whose leaders are reportedly linked to al Qaeda. 

The Shabaab, a former ICU faction which the George W. Bush administration designated a terrorist group last year, currently controls much of southern Somalia, including the port city of Baidowa, where the transitional government had long been based, Kismaayo, and parts of the capital, Mogadishu. 

“A period of armed clashes between the increasingly fragmented collection of Islamists, clan militias, and others is inevitable, but the departure of Ethiopian forces and the selection of a more-broad-based government create a much better context for the promotion of dialogue and negotiations,” wrote Menkhaus in a new report released this week by ENOUGH, an Africa-centred project of the Centre for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank from which Obama is expected to recruit a number of senior foreign policy aides. 

“A window of opportunity is opening in Somalia and must not be missed,” he warned, urging Obama to make a “clean break” with Bush’s policy by working for and supporting an “inclusive Somali government” that may well seek to engage and co-opt elements of the Shabaab as part of its effort to pacify the country. 

Indeed, there were unconfirmed reports Tuesday from Mogadishu, where Sharif arrived Saturday after his election in neighbouring Djibouti in late January by the Somali Parliament, that the new president has already met with a top Shabaab official, despite the group’s rejection of the U.N.-backed “Djibouti peace process” that resulted in the replacement of the former hard-line president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, by Sharif. 

Sharif was a key leader of the ICU in June 2006 when its forces routed a coalition of U.S.-backed warlords and took control of Mogadishu, initiating an unprecedented period of calm and stability in the violence-plagued capital. 

That calm ended six months later, however, when Ethiopian forces, which had been protecting the Baidowa-based Transitional Federal Government (TFG) headed by Yusuf, attacked the ICU and quickly captured Mogadishu. 

The Bush administration, which had grown increasingly worried that more-radical ICU leaders had eclipsed “moderates” like Sharif, backed the Ethiopian intervention with intelligence and logistical support. It even deployed Special Forces on the ground and carried out several helicopter-gunship attacks against suspected al Qaeda associates in southern Somalia as the Ethiopian campaign wound down. 

The ICU subsequently splintered, with an increasingly radical Shabaab leading the insurgency against the Ethiopians and TFG security forces, while others set up camp in Eritrea where they formed the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS). 

The U.S. meanwhile carried out a series of cruise-missile attacks against Shabaab leaders believed to have links with al Qaeda, most notably a May 2008 strike that killed Aden Hashi Ayro who was rumoured to be group’s leader. 

Those attacks, however, proved counter-productive, according to a report published last month by the Congressional Research Service’s East Africa analyst, Ted Dagne, who noted that the insurgency only intensified after Ayro’s death, which also led to the targeting by the Shabaab of western aid workers, virtually all of whom were withdrawn from the country. 

“As conflict raged and humanitarian conditions spiraled, flawed U.S. policies only strengthened the Islamist Shabaab movement and its commitment to attack Ethiopian and western and United Nations interests, as well as regional governments collaborating with the United States,” according to Menkhaus’s report, ‘Somalia After the Occupation: First Steps to End the Conflict and Combat Extremism’. 

Since the Ethiopian intervention, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed, while more than one million more were displaced, and nearly 500,000 fled to neighbouring countries, according to the CRS report. 

With Ethiopia’s withdrawal, which was completed late last month, the greatest concern here has been that the Shabaab would move to take control of Mogadishu, an eventuality that the Bush administration used to press – albeit unsuccessfully – the U.N. Security Council to deploy a U.N. peacekeeping force at the last minute. 

In his report, Menkhaus argues that a radical Islamist takeover would “almost certainly set in motion some type of security responses from both Ethiopia and the United States, and …usher in a new chapter of armed conflict and instability.” 

But a number of clan and rival Islamist groups have so far resisted the Shabaab’s advances, an indication, according to Menkhaus, that the group “was tolerated and enjoyed some support when it posed as the main resistance to Ethiopian occupation, but is not acceptable to most Somalis as a source of political leadership once that existential threat has been removed.” 

Indeed, with the Ethiopians gone, latent differences within the Shabaab over clan and regional allegiances, as well as ideological divides over links to al Qaeda and other foreign groups, are likely to come to the surface, according to Shinn. 

“The key now is how much support Sheikh Sharif really has in the country,” he said. “That will probably determine the ability of him and whoever his prime minister will be to create a really viable government of national unity, and, if they do that, I see an opportunity to peel away support from the Shabaab.” 

“Much of that support is there because they pay well, they have weapons, and they are pretty well organised, but there is no particular ideological commitment among the rank and file, and if they see there’s a new potential winner, and particularly one who can pay the bills, they will very seriously consider switching sides or becoming neutral or just going home,” he added. 

In this context, the new Obama administration should support Sharif’s efforts to reach out to individuals and groups that were stigmatised by the Bush administration as terrorists, according to both Menkhaus and Shinn. 

“Let the Somalis talk with whomever they want to talk with,” said Shinn. “Don’t try to discourage them; if they can work these things out and create a broader base, that’s in the long-term U.S. interest.” 

