Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thanksgiving tragedy

The recent heinous killings in Oakland of three members of the same Eritrean family by their in-laws, now seems caused by an old belief, or madness brought on by grief, that questions the wife's role in the death of her husband. This is especially common when death occurs early in marriage, or with dispute over the deceased's money or property. It's an ugly situation, families brake ties with their son's widow, and children grow up torn between loyalties to two families. In recalling a past lekso in Ethiopia, a mother openly wailed asking her dead son why he had to marry "that woman," while her son's young widow sat grieving in the same room. Grief and inability to accept loss of a loved one can be overwhelming psychologically, and in a society not used to having or seeking grief counseling, people may choose to hold someone accountable for their pain. What took place during Thanksgiving dinner in Oakland, however, defies belief. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and family.

...Police said the brothers, who also live in the apartment complex, were angry at Winta Mehari over the unexplained death of their brother, Abraham Tewolde, 42, who was her husband.

Brothers accused in Thanksgiving slayings could get death (San Francisco Chronicle) November 28, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A glaring case for privatization

Other than lazy lip service, there is no active media fundraising or request to foreign wildlife donors, no plans to donate lion cubs to overseas zoos to promote Ethiopia, no program to release lions to the wild where they have a fighting chance, and absolutely no interest to privatize the zoo to investors. So for lack of $1,000 a month, $12,000 annual deficit for the whole zoo, scores of rare Abyssinian black-maned lion cubs are poisoned annually and sold to a taxidermist for $170. Yet again, another sad story that epitomizes Ethiopian public institutions.

Rare zoo lion cubs poisoned (BBC) November 22, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Ethiopian auditor general
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1202 18/11/2006

The Ethiopian auditor general was sacked from his post on 10 Nov., just a short time after he had presented Parliament with a report that was very severe on the government's management of funds. Lemma Argaw had estimated that the government had spent 7.2 billion birrs (about $900 million) without giving justification. 4.8 billion birrs of this was by the regional administrations alone. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had responded angrily, stating that regional administrations even had the right to ”burn the money" from federal subsidies if they felt like it. Zenawi relieved him of his functions, even though only Parliament is supposed to have the power to do so.
Issayas Afeworki’s auxiliaries
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1202 18/11/2006

After ousting all those who could stand up against him, the Eritrean President is now governing on his own, with only a handful of his staunch supporters from the country’s one party as his advisors.

President Issayas Afeworki has never taken much heed of the advice of his entourage and is acting more and more on the basis of his own opinion. His handful of advisors are all very loyal members of the executive of the country’s single party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). Some of them were born in the former Agame Province, now part of the Tigray Regional State in the north of Ethiopia. The spokesman and general secretary of the presidency, Yemane Gebremeskel is the Head of State’s closest collaborator: he lived in the United Kingdom before the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF, ancestor of the PFDJ) came to power in Asmara and had an insignificant role during the struggle for national liberation. The same is not the case for Yemane Gebreab, the PFDJ’s official in charge of political issues and Afeworki’s advisor on the same subjects. From Agame and very religious in his childhood, he studied in the United States where he joined the student wing of the EPLF before being sent to the front in Eritrea where he has always been loyal to Afeworki. He is so discreet and reserved that his opponents nastily call him “Yemane Monkey”. His mother, a Tigrayan called Adey Gabriela, owns a small shop at Adwa in the north of Ethiopia.

The present Eritrean Minister for Defence, Sebhat Efrem, is the de facto advisor on security matters and shares Afeworki’s liking for drink. After studying at the Asmara Evangelical Lutherian High School, he opposed Afeworki in the 1970s during an internal split within the liberation movement. But since their reconciliation, he has been a staunch supporter. Another of Afeworki’s advisors from Agame, Hagos Gebrehiwot, has been nicknamed Kisha (bag) because he is the Head of State’s main funds raiser and financier. Without any formal qualifications, he is a veteran of the EPLF and has always been loyal to Afeworki. As for Amare Tekle, Afeworki’s advisor for foreign affairs, he has spent the majority of his time in the United States for the last few months. He has dual nationality (American and Eritrean), is a graduate of the University of Denver. Since then he has always been an apologist for the Asmara regime at the United Nations.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Diaspora investment at home

Privatize land, implement sensible tax laws, reduce bureaucracy, and maybe more Ethiopians in diaspora will chance loosing their shirts in an economy where laws are arbitrary.

...After 23 years in America, Tadiwos Belete decided to sell his two swanky hair salons in Boston, Massachusetts, to return to his homeland, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia asks diaspora to work at home (BBC) 14 November, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

EPRDF loses its land suit in Jerusalem
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1201 04/11/2006

A court in Jerusalem (Israel) issued its verdict at the end of September on an old dispute over the ownership of a villa in this city which the Ethiopian government had tried to claim. This affair goes back to 1999 and pits the government of Addis Ababa against the family of Emperor Haile Selassie and empress Mennen. The Ethiopian government had recently obtained an injunction preventing members of the former royal family from using this property in Jerusalem. But this decision was overturned by the Jerusalem court, which has just found that the house does indeed belong to the emperor’s descendants. The latter were represented by the lawyer Tzvi Shamir while the Ethiopian government had taken on the services of his colleague Itzhak Hennig.
Call for national reconciliation
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1201 04/11/2006

A group of a dozen partisans of the Coalition for United and Democracy Party (CUDP) has issued a call for a government of national unity.The Citizens’ Charter Group formed by a dozen or so members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition) issued a call on 27 October to create a government of national unity in Ethiopia. These militants (the group includes Abate Kassa, Berhanu Abegaz, Elias Wondimu, Fekadu Fullas and Mammo Muchie) have drawn up a Charter for a Democratic Ethiopia based on the respect of three basic principles: representative democracy, cultural pluralism and economic deregulation. This charter calls the political parties and civil associations, whether pro-government or opposition, to put an end to sectarianism and adopt a common platform in order to prepare for a transition period before instigating a government of national unity. A variety of opposition organisations have been invited to accept the principles of this charter. The United Ethiopian Democratic Force (UEDF) and the leaders of the CUDP in North America have responded positively to this idea but without endorsing the charter. The Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) has not yet given a formal response.