Saturday, June 30, 2007

Meles gets medical treatment in Israel

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1217 30/06/2007

This week the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi went on a short visit to Israel to undergo medical treatment. According to certain sources, it concerns a problem with his liver. Other sources mention a cerebral haemorrhage. Zenawi has now gone to Israel for medical reasons several times.

Considerable reluctance to pardon

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1217 30/06/2007

The discreet negotiations last week would seem to have convinced the imprisoned leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democraty (CUD, opposition) to sign a document in return for being freed. Now the reluctance to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s strategy is on the government’s side. One of the historical leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, ruling party), Sebhat Nega, had already denounced this policy a few weeks ago, feeling that negotiations were looming on the horizon. Speaking in an interview broadcast by the radio station Dimtse owned by the TPLF (ION 1216) on 28 May, he was very harsh about the opposition. He excluded any idea of reconciliation and stated that the imprisoned opponents “should beg for our forgiveness”. Meanwhile the Minister for Information Bereket Simeon last week constantly denied the very existence of talks with the imprisoned CUD leaders. And yet the latter have been discussing among themselves since mid June about the terms of the document they were being asked to sign to gain their freedom. The terms “fault” and “guilt” originally contained in the text were replaced by “mistake”. Hence the imprisoned leaders must now admit having “made mistakes” after the 2005 election and recognise that they shoulder the responsibility of part of the consequences of these “mistakes”, including the violent events in October 2005 ( Email alert sent to subscribers on 22.06.2007). However, now that they are beginning to accept the idea of signing such a document in order to be set free, members of the Ethiopian government are beginning to set new conditions. They want the debate planned by the US Congress on the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 to be cancelled.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lesser of two evils

Could such recent events be behind Meles' call to arms today? With mad man Isayas next door (kissing cross in photo) now making war with God, Ethiopians are yet again forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

...the patriarch of the orthodox church, to which most Eritrean Christians belong, has been removed from his post and imprisoned after objecting to Eritrean government attempts to stop a bible-reading group.

Christians protest over Eritrea (BBC) June 28, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pensioner's plight no better

Last issue (6/17/07) of Addis Fortune had some good articles. In The Woes and Blues of Oldies, you can read about the struggle and shame felt by pensioners forced into retirement at prime age of 55.

...Makonnen thought it was like leaping in the dark and embarrassing to stay home and lay idle the whole day. He would rather wake up early and leave his family behind to wonder what he will be doing all day. At first he believed that he could deceive the neighbourhood into thinking he is still actively working by maintaining the same routine working hours. But the news had spread faster than expected, although his family was unaware of his retirement.

So true is also the article on Separating Business and Friendship.

When you are dealing with work, in either the public or private sector, people that you know have a way of asking favours from you no matter what your position. This is one of the many facets of being Abesha that really gets on my nerves.

CUD leaders on verge of release

Breaking news. CUD leaders are on the verge of being released after agreeing to sign a letter admitting "error" (not "guilt" or "fault," as was demanded of them earlier). The admitted error, or sehetet, concerns inflammatory language used by some CUD leaders following 2005 election results which led to violent clashes with police and ensuing deaths. CUD will thus share part blame for events that transpired. Meles Zenawi, acting somehow neutral from court's actions, has agreed to use his powers as Prime Minister to override the court's guilty verdict and order their release. Ethio-Zagol in Addis writes,...Meles has got his face-saving agreement, and the prisoners have in turn got his admission that the court was wrong. And more; their release from the rotten concentration camp called Kaliti.

Assuming all this is true and events unfold as planned (rare in Ethiopia), would elected CUD leaders be allowed to claim their seats in parliament? Previous demands from P.M.'s office required them to renounce any future involvement in politics. Would CUD leaders also be able to refrain from using inflammatory language, especially now more than ever after languishing in prison for two years? Would "new" CUD who avoided Kaliti prison battle "old" CUD for control of Addis Ababa Mayor's office? And what, if anything, would released CUD leaders have to say regarding the shameful infighting, corruption and eventual split within CUD North America? We can only hope events will unfold peacefully and everyone act accordingly for the sake of building a stable and prosperous Ethiopia...A new millennium's resolution.

06/30/07 Update: Meles backsliding on CUD release

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Starbucks agrees to licensing deal

Too little, too late. My forced boycott of imperialist Starbuck's $3 cup is now voluntary after discovery of McDonald's award winning brew. Coffee snobs, please taste first before you knock it. The usual three cups a day, yet now more $$$ left in my pocket at day's end.

Starbucks Corp. and the Ethiopian government reached an agreement that settles a dispute over the country's bid to trademark its coffee beans, according a joint statement released on Wednesday.

Starbucks, Ethiopia settle licensing dispute (Reuters) June 20, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ghana strikes oil $$$

I've always wondered about the similarity between the flag colors of Ghana and Ethiopia. They are identical, but in reverse. After its own share of political turmoil in the Sixties and Seventies, Ghana is now stable politically and economically, while
Ethiopia is the reverse. Ghana is home to different ethnic groups, all living in peace, while Ethiopia is the reverse. Ghana has been advancing its democracy, technology and free market system, while Ethiopia is...Well, you get the point. And now the Black Star nation strikes oil, big. You don't have to be a believer in The Secret to understand success comes from unity, hard work, and less talk.

Ghana's President John Kufuor says the discovery of the country's first major oil deposit could turn the West African country into an "African tiger".

Ghana 'will be an African tiger' (BBC) June 19, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

ONLF get media coverage

After taking credit for the massacre of seventy-four Ethiopian and Chinese civilian oil workers, ONLF succeed in getting world media attention.

...three New York Times journalists who visited the Ogaden to cover this story were imprisoned for five days and had all their equipment confiscated before being released without charges.

