Friday, March 31, 2006

ION update: 03/31/06

Ethiopia: The opposition’s difficult unity
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1175 01/04/2006

The attempts to form a united front of all of the main Ethiopian opposition organisations, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP), the Union of Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), have come up against difficulty and resistance. The UEDF is particularly in favour of this idea since this was the organisation that proposed a joint conference of all of the opposition groupings. For its part, the leadership of the OLF is ready to discuss holding an opposition conference, but does not want this to be widely known for the time being. Indeed, the partisans of the former Secretary General of the OLF, Galassa Dilbo, have dug in their heels in a radical position and accuse the present chairman Dawud Ibsa Ayana of being prepared to sell out on defending the interests of the Oromos as soon as he forges a link with any non Oromo Ethiopian opposition groups. But the strongest reticence comes from within the CUDP. Thus, a joint meeting between the OLF, the UEDF and the CUPD, convened in Chicago (United States) by a group of Ethiopian intelligentsia for 1 April, finally had to be cancelled. A minority of the leaders of the CUDP in North America were strongly opposed to its being held. Furthermore, the leaders of the OLF are currently touring Europe and were unable to go to Chicago on the date the meeting was scheduled. Yet another setback for the long and difficult process of forming a united Ethiopian opposition.

Ethiopia/Eritrea: An embarrassing lobbyist
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1175 01/04/2006

The scandal in the United States involving the American lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has worked on behalf of Eritrea in the firm Greenberg Traurig, could have negative repercussions on the Republican Congressman for California, Dana Rohrabacher. The latter has become a specialist in introducing bills to impose sanctions on Ethiopia (ION 1127). At the beginning of the year, Abramoff pleaded guilty to various embezzlement charges and cut a deal to help the FBI in their investigations of a score of accusations of corruption levied against twenty Congressmen or their assistants. It just so happens that Rohrabacher is close to Abramoff and acted as guarantor when the latter bought a casino in 2000. These ties between the two men, as well as Rohrabacher’s links with Gebremedhin Berhane who is calling for the restitution of a property in Ethiopia nationalised by the previous regime, explain this American Congressman’s systematic attacks on the government of Addis Ababa.

Eritrea: An opponent unhappy
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1175 01/04/2006

The secretary general of the Eritrean Congress Party criticises the way the Eritrean Democratic Alliance intends to manage the aid from friendly countries.

The Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA, opposition) was created at the beginning of last year under the aegis of Sudan, Ethiopia and Yemen brought together in the Sanaa Forum for Peace, and receives aid from certain countries in the Horn of Africa which it has no intention of sharing with other Eritrean opposition groups. This is the gist of the reproach just made by Herui Tedla Bairu, the Secretary General of the Eritrean Congress Party (ECP, opposition, not a member of the EDA). An EDA leader, Hussein Khalifa, confirmed to him that the aid from the Sanaa Forum to the Eritrean opposition was only intended for organisations members of the EDA. Herui T. Bairu considered that the Sana Forum was overstepping its prerogatives in trying to favour one opposition current rather than another. This comes down to admitting that the countries in the region want the EDA exclusively to accede to power in Asmara.

Ethiopia/United Kingdom: Berhanu Kebede
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1175 01/04/2006

The new Ethiopian Ambassador to London, Berhanu Kebede, had hitherto been on post in Sweden, with accreditation for Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Finland. Born in 1956 in the Ethiopian capital, Berhanu Kebede is a graduate in economics from Addis-Abeba University (AAU) and a career diplomat. He joined the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1978 as desk officer in charge of relations with the European Union (EU). In 1983 he joined the Ethiopian Embassy in Brussels as trade attaché and participated in the negotiations for the Lome II and III agreements. In 1992 after the change of regime in Ethiopia, he returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Addis Ababa as Director for Western Europe with the rank of counsellor. The following year he became deputy director general and later director general for international organisations and economic cooperation. From 1993 to 2000 he participated in all of the African Union (AU) meetings and the General Assemblies of the United Nations until his appointment to the post of chargé d’affaires in Russia with the rank of Ambassador on 7 December 2000. He subsequently became Ambassador to Sweden in February 2002. Married and father of three, Berhanu Kebede speaks English and French as well as Amharic. His predecessor in London, Fisseha Adugna, resigned from the diplomatic service to go to the United States with his family. Officially, he did this for personal reasons, but certain observers consider that he preferred to distance himself from the present political regime in Ethiopia.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Young Ethiopian activist

Misalee Ali Saeed, 15 year old Ethiopian human rights activist, appears on Canadian television as one of Winnipeg's city heros.

