July 15, 2014

Amhara National Democratic Movement: A TPLF Surrogate and Watchdog Dominated by Tigryans Marching On Unchecked Destroying Amhara

Abinet Hunegnaw

July, 2014


The political organization that is applying into practice Tigray Peoples Liberation Front’s Manifesto in what is now the Amhara Region, where 92% of the population belongs to the Amhara nationality is ANDM. Other than its name it is run and totally controlled by former fighters of the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement. That was set up by the TPLF and EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation front), with the purpose of confusing the Ethiopian people by spreading the notion of deception that their struggle is to liberate the entire population and the country from the bondage of military dictatorship, hegemony and thereby bring democracy.

After the fall of the Mengistu military government, the TPLF, head or lead party of the EPRDF launched successfully pseudo ethnocentric political organizations to run the Apartheid like States on its behalf. Among them, OPDO, SPDO, and ANDM and others were and are given administrative role in the respective states they are assigned to run without decisive political power. ANDM is born out of the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement that the EPLF and TPLF created to expand their armed struggle beyond Eritrea and Tigray to the rest of Ethiopia. That is why most of its leadership are from Eritrea and Tigray.

Therefore, the former fighters are all Non Amhara and those at the top of the leadership hierarchy of ANDM belong to the Tigray/Tigrigne ethnic group except Adisu Legese. If any one looks at the list of the Executive Committee of the organization, Berket Simeon, Helawi Yoseph, Kasa T/Birhan, Tadese Kasa and the majority of its Central Committee members are all Tigryans. When the TPLF carried out a nationwide conference that led to the present federal arrangement, the only ethnic group that was not represented is Amhara. This fact is even proved in 1991 without a doubt by the deceased former prime minister during an interview on national television. He said, “. . . no one came to us and openly requested to participate in the conference as a representative of the Amhara.” That is why Amhara lost huge chunks of its ancestral territory to Tigray, Oromia, Afar and Benishangul. In other words, the EPDM that didn’t represent the Amhara people and their interest at the above mentioned conference was and is nothing more than an imposition by the TPLF to fill the vacuum and rule what is left of the immensely  shrank Amhara provinces.

After jumping to the horse wagon of ruling Amhara, the immediate task of EPDM was to change its color and appear as an Amhara. That is why it changed its name to ANDM. To the unrepresented and dismayed population of Amhara the imposition was and is felt as if the military dictatorship returned with another tone, but with a more sinister and coercive distractive agenda of dismembering Amhara piece by piece beyond recognition.

The regional state has 10 zones. Each one is run by a Tigryan from behind the desk. For example, South Gondar zone is ruled by Hadish Halefom under the guise of Head of Communication Bureau. Yoseph Reta a Tigryan, who was top in the leadership position of ANDM at one moment, led the Amhara state as president for 5 years between 2000 and 2005. Still, even after 23 years of TPLF/ANDM rule anyone who is assigned to any position in state administration must be approved by the TPLF upon the recommendation of Bereket Simeon (Eritrean), Adisu Legese (Oromo/Somali), Kasa T/Birhan (Tigryan), Helawi Yoseph (Eritrean), and Tadese Kasa (Tigryan). Their ok and TPLF’s blessing is a necessary evil to hold office in the Amhara regional state.

Bereket Simeon held the federal office of communication as a minister until last year. At present he is a senior advisor to the prime minister with a rank of minister. As an Eritrean and Tigray Tigrigne by ethnicity, his priority is to make sure TPLF’s interests are protected. After 23 long years of TPLF/ANDM rule, the Amhara region unlike any other state in the country is still led and dominated by Tigryans, because of Bereket’s vigilance and heavy handedness against the Amhara people politically, economically and socially. He personally recruited, trained, assigned and promoted a handful of Amharas who completely sold out their soul to serve the TPLF agenda as traitors to their own kind for personal material gains. Such role of Mr. Bereket is ongoing even as we speak.

This few individuals openly, time and again insult the Amhara people at large by using demeaning words like “chauvinists”, and “remnants of the old system” among others. Recently, head of ANDM’s national headquarter office and the deputy president of Amhara state, named Alemnew Mekonnen who is one of Mr. Bereket’s mouth piece was captured on tape cursing the Amhara people using disgusting language. The incident became an issue both in Ethiopia and in the diaspora community. In Bahirdar the capital of Amhara, Unity party held a demonstration attended by thousands of angry citizens denouncing the TPLF/ANDM official and demanded his resignation. Unfortunately in today’s Ethiopia expressing hatred towards Amharas or evicting and deporting them is a way of getting a promotion. For example, Shiferaw Shigute former leader of the Southern state became minister of Education after he forced and deported thousands of Amharas from Guraferda district a couple of years ago.

Bereket is one of the central figures in the TPLF movement in wiping out the Gondar Amhara population from Welkaite, Tsegede, and Tselemt. Bereket’s role in handing over the mentioned Amhara districts to Tigray is not only in favor of advancing Tigray’s territorial advance, and expansion, but also to make sure Amhara no longer has a common border with his country of origin, Eritrea.  His next agenda is to lay the frame work that through speedy Tigryan settlement, the population balance in Quara, Metema and Armachiho switches in favor of Tigryans over Amharans, and there by facilitate their smooth incorporation to the Tigray state. Mr. Bereket’s role in this TPLF policy aspirations is to realize the future Greater and Independent Tigray state territorially stretching up to the Grand Renaissance Dam (in Metekel Amhara, now transferred to TPLF’s created Benishangul state). That is why all these years he chose with purpose not to intervene and stop in the country the wide spread and brutal discrimination of the Amhara population characterized by massacres, evictions and deportations among others.

Kasa T/birhan is chairman of the Federation council and vice chairman of the Meles Foundation. On the 118th year anniversary of the victory of the battle of Adwa, he traveled to the spot and promised that a state of the art museum glorifying the sacrifice of the people of Tigray will be built soon. Surprisingly enough, kasa didn’t even mention the sacrifice of the rest of the Ethiopian people under the leadership of Emperor Menilik. This Tigryan top leader of ANDM simply reflected TPLF’s denial of Ethiopian history.

His office keeps on giving a green light to regional states in the federation to step by step evict and deport every Amhara and eventually become Amhara free Bantustan like states. This is the guy that TPLF uses as a front man and negotiator when interethnic problems arise in the country. Yes, he kept on travelling from place to place talking about nations and nationalities. But not even once attempted to peacefully resolve the plight of Amharas who continue to be victims of organized and forced eviction and deportation. Why should he? After all, the persecution of Amharas is officially sanctioned by the TPLF/ANDM government to destroy Amhara and Mr. Kasa is one of the Tigryans who drafted the policy.

Adisu Legese, another non Amhara top leader of ANDM was president of the Amhara state for 8 years from 1992 to 2000. Then deputy prime minister and now director of the TPLF/EPRDF cadre training institute as well as chairman of the so called Federal Support Board. Adisu recently traveled to Benishangul and gave a serious warning to the state’s handling of the killing of Tigryans in Asosa. Before he left, Adisu also gave a strict order that the Benishangul state, police, militia and other security apparatus must protect Tigryans and their interests at all costs and vigilantly more than anything else.

