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Horn of Africa
US Works To Improve Relations with Sudan
Sudan’s foreign minister recently visited Washington. The Trump administration offered a scenario whereby Sudan could be removed from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Ethiopia arrests notorious army colonel over suspicion of war crimes
Source: Hiiraan Online
Friday November 16, 2018
ADDIS ABABA (HOL) – Ethiopian police arrested a notorious army general on Friday on a warrant from the new government which wants him to face charges of war crimes committed in Ethiopia’s Somali state, police said.
Col. Gebregziabher Alemseged has been accused of having been involved in atrocities by the army in Ethiopia’s Somali state during the former regime’s reign.
Alemseged also faces separate charges including inciting the recent deadly uprising against the government in the Somali region’s capital Jigjiga following the arrest of the former regional leader Abdi Mohammed Omar in August that killed dozens of people.
According to Ethiopian officials, the infamous colonel had maintained a closer relationship with Omar who is currently facing war crime charges and appeared in court sessions several times in recent months.
During Omar’s reign, human rights groups have documents hundreds of people were killed by state terrorism, including many who are still registered as disappeared.
Col. Gebregziabher Alemseged had also led the Ethiopian army sent into Somalia to topple an Islamist administration in Mogadishu and rescue the Western-backed transitional government at the end of 2006.
He has since became a powerful figure in Somalia’s political circles despites subsequent complaints by Somali leaders who have accused him of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and that he maintained closer secret relationships with regional leaders locked in a bitter political challenge with the central government.
The complaints by Somali leaders have led to the sacking of Alemseged by Intergovernmental Authority on Development for which he was its political advisor and Addis Ababa’s point man under the former regime in Somalia in June.The London-based Amnesty International accused Alemseged’s troops in Somalia of killing civilians and committing atrocities, including slitting people’s throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women in violence that rights groups said killed over 10,000 people across the country.
His arrest comes just days after the Ethiopian police discovered a mass grave containing at least 200 bodies along the border between the strife-torn Oromiya and Somali regions, as parts of investigations into crimes allegedly committed by the former Somali region’s leader.
According to officials, the recent discovery of the mass grave and follow-up investigations by police had allegedly incriminated Col. Alemseged, in a case that has reportedly prompted his arrest.
He is among dozens of senior army generals and mid rank commanders arrested in connection with war crimes and corruption by Ethiopia’s new government under the reformist prime minister Abiy Ahmed in recent weeks
U.S. Returns to Mogadishu With Revamped Diplomatic Outpost, 25 Years After “Black Hawk Down” Battle re
Source: The Intercept, Saturday November 17, 2018
THE UNITED STATES has maintained an arms-length diplomatic relationship with Somalia since two American Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu in 1993. But an increase in activity in recent years is set to culminate this weekend, with the quiet opening of a renovated and expanded building that will apparently serve as an unofficial U.S. embassy or consulate in Mogadishu, according to diplomatic and other sources in the city. The facility will allow for a permanent diplomatic presence in the country, a place for the U.S. to host meetings and for limited staff to be based.
U.S. officials are reluctant to discuss the building and its intended uses; the government seems keen to indicate it is neither an embassy nor a consular office. However, in a sign of the apparent importance of the building, the new U.S. ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto, who is based in neighboring Kenya, arrived in Mogadishu this week and is expected to formally inaugurate the facility on Saturday. Despite requests, the State Department would not allow an Intercept reporter to attend the opening ceremony.
The U.S. has not had an embassy or consulate in Somalia since 1991, when Americans were evacuated amid an anti-government uprising that catalyzed the complete collapse of the Somali state and deepened a long and bloody civil war. Relations between the U.S. and Somalia took a historic turn two years later with the “Black Hawk Down” incident, which took place during a U.S.-led military intervention precipitated by food shortages and political chaos. In that famous incident, two U.S. military helicopters were shot down, and a total of 18 American soldiers were killed during a raid to capture allies of a Somali warlord, Mohamed Farah Aidid. The Black Hawks crashed into Bakara, the main market in Mogadishu, sparking a 15-hour gun battle; the bodies of some of the U.S. soldiers were dragged through the streets. Those gory images and the subsequent national horror have since shaped U.S. policy abroad, influencing former President Bill Clinton’s decision not to put boots on the ground to intervene in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda or in Bosnia.
