December 31, 2011

Ethiopia troops attack rebels in Somali town-residents

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 11:44 am

* Residents say al Shabaab rebels forced to flee

* Militants say repelled three Ethiopian attacks

* Kenya, Ethiopia troops in Somalia righting rebels

By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Ethiopian troops and clan militia fighters forced al Qaeda-linked militants to flee a Somali town after heavy clashes on Saturday, residents said.

Al Shabaab rebels were not immediately available to comment after the reports of the attack, but earlier said they had repelled three Ethiopian assaults north of the town.

Both Ethiopia and Kenya have sent troops into Somalia to fight Islamist al Shabaab militants, following a wave of cross-border attacks and kidnappings Nairobi blamed on the rebels.

“Ethiopian troops are now in Baladwayne town. Al Shabaab fighters have run away,” resident Osman Farah told Reuters.

“We were woken up by the shells of Ethiopian troops early in the morning. They attacked al Shabaab on the outskirts of the town. We cannot leave our houses. We can see Ethiopian troops from the cracks of our windows,” he said.There was no immediate comment from Addis Ababa.

Baladwayne is a commercial and farming town that lies near a river in central Somalia, about 45 km away (28 miles) from the Ethiopian border and 335 km north of Mogadishu.

It is also the capital of the Hiiran region and was under the control of al Shabaab, which is fighting Somalia’s Western-backed government. Residents fear the militants could retake the town if Ethiopian troops leave.

Somalia has been mired in anarchy since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Rebel spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters earlier on Saturday Ethiopian troops had attacked al Shabaab fighters 20 km north of Baladwayne. He said al Shabaab had repelled the soldiers three times.

Abu Musab could not be reached for comment after the reports of the attack on the town.

Another Baladwayne resident, Hussein Gelle, said the rebels were firing from the outskirts of the settlement.

“Al Shabaab have already fled … We see clan militia and Ethiopian military vehicles moving to and fro. Al Shabaab is firing sporadically so that they are not run after,” he said.

Local elder Hassan Abdi said many residents had fled the town as the warring parties fought on the outskirts.”We do not have details about casualties. No fighting took place in the town itself. The town is calm,” he said.

Ethiopian soldiers previously went into Somalia in 2006, and left in early 2009 after pushing the Islamist Islamic Courts Union out of the capital Mogadishu.

At the time, most Somalis opposed the intervention and analysts said it may have encouraged people to join the militants. This time, locals say public opinion has largely turned against the militants.

Since Kenya and Somali government troops, backed later by Ethiopian troops, launched the campaign against al Shabaab, there has been little ground fighting.

Several air strikes have hit southern Somalia’s regions where al Shabaab remains in control. (Additional reporting by Omar Faruk; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


December 30, 2011

Eritreans’ opposition Congress, launched in Ethiopia, seeks global backing

Filed under: Eritrea,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 11:04 pm
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As President Isaias Afewerki prepared to give his New Year message, his democratic opponents in exile were huddling together in what they say is a bid to bring hope and freedom to the Eritrean people. They held their first Congress last month in Hawassa, Ethiopia, and formed a new 127-member coalition called the National Assembly for Democratic Change to be headed by Dr. Yosuf Berhanu – veteran fighter and physician.

The morale of Dr. Yosuf’s side has been boosted as the Security Council moved to further punish the Isaias regime early in December for what the UN says were illegal acts of reported human trafficking, extortion, terrorism and destabilization. Journalist Michael Abraha recently sat with Yosuf Berhanu in Addis Ababa and asked him how he saw the latest UN measures against the Eritrean government.

Dr. Yosuf Berhanu: I hail the UN action although it came a little bit late. The sanctions are very important from one point of view: The Eritrean government is now completely isolated from the rest of the world. And in my opinion the UN action is vital as a deterrent and is supportive of the plans and objectives of the Eritrean democratic movement. It is essential for us to take this opportunity to further isolate the regime and intensify the struggle until it is removed and replaced by a democratic system.

Q: What real impact will the new UN measures have ….?
A: This is an important step not only for the Eritrean people but also for the neighboring countries. The regime in Eritrea is creating havoc throughout the Horn of Africa Region. It is interfering in the internal affairs of Somalia, Djibouti, Sudan, Ethiopia and Yemen. Its war with Ethiopia over a decade ago resulted in the loss of life of tens of thousands of youngsters. It is indeed a disaster. And this is a reflection of one thing: You cannot be a dictator and a despot inside Eritrea and be democratic and peace-loving externally. This is not possible. That is the ugly nature of the regime in Eritrea. Isaias is treating the neighboring countries the same way he is treating his own people.

Q: Hundreds of Eritreans were in Hawassa recently for their first Democratic National Congress in exile. What was achieved?
A: The conclusion was positive. It was an assembly of 600 Eritreans from all over the world under one vision. The convention represented the interests of all people, their regions and faiths. The gathering was an opportunity in which Eritreans from varying political and civil society groups as well as youth and women’s associations freely discussed and debated all issues and problems facing our country and our people today. We formed a new coalition, the National Assembly for Democratic Change, with an Executive Office made up of 21 members to run daily activities. In the final analysis this 12-day event in November and December was an important event marking the beginning of a new era for Eritrea.

