March 31, 2011

Seven Somali Migrants Die in Road Accident in Mozambique

Filed under: Ethiopia,Somalia — ethiopiantimes @ 7:09 pm
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Maputo — Seven Somali illegal immigrants died in a road accident, on Wednesday, in the district of Guro, in the central Mozambican province of Manica.

The seven foreigners, who, according to police, had fled from the Maratane Refugee Centre, in northern Nampula, were heading to the Cuchamano border post in Tete province, in order to enter Zimbabwe.

“The seven immigrants died on the spot, when the front tyre of their vehicle, which was traveling at high speed, burst, in the early hours of Wednesday”, said Belmiro Mutadiua, police spokesperson in Manica.

In accordance with Mutadiua, other people traveling in the vehicle survived and were treated at the Guro district hospital. They will be sent to the Agricultural Penitentiary in the Manica provincial capital, Chimoio, and will later be returned to Maratane.

According to the management of the Maratane Centre, Somali and Ethiopian asylum seekers usually only stay in the centre for two or three days, rather than the three months set by law for individual evaluation and screening for refugee status.

When they manage to leave the centre in most cases they head south to Zimbabwe and South Africa.


Ethiopian opposition says gov’t afraid of revolt

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 4:22 pm

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia’s main opposition coalition says 68 party members and sympathizers have been arrested over the last month in a possible sign the government is afraid of an Egypt-style revolt.

Opposition leader Beyene Petros said Thursday that opposition members are not advocating for anti-government protests. Petros said most of the 68 arrests took place March 13 to 15 in the West Shoa and East Wollega regions of Ethiopia.

Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said police arrested 121 people from an Eritrea-based secessionist group. He said he was not aware of other arrests.

Ethiopia saw large anti-government protests after disputed elections in 2005. Security forces killed almost 200 people in clashes with protesters.

The Horn of Africa

Filed under: Eritrea,Ethiopia,Kenya,Somalia,Sudan — ethiopiantimes @ 3:20 pm
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The Economist
BOSSASO is an exit point from the Horn of Africa and it is bursting. This port in northern Somalia already has 300,000 people, up from 50,000 in the 1990s. More arrive each day. It is a raw place: entrepreneurial, resilient, armed to the teeth. It is also diseased, inadequate and famished. The port’s champions reckon it could spread along the inky blue shore like a little Dubai, prospering on exports of livestock and frankincense. But such a future, which now looks a fantasy, depends on the stability of the Horn, which these days is looking only a little less fantastical.

Several thousand Ethiopians sleep rough in Bossaso’s dirt, like animals. They are sustained by Muslim alms: a free meal each day, paid for by Bossaso traders. Some of the Ethiopians arrive in town feral with hunger. They have to be beaten back with cudgels when the meal is served. The hope of all of them is to be illegally trafficked across the sea to Yemen. They slip out of town in the moonlight, cramming into metal skiffs that are death traps. Many drown in the crossing: the boat sinks or they are tossed overboard by traffickers when Yemeni patrols approach. Some of the men interviewed in Bossaso for this story have since drowned in this way. Refugee agencies say only a few of those who survive will find jobs in Saudi Arabia. The rest will drift, disappear or die young.

Then there are the destitute Somalis. Some 6,000 of them live in one slum the size of a football pitch. The number could grow to 10,000 within a year. If fighting breaks out in southern Somalia, it will be even more. It is a typical Horn of Africa slum. Only the air is free. Several families split the rent on a cardboard shack. Fires sometimes break out, fanned by sea breezes, often burning people alive. Wells are private: filthy water is a commodity for sale. There are few jobs for the men. Women venture out to sift through the rubbish that blooms and shines like armour in seemingly every open space in Bossaso. Islamists pass through the slums, looking for likely recruits. Disease is a bigger worry. A local doctor reckons that a new epidemic could easily break out: polio and typhoid are already on the prowl.
In this special report

* » The path to ruin «

Related topics

* Sexual and reproductive health
* Health and fitness
* Birth control
* Al Qaeda
* Mogadishu

The Horn of Africa has long been haunted by hunger and by violence. The story of Bossaso is an early sign that these evils will continue, and worsen. Islamist expansionism in Somalia—and the armed resistance to it—plus uncontrolled population growth throughout the area could result in whole pockets of the Horn facing collapse. This would be a humanitarian disaster; it could also lead to a much wider conflict, involving several countries.

The assumption has been that the market will somehow find solutions for the dramatic increase in the Horn’s population numbers (see table). So it may, in well-watered bits of the region, where land use can be intensified. In arid areas there is little chance of this happening. There, nature and politics will play their part, and the results will be disastrous.