NY Times Video: With the Rebels

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sebhat Nega stirs things up in Ethiopia

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1216 16/06/2007

The interview of a leader of the governing party broadcast on 28 May by Radio Dimtse, owned by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, government), has made significant waves in Addis Ababa. Sebhat Nega tried in this interview to put himself over as the voice of Ethiopian nationalism. He hence defended a very hard line against the Ethiopian opposition, while nevertheless presenting the TPLF as the spearhead and guarantor of Eritrean independence. He went as far as to state that the current Ethiopian government was “the sole force able to defend Eritrean independence”. This extreme position came over as the expression of a muffled power struggle at the top of the TPLF, in which Sebhat Nega was positioning himself as an alternative to the present Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Accordingly, Sebhat Nega, who holds a post of responsibility in the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (Effort), could be the target of an investigation into the financial management of this consortium of companies with links to the government coalition. Certain Ethiopian MPs have already called for precisely such an investigation. He has therefore mobilised his sister Kidusan Nega, the mayor of Mekele, her husband Tsegaye Berhe the President of the Tigray Regional State, and other members of his family and friends to prepare to fireback against a possible accusation of corruption that could be levelled against him. Such a tactic had already been used a few years ago against the TPLF dissident Seye Abraha. The mobilisation of his partisans confirms Sebhat Nega is planning to return to the limelight of the political scene. They have been fuelling the reproaches made against Meles Zenawi for keeping Seye Abraha, “a TPLF hero” in prison and call for him to be freed. Sebhat Nega has tested the feeling of the Tigrayan Diaspora about him by gaining the support of a former TPLF dissident now living in exile in Ohio (USA), Bisrat Amare, who went back to the TPLF after the general election in July 2005.

TPLF takes festival in hand

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1216 16/06/2007

The millennium committee preparing the 11 September festivities has been taken under the wing of the TPLF.

The most unpopular of the officials on the Ethiopian millennium committee, Mulugeta Asrate Kassa, is now in the firing line. This partisan of the EPRDF (governing party) who was based in London and is the son of the late Ras Asrate Kassa, is no longer on the committee, which has a budget of 240 million birrs ($26 million) to prepare the 11 September festivities. Two new people join the committee: Gifty Abasiya as manager and Netsanet Asfaw as head of public relations. The first is an executive in the OPDO and is a loyal supporter of the government; the latter is a leader of the TPLF (hard core of the EPRDF), is very aggressive and well into his sixties. Seyoum Bereded retains his function of chairman of the committee, but will be supervised by
the two newcomers. Bereded is the cousin of the chief of security Getachew Assefa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Prof. Yacob Hailemariam

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" ~ John F. Kennedy.

In the case of Yacob Hailemariam, a former business law professor at Norfolk State University who returned to Ethiopia to run for a parliamentary seat, JFK's historic words cost him his freedom.

...He won the election by a landslide as an opposition candidate, but before he could take office, he was arrested and imprisoned by the ruling government.

Former NSU professor convicted of crimes against Ethiopian government (WVEC News) June 12, 2007

Ethiopian foreign student arrested

Police are calling it a preemptive strike. They've arrested 20-year-old Kidus Yohannes after a roommate noticed his strange habits.

"He wasn't normal, very quiet, very stone faced," said his roommate Sam Westfahl.

Monday, June 11, 2007

CUD leaders found guilty

As millennium celebrations approach, Woyane opts for continued oppression, instead of peace and reconcilliation.

A court in Ethiopia has found 38 senior opposition figures guilty of charges connected to mass protests after disputed elections two years ago.

Ethiopian protest leaders guilty (BBC) June 11, 2007

European Parliament admonishes Addis Ababa

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1215 06/06/2007

The Ethiopian Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos stayed away from a hearing held in Brussels on 5 June by the European Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee and Development Committee on the situation in Ethiopia two years on from the May 2005 election.

The Ethiopian ministry for foreign affairs gave the reason for the boycott in a letter to the Euro-MPs explaining that the invitation could not be accepted because “the list of invited speakers to this hearing does not indicate any intention to try and reach a balanced or accurate assessment of the stage of democratisation in Ethiopia today”. The list of incriminated speakers included Judge Woldemichael Meshesha Damtto, former deputy chairman of the investigation commission created after the demonstrations against the outcome of the elections from June to October 2005.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese socialist Euro-MP Ana Gomes, who had led the European mission to observe the 2005 election, qualified the attitude of the European Commission and the Member States as a “complete scandal”. They are continuing to do “business as usual” with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, even though the authorities in Addis Ababa violate, according to her, the principles of democracy and human rights which Ethiopia adhered to when it signed the Cotonou agreement in 2000. She called for targeted sanctions against Meles Zenawi and members of the Ethiopian government, consisting freezing assets and a refusal to issue visas, coupled with EU support for Ethiopian civil society. She is to go to Washington in the next few days to mobilise her colleagues in the US Congress to do likewise.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Meles in Mogadishu

Taking his cue from public relations handbook which has served western leaders so well, Meles makes a surprise visit to Mogadishu to raise military moral, and boost his influence amongst local clans.

...Professor David Shinn, a former American ambassador to Ethiopia and Somalia, says Mr Meles visit is aimed at showing support to his troops.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Prince's remains sought for ET millennium

...Ethiopian president has put in a formal request for the return of the remains of Prince Alemayehu.
His father, the Emperor Tewodros II, committed suicide after his defeat by the British at the Battle of Magdala in 1868.

The young boy was taken to Britain and sent to boarding scho
ol and officers' training school at Sandhurst, but died at age 18.

He was buried at Windsor Castle, with Queen Victoria describing as "too sad" his short life and early death.

The Ethiopian embassy in London says Windsor is now considering their request.