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Rights Report on Ethiopia Sparks Fierce Debate

Peter Heinlein VOA | Addis Ababa 03 November 2010


A U.S.-based human rights group has raised an uproar with a report arguing that development assistance to Ethiopia may be doing more harm than good by strengthening a repressive government. The report has sparked condemnation in some quarters, praise in others.


The Human Rights Watch report issued last month accuses Ethiopia's government of using development aid to suppress political dissent. The 105-page document alleges that much of the $3 billion a year contributed by foreign donors is used to consolidate the power of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front.


Ethiopian government spokesmen did not answer repeated phone calls seeking comment on the report. The government, however, launched a scathing counterattack online. Statements posted on the foreign ministry website accuse Human Rights Watch of "unbridled arrogance" and "warped neo-colonialism."


One statement calls the allegations a "make believe" story that is part of a "vendetta" against the Ethiopian people. Another accuses the rights group of trying to bully the international aid community into halting cooperation with Addis Ababa.


A consortium of 25 aid donors, known as the Development Assistance Group, issued a statement saying it disagrees with the conclusions in the HRW report. The DAG, as the assistance group is known, said its own independent study earlier this year uncovered no evidence of widespread or systematic aid distortion.


The full DAG study posted on the group's website, though, paints a different picture. It states that its study was a "desk-top" exercise - not an investigation - and no specific allegations were checked.


The study notes that a fact-finding mission late last year by the U.S. Agency for International Development observed the potential for political bias in the allocation of aid. It recommended further analysis to determine if systematic distortion takes place on the basis of political affiliation.


The United States is Ethiopia's largest individual aid donor, giving an estimated $1.3 billion per year. USAID Country Director Thomas Staal said the types of distortion alleged in the HRW report would be difficult for a donor study to detect.


"To us, the important thing is to make sure the programs are well managed, closely monitored with strict accountability systems, and you're building institutions that can make sure programs are meeting the goals, targets and beneficiaries intended," said Staal. "And you cannot go after individual cases of an allegation here and there."


Authors of the Human Rights Watch report call the Development Assistance Group's response to their allegations "disingenuous." In a telephone interview, HRW Horn of Africa Senior Researcher Leslie Lefkow said the aid community has been timid in confronting Ethiopia's government with charges of misusing aid money.


"This is one of the ironies of research we did, and the discussions we had with officials before we published this report, is that many of them privately acknowledge the characterization of the regime as repressive. They acknowledge these characteristics privately, but publicly there is no appetite for voicing this analysis."


Ethiopian opposition leader Bulcha Demeksa is a former World Bank director and a long-time senior official of the United Nations Development agency. He said the ruling party's access to vast sums of cash during the last election should have been a red flag to donors that aid money was involved.


"I do not understand how they cannot see the huge amount of money that was spent in elections this year," said Demeksa. "Where does this money come from? Ethiopia, all by itself, cannot sustain that. I believe this money was from the various types of aid coming from donors."


Demeksa said political payments were so widespread during the election that anyone not receiving money was socially ostracized. "In my own district I know very well ... and there is no house this has not touched. People are now afraid if they think somebody has not received money, and is not a thorough EPRDF supporter, nobody goes to his house, he is not invited to weddings, social functions."


Lefkow said the ruling party's influence has grown exponentially in recent years. "Between 2005 and 2010, the party increased its membership to between 4 million and 5 million, that is one in seven adults, which means in most families you have a party member, and in most kebeles (village districts) every household probably has a party member. So I do not think it is an exaggeration to say the party has essentially infiltrated every layer of Ethiopian society."


Prime Minister Meles Zenawi rejects characterizations of Ethiopia as a "one party state." He describes it as a dominant party state.


In parliamentary elections this year, the EPRDF and its allies won 99.6 percent of the seats. In village and regional council elections two years ago, the party won all but three of nearly 3 million seats.


Ethiopia remains one of the world's poorest countries, though official figures show the economy has grown 10 percent or more in each of the past seven years.

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The ****** Question in the Entrails of a Fictional Ethiopian History

By Muktar M. Omer

Nov. 03, 2010


When trivial errors are important errors

Professor Ayo Momina recently made a very facile, knee-jerk response to an article I posted on some Ethiopian websites which he did not find pretty. The article was a rejoinder to a response I wrote to another article by Professor Siyoum Gelaye titled "Fabrication-of-Ethiopian-history-continues-unabated" . It was always going to be a risk, the quest to engage in an honest and intellectual debate with self-proclaimed high priests of Ethiopian nationalism in the shape of Professors who shun cool discourse in historical matters in favour of diatribes, slogans, unsubstantiated accusations and derogatory condemnations of not only the writers who challenge them, but their entire nation.


Professor Ayo makes blatant blunders on the trivial yet important issue of Somali clan genealogy in his piece. He was a mere click away from discovering that indeed the ******, Galemeys and ******* are not sub-clans of the ****** if he could just google it. It is an inane digression anyway, but the veracity of the Professor’s numerous other unsubstantiated claims in his article could as well be justifiably put under a big question mark on account of his endless errors.


Of course, with such paucity of knowledge on the Somali region and clan issues, I don’t expect him to know that one of the most daring insurrections against Ethiopian Occupation was staged in 1960 in the town of Aysha’a (North of Dire Dawa) by the Issa community, which he says has nothing to do with the ******s. The massacre of Aysha’a is one of the most gruesome reminders of Ethiopian occupation to date. Indeed, the prominent Somali Poet Haji Adan Afqalloc(1) captures the feelings of the harassed communities in Aysha’a, as well as those who continue to face the harsh reality of a ‘Habashi’ occupation. Anyway, isn’t he calling Babile an Oromo clan, when all and sundry know it is a geographical location and it is not classified as a sub-clan of Oromo in any history books in Ethiopia?


The ONLF struggle- an important half coma; never a full stop

But the Professor did make a valid point. He said “The Ethiopian state and nation was not created by European colonialists like Somalia and other African States”. True; and this is precisely why the residual black colonialism that was left intact after the decolonization of Africa from white colonialism in the 1960s and 70s must be dismantled. The formation of the Ethiopian Empire mirrors that of Yugoslavia and Russia and was more about the conquest of neighboring lands by better organized ethnic groups than the classic colonization whose instantiation is best described by the European colonization.