The U.S. building is located in Mogadishu’s equivalent of what was known as the “Green Zone” in Baghdad during the U.S. occupation of Iraq. At the moment, the vast majority of foreigners who come to the Somali capital do not even leave the massive airport complex-cum-military base that stretches across a section of the Mogadishu shoreline. The compound, secured by blast walls, is protected by the African Union Mission in Somalia and is entirely segregated from the rest of the city. Even Somali politicians entering the compound have to go through airport-style security managed by Ugandan soldiers. Along with the United Nations camp and security contractors, the U.K. and the EU keep embassies inside the airport. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States have embassies in the city proper (a move greatly appreciated by the public, many of whom find it offensive that foreigners would come to work in their country but never actually leave the airport compound).That the building is technically not an embassy or a consulate, but has been fixed up for diplomatic uses in the renovation, is likely a compromise between government officials pushing for a concrete diplomatic presence, and those who are more gun shy. But Americans, foreigners, and Somalis who work in the airport compound refer to the building as “the embassy” in passing, and the distinction will likely remain a technicality on the ground. It is not known if the American flag will be raised outside of this building.
During former Secretary of State John Kerry’s surprise visit to Somalia in 2015, U.S. officials floated plans to reinstate an embassy before the end of the Obama administration’s term. A building was at least partially erected but over time the U.S. has been walking back plans for its completion. The likely factors for the delay are increased safety-guidelines instituted in the wake of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi in Libya, in 2012, and the continuously delicate security situation in Somalia.
The militant group al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda offshoot, is omnipresent and active in Somalia, and contributes to a high level of insecurity. Less than two weeks ago, at least 50 people were killed in dual car bombs in Mogadishu. Small-scale attacks and assassinations are a regular occurrence, and last year, al Shabaab staged a particularly bloody attack, bombing a busy junction at rush hour and killing between 500 and 1,000 people.
Since the Black Hawk incident, the U.S. has generally kept diplomatic staffers out of Somalia, while contributing significant amounts of humanitarian assistance and conducting drone strikes and airstrikes to destabilize al Shabaab, which is at war with the internationally recognized government in Mogadishu. In recent years, most U.S. diplomatic activity on the ground has consisted of day visits to the capital.
While the diplomatic footprint has been light, the U.S. has continued to bolster itself militarily in Somalia. In 2015, news broke about secret U.S. drone bases where a handful of special forces were stationed. One of those bases was at Baledogle, which has been fast expanding and is now a forward operating base with hundreds of beds. Last month, the Pentagon invested $12 million for “emergency runway repairs” there.
Reporting for this story was supported with funding from the Investigative Fund.
Ethiopia arrests ex deputy intelligence chief in corruption, rights crackdown
Source: Reuters, 15 November, 2018
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia said on Thursday it had arrested the former deputy intelligence chief after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration launched a crackdown this week on senior security officials suspected of human rights abuses and corruption.
Also on Thursday, state-affiliated television Fana Broadcasting said police had arrested the head of the security division at state-owned Ethio Telecom network.
Since Monday more than 60 officials, some from the intelligence services and some from the military-run industrial conglomerate METEC, have been arrested. Some have already appeared in court. A judge has denied them bail and given police 14 days further to investigate. None have been charged.
Fana Broadcasting said Gudeta Olana, head of security at Ethio Telecom, had also been apprehended by police. It gave no reason for the arrest.
The detentions have been broadly welcomed by rights groups and opposition politicians as a first step by Abiy toward fulfilling pledges made when he took office in April to tackle impunity and seek justice for past crimes by the government.
“Former deputy of NISS and Federal Police Commission Commissioner General Yared Zerihun has been apprehended by police,” Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye said on Twitter early on Thursday.
He did not disclose details. Yared’s wife was arrested on Monday and sources told Reuters that she had been trying to hide him. Yared was appointed head of the federal police in April but resigned three months later.
The whereabouts of former intelligence chief Getachew Assefa are unknown, government sources say, and the attorney general declined at a news conference on Monday to say whether the government had issued an arrest warrant for him.
Tsegaye has said evidence showed “the senior leadership of the national security agency” had instructed members of Abiy’s Oromo ethnic group to attack him at a rally in June, in which two people were killed and scores wounded.
Analysts and diplomats are describing the arrests as a “full frontal assault on the establishment”. Though 42-year-old Abiy began sacking senior officials upon taking office, this week’s detentions have picked up the pace of his stated efforts to rein in the security services and tackle economic mismanagement and other problems.