City Hero (watch the TV clip from CITY TV )

Misalee's website, Abugida

Ethiopia "at Crossroads"

...In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, [Deputy Assistant Secretary of State] Yamamoto said, "It is incumbent upon Prime Minister Meles, his government and the various elements of the multifaceted opposition to demonstrate to the world, but, more importantly, to Ethiopians, the sincerity of their professed commitment to democracy through their actions as well as their words."

Ethiopia "at Crossroads," Warns US Official (Washington File, DC) 28 March, 2006

Update: View Webcast Video

Monday, March 27, 2006

More explosions target civilians

A blast on a minibus killed one person and injured three others in Addis Ababa on Monday in the latest of a series of mysterious explosions in the Ethiopian capital...

Explosion on bus in Addis kills one, injures three (Reuters) 27 March, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bird flu ayaders

So far in Africa, the H5N1 virus linked to the dreaded avian flu (bird flu) has been detected in Nigeria, Niger, Egypt and most recently, Cameroon. No human cases of the H5N1 strain have yet been found in Africa. Late last month, the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development disclosed signs of avian flu had been observed in Endibir woreda of the South State. Subsequent samples sent to a laboratory in Italy turned out to be negative for the existence of a bird-flu-like disease, but the damage was already evident in the poultry market with chickens reportedly selling for as low as 8 Birr, previously 35 Birr.

As the scare subsides, and the faithful prepare to end the fasting season with Easter celebration, poultry prices are sure to rise back to normal. Similar scares are bound to happen in the future, and it's no less likely for Ethiopia to be next to record a positive H5N1 strain. The impact on the economy would be devastating and authorities would have no remedy other than containment of affected regions. How would a nation with few resources even begin to combat the virus if it eventually starts to spread between humans? Containment and massive doses of anti-viral drugs have in the past prevented large scale epidemic in China, but not before many already died. Ethiopia does not have large stockpiles of anti-viral drugs, so one can only hope the Ministry of Health has a rapid containment plan at work.

...The World Health Organization recommends countries should stockpile enough anti-viral drugs to cope with a pandemic, which it estimates would affect 25% of the population, but warns that developing countries in particular are likely to fall well short.

Bird flu: Country preparations (BBC) 21 February, 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

ION update: 03/24/06

Confrontation in Afar region
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1174 25/03/2006

Tension is growing among the population in the Afar region where a new murderous attack has taken place.

A commando composed of Oromos attacked an Afar encampment at Hadalé’ela (near the village of Shoarobit) on the evening of 6 March, in zone five of the Afar Regional State in Ethiopia, situated on the edge of the Amhara Regional State, which in this zone is inhabited by Oromos. Among the attack’s 13 victims was an 85 year old local dignitary, highly respected throughout the Afar region: Hamadou Hamad known as Assafa. His death caused a considerable amount of emotion among the Afar and this killing was reported by Radio Asmara (Eritrea) in several languages in order to prop up the accusation that the Ethiopian government was responsible for murdering its own citizens. However, one source close to the Ethiopian regime rejected responsibility for this attack, attributing it to Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, opposition) rebels, which Addis Ababa constantly tries to incriminate.

The Ethiopian Afar are accusing the Addis Ababa regime in increasing numbers of encouraging the insecurity that is afflicting their community. The government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was trying, according to them, to exacerbate inter-ethnic conflicts in order to stay in power by dividing the Ethiopian populations among themselves. In zone 3 of the Afar Regional State, regular bloody skirmishes take place between Afar shepherds and strongly armed Issas, without any intervention by the Ethiopian army to bring them to an end.