More regional fighting, for a start. The most immediate risk is of war breaking out between Somalia’s Islamists, based in the capital, Mogadishu, and the “secularist” Somali government holed up in Baidoa and backed by “Christian” Ethiopia and the United States—an alliance that no doubt helps Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, to repair his relations with the West, which deteriorated sharply last year after a dodgy election and the shooting of scores of protesters.

The Islamist advance in Somalia was a response to political anarchy, not a symptom of population or environmental pressures. But UN relief agencies are sounding the alarm on these pressures. They are specially concerned about south Somalia and Ethiopia’s vast Ogaden desert, where malnutrition rates are far higher than the 15% which signals a humanitarian emergency (nutrition rates in the Horn generally are the lowest in the world). A drought last year resulted in massive loss of livestock in both regions. A Somali war involving Ethiopia would be fought asymmetrically, with Islamist guerrillas striking across Somalia and inside Ethiopia, raising the chances of catastrophic famine.

Cue for al-Qaeda’s entrance

It wouldn’t take much for famine to seize hold of the area. Humanitarian action has kept the starving alive, but it has not enabled them to recover their lives. The trend is an ever increasing need for food aid plus ever less money from donors to pay for it. The World Food Programme (WFP) is responsible for delivering most of the aid in the Horn. It says that the number of Ethiopians on its books has doubled since the 1990s, in bad years to as many as 10m. The situation is not much better elsewhere. Some 1.7m hungry people are reliant on food aid in south Somalia—when the WFP can get it to them. And 3m people in Kenya, mostly in the country’s arid north, will get some kind of food aid this year.

Al-Qaeda has been quick to see and exploit the fragility of the Horn. An audiotape, released in June and believed to be by Osama bin Laden himself, called on “every Muslim” in Somalia to resist the transitional government. It also promised to attack any country sending troops into Somalia. This was meant as a direct encouragement to the jihadists among the Islamists, some of whom trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Some think Mr bin Laden harbours hopes of opening up a new jihadist front in the Horn, specifically in the arid borderlands of north Kenya, south Ethiopia and south Somalia.

These borderlands are politically marginalised, awash with small arms, and environmentally strained. Their inhabitants include large numbers of feisty but ill-educated Muslims, many of whom are skirmishing with their Christian and animist neighbours. The area is not much of a prize in itself, but prolonged instability there would severely restrict development in the larger region, as well as limiting trade between Ethiopia and Kenya.

The rise of the Islamists in Somalia has been swift. They took control of the capital in June, vanquishing the loathed Mogadishu warlords whom the CIA had misjudgedly backed. They are loosely grouped into an alliance of Islamic courts, each court pooling gunmen into a central militia. The first courts in south and west Mogadishu were set up in 1994, with the aim of arresting, prosecuting and punishing criminals. Sufi traditionalists and moderate Islamists, associated with the pacific wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, outnumber radicals in Mogadishu. But it is the radicals who control the court militias and are increasingly holding sway.

And it is to the radicals that al-Qaeda is looking for action. It is known that they have received several arms shipments from Eritrea, which would like to draw Ethiopian troops southwards, away from its own border. More weapons and explosives may now be coming in: Mogadishu port was reopened in late July.

The United States will not talk to the radical Islamists until they give up al-Qaeda suspects who may be sheltering in Mogadishu. One worry is that Somali jihadists, led by Ahmed Abdi Godane, an al-Qaeda graduate from Afghanistan, and supervised by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a former Somali army colonel who presides over the Islamist militia, may develop their own terrorist organisation. Already, Mr Aweys’s lieutenant, Aden Hashi Farah Ayro, is suspected of murdering foreign aid workers and freethinking Somalis, and desecrating a Christian cemetery. Mr Aweys considers Mr Ayro a “good man”.

Moderate Islamists want the Islamic courts to impose order, making it easier, among other things, to run a business. Radicals like Mr Aweys are working towards the establishment of an Islamic emirate of Somalia, taking in Somali-populated areas of Ethiopia and Kenya. In other words they want to push out into the borderlands. In Ethiopia this would mean taking the Ogaden by force, as Somalia tried and failed to do in 1977. The situation is less clear with regard to Kenya. Islamists have so far been careful to distinguish Nairobi from Addis Ababa. Some Islamists privately say they would like to push the borders of the emirate as far as Garissa, but only through peaceful negotiation.

