Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Saving man's best friend

Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him? ~Pierre Troubetzkoy

...The Gido Washa cave in Ethiopia has been used for years as a pit into which unwanted dogs were thrown. Dozens of animals died here every month until the Homeless Animal Protection Society in Addis Ababa intervened in July to save the last four dogs to be trapped in the cave. It took a week from start to finish.

Local doctor saves dogs a world away (KTRK/Houston) October 31, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dallas community suffers another murder

Only two months ago the Ethiopian community in Dallas mourned the death of Tadesse Kebede, shot during a store robbery. Now another hard working Ethiopian, Abate Hailu, has his life cut short by worthless thugs, monsters who casually destroy lives with no remorse.

...Abate left Ethiopia with his wife in 1992. A family member said they fled war for a safer life in America. They raised their two sons in North Texas. As friends and family gathered in front of Hailu's home on Sunday, it was clear the dream was over.

DPD: 2 Robbers Kill Convenience Store Owner (CBS 11 News) October 28, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Illicit trade costs $138 million annually

Ministry of Agriculture announced $100 million loss from illicit livestock trade just a few years ago, with promises back then of establishing trading centers, yet here we are again. No investor, let alone a struggling pastoralist, will risk their livelihood by participating in a centralized economy where the only guarantee is endless bureaucracy, and a diabolically high tax rate with no services in return.

..."The government will soon organise trading centres where pastoralists would receive competitive prices ... to discourage illicit trade which loses the country over $138 million annually," Assefa Mulugeta, head of the Agriculture Ministry's Livestock Department, told Reuters.

Al-Qa'eda in Horn of Africa

In the rapidly changing battleground against international terrorism, the arid plains of the Horn of Africa are becoming a steadily more significant base from which al-Qa'eda's followers can launch their attacks.

Al-Qa'eda target west from Horn of Africa (UK Telegraph) October 22, 2007

Beyonce & Ludacris perform in Ethiopia

Pop star Beyonce has joined millennium celebrations in Ethiopia with a concert for 5,000 fans.

...However reaction to Beyonce's opening act, multi-platinum-selling rapper Ludacris, was lukewarm from a crowd that tends to be loyal to music in its national language, Amharic.

"Rap music doesn't suit Ethiopia," said local music promoter Michael Melake.

"Ethiopians need a melody. It's all about the black American experience, and we don't relate to that." he said.

Beyonce marks Ethiopia millennium (BBC) October 22, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Meles Zenawi blows hot and cold

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1224 20/10/2007
The Ethiopian military adventure in Somalia has hardly been the “lightning war” intended. Meles Zenawi will therefore probably hesitate before considering a similar operation in Eritrea. And yet, he will have to take an initiative on these two conflicts before the general election in 2010. Until then, the Ethiopian Prime Minister will also try to find a modus vivendi with the more moderate of his opponents. But severity remains the byword for the others, including the dissident members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the governing coalition) who have been demanding, so far in vain, to be allowed to form a legal political party.

Washington tames the CUDP. Having persuaded Meles Zenawi to free the imprisoned members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition), Washington does not want the 2010 Ethiopian election to be a replay of the disastrous scenario of 2005. Some CUDP leaders visiting the United States were received by the State Department on 21 September (see newsflash sent to ION subscribers by email on 25/09/2007), to check out the possibility of a joint political platform by all the opposition with a view to participating in the 2010 election. Meanwhile, Washington wants the more radical elements of the Ethiopian opposition (such as the EPRP or the faction led by Hailu Shawel) to calm down or else be sidelined. However, the efforts by the US Ambassador to Addis Ababa, Donald Yamamoto, to bring Meles Zenawi to come to a compromise with his moderate opponents, and even accept their return to Parliament and the Addis Ababa city council to which some of them were elected in 2005 before being imprisoned, was torpedoed when the US Congress adopted the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 on 2 October.

OLF the next target for negotiations. Now that the CUDP leaders have come back into the fold, it is the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) that is to be the target of moves to bring it to negotiate with the Ethiopian government. Norway, which has been trying to bring the Addis Ababa government and the OLF to the negotiating table for some years (ION 1211) is no longer in a position to do so now that it is on poor diplomatic terms with Ethiopia. Ephraim Isaac, who has acted as an intermediary between Meles Zenawi and the imprisoned CUDP leaders (ION 1204) would like to do likewise with the OLF. Nevertheless, contacted by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, the OLF spokesman Beyan H. Asoba categorically denied that his organisation had begun to negotiate with the Ethiopian government or that it had sent a delegation to Addis Ababa to do so. However, according to our sources a delegation of Oromo intellectuals close to the OLF faction backed by Eritrea and headed by Daoud Ibsa, had indeed arrived in Addis Ababa last week to speak to government representatives. This move would be in response to pressure from Washington which points out that the OLF could be trapped in Eritrea, in the same way that some of its elements were in Somalia at the beginning of 2007, in the event that a new border war were to break out with Ethiopia.