Meanwhile, zone 2 of the Afar region is directly ruled by the Tigray Regional State. To be sure, this region is not only considered as strategic due to its position on the border with Eritrea and Djibouti, it is also sought after for the mining and agricultural potential of the Awash valley. About 5,000 hectares of land have been attributed to Tigrayan businessmen who benefit from banking facilities. The working of salt at Afdera (near the Erta Alé volcano) resulted in frequent skirmishes last year between the Afars and the Ethiopian army which was defending the Tigrayan investors settled in this zone.

Embassy reviews its security plan for the French
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1174 25/03/2006

The French Consul to Addis Ababa, Franck Simaer, last week wrote to the French residents in this city to verify their presence in the country and to ask them to return the security forms as soon as possible. To be sure, the Consul has the task of constituting a reliable database (with the full details of each person’s address and its exact location) of all French people living in the Ethiopian capital, both for administrative reasons and in case of security problems. Anyone not replying to this questionnaire will be removed this week from the register of French people in Ethiopia and from the French Embassy’s security plan. In fact, these questionnaires should have been returned by the end of January 2006. The security plan of the French community in Addis Ababa relies, among other things, on a network of communication based on cutting Addis Ababa into five sectors, which no longer corresponds the present-day distribution of the French community. A mission of specialists hence came from France last year, to propose a more adequate organisation to be rolled out progressively, based on cutting up Addis Ababa into six security zones. Hence, Simaer asked those interested in taking part in the scheme to add a photo of their home as seen from the access road and also the GPS coordinates.

Relocating to Ethiopia
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1174 25/03/2006

The leather goods manufacturer Pittards Plc is to close its British factor in Leeds and relocate part of its activity to Ethiopia. To be sure, Pittards won the contract to manage the Ethiopian Tannery Share Company (ETSC) in August 2005, for a period of five years. Part of the activity to manufacture shoes and other bovine leather products (for Timberland and Adidas) previously carried out in Leeds, will be relocated to Ethiopia.

Early human skull found

Yet more discovery of bones in Ethiopia linking origins of humans to apes...And this smart brother from the appropriately named Stone Age Institute knew well enough to bring his team to Ethiopia, birthplace of mankind, yet a place still operating with Stone Age mentality.

...The skull appeared "to be intermediate between the earlier Homo erectus and the later Homo sapiens," Sileshi Semaw, an Ethiopian research scientist at the Stone Age Institute at Indiana University, told a news conference in Addis Ababa.

Skull discovery could fill origins gap (Reuters) March 24, 2006

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More on Ethiopian Customs Authority

An earlier post regarding Ethiopian Customs Authority stirred some people (apparently someone reads my rantings) to e-mail their own experiences, and what they dread each time they land in Addis. High on the list was being directed to that special window where you may empty your wallet paying import taxes on an extra electronic gadget found in your luggage. I for one recall an old cell phone stuffed into my carry-on luggage as I rushed to catch my plane, cost several times what I paid for it on arrival in Addis, at least according to the gumruk bible the lady kept looking at. Jetlagged and furious, I was just about to open my mouth, when she took another look at the phone, and with a "Aha, k'oy ande...," she turned and began punching a few keys into a computer. I thought, surely, she realized her mistake and will return with a more sensible figure, but I was forgetting where I was. Lesson number one: Having hope in Ethiopia is a set-up for bitter disappointment, at least with official matters. My beat-up cell phone had a built in camera (standard nowadays) which did not even work after being dropped one too many times, but would now cost twice the earlier quote, argh! There goes my vacation money. And here's the kicker, I could either leave the phone with Customs, or take the phone out the airport, but either way I had to pay the same full amount...Huh? Lesson number two: Never ask why to Ethiopian government workers, they take it personal.

I was instructed my payment of 200% tax may be refunded in full, but only when requested twenty-four hours before departure, a little clause they hope you pay little attention to. A near miracle is what it takes for anyone to get necessary signatures and appropriate receipts from individuals at the airport and officials at Customs' Gergie warehouse before you ever see your money again. All this to be done on your last day, no less. The Gergie warehouse is a giant corrugated iron facility subdivided into various departments and offices, and if you're lucky enough to find the appropriate office, you'll find the same ancient excuse, "just stepped out," or possibly in sebseba, "meeting,"...At the tea house, I'm sure. And so you wait, and wait, and after waiting some more, wonder if it's all worth it. But damn-it, that's exactly what they want, and I can understand why travelers will give-up the chase early in order to spend the last few precious hours with family prior to flying out. I persevere, but only because I was informed earlier of what to expect from Customs, and had finished all personal matters prior to departure.