Abiy is Ethiopia’s first leader from its majority Oromo ethnic group. He was chosen by the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), as its new head after three years of street protests and strikes piled pressure on it to reform.
Kinfe Dagnew, a brigadier general in Ethiopia’s army and former chief executive of METEC, was arrested on Tuesday close to the border with Sudan and Eritrea. He is due in court on Thursday, after a brief hearing on Wednesday at which he requested a lawyer.
The attorney general has said that investigations uncovered corruption at METEC (Metal and Engineering Corporation), which makes military equipment and is involved in sectors from agriculture to construction. [L8N1XP0GV]
In August, Ethiopia removed METEC from the $4 billion Grand Renaissance Dam project on the River Nile due to delays and failure to complete the installation of turbines.
“There’s clear evidence that these people at METEC committed sophisticated, high-level economic crime,” said Hallelujah Lulie, Addis Ababa-based program director at the Amani Africa thinktank. “I don’t think he can reform the economy without addressing the issue of METEC,” he said, referring to Abiy.
Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by George Obulutsa and Raissa Kasolowsky
Source: World Bank November 13, 2018
The World Bank has approved an International Development Association (IDA) package of $20 million to support Djibouti’s efforts to improve the living conditions for residents of urban areas, achieve its Zero Slum strategy.
Funded with a US$20 million from IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, combining credit and grant, the Integrated Slum Upgrading Project will improve access to urban and social services and to better job opportunities through increased mobility to more than 120,000 city dwellers.
“The Government of Djibouti has the ambition to eliminate slums in its territory and provide good living conditions to all its citizens,” said Amina Abdi, Minister of Housing in Djibouti, “this operation is an important milestone of that transformational agenda and constitutes the first financing of a large restructuring program”.
Djibouti Ville’s high urban growth rate is a result of natural demographic growth combined with a continuous inflow of people both from rural areas inside Djibouti and from neighboring countries. While an increasing number of people relocated to the urban area in search for economic opportunities, many were also forced to leave their home due to repeated droughts over the past 30 years and conflicts in the region.
The population increase created new extensions at the outskirts of Djibouti. More than one-third of the capital city’s population today lives in 13 rapidly growing slums. The expansion of these urban areas has mostly happened in an uncontrolled manner, making service provision challenging for authorities.
“This operation is an important step towards ensuring that all people in Djibouti live with adequate housing and social and mobility services”, said Atou Seck, World Bank Resident Representative for Djibouti. “Support will be provided for both investments and reforms, most notably on administration and regulation efforts already underway by the Government.”
In the targeted area, the project will support social infrastructure to relieve densely populated areas and facilitate public transportation, emergency assistance and the movement of people and goods.
It will enable the government to develop an integrated urban development and slum prevention program. The strategy will enable sectoral ministries, such as health and education, to strategically position health centers and schools, based on the population’s demand, instead of land availability.
“People living in the project targeted area, youth and women, in particular, will benefit from the jobs and new business opportunities created,” said Alexandra Le Courtois, Urban Development Specialist. “Children will walk shorter distances to school and residents will enjoy access to transport, water, and street lighting.”
The World Bank’s portfolio in Djibouti consists of eleven IDA-funded projects totaling US$ 150 million.
The portfolio is focused on social safety nets, energy, rural community development, urban poverty reduction, health, education, modernization of public administration, governance and private sector development, with emphasis on women and youth.
Source: Reuters, Tuesday November 13, 2018
The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on Wednesday to lift a nearly decade-old arms embargo and targeted sanctions on Eritrea, diplomats said, after the country’s rapprochement with Ethiopia and thawing of relations with Djibouti.
Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 15-member council completed negotiations on Monday and agreed on a British-drafted resolution to remove the sanctions, which were imposed in 2009 after U.N. experts accused Eritrea of supporting armed groups in Somalia. Eritrea has denied the accusations.
A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, China, Russia, Britain or France. Diplomats said Wednesday’s vote was likely to be unanimous.
The draft resolution, seen by Reuters, would immediately remove the arms embargo and targeted sanctions – a travel ban and asset freeze – imposed on Eritrea.
It also urges Eritrea and Djibouti to work towards normalizing ties and settling a decade-old border dispute. It asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report back to the council on progress by Feb. 15 and then every six months.
Eritrea and Djibouti agreed in September to work on reconciling. Deadly clashes broke out between the Horn of Africa countries in June 2008 after Djibouti accused Asmara of moving troops across the border.