“Though committed ideologues exist in Somalia, Somali political culture is fundamentally pragmatic in nature, privileging negotiations as the bedrock of politics,” according to Menkhaus. “Policies which privilege Somali-driven processes, rely mainly on Somali interests and actors to drive outcomes, and respect Somali preferences will stand a much better chance of success than those imposed from the outside.” 

*Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at http://www.ips.org/blog/jimlobe/

US Special envoy Mike Hammer to visit Ethiopia

US Special envoy Mike Hammer to visit Ethiopia


Source: borkena.com, Monday July 8, 2024

The U.S. The State Department on Friday disclosed that its special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, is traveling to Djibouti and Ethiopia.

The stated purpose of his trip to Ethiopia is to “attend the African Union’s second meeting to review implementation of the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) on northern Ethiopia. “

He will also be meeting with  Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) authorities in Djibouti. He will be “consulting ” on regional and security issues according  to the disclosure from the state department. However, specifics of the  security matter are unspecified. In addition to the resurgence of Al-Shababa, tension between Somalia and Ethiopia has been causing concern in the region.

The United States has been urging Ethiopia and Somalia to resolve their differences over MoU with Somaliland peacefully. Last week, Turkey initiated a mediation and the two countries are scheduled to meet in September this year for the second round of talks – which will be a face-to-face one.

In Ethiopia, the United States has been toiling to bring about harmony between Abiy Ahmed’s administration and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after the two forces fought a two-years of bloody war that is estimated to have claimed the lives of about one million people.

“The United States remains committed to supporting the Ethiopian government and the Tigray Interim Regional Administration in achieving a lasting peace, including through an effective disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program for ex-combatants; an orderly and peaceful return of internally displaced persons; and advancing transitional justice and accountability,” said the state department in a media note it published on Friday.  

Special Envoy Mike Hammer will also meet with Ethiopian authorities to discuss the ongoing conflicts in the Amara and Oromia regions. There have been reports that Mr. Mike had been meeting with community leaders and opposition leaders living in the U.S. in connection with the conflict situation in the two regions. Last month, former Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew and former Semayawi party leader, Yilkal Getnet, met with the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ervin Masssinga, in Washington D.C.

Accused of witchcraft then murdered for land

Accused of witchcraft then murdered for land


Source: BBC, By Njeri Mwangi in Kilifi county & Tamasin Ford in London,
BBC Africa Eye
Monday July 8, 2024


Farmer Tambala Jefwa was left with one eye after an assault

BBC Africa Eye investigates a shocking spate of elderly people accused of witchcraft then murdered along Kenya’s Kilifi coast, and discovers the true motives behind the killings.

Seventy-four-year-old Tambala Jefwa stares vacantly out of his one remaining eye as his wife, Sidi, gently removes his shirt.

“They stabbed him with a knife like this and pulled,” she says pointing to the long scar stretching down from his collar bone.

She takes his head in her hands showing what happened in another attack. “They had to pull the scalp back and sew it together.”

Mr Jefwa was accused of being a witch and has been attacked twice in his home, 80km (50 miles) inland from the coastal town of Malindi. The first left him without an eye. The second nearly killed him.

The couple own more than 30 acres of land where they grow maize and raise a few chickens. There has been a dispute with family members over boundaries. They believe this was the real reason Mr Jefwa was almost killed, not that people genuinely believed he was a witch.

“I was left for dead. I lost so much blood. I don’t know why they attacked me, but it can only be the land,” says Mr Jefwa.

Belief in witchcraft and superstition is common in many countries.

But in parts of Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa, it can be used to justify killing elderly people to take their land.

A report called, The Aged, on Edge, by Kenyan human rights organisation Haki Yetu says one elderly person is murdered along the Kilifi coast every week in the name of witchcraft. Its programme officer, Julius Wanyama, says many families believe it is one of their own who orders the killing.

“They use the word witchcraft as a justification because they will get public sympathy. And people will say: ‘If he was a witch, it is good you have killed him.’”

Few people in this region have title deeds for their land. Without a will, they rely on passing it down customarily through the family. Mr Wanyama says seven out of 10 of the killings are elderly men because land ownership and inheritance lie with them.

“Historically people here in Kilifi do not have [land] documentation. The only document they have is the narrative from these elderly people. That is why mostly men are being killed, because once you kill them, then you have removed the obstacle,” says Mr Wanyama.

About an hour’s drive from the Jefwa family land is a rescue centre for the elderly run by the charity, Malindi District Association.

It is home to around 30 elderly people who have been attacked and are unable to go back to their own land.

Sixty-three-year-old Katana Chara, who looks much older than his years, has been here for around 12 months.

He had to move to the centre after he was attacked with a machete in his bedroom in April 2023. One hand was cut off at the wrist, the other just above the elbow. He can no longer work and needs help for the most basic tasks, from feeding and washing to dressing himself.

“I know the person who cut my hands, but we have never met face to face since,” he says.

Mr Chara was accused of being a witch over the death of another man’s child, but believes the real reason he was attacked was because of his six acres of land.