Two more officials later, I finally get to the desk where my refund is to be issued. The Customs agent is very personable, even asks me to take a seat and offers to call for tea, or coffee...I guess not too many travelers make it this far, I politely decline his offer. He then asks if I want my money in the form of a check to be cashed at a bank in town, or in cash upfront...Although not at first, I realized he was not kidding. "Cash, please!"

Lesson number three: Leave cell phone behind before flying to Addis.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Charges dropped against 18 suspects

...Half of those whose charges were dropped on Wednesday were being tried in absentia. Five work for the Voice of America, Amharic service in Washington.

Ethiopia court drops charges against 18 suspects (Reuters) March 22, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

St. George to heal our wounds

St. George's 4-0 shocking defeat on Sunday of former champions Hearts of Oak in the African Champions League caused such excitement, one could presumably forget, if not but for a fleeting moment, the trials which had befallen the city in the past few months. The Ethiopian club's second round defeat of the Ghanaian squad followed the stir they caused in the first round last month with their 1-0 victory over the Egyptian club ENPPI. Lack of talent was never Ethiopia's problem, but rather sound financial backing. Ethiopia was a founding member and previous champion of the African Nations Cup...But I'm sure we're all tired of living in the past. With support from their current billionaire patron, Saudi-Ethiopian business tycoon Sheik Al-amoudi, St. George may well be poised to restore Ethiopia's long forgotten football credentials. Viva Georgis!

Climate of fear

Two steps forward and three steps back, the country moves from a climate of high hopes and open debates, back to one of fear and suspicion.

..."Oh, no, that would not be wise," said a law professor when asked if a reporter could observe a class where students were to discuss the ongoing trial of 131 opposition leaders, publishers, journalists and human rights activists. Despite boasting about the openness of debate in his class, the professor declined to give his name.

Ethiopia gripped by fear of regime (Washington Times) March 21, 2006

Friday, March 17, 2006

ION update: 03/17/06

General Samora Yunis in Las Vegas
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1173 18/03/2006

The Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian army, Lieutenant General Samora Yunis went to Las Vegas on 2 March accompanied by an American official, Robert Orth, and General Ayalew. He had just visited the Nellis Air Force Base, a base situated north of Las Vegas. General Yunis took advantage of the visit to meet five selected Ethiopians in the restaurant Merkato. Other Ethiopians who tried to speak with him on this occasion were prevented from doing so by Robert Orth. General Yunis then went to Washington before returning to Addis Ababa.

Forthcoming mission to Ethiopia
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1173 18/03/2006

After the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) which has just sent a delegation to Addis Ababa (ION 1170), it is now the turn of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to do likewise. This Brussels-based association has already criticised certain decisions taken by the Ethiopian government, notably concerning legislation of the media which had been controversial in Ethiopia. The IFJ delegation is to go on a fact-finding mission to Ethiopia in the coming weeks to investigate condition of imprisoned journalists.

The reasons behind an expulsion
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1173 18/03/2006

After the expulsion of the Italian Ambassador in 2001 and the sidelining in December 2005 of several Italian NGOs including Mani Tese (linked to the Vatican), Eritrea has once again made a move hostile to Rome. The First Secretary of the Italian Embassy in Asmara, Ludovico Serra, was declared persona non grata at the beginning of March and was given 24 hours to leave the country. He had been previously arrested at Massawa near the entrance to the villa Melotti despite his diplomatic status. He was held for a week-end in an Eritrean police barracks and his car confiscated. The Italian diplomat had gone to Massawa to see that the personal bodyguards of President Issayas Afeworki were occupying this magnificent colonial style villa with swimming pool, built in the 1930s and owned by the Italian Melotti family. The Eritrean President had wanted to take hold of it for some years.