Islamists on the rise

Since taking control of Mogadishu, the Islamists have fanned out across central Somalia, installing courts and securing strategic bridges and airstrips. In response, Ethiopia has sent hundreds—maybe more—soldiers into the country, including a troop placement in Baidoa, reinforcing Somalia’s feeble transitional government. Perhaps 25,000 Ethiopian troops are on the border. Some of the government’s former local allies are moving over to the Islamist side, judging this to be preferable to spurring another war. But the government itself is resisting, and its external supporters are not prepared to risk a radical Islamist Somalia. The Islamists, for their part, feel things are going their way and are unlikely to seek an accommodation with Ethiopia.

In this warlike context, the Horn’s uncontrolled population growth appears even more explosive. The borderlands have among the highest fertility rates in the world, particularly so among the Somalis. Women in these areas are likely to have six or seven children, against three in the cities. Over half the population is aged 15 or under. There has been little progress in family planning. In remote areas there is no provision for birth control at all. A recent study by the Ethiopian government, which is making tentative steps to reduce population growth, found that only 3% of Somali women in Ethiopia had access to contraception, compared with 45% of women in Addis Ababa.

Some parts of the borderlands already look like something out of “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”, a study of environmentally ruined societies by Jared Diamond, an American academic. The Horn is among the most degraded ecosystems in the world, with only 5% of its original habitat remaining. According to Conservation International, an NGO, the main culprits in the borderlands are overgrazing and cutting down trees for fuel and charcoal.

Much of the region is a no-go area. Hardly a day goes by without a cattle raid, a retaliatory attack or a shoot-out over access to a watering hole or the distribution of food aid. “We used to spear each other in the past,” says a Kenyan Samburu warrior, “but nowadays we shoot each other.” This means that the dead now include women and children. “Since the guns came [in the early 1990s] there has been more killing. You don’t need to look your enemy in the eye any more. With a gun, a boy can kill a man.”

How many cows for a gun?

The Soviet Union and the United States dumped most of the small arms in the Horn during the cold war. They have kept on coming since. A good quality AK-47 machine-gun sells for three cows in the borderlands. An American M-16 goes for five cows. The price of a gun, and the prestige attached to getting one, explains why government disarmament campaigns in Kenya and Ethiopia have faltered. For every weapon that is handed over, others remain buried. Such disarmament as there is tends to fall more heavily on tribes with better relations with the government.

There is not much disarming of Somalis in northern Kenya. It is too dangerous. Somali arms dealers do most of the selling and buying, and it is the Somali cattle raiders the other tribes most fear. The Samburu, a mostly Roman Catholic and animist tribe living in a fairly prosperous bit of north Kenya, have joined with other tribes in recent years to fend off Somali raids.
Islamist militia guard MogadishuAFP

Last year’s drought heightened tensions. Some tribes in the borderlands are buying guns and ammunition in preparation for battles they expect to be fought in December, when the cattle will be strong enough, after the rains, to be marched off by raiders into enemy territory. There is concern that the raiders are gaining in strength—and will get stronger yet if, as in the case of the Somalis, they are reinforced and organised by the Islamists.

War in Somalia could ignite other wars. Most of these will probably be small tribal affairs, such as the battles in northern Kenya, which tribal elders say have claimed more than 100 lives this year. But an Ethiopian offensive in Somalia could result in Eritrea taking its chance to attack Ethiopia. A war between the two countries fizzled out in 2000, but with no resolution on their disputed border.

Even with the fear of greater bloodshed, the main problem in the borderlands remains the stark environmental fact that there are simply too many people and too many animals and not enough grass. Some experts, such as Lammert Zwaagstra, an adviser to the European Union, believe that without outside intervention whole stretches of the Horn will come to look as wretched as Darfur in Sudan, with its people fighting over water, grazing, firewood and other scarce natural resources.

Mr Zwaagstra has been studying the borderlands for decades. Not known as an alarmist, he is now pressing the red alert button. There are too many cattle for the capacity of the land, he says, but too few to sustain the community. Population growth is part of the problem; drought is another. The Horn appears to be drying up. This may or may not be a result of climate change, but experts give warning that if the predicted increase in temperatures does come about, if only by one or two degrees, the borderlands will become unsustainable.

Rainfall is even less predictable. The drought cycle has shrunk from once every eight years to once every three years, according to the American government’s Famine Early Warning System. “That means no recovery time for the cattle, for the land, for the people,” says Mr Zwaagstra. And the changes are happening at breakneck speed.

Even the WFP admits that their delivery of aid is no more than sticking plaster. Others are even more critical. Food aid is like “crack”, says one Nairobi-based aid chief: “It is addictive and creates an unhealthy dependency.” Well, maybe. But any attempt to swing the balance from humanitarian aid to development aid comes against the imperative of saving the starving today. The scale of potential misery is becoming clearer. Rough estimates of famine victims in the next few years range upwards from 10m.

