Friday, June 30, 2006

ION update: 06/30/06

CUDP leadership abroad
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1187 01/07/2006

The main opposition party, whose leaders are in prison in Addis Ababa, has designated an international executive drawn from among the Diaspora, largely dominated by the Amhara.

The executive of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition) in the Diaspora have chosen two members of their leadership, Major Yosef Yazew and Andargachew Tsige, to represent their party in the executive of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD), the new opposition coalition (ION 1182). Formerly a military man during the time of Emperor Haile Selassie, Major Yosef was one of the founder members of the EDU (monarchist) headed by the Ras Mengesha, but subsequently changed allegiance to the EPDA of the late Dereje Deresa, then supported by President Ronald Reagan’s administration. Afterwards he joined the Kitet group of the late Kifle Wodajo. He returned to Addis Ababa with Wodajo for a while when the current regime came to power in 1991. He subsequently returned to live in exile and joined the AAPO, then the AEUP led by Hailu Shawel, to whom he is still loyal.

For his part, Andargachew Tsige, based in London and whose sister is married to the Minister Tefera Walwa, has been a member of the ANDM (governing party) and the administration in Addis Ababa before defecting and going into exile in London. He drew closer to the CUDP via Berhanu Nega and returned to Addis Ababa for the elections in 2005. There he was arrested, beaten and imprisoned for a month and returned to London after his release.

The CUDP leadership in the Diaspora consists of an executive of three members consisting of Major Yosef (President), Moges Gebremariam (Vice President) and the former chairman of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce (AACC), Berhane Mewa (secretary general). Moges is a qualified surgeon specialising in kidneys who has lived in exile for decades. Settled in Baltimore, he initially joined the Medhin which he financed and then returned to Addis Ababa for a few weeks to attend the launch of the merger of the EDP and the Medhin, before leaving to become a member of the CUDP. Close to Hailu Shawel and considered a moderate, he has nevertheless gone along with the line of the CUDP leaders who did not accept to sit in Parliament in Addis Ababa.

Five other CUDP officials in the Diaspora have been designated. In addition Tsige who will be in charge of organisational matters, the magnate Solomon Bekele will handle the finances while Seyoum Bekele, a fervent Amhara and member of the AEUP, will be in charge of external relations. The research and investigation department goes to Getachew Wana, an ex-partisan of the former Ethiopian regime who now lives in Sweden and with his brother is a member of Colonel Goshu Wolde’s Medhin. Mamo Yihune, also an ex-partisan of the previous regime in Ethiopia and a member of the Medhin, now living in Germany, will be in charge of public relations of the CUDP’s international leadership.

Asmara’s Republican lobbyist
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1187 01/07/2006

The Eritrean authorities have taken on a new team of lobbyists in Washington, in order to defend their case with the United States government. It is the firm of lawyers Barbour Griffith & Rogers LLC which is close to the Republican Party and is headed by Ed Rogers, a former advisor to George Bush senior. Recruited by the Eritrean embassy in Washington, this firm should provide the “guidance” and the “counsel” on Eritrean foreign policy with respect to the American government. The three members of this legal firm officially registered as lobbyists for the Eritrean embassy in the USA are Robert Blackwill, Dan Murphy and Andrew Parasiliti. Blackwill was an assistant advisor to Bush senior in 1989 – 1990, before going to teach for ten years at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was subsequently Ambassador to India (2001-2003) then Deputy Assistant National Security Adviser to Georges W. Bush and his special envoy to Iraq. Parasiliti was for three years foreign policy advisor to the Republican Senator for Nebraska Charles “Chuck” Hagel, a specialist on intelligence matters. Parasiliti was previously director of the John F Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative. He joined Barbour Griffith & Rogers last year.

Ana Gomez addresses US Congress

Anna Gomez, the head of the European Union’s Observer Mission to last May's parliamentary elections in Ethiopia, informed US Congress on Tuesday that lack of judicial freedom in Ethiopia rules out fair trial for opposition leaders. Full Text

Audio: Ana Gomes speech at US Congress and later at Capital Hilton in Washington, DC (VOA-Amharic: June 27, 2006)

Doctor with heart

Dr. Ingida Asfaw fixes hearts for a living.

The 66-year-old heart surgeon is a well-respected doctor with a big heart himself, and his efforts go beyond Detroit all the way to his home country of Ethiopia.

