Friday, August 31, 2007

Bare Knuckle Tiff with Washington

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1220 25/08/2007
Asmara’s relations with the American administration have entered a highly turbulent phase.

Eritrean president Issayas Afeworki doesn’t have a high opinion of American officials in charge of U.S. policy in Africa. In the past, he described Susan Rice, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs under Bill Clinton as “childish and uninformed.” Jendayi Frazer, who fulfils the same functions in George W. Bush’s administration, doesn’t rate much higher in his eyes. Afeworki considers her a protégé of secretary of state Condoleeze Rice and feels - not without some reason - that she is very pro Meles Zenawi, the prime minister of Ethiopia and Afeworki’s rival.

On the delicate question of delimitating the border between the rival states of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Frazer isn’t ready to accept the decision handed down by an international arbitration board, a ruling Asmara insists must be honoured. She has suggested finding a new boundary acceptable to both countries, which Afeworki refuses.

Realizing that the United States won’t turn up the heat on Ethiopia to make it accept the border delimitation decided upon by the arbitration panel, Afeworki is seeking other means of getting Addis Ababa to give in. Hence his assistance to Islamic elements in Somalia, which has only worsened diplomatic relations with Washington. To the point that Frazer let it be known in public last week that her government is thinking of adding Eritrea’s name to the list of rogue states. The tougher American stance towards Asmara also results from a lobbying campaign in the United States by Christian evangelist circles who have been denouncing repression against their brethren in Eritrea for years.

Washington has equally given Eritrea 90 days to close its consulate in Oakland, California in a tit-for-tat move against the Eritrean government’s restrictions on the activities of the U.S. embassy in Asmara. In February the embassy was forced to reduce its diplomatic operations after the Asmara authorities demanded to inspect the contents of the American diplomatic bag.

Millennium countdown

Ben's Blog from Addis has updates on fast approaching Millennium.

Dear Netters,

The Millennium fever is running high. However, regrettably as I mentioned on my last posting, nobody knows about the details of events. If this is the case in Addis, you can visualize how bad it can be outside of the capital. Addis residents are enthusiastic to rejoice this historic day. But, from what I see so far the people who are in charge to inform about details failed miserably. There is still time to improve and I hope they will correct it swiftly. Actually, I knew more details when I was in Diaspora than my stay here. That is unacceptable!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Great Ethiopia Run postponed

The Great Ethiopia Run has been postponed because of unspecified security concerns ahead of next month's millennium celebrations.

..."It's really, really very hard to accept," Gebrselassie said Thursday. "But what can we do? Our top priority is the safety of the people, nothing else."

Ethiopia postpones annual Great Run race ahead of millennium security concerns (Associated Press) August 30, 2007

Some things never change

After endless rounds of sebseba by Millennium committee for the past year, nothing meaningful has been done that would have a lasting effect on the city's poor. Ethiopia's Millennium seems set to be received much like the unexpected guest. Dust coffee table, shove newspapers under sofa and throw everything else into closet.

Ethiopia will try to remove tens of thousands of beggars from the streets of Addis Ababa to create a more "conducive" atmosphere for coming Millennium celebrations, city officials said on Thursday.

Ethiopia to kick beggars off street for Millennium (Reuters) August 30, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kenenisa is peerless

Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia won his third 10,000-meter world title, surging clear on the last lap Monday and crossing in 27 minutes, 5.90 seconds.

Bekele wins gold at the world championships (International Herald Tribune) August 27, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tirunesh, indeed!

Spectators were treated to what must be one of the more Herculean performances of all time Saturday night in Osaka as Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba successfully defended her World Championship 10,000m title.

Friday, August 24, 2007

No Visa for You!

Thanks to fiasco by CUD North America for the past two years, the shameful infighting, corruption and insane alliance with active terrorist groups, U.S. administration has seen fit to deny (or delay) visas for released CUD leaders. Berhanu Nega, the only CUD representative on route to U.S., will now be confronted with three bickering CUD parties, all vying for his ear. God give him strength.

Free But Not Allowed to Roam
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1220 25/08/2007

Recently released from jail after asking for a pardon from Meles Zenawi, leaders of the opposition have been refused visas to the United States.

The U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa has refused to grant immediate visas to leaders of the opposition CUDP party who were recently pardoned by prime minister Meles Zenawi, and who wished to travel to Europe and the United States starting from Aug. 29. It appears the refusal will stand at least until Ethiopia celebrates its New Year in September. Only Berhanu Nega was able to fly to London via Kuwait and make his way to the U.S. He could quit Ethiopia because he has a valid Green Card granting him permanent residence in the States. In the U.S. he will seek to meet with Ethiopian exiles or even the leaders of other opposition groups in the hope of persuading them to renounce the armed struggle and their radical positions.

That fits in with American diplomatic strategy as well. The strategy consists of sidelining radical factions of the Ethiopian opposition (specially the ultra-nationalist Amharas) and to persuade others to talk with the Addis Ababa government. The American envoy to Ethiopia, Donald Yamamoto, lifted the veil on the strategy in an interview with the PBS network in Washington last week.

He admitted that the ruling EPRDF party has serious problems in governing the country and could only do so if it joined forces with opponents who call for reforms but are also ready to cooperate with the government.

The new political situation has exacerbated relations between various opposition movements. Radical elements in the EPRP and the CUDP faction headed by Taye Wolde Semayat and Hailu Shawel have come under attack, notably on the Internet, by more moderate wings of the Ethiopian opposition. In one instance, Gemoraw Kassa, secretary general of the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) and close to the moderate opposition party EDP headed by Lidetu Ayalew - some of its members sit in Ethiopia’s parliament - launched a broadside against Taye, a former union leader living in the U.S. and heading the local CUDP faction linked to Shawel.

The Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum linked to Andargatchew Tsige - and by extension to Nega’s group - has done likewise. Taye’s critics accuse him of secretly being a member of the radical EPRP group.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rare utopia in Ethiopia

He can't read or write, but Zumra Nuru created a society that would have made Karl Marx proud. The 60-year-old Ethiopian farmer founded and cochairs Awra Amba, a commune where men cook, women plow, and religion has no place.

In Ethiopia, one man's model for a just society (Christian Science Monitor) August 21, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

U.S. to place Eritrea on terrorist list

The United States said on Friday it was considering putting Eritrea on its list of state sponsors of terrorism for allegedly funneling weapons to insurgents fighting the Ethiopian-backed government in Somalia.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Volcano in Afar

A volcano has erupted in Ethiopia's remote Afar region, leaving two people missing and forcing hundreds to leave the area, the state news agency said on Wednesday.

Countdown to terror?

Security forces in Ethiopia say they have prevented an attempt by a rebel group to assassinate officials and destroy public institutions.

...The venue of the main outdoor concert on New Year's Eve has been moved from the central Meskel Square to the National Stadium, where it would be easier to check those attending.

Ethiopia New Year terror thwarted (BBC) August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jijiga grows under Karamara mountains

Since the government started devolving power and money to the component parts of the Ethiopian federation, Jijiga has become the capital of Somali region, and it is now finally acquiring the trappings that go with its status.

...But Jijiga is also the capital of a region battling a long-running rebellion, which has flared up dramatically in the past few months.

In the shadow of Ethiopia's rebels (BBC) August 14, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Eritrean consulate sent packing

The United States has ordered the closure of Eritrea's consulate in California, in a sign of worsening diplomatic relations.

...The BBC's Peter Martell in Asmara says the closure will affect the Eritrean government's attempt to collect a 2% income tax on Eritrean expatriates in California - an important source of income.

US moves to shut Eritrean mission (BBC) August 13, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Leakey calls Lucy's tour 'prostitution'

Ancient Greek and Roman artifacts, priceless artwork by great European painters, even prehistoric dinosaur fossil predating Lucy's bones have all been transported and displayed safely in museums around the world. Yet somehow, when Africa attempts to get earnings from display of a rare possession, it's called "prostitution?" I wonder if Mr. Richard Leakey has ever visited the Addis Ababa National Museum. I have, last year, and what a sad sight. The building is old, with staff looking lifeless and underpaid. A national museum that is uninviting is a good reason why many Ethiopians themselves have sadly not visited, though that's no excuse. And yes, even Lucy's bones on display are actually a replica. The smaller museum at Holy Trinity Church does better, though built with private funds, displaying surprising cultural treasures donated by Ethiopia's former imperial family. Sharing Lucy's fossil on tour can help educate and produce much needed funds to build facilities in Ethiopia for display of national treasures, securely and with dignity. So with all due respect, unless Mr. Leakey or any other critic is willing to help fund these projects, they need to quit preaching...Put up, or shut up!

..."It's a form of prostitution, it's gross exploitation of the ancestors of humanity and it should not be permitted," Leakey told The Associated Press in an interview Friday at his Nairobi office.

Leakey calls Lucy skeleton tour 'prostitution' (Associated Press) August 10, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Peacemaker

...Professor Ephraim Isaac, a retired Ethiopian Harvard scholar who lectures around the world on religion, peace, and conflict, had just helped resolve his country's two-year political crisis using problem-solving methods as traditionally Ethiopian as his garb.

In Ethiopia, elders dissolve a crisis the traditional way (Christian Science Monitor) August 9, 2007

Lucy ("Dinknesh") comes to America

I remember as a young student being marched to see Lucy's skeletal exhibit at the newly opened Ethiopian Expo., near Meskel Square. Who knew, a quarter of a century later and on the other side of the world, I get to lay my eyes on her again.

The public has only seen the real Lucy remains twice in Ethiopia The oldest humanoid skeleton ever found has been taken out of Ethiopia for a controversial tour of American museums.

...But Ethiopia said it would use cash raised from the six-year tour to fund museums back home and build new ones.

Famous fossil Lucy starts US tour (BBC) August 7, 2007

Monday, August 06, 2007

Security chief's killer executed

...Tsehaye Woldeselassie was found guilty of shooting dead Kinfe Gebremedhin [photo] in a case which shocked the country.

Death sentences are extremely rare in Ethiopia and this is only the second execution carried out since the present government came to power.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Haile is King of NYC Half-Marathon

Haile Gebrselassie, the double Olympic gold medalist and multiple World record-holder from Ethiopia, won the second annual NYC Half-Marathon Presented by NIKE today, clocking 59:24, the second-fastest Half-Marathon time ever on North American soil [second only to his own 58:55 in Tempe, Arizona, last year].

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dallas community mourns slain Ethiopian

In Ethiopia, people are killed over politics. In America, you are killed for nothing. Our hearts and prayers go to Tadesse, his wife and unborn child.

Everyone who lived near the Quick Save Food Mart on 1900 N. Hall Street says Tadessa Kebeda was an amazing person. They called him “Shorty” because of his small stature, but say he had big heart.

Neighbors Mourn Clerk Killed During Robbery (Fox News) July 31, 2007

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