It came after Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 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.
The Security Council welcomed the renewed ties in a statement at the time, but it stopped short of pledging that it could review sanctions after the United States, China, Britain, France and Ivory Coast raised concerns about linking the development.
A November 2017 Security Council resolution said the peaceful settlement of the border dispute would be a factor in any review of sanctions on Eritrea. Both the United States and China have military bases in Djibouti.
When nations work together, hope prevails and collective solutions can be found – UN chief tells Peace Forum, marking World War centenary in Paris
When nations work together, hope prevails and collective solutions can be found – UN chief tells Peace Forum, marking World War centenary in Paris
Sourc: UN, 11 November 2018
From conflict and economic downturn to disease and climate change, global problems require “more than ever” a strengthening of international cooperation, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told world leaders at the Paris Peace Forum on Sunday, commemorating 100 years since the end of the First World War.
“Over the past 100 years, the desire to settle conflicts peacefully on the basis of common rules has been converted into a universal system of institutions in the political, economic, social and environmental spheres,” said the UN chief.
“The horror of those great global conflicts cannot be forgotten… But horror must never prevail over hope,” he stated in his opening remarks for the Forum. “It was that same hope that gave rise to the development of multilateralism in the twentieth century,” referring to the creation of the League of Nations in 1919, and the United Nations following the Second World War in 1945.
This Paris Peace Forum, the first of its kind, is an initiative of the French Government led by President Emmanuel Macron. Held from 11 November to 13 November in the French capital, and labelled “a global forum for governance projects,” it gathers dozens of world leaders and representatives of international organisations, for a series of roundtables to discuss and reaffirm common commitment to tackle the great challenges of the world today.
‘Grounds for fear’
Referencing an analysis of the first global conflict’s causes by historian Christopher Clark, who stated in his book The Sleepwalkers that war broke out because world leaders of the time were “blind” and “locked into distorted perceptions of their enemies,” the UN Secretary-General noted “many parallels” between the world in the first half of the 20th century and today. He said this is “giving us grounds to fear that an unpredictable chain of events could ensue”.
For example, the 2008 financial crisis, similar to the crisis of 1929 – although contained and reversed thanks to “an unprecedented arsenal of budgetary and monetary instruments” – has led to a “destabilization of the middle classes,” and “people’s indignation at the treason of the elites”.
Another example of similarity cited by the UN chief was the rise of totalitarianism in the 1930s. “We are not in the same situation,” he acknowledged, “but what we are seeing today is the polarization of political life and of society itself, which is leading to a dangerous erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms, democratic principles and the rule of law”.
A weakening of the democratic spirit of compromise and an indifference to collective rules are twin poisons for multilateralism – UN Secretary General Guterres
“A weakening of the democratic spirit of compromise and an indifference to collective rules are twin poisons for multilateralism,” he added, citing a divided UN Security Council over the Syrian conflict, increasing “trade confrontrations,” and the “crisis of confidence” faced by the European Union as prime examples.
Explaining that international cooperation – or “multilateralism” – has become a “necessity”, he stated that nations working together has “yielded undeniable results,” including: a reduction in child mortality and extreme poverty over the last few decades; major battles won against public health threats such as smallpox, polio, and AIDS; and several successful conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts.
“More than a million men and women from 125 countries have served in peacekeeping missions over the last 70 years to prevent the spread of crises, protect civilians and support political processes,” Mr. Guterres noted, adding that such deployments are “cost-effective”.
Citing figures from the US Government Accountability Office, he said that a national peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic, for example, would have cost the United States ten times more than the UN’s mission, MINUSCA.
“The multilateral framework has also shown itself to be indispensable in resolving nuclear proliferation crises,” the UN chief added, referring to the Security Council’s unity in dealing with the Iranian and North Korean situations, which enabled negotiated solutions both in 2015 and in 2018.
Great challenges ahead
One key issue for which multilateral efforts are particularly crucial, the Secretary-General stressed, is climate change. As the world is gearing up for the Climate Change Conference in Poland (COP 24) this December, the UN Secretary-General warned of the urgency of taking action.
“Climate change is moving faster than we are,” he regretted. “Arctic sea ice is shrinking, desertification is spreading and coral bleaching is widespread,” he said, referring to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which “exceed even the most pessimistic forecasts”.
Citing demography and migration as the second great challenge of our time, Mr. Guterres called world leaders to “come to [their] senses.”