The risk of whole areas of the Horn collapsing with famine and irreversible environmental damage, urged on by jihadist and tribal clashes, is clear cause for alarm. A first task, if Somalia is to be salvaged, is to support a moderate and competent government there. That will be hard, to put it at its mildest. The transitional government is moderate but inept: the Islamists well-organised but given to jihadist tendencies.

Another obvious step is to deter the cattle raiders by improving security in the arid borderlands. Disarming tribal warriors there is difficult; investing in local police and army units is not. However, the police are often ill equipped for the task. Kenya, for instance, has hardly any serviceable helicopters to track cattle raiders and other miscreants. Most of Ethiopia’s 7m pastoralists are Muslim and the parched lands they roam are particularly combustible. The Ogaden and Oromia regions of Ethiopia already have their own rebel groups but these, in some areas, could be pushed aside by Islamist guerrillas.

Some people have suggested that the area could end up looking like the tribal lands of Afghanistan. Maybe, but there is one saving factor. Unlike Afghanistan, which has opium (and Iraq which has oil), the Horn has little of economic value to fuel a war: its frontline, after all, can barely keep a cow alive.

The road from ruin

In the long run, the crucial target is to bring down population growth, to stop this barren area from being so dangerously over-exploited. This means that controlling growth must be on the political agenda. The messiness of the problem, and a certain queasiness on the part of diplomats, means that it is not. Indeed, the climate for family planning is in some ways more conservative today than it was in the 1970s when interventionist policies prevailed.

More family-planning clinics are needed, stocked with a greater variety of contraceptives, including injectables and pills, not just condoms (which Somali men don’t care for). More controversial is the possibility of providing very early-term abortions on request. Reform also calls for educating girls; the more education a girl has, the fewer children she is likely to have.

An equally urgent approach is to invest in the borderlands while helping pastoralists with no grass left to move to towns where they may find jobs and will almost certainly have fewer children. Without help, and with little education, the hopeless and redundant often end up in the most abject slums, like those in Bossaso.

Tony Blair’s report on Africa last year hardly mentioned population growth. “It’s the unmentionable,” says a well-placed ambassador in Nairobi. “It’s the elephant in the corner of the room,” says another. It is time to start talking about it now.

Militia attack police station on Kenya- Somalia border

Filed under: Kenya,Somalia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:33 am
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Suspected Al Shabaab militants Wednesday threw two grenades and a bomb at Liboi Police Station before they were repulsed by Kenyan troops on the border with Somalia.

The militants had crossed the border and fired missiles at the police station, however, no one was injured.

North Eastern police boss Leo Nyongesa said that they had beefed up security in the area and also alerted the residents to be on the lookout.

“No one was injured in the 11am incident and we have beefed up security along the border”, said Mr Nyongesa.

Liboi border has witnessed a number of attacks from the militants. There has also been sporadic fighting between forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the Al Shabaab over the control of Dobley town, which is a few kilometres from Liboi.

Last week, there were reports that the militants fired to the Kenyan side and damaged a water tank at a General Service Unit (GSU) at Liboi. A contingent of GSU officers allegedly crossed into Somalia and killed a dozen Al-Shabaab militants.

Both North Eastern PC Ole Serian and PPO Leo Nyongesa refuted the claims.

There was tension at the border despite the fact that no casualty was reported.

March 30, 2011

Ethiopian Police Arrest, Beat Demonstrators outside Israeli Embassy

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 6:39 pm
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Ethiopian police used clubs to break up a group of demonstrators near the Israeli Embassy on Wednesday, injuring at least 15 and arresting at least 21.

About 2,000 Ethiopians who practice a form of Judaism gathered in Addis Ababa on Wednesday to demand the right to Israeli citizenship.

Witnesses say police arrived on the scene and began attacking the demonstrators with clubs, forcing the crowd to disperse.

Police say they halted the protest because the group did not have a permit to demonstrate.

Officials with the Israeli Embassy said the ambassador, Oded Ben-Haim, later met for an hour with representatives of the local Jewish community to hear their grievances.

Israel accepted tens of thousands of Ethiopians in the 1980s and 1990s after the chief rabbinate ruled they were historically Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity. Thousands more have been pushing for Israeli citizenship, but Israel has not let them in.