However, as the former president of Amhara, top leader of ANDM, Adisu who has a senior role in the federal government, didn’t even once intervened to stop the massacre and eviction of Amharas from other Ethiopian states since his party was imposed on the Amhara Regional state. He played a key role in the 2007 census that officially stated the missing of 2.4 million Amharas. He defended the report and strongly criticized opponents in parliament. As chairman of the census committee he is responsible for the false count that resulted in the reduction of federal budget allocation to the state. As a result of which the Amhara state was financially constrained from performing much needed development oriented activities.

Mr. Adisu is also using his position in the so called Federal Support Special Board by encouraging ethnocentric parties to enforce the TPLF policy of Amhara deportations from the regional states they run. As chairman of the board, he facilitates the flow of the necessary finance and security personnel to an official in the ministry of federal Affairs, by the name Shanko Dessalegne (with the rank ofHigher Advisor) whose job is to advance the eviction and deportation process of Amharas from the South, Oromia, Somali, Gambella, Afar, Harere, and Benishangul states. In this TPLF/EPRDF government policy that aims at creating Amhara free regional states, Mr. Adisu plays a key and central role in the intensified persecution process of the regime against the Amhara population.

Why is there a heavy presence of the Federal police in the Amhara region than all other states combined? In Amhara they provide security for every government bureau and ANDM offices. The security detail of all top regional and ANDM personnel belong to the Federal Police. The reason is that, the Tigryan and Non Amhara dominated ANDM has no trust and confidence on members of Amhara state police and militia. The latter are reduced to the level of a local supermarket guard.

For example in May 2013, a Non Amhara member of the Federal Police committed mass killings in Bahirdar, execution style. During the horrific incident Amhara police officers and militia forces in the vicinity were watching the crime as by standers, instead of taking action to stop and protect the 12 innocent Amharas who were gunned down without mercy in cold blood. Also, Amhara eviction and deportation victims unanimously testify and accuse that the Federal Police was and is actively taking part during forced and illegal displacements. The chief perpetrator in this regard is Hassan Shiffa a senior TPLF member, who is in charge of the force since its establishment in 1991.This is another proof that ANDM doesn’t have the interest of the Amhara people and the regional state at its disposal.

If you go down the administrative structure, the most important towns in Amhara are run by Tigryans as mayors. For example Gondar’s mayor is Getnet Amare, the mayor of Woldiya is Tsehaye Mengesha, and the mayor of the industrial town of Kombolcha is Abere Abera. Tana Beles Sugar Project’s senior official assigned to eliminate Amhara settlements from the Alefa Tacusa district of Gondar which is transferred to the Awi Zone and replace Amhara settlements and communities by Tigryan and Agew new settlers is Adgoy Mekuria who also call himself Adgeh.

This individual is handpicked by Abay Tsehaye, TPLF chief architect of Amhara displacement and deportation from Welqite and Alefa Tacusa in the name of advancing sugar projects. For example, Mr. Adgoy admitted on Amhara TV, 60,000 people or 12,000 Amhara families are uprooted from Tana Beles to make way for the sugar plantation and the construction of 2 sugar processing plants. But in his statement he didn’t mention about the new non Amhara settlers whom he and the TPLF strong man Abay Tsehaye introduced to the area at the expense of Amhara evictions to reverse the makeup of the population.

The number of forced out Welqite Amharas from their ancestral homeland in the Zarima and Waldeba monastery area for another sugar project is kept top secret by the TPLF, which continues committing a hidden and silent genocide against the whole Welqite population. This led to the incorporation of 3 Amhara Gondar districts namely Welqaite, tsegede and Tselemt into the Tigray state. Now, a modern asphalt road is under construction connecting Shire, a town in Tigray with Zarima and Adi Arqai in Gondar with the big purpose of totally incorporating the Amhara lands of the Simien Mountains to the Tigray state.

In this regard, the TPLF established a smartly grouped civic organization called “Population Health Environment Ethiopia Consortium” or PHE Ethiopia led by its political activist Negash Teklu. The aim of this group is to get funds from the international community by pretending to advocate the urgent need of saving the Simien Mountains from human encroachment.  The hidden agenda of the PHE Ethiopia group is to do all the necessary preemptive ground work of ridding the area from long standing Gondar Amhara settlements recorded since time immemorial.

Already, they dislocated and evicted Amharas from the Arkuazye settlement. Now they are in the process of eliminating the more than 600 year old Amhara settlement and community of Geeche. It is heart breaking to see the mountain life style of Amhara destroyed by TPLF/ANDM and PHE Ethiopia’s genocidal policy unleashed against all Amharas without reservation. This signals the beginning and end of the very existence of Amhara from the face of Ethiopia. Because, this particular eviction and deportation is taking place in the heart of Amhara just like what happened in Welkaite, Tsegede, and Tselemt and not from other regional states .Thus, I am afraid to say that the only memory of Geeche will only remain in the BBC television documentary.

Therefore, ANDM and its top leadership are working hand in hand with the consortium to evict 40,000 Amharas from the world famous Simien Mountains using international fund obtained with false premises. The final objective of this process of eviction or relocation in their own words is to guarantee the realization of Tigryan state’s territorial ambitions and expansion scheme on Debarq, Jan Amora, Beyeda, and Adi Arqai (which is already and unofficially under the control of Tigryan state administration).

So far many Ethiopians and Amharas inside the country itself and in the diaspora failed to stop the further territorial expansion of TIGRAY at the expense of Gondar AMHARA. Apart from Welqaite, Tsegede, Tselemt, Ofla and Alamata, the Adwa extremist group of TPLF led by the now deceased prime minister and Abay Tsehaye used heavy political and military muscle, to take control of Ras Dashen the tallest mountain in the country, and the surroundings of Abdurafee. Most of the sesame and cotton plantations in Metema and western Armachiho now a days belong to Tigryans attached to the TPLF. In these two districts a Tigryan settler holds up to 10 hectare of land while the right full Amharas are forced by the regional government to lease not more than one hectare of farmland or forced out of their ancestral lands to make way for the Tigryan settlers altogether.

These so called Tigryan investors, facilitate and orchestrate the influx of hundreds of thousands of settlers from Tigray with the objective of reversing the population balance in favor of the Tigryan ethnicity over the Amhara. This strategy has already transformed the mentioned fertile Gondar districts to have more of a Tigryan identity. For example Tigryan settlers in Abdurafee and Metema officially demanded the Federation council chaired by Kasa T/birhan to join with Tigray state out of Amhara. Since, ANDM as a policy encourages Tigryan investment and settlement throughout the Amhara state, Mr. Kasa T/Birhan will eventually agree to their request.

ANDM also hires Tigryan fresh college graduates in various regional, zonal, town and local government bureaus, while Amhara youth who completed their higher education either are left to become destitute or turn into daily laborers. Take Kombolcha and Debre birhan towns for example. Because of recent influx of large number of Tigryans, the two industrial towns make you feel like as if you are in Mekelle or Adwa. In June, 2014 Debre birhan residents voiced their concern that the young people of the town are overlooked in favor of the new arrivals when it comes to job opportunities during a public meeting, but the town’s mayor and the chief administrator of the zone couldn’t even explain or give a simple answer. Whereas, Amharas are forced out or evicted from other regional states as if Ethiopia is not their country, leave alone settle and hold employment, Tigryans enjoy all kinds of opportunities anywhere in Ethiopia as first class citizens.  Such is how ANDM operate as a TPLF instrument all over to destroy the wellbeing of the Amhara people.