The ****** National Liberation Front is engaged in dual struggle of resisting active persecution on the one hand and seeking a lasting solution to the ****** question which is ultimately about the desire of a people who want to be accorded the basic right of self-determination. No amount of vitriol, bravado and name-calling can distract ONLF from pursuing the wishes of the Somali people occupied by Ethiopia. For Professor Ayo et al, a Somali or an Eritrean cannot have a wish; can not own a desire; they could only be ‘used’! That is why the Eritrean war of liberation ‘was never the will of the Eritrean people’ and that is why ONLF’s legitimate struggle to correct historical injustices is “a CIA and MI6 project”. That is why the ****** war was ‘Siyaad Barre’s sole dream’ and that is why the Italians and the British were the ‘originators of the concept of Somaliweyn (Greater Somalia)’. It need not be.


The search for freedom by the Somali people in the ****** region precedes the inception of the Republic of Somalia. Soon after the British handed what was known as the Hawd and reserve area (present day ******) to Ethiopia in 1954, home-grown resistance started. The new Somali Republic supported the ****** struggle but it has largely remained an indigenous uprising led by the occupied Somali people in the ****** region. It perhaps is a clear manifestation of the grassroots nature of the struggle that the most active years in the ONLF struggle happen to be from 1994 to 2010; years when there is no meaningful sovereign Somali government and major decisions about the destiny of Somalia are made in the Arat-Kilo Palace in Addis Ababa.


Jama Mohamed in his ‘Imperial policies and nationalism in the decolonization of Somaliland, 1954-1960’ writes “in 1954 the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement was concluded under which one-third of the territory of Somaliland was ceded to Ethiopia. When the agreement was announced in the country in January 1955, the Somali people took the news very badly. Demonstrations were organized throughout the territory, and elite nationalist parties gained public following and support that they had hitherto lacked.”


It is fair to say that the ****** war was fought by all Somali’s and the unambiguous objective was to join the Somali Republic. Those who paid with their lives in the battlefield were from all Somali clans, and therefore a single clan cannot own that history. It is however true the destruction of Somalia has brought up new factors and priorities for many Somali clans. It is therefore true the ****** clan continue to single-handedly lead the struggle for regaining lost identity. There are sections of the ****** (Western Somali) people who are not on board in today’s struggle, but whose inaction has to do with disagreement over priorities and strategies rather than on the overall goal. In all its deficiencies, the ONLF struggle is the pride of most Somali’s. Personally, and I know this is not necessarily in sync with ONLF’s preference, I think the culmination of such an indigenous struggle should be a reunification with motherland – Somalia, under some sort of arrangement.


That is why I see the ONLF struggle as a stage, an important half-coma, never a full stop. It is why I suffer it and even support it. But the most important thing right now need not be the outcome. It is fighting back the genocide of the TPLF. It is to be being vigilant and dismiss undignified peace deals. It is peace with dignity that the people of ****** seek, not capitulation and the continuation of oppression under a different setup.


Professor Ayo quoted Fanon. I quote Chinua Achebe. In ‘the Education of a British-Protected Child’ he says, “to answer oppression with appropriate resistance requires knowledge of two kinds: in the first place, self-knowledge by the victim, which means awareness that oppression exists, an awareness that the victim has fallen from a great height of glory or promise into the present depths; secondly, the victim must know who the enemy is. He must know his oppressor's real name, not an alias, a pseudonym, or a nom de plume!” Our enemies are occupiers, whether they come in the shape of gun-wielding Amhara settlers, or insidious Tigre militia with a pseudo-Federal governance arrangement!


I am grateful for the honesty of Professor Ayo on one issue though. In his erroneous discussion of Somali clan genealogy, he makes a distinction wherein he disqualifies the ****** clan from being Ethiopians. It is a welcome development. The problem was not ******s crying to be embraced by Ethiopians; it was the latter clinging to them with near-maniac resolve, for whatever reason. In a forced marriage, where the powerful partner employs ceaseless domestic violence to perpetuate the bondage, Peace can only be restored when the wishes of the captive is granted, unless she finds an unlikely love in her heart for her erstwhile tormentor. As such, if ******s continue to remain forced Ethiopian citizens, it is a reflection of our might or lack of it, never an expression of our will!


Professor Ayo laments the deeds of ‘neo-fascist’ Somalis who destroyed the statue of the anti-fascist Dedjazmach Adework Woldesemayat in the town of Jigjiga. The nobility of Wiilwaal whose birth place is Jigjiga and the celebrated poet Rage Ugas merit a sparkling statue in the heart of that town over and above a marauding Amhara fighter, who fought white colonialism to sustain black colonialism. If the Professor knows that right in the exact spot from where Afework’s monument was dismantled, a man by the name Towlede, ‘an advisor’ of the officials of the false regional state, commands real, breathing authority in this very day and age, he might have forgiven his Tigre cousins. They are keeping the noose on the ‘neo-fascists’, and he should not be an ungrateful man.


Unrepresentative and fastidious Ethiopian History

Let me return to Ethiopian History. In 1969, Walelegn Mekonen, one of the leaders of the leftist student movement in Haile Sellassie University (now Addis Ababa University) produced an insightful paper on the question of nationalities in Ethiopia, which ruffled the feathers of the monarchy and the pseudo-historians who have espoused one conquering ethnic group’s culture and history as representative of tens of colonized nationalities. The paper not only impacted the nature and direction of political struggle in Ethiopia, it also triggered a critical review of Ethiopian History. It soon became apparent that there are big holes in what has hitherto been accepted as the established historical construction of Ethiopia, and that many of its central postulates do not stand scrutiny.


A history which accorded recognition to Waqshum Gobeze of Lasta, a simple clownish pretender to a throne which he has no means of defending and who was captured and killed by Atse Yohannes within four years of his claim to the throne of the northern nobilities, did not find a page for the imposing King Tona of the Woleita . A history that chronicled the family feuds and intricate life struggles of a rowdy shifta (outlaw), Kassa Hailu of Qara (later king Theodros of Ethiopia) with the aplomb of narrating the discovery of the sun by fearless explorer, did not bother to mention, beyond meager postscript, the breathtaking sophistication of the Gada system of the Borena and Guji Oromos and the numerous democratically elected Aba Gada’s of the Oromo race.