Q: Some groups and individuals boycotted the Congress. Why?
A: The reasons given for not joining the process were not persuasive or relevant to our current national reality, in my judgment. It would have been good if all had participated. But, I can assure you we are still open and we will remain open to any group or individuals who want to join the process unfolding now. We are prepared to talk to them and accept them. They are welcome any time.

Q: As you said earlier the country’s interests may have been represented enough at the Congress in Hawassa. But the composition of the
delegates was not representative enough. There were for instance more lowlanders than highlanders. Did that bother you?
A: First, it must be stressed that whatever their places of origin or religious background, the participants were open-minded, tolerant, understanding and fully united and ready to serve the nation. If more people came from the lowlands, it is a reaction against the negative political legacy left by the Isaias clique that has deprived them of their right to equal participation and protection despite their contributions in the liberation struggle. For instance, there are still tens of thousands of Eritrean lowland refugees languishing in the Sudan, whom the regime has neglected. If their number was bigger at the Hawassa gathering, it was not out of a desire for special consideration, but a sign of their eagerness to swiftly end tyranny in our country. The point is the purpose of the Congress was to tackle every problem faced by all Eritreans, be they of lowland or highland origin, Moslem or Christian or other compatriots.

Delegates deliberated on and planned at the national level, not at regional levels. At the same time, there was harmony and tolerance, and that was why the Congress was successful.

Q: The majority of the 127-member National Assembly came from existing political parties, thus placing civil society groups in the minority. The Executive Office, made up of 21 members, also appears to be almost entirely in the hands of these political parties. What are the implications of this?
A: As you know, the delegates at the Congress represented all categories of people, groups, beliefs and interests. Regardless of our background, as members of the new National Assembly, we now belong to one family, one body committed to the Eritrean cause. We are not to categorize
each other as members of particular parties or civic associations. For example, I am a member of the Eritrean National Salvation Front. But I can
assure you I am not going to lead our new coalition from that political position. We will have a negative impact if we were to be thinking and acting based on our affiliations. We have to fight any such tendencies.

Q: What will be the future of the various political parties in the aftermath of the establishment of the National Assembly and its National Executive Office?
A: The Executive Office is a coalition of political parties, civil societies, women’s groups, youth and other elements operating under a minimum political program. Many political parties are members of this body. This does not mean they will now cease to exist as independent political parties. Of course, they will continue to exist and develop outside the new national coalition.

Q: What happens to the military wings of the political organizations?
A: Discussions are going on among those parties that have armed wings with the aim of bringing them under one military command. Our Executive Office has a Military Branch which will be mandated to coordinate military activities.

Q: How do you characterize Ethiopia’s role and support for your plans?
A: The support we are getting from the Ethiopian government is a genuine support. And this is due to one major factor: We as Eritreans want to get rid of the current system in our country; the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian people also have the same interest and want to get rid of the dictatorship as well because they are also suffering from the negative attitude and hostile and violent actions of the Isaias regime. It is working to destabilize the internal situation in Ethiopia, Djibouti and other countries in the Horn. That is why I salute the Ethiopian support. And thanks to that support 600 of us Eritreans convened in Hawassa last month coming from all corners of the world and representing all Eritrean society to discuss our internal and national problems without any interference from the Ethiopian government.

Q: Apart from the UN sanctions what kind of support are you looking for from the international community – the European Union, IGAD, US and
A: Well, we have to first gain political recognition before speaking of assistance. It has been disappointing so far because political organizations have been acting separately. There was utter lack of coordination among them. But this time after the successful conclusion of the National Congress in Hawassa, Ethiopia, we have created a new outlook. We can now approach the United States, the European Union, European, and
African and Arab countries to of course first ask for recognition and eventually urge them for their economic support for our struggle and for our people. I may say we are now on the right track.

Q: What lessons can be learned from the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East?
A: Nothing can be more encouraging for the Eritrean people and the youngsters in particular than the experiences unfolding in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. After twenty, thirty, forty years of suffering, the people there at last decided to shed their fears paying all the sacrifices needed to topple tyrant after tyrant until they became masters of their own destinies. Eritreans can and should act in a similar way, and speak out and come out and hasten the end of the dictatorship in our country.

Editor’s Note: The Black Star News encourages debate by welcoming readers’ comments and reactions to articles. All comments –whether critical or in support of any article– must focus on the content of the article. Abusive or insulting remarks will not be published.

December 29, 2011

Imprisonment of Swedish journalists in Ethiopia sparks outrage in Europe

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 12:38 pm
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Loving Ethiopia to death – the teacher

By Yilma Bekele

The last few months I have been inflicted with a Herman Cain (HC) moment. You remember his interview with a newspaper publisher and when asked his opinion regarding President Obama’s policy on the uprising in Libya? My good old friend was completely stumped. After crossing his legs, shifting in his seat, clapping his hands and squirming in his chair all he could come up was ‘I got all this stuff twirling in my head.’ and display a near meltdown situation. I found it to be very interesting. Let us just say it was ‘a revealing moment.’

It just so happened that things have been twirling in my head. It is not a good idea to have so many things twirling in your head. Lack of clarity is not a good state of mind to be unless one of course wants a certain amount of fogginess or blurred vision. It is possible we do that to avoid making hard decisions, shift responsibility or distance ourselves from our actions or choose to be comfortably numb to justify inaction.

