Thursday, September 27, 2007

Last call for Hailu Shawel

Opponents received in Washington
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1222 25/09/2007
The American government has invited Ethiopian opponents to Washington for talks with opposition leaders recently freed from prison. The latter group, led by Ms Birtukan Mideksa (ION 1222), came to the USA on its own steam two weeks ago. All were received at the State Department on 21 September by American officials working on the Africa and Ethiopia desks.

This meeting gathered Beyene Petros, Merera Gudina, the former President Negaso Gidada, Ayele Chemiso (an MP from the legal arm of the CUDP), Lidetu Ayalew, Berhanu Nega, Birtukan Mideksa and Hailu Araya. Their discussions with the American officials concerned how the Ethiopian opposition could adopt a joint political platform so that it could take part in the next elections in Ethiopia with the approval of the Addis Ababa government. They also discussed a strategy to sideline the hard wing of the opposition, consisting of Hailu Shawel and the EPRP, which wants nothing to do with the current EPRDF regime in Ethiopia.

The talks are expected to continue with further meetings with the presence of Bulcha Demeksa, currently passing through Washington. The American Deputy Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer is expected to meet these Ethiopian opponents this week.

This American mediation is consistent with the strategy devised by the US Ambassador to Addis Ababa Donald Yamamoto, intending to isolate Amhara radicals such as Hailu Shawel and the anti-EPRDF forces like the EPRP.