Friday, October 27, 2006

ION update: 10/27/06

Diplomats under surveillance
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1200 28/10/2006

The recent expulsion of two members of the European Commission illustrates the extent to which diplomats in Addis Ababa are under surveillance.

The two members of the European Commission expelled by the Ethiopian authorities for “trafficking” had not been arrested at Moyale, a town on the border with Kenya, as the Ethiopian authorities claim, but 150 km from there, near Agre Mariam, on their way back from Addis Ababa. The Swedish diplomat Bjorn Jonsson and the Italian Enrico Sborgi had gone to the border to accompany Yalemzewd Bekele, a 29 year old human rights activist who worked for the European delegation in Addis Ababa. She believed she was in danger of being arrested because of her links with the opposition. She had initially taken refuge in the premises of the European delegation and later in Jonsson’s house. She was then accompanied to Moyale where she was arrested on 19 November while showing her papers to the Ethiopian immigration service. Fasil Assefa, who was waiting for her at the Koket Borena hotel but had no intention of going to Kenya, was also arrested.

According to some sources, the Ethiopian intelligence agents investigating Yalemzewd had photos of her eating a pizza with Jonsson, her line manager, the day she took refuge in the EC premises in Addis Ababa. They are also said to have photos showing her in the company of other members of the staff of the European delegation during private meetings. This would appear to show that the whole affair had been minutely prepared by the Ethiopian intelligence services. Better still, according to opposition sources, these services have benefited from the complicity of members of the private security company which guards the European delegation compound. This security firm, Sebhatu and Brothers, is owned by the brothers of Mimi Sebhatu, a journalist close to the regime who benefited with her husband Zerihun Teshome, for the attribution of a licence to launch a private radio station. She is also the editor of the newspaper Eftin which is strongly supportive of the Ethiopian regime. Agents from this security company could have informed the official intelligence services of Yalemzewd’s comings and goings and of her departure for Moyale. Her telephone conversations with the expelled diplomats, and with Tim Clark, the head of the European delegation in Addis Ababa, are also believed to have been recorded in the same way.

Sebhatu & Brothers may be employing disguised government agents. It was the government coalition, EPRDF that, according to people close to Mimi Sebhatu and her husband, provided half of the funding to create this security company. This company has more clients than another security company linked to partisans of the regime, belonging to Major Alemseged Gebre Yohannes, a former deputy Police Commissioner.

Secretary general of Parliament on the run
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1200 28/10/2006

According to several tallying information sources, the secretary general of the Ethiopian Chamber of Representatives, Foto Bedane, took advantage of an official journey to Europe to defect from the regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He was part of an Ethiopian parliamentary delegation headed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Degfe Bula which had left Addis Ababa on 13 October to go to Geneva (Switzerland) to attend the 115th general assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) from 16 to 18 October. Foto Bedane is reported to have then decided not to return to Addis Ababa and may seek refugee status in the United States. His predecessor, Samuel Alemayhu, had similarly defected after a world conference of speakers of parliament in September 2005 in New York.

Africa Intelligence - Indian Ocean Newsletter

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Starbucks blocks Sidamo & Harar trademark

Something is really wrong when a company makes $6.4 billion in sales last year alone, while coffee farmers in Ethiopia make only 3 cents for every cup of their export coffee sold by Starbucks.

US coffee chain Starbucks is denying Ethiopia earnings of up to £47m ($88m) a year, the charity Oxfam has claimed.

The charity says the firm asked the National Coffee Association (NCA) to block Ethiopia's bid to trademark two types of coffee bean in the US.

Starbucks in Ethiopia coffee row (BBC) 26 October, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Final chapter for Kelbessa Negewo

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

A key player in Derg's Red Terror campaign who later fell victim to torture himself and fled to the U.S. two decades ago, the life of 56-year-old Kelbessa Negewo has come full circle. His life began to unravel while employed as a hotel bellhop and fate placed him in the same service elevator with a surviving victim. Detained for almost two years by the Federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for violating international human rights laws, and four months after being profiled in a New York Times article, "The Long Interrogation," Kelbessa Negewo stepped off a plane last Friday at Bole airport and into the custody of Ethiopian authorities. Tried and convicted in absentia on several counts of genocide, he will serve a life sentence. Given the current state of affairs, history is sadly repeating itself and years from now a similar story may well emerge.