In June of this year, a delegation of ANDM led by Gedu Andargachew president of the Amhara Region who continues denying about the Ethiopian territory transferred to Sudan from Gondar, visited the boarder districts of Quara, Metema and Western Armachiho. In Abrehajira, capital of western Armachiho, the public protested Tigray state’s bold territorial annexation of their land in the surroundings of Abdurafee, and demanded an explanation. They also mentioned that the modern road being built stretching from Shire Tigray up to the town of Abdurafee in Armachiho, under the supervision of the Tigray regional government, is in violation of the current boarders of the Amhara state. But as usual Mr.Gedu avoided the issue purposely and jumped to other cases not related with the inhabitants concern and request.

All these measures are taken with the green light of the Tigryan led “Amhara National Democratic Movement” which, openly works with the Adwa group of the TPLF to break the political will, economic base, and cultural back bone and finally destroy the wellbeing of the Amhara community at large. Such tactic worked perfectly well in Welqaite and Tsegede, where the indigenous Amhara population is now officially a minority, replaced by 500,000 Tigryan settlers who call the Amhara districts their home.  According to a sound information, since TPLF began ethnic cleansing against the local population, today, there are more people of Welqaite and Tsegede origin living in the US, Australia, and elsewhere than in Ethiopia’s Gondar region illegally controlled by heavily armed Tigryan recent settlers and ruled by TPLF.

Under the 23 years of ANDM rule, the Amhara regional state recorded the highest infant mortality, death rate or lowest life expectancy, and the per capita income as well as the standard of living is at the tail end compared to all other regional states of the country. The only place in Ethiopia where an intensive and coordinated campaign of sterilization of people in the reproductive age is conducted in Amhara as a policy by the TPLF led government to keep the population in check. As a result Amhara has the largest number of the old generation and the lowest number of youth in Ethiopia. The data that anyone can see from the publications of Ethiopia’s central statistics office confirm that Amhara is the least developed and the poorest region in Ethiopia and Africa as a whole. Even Aljazeera, recently aired a documentary that stated firmly that Amhara is the poorest region in Africa.

Therefore, ANDM, led and controlled by the Tigray/Tigrigne group is marching on, unchecked subduing and destroying the Amhara people as enshrined in TPLF’s and EPLF’s Directives and Manifestos. In this regard, it is the firm belief of many Ethiopians in the country and in the diaspora community, that the Amhara population are left with no other option but to wake up, organize themselves and defend their wellbeing and very survival without hesitation.

Finally the writer of this informative article poses a question to all Ethiopians and in particular to anyone who has an Amhara ancestral roots, “By standing on the side line, are you going to allow the piece by piece dismantling of Gondar and the rest of Amhara to continue until it is no more, or, are you going to do something about it by stopping the TPLF/ANDM conspiracy before it is too late”?



June 2, 2014

TDM another ethnic based movement sponsored by Shabia

Filed under: TDM — ethiopiantimes @ 5:23 am
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May 29, 2014

Arabsat to take legal action against Ethiopia

Filed under: Uncategorized — ethiopiantimes @ 4:25 pm
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Arabsat jammingArab Satellite Communication Organisation (Arabsat) has announced that many TV channels on-board its fleet of satellites have been the subject of intentional jamming for the past week up to today.

Arabsat engineers conducted detailed analysis to identify the source of the jamming, it was confirmed that this interference was originating from Ethiopian territories. It is not clear which broadcasts are targeted this time.

In Febrnuary 2012, Arabsat also said it suffered from jamming from Ethiopia. At the time, broadcasts from several Lebanese channels and Al-Jazeera have been jammed in the past year on the frequencies of Arabsat and Nilesat. However, Ethiopia tried to target the Erithrean Television, as well as broadcasts from Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera Arabic and VOA, and it seemed that most other jamming was unintentional.

In a statement, the satellite operator said “Arabsat expresses its resentment for such an illegal act and is surprise for this vandalism as there are no Ethiopian or Eritrean channels broadcast within Arabsat DTH bouquets. This jamming may be aimed at some opponents channels for one of the two countries channels that are broadcasted on board satellites near Arabsat 26 degrees East neighbourhood or on board other satellites which Arabsat has no relation with.

“Arabsat assures to its customers that it is tackling this issue both at national and international level. International Telecommunication Union and Arab League has been informed of this issue and several efforts are underway to mediate the situation.

“Arabsat will follow up the matter and take all appropriate actions to prosecute the culprit at the judicial authorities and the international organisation of frequencies and any legal means that may deem appropriate to ensure that any damage already incurred or to be incurred by the noise, will not go without legal action, regardless of whether this damage is direct or indirect.

“Arabsat is deeply thankful to its respected valued customers for their understanding and supporting for ARABSAT as this intentional jamming is beyond its control.

May 11, 2014

Sudan plans to supply Ethiopian Electricity to Eritrea

Filed under: Sudan — ethiopiantimes @ 5:45 pm
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Djibouti (HAN) May 10, 2014,  Sudan plans to supply neighbouring Eritrea with electricity, just months after Khartoum said it would buy power from Eritrea’s rival Ethiopia.  Sudan would initially buy 100 megawatts from Ethiopian electricity DAM. Eritrea is one of the world’s poorest nations, according to the UN Human development index.

The president of Eritrea and President Omar al-Bashir visited a key economic sites in Sudan. “I have come here to follow up a number of issues that concern our two countries,” Afwerki told reporters at Khartoum airport upon departure back to Eritrea.

Ethiopia is building the 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance hydro development which will be Africa’s largest when finished in 2017. In December, 2014 Sudan and Ethiopia inaugurated a cross-border electricity link to empower regional electricity companies, such as Eritrea, Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia and South Sudan.

The Sudanese Electricity Transmission Company has begun work on a 45-kilometre (28-mile) line between eastern Sudan’s Kassala state to Teseney, just over the border in Eritrea..

The announcement came during the second day of an official visit to Khartoum by Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki.

Issaias and his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al-Bashir discussed economic cooperation “especially with regard to the electricity power linkage”, SUNA reported earlier.


Salih Abdalla, director of the Operation Department of Sudan’s Electricity Corporation, said that the corporation has actually started implementation of the two presidents’ directives with regard to the electric linkage between Sudan and Eritrea.

He added that the Eritrean president’s visit would boost economic cooperation between the two countries in addition to the cooperation in fields of joint programs and capacity building.

Sudan tries to maintain a balanced relationship between Eritrea and its enemy number Ethiopia.
Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn opened a 321-kilometre line between Gedaref power station and Ethiopia’s Amhara state, news agencies  reported.

Meanwhile: The Eritrean group of 30 was arrested near the Libyan border in early February and held for three months without charge and without access to the United Nations
Because of Isyass visist, Eritrea oppossition say the number deported are morethan 45 Eritreans, including at least six registered as refugees, back to their homeland where they risk detention and abuse

Picture: Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki shakes hands with officials next to his Sudanese counter part Omar Al-Bashir  at Khartoum airport.  Ashraf Shazly, Khartoum, Sudan

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April 30, 2014

Eritrean rebels claim to have killed dozens of intelligence agents

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 8:18 pm
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April 28, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Eritrean rebel group, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO), alleged on Monday it had killed and wounded dozens of Eritrean government intelligence agents in an attack inside the reclusive East African nation.