Poor Azeb Mesfin and her grand new palace

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 4:28 pm
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By Abebe Gellaw

Earlier this year, Edwardo Molano, Africa correspondent of the Spanish newspaper, ABC
Internacional, filed a report, “Unlimited extravagance of African First Ladies”, that focused on some
of the continent’s notoriously corrupt and greedy wives of dictators that have been stealing from
poor starving nations. The report revealed, among other things, that Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, owns over 3,000 pairs of shoes while Tunisia’s deposed queen of greed, Leila Trabelsi, fled with 1.5 tons of gold. What was even more interesting to most Ethiopians was ABC Internacional’s
revelation that our first lady of corruption, Azeb Mesfin, has been
siphoning off millions of dollars from the starving people of Ethiopia. According to Molano, Meles Zenawi’s wife spent 1.2 million Euros just in one of her shopping sprees in Europe. But Meles had
recently told the nation that his salary was 6400 birr. We can easily guess that the combined income of the couple would not be enough to squander millions of dollars on jewellery, designer clothes,
perfumes, gems and other glittery items.
One might expect that Empress Azeb would sue the Spanish paper for libel and defamation. Given
the fact that she had once unwittingly challenged anyone who has information including the
American government to prove any allegations of stealing and corruption against her and her
husband, it is still quite surprising that Azeb has chosen not to refute the report of a well-informed
European paper. After three months, there was no comment, no denial and no statement from the
palace despite the gravity of the allegations. Azeb and her husband, who are lucky enough to be
immune from the investigation of their own anti-corruption commission that has been sending
thousands of low-ranking officials to jails every year, have silently continued business as usual.
In February 2008, we were told that Meles and Azeb hired Francesco Saverio Anticili, the Italian
architect and interior designer of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Jubilee Palace. Anticini told Capital
newspaper that he had spent months only on preparing the survey of the expansive palace which
has over 100 rooms. They tyrants paid Anticini’s company and contractors tens of millions of dollars
to renovate and refurnish the palace. According to Azeb, the palace is a historic heritage of the
Ethiopian people though no ordinary Ethiopian is allowed to pass by this heavily guarded bastion of
corrupt tyrants and oppressors let alone owning it.
So many things have been said about Meles and Azeb’s unbridled greed and corruption. Their cash
cow called the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), which controls a
significant stake in the Ethiopian economy, has been a subject of intense debate since its inception.
A recent news report by a local paper, Ethiopian Reporter, has confirmed that Meles and Azeb are
thick skinned. The story, appropriately titled “PM to get lavish residence”, tells of the launch of an
astounding plan to build a new palace for the comfort of our ruler and his wife. It appears that the
couple, who control privileged but illegal multibillion businesses, care little about their records of
corruption, greed, theft, excessive extravagance and vanity in a country still suffering from
starvation and abject poverty.
The lavish project is huge and is headed by none other than Ethiopia’s Leila Trabelsi, Azeb Mesfin. A
few days after the Meles regime sounded another alarm to the international community to send
emergency food aid to feed 3 million people, it was reported that Azeb has been overseeing the
construction of a new palace within the expansive premises of the grand palace at a cost of over 82
million birr, according to Addis Fortune. The new palace will have tennis courts, swimming pools,
guest houses and hundreds of rooms. It does not seem to bother the corrupt couple that only in the
last five years, over 10 million fellow Ethiopians have been dependent on food aid every single year.
Over seven million people, including one in three households in Tigray in whose name the tyrants
are robbing the nation, survive on food-for-work schemes to sustain their misery.
After the news on the secret palace project was leaked, the palace had to give a ludicrous reason
why starving Ethiopia needed a brand new palace to house a couple abusing and robbing the nation.
A week ago, Reporter was told the following comical tall tale that the paper published in two short
paragraphs. According to the Reporter, the palace disclosed that the “new residence” [palace] being
built in the premises of the grand palace was not just intended to be Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s
residence. The Prime Minister gave the go ahead for the project after he realised that his
“successor” would not be able to build the palace as it might be construed as an abuse of power. In
other words, Meles Zenawi put his own “reputation” on the line to save his successors from
potential accusations of extravagance, corruption and abuse of power. How laughable! It is quite
true that he who lives in water in not afraid of heavy rains.
Well, there is a crisis of everything in Ethiopia. Food is scarce and housing is a perennial headache.
The answer is what they call “growth and transformation plan” which appears to include building a
brand new palace for Azeb and Meles’ luxury. This is the best transformation any creatively corrupt
royal family can think of in a starving nation.
One may remember Azeb Mesfin’s most comical interview in which she claimed that she and her