It was the convergence of three unrelated happenings that yanked me out from that dark, wet, suffocating ‘Idiot Woyane’ state of mind. My friend Kirubeal’s constant nagging, Abebe’s timely revelations (I am still not over ‘Mamo kilo in Arat Kilo’), Professors Al’s relentless tickle of my discarded conscience, my dear hero’s ECADF’s energetic enthusiasm and Ethiopian Review’s smart ‘Policy Research’ papers was what kept me from going into deep freeze. Some folks don’t take no for an answer.

The four items that made me realize that all is not lost are the first Anniversary of ‘Arab Spring’, the death of Vaclav Havel of ‘Prague Spring’ and the passage of Kim Jung-il owner of ‘perpetual winter’ and a not so likeable human being and the sacrifice of Yenesew Gebre of Ethiopia.

A single spark starts a prairie fire was just another saying. Our hero Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia lit a single match to say ‘enough’, Beka! and set the world on fire. Gaddafi is poster boy for the ‘inferno’ Mohamed started. It engulfed the planet and still shows no sign of slowing down. The 99% are asking a fair share of the pie. Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli, Sanna, Bahrin, Damascus, New York, Moscow, Wukan (China) have become battlefields. What happens the next year is bound to realign the balance of forces in society. There is no doubt the playing field will be leveled a little better in favor of the many. How each system works out the conflict depends on how it was designed to self- correct.

You drive south from Tunis, capital of Tunisia on Hwy 37 follow P3 South, take P13 and you are in Sid Bouzid. A little dusty town in the middle of nowhere. Nothing of consequence has ever happened in Sid Bouzid. Exactly a year ago Mohamed Bouazizi was selling produce when he was slapped by a Policewoman in front of everyone for not having a license for his vegetable cart. What he did next, for some reason, touched humanity. What he did was he went in front of Sid Bouzid City Hall, doused his cloth with petrol and set himself on fire. He said Tunisia is not fit to live for a person of dignity. It is a very unique, dramatic and loud response to injustice. He made his point and it echoed.

The question became how does a government deal with its population’s legitimate demands? Gaddafi’s way is definitely proven unacceptable, Mubarak’s blindness have him in the slammer, Ben Ali is in virtual prison, Assad is squirming, Saleh is finished, damaged and grasping, Putin is at a loss… the carrot or the stick is the dilemma and as a confirmed Marxist he can’t even pray to God for guidance. The Chinese Central Committee is mulling over on how to respond regarding Wukan, Gunadong Province, and Obama is watching, observing, waiting to see if ‘occupy’ is a real or virtual force. May all the Gods welcome Mohamed Bouazizi’s soul with drums and trumpets fit for a hero. I am sure those in authority have slapped many before him but the fact is Mr. Bouazizi said enough in a unique way in the age of Social Media and did it ever spread like a prairie fire!

The death of Vaclav Havel was another defining moment. He was the product of Prague Spring of 1968. Prague Spring was the forefather to Arab Spring. Things were different in 1968, the time of ‘Prague Spring’. Europe was divided between the Socialist East under Soviet influence and the Capitalist West under the US umbrella. Czechoslovakia was one of those unfortunates stringing along without due consent. The Soviet Union used Czechoslovakia as buffer. In 1968 Alexander Dubcek was elected as First Secretary of the Communist Party and set in motion reform polices granting the citizen certain Rights. The Soviet Union did not take such transgression lightly and used its Warsaw Pact forces to invade Czechoslovakia and end freedom.

The little open space granted by Dubcek inspired people like Vaclav Havel. His work was banned due to his opposition to the invasion. He was declared UN desirable person in his own homeland. He never wavered. His plays and poetry were published elsewhere and smuggled in. They were read on short wave radios. He was imprisoned. He persisted. In 1979 Havel and his comrades published Charter 77 Manifesto, a plea to the Communist Party and Government to abide by various International conventions including its own Constitution and open the space for political dialogue.

The Soviet puppet regime reacted angrily. The Charter was deemed ‘anti–state, anti-socialist and those who signed the document were branded ‘traitors and agents of imperialists’. The official press described the Manifesto as “an anti-state, anti-socialist, and demagogic abusive piece of writing,” and individual signatories were variously described as “traitors and renegades,” “a loyal servant and agent of imperialism,” “bankrupt politicians”. The regime also organized their own ‘anti-charter’ movement and used famous musicians and artists to denounce ‘the traitors.’

The problem percolated for twenty years and gave birth to what came to b e known as ‘The Velvet Revolution.’ On 19th of November, 1989 the fire was lit by student demonstrators in Prague and on November 28, 1989 the Communist Party withered away. In June 1990 the Czechoslovakian people have their first democratic election since 1946. Vaclav Havel was elected the first President and ushered in an era of peace and democracy to his beloved country. He did not use his newfound power to hound his enemies, settle score with his abusers or use his position to enrich family and friends. Vaclav Havel the playwright, the poet, the dissident and the first democratically elected President of Czechoslovakia died last week. He died in body but left such a beautiful legacy behind his people will talk about him for a long time to come. He was a beautiful human being.