By the way, which Ethiopia do the professors feel is under attack from a hateful Zelan(nomadic) Somali revisionist of Ethiopian History? The Ethiopia of Mursi, Hamer, Surma, Karo and the over 12 nationalities in Southern Omo who are reduced to mere objects, only useful as income-generating human projects to be kept in perpetual prehistoric way of life, with mutilated lips and ears, for the amusement of white tourists? The Ethiopia of the Afars and the endangered and disappearing Orgoba, whose prime land along the Awash River was rapaciously dispossessed by Northern settlers, to the extent that the native population in the Afar Regional State doesn’t account for more than 40% of the total inhabitants? The Ethiopia of the Kamabata, Tanbaro, Alaba, Sidama and Woleita, who populate the magnificent lake-lands in the South, who Haile Sellassie allegedly disqualified from standing as witnesses in courts of laws because they are ‘inherently liars?’ The Ethiopia of the Somali’s like this writer who had to be baked by the sun in the checkpoints of Hadaw at the outskirts of Jigjiga, despite producing student ID cards which attest that they are going to the ‘proper’ Ethiopia for studies?


Even the closest of kins in the shape of Amhara and Tigre could not agree on what Ethiopia is and ought to be. In late 1990, just before he was deposed, Mengistu Hailemariam, Ethiopia’s dictatorial ruler had these parting shots for the Tigres on one of the speeches broadcasted live on Ethiopian TV and we were instructed to watch by decree. In responding to several suggestions that seemed to imply the Tigray rebellion is a product of bad governance in one of the last Biherawi Shengo (national assembly) meetings, he retorted back with rage. “Who led the British when they came to kill King Tewodros? Who led the Italians when they avenged for their Adwa defeat by spraying nerve gas on Ethiopians? Who is spearheading the destabilization of Ethiopia by secessionists in Eritrea?” He did not leave much for the imagination.


Yes, the Tigres! He was talking about them; and even the often twisty Ethiopian History textbooks support him. It states that “Yohannes, then known as Commander of the Gate (Dejazmach) Kassai, was a sworn enemy of Emperor Tewodros II, and gave logistical and political support to the British forces who arrived to defeat Emperor Tewodros in 1868. In gratitude, the British gave Dejazmach Kassai, the future Yohannes, a large number of modern firearms as they withdrew following their victory at Amba Mariam (also known as Magdala).” And these are the people who remind us of Somalis clan division as if they are immune to it? In fact, the degree of animosity between various Ethiopian nationalities mirrors the Hutu/Tutsi hate, not the fleeting and often-changing clan adversities of the Somalis.


Ethiopianism as a Political construct

Returning to the main theme of this article, on top of the many reckless historical assertions, Professor Ayo has also marketed conjectures as facts. In that regard, I am not sure if I am debating authentic academicians or hot-headed cadres of nostalgic political ideology, which has been in intensive care for a while and needs mouth-to- mouth resuscitation. He says ONLF is supported by CIA and MI6, when Britain and the US are the biggest donors to the Tigre regime which has taken the mantle of ‘defenders Ethiopian national interest’ from the Amhara’s.


Nowadays, it is ironic to see Amhara’s seething over the ‘Ethiopianism’ claims of Tigre officials; when according to the Amhara, all the Tigres’ have done is to help Eritrea secede and ‘infest’ the rest of the country with ethnic divisions. They have a point. The new Tigre rulers certainly do not have much affection for an Ethiopia in which their tribal avarice is contained and which they do not rule. It is also true that the TPLF is playing with fire by playing one ethnic group against another for power-retention agenda. Read Tesfaye Gebreab’s historical fiction ‘Ye Burqa Zimita’ (the Silence of Burqa) and you will not miss the depth of TPLF’s callousness. But the Amhara’s do not realize that all along, the Ethiopian unity and nationalism mantra was a political construct ready for use by whoever happens to usurp power by force and suppress the rest. Funny enough, the next turn could be for Oromos to annihilate those who oppose “Ethiopianism”, once and if they translate their mighty potential into real power.


Intellectual cowards

No genuine scholar would delve into the misty world of conspiracy theories in analyzing and critiquing real political and historical issues. That is why I have the uneasy feeling I am coned into debating with political cadres and not serious academicians. That is why I partially opted to trade some slogans, just in case I am addressing the wrong guys.


I called all those who continue to refuse to look into the fairy-tale History of Ethiopia with fresh mindset, ‘intellectual cowards’ bereft of genuine national sentiment even for the Ethiopia they cry for. I say so again here and now, whatever chagrin I sow in their bleeding heart. And I am not lost to their reaction. Back then in school, as a young man who conversed in Amharic with the impeccable accent of a Gonderie (Amhara from Gonder), I used to startle few of my classmates.


Having been taken as a ‘good’ Ethiopian for my mastery of the language of the ‘nobility’ in which I scored higher marks than most of the Amhara peers, I used to ask disturbing questions as to why a nomad in Bulaale and Geladi will have to seek interpreters when seeking a mere ID document from the District Administrator, who happened to carry a formidable Ato Teshome, Ato Kassaye or a lovely Ato Mot-baynor (what if there is no death) name. In shock and bewilderment, and with the contorted face of people shamed by a human alibi of the supremacy of their values, which was held in high regards, the crowd would turn to me with “Indhe? (What?) Min Alk? (What did you just say)? Ye tamark aydhalehim Indhee? (Are you not an educated guy)? I expect no less this time around, but I am also grown up now and could see their point. The purpose of the said ‘education’ was to turn me into a ‘higher’ being, a Gojjame or a Gonderie, and ultimately make me look into my hapless nomadic mothers and siblings with vicarious shame! It backfired!


Muktar M. Omer



(1) Saqiir iyo kabiir reer Ayshaco, nabad ku soo hoyday

Sardhaday galeen baad qumbulad, suna ku tuurteene

Surkaa wada jarteen wiilashii, timaha soohnaaye

Nin sidaa ku dhaqanteen ogaa, waa siqsiqayaaye

Suldad-Xabashiyeed nimay heshaa, waa sac kuu taliye



“Old and young, the people of Aysha’a were in peace

You have rained poisonous bombs on them, for joining their brothers

You cut the heads of all the youth with the long ponytails

Anyone who knows what you are capable of doing, remains in perpetual fear

A man who finds himself under the leaderhsup of Habasha, is like a man governed by cows! ”

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Two new reports on Sudan and Ethiopia A difficult pair


Nov 5th 2010, 17:44 by C.H.


JUST as a meeting of east African heads of states was delayed due to difficulties accommodating Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s pariah president, two new reports have cast still more unfavourable light on the governments of Sudan and Ethiopia. The long-anticipated referendum on independence for southern Sudan, scheduled for January 9th 2011 is the focus of “Race Against Time”, by the Rift Valley Institute, a non-profit research organisation operating in the region. With optimism that the vote would proceed smoothly already waning in the face of overwhelming secessionist sentiment in the south, and equally overwhelming denial of such sentiment in the north, Aly Verjee, the author, goes a step further. Delays and disputes in planning for the vote, and their likely effect on the credibility of the process could, he says, end up reigniting the civil war that had become Africa’s longest when it ended it 2005, with 2.5m people killed and many more displaced over two decades.