“I don’t have anything to do with witchcraft. I have one piece of land and it is at the seafront. It is a big piece of land.”

Many of Mr Chara’s family members were questioned over the attack but no-one was ever prosecuted. Activist Mr Wanyama has been trying to get justice for him.

“Very few people have been charged on the allegations of killings of elderly. And that’s why I think even the key people who are involved in killing, they feel they are free.”

After months of investigating, BBC Africa Eye managed to track down an ex-hitman who claims to have killed around 20 people. He says the minimum he got paid for each murder was 50,000 Kenyan shillings – around $400 (£310).

“If someone kills an old person, know that their family paid for it. It must be their family,” he tells BBC Africa Eye.

Pushed on how and why he thought it was his right to take someone’s life, he responds: “I may have done something bad because I was given the job and it is me that killed, but according to laws, according to God, the person who sent me is the guilty one.”

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights presented a document to the United Nations in February 2023 stating: “Witch burning, killings, and physical attacks are rife in regions such as Kisii in western Kenya and Kilifi county in coastal Kenya.”

It went on to say that younger family members seeking to acquire family land is a key motivating factor behind the killings. It said the attacks and killings increased during periods of drought and famine when sources of income become scarce.

Mr Wanyama says killings which use accusations of witchcraft to justify land grabs have become a “national disaster”

“It started as a regional issue, but now it has escalated… If we don’t address it, then we are losing our archives of the elderly. Those are the only live archives we can believe.”

In traditional African culture, the elderly are revered for their wisdom and knowledge.

In Kilifi, it is the reverse. Old people are so fearful of becoming a target, many dye their hair in an attempt to look younger.

It is rare for someone in this region to survive after being accused of witchcraft.

While Mr Chara is safe now he lives at the rescue centre for the elderly, for men like Mr Jefwa there is real fear that whoever tried to murder him will come back.

Kenya’s mass protests expose African fury with IMF

Kenya’s mass protests expose African fury with IMF


Source: Financial TIMES, Andres Schipani in Nairobi and Aanu Adeoye, west Africa correspondent
Friday July 5, 2024


William Ruto is latest president of developing country caught between multilateral lenders and angry population

As Kenya reels from deadly anti-tax riots that have rocked east Africa’s most advanced economy, the target of protesters’ anger remains starkly clear in murals on the walls of central Nairobi — and it is not just the government.

“IMF keep your hands off Kenya,” said one painted slogan. As live rounds crackled and police deployed tear gas in Nairobi’s streets, 25-year-old protester Job Muremi said: “The IMF is involved in bringing this chaos upon Kenya.”

For many Kenyans, the unrest that forced President William Ruto last month to withdraw a finance bill aiming to raise more than $2bn in taxes has laid bare the role of Washington-based multilateral lenders in their country’s policymaking.

With the IMF seen as driving Ruto’s fiscal and austerity policies, thousands of young, often jobless protesters poured on to the streets with placards such as “We ain’t IMF bitches” and “Kenya is not IMF’s lab rat.” Nationwide protests raged even after the bill’s withdrawal, as demonstrators demanded Ruto quit and labelled him a “puppet” of the fund.

Kenya is not the only African country where citizens are rejecting austerity measures often imposed to appease multilateral lenders that demand fiscal discipline in exchange for cheap loans.

In Nigeria, where President Bola Tinubu has delivered a series of shock therapies — including reducing petrol subsidies, cutting electricity support and devaluing the currency — labour unions have gone on strike in protest. The country received a $2.25bn World Bank loan package last month, accompanied by praise for the “critical reforms” under way.

Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, told the Financial Times that the prescriptions from the IMF and World Bank “may work for developed countries” but were not right for emerging economies. African states should “be the architects of our own fortune”, he added.

“If the World Bank and IMF are the architects for us, we will fail,” Obasanjo said. He said staff at the lenders were “brilliant, first class in Cambridge and Ivy League schools” but unfit to make “recommendations for millions of people in developing countries”.

The IMF said meeting development needs in sub-Saharan Africa required “improvement in the prioritisation, quality and efficiency of public expenditure”. The fund “does actively take into consideration country specificities when advising on policy reforms. While each country’s context is different, building public trust and support for policies and reforms is essential for sustaining domestic ownership,” it said.

Supporters of the Washington-based lenders argue the IMF provides loans at interest rates far below those available commercially to countries that might otherwise risk default, while seeking to place them on a sustainable footing. It does offer debt relief, including to Somalia in December. The World Bank, which offers development funding, also seeks sustainable reforms.

Charlie Robertson, head of macro strategy at the emerging markets-focused asset manager FIM Partners, called the IMF a “convenient scapegoat”. “The alternative for most countries is borrowing from the IMF at a low percentage or borrowing at double digits from commercial lenders at home or abroad.”

Robertson described the IMF as the “lender of last resort” and said most of the fund’s prescriptions were decisions that governments would have to make anyway.