Asfaw founded the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association six years ago to help bring medical care to the country. Full Text

DOCTOR WITH HEART: Well-respected Ethiopian surgeon is as committed to his homeland as he is to Detroit (Detriot Free Press) June 30, 2006

In Pictures: Camel Train

Ethiopian traders start annual salt trek to the Danakil Depression, geographically one of the lowest places on Earth and a cauldron of volcanic activity. And you think your life is hard?

In Pictures: Camel Train (BBC) 30 June, 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bird flu ayaders

Since an earlier post on this issue, there has been no confirmed report of the dreaded avian flu (bird flu) in Ethiopia, though the poultry market is still trying to recover from an earlier scare. Authorities recently announced a new contingency plan.

Ethiopia's national avian flu coordination committee has approved a multi-million dollar contingency plan to strengthen preparedness in the event of the disease spreading to the Horn of Africa country...

Avian flu contingency plan approved (Reuters) 29 June, 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

Africa's last hope at the World Cup

Ghana captain Stephen Appiah says they are ready to lay their bodies on the line when they face Brazil for a place in the World Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday...

Appiah set for Brazil (BBC) 26 June, 2006

Update: Tuesday, June 27
Brazil 3-0 Ghana
Tough break, better luck maybe in South Africa, 2010!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Search for Mandela's buried gun

...The weapon was a Makarov pistol given to Mr Mandela by an Ethiopian army officer when he was undergoing military training in Addis Ababa.

Search for Mandela's buried gun (BBC) 22 June 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

ION update: 06/23/06

Samora Yunis
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1186 24/06/2006

According to information obtained in the United States by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, the Ethiopian army chief of staff, General Samora Yunis, went to Boston last week to undergo medical treatment. General Yunis is seriously ill, believed to be with AIDS. Other Ethiopian generals, such as Bacha Dabale Abebayehu, have already been infected with HIV.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Africa's World Cup woes

There's no denying African players are superstars at some of the world's biggest clubs - Samuel Eto'o at Barcelona, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba at Chelsea, and Kolo Toure at Arsenal for example.

In fact, rarely have there been so many big African names playing the game. Sadly, that's just not translating into World Cup form and results... Ghana permitting.

Marcel Desailly on the African teams (BBC Sport) 19 June, 2006
World Cup 2006 results
Printable wallchart (Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Friday, June 16, 2006

ION update: 06/16/06

Samuel Assefa’s lobbying
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1185 17/06/2006

Samual Assefa had hardly been inaugurated as Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States when he embarked on a lobbying campaign. A Washington based firm of lawyers, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, has just signed a contract for $50,000 a month to provide services to the Ethiopian government on legislative and public relations matters. The major preoccupation of the Ethiopian authorities concerns the Ethiopia Consolidation Act 2005 which was introduced by the Republican Representative for New Jersey, Chris Smith and is supported by around twenty congressmen from both parties. This bill proposes that American development aid for Ethiopia be suspended until certain democratic principles are respected. The lobbying firm in Washington will report on its work to Ambassador Assefa. DLA Piper has already worked for Ethiopia on the international arbitration on the border dispute with Eritrea and has advised Addis Ababa on the payment of war damages demanded by former warring countries. DLA Piper has been continually strengthening its network in Africa over the last year. In September 2005 its London office head-hunted Charles Morrison from his job as head of Africa of the British firm Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) which also has a strong network of partnerships on the African continent. Since then DLA Piper has concluded an exclusive partnership with a major South African law firm, Cliffe Dekker chaired by Chris Ewing. DLA Pipper has also teamed up with the Zambian firm Chibesakunda & Company, with DLA Matouk Bassiouny in Egypt and, since the beginning of this month, with the Tanzanian firm Ishengoma, Masha, Mujulizi & Magai (IMMMA).

