Saturday, January 21, 2006

ION update: 01/21/06

UEDF goes underground
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1165 21/01/2006

The meeting of the leadership of the Union of Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF, opposition) which ended on 16 January in Washington decided to expel its previous leaders Beyene Petros and Merera Gudina, who were not present at the meeting. They are accused of having accepted to take up their seats in the Ethiopian Parliament. The UEDF then designated a new executive committee, composed primarily of exiles. Fasika Belete, a representative of the radical organisation Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), became the new party chairman, Lieutenant Ayalsew Dessie the Deputy Chairman, and Aregawi Berhe Deputy Chairman for Europe. Only the secretary of the UEDF, Dereje Kebede is based in Ethiopia, but in all likelihood not for much longer. He had already been arrested by the Ethiopian authorities in November 2005 and could have problems in going back to Addis Ababa after participating in this UEDF meeting in the United States. The UEDF executive decided unanimously to organise a conference of all the opposition parties, at which opposition groups non-members of the UEDF (such as the Oromo Liberation Front, OLF) should also take part. A task force should soon be formed to prepare this conference. The most significant decision taken at the UEDF leadership meeting was that its activities in Ethiopia should from now on be underground. The opposition coalition considered that all the paths for an open struggle in Ethiopia were now exhausted. The old demon of armed struggle which has haunted the most radical opponents could now resurface.

An academic becomes ambassador
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1165 21/01/2006

The list of 19 new ambassadors appointed by President Girma Wolde-Giorgis on 13 January includes several top civil servants from the ministry of foreign affairs, as well as some former dignitaries, now sidelined. One of the latter is Ali Abdo, the former chairman of the Addis Ababa administrative region. Another is the Vice President of Addis Ababa University (AAU), Samuel Assefa, who did not finally succeed in getting the post of President of AAU he wanted, hoping to oust its incumbent Endrias Eshete. The good relations between Samuel Assefa’s and the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s wives was therefore not reason enough to get him the AAU presidency.