My third wake up call was rung by no other than Comrade Kim Jung-il of North Korea. His life was shrouded in secrecy and he died mysteriously. In fact no one knows how and when he died. What he left behind is a life full of garbage that cannot be recycled because of its toxicity and a history that will be buried deep and denied by his people. North Korea has been ruled by the Kim family since its founding. The Kim family in consort with the Military and a few Hodams control the economy thus the nation. What Stalin envisioned, Mao attempted has been realized by the Kim family.

North Korea is where we see how fragile we humans are. The Kim family has been able to reduce twenty four million Koreans into walking zombies. Using denial of all outside input like Television and Radio using censoring and blocking, starvation, physical degradation like imprisonment, torture, televised confessions and bullying, the Kim family has proven to the world that they are worthy successors to Stalin. The little dictator fancied himself as an intellectual and his newspapers and propaganda outlets referred to ham as ‘The Dear Leader, The Fearless Leader, The General’ and other outrageous titles to bully his population. He left behind a legacy of fear, poverty and a people that were never allowed to enjoy the fruits of their existence. We Ethiopians familiar with that.

We say ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ regarding Kim while we fondly remember Mohamed Bouazizi and Vaclav Havel. Their stories fill us with hope and love they have bestowed on us. Are they special or just like us? But they made their presence felt. They rose a little higher. Where did they find that inner strength to keep going when all seemed hopeless? Vaclav Havel had that quality. He was imprisoned. His work was banned. He was hounded by the security force. But he kept focus on his dignity and freedom. By fighting for his rights he stood for all of us. He named one of his essays ‘power of the powerless.’ Mohamed Bouazizi did not have an army. Not even an association. He was just trying to eek out living selling vegetables. A common man like the rest of us. He challenged us by his act. He was willing to end it all so we see what has been done to us. The people of Tunisia heard him. The world eavesdropped.

You probably don’t know what happened on Friday, November 11, 2009. A young Ethiopian named Yenesew Gebre, set himself on fire in Dawro, Waka Southern region of Ethiopia. It did not revebrate like Mohamed Bouazizi’s. It was not heard around the world. We Ethiopians the message was sent to heard it clear. In my opinion, Yenesew spoke to us very loud. It requires much courage and untold amount of rage to compel a young man to sacrifice himself. Death on behalf of others is the ultimate sacrifice.

If it mattered at all Yenesew was a very educated person. But that is not the issue here. He was a human being working hard to reach his potential and help himself and his family. He has done his part. By becoming a teacher he has acquired a skill that is in very short supply in Ethiopia. A job and a decent living is what come with such achievement. But Yenesew has that other quality that is also in short supply in repressive societies. Yenesew has conscience. Moral compass. Call it what you want, simply put, he cared about you and I. That made him very unhappy. That also made the authorities very unhappy. Yenesew can see and that is a crime in the village of the blind.

Like Vaclav Havel Yenesew dissented. He was fired from his job, his family hounded and his associates bullied. That is the way of ‘Revolutionary Democracy’ in Ethiopia. Like Vaclav Havel Yenesew was jailed, shunned and black listed. The more they bullied him the better he saw them. When they spoke he saw the lie they live, when they shouted he saw the fear that is wrecking their soul, when they stole and consumed to excess he saw the full but always hungry belly they carried, when they bullied he saw the insecurity lurking behind them. What he saw was not what he wanted for his homeland and his people.

Mohamed Bouazizi and Yenesew Gebre have become the conscience of humanity. The two felt the indignity they suffered in their country and home at the hands of those in authority made then realize life is meaningless without free will. If it is not worth living then why live. Thus they decided to make their death count. To their people they said ‘the pain is too much to bear’ for the rest of us they said ‘dignified death at your choosing is better than physical and mental slavery.’ They said the two countries Tunisia and Ethiopia were not conducive to human dignity. One of the seeds has sprouted and the other will too. No reason to think otherwise. The Prague Spring gave rise to the Velvet Revolution that begat The Orange Revolution that begat the Rose Revolution that led to Arab Spring – there is no end to human thirst for freedom and equality.

Yenesew saw beyond himself. He felt the pain and sorrow of his neighbor. What he was about to do goes against his religion, his value system and his culture but the importance and timeliness of the message must have outweighed all other considerations. It was not an easy decision. He was at a physical location where he was beaten down but mentally he knew there is more to life and as a teacher he should do his duty and teach. He went every legal way open to no avail. It was never about the law. Thus My dear little brother decided to use the planet as his wall board and write his message to humanity in general and his people in particular. This Human said Beka! Enough! Rest in peace my friend. Your people heard you.

Ethiopia: we are 99.6 !!

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 12:07 pm
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By Tedla Asfaw| We are not 99 like here in America and UK but 99.6. It is also true an average Ethiopian makes a dollar /about 99.6 cent a day back home. The Club of 99.6 are almost all Ethiopians who go to bed empty stomach. The double digit growth “makers” are the 0.4 Club who took control of all Ethiopian resources and do as they wish with no accountability. Here in America the Nobel Prize winner Economist, Joseph Stiglitz, coined the 99 percent on his book to expose the income inequality that has been exasperated by uncontrolled Wall Street which many rally now under the banner of Occupy Wall Street(OWS), “We are 99″, still alive and will be a force in the 2012 presidential election. Watch Obama !!!