With less than ten weeks until the referendum, the report argues that “the self-determination process is in peril.” Disputes over voter eligibility, registration and border demarcation between the two main political forces—the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the south and the National Congress Party (NCP) in the north—mean the likelihood of the vote taking place on time within the agreed laws is small. Yet postponement would be dangerous: the SPLM fiercely opposes any deferral, interpreting (probably correctly) the NCP’s stalling as an attempt to derail the process, or to cast doubt on the credibility of the predicted outcome—that the south will vote to secede.


Unpromising terrain to make recommendations from, but the institute does so nonetheless, calling for a new deal between the SPLM and the NCP that recognises that it is too late to hold the vote in strict accordance with the laws, and that parks some issues—such as physical border demarcation—until later. The referendum commission needs to act “with unprecedented speed” in order to overcome the logistical hurdles to hold a vote.


How likely is this? It would assume goodwill on both sides. But the report also points out that “lessons need to be learned” from the conduct of the presidential election in April. The SPLM may smile wryly at the NCP’s pledge that they will accept the referendum result only on the basis of a “free and fair” process. The institute is forthright about the scale of the task ahead but is motivated most of all by a need to focus minds, within Sudan and without, on what is at stake. “At this final stage, brinkmanship, delay and broken agreements…threaten to turn the political and technical challenges into a national disaster. Only concerted international attention and skilful diplomacy can bring the process of self-determination in Sudan to a successful conclusion.”


With Sudan, international expectations have long been low. A report on Ethiopia, from New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW), indicates how far a country’s halo can slip. Once upon a time, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) led by Meles Zenawi, the prime minister, was hailed as part of a new democratic dawn in Africa. The country became an “aid darling” for the West. Yet today, after suppression of opposition following the election in 2005 and a rigged poll earlier this year, life in Ethiopia is more akin to the days of the “Derg” regime, overthrown by the EPRDF in 1991.


Ethiopia, desperately poor, remains one of the largest recipients of foreign development aid—some $3 billion annually. HRW argues that the aid has become subject to “political capture”, with the doling out of donor funds at local level used “to control the population, punish dissent, and undermine political opponents—both real and perceived.” HRW reached its findings after a six-month investigation in the second half of 2009, which ended with Ben Rawlence, its researcher, being deported.


The Ethiopian population, says HRW, “pays a heavy approach for this approach to development.” But its ire is focused on the donors as well as the Ethiopian government. Speaking in London at the report’s launch, Mr Rawlence pointed out that development agencies—such as Britain’s DFID—recognised the harm the government’s actions caused, but turned a blind eye, because of policy that governments themselves “own” aid policy. Monitoring mechanisms which focus on fiscal controls simply did not detect the politicisation of aid.


Such a situation poses a familiar dilemma for donors: aid is often misused, but stopping aid harms people in recipient countries. HRW is not calling for this. Instead, it calls on donors to acknowledge the politicisation of aid “across the board” in Ethiopia and to work together in bringing pressure on Ethiopia’s government when the current country assistance strategy expires in 2011. Easier said than done perhaps, but very necessary, especially if donors are to adhere to their own belief that “aid is most effective when defined by accountability and transparency.” Ethiopia, says HRW, is “a case study of contradiction in aid policy.”


Source : The Economist

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2010 US elections: Mixed impact on Ethiopia, Eritrea and regional politics




Published 11/03/2010 - 8:49 p.m. GMT


The outcome of the United States (US) national mid-term elections showed mixed results for American politicians who were outspoken on current events in the horn of Africa. Two big names who impacted US policy on Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia woke up to different fates on Wednesday while most other US officials who had commented on American foreign policies in the region remained in office.


Senator Russ Feingold, one of the strongest critics of Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi government, lost a re-election bid to a republican candidate. Meanwhile, the Republican Ed Royce won convincingly in California. Two Republican Senators also remained in power in Oklahoma state where Senator Jim Inhofe governs.


Senator Feingold has previously condemned the US policy in Somalia and the troubled horn of Africa that has been implemented since the Bush administration. He has been outspoken about human rights abuses committed by the Ethiopian government in Ethiopia and the region as well as sponsored Senate Bill S 3757 (Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Ethiopia Act of 2010). The Senator's defeat in the recent US election is seen positively among the authorities in Addis Ababa.


Both Ed Royce and Senator Inhofe mostly support Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and US policy in the region. Ed Royce is famous for pushing the Obama administration to label Eritrea as a "state sponsor of terrorism" for supporting anti-government rebels in Somalia and the horn of Africa. And US Senator Inhofe was one of the officials who killed a human rights and pro-democracy legislature that denounced the Meles Zenawi government.


However, Meles Zenawi's staunchest critic in the US congress, the 76-years old Congressman Donald Payne easily won for his 12th term in New Jersey. Congressman Payne was the author and sponsor of HR 2003 that denounced human rights abuses in Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi. Donald Payne has been a supporter of the Eritrean government and its policies in an effort to balance US interests in the region. In April 2010, the Congressman met with Ethiopian opposition leaders of Medrek party to discuss on how to put pressure on the Meles government. Congressman Payne has also been sympathetic to separatist dissidents in the Ogadēn region of Ethiopia, including his controversial wearing of the flag of the militant group Ogadēn National Liberation Front (ONLF), which the Ethiopian government has labeled a "terrorist organization."


US Congressman Jack Kingston won his re-election in Georgia state. The Congressman reportedly lived many years in Ethiopia during the time of Emperor Haile Selassie, and during the 2005 polls in Ethiopia he praised the election process but called for an end to the violence.


Democrat Congressman Keith Ellison won in his Minneapolis-area congressional district despite efforts by the Republican extremist group "Tea Party" movement's attack on Mr. Ellison for his Muslim faith. The Minnesota region is often nicknamed "Little Oromia" and "Little Somalia" by the local immigrant population from Ethiopia and Somalia. Congressman Keith Ellison often attends forums organized by anti-Meles political groups in Minnesota and he is sympathetic to Ogadēn , Oromo and Somalia politicians that oppose the policies of the Ethiopian government.