ISS beefs up its team
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1173 18/03/2006

Just as the former Ethiopian Ambassador to Germany, Hiruy Amanuel Gebreselassie has taken up the head of the project to fight terrorism in the Horn of Africa, based in Addis Ababa (ION 1171), Commander Abebe Muluneh has become training coordinator in this same project played out by the South African Institute for Security Studies (ISS). A graduate of the Ethiopian Police College (1993), Abebe Muluneh worked for thirteen years as an instructor in this same police academy and has undergone training at the Rhinelandpfalz Police College in Germany and the FBI national academy in the United States. The Nairobi bureau of ISS has also been strengthened with the arrival of Augusta Muchai at the Arms Management Programme. She had previously worked for six years at the Security Research and Information Centre (SRIC), an NGO based in Nairobi. Mary Moraa Nyaoso joined ISS’s Nairobi bureau as programme assistant and office manager. ISS has recruited other people in South Africa, beginning with Guy Lamb who will head the Arms Management Programme. A specialist on security matters in Africa for a decade, he has been a researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute in Sweden. For his part, Cecil Aptel Williamson, who previously worked for the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services in Nairobi, has joined the ISS Peace Missions Programme. Poelo Rangoako has now become the ISS director of human resources, while Chandré Gould has joined the Crime and Justice Programme, and Wafula Okumu has taken up the lead of the African Security Analysis Programme and Trusha Reddy has become a researcher with the Corruption and Governance Programme based in Cape Town.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ethiopian Customs Authority at it again

Nothing defines Ethiopian bureaucracy better than the Ethiopian Customs Authority (also known as Gumruk..."Moronic" in Latin?), and they're at it again. This time, they are refusing to release a cargo donation of almost a tonne of clothes, toys and school equipment collected in five Belgian cities and destined to orphanages in Ethiopia. Custom authorities point to Ethiopia's import ban on second hand clothes, but how is it possible donated items can be classified the same as goods imported for-profit? Single-mindedness, that's how! This same authority has in the past disposed of donated school books and pharmaceutical supplies when unable to extort import taxes, and the same fate awaits the Belgian cargo. What does this say to the world? The fiasco is already a news item in Belgium. Even the ever so politically friendly Chinese state news outlet, Xinhua, could not help post a not so friendly article.

... The cargo was blocked by the Ethiopian authorities on its arrival at Addis Abeba airport [since January] and has remained in customs ever since despite negotiations with the Ethiopian minister responsible, the report said.

Dirk Vandervelden, who organized the collection and delivery of material aid, wanted to distribute the cargo between four local projects mainly to help poor, often orphaned, children.

A decision is yet to be made as to whether the material aid may leave Ethiopia. If not, it will be destroyed by the customs officers, Vandervelden said.

Ethiopia rejects Belgian 2nd-hand donations (Xinhua) March 15, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Kenenisa unbeatable on any terrain

Kenenisa Bekele became the first athlete to win world titles on three surfaces (outdoors, indoors and cross-country) when he took the men's 3,000 meters crown at the Moscow World Indoor Championships on Sunday. A day earlier, Olympic 5,000 meters gold medalist Meseret Defar successfully retained her 3,000 meters title. In tribute to these great Ethiopian athletes, I'll be running the Los Angeles Marathon this weekend...In my dreams!

...The 3,000 was one of the most anticipated events of the three-day meet, pitting Bekele against world steeplechase champion Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar (formerly of Kenya) and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, a former 5,000 outdoor world champion.

Bekele's patented finish left his challengers no chance, however, and he won in 7 minutes, 39.32 seconds. Shaheen was 1.96 seconds behind. Kipchoge was third.

Bekele Wins 3,000 at World Indoor Meet (Washington Post) March 12, 2006

Sunday, March 12, 2006

D.C. cab driver

A Washington Post journalist spends a day hopping in and out of D.C. taxi cabs, a profession in which he finds native born drivers far outnumbered by foreign émigrés. The article is similar to a memorable episode produced by PBS called Taxi Dreams, a story of five new immigrant taxi drivers in New York City on the road to the American dream. Not surprisingly, there are those who dislike the changing cultural demographics.

...Alfred "Big Al" Price has driven a cab for close to 29 years. He's not too keen on the foreign-born drivers.