Unfortunately Joseph Stiglitz when it comes to Ethiopia he “joined” the club of his “analytical” student Tyrant Meles Zenawi, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Can you hear me ? You may agree with me if I combine it and call him Analytical Tyrant. Meles Zenawi is the leader of the Club of the 0.4 who have not slept well in 2011 but still score a double digit growth again.

Well, some of the loot registered “double digit”, 11.5 billion dollar gone out of Ethiopia never to come back. I wonder people like Joseph Stiglitz who condemned the bailout of the Wall Street by the Federal Government and stand with the middle income Americans promote the club of the Super Looters in Ethiopia. Is what good for America is not good for poor Ethiopia or we should not complain after all Ethiopia has been on food aid assistant, bailout for more than a decade by USA tax payers money.

The Club of the 0.4 has foreign “guests”/landlords led by Sai Ramakrishna Head of Karuturi, Gambella and dual citizen Sheik Al Amoudi and some thirty or more. Their Wall Street Equivalent “Globalization Inc. ” is facilitating 300,000 hectare/30,000 sq km of arable land with huge water from poor Ethiopians for yearly rent to be deposited on foreign account of EFFORT led by Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin.

Al Amoudi the Gold Medal Winner of our Millennium four years ago is the “Lung” of the 0.4 club while Meles Zenawi is the “Brain” to quote Joe. Azeb Mesfin is CEO. No wonder, Growth for this camp is double digit. If you include the Loot, 11.5 billion dollar out of Ethiopia, Miracle might have been registered in macroeconomics as a possible candidacy for Nobel Prize. Sheik Al Amoudi must have Haile Gebreselassies’ Lung to give sufficient Oxygen for this miracle.

The 99.6 Club 90 million members half of which less than 14 years of age only know TPLF/EPRDF and a product of poverty and exclusion. While our Rich and Corrupt enjoy their lives the rest will be given once a year an “opportunity” to say a word of “protest” thanks to the Great Run in Addis Ababa. Ethiopians respect the founder Haile Gebreselassie and understands also why he is forced to join the Club of the 0.4 by praising our Analytical/Brainy Great Leader Ethiopia has ever seen.

The year 2011 is going to end with peoples victory, from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya and now is knocking Syria and Yemen. The people of these countries were in much better shape than our people by any measurement and yet people rose up for better life and accountable government and the 0.4 Club in Ethiopia will get its 2011 in the year of 2012.

The mass movement in the above countries also benefited from the information infrastructure. Poor Ethiopia is poor in all measurements including opposition parties back home and here in the Diaspora. We should not worry about it too much. It was not from top to bottom what has happened in North Africa and Middle East, it is from bottom up. We do not need to wait TPLF coronation every five years and the mobilization of our people has to go on. It is paramount that those opposition movements who are not the member of 0.4 Club to begin the year with a rally for justice for all detained for writing and speaking the truth. Demand the release of Eskinder Nega, Reyot Alemu, Andualem Arage and others who are paraded on a make believe justice.

Diaspora thanks to the information infrastructure is doing its job. Radios and ESAT TV are doing their part. Do not forget, Ethiopia’s 83 percent still live in rural Ethiopia where electricity is not available. Sending batteries and radios to our people is a job we can and must do. Programs on DVD can be shared by our people back home and we can afford to send them DVD/CD players. Diaspora should be practical in addition to doing a wonderful job of exposing the West/East collaborators of Meles Zenawi. Our protest made it hard for the Club 0.4 members to dine and wine with their foreign partners.

In the year 2012 the 99.6 Club will take back Ethiopia and the majority of Ethiopians in the Diaspora will go back home and build a strong prosperous Ethiopia for all. For that to happen Diaspora should demand all nationalist movements like OLF and ONLF to come to their sense and drop their demand of cessation as their right enshrined by Article 39 of the TPLF Constitution. Ethiopians will write a constitution by the people for the people. The beneficiaries of Article 39 are solely the members of 0.4 Club, few thousands.

December 28, 2011

ሃያ ሰባት የመኢአድ አባላት ታሰሩ

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 11:07 pm
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‹‹አባላቱ የታሰሩት ልማት በማደናቀፋቸው ነው›› የዳምባ ጎፋ ወረዳ የምክር ቤት ሰብሳቢ

በደቡብ ኢትዮጵያ ክልል በጎፋ ልዩ ዞን በዘንጋ አዋንዴ ቀበሌ 27 የመላው ኢትዮጵያ አንድነት ድርጅት (መኢአድ) አመራርና አባላት በገዢው ፓርቲ ቁጥጥር ሥር መዋላቸውን መኢአድ አስታወቀ፡፡ የደምባ ጎፋ ወረዳ ምክር ቤት ሰብሳቢ አቶ ማዩ ማይጠሎ በበኩላቸው፣ የተጠቀሱት የመኢአድ አባላት የታሰሩት በአካባቢው እየተከናወነ ያለውን የልማት ሥራ ለማደናቀፍ በመንቀሳቀሳቸው መሆኑን ለሪፖርተር ገልጸዋል፡፡

