Ethiopia: A Week in the Horn, 04 Nov 2016

Africa and the African Union

The African Union Reform Steering Committee held a two-day meeting with Rwandan President Kagame in Kigali this week (October 31-November 1). African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Zuma briefed the nine person committee, which includes Nigeria's Minister of Environment and Chad's Minister of Economy, as well as former African Development Bank President, Dr. Kaberuka, and former ECA Executive Secretary, Dr. Carlos Lopes. The 27th AU Summit mandated President Kagame to lead institutional reform of the AU Commission and its Organs and ensure AU structures are aligned with the demands of Agenda 2063.

The African Union Peace and Security Council and the European Union Political and Security Committee held their 9th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting in Brussels, on October 25. The meeting was part of the regular dialogue within the framework of the Africa- EU partnership. (See article)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has designated Abdullah Hamdok as Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Dr. Hamdok takes up his position effective from 1 November 2016, following the departure of Carlos Lopes of Guinea-Bissau.

The three day 6th African Rift Geothermal Conference was opened on Wednesday (November 2) by Ethiopia's Minister of Mines, Petroleum, and Natural Gas, Motuma Mekassa. He noted regional cooperation and integration were essential to address common problems in geothermal energy development in the region. The conference brings together policy makers, technical experts, developers, international and regional delegates.

ATurkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum was held this week (November 2-3) in İstanbul. The Turkish Ministry of Economy, the African Union Commission, the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Board and the Turkish Exporters Assembly jointly organized the Forum to provide a platform for business organizations in Africa and Turkey to create and expand links. This is part of efforts to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations between Turkey and Africa following the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit held in Malabo two years ago.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development presented a new report –"The Rural Development Report 2016: Fostering Inclusive Rural Transformation" – in Nairobi on Tuesday last week (October 25). The report noted that the agricultural sector in East and Southern Africa was being transformed but agricultural growth had not always led to poverty reduction; many small farmers continued to live in poverty while struggling to own land and access credit. It concluded agricultural growth was not reaching its poverty-reducing potential. Supportive government action for growth in agriculture could be much more effective in lifting people out of poverty than growth in mining, utilities and services for example.


Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn made a one-day official visit to the Republic of South Sudan on Friday last week (October 28). The visit underlined Ethiopia's intention to forge closer ties with the Government of South Sudan and discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relation. (See article)

The House of People's Representatives unanimously approved the new cabinet ministers proposed by Prime Minister Hailemariam on Tuesday (November 1). The Prime Minister appointed or changed a total of 21 ministers with another 9 ministers keeping their jobs. Among the new appointments was Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, previously Minister of Transports, now appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam met Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Borge Brende, at the end of last week (October 28 and 29). Mr. Brende said Ethiopia, an important partner country for Norway, represented stability and development in an unstable region. He emphasized Norway wished to "continue our dialogue also in challenging times" and would continue to support Ethiopia's future planned development and political reforms. The Prime Minister noted Norway and Ethiopia enjoyed broad cooperation on many issues including climate change, education and human rights.

The governments of Somaliland and Ethiopia have agreed to intensify their anti-terrorism cooperation in order to ensure sustainable peace and security in the region. This followed Prime Minister Hailemariam meeting with Somaliland President, Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo in Addis Ababa on Saturday (October 29).

The Minister of Federal and Pastoralist Development Affairs, Kassa Teklebirhan, met with Sudan President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday (October 30) in Khartoum to discuss development of economic relations between the two countries as well as exchanges of expertise. Minister Kassa also visited Khartoum State's Legislative Council, and met the Secretary-General of the National Dialogue and Minister of Interior.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie on a visit to Washington last week took part in a roundtable at the Atlantic Council, and gave a keynote speech to the annual conference of the Association for Middle East and Africa. (See article)

The first Ethio-Cuban Business Forum was held in Habana, Cuba on Monday (October 31) on the margins of the Havana International Trade and Investment Fair which attracted more than 3,500 companies from over 73 countries. The Ethiopian delegation, led by Foreign Affairs State Minister, Regasa Kifle, included officials from the Ministries of Science and Technology, Trade and Foreign Affairs and the  Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC). Ambassador Dawano Kedir, Ambassador to Cuba, encouraged business-to-business networking and the sharing of information. Cuba's First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Antonio Luis Carricarte, said Ethiopia's participation in the trade fair helped facilitate and further expand the relationship between the two countries.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ato Yonas Yosef, bidding farewell to the outgoing Economic Commission for Africa's Executive Secretary, Carlos Lopes noted on Saturday (October 29) that Ethiopia deeply appreciated Mr. Carlos Lopes' contribution and leadership to help address Africa's development challenges during his leadership of the Economic Commission for Africa. The State Minister encouraged the outgoing Executive Secretary to remain involved in the promotion of Africa's development in the future.

Three opposition parties, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek), the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) and the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), have welcomed the Prime Minister's statement that government would work together with opposition parties to make amendments to the electoral system, and bring in some proportional representation in harmony with the majority system.

A peace agreement has been signed between the government and the Ethiopian Unity Patriots Front . Its military commander, Tot Pol Choi, said the current situation was conducive to peaceful struggle. Minister of Defence, Minister of Defense, Siraj Fegessa, said the government was always ready to welcome those who want to lay down arms and operate peacefully.