Thumb 1The Ethiopia-based rebel group said that the strike was carried out at the military barracks of an intelligence unit based in the Northern Red Sea region in the vicinity of Alhan.

Ibrahim Haron, the leader of the rebel group, told Sudan Tribune that their “forces in the early hours of Saturday attacked the military camp and killed 27 intelligence agents and wounded many others belonging to the 15th sub-division intelligence unit”.

The rebel leader said his fighters took control of the military base for over eight hours following the attack, destroying the entire camp before leaving the area.

The group also claims to have captured various types of weapons.

There was no immediate comment from the government in Asmara and the claims cannot be independently verified.

He said there were some 70 government intelligence members inside the camp during the assault but he said none of them tried to engage the rebel fighters.

“They preferred to runaway than fight against [us]. This indicates how much the government army is weakening,” the rebels said.

Ibrahim said the latest assault was in retaliation to ethnic killings by Eritrean government agents targeting Afar minorities.

This is the rebel group’s first cross-border attack since 2012 when they killed 30 Eritrean soldiers in an attack at a military base in the Southern Red Sea region.

RSADO which is a member of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA), a coalition of 11 Eritrean political organisations, renewed its calls for other opposition members to join the armed struggle to topple president Isaias Afwerki’s regime.

After the 1998-2000 bloody border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Asmara considers Eritrea’s Afars as being aligned to Ethiopia and having links to fellow Afar tribes in Ethiopia.

March 18, 2014

The Hypocrisy of the West: Eritrea & Crimea

Filed under: Eritrea,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 10:04 pm
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 March 18, 2014

by Messay Kebede

The West is deploring the referendum in Crimea and threatening to apply economic sanctions against Russia, believed to be the instigator of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis. Some Western politicians even go the extent of advocating direct military aid so that Ukraine can oppose military resistance to the Russian aggression. The referendum, which is supposed to lead to the reintegration of Crimea into the Russian Federation, is characterized by the West as illegal. From what I was able to gather, the reasons why the referendum is considered illegal include the followings. (1) Ukraine is an independent and sovereign country; (2) the referendum takes place with a strong presence of Russian military force in Crimea; (3) the referendum does not offer Crimea the choice of remaining within Ukraine.

The West is deploring the referendum in Crimea, what about Eritrea?

What beats everything is that the West did not raise any concern about legality when Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993, even though all the reasons enumerated to contest the referendum in Crimea were also present in Ethiopia. Thus, ( 1) Ethiopia is an independent and sovereign nation; (2) the referendum was conducted in the presence of the victorious EPLF army; (3) The choice to remain  part of Ethiopia under a new political arrangement was not offered to Eritreans, nor was Ethiopia given the opportunity defend its legitimate position and interests, except through the TPLF government. The latter had no legality other than the power of arms and was already dead set to expel Eritrea from Ethiopia as a dangerous rival to the TPLF hegemony in Ethiopia. Yet, though conducted under such faulty conditions and in direct violation of the sovereignty of Ethiopia, the referendum was declared “fair and free” by the UN Observer Mission.

One thing is sure: we Ethiopians should remember the Western condemnation of the Russian initiative. If, as says the West, the conduct of a referendum in a situation preventing free expression and in an independent and sovereign country is illegal, then undoubtedly the rejection of the referendum in Crimea equally questions the legality of the Eritrean secession. The flaws that make the secession of Crimea illegal are also those that disqualify the Eritrean referendum. This is not to say that Ethiopia should start a war to recover Eritrea, but that it is not compelled to accept its independence so long as it believes, now in accordance with the West, that the referendum was illegal.

Surprising as it may seem, the West is saying that the feeling of the concerned people does not matter as much as the legality of the process. Even if Crimeans in their majority want to be part of Russia, they cannot do it in violation of the national sovereignty of Ukraine. Of course, what explains the application of different criteria is that Russia is a rival superpower while Ethiopia is a poor and weak country. Everything must be done to stop the expansion of Russia. By contrast, nobody should lose sleep over the fragmentation, in direct violation of its national sovereignty, of a country as weak as Ethiopia.

October 27, 2013

Request:”Remove the Red Sea Port Slogan”

Filed under: Eritrea,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 10:57 am
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Dear Editor,

Ethiomedia is a reliable source of information for us Ethiopians as it protects Ethiopian interests and fights the good fight against those who are anti-Ethiopian, the likes of the serpent Tesfaye Gebreab (as some call him Gebre-ebab) and that of Jawar, by unmasking them and showing their true colors to the true children of Ethiopia!

While appreciating such, I saw a motto atop the front page that goes, as copied, which I think discounts the value of the rest of the information we get from the website.

Yes! we are made landlocked by the seating government, which came to rule Tigray and sat on the throne of Ethiopia by accident, we lost Our Port – the way to the sea! As your caption tells, it is better to have a port than having 40 dams of the size of GERD, but we lost the port, should you think we should lose the 40 dams we are constructing as well?

The tenure of a government is limited, like the life of any creature is, and we know from history that empires come and go, both in global and national contexts. I believe that EPRDF’s end will come soon ( either it will mutate to good government or extinct like those of its predecessors). However, our beloved Ethiopia will go on! Whatever profit the country gets, it should get from whoever governs – we have to pick the positive.

Here I kindly request you to remove the caption from your page, it has a meaning, if we don’t have a port , we don’t need the dams either; actually we need them very badly! Even now we are scaring Egypt, who was home to the secessionists Shabia (EPLF), TPLF and the now EPRDF- time for repay – we are settling the debt, and will serve as our future national security tool.

Hoping that you will treat my concern favorably,

Gashaw Abate
Pretoria, South Africa

Editor’s Note – Dear Gashaw, you asked Ethiomedia to remove the motto: “40 dams are no match for one Red Sea port!” Why should you worry unless you are a disguised Eritrean agent like Tesfaye Gebreab? The motto is a reminder to readers, including yourself, that building a dam, no matter how giant, is no match for Ethiopia’s bid to restore part of the Afar Red Sea coastal area that has been annexed by Eritrea when two Eritrean groups moved to Asmara and Addis Ababa in 1991. True power of TPLF has never been in the hands of Tigrians but ultra Eritrean mercenaries like Meles Zenawi, Sebhat Nega etc. TPLF officials who had no Eritrean heritage were simply the slaves of Meles Zenawi, whether it was Seye Abraha or Gebru Asrat, two notables Meles purged in 2001 [Today, Gebru is genuinely deep in the opposition struggle while Seye Abraha is incurably crippled by his dead boss, Meles Zenawi, to be no good for an Ethiopian opposition].

To come back to the point, our Afar patriots, specially the original ARDUF fighters, fought a heroic fight for the first 10 years [1991-2001]. ARDUF was fighting against Shabia [Eritrean regime], but Meles fought on behalf of Shabia and was busy wiping out Afar settlements to crush ARDUF. During this 10-year-old war, the entire Ethiopia was in deep sleep! Very few Ethiopians know how Afars were the first Ethiopian patriots who fought against the Eritrean-led TPLF mercenaries that came to power in Ethiopia in 1991.