መኢአድ ትናንት ለሪፖርተር በላከው ጥቆማ እንዳስታወቀው፣ ታኅሣሥ 16 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም. ከታሰሩት የመኢአድ አባላት መካከል ስድስቱ የፓርቲው አመራሮች ናቸው፡፡

በጎፋ ልዩ ዞን የዘንጋ አዋንዴ ቀበሌ የመኢአድ ሰብሳቢ አቶ ኢልካዩ ኤሮ፣ ምክትል ሰብሳቢው መምህር አየለ ታደሰ፣ ዋና ጸሐፊው አቶ ዘሪሁን እኩሌ፣ የመኢአድ ሥራ አስፈጻሚ አባል የሆኑት አቶ ኢሳያስ ዘርቦ፣ ሃምሳ አለቃ ማናዬ ሞላልኝና አቶ መንግሥቱ ማናዬ ታኅሣሥ 16 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም. ከቀኑ 10፡00 ሰዓት አካባቢ በመኢአድ ጽሕፈት ቤት ውስጥ በስብሰባ ላይ እያሉ በፖሊሶች የታሰሩ መሆናቸውን መኢአድ አስታውቋል፡፡

ሌሎቹ ሃያ አንድ የዘንጋ አዋንዴ ቀበሌ የመኢአድ ሥራ አስፈጻሚዎችና አባላት የታሰሩትም ከላይ በተጠቀሰው ቀን ምሽት የወረዳው የኢሕአዴግ ባለሥልጣናት የመኢአድ አባላት በሚኖሩበት አካባቢ አሰሳ እንዲካሄድ ካዘዙ በኋላ መሆኑንም ገልጿል፡፡

የዳምባ ጎፋ ወረዳ የምክር ቤት ሰብሳቢ አቶ ማዩ ማይጠሎ በበኩላቸው፣ የመኢአድ አባላት የታሰሩት የክልሉ መንግሥት በአካባቢው እያከናወነ ያለውን የተፋሰስ ልማት ለማደናቀፍ ሲንቀሳቀሱ በመገኘታቸው መሆኑን ለሪፖርተር ገልጸዋል፡፡

እርሳቸው እንዳሉት፣ በደምባ ጎፋ ወረዳ የተፋሰስ ሥራ ለመሥራት ለቀያሾች ሥልጠና እየተሰጠና ጐን ለጐን ሌሎች የልማት ሥራዎች እየተከናወኑ ባሉበት በአሁኑ ጊዜ፣ ሃያ ሰባቱ የመኢአድ አባላት ‹‹የተፋሰስ ሥራውን አንሠራም›› ብለው በመቃወማቸው በፖሊስ ቁጥጥር ሥር ሊውሉ ችለዋል፡፡

በአካባቢው የሚኖሩት የመኢአድ አባላት በሌሎች ቀበሌዎች የሚገኙ ነዋሪዎች በተፋሰስ ሥራው እንዳይሳተፉ የሚጠይቅ ደብዳቤ አዘጋጅተው ለመበተን ጥረት ሲያደርጉ መቆየታቸውን የጠቆሙት አቶ ማዩ፣ ታኅሣሥ 16 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም. ሃያ ሰባቱ የመኢአድ አባላት ልማቱን ለማደናቀፍ ተመሳሳይ አጀንዳ ይዘው ሲወያዩ በነበረበት ወቅት በፀጥታ ኃይሎች መታሰራቸውን አረጋግጠዋል፡፡

የመኢአድ ሥራ አስፈጻሚ አባልና የደቡብ ኢትዮጵያ ቀጣና ኃላፊ አቶ እንድሪያስ ኤሮ በበኩላቸው ለሪፖርተር እንደገለጹት፣ የመኢአድ አባላት የታሰሩት ልማት በማደናቀፋቸው ሳይሆን የግለሰቦችን ማሳ አንቆፍርም ብለው በመቃወማቸው ነው፡፡

በአካባቢው የሚገኘውን የግለሰቦች ማሳ ከመቆፈር ይልቅ ነዋሪዎች በጋራ የሚጠቀሙበትን መሬት ለተፋሰስ ሥራ ማዋል የተሻለ እንደሚሆን በመጠቆም ለቀበሌው ኃላፊዎች በጽሑፍ ጥያቄ ማቅረባቸውን የገለጹት አቶ እንድሪያስ፣ ይህ የመቃወም መብት ልማት እንደማደናቀፍ ተወስዶ የመኢአድ አባላት ለእስር መዳረጋቸውን አስታውቀዋል፡፡

‹‹የዜጎች የመናገርና የመጻፍ መብት የተጠበቀ ነው፡፡ ተቃዋሚዎች ማንኛውንም ነገር የመቃወም መብት አላቸው፤›› የሚሉት አቶ እንድሪያስ፣ የደምባ ጎፋ ወረዳ ባለሥልጣናት ግን ሕገ መንግሥቱ ለዜጐች የሰጠውን መብት በመጣስ ሰላማዊ ዜጐችን እያሰሩ መሆናቸውን ይገልጻሉ፡፡