Many across Africa believe the belt-tightening regimes do little to reduce inequality and improve livelihoods, leaving leaders such as Ruto in the tight spot of needing to raise taxes and cut spending while knowing that doing so is likely to spark political upheaval. A similar pattern has played out in Latin America, most recently in Ecuador, where conditions attached to IMF loans in 2019 led to a backlash in the streets.

“African countries are watching what’s happening in Kenya,” said Nairobi-based economist Vincent Kimosop. “Those who are seated in high offices should not be sitting pretty.”

Other African countries will be forced to make tough decisions soon. Oil-producing Angola is attempting to cut fuel subsidies, while Ethiopia — which is gingerly emerging from a brutal civil war — is negotiating an IMF loan and reforms package. That may include a sharp devaluation of its birr currency, in a country struggling with high inflation and a chronic foreign currency crunch.

That familiar conundrum for emerging market leaders is sharpened by high government debt. Last year, a record 54 developing countries — equivalent to 38 per cent of the total — allocated 10 per cent or more of government revenues to interest payments, with nearly half of those in Africa, said the UN trade and development agency.

Kenya’s turmoil showed trouble can arise from “getting too in line with what lending officials in Washington want, while being too tone deaf with what people in Nairobi demand”, said a senior foreign diplomat in Nairobi.

Protesters in Kenya have been prepared to risk their lives to fight reforms initiated by what they consider a profligate government.

The catalyst for their anger was a bill increasing taxes on basics such as bread and sanitary pads. Demonstrators stormed parliament last week, unleashing a violent police crackdown that has killed at least 39 people.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto’s predecessor and former boss, borrowed heavily from Beijing and international financial markets in the era of low interest rates to fund rail, road and port projects. But many of these schemes failed to generate enough income to pay back debts.

Ruto, a self-styled “hustler” with a rags-to-riches story, took office in 2022 vowing to ease the financial burden on Kenyans. But his attempts to levy new taxes have earned him the nickname “Zakayo”, the Swahili name for the biblical tax collector Zacchaeus.

The president, who is also one of Kenya’s wealthiest businessmen, is struggling to comply with a $3.6bn IMF bailout launched four years ago that requires raising revenues and slashing spending. Interest payments on Kenya’s debt have been eating up almost 38 per cent of annual revenues, said the World Bank.

“The protesters who are at the forefront . . . feel the IMF does not put out fires, that it starts them. We have a past experience, a difficult experience with the IMF,” said economist Kimosop, referring to the 1980s when, as a condition of emergency lending, the IMF demanded free-market reforms.

The structural adjustment programmes, or “SAPs”, imposed deep cuts on public services and insisted on privatisation as well as trade and financial liberalisation.

Nigeria too enacted a structural adjustment programme in the 1980s, leading to foreign exchange reforms and a stalled attempt to diversify away from oil. The IMF-linked programme continues to be blamed for destroying meagre social safety nets. Fela Kuti, the late Nigerian musician, sang that SAP spelt “Suck African People — suck dem dry”.

North African countries also have a long history with the fund. In March, Egypt floated its currency to help secure $8bn of IMF loans, leading to a sharp drop against the dollar. Despite widespread anger over spiralling prices amid high poverty rates, the streets have remained quiet after a ban on unauthorised protests.

The IMF is not universally disliked on the continent. After Ghana refused to contemplate an IMF programme to rescue a flailing economy in 2022, civil society groups demanded the government reconsider. Ghana went to the IMF not long after; the lender assured Ghanaians the programme would protect the vulnerable.

Kenya, which has never defaulted, sold new debt in February — at a steep borrowing cost of 10 per cent — allaying fears that it might follow defaults by Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia. Before the protests, the IMF said Kenya needed to make “a sizeable and upfront fiscal adjustment” and praised the controversial tax increase.

After the protests, “the government may signal to the IMF that doing that is politically impossible”, said a senior official at a multilateral lender.

Ruto’s U-turn left his efforts to meet IMF targets in doubt. Credit rating agency S&P said Kenya was unlikely to achieve its fiscal targets, because “the administration will now become more cautious about taxing the economy”.

Responding to the protests, IMF spokesperson Julie Kozack said the fund’s goal in Kenya was “to help . . . improve its economic prospects and the wellbeing of its people”.

Vincent Kwarula, who launched a petition demanding the IMF cancel Kenya’s debt, rejects that. The IMF, he said, “has played a central role in perpetuating this crisis. We demand the IMF to keep its hands off Kenya and off Africa as a whole.”

Additional reporting by David Pilling in London and Heba Saleh in Cairo

Video on Current Crisis in Sudan

Video on Current Crisis in Sudan

 Source: Aljazeera posted on 3 July 2024 a 12-minute video titled “What’s Happening in Sudan’s Civil War?” narrated by Sandra Gothmann.  

The video summarizes the events that led up to Sudan’s civil war and then focuses on the current situation there, especially in the western region of Darfur.  The overriding theme is that the world is not paying sufficient attention to ending the war and the growing humanitarian crisis.  

Ethiopia-Somaliland deal: Can the Horn of Africa rift be healed?