For instance, when former US President Jimmy Carter advised Meles in 1989 that he shouldn’t punish future generations of Ethiopia by turning ‘his country’ into a landlocked nation, Meles posed as an Ethiopian and told Carter, “Ethiopia had never had her own port. The Eritreans fought against us for 30 years because we had annexed their territory.”

Meles had no problem from the rest of TPLF leadership because he and his accomplices had murdered the politically conscious TPLF commanders like Suhul [first TPLF chairman] or Dr Atakilt Ketsela [who used to wrap the Ethiopian flag around his head and was firmly opposed to the notion that Eritrea was an Ethiopian colony]. Meles had the comfort of two groups: mercenaries like Sebhat Nega, Abay Tsehaye etc who will die for whatever Meles tells them to do, and the other group consisting of very obedient slaves who would never have the courage to look the mercenary straight in the eye, let alone to remove him as enemy of Ethiopia. That is why Meles never faced treason, and hence an outright arrest in 1998 when Shabia invaded Ethiopia and the entire country was blaming the mercenary prime minister.

The bottomline is the Ethiomedia motto in no way indicates that building dams is not good for our country. It rather underscores that the fight for the restoration of the Red Sea Afar territory to Ethiopia should remain fresh in the memory of the young generation of Ethiopia as opposed to the campaign of TPLF mercenaries like Bereket Simon who says we have raised a generation of Ethiopia that only knows Ethiopia as a landlocked country.

Unless you are an Eritrean disguised as an Ethiopian and spreads the deceptive remark,’we don’t need Assab because we can prosper without Assab,” I urge you to read, for the start, Dr Yacob Hailemariam’s book: “Asseb Yemanat?” When Ethiopia falls into the hand of a popularly-elected Ethiopian government, the legal campaign for the restoration of the Red Sea to its natural owner, Ethiopia, will begin with earnest. And Ethiomedia firmly believes Eritrea will be content with its own Massawa, while readily handing over the southern stretch of the Red Sea to its owner – ETHIOPIA. Anything out of this would be playing with fire.


More motto? Help home-based Andenet Party! Help home-based Semayawi Party! Help Home-based 33-parties united!



“Joint Dam Ownership” – What does it mean???

Dear Editor,

It is about the Dam.

Joint ownership??? What does it mean? Are we going to be fool and share our right on our natural resources with Egypt and the Sudan for centuries to come? I am not clear with this idea. This matter is not as simple as allowing leasing a land for foreigners for a certain period. In other words, it is like allowing Egypt and the Sudan to decide on our sovereignty issue regarding the Dam.

Please, this question should not be decided by the good will of one single Government official or anybody else. Look, how the Egyptians are smart enough and fast to accept this kind of ideas, which gives them to control the Dam indirectly. Let the people discuss this matter and have their say. Please open a discussion forum on this matter.

Buzu Mengistu

Editor’s Note – We invite scholars on the subject to probe the issue, and inform the public on what does “joint ownership” of ones own river/dam mean?

August 7, 2013

Wikileaks: Ethiopia want to access sea by swapping land with Eritrea [full text]


A leaked Cable of US Embassy Addis Ababa reveals Ethiopia threatened to ‘reoccupy the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), which lies entirely within Eritrea, in the event UNMEE withdrew’ back in 2004.

The Cable also indicates Ethiopia deems negotiation on ‘access to the sea’ and ‘territory swaps’ as key issues to resolve the current ‘no peace, no war’ situation with Eritrea.

The Cable, prepared by the then Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy, Viki Huddleston, is a summary of a November 7, 2005 meeting at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa where Amb. Kenzo Oshima, Chairman of the UN Security Council’s Working Group on Peace-keeping Operations, gave a briefing on the status of the Ethio-Eritrean relations.

According to the Cable, the meeting was attended by diplomats in Addis representing UN Security Council members and troop-contributing countries (TCC), as well as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Amb. Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, his deputy Amb. Azouz Ennifar, and UNMEE Force Commander Major-General Rajender Singh.

The meeting was held following Amb. Oshima’s meeting with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum on the same day and his expected visit the following day to Asmara, Eritrea. Amb. Oshima defined his mission as “technical” and ‘his most important message was to push Eritrea to lift its restrictions on UNMEE’.

Background: UNMEE was established following the 1998-2000 war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which the later started. Following the humiliating defeat by the Ethiopian army which advanced deep into her territory, Eritrea agreed that the contested areas remain under Ethiopian forces and for a demilitarized zone 25 KM deep into her territory patrolled by peacekeeping forces. That is, until the disputes are resolved, as per the Algiers Agreement signed by both parties in June 2000. Ethiopia reported to have lost slightly above 17 thousand troops in the war, though the International Crisis Group (ICG) estimates the combined loss of the two countries around 70,000.

Consequently, in 2002, the Ethio-Eritrean Border Commission(EEBC) issued a decision, which counts as border delimitation, that divided the 40 km long Badme district into two comparable areas, though the town is awarded to Eritrea.

Though the decision is unpopular in Ethiopia, the parliament adopted in 2004 a 5-point resolution accepting the ruling ‘in principle’, yet demanding the demarcation process be conducted ‘according to international norms’ and also a negotiation to resolve outstanding issues ‘in a give and take’ manner. What Ethiopia wants to negotiate on has always been a subject of speculation, as the government refused to disclose its negotiation strategy, except that a sustainable peace is the objective.

On the other hand, Eritrea continued to breach the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and elements of the Algiers Agreement by engaging in a range of activities to destabilize Ethiopia, an allegation corroborated by UN reports.

Moreover, Eritrea continued to obstruct the operation of UNMEE, whose presence is a pre-requisite for conducting the border demarcation. In fact, Ethiopian forces withdrew from Eritrean territory at the end of the war was on the condition that a demilitarized zone patrolled by UN would be established in the Eritrean side of the border.

As Eritrea’s obstruction of UNMEE troops movement picked in 2004, so did tensions in the region, thus prompting the UN Secretary General send on Amb. Oshima, who was Japan’s UN Permanent Representative at the UN Security Council and also Chairman of the UN Security Council’s Working Group on Peace-keeping Operations.

Amb. Oshima met the then Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Seyoum Mesfin on Nov. 7. Later that day, at the US Embassy, Oshima described the meeting as follows, according to the Cable:

Seyoum continued to assert that actual demarcation of the border would require “readjustments,” e.g., to ensure that a village not be divided in two. Seyoum also had said that the border issue was not the sole issue between Ethiopia and Eritrea: economic trade, normalization of relations, and access to the sea were also key.

Amb. Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG), who also attended the US Embassy meeting was quoted as saying:

SRSG Legwaila observed that Ethiopia had, on several occasions, proposed swapping territory, and that the final point of PM Meles’ five-point plan proposed dialogue, which Eritrea had rejected.

Commenting on the issues Oshima said:

Oshima said that while it would be useful if the GOE were to state publicly that it accepted the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) decision as “final and binding,” as stipulated by the Algiers peace accord, the GOE continues to agree with the decision only “in principle”. Highlighting the difference, Oshima questioned whether “I will marry you in principle” meant the same as “I will marry you unconditionally.”

Amb. Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, added:

Describing himself as an “expert in linguistic contortions,” SRSG Legwaila agreed that this represented a significant caveat. Legwaila said mutual acceptance of the EEBC decision would be a good basis for parties to begin dialogue. Not accepting the finality of the EEBC decision was a violation of article 415 of the peace agreement, Legwaila added.