‹‹ዜጎች በመንግሥት ባለሥልጣናት የሚወሰኑ ውሳኔዎችን መቃወም አይችሉም ወይ?›› የሚል ጥያቄ ያቀረብንላቸው የወረዳው ምክር ቤት ሰብሳቢ አቶ ማዩ ማይጠሎ ግን፣ ‹‹ይህ የልማትና የሕይወት ጉዳይ ነው፡፡ እነሱ ካልሠሩ ማን መጥቶ ሊሠራላቸው ነው? አንሠራም ማለት አይችሉም፤›› የሚል ምላሽ ሰጥተዋል፡፡ ወረዳውም በመኢአድ አባላት ላይ ‹‹ልማትን በማደናቀፍ›› በሚል ክስ ለመመሥረት እየተንቀሳቀሰ መሆኑን አስታውቀዋል፡፡

መኢአድ እንደሚለው፣ ሁሉም የመኢአድ አመራርና አባላት ከሚኖሩበት አካባቢ 17 ኪሎ ሜትር ርቀት ላይ ከሚገኘው የሻውላ ከተማ ታስረዋል፡፡ የዘንጋ አዋንዴ ቀበሌ የመኢአድ ጽሕፈት ቤትን የቀበሌው የመኢአድ አባላት ከመኢአድ ከፍተኛ አመራር ጋር በመመካከር በ2001 ዓ.ም. በራሳቸው ወጪ እንዳቋቋሙት መኢአድ አስታውቋል፡፡

In famine-stricken Ethiopia, a Saudi company leases land to grow and export rice

Famine has swept through much of Ethiopia in the past year, but a new project will see a Saudi Arabian country convert one of the most fertile areas to produce rice for export. The idea is it’s better to have people employed and making money.

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Gambella in western Ethiopia is one of the most fertile places in the mostly drought- and famine-stricken Eastern Africa country, with thick forests, scorching heat and abundant rains.

But now Gambella, home to five rivers and a National Park, is also home to large-scale agricultural investments. A Saudi billionaire has leased 25,000 acres from the Ethiopian government to grow rice and this summer planted its first commercial crop. The company, Saudi Star, plans to expand that to nearly 500,000 acres within 10 years.

Saudi Star plans to add hundreds of miles of irrigation canals and pipes to bring water from the Alwero Dam to its thirsty rice crop. Ethiopians don’t typically grow or eat rice, so most of the crop will be exported to the Middle East. But Muhammad Manzoor Khan, a Pakistani consultant for Saudi Star, said the rice will still help Ethiopia feed its people.This kind of project can really bring a revolution in food production as well as uplifting the social conditions of the people around,” Khan said, standing in front of rice paddies.

Ethiopia is a fast-developing nation, but it’s struggling with severe drought and skyrocketing food prices. The Ethiopian government estimates 4.5 million people in the country need emergency food aid.

In the past few years, Ethiopia has developed a comprehensive agricultural plan that relies on foreign investment, and much-needed foreign currency to move forward.

Saudi Star predicts its massive rice project will generate $1 billion in revenue for Ethiopia and create tens of thousands of jobs. The Ministry of Agriculture’s Esayas Kebede said that means increased food security for Ethiopians – if people have jobs they can buy food, even if there is a drought.

“If you increase the purchasing power of the people, the people can easily get their own food by their own cash,” Kebede said.

But many of the local Anuak tribe say the rice farm is not providing jobs for their people. They worry the rice will dry up the water they rely on for their own farming and fishing. And they say, after years of hostility from the government, they are now being forced off their land to make way for investors.

One local woman from the Anuak tribe said the government told them they’re moving them to a better place where they can get government assistance.

“There are no farms here and no food. Now we’re living like refugees in our own country,” she said.

The Ethiopian government admits it moved people from rural settlements to villages, but not because of the Saudi Star project, they say. Kebede said it was to provide them with better services and aid. According to Human Rights Watch, however, many of Anuak are being relocated to parts of Gambella that already have insufficient food for the local population.

“This large scale investment program has nothing to do with food security concerns in the country,” said Desalegn Rahmeto, a senior research fellow at the Forum for Social Studies in Addis Ababa. “If you export all the food items and earn foreign currency, but people in the communities don’t have access to food, that is counter productive. And this is happening, this is not hypothetical situation, this is actually happening.”

December 27, 2011

Two Swedish journalists have been jailed for 11 years in Ethiopia

Two Swedish journalists have been jailed for 11 years in Ethiopia for entering the country illegally and supporting terrorism.

Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were detained in July after they were captured in Ethiopia with rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The men were found guilty of the charges last week.

They say they were just doing their jobs as journalists.

Prosecutors had asked for longer sentences of up to 18 years, but Judge Shemsu Sirgaga, who presided in the case, said 11 years was appropriate.

“This sentence should satisfy the goal of peace and security,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

A lawyer for the journalists, Abebe Balcha, said they would decide later this week whether to appeal.

“I am not satisfied, as a lawyer for the defendants – I do not agree with the decision,” he said.

The convictions of Schibbye and Persson have been heavily criticised by human rights groups and the Swedish government.

“Our starting point is and remains that they have been in the country on a journalistic mission. They should be freed as soon as possible and be able to rejoin their families,” said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt after the men were found guilty.