US Congressman Chris Smith also won his re-election in New Jersey. He had sponsored the bill HR 5680 in support of accountability and democracy in Ethiopia following the election massacre in 2005. Congressman Smith famously spoke to Meles Zenawi "eyeball-to-eyeball" telling him "to investigate the slaughter of the pro-democracy demonstrators, to punish those responsible." Following his visit to Ethiopia, he demanded the release of opposition leaders from prison and asked "They’re all guilty simply because Meles says so? No trial? Not even a Kangaroo court?"


Both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to influence US foreign policy in the region while Ethiopian, Somali and Eritrean opposition and interest groups lobby for American support to bring change in the horn of Africa.



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Human Rights Watch whitewashes Ethiopian genocide


By Thomas C. Mountain


Online Journal Contributing Writer


Nov 5, 2010, 00:28


Human Rights Watch has just released an over 100-page “human rights” report on Ethiopia that whitewashes the crimes against humanity and genocide being committed by the Ethiopian regime.


In the last 10 years, the Meles Zenawi led government of Ethiopia has committed the following war crimes and crimes against humanity on both the Ethiopian people and their neighbors;


1) The 2000 invasion of Eritrea, with some 150,000 war dead and another 1.5 million refugees.


2) The 2006 invasion of Somalia, with tens of thousands killed and over a million refugees.


3) The genocidal program of counterinsurgency and blockade of food aid during a series of record-breaking droughts in the ethnically Somali, Ethiopian Ogadēn region. Even the truth challenged Enough Project used the term “scorched earth” to describe the rape, murder, mass murder, theft of cattle and grain and the burning of homes and crops that is carried out every day by Ethiopian troops in the Ogadēn.


Almost none of this made its way into the HRW report.


There are many other examples of crimes committed by the Ethiopian regime not raised in the report, including the regimes counterinsurgencies in the Oromia and Tigray regions as well as the ethnic cleansing carried out in the western region of Gambella.


The HRW report on Ethiopia mentions the 99.6 percent election “victory” the Meles Zenawi regime declared this year, but doesn’t expose the 500-plus protesters shot dead in the streets and over 50,000 thrown into concentration camps following the previous election in 2005.


Ethiopia itself receives, according to recent reports, some $6.7 billion in Western aid and “forgiven” loans every year, yet remains the poorest country in Africa and one of the poorest, most aid dependent countries in the world.


Another very important fact not mentioned in the HRW report is that Ethiopia has the largest, best-equipped army in Africa.


Why is HRW refusing to report these crimes?


Could it have something to do with the $100 million “matching grant” mega billionaire US businessman George Soros recently “donated” to HRW? Ethiopia is a crucial supporter of US foreign policy, America’s gendarme in East Africa, and has mostly been protected by leaders of NGOs who are recipients of Soros’ largess.


The recent HRW report is just the latest example of this.


Human Rights Watch or Human Rights Whitewash? You be the judge.



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CAT Press Release


Geneva, 3-5 November 2010


On November 3-5 ARM engaged in the 45th Session for the Committee Against Torture (CAT). The dialogue took place at United Nations’ Palais Wilson in Geneva. Although Ethiopia became a signatory of CAT in 1945, this is the first time Ethiopia has undergone review by the committee.


The session began on November 3rd as ARM joined together with other NGOs including The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), Human Rights House Foundation, International Disability Alliance and the Oromia Support Group to present CAT committee members with evidence of widespread torture occurring throughout Ethiopia. ARM emphasized that arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial killing, torture, rape, and infringement of due process of law for detainees occur unchecked throughout the country, despite Ethiopia's incorporation of CAT's provisions into it's national constitution and Criminal Code. ARM encouraged the committee to pay special attention to the regions of ****** and Oromia, where suspected “dissenters” are especially vulnerable to government torture and abuse. Additionally, ARM urged the committee to recognize the role donor countries can play in supporting or pressurizing Ethiopia, as the government is currently using the massive amount of humanitarian aid it receives as a weapon of war, systematically denying food and services to targeted segments of the population.


ARM also drew the committee's attention to The Anti-Terror Law and the Charities and Societies Proclamation, two laws passed by the Ethiopian government in 2009 which undermine the provisions of CAT and eliminate measures of due process. Likewise, Human Rights House Foundation highlighted Ethiopia's determination to restrict access by international observers and humanitarian organizations into conflict regions and prison facilities.


On November 4th, day two of CAT, the committee presented questions to Ethiopian representatives. These questions addressed many of the concerns presented by ARM. Specifically, committee members expressed serious concern over the new Anti-Terrorism proclamation and the state of Ethiopia's prisons. The committee requested hard data documenting court cases which might illustrate a properly functioning legal system, such as cases of individuals being prosecuted for acts of torture. In other words, CAT asked directly for proof that the de-jure system, which does comply with the provisions of CAT, actually functions as the Ethiopian government claims.


On the final day of CAT, Ethiopian representatives had the opportunity to respond to the CAT committee's questions. Replies were overly theoretical, and the committee continued to probe representatives for hard evidence, statistics from the ground, and real cases. Government officials denied accusations of torture and argued that claims to the contrary were unfounded. Moreover, Ethiopia's representatives accused human rights groups of fabrication and "monopolizing the truth." The Ethiopian government maintained that the Anti-Terrorism proclamation is a copy of similar legislation implemented in Western countries and is in no way violating international human rights standards. Committee members were unsatisfied by Ethiopia's response (or lack thereof) to CAT concerns. Ethiopian representatives stated it would be "impossible" to answer all inquiries on the spot, but agreed to provide the committee with written replies and hard data upon return to Ethiopia.


The CAT committee will soon post concluding observations based on the three day conference. In one year, Ethiopia will be expected to follow up on these remarks and provide evidence of improvement.

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Ethiopia rejects 'biased' EU report on May's elections


The Ethiopian government has rejected as biased the findings of a European Union report on May's parliamentary elections.


The EU concluded that the polls failed to meet international standards and were marred by serious flaws.


However, the Ethiopian foreign ministry said the EU's election observer mission had itself failed to meet Ethiopian or international standards.


It added that the report was flawed and based on preconceived ideas.


"This report amounts to yet another biased political indictment against the democratization process in Ethiopia and the victimisation of the country," said the ministry in a statement.


It accused the EU of "excessive focus" on the fact that the elections further consolidated the power of the governing EPRDF party.


The ministry says this demonstrated that the mission was "primarily preoccupied with the results of the elections and fate of the ruling party rather than the actual conduct of the elections".


In May, the EPRDF trounced the opposition, with only one opposition MP elected to the 536-seat parliament.


The ministry also accused the EU of succumbing to pressure from the rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW).