Oshima also made a vague remark that was presented on the Cable as follows:

According to Oshima, Eritrea’s charge d’affaires in New York had told him that the GSE had proposed a bilateral arrangement to Ethiopia, but had not pursued it further, as Ethiopia had rejected it.

Concerning the possibility of another war, Legwaila cautioned that:

allowing UNMEE’s withdrawal would be the “quickest way to war,” as the Government of Ethiopia had pledged to reoccupy the TSZ in the event UNMEE withdrew (ref A). The TSZ was intended to keep Eritrean troops 25 kilometers from the border, he said. Current restrictions hampering UNMEE’s freedom of movement, especially during the night, were thus not only “making nonsense of the Temporary Security Zone,” but also breeding suspicion, which could ultimately “force war quickly,” he said. Legwaila said movements of troops, tanks, or aircraft were a secondary concern, compared to the GSE’s flight ban on UNMEE; reversing the ban would allow UNMEE to monitor and assess such movements.

The French and Indian ambassador concurred with Legwaila’s assessment.

Legwaila also asked for satellite imagery from US, according to the Cable. He was quoted as saying:

the restriction on UNMEE flights prevented UNMEE from monitoring 60 per cent of the border. UNMEE could not determine whether Eritrea was now building up forces along its side, he said. He noted that UNMEE had requested satellite imagery from the United States (ref C), as “there is no other alternative” to aerial surveillance. Without aerial surveillance, UNMEE Force Commander Singh said he would need 15 times more troops (i.e., 45,000) to monitor the border.

Read the full text below.


Reference ID – 05ADDISABABA3837
Created – 2005-11-12 12:15
Released – 2011-08-26 00:00
Classification – UNCLASSIFIED
Origin – Embassy Addis Ababa

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A


¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Japan’s UN PermRep Amb. Kenzio Oshima told UN Security Council members and troop-contributing countries in Addis that his November 7-8 trip to Ethiopia and Eritrea on behalf of the Council was “technical” in nature, and did not aim at promoting political dialogue. Providing a readout of his meeting with Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, Oshima said Ethiopia’s position on border demarcation had not changed: Ethiopia accepted the boundary commission’s decision “in principle”, which was not the same as “final and binding.” Despite its opposition to immediate demarcation, Oshima praised Ethiopia’s “restraint” in responding to Eritrea’s restrictions on UNMEE, noting that UNMEE characterizes Ethiopia’s military deployments as “defensive.” UNMEE officials, meanwhile, were more vocal in highlighting UNMEE’s inability to monitor 60 per cent of the border, especially military movements on the Eritrean side. According to UNMEE Force Commander Singh, both sides have activated airfields and air defenses; moreover, each side appears to have deployed two additional divisions, supplementing existing troops along the border. UNMEE SRSG Legwaila warned that UNMEE’s withdrawal would be “the quickest way to war,” as Ethiopia threatens to re-occupy the Temporary Security Zone separating the two countries if UNMEE leaves. While France agrees that UNMEE’s withdrawal would be “a catastrophe that must be avoided at all costs,” Japan believes that revising UNMEE’s mandate could generate cost savings. The UNMEE SRSG strongly opposes the current Greek draft UNSC resolution, believing that it comes too late after the issue was first brought to the Security Council a month ago, and that it would only “enrage” both parties. UNSC members voiced support for a U.S. special envoy; UNMEE SRSG underscored that the envoy should represent the United States, not the United Nations, as Eritrea had rejected the previous UN envoy as “illegal.” Charge replied that U.S. would seek an envoy, whether U.S. or UN or both, that Eritrea and Ethiopia would accept. UNMEE again pleaded for satellite imagery of the border in order to improve the safety and security of UNMEE troops. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (U) At a November 7 meeting hosted by the Charge, Japan’s UN PermRep Amb. Kenzo Oshima, Chairman of the UN Security Council’s Working Group on Peace-keeping Operations, briefed heads of mission from UNSC members and troop-contributing countries (TCC) on his meeting earlier that day with Ethiopian FM Seyoum and his expected visit the following day to Asmara. Senior officials from the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) accompanied Oshima, including Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Amb. Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, Deputy SRSG Amb. Azouz Ennifar, and UNMEE Force Commander Major-General Rajender Singh.


¶3. (SBU) Amb. Oshima defined his mission as “technical”: he would meet with UNMEE, UNSC members, TCCs, and, if possible, representatives of Ethiopia (GOE) and Eritrea (GSE). His most important message was to push Eritrea (GSE) to lift its restrictions on UNMEE, while expressing the UNSC’s confidence in how UNMEE troops performed under difficult circumstances. “I’m not here for any negotiations or political discussions,” he declared. Oshima had met with Ethiopian FM Seyoum, and was awaiting confirmation from the GSE of appointments the next day in Asmara. (NOTE: A November 8 UNMEE press briefing confirmed that Oshima met with Colonel Zacarias Ogbagaber, Eritrea’s Chief of the Commission for Coordination with UNMEE, and with presidential advisor Yemane Ghebremeskel. END NOTE.) UNMEE officials explained that Oshima would not visit the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), which lies entirely within Eritrea, as doing so required too much transit time, due to Ethiopia and Eritrea’s refusal to allow direct flights between their two countries.

¶4. (SBU) Reviewing UNSC actions, Oshima said “operational problems affecting TCCs”, resulting from the GSE’s ban of UNMEE flight operations and other restrictions, were a “matter of great concern” to the UN. The UNSYG had reported movements of troops in areas adjacent to the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), he said, as well as “irregular movements” within the TSZ itself. He referred to the UNSC statement issued on October 4 (S/PRST/2005/47). No decision had been taken on a draft UNSC resolution proposed by Greece, he added, but despite different views, there was no disagreement among members that the GSE had to lift restrictions on UNMEE. In addition to addressing the “immediate issue” of the GSE’s restrictions on UNMEE, the UNSC was concerned about the root cause of the stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea, he said, acknowledging that there was “frustration at the lack of progress in demarcation”.

¶5. (SBU) Oshima said he would report his findings to the UNSC, but noted that the SRSG had already reported recent border developments to that body. Possible next steps included considering whether to approve a new resolution, appoint a special envoy, or propose that “witnesses” to previous agreements either meet or intervene. Oshima said no decision had been reached yet, after consultations between the UNSYG and the USG, on whom the envoy would represent.

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¶6. (SBU) Oshima said he had a “good meeting” on November 7 with GOE FM Seyoum, but reported no change in Ethiopia’s position from its October 31 letter to the UNSC. According to Oshima, Seyoum continued to assert that actual demarcation of the border would require “readjustments,” e.g., to ensure that a village not be divided in two. Seyoum also had said that the border issue was not the sole issue between Ethiopia and Eritrea: economic trade, normalization of relations, and access to the sea were also key.

¶7. (SBU) Oshima said that while it would be useful if the GOE were to state publicly that it accepted the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) decision as “final and binding,” as stipulated by the Algiers peace accord, the GOE continues to agree with the decision only “in principle”. Highlighting the difference, Oshima questioned whether “I will marry you in principle” meant the same as “I will marry you unconditionally.” Describing himself as an “expert in linguistic contortions,” SRSG Legwaila agreed that this represented a significant caveat. Legwaila said mutual acceptance of the EEBC decision would be a good basis for parties to begin dialogue. Not accepting the finality of the EEBC decision was a violation of article 415 of the peace agreement, Legwaila added.