Ethiopian extradited from US begins life term (Independent Online) October 21, 2006
Ethiopian begins life sentence for genocide after US deportation (International Herald Tribune) October 23, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

ION update: 10/20/06

The opposition in shreds
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1199 21/10/2006

The leadership of the CUPD in exile has finally exploded under the weight of its divergences.

The friction within the leadership of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition) in exile has finally led to its collapse (ION 1197). This has led to division within many of its support committees in North America and other countries. Major Yosef Yazew and his partisans (Moges Biruck, Seyoum Solomon, Solomon Bekele etc) accuse their rivals Berhanu Mewa and Andargatchew Tsige of working for the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF, governing coalition). To prove their case they point out that Berhanu Mewa’s plastics factory in Addis Ababa is still in operation and that Andargatchew’s sister is the wife of the Minister Tefera Walwa. In turn, the Berhanu/Andargatchew faction accuses Yosef Yazew and his friends of embezzling funds, hence justifying their decision to exclude them from the leadership of the CUDP in exile.

Yosef Yazew is supported in Addis Ababa by a CUDP leader, Hailu Shawel, while his rivals in the Diaspora tend to be supported in Ethiopia by Mesfin Wolde Mariam and Berhanu Nega.

EPPF kept at arm's length
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1199 21/10/2006

The Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF, opposition) may have only a few hundred partisans near Tesenei in Eritrea and no combatants in Ethiopia itself. According to the singer Solomon Tekaligne who went to Asmara in July alongside the EPPF, he had not been able to see a single guerrilla from the organisation apart from its leader Mussie Tegegne. According to him, the propaganda about EPPF military victories is the work of Colonel Fitsum of the Eritrean army.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Soldiers to the corn front

In the rush to harvest crops, some tanks were mistaken for combined harvesters.

Eritrean troops are in a prohibited buffer zone on the border with Ethiopia to harvest crops, says Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu.

UN officials said 1,500 troops and 14 tanks entered the zone on Monday.

Eritrea incursion 'to pick crops' (BBC) October 17, 2006

Death toll revised

Ethiopian security forces fatally shot, beat or strangled 193 people protesting election fraud last year, triple the official death toll, a senior judge appointed to investigate the violence said Wednesday.

193 Protesters Said Killed in Ethiopia (Washington Post) October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Airbus A380 on African continent

Airbus A380 makes first landing on African continent at Bole International, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Photo Gallery: Airbus A380 at Bole airport

Addis Fortune October 15, 2006

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Foreign adoption

"...I didn't have an afro comb until I was nine-years-old. My mother used to comb my hair with a metal comb that tore my head. When I was about nine, my parents took me to the doctor because they couldn't understand why my knees were grey."

'Growing up in an alien environment' (BBC) October 13, 2006
Visit Lemn Sissay's website

Friday, October 13, 2006

Running for his life

A book by Deana Driver, Never Give Up: Ted Jaleta's Inspiring Story, will be released in early November and chronicles the life of an Olympic hopeful who's future is changed by the Red Terror, years in refugee camps and finally a new beginning in Canada.

Marathon runner spent early years running for his life (CBC News) October 13, 2006

ION update: 10/13/06

Internal opposition in a fray
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1198 14/10/2006

While the leadership of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) in the Diaspora is paralysed by a deep internal crisis (ION 1197), the situation is no better for the opposition within Ethiopia itself. Two of its leaders still free, former members of the United Ethiopian Democratic Force (UEDF), are pulling in different directions. Merera Gudina of the Oromo National Congress (ONC) and Beyene Petros of the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Coalition (SEPDC) no longer have the same political approach. According to sources close to the government, Merera Gudina has tried to persuade Beyene Petros to campaign with him to put the freeing of the imprisoned opposition leaders into a central place on the agenda of the new parliamentary session. Beyene Petros and Bulcha Demeksa are believed not to have accepted to follow Merera Gudina on this path, whereas Lidetu Ayalew is reported to not even have been contacted. Since then, the Ethiopian government has stepped up the pressure on Merera Gudina, with measures including freezing his personal bank account. For their part, some EPRDF newspapers have accused Merera Gudina and several CUDP MPs who accepted to take up their seat in Parliament of having plotted to “disrupt the work of Parliament”. However, according to a source close to Mereru Gudina, the latter’s disagreement with Beyene Petros broke out when the latter asked him to publish on behalf of the internal wing of the UEDF, a joint communiqué denouncing the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP, radical faction of the UEDF, influential among the Ethiopian Diaspora). Merera Gudina refused and Beyene Petros finally released the communiqué in the name of the SEPDC alone.