A plague on Tigrayan dissidents. For their part the former TPLF leaders, now become dissidents, have not had the benefit of any indulgence from their former comrades. Led by a former member of the TPLF central committee and the former President of the Tigray Regional State, Gebru Asrat, they are still waiting the response from the authorities to their demand for legislation to allow the authorisation of a political party, that they had filed several months ago. Meanwhile their activists have been the subject of various threats. In September 2007, Gebre Medhin Gebre Yohannes, Gebru Asrat’s former bodyguard now working on collecting the 3000 signatures needed to create a political party, was the target of an attempted assassination. Unidentified individuals fired shots at him while he was entering his home in the town centre of Maichew (South Tigray). Not only did the local police close the file, but two weeks later it arrested him and searched his home; they considered him a dangerous opponent and advised him to no longer take part in malicious political activity alongside TPLF dissidents. Other partisans of this future party were also arrested in Maichew and Mekelle, the capital of Tigray.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Orthodox watching rise in evangelical faith

As Ethiopia enters its third millennium, so does its Orthodox church, a venerable state-backed institution whose dominance is increasingly threatened by a myriad of evangelical faiths.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

No change to ceremonial post

Contrary to earlier speculation, President Girma Wolde-Giorgis was reelected to another six-year-term.

Ethiopian president reelected for new six-year-term (AFP) October 9, 2007

Human rights!...Cabbie rights!

Passer-bys might mistake the gathering for another protest calling for human rights in Ethiopia, but the rally planned at Washington D.C.'s Freedom Plaza is organized by members of the city's taxi driver associations, many of whom are Ethiopian drivers.

...But these are anxious times for the Ethiopian immigrants who make up one of the largest groups of taxi drivers in the District. They and other cabdrivers are concerned about Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's impending decision about meters -- due Oct. 17 -- and how it might affect an industry that has provided a livelihood and a way of life.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

President Mohamed Ali?

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1223 06/10/2007
An ambassador currently on vacation in the United States is tipped to become the next President of Ethiopia. However, Mohamed Ali has ties with the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), a member of the governing coalition. His nomination to replace the current President Girma Woldegiorgis could therefore contravene the legislation passed by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF, the governing coalition) after the presidency of Negasso Gidada. This measure stipulates that no member of a political organisation can be appointed to the post of President of Ethiopia.

Enduring disagreement in TPLF

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1223 06/10/2007
The Ethiopian opposition is not alone in being riddled with rivalry. Rumours of conflict within the government coalition are beginning to leak out from the screened walls of the Ethiopian Prime Ministerial residence. According to information obtained in Addis Ababa by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, this disagreement pits on one side Meles Zenawi, supported by his Minister for Foreign Affairs Seyoum Mesfin, against on the other side the regime’s grey eminence, Sebhat Nega, backed notably by Bereket Simeon and Tefera Walma. Their rivalry was revived in the run-up to the adoption on 2 October of the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 in the United States. But it has its roots in the rejection by Sebhat Nega and his partisans of the Prime Minister’s “soft” policy on the leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition). Meles Zenawi is having a hard time selling his colleagues his policy of appeasing the reformist wing of the opposition, even though this policy has the support of Washington. Indeed, this should lead to opening negotiations with the most moderate faction of recently freed CUDP former political prisoners. The latter would return to the political scene and possibly to Parliament (in the case of those elected in 2005) and even to the post of mayor of Addis Ababa in the case of Berhanu Nega. Various groups are active in the wings in the United States to pave the way for possible negotiations between the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the moderates in the opposition. The Carter Center founded by former US President Jimmy Carter could act as mediator for these discussions. However Sebhat Nega and Bereket Simeon are staunchly opposed to this idea of negotiating with the opposition.

The Tigrayan officers clear the tables

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1223 06/10/2007
The recent promotion of a number of officers to top ranks went largely to Tigrayans.

Four of the six generals promoted to the rank of major general and ten of the seventeen colonels promoted to brigadier general at the end of September are Tigrayans, members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the governing coalition). Their promotion strengthens still further the control Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the TPLF have on the armed forces. All the more so since on the same occasion, 400 officers in the Northern Command, overwhelmingly Tigrayans, were also promoted during a ceremony at Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray Regional State. The Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff, Samora Yunis, also a Tigrayan, was promoted to the rank of general even though he has not even had a modern military training.

One notable exception is Abebaw Tadesse Asres, an Amhara, who was raised to the rank of lieutenant general, no doubt to please the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM, a component in the ruling coalition). Meanwhile, just two Oromo officers, General Birhanu Julla Gellelcha and Colonel Getachew Shiferaw Feyissa and one officer from the south of the country, Colonel Negussie Lemma Dibaro, benefitted from this wave of promotions.

These measures will aggravate tension between Tigrayan non-commissioned officers and their Oromo and Amhara colleagues. Such tension already put in an appearance in an officers’ meeting of the 4th infantry division last week. Particularly as the Ethiopian army is still bogged down in Somalia where operations are led by the Tigrayan General Seyoum Hagos (one of those just promoted) and a resumption of fighting in Eritrea is still a possibility.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Seyoum Mesfin addresses United Nations

Seyoum Mesfin, Minister for Foreign Affairs, addresses the general debate of the sixty-second session of the General Assembly, at UN Headquarters in New York.

Watch the video

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

H.R. 2003 passes House vote

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation [H.R. 2003] supporting democracy and human rights in Ethiopia.

...The White House has indicated it opposes the bill despite a provision that would give the president authority to ignore the restrictions on security assistance in the interests of U.S. national security.