"It used to be Nigeria. Now the Ethiopians done took over. They don't know nothing about this city. All they want to know is 'Airport.' When I got in, you had to know all the precincts, all the hospitals, all the places downtown. You had to know Northwest and Northeast, Southwest and Southeast.

"They don't know nothing about Southeast."

Driving Around the World in D.C. (Washington Post) March 10, 2006

ION update: 03/12/06

Lencho Letta has met Meles Zenawi
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1172 11/03/2006

The former chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Lencho Letta, acting in his capacity as advisor to this organisation’s chairman Daoud Ibsa, twice met Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in the latter half of 2005. Their first meeting took place at the beginning of September 2005 in Oslo, when Meles Zenawi came to collect a prize conferred on him by a foundation connected to the firm Yara. The second meeting was held during the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s visit to Germany at the beginning of October 2005. It is true that the two men know each other, having worked together to draw up the transitional charter for Ethiopia at the beginning of the 1990s. However, their discussions in 2005 did not result in any convergence of views. In fact, a source inside the OLF confirmed to The Indian Ocean Newsletter this week that there had been no formal agreement to negotiate between his organisation and the EPRDF (governing coalition).

Moges Chemere, removed as Chairman of DBE
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1172 11/03/2006

Moges Chemere, who has been the Chairman of the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) for twelve years, has just been removed without further ado at the end of February. He was immediately replaced by Wondwossen Teshome, 45, who had hitherto been in charge of the finances of the rural credits division of this Ethiopian State bank. Teshome has a degree on accountancy from Addis-Ababa University (AAU) and has worked at the DBE for two decades.

Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin (1936-2006)

...Born in the small mountain town of Boda, near Ambo, Mr. Tsegaye became one of his country's most prominent literary figures as well as an international emissary for its culture. Considered by some to be Ethiopia's greatest playwright, Mr. Tsegaye (pronounced say-GAY) wrote more than 30 plays, most in Amharic, Ethiopia's official language, and translated many Western works into Amharic, including those of Shakespeare, Brecht and Molière.

..."In order to bring about a better future, one must learn from the past," Mr. Tsegaye said in 1993 interview with The Ethiopian Review. "You cannot build a future based on hatred because hatred is the enemy of hope."

Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, Ethiopian Poet Laureate, Dies at 69 (New York Times) March 9, 2006

A Short Walk Through His Literary Park, by Professor Negussay Ayele

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

In pictures: A dignified Ethiopia

Images of daily life in Ethiopia, by Aida Muluneh. A world apart from what foreign media depicts as the only norm. My favorite photo is of the little girl in the back seat of her Dad's car.

In pictures: A dignified Ethiopia (BBC) March 8, 2006

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Three explosions hit Addis

Three explosions rocked the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa around noon on Tuesday, severely injuring four people, police said.

One blast hit the Lalibela restaurant in the southern part of the city, extensively damaging the structure. Restaurant manager Asnketch Makaonnen said the explosion was caused by a bomb planted in a flower pot outside.

...The other explosion struck a market, also in the south of the city. Police said the device was hidden in a rubbish bin. There were no injuries.

A third blast later occurred outside the gate of a hotel and tourism training center in the center of the city. No one was injured in the blast, which damaged a small guard shack at the gate...

Three explosions hit Ethiopian capital (Reuters) March 7, 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Trail of tears

It is a smelly, offensive and debilitating condition in which women injured in childbirth uncontrollably leak a trail of urine or feces.

The condition, known as fistula, all but disappeared in the Western world in the late 19th century, when Caesarean section births became widely available.

But in sub-Saharan Africa, the condition remains widespread, sentencing as many as 3 million women to a life of abandonment and enforced solitude....

Ethiopia's trail of tears (The Washington Times) March 5, 2006
Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital

Friday, March 03, 2006

ION update: 03/03/06

Lobbying for the families of Ethiopian political prisoners
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1171 04/03/2006

A group formed by the relatives and friends of the imprisoned leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, Ethiopian opposition) have called on the services of an American lobbying company. This group is called Advocacy Ethiopia and is based in Silver Springs, Maryland. It has just hired the lawyer Harold Boyd from the Boyd & Brown practice to help them get their voice heard by the American administration. This law practice is based in Maryland and also has a branch in Washington.