Ethiopia-Somaliland deal: Can the Horn of Africa rift be healed?


Source: BBC, By Kalkidan Yibeltal in Addis Ababa & Damian Zane in London,
Thursday July 4, 2024

Tempers remain high in the Horn of Africa seven months after a New Year’s Day deal saw the self-declared republic of Somaliland agree to lease part of its coastline to its landlocked neighbour Ethiopia.

Somalia is not happy about the maritime agreement, details of which remain murky.

Firstly, it believes the deal is unlawful and an “act of aggression” as it considers Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia in 1991 at the start of a protracted civil war, to be part of its territory.

It is also infuriated by reports that in return for use of a port, Ethiopia would become the first country to recognise Somaliland as a sovereign nation.

Both the African Union (AU) and the US have backed the territorial integrity of Somalia and urged all parties to cool tensions.

Turkey has now intervened diplomatically – bringing Ethiopian and Somali delegates together for talks in its capital, Ankara.

Were the negotiations successful?

Partially.

Ethiopia and Somalia’s foreign ministers did turn up in the Turkish capital on 1 July – but they refused to sit down for one-to-one discussions.

Turkey’s foreign ministry described the talks as “candid, cordial and forward-looking”.

The two sides have agreed to reconvene in September – and sources told the BBC if progress was made then, the two countries’ leaders might meet up. So there is hope.

Why is Turkey involved?

Ankara has close relations with Mogadishu – the two governments have signed a 10-year defence pact in which Turkey would help guard Somalia’s coastline and rebuild the Horn of African nation’s naval force.

According to Somalia’s President Hassan Sheik Mohamud, it was Ethiopia which requested that Turkey facilitate the talks.

It is suggested that Addis Ababa is keen to ease tensions as Somalia has been on an extensive diplomatic campaign to enlist support from countries in the West as well as Gulf states.

Nonetheless, there were “no indications” yet that Ethiopia was willing to walk away from the deal, President Mohamud said afterwards.

What did Ethiopia and Somaliland agree?

The exact wording of the deal signed by the leaders of Ethiopia and Somaliland has not been made public, which is a problem as there are differing versions of what the two sides agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

An MoU is a statement of intent rather than a legally binding agreement but what seems clear is that Somaliland is ready to grant Ethiopia access to the sea for commercial traffic through a port, although it is not clear which port that would be.

There is also a military aspect. Somaliland has said it could lease a section of the coast to Ethiopia’s navy, a detail which has been confirmed by Addis Ababa.

In return, Somaliland would get a share in Ethiopia Airlines, the country’s successful national carrier.

But where things get sticky is whether Ethiopia said it would recognise Somaliland as an independent state – something which no other country has done in the 30 years since the former British protectorate said it was leaving Somalia.

On the day of the signing, Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi said the agreement included a section stating that Ethiopia would recognise Somaliland as an independent country at some point in the future.

Ethiopia has not confirmed this. Instead, in its attempt to clarify what was in the MoU, the government on 3 January said the deal included “provisions… to make an in-depth assessment towards taking a position regarding the efforts of Somaliland to gain recognition”.

Why is this so controversial?

For Somalia, Somaliland is an integral part of its territory. Any suggestion that it could make a deal with another country or that bits of it could be leased without the approval of Mogadishu is highly problematic.

The day after the MoU was signed, Somalia described the deal as an act of “aggression” that was an “impediment to… peace and stability”. It also recalled its ambassador from Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to Somalia subsequently left Mogadishu.

In the immediate aftermath of the deal, Somalia’s president also stepped up the rhetoric saying: “We will defend our country, we will defend it by all means necessary and seek the support of any ally willing to help us.”

He also called on youths “to prepare for the defence of our country” and described Ethiopia as his country’s “enemy”.

Ethiopia and Somalia have a long history of rivalry.

In 1977 and 1978, Ethiopia and Somalia fought a devastating war for control of what is now called the Somali region of Ethiopia.

There have also been protests in Mogadishu against the deal, with tens of thousands turning up to express their opposition.

What is the status of Somaliland?

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 and has all the trappings of a country, including a working political system, regular elections, a police force and its own currency.

Over the decades it has also escaped much of the chaos and violence that have hit Somalia.
But its independence has not been recognised by any country.

If, as Somaliland said, Ethiopia has agreed to recognise it at some point, it would have a profound impact on the Horn of Africa region.

Why does Ethiopia want the deal?

Last year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described access to the sea as an existential issue.
Ethiopia lost its ports when Eritrea seceded in the early 1990s. With more than 100 million people, it is the most populous landlocked country in the world.

Mr Abiy’s statement raised fears that Ethiopia could try to achieve its goal by force.

It has described the deal with Somaliland as historic, and emphasised that its intentions are peaceful.
“The position announced by the government is strongly rooted in a desire to not engage in war with anyone,” Ethiopia’s communications office said in January.

But in an oblique reference to the controversy, Mr Abiy posted on X on 6 January that “if we expect things to happen in ways that we are used to or know or can predict, [opportunities] may pass us”.