“In a context of climate change, inequalities and conflict, migration will remain an enduring phenomenon,” he stated. “Without international cooperation, and if we retreat behind our national borders, we will sacrifice our collective values, and we will perpetuate the tragedy of migrants being exploited by the worst traffickers”.
Finally, as “the digital transformation is turning our economies and societies upside down,” the UN chief identified technology as the third big world challenge ahead. He cited artificial intelligence redefining the job market and the nature of work itself, the spread of cybercrime, and the gap between innovation and our legal frameworks.
Multipolarity is not the solution
“Our world at present seems chaotic, but it is moving towards multidimensional multipolarity,” explained Mr. Guterres, who stressed that “it would be wrong to regard this multipolarity, in and of itself, as the solution”.
“Without the multilateral system and respect for international rules, we risk a return solely to power relations, reward-sanction mechanisms and a cycle of frozen conflicts,” he said. “That is why I will not sit back and watch an assault on multilateralism just when it is most needed”.
The Secretary-General acknowledged that a multilateral commitment is difficult for political leaders to explain to their constituents, because “people often see what it dictates, not what it maintains”.
To tackle this, he called “for States to renew their citizens’ compacts,” and said “we need an inclusive multilateralism that is closely related to civil society and the business community,” looking to solve inequalities through the 2030 development agenda and its landmark UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“My mission is simple: to be more effective in order to better serve the people for whom we are a necessity and a hope,” the UN Secretary-General explained.
Towards an ‘exemplary’ UN system
For the UN to be effective, Mr. Guterres emphasized that geographical diversity and gender equality are key.
Noting that the organization achieved gender parity in leadership positions one year after he took office, the UN chief pledged to continue to “tirelessly pursue steps towards modernization,” and common solutions in the three key challenges he cited.
The Secretary-General ended his statement by calling on Member States to engage in the advancement of key upcoming processes, including: the imminent COP 24 and next year’s Climate Change Summit; the December Marrakech meeting to realize the Global Compact for Migration agreed upon earlier this year; and the UNESCO Internet Governance Forum starting on Monday.
“The multilateralism that is now part of our daily life is at risk of disintegrating just when it is most needed,” he concluded. “Its legacy has been invaluable: an impulse by which devastation gave way to membership of a shared humanity”.
Among the participants of the Forum was the President of the UN General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa, who in one of the roundtables presented her vision for the UN’s most democratic body, including the D.A.R.E. programme, which she presented when she took office in September.
Other prominent participants on the first day of the Peace Forum included Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, India’s Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki.
Although the United States of America played a central role in World War I, President Donald Trump declined the invitation.
The African Union Mission in Somalia is going ahead with plans to withdraw its troops in February next year even though some troops-contributing countries are not keen on leaving.
In a recent workshop in Nairobi, Amisom top brass, representative of Somalia government and African Union developed a document that will provide an effective framework for the gradual transition of security responsibilities to Somali institutions.Known as the Concept of Operations (CONOPs), the document will guide Amisom’s activities and operations for the 2018-2021 period, marking the final phase of the transition and eventual exit from Somalia.
Francisco Madeira, special representative of the AU and civilian head of Amisom, said that CONOPs is an important undertaking because it marks a crucial step in the efforts to stabilise Somalia.
“We have made progress despite challenges and we are proud of that progress, “said Mr Madeira.
But Gen Adan Mulata, Kenya’s Assistant Chief of Defence Forces in charge of Operations, Doctrine and Training, said that while the document is intended to place Somalia on the path to recovery and an Amisom exit is inevitable, stakeholders should consider the conditions on the ground.
“The country has to be left in the hands of people capable of pursuing peace and recovery,” he noted.
“Let us talk about meaningful change in Somalia, not blame-games and fault-finding,” added Gen Mulata.
The document, which will have to be approved by AU and senior defence officials of troops-contributing countries, looks at Amisom’s transition plan vis-à-vis the political and security situation in the country.
According to Amisom spokesperson, Col Richard Omwega, the CONOPS focuses on the implementation of Somalia Transition Plan and reconfiguration of the military in preparation for conditional handover of security responsibility to Somalia security forces, and opening and securing of main supply routes in the country in a prioritized order.
“Other key issues it addresses includes capacity building of Somali citizens and stabilization programmes to enhance and sustain peace and security as the country gets ready for 2020 general elections based on the principle of one person one vote,” he said.