¶8. (SBU) SRSG Legwaila expressed concern that FM Seyoum had repeatedly told him, DSRSG Ennifar, and the UNMEE Force Commander that “the Boundary Commission will never open offices in Ethiopia,” when in fact the EEBC has two offices in Ethiopia that have been closed as a cost-saving measure. As the EEBC requires offices on both sides of the border for demarcation, Seyoum’s comment challenges the notion that Ethiopia is ready to demarcate the 85 per cent of the border that is not in dispute, Legwaila said.

¶9. (SBU) Asked if he was satisfied with Ethiopia’s reaction to Eritrea’s restrictions, Oshima said FM Seyoum “reassured us of restraint.” Ethiopia had responded “appropriately,” he said, adding that both the UNMEE SRSG and Force Commander had characterized Ethiopia’s redeployment of forces as “defensive.”

¶10. (SBU) According to Oshima, Eritrea’s charge d’affaires in New York had told him that the GSE had proposed a bilateral arrangement to Ethiopia, but had not pursued it further, as Ethiopia had rejected it. SRSG Legwaila observed that Ethiopia had, on several occasions, proposed swapping territory, and that the final point of PM Meles’ five-point plan proposed dialogue, which Eritrea had rejected.


¶11. (SBU) SRSG Legwaila interjected that the GSE’s restriction on UNMEE flights prevented UNMEE from monitoring 60 per cent of the border. UNMEE could not determine whether Eritrea was now building up forces along its side, he said. On the Ethiopian side, there was “more transparency”: UNMEE knew Ethiopia had been amassing troops since December 16, ¶2004. He noted that UNMEE had requested satellite imagery from the United States (ref C), as “there is no other alternative” to aerial surveillance. Without aerial surveillance, UNMEE Force Commander Singh said he would need 15 times more troops (i.e., 45,000) to monitor the border; even more would be needed if the GSE imposed further restrictions, such as allowing only foot patrols. Singh noted that UNMEE operated under Chapter VI (peaceful settlement of disputes) of the UN Charter, and therefore depended on consent from both parties, which was now “incomplete.” “We have lost our ability to serve as a tripwire, and to warn the international community,” Singh lamented.

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¶12. (SBU) UNMEE Force Commander Singh outlined key military developments:

– Both sides had activated airfields and air defenses.

– Ethiopia had deployed two additional divisions in the western sector, along with two special forces units. These were in addition to eleven divisions deployed along the border in December 2004, and seven more divisions added in January 2005. Singh noted that PM Meles had notified him and the SRSG of the January deployment.

– Eritrean troops were now deployed on (rather than near) the border, and maintaining and preparing defenses.

– UNMEE had recently observed one to two new Eritrean divisions in areas adjacent to the TSZ, but now could no longer locate them.

– Within the TSZ itself, the GSE had restricted UNMEE from patrolling the western and central sectors at night. UNMEE had also curtailed challenge inspections in many areas.

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¶13. (SBU) SRSG Legwaila cautioned that allowing UNMEE’s withdrawal would be the “quickest way to war,” as the Government of Ethiopia had pledged to reoccupy the TSZ in the event UNMEE withdrew (ref A). The TSZ was intended to keep Eritrean troops 25 kilometers from the border, he said. Current restrictions hampering UNMEE’s freedom of movement, especially during the night, were thus not only “making nonsense of the Temporary Security Zone,” but also breeding suspicion, which could ultimately “force war quickly,” he said. Legwaila said movements of troops, tanks, or aircraft were a secondary concern, compared to the GSE’s flight ban on UNMEE; reversing the ban would allow UNMEE to monitor and assess such movements.

¶14. (SBU) France’s ambassador to Ethiopia remarked that the withdrawal of UNMEE would be “a catastrophe that must be avoided at all costs.” He added that many parties had attempted to reach out to Eritrea, without success.

¶15. (SBU) As chairman of the UNSC’s working group on peace-keeping operations, Amb. Oshima said he had convened a separate meeting with TCCs. Five recent casualties among UNMEE peace-keepers prompted concerns that TCCs could withdraw their contingents, he said, as the GSE’s flight ban included medical evacuations.

¶16. (SBU) Amb. Oshima said Japan was concerned about UNMEE,s $186 million annual cost, as peace-keeping operations cost $5 billion annually. Mandate review could generate savings, he said.

¶17. (SBU) India’s ambassador to Ethiopia agreed with SRSG Legwaila that Ethiopia would reoccupy the TSZ if UNMEE withdrew. He did not directly threaten to withdraw Indian troops (who, along with a contingent from Jordan, comprise the majority of UNMEE’s military strength), but questioned what UNMEE,s future would be if it could not fulfill its mandate. India advocated a meeting of “friends” of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and launching a parallel political process to address the current impasse. (NOTE: No representative of Jordan attended Oshima’s briefing. END NOTE.)

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¶18. (SBU) Addressing possible next steps, SRSG Legwaila said he strongly opposed the draft Greek resolution, saying it would simply “enrage” the parties. “This resolution has now outlived whatever usefulness it might have (had),” he said. Legwaila said Ethiopian FM Seyoum was “violently opposed” to the proposed resolution (ref B), and that the GSE’s reaction would be even worse. The UNSC should have passed a restriction solely addressing the GSE,s flight ban on October 5-6, he continued, in conjunction with its presidential statement, in response to the call for “emergency action”. Now, he added, the proposed resolution was too late and irrelevant. “We should forget about the resolution and do something else,” he said. Charge observed that the UNSC did not want to make a delicate situation more difficult. Amb. Oshima remarked that the “reflexes of the Security Council” are to pass repeated resolutions and condemnations, but he questioned whether a strong resolution would help address the current situation.

¶19. (SBU) UK Ambassador Bob Dewar expressed reservations about a meeting of “witnesses.” While this was an important option, it needed to be approached carefully, he said, “to ensure it adds value.”

¶20. (SBU) Legwaila argued that any new special envoy should represent the United States, not the United Nations. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea had said the United States was the only interlocutor it could accept, he noted. Thus, “it would be absolutely tragic” if the UNSYG appointed another UN special envoy who failed. Legwaila explained that Eritrea considers the UN “irrelevant” and perceived former Canadian foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy,s earlier appointment as UN Special Envoy as an attempt by the UNSYG to renegotiate the EEBC decision. Some GSE officials thus considered Axworthy’s appointment as UN Special Envoy illegal, Legwaila said. “No one should ask the Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy,” given the circumstances of the earlier UN envoy’s failure, Legwaila said. If a second UN envoy failed, Legwaila said, then even someone with the stature of the former President Bush would not succeed. “The United States must take a chance for peace,” Legwaila concluded, urging the appointment of a U.S. envoy.

¶21. (SBU) Charge told Legwaila that the key for the United States was not whether the envoy was UN or U.S./UN or U.S., but whether he was accepted by both sides. Brazil’s ambassador said he supported bilateral (vice UN) intervention to address Ethiopia-Eritrea tensions, as well as consultations with academic experts. Norway poloff said his country supported a US envoy, whether US or UN-hatted, but that the envoy needed to make tough demands on both sides, and have the international community unite behind him.

