Monday, May 28, 2012

Ethiopia’s Special Forces executed 10 civilians - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

May 28, 2012 (PARIS) - Ethiopia’s Special Paramilitary Forces, in abuses in March executed 10 civilians after engaging in a dispute with villagers in the country’s remote Eastern Somali region, Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleges in a report released Monday.
According to HRW, on March 16, a Liyu (meaning “special” in Amharic) police member fatally shot Abdiqani Abdillahi Abdi, a resident of Raqda village, in the Gashaamo district of the Somali region, after the victim attempted to stop police abusing a fellow resident.
Shortly after the incident villagers from Raqda, including members of Abdiqani’s family, retaliated by killing seven members of the Liyu police force, triggering a fierce reprisal from Ethiopia’s special forces.
On March 16 and 17 dozens of the Liyu police returned to the villages and carried out a retaliation operation during which the forces summarily executed at least 10 men who were in their custody, killed at least 9 residents in ensuing gunfights, abducted at least 24 men, and looted dozens of shops and houses, according to a HRW fact finding mission.
The US-based watchdog interviewed witnesses and relatives of the victims who fled to neighboring Somaliland in fear of the violence.
One witness told Human Rights Watch that three Liyu police forces randomly selected men among those abducted and shot them three times in the forehead and shoulder”.
Ethiopian government officials have not commented on the incident.
Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, condemned the abuses and urged the Ethiopian authorities to bring those responsible to justice and prevent future abuses by the so called Liyu Police force.
"The killing of several Liyu police members doesn’t justify the force’s brutal retaliation against the local population," said Lefkow.
"The Liyu police abuses in Somali region show the urgent need for the Ethiopian government to rein in this lawless force."
Ethiopia’s Somali region has been the site of a low-level insurgency for more than a decade by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an ethnic Somali separatist movement seeking greater political autonomy for the region.
The horn of Africa nation doesn’t allow access for journalists, aid organisations, human rights groups, and other independent monitors to the region.
"For years the Ethiopian government has jailed and deported journalists for reporting on the Somali region," Lefkow said. "Donor countries should call on Ethiopia to allow access to the media and rights groups so abuses can’t be hidden away."
Human Rights Watch’s investigations in 2008 indicated that Ethiopian Defense Forces and the ONLF had committed war crimes during conflict between mid-2007 and early 2008 and that the Ethiopian armed forces could be responsible for crimes against humanity based on the patterns of executions, torture, rape, and forced displacement.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ethiopian Dictator refusing to open the country finical and telecom services is blocking its integration to WTO