Col Omwega, however added that condition based draw-down of military forces by end of February 2019 will still take as stipulated in UN Resolution 2431.
There were previously 22,126 troops from the five TCCs; Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi and Djibouti. Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Zambia have also contributed police contingents to Amisom.
However due to reduced and irregular funding, the UN Security Council Resolution 2372 issued in 2017 had instructed Amisom to reduce its uniformed personnel to a maximum 21,626 in readiness for a full pull-out in 2020.
The first withdrawal; of 1,040 started in December 2017 and a further reduction of similar number was set for October this year.
However, this has not been pushed to next year could be adjusted again if the TCCs managed to convince the UN Security Council. The second phase of withdrawal was set for December but has since been pushed to February next year.
In July, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres , wrote to the Security Council advising that said plans to cut Amisom troops were not realistic, especially after the biggest terror attack in Mogadishu in October last year in more than 500 people died.
Kenya and Uganda has not been keen on leaving Somalia before the country is stabilized. Kenya, for instance, is concerned that a premature withdrawal could reenergize Al Shabaab to start attacking the country after almost two years without major attack.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta for most of this year has been critical of the withdrawal as “unfortunate timing” and that the UN and AU should be practical because the Somalia National Army and other security agencies are not yet ready to take on full responsibility for security.
Uganda on the other hand has issued a proposal to donors that would enable its troops to remain in Somalia under a new arrangement provided there are funded.
Amisom, that entered Somalia in 2007, has been struggling due to reduced and irregular funding.
While Amisom continues to receive financial, logistic and equipment support from multilateral donors, the reduction of the European Union $200 million annual stipend to Amisom troops by 20 percent has affected some of the Amisom operations.
Source: DW, Tuesday November 13, 2018
Ethiopia (DW/Y. Geberegziabeher)
The high-profile arrests for abuse and corruption come as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed implements reforms. The attorney general also accused intelligence figures of an assassination attempt against the new prime minister.
Dozens of Ethiopian intelligence officials, military personnel and business people have been arrested on allegations of corruption and human rights abuses, the African country’s attorney general said Monday.
The high-profile arrests are the outcome of a five-month investigation ordered by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who since coming to power in April has pressed a number of political, diplomatic and economic reforms.
Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye said arrest warrants were issued for 36 security officials for committing abuses, while 30 others from the military-run conglomerate Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) were accused of corruption.
The security officials are accused of abuses at prisons, including “beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even killings,” Berhanu said.Meanwhile, at METEC there has been corruption in procurement practices, the attorney general said.
“METEC officials were involved in purchases of $2 billion (1.8 billion euros) worth of goods without any bidding process,” Berhanu said.
Berhanu also said senior security officials were involved in a June grenade attack that killed two people at a rally in Addis Ababa shortly after Abiy left the stage.
In September, five people belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front, a group Abiy had pardoned along with thousands of others, were arrested for the attack.
“The evidence we gathered shows that the senior leadership of the national security agency instructed Oromos to carry out the attack because it would mean that the prime minister — an Oromo — was killed by Oromos,” the attorney general told a press conference. “It would (also) give the impression that he is not endorsed by the Oromo population.”
Berhanu called for the former intelligence chief to turn himself in and said that several suspects had fled Ethiopia or were in hiding.
Shaking things up
Ethiopia’s government has traditionally been dominated by the Tigrayan ethnic group, despite there being more than 80 ethnic groups in the country. Abiy is the ruling EPRDF’s first Oromo leader.
Abiy’s reforms have challenged the security services and upended longstanding power structures in place since the EPRDF came to power in 1991.
Under his short rule, Abiy has loosened political restrictions, allowed greater media freedom and made peace with Eritrea. He has also vowed to open state-run sectors of the economy to investors and recognized security services’ past brutality.
Important step for accountability
Amnesty International welcomed the arrest of security officials for abuses.
“These arrests are an important first step toward ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s East Africa Director. “Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people, including in secret facilities. We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all past human rights violations and abuses, while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials.”
cw/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
The State of Somali Piracy
There have only been two pirate attacks off Somalia since the beginning of 2018 as compared to 160 for all of 2011. The author argues, however, that it is still essential to address the root cause of piracy in Somalia.
Maritime Crime off the the Horn of Africa
The report notes that pirates in Somalia shifted their focus away from piracy towards more profitable illegal maritime activities such human trafficking and weapons smuggling. The authors argue this new situation calls for interventions aimed at building stability through countering maritime crime that is equally agile and/or comprehensive both in terms of the types of crime being targeted and the geographical scope.