He added that some sometimes thinking “out of the box” was needed to achieve goals.

What have others said?

The AU commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat was one of the first to call for calm and mutual respect “to de-escalate the simmering tension”.

His sentiment was shared by the US government, the Arab League and the European Union.
In late June during a UN security council meeting, senior US diplomat Robert A Wood said his country remained “concerned about tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia, and the negative impact it is having on shared security interest”.

Egypt, which is at loggerheads with Ethiopia over a giant dam that has been built on the River Nile in the northern Ethiopian highlands, has also pledged support for Somalia.

Earlier this year, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi reassured his Somali counterpart that Egypt stood by Somalia and supported “its security and stability”.

Somalia’s President Mohamud flew to Eritrea in January and in March as part of his efforts to galvanise regional support. Eritrea’s leader Isaias Afeworki was a close ally of his Ethiopian counterpart during a brutal civil war in northern Ethiopia between 2020 and 2022, but relations between the two countries have deteriorated since.

Eritrea is also reportedly concerned by Ethiopia’s ambitions to gain access to the coast.
Another neighbour, Kenya, which enjoys close relations with both Ethiopia and Somalia, has kept a low profile and has not yet formally commented, while Uganda has also not taken a clear position.

Saudi Arabia and China, two countries with important roles in the region, said they would support Somalia’s territorial integrity – something lauded as a diplomatic victory in Mogadishu.

At least three people killed in clan conflict in Dollo region in Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State

At least three people killed in clan conflict in Dollo region in Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State


Source: Hiiraan Online, Thursday July 4, 2024

Jigjiga (HOL) – At least three people were killed and others wounded in an inter-clan conflict between two Somali militias in the Wardheer district of the Dollo region in Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State.

The Minister of Information of the Somali Regional State, Abdikhadir Rashid, told BBC Amharic on Wednesday that security forces reached the area and successfully settled the tension. He did not provide further details about the motive behind the conflict.

Last Tuesday, the Ogaden National Liberation Front condemned the conflict between the two communities in the Wardheer district and asked the government to separate the warring factions and stop the bloodshed immediately.

Recently, there has been clan conflict over agricultural land, but it is unclear what sparked the new fighting in the Wardheer district.

What Game Is Russia Playing in Sudan?

What Game Is Russia Playing in Sudan?

 Source: Eurasia Review published on 1 July 2024 a commentary titled “Sudanese Armed Forces Agrees to Russian Red Sea Base in Exchange for Weapons” by the Africa Defense Forum published by US Africa Command.  

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) has revived talks with Russia for establishing a logistics and refueling base, “not a fully equipped naval facility,” in the Red Sea.  This raises the question if Russia plans to shift its previous support for the Rapid Support Forces to the SAF or tries to play both sides of the conflict.

Protests continue in Kenya as some are now calling for the president to step down

Protests continue in Kenya as some are now calling for the president to step down


BY  EVELYNE MUSAMBI
Source: AP, Wednesday July 3, 2024

Protests continued in Kenya’s capital and elsewhere Tuesday over a finance bill that would raise the cost of living, even after the president said he would not sign it in the wake of the storming of parliament last week.

Police fired tear gas at protesters in Nairobi as many businesses remained closed for fear of looting. The main highway to Kenya’s second-largest city, Mombasa, was closed as protesters lit bonfires.

In Mombasa, five vehicles were burnt by protesters outside a hotel whose owner is alleged to have shot at protesters who were looting.

While there are concerns that President William Ruto might change his mind and sign the finance bill before next week’s deadline, some protesters are also calling on Ruto to resign and accusing him of bad governance.

But some members of the youth-led protests have expressed worries that other Kenyans are using the unrest as an excuse to cause violence. “Goons have infiltrated,” one organizer, Hanifa Farsafi, wrote on social media platform X on Tuesday.

Interior minister Kithure Kindiki on Tuesday said “criminals” were taking advantage of planned protests to “commit arson” and “terrorize” Kenyans. He warned that they were planning more violence on Thursday and Sunday and said the government was determined to stop them at “whatever cost”.

Last week’s protests were deadly as police opened fire. The two weeks of protests have left 39 people dead, according to the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. Ruto on Sunday put that number at 19.

The president has offered to have dialogue with Kenyan youth and has promised budget cuts on travel and hospitality for his office in line with some protesters’ demands. As unemployment remains high and prices rise, there has been outrage over the luxurious lives of the president and other senior officials.

Members of the youthful but leaderless protest movement have said they do not trust the president to implement his new austerity plans.

Kenya’s main opposition party on Tuesday called on Ruto’s government to take responsibility for the deaths that occurred last week.

Economist Ken Gichinga told The Associated Press that the government should undertake a different approach to tax reforms that will allow the economy to thrive.

“The Gen Zs are the most affected by the unemployment,” Gichinga said.

The Kenya National Human Rights Commission chairperson Roseline Odede told journalists the protests were infiltrated and the “demographics had changed” and turned violent.