Pascal Lamy is a European in a French way. His rich experience in politics and business has acquainted him with a rare capability to talk about global issues easily. As the director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a 155-member global trade supervising body, he unrelentlessly works to create smooth global trade. With Ethiopia approaching the critical step of its accession to the WTO, disclosing its service sector offers, he claims that he sees progress, though not swift.
In this exclusive interview with Getachew T. Alemu, OP-ED EDITOR, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, held in Addis Abeba, last week, he shared his views on issues ranging from market integration to his attitude towards the administration of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Excerpts:
Fortune: There was talk of market integration in most of the sessions of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa. Ethiopia has actually been passive in pursuing the regional integration agenda. What do you think are the prominent challenges of market integration in Africa and, specifically, for Ethiopia?
Pascal Lamy: Ethiopia has, so far, chosen a model of development, which is growing domestically and exporting mostly outside Africa, to European, American, Indian, and Chinese markets, and, so far, it has worked. If you look at it analytically, partly, it emerges from the geographical location of Ethiopia, with limitedaccess to the sea and neighbouring countries that are still politically extremely unstable.
I have no doubt that, in the medium or long term, Ethiopia will join this movement of African integration. This is what is happening within the East Africa community, which is a good example of a number of, so far, successful economic and trade integrations.
According to plans, which are both AU level and regional level, Africa has, as a project, to defragment and succeed in moving its trade pattern from a classical, colonial pattern, where 60pc of the exports of Africa are fuels and minerals, only 20pc manufactures, and 10pc to 15pc food, to something that is more diversified. But, the fact that Ethiopia is still, for instance, negotiating its accession to World Trade Organisation (WTO) is also a sign that, for the moment, the priority has been to grow domestically.
I think. It is understandable, given the size of the market. It is a big country by African standards. But, I think, the strategy, and I discussed this with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, is to move towards more opening, more modernisation, and reaching out to both the global and regional markets, of course, provided there is stability. Clearly, it is not still the case either in Sudan or in the rest of the Horn of Africa.
Q: In your speech at Addis Abeba University (AAU), you praised the administration of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for its leadership in facilitating the accession of Ethiopia to the WTO. However, we have heard the Prime Minister saying in the different sessions of the WEF on Africa, that his administration is not yet ready to liberalise the finance and telecom sectors. Do you see a contradiction between your commendation and his statement?
It is a question of phasing in, I think. My own view on this is that Ethiopia will benefit from more vibrant, more developed, and more open telecom and financial sectors, which are, in today's world, infrastructures as important as power, roads, rails, or airports. In modern economies, what we used to call infrastructures, when we learnt economics 30 years ago, is as much about the telecom sector. Countries who have opened their telecoms system get a lot of foreign direct investment (FDI) and have been doing extremely well because information technology is part of a system.
If you go to the commodity exchange in Addis Abeba, it is all technology. You know, when the farmer sells his products through his cell phone and it gets him money in the bank the next morning it is all made possible because of technology. This example shows that in order for this commodity exchange market - which is a great achievement - to percolate into poverty reduction, it has to be structured together with the banking system, which makes the settlement possible.
This is an example of how it can work.
Where there may be a sort of difference of view is on what is the speed of this opening. After all, Ethiopia remains, for the moment, a least developed country (LDC). There are capacity problems, which may justify why we say this is what we want to do in the medium, long, and short-term. Things can be done step-by-step.
There is no contradiction in this. Many LDC countries have acceded to the WTO by making commitments to open the market and reduce trade protections, in a phased-in way.
Other members accept this the moment there is some sort of certainty that things will happen in the future. It is a question of what is the right regime of change, and after all, the ones who determine this are the people who are responsible for the people of this country.
Q: One major challenge resulting in the lower competitiveness of Ethiopian exports on the global market has been high logistic costs. I have heard you, on many occasions, say that it is better for African countries to approach this thing on a quick-fix basis rather than waiting to have all of the resources combined to solve the bigger hurdle. What are your concrete quick-fix recommendations for the Ethiopian government to reduce logistics costs?
One thing is to accept that these countries need time to build the capacity to trade so that they will reach out to the global market. There are many things that can be done that do not shock your economy and that open trade, starting with border administration, which, in many ways, remains very cumbersome, bureaucratic, and red-tape based. There are many areas in infrastructure, where investing in infrastructure is investing in the future economy, and that is a sort of negative competitive shock.
So, there is whole stream of things that can be done to facilitate the business environment to improve the sort of transparency of the market. These are not something that will hurt a part of your economy, except if you believe that I better remain hidden in a business where I have rent and where I would like others to compute. There are behaviours of this kind, but, overall, it is a combination of capacity building: knowhow, innovation, education, infrastructure, and short-term measures that formidably facilitate business development.
Q: As it appears, currently, in most African countries, financial deepening is at its lows. What are your expectations, in the short-term, for trading capital in Africa?
I think it is mostly a question of adopting, at the right scale, proper financial regulations. What needs to be done is to set rules for a large enough perimeter, which means, regionally, a sort of size of 200 million people.
Within this regulatory frame, investors will come and develop their businesses. But, it will not work if a country has this regulation and, next door, there is another regulation. It is a question of harmonising the regulatory framework on a scale sufficient to mobilise investment and people who want to reach out to consumers.
Q: In one of the speeches that you made at the WEF on Africa, I heard you saying that one of the reasons for slow trade reform in some African countries is a lack of consolidated business interest. What is your assessment of the Ethiopian business climate on those terms?
I think, there are, if I look, for instance, at the Ethiopian accession project, a strong connection between business organisations and the government. It is on the topic of "What is the right quantum of trade opening?" that differences lay.
The point I made is, compared to other continents, such as Europe, Asia, North America, and Latin America, there still is not, in Africa, a strong business lobby to facilitate trade. That is why, when the solution was taken, last year, to create PADTRACK, a pan-African trade lobby, we supported it.
It is a force and an energy that will help governments move in the right direction. This is still in the making. Understandably, the vast size of entrepreneurship happening in Africa is still recent. It is only after a businessperson grows domestically that she would be worrying about how she can influence government to better her business.
Q: Mentioning of the Ethiopian accession to the WTO, what peculiarity have you observed in your assessment until now?
It is moving, I think. There are various streams of modernisation, like domestic legislation, that has something to do with the part of the legislative regime that is connected to doing trade.
That is the beginning. Step-by-step, of course, it needs parliamentary approval. Then, there is some sort of trade negotiation with WTO members, who are insisting that Ethiopia should open this or that because that is what they see as a potential market for them in the future.
First, you need to do it with goods, which we have an offer on this year. Then, you need to do it on services, which, obviously, is the complex matter because opening the market on services involves a large menu of options and they need time to understand all these options to make up their minds.
It is progressing, but it is large country. If you look at accession negotiations, some have taken five years and some have taken 18 years. So, there is a wide range of possibilities.
My sense is that it is moving, not extremely rapidly, but, again, the ones that decide how fast the negotiations move are two-thirds Ethiopian and one-third the rest of the WTO members.
Q: Cheap and easy finance from Asia, particularly China, is hampering trade reform in African countries, some say. What is your take on that?
I do not think so. Where China is investing is mostly in commodities, minerals, and energy. They are also investing in big infrastructure projects. They are targeting the basic infrastructure. I do not think this is becoming an obstacle for any country.