First Eritrean-American Elected to US Congress
Eritrean-American Debesai Neguse was elected on 6 November 2018 as a US Congressman in the second district of Colorado. He is the first Eritrean-American to be elected to Congress. He will represent about 720,000 Coloradans in a district that covers about ten counties.
First Somali-American Elected to US Congress
The U.S. Congress will receive in January 2019 the first ever Somali-American, Ilhan Omar, elected to that body. Ilhan Omar will represent the 5th District of Minnesota, which spans Minneapolis and suburbs.
Mass grave of 200 people uncovered in Ethiopia, say police
Source: AFP, Friday November 9, 2018
Ethiopia’s state affiliated broadcaster says police have uncovered a mass grave of 200 people in the troubled area between the country’s Oromia and Somali regions.
Fana Broadcasting reported Thursday evening that police were carrying out a court-ordered investigation for evidence of alleged abuses by forces loyal to the former president of the Somali region, Abdi Mohammed, who is now in detention.
The Fana report said that police were granted 14 days to unearth and do forensic examinations on the estimated 200 bodies that have been found.
The bodies appear to be related to a series of ethnic clashes carried out by an unofficial militia known as the Liyu that were loyal to the former Somali region leader. In August, Ethiopian officials said the Liyu carried out an attack that killed 41 people and injured 20 others. Human Rights Watch accused the Liyu of carrying out a brutal and relentless pattern of abuse, torture, rape and humiliation in the region.
Several hundred others were also reportedly killed when ethnic Somalis and Oromos clashed in border areas over claims to land and other resources in previous months.
A number of ethnic-based conflicts have raged across Ethiopia posing the most serious challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to power in April.
Eritrea, Somalia presidents arrive in Ethiopia
Source: Fana, Friday November 9, 2018
At the invitation of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo of Somalia arrived in the city of Gondar, Amhara regional state today.
Upon arrival at Atse Tewodros Airport, the two leaders were welcomed by Prime Minister Dr Abiy and other senior federal and regional government officials.
The three leaders will hold a tripartite meeting to cement the outcome of the Horn of Africa economic integration agreement signed in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, last September.
They are also expected to visit various development projects in Gondor and Bahir Dar cites.
Prime Minister Dr Abiy traveled to Gondar yesterday.
He held two separate discussions with elders from Wolkait Tsegede and Qemant, providing inputs on a peaceful resolution of existing conflicts, according to Office of the Prime Minister.
Death toll from Mogadishu bombings jumps to over 40 hare
Source: AFP, Saturday November 10, 2018
The death toll from a series of car bombings near a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu has jumped to at least 41, police said on Saturday.
Friday’s attack was the latest in a wave of bombings by Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed Somali government for over a decade.
Twin car bombs exploded within moments of each other, followed by gunfire and a third blast, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.
Police official Ibrahim Mohamed said that information received from various hospitals indicated that the number of dead had reached 41, with another 106 wounded.
“Most of these people were civilians and nearly 20 of them died in minibuses that were passing by the road when the blast occurred,” he added.
Another security official, Abdirahman Osman, told AFP that nearly 50 had been confirmed dead so far, although the final number was not yet known.
Officials on Friday had put the death toll at about 20.
Good News and Bad News for Doing Business in Africa
There is good news and bad news for Africa. Out of the ten most improved countries since 2017, five are in Africa. Djibouti is second most improved, Togo sixth, Kenya seventh, Cote d’Ivoire eighth, and Rwanda tenth. The bad news is that only eight African countries rank above the global midpoint: Mauritius (20), Rwanda (29), Morocco (60), Kenya (61), Tunisia (80), South Africa (82), Botswana (86), and Zambia (87). Forty-six African countries rank below the global mid-point and thirteen of the bottom twenty are in Africa.
The United Arab Emirates in the Horn of Africa
The UAE and Saudi Arabia played a useful role in pushing forward the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. But competition among Gulf States is posing serious problems for political stability in the Horn of Africa, especially Somalia, as their differences play out in the Horn of Africa.
Sourc e: Bloomberg, Wednesday November 7, 2018
A United Arab Emirates military base in the self-declared republic of Somaliland will begin operating by June and include a coastal-surveillance system, according to a diplomat involved in talks for the facility.