husband were the poorest of the poor among rulers. The simple question she was asked made her
look like a mouse caught in a trap and she was at great pains to explain that her husband did not
even know the colours of the Ethiopian currency notes and how the two struggle to send their kids
to school.
In one of her trips to Sweden, according to Azeb, some Swedes brought up to her that she and her
husband were said to be the poorest among rulers. Mind you, even a kid can guess that the whole
fabrication is a lie. But she even went on to say that she is so generous that there are eleven street
kinds who depend on her kindness. “Whenever I get some money, I give them whatever I have in my
hand. They are like my own children,” the queen of corruption said blinking her eyes. Imagine how
much she cares about her “homeless children.” In other words she sustains their misery by keeping
her street children in the cold. What kind of generosity is that? May be these kids have now
graduated from college. Thank God it is a lie. We know she never cares!
“If we need money, we would not steal from the people of Ethiopia,” she said. According to Madam
Azeb, had she wanted money, she would have forced Meles to leave power because he has a “brain”
which can be sold in any labour market. This would have been the best favour she could do to
Ethiopia though no one will buy a wicked brain of a dangerous killer. But it is clear that the poor lady,
who appears to be helplessly naïve and vain, is detached from reality and the world she lives in. This
fact also explains why she aggressively pushed for the construction of a new grand palace in a
country where the majority of Ethiopians cannot afford eat a decent meal and have no access to
clean water. The major diseases killing millions of Ethiopians like insects are water-born. For the
majority, tap water is a luxury.
A few years ago, Meles Zenawi was asked why the government does not renovate Addis Ababa
Stadium before it collapses on people. He dismissed the question saying his government’s priority is
not spending money on stadiums. He said that ensuring food security and undertaking rural
development were his priorities.
As usual, Meles should not be taken seriously whenever he tells his contradictory lies. A few months
after he ridiculed the idea of renovating Addis Ababa Stadium, the nation was told that the
government launched a project to construct a brand new stadium in Mekele at an outlay of 220
million birr. In May 2008, the man who was supervising the project, Engineer Assefa Taddelle, told
VOA reporter Girmay Gebru that the Mekele stadium project was good for economic development
in Ethiopia. “It is an investment in Ethiopia’s national economy and will be an icon for Mekelle, the
administrative center of the State of Tigray,” Assefa said.
Ethiopia is needy. The majority of her people still
suffer from man-made and natural disasters.
Millions of peasants are losing their land as Meles
and Azeb are selling over 3 million hectares of land
to foreign agribusinesses.
In spite of the exaggerations of double-digit
economic development, only 22 percent of 80
million Ethiopians have access to clean water,
according to UNICEF. It was reported last year that
3 million Ethiopians have no access to proper
toilets in Addis Ababa alone. The vast majority of people in the rural parts of Ethiopia have not ever
seen a toilet let alone having one.
Over 85 percent of Ethiopians live in poorly constructed shacks and thatched hats that are not
suitable for human habitation. The majority of schools in Ethiopia have libraries and books. Over 78
percent of the Ethiopian people live in the dark as they do not have access to electricity. Over 10
million people receive food aid annually. Meles Zenawi and Azeb Mesfin’s answer for these and
other tragedies is building a brand new palace at the expense of the poor people who do not even
afford to eat or have the luxury of getting access to basic sanitation or clean water. If this is not
corruption and daylight robbery, what else will Meles and Azeb call it?
Meles and Azeb did not seem to understand that Ethiopians do not need leaders that live far from
the reality in lavish palaces and towers. We need people that serve not their self-interests and crony
capitalists. We need leaders closer to people than vain tyrants that squander the wealth of poor
people on palaces that nobody appreciates. The next leaders must be those who boldly reject the
excesses, crimes and corruption of tyrants including living in a grand palace.
It is estimated that it costs the poor people of Ethiopia over 50 million birr annually to meet the
basic needs of the royal family and fund their lavish styles including unlimited air travel. They have
lived in a grand palace, one of the most lavish palaces in Africa, for nearly twenty years.
Nonetheless, as the saying goes, poverty needs so much but greed needs every single penny.
Who is in line to be the next Prime Minister of Ethiopia? All the evidence suggests that the only
“competent” woman who has been placed as second in command in the power echelon is the vain
queen of corruption, Azeb Mesfin. That seems to be the only reason why she is in charge of almost
everything including being project manager of the new grand palace of corruption. What can 82
million birr do in Ethiopia? Just build a palace for two people and their kids!
The whole Meles-Azeb drama is seriously ignominious and intolerable! Their oppression,
ruthlessness, corruption, exploitation, greed and avarice must end sooner rather than later.
Ethiopians have to unite for the epic battle against the wicked king and queen of corruption as well
as their cronies. We need to claim our common destiny as Ethiopians. Ethiopia deserves a better
future for all its people.