Last month, HRW issued a report accusing the government of withholding aid from opposition supporters.




The EU report was released in Brussels earlier this month after the head of the mission was refused a visa to travel to Addis Ababa.


An African Union observer mission found that the polls broadly reflected the will of the Ethiopian people.


Relations between the EU and Ethiopia soured in the aftermath of 2005 elections when the government accused the then chief observer of siding with the opposition and contributing to violent protests that ensued.


The EU, one of Ethiopia's biggest donors, froze its aid to the country. Normal relations and financial support have since resumed.


The BBC's Uduak Amimo in Addis Ababa says it remains unclear what impact the EU report will have on aid and ties with the Ethiopian government

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Minister for Africa "welcomes" final report from election observers in Ethiopia

09 November 2010


Foreign Office Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham described the European Union Observers report "as fair, balanced and credible" following elections in Ethiopia on 23 May.


"I welcome the final report of the European Union Election Observer Mission to Ethiopia. I believe it is fair, balanced and credible.


There were many positive aspects to these elections, including a high turn-out, a peaceful electoral environment and, on the whole, competent and professional administration by the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE).


However, I also share the concerns highlighted in the EU report, particularly the narrowing of political space, the blurring of party and state, and the high number of complaints of harassment and intimidation, all of which contributed to the absence of a level playing field. I encourage the Ethiopian government to help build the capacity of the NEBE to ensure the implementation of Ethiopia’s electoral laws and regulations.


The UK is committed to supporting the development of Ethiopia, to help deliver a secure and prosperous future for all Ethiopians. I firmly believe that accelerating the democratisation process offers the best means of protecting Ethiopia’s significant development successes. I welcome and support the constructive recommendations in the report and I urge the Ethiopian government to respond positively. The British government stands ready to support this.





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Dr. Gregory Stanton oo ku Baaqay In Shacabka Itoobiya u Midoobo Melez Zenawii.


OTP- Dr. Gregory Stanton oo ah Madax Hay,ada Ka Hor-taga Xasuuqa ee Afka Qalaad loo Yaqaan “Genocide Watch” ayaa Guud ahaan Shacabka Itoobiya oogu Baaqay in Taliska Melez Zenawi loo midoobo si wax looga Qabto Dhibaatada Maamulka Melez Zenawi uu ku Hayo Shucuubta Kala Duwan ee Itoobiya Gaar ahaan, Qoomiyada la Xasuuqayo ee ********iya.


Dr Stanton oo Hadalkan ka soo Jeediyay Kulan ay Iskugu Yimaadeen Siyaasiyiinta Qurba Joogta Itoobiya Iyo Shacabka ka soo Jeeda Dalka Itoobiya ee ku Nool Washington DC ayaa oogu Baaqay Qoomiyadaha Itoobiya inay hal meel ah ooga soo Jeedsadaan Melez Zenawi, Isla Markaasna oogu Baaqay Qoomiyada Tigreega inaysan ku Taageerin Zenawi Xasuuqa uu ku haya Dadka Kale ee ku Nool Itoobiya.



Haddalada Dr waxaa ka Mid ahaa,” Shacabka Itoobiya waa inay Midoobaan Gacmahana is qabsadaan si ay Taliska Dhiig-Yacabka ah ee Zenawi Xukunka ooga Tuuraan.


Isla Markaas Isagoo Hadalka sii wata Ayuu Yiri, Waa in aad Dalka Itoobiya loo Keena Isbaddal Dhab ah, Sida Waddamada Ukrain Iyo Ghana Qurba Joogtoodi ay Dalka wax ooga Baddaleen.


Dr Stanton Ayaa Xasuuuqa ********iya ka Hadlay Isagoo u sheegay Qoomiyada Itoobiya ee Goobtaas Joogtay sida Qoomiyadda Xabashida Iyo Oromada In ********iya uu Zenawi ku hayo Xasuuq Isir Tir ah, Sidoo Kale Qoomiyada Galbella uu ku hayo.


Qoomiyadaha Itoobiya oo si Xoogan oogu Kacsan Taliska Melez Zenawi ayaa ah Dad Aqoonyahano ah, Ganacsato ah Kuwaas oo Wacad ku Maray In Zenawi Xukunka ay Ka Ridi Doonaan.


Meesha Qoomiyadda Soomaalida ********iya ay Muddo Dagaal ku soo Jirtay ay ku Raadinaysay Gobanimo Doonta Dhulkooda Hooyo, ah, Balse Maal mahan Danbe ayaa Dowlladda Itoobiya ay doonaysaa in Jaaliyadaha Dibada ee ********iya ay ka Dhex Abuurto Kooxo Taageersan Hase ahaatee Su,aasha ayaa ah, Zenawi oo Qoomiyadihii Itoobiya oo dhan ay Khaati ka Taagan Yihiin, Ma Bad-Baadin Kaaraan Kooxo Qurba Joogta Gobalka ********iya ah oo Jigjiga Boosas Been Abuur ah Laga siiyay? Jawaabta Caqliga Fayow waa Maya.


Daawo Dr Stanton oo Hadlaya.

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Turning a blind eye to Ethiopia.


The EU is misusing taxpayers' money and letting down those who fight for justice and democracy.

Since European Voice's last article on Ethiopia, the EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) has published its final report on the general elections held in Ethiopia this May. The report, finally published on 8 November, found that “the electoral process fell short of international commitments for elections, notably regarding the transparency of the process and the lack of a level playing-field for all contesting parties”.


The conclusion was unsurprising. The electoral results, with 99.6% in favour of the ruling party, speak for themselves. And the Ethiopian government itself clearly expected criticism: it refused to allow the report to be launched in Addis Ababa, causing the launch to be delayed by several months and to be held in Brussels.


For me, it was a shock that the EU had even decided to observe the 2010 ballot, because the previous elections in 2005 had been stolen and political freedoms have been strangled ever since.


And yet, despite the evidence of five years and despite the entirely unrealistic results, Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, issued a softly worded statement in which she referred to the election as “an important moment in the democratic process” in Ethiopia. This was a statement designed to sustain a ‘business as usual' policy, rather than a reflection of political dynamics in Ethiopia.


I led the EU's election observation mission in 2005. The campaign was relatively open, but, once confronted with a landslide victory by the opposition in the capital, the party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi manipulated the vote count.


In the aftermath of the 2005 poll, more than 200 demonstrators were massacred and thousands were arrested, including virtually all the major opposition leaders (many of whom remained jailed until mid-2007). Waves of people then fled, depriving Ethiopia of real opposition. In 2008, Zenawi re-arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment an opposition leader, Birtukan Mideksa. She was released only in October, after this year's election and after she was nominated for the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2010.