Turkey to host second round of Ethiopia-Somalia in September: Fidan

Turkey to host second round of Ethiopia-Somalia in September: Fidan


Source: Al-Monitor, Wednesday July 3, 2024


Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan meets with his counterpart, Taye Atske Selassie of Ethiopia, in Ankara, on May 9, 2024. – X/Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Taye Atske Selassie

Ethiopia and Somalia on Monday agreed to continue Turkey-mediated talks to resolve their disagreements after a controversial deal between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland earlier this year brought the two countries to the brink of armed conflict.

Turkey “assumed the role of a facilitator,” Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told journalists in Ankara, following a meeting by his Somali and Ethiopian counterparts, Ahmed Moallim Fiqi and Taye Atske Selassie, who traveled to Ankara for the first round of the talks.

The ministers, who had a “candid” exchange as they explored a mutually acceptable framework to their disagreements during their talks, “agreed to pursue the ongoing dialogue with a view to resolving their issues and ensuring regional stability,” according to a joint statement issued after the three ministers’ press briefing.  

The second round of discussions will be held in Ankara on Sept. 2, Fidan said.

“It is no secret that, due to the complicated nature of the many dynamics at play, we will need further reflections on this issue,” he added. “In light of what we heard today, we remain hopeful for the future.”

The Jan. 1 deal signed between Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland and Ethiopia would grant Addis Ababa access to the Red Sea in return for the recognition of breakaway Somaliland. Somalia, which doesn’t recognize the de facto republic, rejected the agreement as a violation of its sovereignty.

Turkey has publicly backed the territorial integrity of Somalia, which is home to the largest Turkish military base abroad. But Ankara also has close ties with Addis Ababa, with Ethiopia purchasing more than a dozen drones from Turkey in 2021.

Reduction of Somali health budget after 2023 debt relief a betrayal


By David Ngira
Source: Amnesty International, Wednesday July 3, 2024

Somalia’s healthcare sector is ailing. This is despite the country receiving USD 4.5 Billion debt relief from IMF and the World Bank  last year which moved the country’s debt to GDP ratio from 64% to 6%. The relief followed protracted negotiations under the Highly indebted Poor Countries Initiative. 

The country’s investment in health has reduced, even though debt relief was premised on economic reforms including implementation of a poverty reduction strategy, increasing revenue collection, prioritization of spending on projects and enhancement of public finance and debt management capacity. 

Analysis indicates that Somalia’s health budget reduced significantly from 8.5% of the budget in 2023 to 4.8% in 2024 despite the reduction in debt repayment from 1.4% of the budget in 2023 to 0.12% of the budget in 2024. Incidentally, the increase in the overall budget by about 10% wasn’t felt in the health sector. This has called into question the country’s commitment to the right to health.

Amnesty International’s 2021 report on Somalia’s response to Covid-19 indicated that the country only spent 2% of the national budget on health in 2020 – far from the 15% obligation that African governments committed to allocating in the national health budgets in the Abuja Declaration. Three years on, Somalia’s poor health sector is still characterized by insufficient health personnel, high levels of child and maternal mortality, inadequate and largely under-equipped health facilities, low levels of immunization, and recurrent outbreaks of water borne diseases. All these undermine people’s right to adequate health. Although some progress has been made as reflected in the 2022-2026 strategic plan, the level of health provision still fails the expected human rights standards. This has worsened the suffering of people already struggling to adjust to the implications of the climate crisis on their livelihoods, including its impact on health, housing and food systems.

“Somalia’s poor health sector is still characterized by insufficient health personnel, high levels of child and maternal mortality, inadequate and largely under-equipped health facilities, low levels of immunization, and recurrent outbreaks of water borne diseases.” David Ngira, ESCR Researcher, Amnesty International

Somalia’s 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets show a significant variance between the health budget and expenditure. For instance, 2022 expenditure indicates that only 1.3% of the overall budget was actually spent on health, against an overall allocation of 10.6% of the budget. Similarly, in 2023 Somalia allocated 8.5% of the overall budget to the health sector but only spent 7% of the overall budget on the same.

According to Transparency International, corruption has had an important impact on Somalia’s health sector which may result in an unexplained variance between the health budget and expenditure. Authorities should investigate this to identify how much of this variance is due to mismanagement, if any, of the health budget and take legal action against those responsible. Somalia’s development partners should work with the government to strengthen accounting systems and encourage greater fiscal transparency and public participation in budgeting. Expenditures on employee payments which account for most of the health budget must be scrutinized to ensure that the money goes to actual health workers.

Somalia must also work to increase its revenue through increased trade, progressive taxes, widening tax base and grants. It must also seal all loopholes for illicit financial flows. This will enhance resources available for allocation to the health sector. Its therefore urgent for the international community to accelerate the development of a Tax Treaty to help countries like Somalia deal with illicit cash outflow.

“Somalia must also work to increase its revenue through increased trade, progressive taxes, widening tax base and grants. It must also seal all loopholes for illicit financial flows.” David Ngira

To be sure, Somalia faces significant security and governance challenges. But military spending, which currently stands at 24% of the budget, must not prevent Somalia from matching its health policies and needs with appropriate budgetary allocations. This will enable the country to adhere to its constitutional and international obligations to guarantee accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare to its people.