Wabe Shebelle Hotel reinstated to Emperor’s grandchildren

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 4:11 pm
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By Tamiru Tsigie

The Wabe Shebelle Hotel, appropriated to a public property status during the Derg regime, was returned to its rightful owners yesterday, March 29 after 36 years. The hotel was returned to Beedemariam Makonen, Wondwossen Makonen, Michael Makonen, Teferi Makonen and survivors of the late Dawit Makonen – all of them grandchildren of Emperor Hailesilassie I. It had been under the management of the Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA), which reinstated the property.

The decision to return the property to the rightful owners was made in 2000, but the hand-over took 11 years to accomplish due to technicalities, according to PEPSA sources.

“We are very delighted,” Beedemariam told The Reporter, who also revealed that the new name of the hotel would be the Wabe Shebelle share company. The new management has chosen to retain the services of the 200 employees of the hotel, and say services will resume as previously.

The 11-storey, 108-room hotel was built towards the end of the 1950s and went into operation at the start of the 60s by Emperor Hailesilassie the first for his five grandchildren. It was, however, appropriated by the military regime in 1974 following proclamation 26/67 that placed private wealth generation instruments under government management.

Kenya: Drug Ship ‘In Local Waters for Ten Days’ Before Intercepted

Filed under: Kenya — ethiopiantimes @ 9:46 am
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Nairobi — A ship laden with more than three tonnes of heroin had anchored in Kenya’s territorial waters for more than 10 days — from where local and international drug traffickers purchased the drug — before police intercepted a consignment worth more than Sh200 million.

Anti-narcotics police officers, who spoke to the Nation on Tuesday on condition that they are not named, said among the buyers were a suspected Nigerian international drug baron based in Nairobi, Somalis linked to piracy and a Mombasa-based businessman.

“Speedboats were used to ferry the heroin from the ship which came from Pakistan,” one of the detectives said.

Police commissioner Mathew Iteere has said investigations into the heroin saga are ongoing and more suspects are likely to be arrested.

“Investigations are still going on. We want to know their (suspects) connections outside Kenya. We are talking to them since it’s clear they were not working alone,” the police boss had said.

It also emerged that the seizure of the 102 kilogrammes of the drug haul was a result of differences between the drug kingpin and the ship owners following a change of plans on who they should hand over the heroin.

“Following the sudden turn of events the kingpin alerted members of the Special Crimes Unit who moved in and intercepted a heroin consignment which had left the ship,” the detective told the Nation.

He added that the seized heroin was part of a one-tonne haul that had left the ship in different boats. The whereabouts of the other consignments is not known.

The disclosure that the illicit drug trade had happened for more than 10 days in Kenya’s territorial waters has raised questions about the surveillance of the country’s coastline which is supposed to be monitored by the Kenya Navy around the clock.

The seizure of the heroin haul came at a time when diplomatic cables released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks revealed that Kenya is among African countries which have been turned into playgrounds for international drug traffickers.

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The cable said that the drug trade in the country was not only facilitated by security personnel, but also influential businessmen and top politicians and their relatives.

It added that police and the prosecutors had been bungling investigations into drug-trafficking.

There was also a new twist to the charges preferred against two of the six suspects — Mr Hassan Ibrahim and Mr Yusuf Hassan — who were separately charged with possessing firearms and ammunition without licences, as evidence showed that they had valid firearm certificates issued to them by the Chief Firearms Licensing Officer.

An officer close to the investigation told the Nation that the firearm certificates found with the suspects were analysed and found to be genuine.

Eritrean refugees critcise Italy and Malta

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 9:39 am
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EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Eritrean refugees believe Italy and Malta maintain poor reception conditions to scare off other African migrants.

For 30-year old Simon Tesfamichael, an Eritrean refugee living in Italy for eight years, the news coming from Lampedusa sounds all too familiar.

As hundreds of Eritrean, Somali, Sudanese and Ethiopian flee Libya by boat to the tiny Italian island, Tesfamichael wonders “why the Italian authorities are sitting on their hands” instead of speeding up the transfers to the mainland.

Lampedusa is now the entry point of Libyan refugees to Europe (Photo: Valentina Pop)

“Italy is a big country, it could manage, but it doesn’t seem to want to. At least Malta is asking for help from other nations when it can’t cope with the immigrants,” he told this website on Tuesday (29 March) during a conference organised by the Jesuit Refugee Service on migrants’ lack of rights.

“They gave me refugee status in six months, but that was eight years ago, now it takes much longer. And the rights are zero, when you are out of a job, or while you wait for your asylum claim to be processed,” he says in fluent Italian.