Another woman in Paris
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1171 04/03/2006

The current Ambassador of Ethiopia to Paris is to return soon to Addis Ababa. She will be replaced in France by another woman, who is currently on post in the Ivory Coast.

Finally, Wubishet Demissie T/.Mariam (ION 1166) will not be replacing Ms Sahle-Work Zewde in the post of Ambassador to Paris. It is Ms Tadelech Haile-Mikael who is to be the new representative of Ethiopia in France. Haile-Mikael, 52, is currently the Ethiopian Ambassador to the Ivory Coast and has been the Minister for Women’s Rights from 1995 until she went to Abidjan at the beginning of 2002. A former activist in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP, opposition), she has spent more than a decade (1979-1991) in prison while her husband, who was also a member of the EPRP, was killed by the troops of the then President Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1979. Tadelech Haile-Mikael then escaped the death penalty because she was pregnant, later giving birth to a girl in prison. Her daughter then lived with her mother during the whole of her imprisonment. Before her time in prison, the future Ethiopian Ambassador to France studied journalism at the University of Friebourg in Switzerland. As The Indian Ocean Newsletter had announced, Sahle-Work Zewde will go to Addis Ababa to run the Africa department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and become her country’s Ambassador to the African Union.

Eritrea: A chargé d'affaires in France
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1171 04/03/2006

The Ambassador of Eritrea to Paris has been recalled to Asmara. She has been replaced by her counsellor who has been made a chargé d'affaires.

On post since the beginning of 2001, the Eritrean Ambassador to Paris, Hanna Simon has been recalled to Asmara and replaced by her counsellor, Ahmed Dehli. The latter hence becomes the chargé d’affaires of the Eritrean embassy in Paris until a new Ambassador is appointed. Dehli had lived and studied in France for many years before returning to Eritrea several years ago. He notably held the post of director of the Centre d’Etudes Stratégiques in Asmara. He returned to Paris last year as counsellor to the embassy. With the departure of Ms Simon, the balance of the number of women ambassadors to France from African countries has shifted slightly. Their number had stood at six and the recent replacement of the ambassador of Uganda by another woman (ION 1161) did not change the ratio. No more than will the replacement of Sahle-Work Zwede (Ethiopia) by another woman Ethiopian diplomat. But with the departure of Hanna Simon, there are now only five.

From Ambassador to consultant
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1171 04/03/2006

The Ethiopian Ambassador to Germany has left the diplomatic service and returned to Addis Ababa to work for an institute studying security.

The Ethiopian Ambassador to Germany left his diplomatic functions at the beginning of the month to take charge of a project to fight terrorism in the Horn of Africa, based in Addis Ababa. This project is an initiative by the InterGovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) of South Africa. ISS had originally advertised this post in August 2005 and eventually selected Hiruy Amanuel Gebresellasie. Furthermore, Amanuel signed on behalf of the Ethiopian government in September 2005 in Berlin an agreement with International Conferences, Workshops and Exhibitions (ICWE) and Hoffman & Reif Consultants (HRC) to hold an annual conference on information and communication technology in Ethiopia. The first edition of this conference, “eLearning Africa” will be held from 24 to 26 May in Addis Ababa with financial support from the European Commission. Although he has now left the Ethiopian diplomatic service, Amanuel is on the eLearning Africa honorary committee, alongside Andreas Eshete (Dean of Addis Ababa University) and the Ethiopian Minister of Education Wondwossen Kiflu. Born in 1952, married to Mehret Kidanu and the father of two children aged 18 and 20. Amanuel is a graduate in librarianship from the Addis Ababa University, in political science from the California Lutheran University and in communication, radio and television from Syracuse University. He began his career as a radio producer in Ethiopia at the beginning of the 1970s and later worked for the Ethiopian Ministry of Information before joining the Ministry for Foreign Affairs at the beginning of the 1990s. Amanuel has held several posts in this ministry’s Europe department, before becoming head of the department in 1992 and later director general for Europe and America (1994-2000). In 2000 he was sent to France as chargé d’affaires and was made Ambassador to Germany two years later.