Two years after coming into power, the Hassan Sheikh administration must now translate its political commitments into practical health gains for Somalis. This requires the government to allocate at least 15% of their budget to health, implement budgets prudently and ensure corruption doesn’t undermine the country’s progress towards health reforms and realization.

Dr. David Ngira is Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Researcher at Amnesty International’s Regional Office for East and Southern Africa

Sudan’s RSF claims it has captured a key city in the southeast

News

Sudan’s RSF claims it has captured a key city in the southeast

Source: Aljazeera, The army does not dispute RSF’s statement, but says the fighting is ongoing in Singa, the capital of Sennar state.

In this image grab taken from handout video footage released by the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 23, 2023, fighters ride in the back of a technical vehicle (pickup truck mounted with a turret) in the East Nile district of greater Khartoum. A US-brokered ceasefire between Sudan's warring generals entered its second day on April 26, 2023, but remained fragile after witnesses reported fresh air strikes and paramilitaries claimed to have seized a major oil refinery and power plant. (Photo by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SUDAN RAPID SUPPORT FORCES (RSF)" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === - === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SUDAN RAPID SUPPORT FORCES (RSF)" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === / BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE
Fighters ride in the back of a pick-up truck mounted with a turret in the East Nile district of greater Khartoum [File: RSF via AFP]

Published On 30 Jun 202430 Jun 2024

Paramilitary forces battling Sudan’s army for more than a year say they have captured a key state capital in the war-torn country’s southeast.

“We have liberated the 17th Infantry Division from Singa [the capital of Sennar state],” the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) announced on X on Saturday.

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Over 750,000 people in Sudan at risk of starvation: Global hunger monitor

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Sudan’s army repels major assault on el-Fasher; kills RSF commander

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Sudan’s RSF captures key army stronghold of el-Fula

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A massacre, an exodus from Darfur and years of rehab for Sudanese refugees

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Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from the capital Khartoum, said the RSF is gaining control of an increasing number of territories across Sudan, especially in eastern and western parts of the country’s south.

“They already control a large portion of the Darfur region, with the exception of el-Fasher, which is the only remaining city under the army’s and allied groups’ control,” she said.

Morgan said the Sudanese army does not dispute the RSF’s statement that it has taken control of the 17th Infantry Division.

“However, they say their forces are still present in the city and they are still fighting,” she said. “What we can definitely confirm is civilians have witnessed clashes and many of them have started leaving the city since yesterday [Saturday] and more people are leaving the city this [Sunday] morning.”

Millions displaced

Sudan has been gripped by war since April 2023, when fighting erupted between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

The conflict in the country of 48 million has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions and triggered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Somali government denies negotiating with al-Shabab amidst military pause

Somali government denies negotiating with al-Shabab amidst military pause


Source: Hiiraan ONline, Saturday June 29, 2024



Mogadishu (HOL) – Somali government has denied social media reports that it is negotiating with the al-Qaeda-affiliated armed group al-Shabab, a few months after military operations against the group stopped.

National Security Adviser Hussein Moallim Mohamud wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the government is not in talks with al-Shabab. He reiterated that President Mohamud has set clear conditions for any potential negotiations.

“They must sever any links with global terror groups and accept Somalia’s territorial integrity. They must be willing to pursue their political agenda peacefully,” the adviser said.

Two years ago, the Somali government declared a ‘total war’ against al-Shabab. The operations began when local people in the Hiiraan region organized themselves against the group. The government later joined the fight and took over the operation’s lead.

Despite setbacks the joint forces face, some elite figures and security experts have called for talks with al-Shabab. President Mohamud, speaking recently at the Oslo Forum, emphasized that the endgame with al-Shabab will ultimately involve dialogue. His remarks have sparked reactions from politicians and security commentators.

Since 2007, al-Shabab has been fighting the Somali government and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a multidimensional mission authorized by the African Union and mandated by the United Nations Security Council.

Ethiopia, South Sudan to build 220-km cross-border road

Ethiopia, South Sudan to build 220-km cross-border road


Source: Xinhuanet, Saturday June 29, 2024


(Image File)

Ethiopia and South Sudan are set to build a 220-km cross-border road, following a 738-million-U.S.-dollar financial agreement signed in May 2023.

South Sudan’s Transitional National Legislative Assembly on Tuesday ratified the Ethiopia-South Sudan financial agreement to build a cross-border highway, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Thursday.

The ministry said the project aims to enhance connectivity and bolster economic ties between the two neighboring countries, underscoring the growing cooperation and mutually beneficial relationship between Ethiopia and South Sudan.

According to the financial agreement, Ethiopia will cover the cost of the road project. The deal designates South Sudan as the borrower and Ethiopia as the financier, and the repayment involves crude oil from South Sudan to Ethiopia. The construction of the road project will start upon the final authorization by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

The road on the South Sudanese side will connect Paloich, Maiwut and Pagak to Ethiopia’s border areas.