Critical voices were also silenced by several pieces of legislation before this year's ballot. The 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation, which Human Rights Watch considers to be more restrictive than similar legislation in Zimbabwe or Russia, resulted in all independent NGOs ceasing human-rights activities or simply closing down. Together with the lack of media freedom, this means that no single credible reporting source remains on the ground. The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation is another ploy to further restrict fundamental freedoms.


And yet, strikingly, aid to Ethiopia has increased significantly at the same time as its human-rights situation has deteriorated drastically. Despite the blood on his hands, Zenawi was invited to the G8 meeting in Gleneagles in 2005 and to subsequent G8 meetings aimed at fighting poverty, to speak about good governance and sustainable development. Western leaders, it seems, delight in politically correct jargon, and disregard deeds.


Despite its violation of the principles of the Cotonou Agreement with the EU, Ethiopia is now one of the largest beneficiaries of EU support and the second-largest recipient of global aid, after Indonesia and excluding war-affected Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent Human Rights Watch report (see “How Europe contributes to Ethiopia's repression”, 21-27 October) describes how EU assistance contributes to political repression, as the government is handing out aid in exchange for party support.


The EU must investigate these extremely serious claims. If the Ethiopian government does not allow it to do so, the EU should suspend budgetary aid and some aid programmes. The EU should, in particular, end the awkward modus operandi in which donors allow government-controlled agencies to distribute aid without independent monitoring.


More broadly, the reluctance of the EU to speak out against Zenawi's regime highlights the false clash between human rights, development and stability interests.


Western leaders like to present Ethiopia as a success story of development assistance, and trust this ‘aid darling' as a partner in the fight against terrorism, portraying it as a crucial actor for stability in the Horn of Africa.


Zenawi's rule is, in fact, a source of regional instability, since he refuses to accept international arbitration on the border dispute with Eritrea. This provides the even more brutal regime of his distant cousin, Issayas Afwerki, with an excuse to meddle and cause trouble anywhere.


By turning a blind eye to gross human-rights violations, fraudulent elections, and the impact of Ethiopian policies on neighbours such as Eritrea and Somalia, the EU is not only misusing taxpayers' money, but supporting an illegitimate status quo, letting down those who fight for justice and democracy, and increasing the potential for internal and regional conflict.


Ana Gomes MEP



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Wife despairs for man in Ethiopia jail





[Canadian citizen and businessman Bashir Makhtal has been inside an Ethiopian prison for three and a half years. Bashir's cousin, Said Maktal, right, and Bashir's wife, Asiso Abdi, who live in Hamilton are working tirelessly at gaining Canadian governmental support in the hopes of getting Bashir's release from prison.]


It is the same every morning. Asiso Osman Abdi wakes at around 3 a.m., worried about her future and the plight of her husband Bashir Makhtal.


She goes into the comfy kitchen in the home of her cousin-in-law Said Maktal and makes tea and drinks it.


Her beautiful dark brown eyes are ringed with circles, recounts Maktal, who finds her in his kitchen every morning when he wakes to say prayers.


The peace of sleep eludes her, she tells him in Somali, because she is fearful she may never see her husband again.


“To me, I feel like the Canadian government doesn’t care about my husband and his passport,” she says through a translator during an interview with the Star.


Makhtal, a Canadian citizen, is serving a life sentence in a prison in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, after being charged with multiple counts of terrorism for allegedly being a ringleader with the Ogadēn National Liberation Front, an ethnic Somali group formed to fight for independence in the oil-rich region.


The Ethiopians have outlawed the group, calling it a terrorist organization.


Family and supporters here have always denied these allegations, saying the only connection Bashir Makhtal, 42, has to the ONLF is that his grandfather was one of the co-founders.


Abdi describes her husband as “a very good man — who did good for the people, the community, anyone he knows.” Then she adds: “He is very humble.”


As for her future without him, she is hesitant and unsure of what lies ahead. “My future looks bad. My husband is in prison for four years,” says Abdi. “He’s suffering all kind of medical problems, including back pain and bronchitis.”


Haltingly in some newly acquired English, she says: “Canada is good, the government is bad.”


The 24-year-old came to Canada in March 2010. She was terrified that she would be snatched from Nairobi by the Ethiopians. Said Maktal persuaded Ottawa to allow her to come on a two-year visa.


As grateful as she is to be here, she is angry with the Canadian government, fearful it has abandoned Makhtal, whom she married nine months before he was arrested.


And Makhtal’s cousin Said Maktal, his family members and other supporters are also fed up with what they describe as “a lot of empty promises” from Ottawa as he begins his fifth year of imprisonment.


“Why can’t someone tell me the truth?” Said Maktal asks. “Whether or not they’re going to bring (Makhtal) back to Canada or not help him period? It’s a fair question.”


Makhtal, a former Toronto businessman, had returned to Africa in 2002 to run a used clothing business out of Djibouti, a tiny country between Ethiopia and Somalia on the Horn of Africa.


He has been in prison since Dec. 30, 2006, when he was stopped at the Somalia-Kenya border.


He was returning to Nairobi, Kenya, after fleeing Mogadishu and the fall of the Islamic Courts Union, a religious alliance that seized control of Somalia before it was ousted by U.S. and Ethiopian forces in 2006.


At the Kenyan border, his Canadian passport ignored, Makhtal was arrested and shipped to Nairobi, where he was imprisoned and eventually rendered in shackles to Ethiopia on Jan. 20, 2007, on a top-secret flight.


At first Canadian diplomats couldn’t even locate Makhtal after his arrest. Ethiopia denied he was there. Then Ethiopian officials refused access to him for the first 18 months of his imprisonment.


He was convicted of terrorism in the summer of 2009 on a number of counts, including being a member of a separatist group, engaging in an armed struggle against the government, and aiding and abetting the Islamic Courts Union.


While all of those who were arrested with him and sent to Ethiopia on that top-secret flight have been freed, Makhtal remains in jail, suffering from significant weight loss along with bronchitis.


The involvement and surprise visit to Makhtal’s Ethiopian cell at Kaiti Prison in February 2010 by Conservative minister John Baird seemed to bode well for Makhtal.


Baird, who has said he and the Canadian government believe in Makhtal’s innocence, said he had made a formal request in a meeting with Ethiopia’s foreign minister for Makhtal to be deported or expelled.