Ethiopian News in Amharic : Monday, May 21, 2012 - YouTube

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

11 on trial for Qaeda links in Ethiopia AFP:

11 on trial for Qaeda links in Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA — Five of 11 people accused of links with Al-Qaeda and Somalia's Shebab rebels and of plotting to overthrow Ethiopia's government appeared in court Friday.
Another six have been charged in absentia with terrorism in Ethiopia, said defence lawyer Temam Ababulgu, who told AFP that prosecutors "say they have links, a connection with Al-Qaeda and Al-Shebab".
Government spokesperson Shimeles Kemal said the 11 are suspected of plotting a series of attacks "to overthrow the lawful government".
"They have tried to plant explosives in public places targeting civilians. A number of handguns and weapons have been seized," he said.
Weapons training manuals were also seized when the suspects were arrested in December in Bale in southeastern Ethiopia, he said.
Some of the suspects had also been charged with money laundering "for the purpose of carrying out their terrorist enterprise".
One witness told the court members of the group had spoken of preparing for holy war.
"I heard one say, you 'have to be prepared for jihad'," said the witness, who could not be named under court orders.
Shimeles said a Kenyan suspect in the group, Hassen Jarso, had told the court Thursday he had links with Al-Qaeda.
"He has told the court he has been assigned by an organization that is affiliated with Al-Shebab and Al-Qaeda to carry out terrorist activities here," Shimeles said.
The case marked the first time charges have been laid under a new anti-terrorism law linking suspects with Al-Qaeda or Shebab, said Shimeles.
In April Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi condemned religious extremism before parliament and said a number of radical Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda had been captured.
Shebab militants have carried out a series of attacks in neighbouring Kenya in recent months. In November, Ethiopia sent tanks and troops into Somali to help the government fight Shebab rebels.
Rights groups have criticized Ethiopia's 2009 anti-terrorism legislation for being vague and far-reaching. Close to 200 people were arrested under the law in 2011, including two Swedish journalists who were sentenced to 11 years in prison and prominent journalist Eskinder Nega who is awaiting conviction.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ethiopia denies Anuak are fleeing violence into South Sudan - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 15, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Ethiopian government has dismissed reports of violence in the country’s South Western region that allegedly forced civilians flee into South Sudan’s Jonglei State.
A new humanitarian report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that hundreds of ethnic Anuak Ethiopians have crossed into South Sudan to escape an alleged hostility between the government forces and little known Anuak opposition forces in the horn of Africa country’s Gambella region.
The Ethiopian government has dismissed the reported clashes between government forces and Anuak insurgents that allegedly occurred during the past few weeks.
“There wasn’t such an incident. Our forces didn’t engage in any clash with whatsoever opposition force in the reported vicinity” Ethiopian government spokesperson, Shimeles Kemal, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Kemal said the reports - which originally were published in OCHA’s Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin 4-10 May 2012 - are “unfounded” and further termed them as “white propaganda”.
According to the Ethiopian official, the areas in question are quite peaceful and there were no grounds for the Anuak people to flee to neighbouring South Sudan.
However, he said that people residing along the shared Ethiopia-South Sudan border move frequently between the two territories for trade and other purposes.
In the past, there were few reports that an Anuak armed group had been launching small-scale attacks from South Sudan, while it was still part of Sudan, targeting government forces and partly non-Anuak civilians as well.
The Ethiopian government argues that currently there exists no active Anuak opposition force operating in the region.
According to the latest OCHA report, most of the Ethiopian refugees reportedly came from Ethiopia’s Abobo district and from Jor area where clashes were reported on 6 May.
The refugees have arrived in the Alari camp, in Pochalla County of Jonglei State where they sought shelter.
Although access to Alari camp is difficult because of heavy rainfall, humanitarian aid agencies in collaboration with the Government of South Sudan’s Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) are reportedly paying visit to the Ethiopian refugees to start registration and identify humanitarian aids needed for the new arrivals.
Shelter and household goods were the most urgent needs, according primary assessment by aid agencies. A nutritional assessment made to 100 children at the site found no malnutrition.
UNHCR Representative in Addis Ababa, Natalia Prokopchuk told Sudan tribune that her office in Ethiopia has no knowledge about the Anuaks fleeing to Jonglei State however she said that the UN refugee agency was aware of some 2,000 Anuaks fleeing Akobo County into Gambella region of Ethiopia.
According to Prokopchuk, the Anuaks are fleeing their area because of cattle-related inter-ethnic violence.
The Anuak people roughly estimated to be around 60,000 populations are one of the 84 ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The Anuak also live across the border in South Sudan.
International human right groups have been accusing the Ethiopian military of committing systematic atrocities mainly targeting certain ethnic minorities such as the Anuak.
Human Rights Watch’s 2005 report, “Targeting the Anuak: Human Rights Violations and Crimes against Humanity in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region,” revealed gross human rights violations against the Anuaks by Ethiopian Army.
In 2003, over 400 Anuaks in Gambella were killed, the largest single incident massacre, raising worldwide condemnation. International rights groups hold the Ethiopian army responsible over the mass killings. However, the Ethiopian government has denied any involvement over the atrocities.

Ethiopian News in Amharic : Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - YouTube

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