Al Amoudi’s confidant
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1185 17/06/2006

A 41 year old Lebanese man living in London is the confidant of the Saudi-Ethiopian magnate Mohamed Hussein Al Amoudi, for a whole series of foreign operations. Karim Karaman has been at the head of Al Amoudi’s oil company in Sweden, Preem Holdings, since 2001 and sits on the board of Midroc Holdings AB. But he is also the financial director of two companies created by Al Amoudi in 2002 in Luxembourg named Amana I and Amana II. The declared aim of these firms with a modest capital of $30,000 each is to acquire stakes in companies in order to then take charge of their administration, management and control. These companies also have the aim of exploiting and working their property assets. In addition to Al Amoudi and Karaman, the third director in these Amana companies is Al Amouni’s French lawyer, Fran├žois L. Meynot. Karaman has hit the headlines in Argentina these last few months. He was the representative of the firm Elmtree Investment, which is registered in the Virgin Islands and is owned by Al Amoudi. Elmtree was the largest partner, with a 48% share, in the firm Blanquiceleste SA which last year was awarded the contract to manage the Argentinean football club Racing Club de Avellaneda. Karaman was then the director of Blanquiceleste, but this caused a fuss because Elmtree was a foreign company and finally it had had to reduce its stake in Blanquiceleste.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Addis Ababa's underground children

On a recent visit to Addis, it seemed like the homeless population had doubled...In particular, homeless children. Many earn money by washing cars, selling tissues ("soft") , begging for change...And even petty theft. But compared to cities in Kenya, or South Africa, Addis Ababa has yet to see the sort of violent crime expected from a large and desperate young homeless population. You can still stop at a red light going downhill on Churchill Avenue in the evening hours, flanked by homeless youth asking for money, without a genuine fear of being shot or carjacked...But how long will this relative safety last?

In pictures: Underground children (BBC) June 11, 2006

Sunday, June 11, 2006

ION update: 06/11/06

A strange OLF document
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1184 10/06/2006

A document in Oromiffa (the language of the Oromo) distributed to sympathisers of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, Ethiopian opposition) in the Diaspora throws a murky light on the recent creation of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) around the OLF. According to the Amharic translation of this 13 page document dated 24 April 2006 and centred on the OLF’s political alliance, the creation of the AFD appears to be a tactical desire of the OLF. Indeed, the text specifies that an alliance between the OLF and only the Southern opposition would have precipitated the creation of a counter-alliance between “Amhara and Tigrayans”, making an OLF victory impossible. Considering the OLF stronger than the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP), the document states that an alliance with the Habesha (pejorative word for the Northerners) forces would not mean that the OLF is abandoning its assertion that Oromia is a colony (page 4) and therefore has a right to independence. Furthermore, the text refers to Ethiopia as a colonial country and considers that during a transition period, the present constitution should remain in force since its article 39 ensures the right of secession. However, in the face of the doubt arising from the hasty creation of the AFD (ION 1182), the OLF is now seeking to resume dialogue with the Union of Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) which had refused to join the AFD.

Solomon Bekele
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1183 03/06/2006

Since the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) was created by several Ethiopian opposition groups, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) has been in a state of deep melancholy. Its leaders in prison in Ethiopia have distanced themselves from this decision, while CUDP representatives in North America were on the verge of a split last week-end. Only the intervention by certain elders was able to dissuade them, but the controversy among them is still heated. The Ethiopian-American millionaire, Solomon Bekele, one of the financial backers of the CUDP in the Diaspora, and who was one of the signatories of the agreement creating the AFD, is bearing the brunt of criticism from his rivals inside the CUDP. He was accused of striking a secret agreement with other opposition organisations when the AFD was created. This brings a smile to Berhanu Mewa who is involved in the power struggle with the CUDP faction led by Major Josef and Seyoum Solomon, who have the support of Solomon Bekele.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Shoeshine girl

Twelve-year-old Meskerem Geremew pays for her own school fees and materials by shining shoes, a job typically done by boys, on weekends and evenings after class...


Closing the gender gap: An Ethiopian girl shines shoes to pay for school (UNICEF) June 8, 2006

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ginbot vacation

Scorching sun, explosions, thunderstorms, weddings, funerals, macchiatos...Month of Ginbot, vacation in the motherland ends.

Sunset on Lake Awassa

More photos...

Red Terror revisited

Kelbessa Negewo, when he was a midlevel administrator during Ethiopia's Red Terror.

On Aug. 3, 1987, Kelbessa Negewo debarked from a T.W.A. flight in New York. He cleared customs and entered the United States. A strong, thickset man, just a few weeks shy of his 37th birthday, he was traveling alone. In his suitcase, he carried the remnants of his old life...

The Long Interrogation (New York Times) June 4, 2006