The difficult profession of journalist
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1198 14/10/2006

After a first spate of Ethiopian journalists from the independent press leaving the country, it is now the turn of those working for the State media to scarper. Ezedine Kedir, who worked for the Ethiopian government television station, has just set up home in Germany. This brings the number of journalists from government media defecting up to sixteen. According to information we have received, Alemneh Wassie, who worked for Radio Fana owned by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has also left the country with his family to settle in Israel. Journalists in government media who are reluctant to apply the orders of the authorities in Addis Ababa sometimes receive death threats, pushing them to leave the country.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Super Jumbo Airbus coming to Bole

The Airbus 380 is due to land at Bole airport in the next few days. Airbus spent $14 billion to develop the aircraft, which will be the world's largest airliner, seating more than 800 passengers across twin decks.

...Addis Abeba and its Bole International Airport were chosen as the test site for the local altitude of 2,500 meters above sea level, a flight and landing circumstance not available in previous test locations.

Super Jumbo Airbus to Land in Addis (Addis Fortune) October 10, 2006

Saturday, October 07, 2006

ION update: 10/07/06

Friction within the CUDP
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1197 07/10/2006

With the leaders of the CUDP still in prison in Addis Ababa, the executive in exile of this organisation is beginning to fall apart.

The executive in exile of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition) which had only just been designated last June (ION 1187) has already plunged it into in-fighting that is paralysing it to the depth of its bowels. Ethiopian Review, which supports the opposition, has just launched an open campaign on its web site for the resignation of Major Yosef Yazew, one of the two CUDP executives who represented the CUDP in the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) constituted recently with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). For its part, the pro-government web site publishes a daily diary of the crisis within the CUDP in the Diaspora and the setbacks of its executives.

A meeting organised last week in Las Vegas by Berhanu Mewa, secretary general of the CUDP in Diaspora, almost turned to open combat after Major Yosef declared it illegal in a letter given out during the meeting. Since then, the CUDP support committee in Las Vegas has been divided into two rival sides. This cleavage harks back to differences inside the CUDP in Ethiopia itself. Hence, Berhanu Mewa is a supporter of Berhanu Nega (CUDP leader in prison in Addis Ababa) and opposes the supporters of Hailu Shawel (another imprisoned CUDP leader) including Major Yosef. Mewa is also close to Andargachew Tsige, the other CUDP representative on the AFD executive and to a group of the party’s hotheads in Washington. The latter are staunch opponents of the old guard composed, according to them, of Major Yosef, Solomon Bekele and Seyoum Solomon, all three of whom are supporters of Hailu Shawel.

The first effect of this division is to paralyse the activity of the CUDP in the Diaspora and to make it completely ineffective. Particularly as the internal problems have been deepened by differences over the constitution of the AFD and the debate over the alliance with the OLF. CUDP partisans in the Diaspora are therefore beginning to become bitter. One of them, London based Commander Assefa Seifu writing on the web site, recently condemned the CUDP executive in exile, further adding to the confusion and distress of this opposition party’s supporters.

Oromo rebels on the front page
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1197 07/10/2006

The Ethiopian Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebels recently got themselves a report several pages long in the latest issue of the magazine Raid specialised in military issues and equipment. The photos were taken by Jonathan Alpeyrie, a war photographer for the Getty Images agency, and had already been published on the OLF web site. The accompanying article was by Alain Rodier, a former higher officer in the French intelligence services who now works as a consultant for Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement (CF2R), a French private company headed by Eric Dénécé.

Friday, October 06, 2006

OLF profiled

Interesting photos, rehashed news, and writer moves Eritrea to our "eastern border."

...Addis Ababa is now fighting against 9 major rebel groups from all parts of the country with the powerful Eritrean army on its eastern border. The situation has become critical, its 240 thousand man army (TPLF) does not have the resources to be fighting everywhere at the same time, so it relies on poorly equipped, under trained militias to protect the frontiers.

Rebellion in Ethiopia (

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ogaden, again

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sometimes events need no explanation.

...UIC's de facto leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, has made it clear that the two countries have unfinished business.

"The land taken by Ethiopia cannot be forgotten because it is attached to our blood and nationalists," he said in July, referring to troops and civilians who died during the 1977/78 war.

Ogaden draws in tension once more (BBC) 2 October, 2006