His fellow national, 31-year old Gojtom Yosief Asmelash, notes that the Maltese situation is not that positive either.

He pointed out the Maltese authorities say they cannot cope with requests from ships with refugees to dock.

“They [say] the same thing they’re saying since I’ve been on the island – no matter if there are revolutions in the Arab world or not: We will take you if you come here, but we won’t rescue you in international waters. We are overcrowded, the burden is too big.”

“There are 3,700 migrants now in Malta. It’s a lot fewer than in previous years, the US has helped resettle a lot of refugees, France and Germany too. But still, the conditions in the detention centre are just as bad, I think they do it on purpose so people don’t come,” Asmelash said.

Figures from the EU’s statistical office Eurostat, published on Tuesday, show that neither Malta or Italy are among the top countries when it comes to relative asylum claim rates.

Asylum claims

Out of the 257,815 people granted asylum last year in the 27 member states, most were given in France and Germany. Italy accepted 10,050, or 165 people per million inhabitants, compared to 795 in France. Malta, with a population of some 400,000, accepted 175.

Asmelash arrived in Malta in the summer of 2006, after a six-month journey from Eritrea, via Sudan and Libya. After having studied geography at the Asmara University to become a highschool teacher, Asmelash was drafted into the army – which can “last forever” as the country has been in a state of emergency since 1998.

Asmelash thinks the drafting occurred “as a punishment” because the students were protesting against the forced labour they were subject to. “…They drafted me and I had to spend three years in the army, before I decided to flee.”

The first part of his half-year-long journey – getting to the Sudanese border – was “the most risky”. It took five days and nights of hiding and avoiding being caught by the Eritrean army. “Deserting the army can land you in prison for treason, but being a deserter caught while trying to cross the border is the worst. They can shoot you for this,” he says.

Once in Sudan, he spent two months in a refugee camp, where again the situation was precarious and uncertain, because “occasionally, Sudan improves its diplomatic relations with Eritrea, and then thousands are simply sent back.”

After receiving more money from his friends back home, Asmelash was ready to cross the desert into Libya – another risky trip in an overcrowded car.

“The people who take you across the desert know you are desperate and would do anything to get out of there. They stop often and ask for more money. They don’t save room for extra water or food, because that doesn’t bring them money, people do.”

After a week, he reached Ajdabiya, the first town in Libya after the desert. There, the traffickers asked for more money to be transferred to them from Khartoum. Asmelash spent another three months in Libya, getting from Benghazi to Tripoli and Az Zawiyah and waiting “for the summer” to cross the Mediterranean to Malta in a boat filled with 25 people.

“I was lucky I made the journey in one go, without being sent back at any point along the way,” he says, admitting that the 3,600 US dollars he paid are “peanuts” compared to the sums now requested for the trip.

Once in Malta, he spent a year in an overcrowded detention centre, with 80 people housed in two rooms, before being given refugee status.

He was subsequently moved to an “open centre” while looking for a job, in “even worse conditions”. The centre was an old school with 800-900 people and 30 beds to a room. After he found a job as a cleaner he moved out on his own and then managed to work in a hotel as well.

“But if at any point I lost my job, I would have been homeless, because the open centre does not take you back once you’ve got a job, no matter how precarious,” he says. For the last three years, Asmelas

Tinsae Ethiopia calls for nationwide actons to remove Meles

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:13 am

Tinsae Ethiopia calls for the end of Meles Zenawi’s regime

Last month, the newly formed Tinsae Ethiopia Patriots Union has distributed “Beka!” (Enough!) pamphlet in Amharic, Oromgna and Tigregna using its network through out Ethiopia (read here).

In a follow up pamphlet two weeks ago, Tinsae Ethiopia has called for for nationwide protests in the month of May, 2011, to remove Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship from power (read here).

Tinsae Ethiopia has stated that Ethiopians have rejected the Meles regime during the 2005 elections, but the regime has taken brutal measures to stay in power, while continuing to misrule the country and commit atrocities.

May 2011 will be the Meles regime’s 20th anniversary in power. Tinsae Ethiopia has called on Ethiopians inside the country and around to rally around the slogan “Beka!” (Enough).

Recalling previous attempts by the Meles regime to divert attention from itself by inciting ethnic and religious clashes, Tinsae Ethiopia has asked every Ethiopian to not fall prey for such scheme and look after the well-being of each other regardless of one’s religion or ethnic back ground.

Tinsae Ethiopia has also sent out a message to the armed forces in Ethiopia to join the people’s demand for change and help bring Meles and his collaborators to justice.

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