The U.A.E. is growing its military presence in the Horn of Africa to help protect trade flows through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a key shipping lane used by oil tankers and other cargo vessels en route to the Suez Canal. Emirati footholds in Somaliland and Eritrea provide strategic locations as the U.A.E. supports the Saudi Arabia-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The surveillance system will be used to protect the base in the Somaliland port town of Berbera and monitor the territory’s 800-kilometer (500-mile) coastline, former ambassador to the U.A.E. Bashe Awil Omar said. Pirates have hijacked vessels off Somaliland’s coast, including the seizure of a vessel in March 2017.
“The U.A.E. military base will help the whole region — piracy, illegal fishing, toxic dumping: we don’t have resources to watch our coast,” Bashe said in an interview in Somaliland’s main city of Hargeisa. “The U.A.E. has become the hub of the whole region in terms of trade. For the U.A.E. to secure that strategic position, it cannot do that if it does not secure the lifeline of trade.”
The 42 square-kilometer (16 square-mile) facility will consist of a naval base and two parallel runways, he said. Situated adjacent to a port operated by state-owned DP World Ltd., its first runway of 4.9-kilometers is almost 60 percent complete, according to Bashe, who moved to the post of ambassador to Kenya in August.
The U.A.E. is separately expected to train the Somaliland coastguard, Bashe said.
“With the DP World development activity, we now hope to get a big piece of the cake,” Captain Abdullah Omar, an adviser to the Somaliland coastguard, said in an interview. “We are the only entity that has the legal right to police and implement the law of the sea on the Somaliland coast.”
The U.A.E. Foreign Ministry in Abu Dhabi didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment. Abdulla Darwish, managing director of Sharjah-based Divers Marine Contracting LLC, who said in an interview last year that his company was awarded a $90 million construction contract for the naval base, didn’t respond to two requests for comment sent to his mobile phone.
The facility will include a 300-meter (984-foot) L-shaped jetty “to support the military airport” Darwish said last year. The jetty is 75 percent complete, according to Bashe, who’s visited the military base.
The Somaliland base has been under discussion since 2016, when former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressed Ethiopian unease about a U.A.E. base being established in the Eritrean port town of Assab and asked the Emirati government to consider switching the facility to Berbera, according to Bashe. Former sworn enemies, Ethiopia and Eritrea this year agreed a rapprochement.
Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Meles Alem didn’t respond to two calls and two text messages seeking comment.
The U.A.E. was given the lease for the military airport in May 2016 “in exchange for funding in various projects” provided by the U.A.E. government represented by the Abu Dhabi Fund for International Development, Bashe said.
Hailemariam’s request for the U.A.E. to go to Berbera instead of Assab reached “the highest levels” in Abu Dhabi, Bashe said. The emirate is led by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. Talks followed with “key” Abu Dhabi ministers, he said.
United Nations investigators of sanctions on Eritrea and Somalia said in a draft report to the UN Security Council that satellite imagery of Assab indicated the continued presence of multiple naval vessels. It noted the continued expansion of the base.
“Berbera and Assab could be entry points for the U.A.E.,” Bashe said. “Ethiopia is very important to them in terms of trade.’
Source: Reuters, Monday October 22, 2018
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia signed a peace deal on Sunday with Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels from its Somali Region, whom it had previously outlawed as a “terrorist group,” officials said.
The ONLF launched its bid for secession of the Somali Region, also known as Ogaden, in eastern Ethiopia in 1984. In 2007, Ethiopian forces launched a large-scale offensive against the group after the rebels killed 74 people in an attack on a Chinese-run oil facility.
Earlier this year, parliament removed the ONLF from a list of banned movements as part of a reform drive being led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has extended an olive branch to opponents. The ONLF declared a ceasefire in August.
The agreement, seen by Reuters, stipulates that both sides would end hostilities and that the ONLF would “pursue its political obligations through peaceful means”.The two sides will now form a joint committee to discuss the root causes of the conflict, the agreement said.
The Ogaden region contains four trillion cubic feet of gas and oil deposits, the government says. China’s POLY-GCL Petroleum has been developing two gas fields there since 2013.
Abiy, who took office in April, is presiding over a push to shake the Horn of Africa nation of 100 million people from decades of security-obsessed rule.
He has acknowledged and condemned widespread abuses by the security forces, likening the situation to state terrorism, and he has worked to forge peace with Eritrea, with which Addis Ababa has been locked in a military standoff since a 1998-2000 border war in which 80,000 people are thought to have died.
Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Daniel Wallis