Human rights group Amnesty International said the journalists had been prosecuted for doing “legitimate work”.
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Schibbye and Persson were captured by Ethiopian troops during a clash with ONLF fighters on 1 July.

The men acknowledged during their trial that they had held talks with ONLF leaders in London and Nairobi, before entering Ethiopia from Somalia and meeting about 20 members of the group 40km (25 miles) from the border.

However, they say their contacts with the ONLF were intended to help them to get into a region the Ethiopian authorities will not allow journalists to enter.

They say they wanted to report on the activities of a Swedish oil company, Lundin Petroleum, in the Ogaden.

Both men denied terrorism charges including claims that they had been given weapons training.

Rebels in the Ogaden region have been fighting for independence since the 1970s and the ONLF has been at the forefront of the fight since it was founded in 1984.

The Ogaden is an ethnic Somali part of Ethiopia.

One ONLF faction signed a peace deal with the government last year, but another splinter group has continued to fight the army.

Rights groups accuse Ethiopia of trying to cover up abuses by troops in the region.

Ethiopian Banks Required to Freeze Accounts of Borrowers with No TIN

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 10:42 am

The National Bank of Ethiopia ordered all commercial banks to freeze accounts of borrowers who have not submitted Tax Identification Numbers as of the 26th of December.

All commercial banks were instructed to freeze the current accounts of borrowers maintained in the bank until they present TIN as requested, by a letter from the National Bank addressed to all presidents of commercial banks.
The central bank required commercial banks to provide the TIN if their borrowers as part of the recently launched Credit Reference System said a senior NBE official. Some borrowers have failed to submit their TIN affecting the new system which identifies every borrower by their TIN he said.

Tax Identification Numbers are unique to each business owner and are supported with finger print information allowing relevant authorities to get an overall view of an individuals or company’s business activities and revenue said Ephrem Mekonnen, Communications Head for the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority.

The new Credit Reference System and the existence of credit bureaus allows financial institutions to have all necessary information for decision making claims the National Bank. The system is beneficial to financial institutions and their customers eliminating the high risks associated with uninformed decisions explained the central bank.

The new system does not apply to condominium and personal loan borrowers according to the letter issued by the National Bank.

The National Bank’s new initiative to modernize credit records was funded by the World Bank, with technical support provided by the International Finance Corporation and installation and infrastructure for the system implemented by Compuscan Direct.

Source: Capital

December 26, 2011

Ethiopian military retires 13 generals, 300 senior officers

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 6:09 pm
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The Ethiopian military has retired over three hundred senior officers including thirteen generals as part of a leadership succession plan, the Minister of National Defense said on Tuesday. This is a first major shakeup at the nation’s powerful organ first setup by rebel militants in 1991 following the overthrow of a brutal communist regime.

The Minister of National Defense Siraj Fegisa said he plans to have a total of 561 senior officers retire in three phases during the current budget year as part of a succession plan the army is currently implementing. So far 13 generals, 303 colonels and lieutenant colonels have retired, the minister said.

Ranking first in the continent in contributing soldiers for peace keeping missions, the army has created a good image in less deadly combat missions. Recently however, it seems to being strained and is on standby on Ethiopian borders to both Eritrea and Somalia.

The Eastern African block Inter Government Authority on Development (IGAD) asked Ethiopia to contribute its forces to wipe out the Somalia based Islamist militant al-Shabaab, said to be getting weaker in recent months.

“We are maintaining a buffer zone on both sides of the border but our defense forces have not yet entered Somalia,” Siraj said on Tuesday speaking before a parliamentary hearing.

The minister said the defense forces are on standby at the Ethiopian-Eritrean border to put down possible Eritrean aggression he said can be averted without a need for mobilization of forces.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a Capital interview in November expressed concern over the Ethiopian-Eritrean border impasse as a peace deal that ended their bloody war in 2000 has not yet been followed by a border demarcation as first agreed by the two sides.

The latest move by the National Defense, to have more than 500 senior army officers leave the army through a retirement package the minister said includes housing benefits, has raised concerns that there could be a gap in leadership. Some critics argue the military is still dominated by the former comrades of the ruling Tigrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF).

“The question that there could be a leadership gap has been long addressed; we are implementing this succession plan after extensive preparation,” the Minister of National Defense Siraj Fegisa told Capital on Tuesday on his way out of parliament. “We have over 50 generals,” the minister replied when asked how many generals remain in the army after the 13 latest retirees depart.

In a 19 page report submitted to parliament, the minister explained that the national defense is reshuffling, succeeding and recruiting personnel also to reflect the makeup of the country’s nations and nationalities.

Comparing the composition of the army in 1996 and 2011, the minister reported that Tigraian members of the army have been slashed by 53 percent now to claim only 18.5 percent of the army. Those from Amhara now take the largest share of 30.3 percent, up from 25 percent in 1996. The Oromo takes 25 percent, a boost from 21.3 percent of 1996 figures.

In April 2009, the Ethiopian government arrested 40 individuals, mostly Amhara military or ex-military members said to be affiliates of the outlawed Ginbot 7 group for their involvement in a terrorist assassination plot of government leaders.

The United States Department of State says the Ethiopian national defense forces are about 200,000 personnel, which makes it one of the largest militaries in Africa. –Capital

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