Human Rights Watch's latest criticism of Ethiopia attacks the State of Emergency as risking "new abuses". HRW ignores all the government's proposed measures, as outlined in the President's speech two weeks ago, to respond to the protests, and claims, without any evidence, the government is merely "escalating a militarized response". (See article)

Brigadier General Zewdu Kiros Gebrekidan from Ethiopia has been appointed Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

The Simien Lodge was awarded first place for Community Development Projects in International Sustainable Tourism Award at the Skål World Congress on Sunday (October 30) in Monaco, for its work in providing sustainable and innovative projects in the Simien National Park in Amhara Regional State. (See article)


Ms. Sheila Keetharuth, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea and a member of the former UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, told the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on Thursday last week (October 27) that states must heed the pleas for justice and accountability of the countless victims of crimes against humanity in Eritrea. Speaking for the Commission, she said the Commission's assessment left no room for "business as usual" in the international community's engagement with the Government of Eritrea. (See article)


President Kenyatta made a two day official visit to Sudan at the weekend. The two Presidents witnessed the signing of Memoranda of Agreement covering collaboration in oil and in the mining industry. The agreement on mining aims to strengthen cooperation in mineral research and exploration as well as exchanges of expertise and training. During his visit, President Kenyatta also toured Khartoum Refinery Company, the Sudan Gold Refinery and the Cofftea Factory.

The Foreign Ministry said it rejected the dismissal of Lt-General Johnson Ondieki as the Commander of the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan and announced on Wednesday (November 2) that it was withdrawing its contingent of 1,200 troops from the UN Mission in South Sudan. It also said Kenya was reversing its decision to contribute to a 4000-strong UN civilian protection force for South Sudan authorized by the Security Council in August.

Reports say the Kenyan government appears to have deported James Gatdet Dak, the spokesperson of the SPLM-IO, to South Sudan on Thursday (November 3), apparently at the request of the South Sudan government. The SPLM-IO has expressed fears for Mr. Dak's safety.

The World Bank said on Monday (October 31) that Kenya's economy was expected to grow by 5.9% in 2016, up from actual growth of 5.6% last year. This would be driven by improved performance in the agriculture sector and tourism, and increased foreign direct investment. This compares to an average growth of 1.7% forecast for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016. It also predicted growth in 2017 at 6.0% and 2018 at 6.1%.


Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke, on a visit to Djibouti this week, said he was optimistic that the Lower House and presidential elections would take place as planned. The Prime Minister briefed Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh on the election processes, and asked Djibouti to send election observers to Somalia.

A statement, on Sunday (October 30) from the United Nations, African Union, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Ethiopia, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, expressed grave concerns over corruption and intimidation in the electoral process and over the delays in voting for the Lower House. It called on all stakeholders to take urgent steps to preserve the credibility of the electoral process and reminded state administrations of their responsibility to ensure that every third seat is reserved for women.

The Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT) said on Wednesday that it was satisfied with the level of electoral preparedness that it had seen in Adado and Garowe, the capitals of Galmudug and Puntland states. FIEIT had recently carried out visits to Kismayo in Jubaland and Baidoa in South West to assess election preparations. The fulfillment of the 30% women's quota for the Lower House is one of FIEIT's list of priorities.

President Ali Abdullahi Osoble of Hir-Shabelle state has said Upper House elections for the state will take place on Sunday (November 6). He also said electoral preparations for the Lower House elections were being undertaken.

Galmudug and Puntland agreed on Wednesday (November 1) to an immediate ceasefire in the border town of Galkayo following several weeks of intermittent clashes. This followed UAE-sponsored peace talks in Abu Dhabi, attended by Galmudug's President, Abdikarin Guled, and Puntland's Abdiweli Gaas. The agreement will be sealed in Kismayo on November 20. President Mohamud and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia, Michael Keating, have welcomed the agreement.

The Turkish Ambassador to Somalia, Olgan Bekar, has announced that Turkey will provide US$ 4 million to finance Somalia's elections and ensure the elections are secured from any forms of insecurity. He said Turkey attached great importance to the security of the election, which he described as an important component of Somalia's recovery process. Somalia's electoral budget is estimated at US$14 million of which 60% is to be contributed by the international community.  

South Sudan

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fired Kenyan Lt. General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondiek, commander of the peacekeeping force in South Sudan on Tuesday (November 1), after an independent investigation sharply criticized the UN military response to attacks in July in Juba. It said "a lack of leadership on the part of key senior mission personnel culminated in a chaotic and ineffective response to the violence."

China announced on Tuesday (November 1) that it planned to send 925 peacekeepers to Sudan and South Sudan in December. They will be deployed for a year as part of the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Darfur and South Sudan.


Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour held talks last week with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing. Mr. Yi said political mutual trust had improved and progress made in various fields since the two presidents announced a strategic partnership last year. China, he said, would expand cooperation in energy, production capacity, agriculture, renewable energy and people-to-people exchanges. Mr. Ghandour, who said Sudan adhered to the one-China policy and China's stance on the South China Sea, met with Vice-President Li Yuanchao on Friday (October 28).

A four year, joint FAO/EU €8.6 million Food Security Policy and Strategy Capacity Building Program to improve responses to food security and nutrition issues in Red Sea, Kassala, El Gedaref, and Blue Nile states has just concluded. The program strengthened resilience through improving institutional structures, establishing a food security information system and capacity building. Future responses to food insecurity would now be supported by firm evidence.

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