¶22. (U) Greek ambassador noted that the Council of Europe had been able to enforce unpopular decisions on its members, who accepted them as binding; he questioned why demarcation of commonly accepted portions of the border could not begin. In response, SRSG Legwaila reiterated the well-established differences between the parties’ positions on the EEBC decision:

– FM Meles has publicly stated that Ethiopia seeks dialogue prior to demarcation.

– Beginning in August 2003, Ethiopia refused to implement the EEBC’s demarcation directives to the chief surveyor to fix lines along the border.

– Eritrea refuses to allow demarcation of the east, so long as Ethiopia refuses to allow demarcation of the entire border.

Legwaila underscored that in demarcation of the border, Ethiopia seeks adjustments in delimitation; and that the GOE’s acceptance of the EEBC decision only “in principle” remained a major stumbling block.

¶23. (SBU) COMMENT: Amb. Oshima’s “technical” visit on behalf of the UN Security Council provided him with a first-hand introduction to the issue in both countries and also clarified where each stands. The visit also demonstrated continuing UN commitment to avoid another war. Post continues to await guidance in response to UNMEE SRSG Legwaila’s October 26 request to the USG for satellite imagery (ref C), as UNMEE troops would feel more secure if they had better information about the parties’ troop deployments. END COMMENT.


January 25, 2013

Protesters Occupy Eritrean Embassy in London

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 6:09 am

What really happened at Asmara’s ministry of (dis)information ?

The Eritrean capital, Asmara, saw an uprising on 21 January that was both unexpected and short-lived. Around 100 soldiers staged a mutiny and stormed the information ministry. The army responded by surrounding the building with tanks. After a 12-hour interruption, the state broadcast media resumed their normal programming, the mutineers withdrew and officials went home.

What really happened that day at the information ministry? Some information began to filter out the next day, and more has emerged since then. But it has not been easy to follow events as they happened. And establishing what this incident means and what it may bode for the future is even harder.

Eritrea is one of the world’s most closed countries and has one of the last totalitarian dictatorships. The mystery surrounding the events of 21 January and the chorus of denials and contradictory comments on social networks are the logical consequence of a situation in which privately-owned media have been banned since 2001 and no foreign press correspondents have been permitted since 2010.

This Horn of Africa country is ranked last in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is Africa’s biggest prison for journalists, with at least 30 detained. Seven have died or committed suicide in detention as a result of the appalling conditions.

When the only media allowed to operate inside a country are government-run propaganda mouthpieces, the exile media play a key role. This is the case with Radio Erena, an independent radio station based in Paris and supported by Reporters Without Borders. It was Radio Erena that sounded the alert. We will get back to this. First the facts.

Mutineers take “Forto,” state media interrupted

Early on the morning of 21 January, around 100 mutineers took up positions in the information ministry, an enormous ochre-coloured building known as “Forto,” which sits atop a small hill overlooking Asmara.

The rebel soldiers quickly gathered all the employees “in the same room” and then Asmelash Abreha, the head of state-owned Eri-TV, which broadcasts from within the complex, was forced to begin reading a communiqué on the air.

The communiqué called for implementation of the 1997 constitution, which has been suspended since the 1998-2000 war against Ethiopia, and for the release of political prisoners and all those who were arrested while trying to flee the country illegally across its land borders.

After he had read the first two sentences, the TV station’s over-the-air signal was suddenly cut and its satellite signal began broadcasting archive footage. Army tanks quickly surrounded the building. They also reportedly took up protective positions at the presidential palace, located just a few hundred metres away, and at the airport. The rest of the city apparently remained calm but communication with the outside world became very complicated.

“Snowing in Paris”

After being off the air all day, Eri-TV resumed broadcasting at around 10 p.m. with news from Europe. “Snow in Paris is disrupting the everyday activities of the French,” the news programme announced. The mutineers withdrew in the evening, and the information ministry’s 500 or so employees all went home. The next morning they were all back at work, as usual.

The 1993 precedent

According to reports from various sources, including the opposition exile website, it seems that the mutiny was led by four people – Col. Saleh Osman, two majors and a captain – but was spontaneous and not very organized. Col Osman was a hero of the anti-Ethiopian resistance in the port city of Assab during the 1998-2000 war.

What happened to the mutineers and how was the situation resolved? The authorities did not make any arrests. “The mutineers withdrew peacefully,” said journalist Léonard Vincent, the author of a book about Eritrea, speaking on Radio France Internationale. In fact, not a single shot was fired.

An Eritrean interviewed by Reporters Without Borders and Martin Plaut, in a post entitled “21 January in perspective on his blog, both said the incident resembled one in 1993, a few days before Eritrea’s independence declaration, when a few ex-fighters staged a brief mutiny to demand their back pay.

To this end, they surrounded the office of the future president, Issaias Afeworki, then a hero of the liberation and head of the single party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. The situation was quickly resolved by means of negotiation, but some of the ex-fighters were later arrested or disappeared.

But never since independence in 1993 has Eri-TV’s programming been interrupted as it was on 21 January.

After official silence, comments, spin and denial

Although just embryonic and ephemeral, this week’s uprising quickly drew the attention of the international community, foreign media and Eritrean diaspora because Eritrea is an extremely authoritarian country where fear is universal and any form of protest seems inconceivable.

At first there was complete silence from the government. The first official comment came the next day from Yemane Gebremeskel, the president’s senior adviser, who said: “All is calm today, as it was indeed yesterday.”

Comments followed from a few Eritrean officials based abroad, including the ambassador to the United Nations, Araya Desta; the ambassador to the African Union, Girma Asmerom; the ambassador to Japan; and the consuls in Australia and South Africa. All played down the incident and criticized “garbage reports” in foreign media in the pay of “Eritrea’s enemies.”

“The government is insisting that the situation is under control while reluctantly admitting that there was an incident,” Léonard Vincent wrote.

Meanwhile, the exile opposition and government supporters waged a furious battle on social networks. Rahel Weldeab, who works for the pro-government National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, tweeted: “People in Asmara are going about their daily lives while ‘experts on the Horn’ cry coup (…) I live right near the airport, nothing is happening.”

Another person on Twitter criticized the comments about the human rights situation in Eritrea and said that freedom of information was respected because journalism is taught at school. The exact message says : “And you can be a journalist in Eritrea. They even teach journalism in school. I don’t know wtf you talking about”.

Radio Erena, first with the news

Amanuel Ghirmai, an Eritrean exile journalist with Radio Erena, was extensively quoted by all the international news media on 21 January. Throughout the day, international media turned to the Paris-based independent radio station to find out what was happening in Asmara.

And for good reason. Radio Erena was the first radio station to report that an incident was unfolding in the Eritrean capital. Alerted early in the morning, the station took to the air at 9 a.m. (Paris time), an hour earlier than usual, and continued to follow events as they happened.

With support from Reporters Without Borders, Radio Erena was launched in June 2009 by a group of Eritrean exile journalists. Headed by Biniam Simon, a former Eri-TV star anchor, it relies on a network of local correspondents and contributors. Its independently-reported news and information provide an alternative to the government’s propaganda.

Because of its success and the quality of its programmes, Radio Erena quickly became a government target. Its satellite signal was jammed and its website was the victim of a cyber-attack last summer, after it had been broadcasting for three years.

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