But now nine months later, there is no indication of a prison transfer, pardon or a deportation. And in a twist, one of the witnesses at his trial who alleged Makhtal was involved with the ONLF is now in jail himself, facing murder charges.


Said Maktal believes the Conservatives lost a golden opportunity to lobby the Ethiopians for the release of his cousin during the G20 and G8 meetings in June in Toronto, where Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was in attendance.


Both Maktal and Canadian human rights lawyer Lorne Waldman believe Makhtal’s incarceration is part of a larger political game. “My cousin was used as a bargaining chip,” said Said Maktal, pointing to the fact Ethiopia has long wanted landing rights for its airline in Canada and was recently granted the rights to fly into Toronto as well as a boost in aid.


Adds Waldman: “The Ethiopian interest in Bashir is a way of striking back at the Somalian opposition in Ethiopia. But also once it became apparent that Canada was concerned about Bashir’s case, Ethiopia continued to use Bashir to get concessions out of Canada. It seems Canada has been outfoxed by Ethiopia.”


Efforts to get Makhtal released are once more revving up, with a Jan. 20 news conference being held to mark the anniversary of his rendition to Ethiopia. New Democrat MP Paul Dewar has written Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon asking him to demand the “immediate release” of Makhtal. The government said in a statement the case remains a priority.


A call to the Ethiopian embassy in Ottawa was not returned.


Read more

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As anticipated, the May 2010 elections greatly strengthened the hold on power of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The party now controls all but two parliamentary seats after an election that devastated and shocked the opposition. The coming year will see the EPRDF settle in for a much-vaunted five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) for the economy and bring about some internal restructuring.


Reshuffling has already started at the level of the EPRDF's component parties, as the next generation of leaders slowly climb the party ladder. The cabinet changes coincided with the release of Birtukan Mideksa Ethiopia's best-known dissident, after she had served five years in jail. Although the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has kept its chairman, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, eight of its senior members announced their resignations at the tenth party conference in September.


With the election of Hailemariam Desalegn to the vice chairmanship, replacing grandee and Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse, the EPRDF showed its intentions of following the lead of its member parties. Hailemariam, who was chairman of the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (SEPDM), is the first non-Amhara Deputy chair since 1991. Changes to party structure have been more cosmetic than substantial. There is evidence that the EPRDF is pushing younger demographic up the ranks, but the opposition has been quick to claim it is just more of the same. Hailemariam's appointments as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in an October government reshuffle strengthens his position as a potential successor in 2015. Hailemariam's party SEPDM, has also gained a further two prominent ministries, Defence and Federal Affairs, strengthening the party relative to the traditional power bases in the TPLF, OPDO and ANDM. Some of the big names who have dropped out of the politburo or given up their parliamentary seats, such as Bereket Simon or Seyoum Mesfin, will still be around in a backstairs or advisory capacity and may even retain ministerial positions.


While Meles may retire in 2015, there is no clear successor. The TPLF is aware that it is probably out of the running; Tigreans make up just 6% of Ethiopia's population and people want change. The Amhara and the Oromo, the two largest ethnic groups, argue that any successor should come from their own ethnic group. This tension will start to make itself in the year ahead.


Meles's already strong position will be strengthened as new appointees become beholden to him and any rivals are edged out by the changes. The opposition will continue its attempts to form a united front, but ideological differences, the absence of a unifying leader and a wait of five years before the next election is held, will make this difficult.


Foreign policy impasses in Somalia, Eritrea and, potentially, Sudan have been causes of concern in Addis Ababa. The resignation from Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Prime Minister Ali Sharmarke in September caused indignation in Addis, which strongly believes that the TFG is too fragile to indulge in internal bickering. There had been some cautious optimism over Somalia, in view of recent significant AU peacekeeping successes in Mogadishu. Ethiopia was more confident in international donor support for the TFG of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. However, as the TFG has less than a year before the end of the transitional period, much remains to be done.


The threat of the Somali al-Shabab insurgency persists and, although Ethiopia says its troops will not return to Somalia, any major advance by al-Shabab could change its calculations. Ethiopia maintains that al-Shaba is still receiving weapons and assistants from Eritrea, which feels some irritation due to the recommendations of the International Crisis Group's September report to "bring Eritrea in from the cold", arguing that it is in danger of becoming a failed state.


Ethiopia will also be keeping a watchful eye on Sudan as the 9 January referendum approaches. Addis Ababa would be comfortable with either one or two Sudanese states, but it has taken a firm position that the conditions of the comprehensive peace agreement should be implemented. Ties to the government of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in the South will have to be balanced against the fact that Ethiopia imports all of its oil from the North. Addis Ababa is extremely wary of antagonizing President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to the point where he might actively align with Eritrea.


The GTP, though still not finalized in 2010, promises to be monumentally ambitious, economists worry, however, that it will equally miss the mark because its underlying assumptions are flawed. The year ahead will be crucial for implementing the ground work on a set of goals that Meles claims will lead to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and prepare Ethiopia to become a middle-income country.


While the latest budget promises heavy investment in infrastructure, the primary focus of the plan will be the industrial sector, which currently stands at 13% of GDP. Efforts to boost industry will be insufficient for it to replace agriculture, which accounts for 41% of GDP, as the strongest sector. Under the GTP, the government aims for minimum agricultural growth of 8% and 14.9% in the best-case scenario. The plan's vision for the metal industry, which recorded 10.2% growth in 2009-2010, is annual growth of 20%. Increased industrialisation will need more investment, for which the EPRDF will continue to look east, to China and India.


The plan aims to boost exports to $10bn a year within five years from their current level of less that $2bn. In a move towards boosting exports, and encouraging private sector investment, the National Bank of Ethiopia devalued the birr by nearly 17% on 1 September. Such a move had become urgent due to the government's success in suppressing the rate of inflation, which was as high as 64.2% as recently as 2008. Inflation stood at 5.7% by July 2010 and Meles said that the government was targeting annual inflation of no more than 6% over the next five years.


Real GDP growth in 2009-2010 was estimated at 8%, down from the double-digit rate achieved in 2008-2009, but the government remains confident the economy will return to higher growth rates throughout the next five years.


Addis Ababa's building boom is set to continue as is the rapid expansion of regional capitals. Cement production will also rise as construction intensifies. The GTP aims for all the kebeles(local administrative centers) to be connected with roads and power. This is still a long way off but the increased connectivity will necessitate more rural development. Land leasing will remain a burgeoning business with investments interest from Saudi Arabia, China and India.


Source; Africa Report.

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