Tuesday, October 31, 2006

U.S. Tells Ethiopia, Eritrea to Stay Out of Conflict in Somalia

By Judy Mathewson and Ed Johnson

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Ethiopia and Eritrea must not interfere in the conflict in neighboring Somalia, the U.S. said, after concerns the Somali government's dispute with Islamist fighters may escalate into a regional war.

The U.S. is concerned about foreign ``troop activities'' in Somalia and has asked governments in the Horn of Africa region to ``deescalate tensions,'' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington yesterday.

The United Nations-backed interim government of President Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed is under threat from the Union of Islamic Courts militia that took over the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in June and is consolidating its control of the country.

Ethiopia, which backs Ahmed's government, says it has deployed military trainers across the 2,000-kilometer (1,243-mile) border with Somalia. There are reports that Eritrea has provided weapons to the Islamic Courts militia, McCormack said.

The Islamists yesterday accused Ethiopia of ``declaring war'' and are threatening to boycott peace talks today with Ahmed's government in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, unless Ethiopian troops are withdrawn, Agence France-Presse said.

Ethiopia and Eritrea shouldn't ``try to use Somalia as a proxy'' for their own disputes in the region, McCormack said. Ethiopia and Eritrea were at war from May 1998 to June 2000 over their border.

Officials at the Ethiopian and Eritrean missions to the UN didn't immediately return calls seeking a response to McCormack's comments.

Al-Qaeda Links
Ahmed's government has accused the Islamists of links to al- Qaeda and is appealing for some 8,000 African Union peacekeepers to be deployed.

The Islamist militia, which has introduced Islamic law in areas it controls, denies it harbors members of the al-Qaeda network. It says its fighters are trying to restore law and security in the country.

``Ethiopia has declared war on Somalia and has already made a large military incursion deep into Somali territory,'' the Islamists said in a letter yesterday to peace talk mediators in Khartoum, AFP reported.

Francois Fall, the UN special envoy for Somalia, said yesterday he expected negotiations scheduled for today will go ahead, AFP reported.

``We do not expect any setback that will stop the delegates from proceeding with the peace talks,'' AFP cited him as saying.

To contact the reporters on this story: Judy Mathewson in Washington at jmathewson@bloomberg.net ; Ed Johnson in Sydney at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net .


U.N. chief warns that Ethiopia-Eritrea tensions could explode without attention

The Associated Press
Published: October 30, 2006

WASHINGTON U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says persistent conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea represents a "classic example of the tragedy" of Africa and warned that world attention is needed to keep another war from erupting between the Horn of Africa neighbors.

Annan said U.N. officials are "doing whatever we can to bring the two parties together" but have not able to get the nations to cooperate with each other.

"We need to handle it very carefully before it leads to another explosion," Annan said during a speech at Georgetown University, where he received an honorary degree.

The tragedy, he said, is that "two poor countries, desperately in need of development" to help their poor citizens, have instead spent hundreds of millions of dollars to arm their militaries for a fight over territory.

Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have been consistently strained since Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war. A 2 1/2-year border war ended with a cease-fire agreement in 2000, but tensions have continued.

Annan said in his speech that while Africa has seen economic and other improvements during his decade as head of the United Nations, much of the continent still faces disease, war, famine and dire poverty.

Annan, an African — he hails from Ghana — whose second and final five-year term ends Dec. 31, said, "Africa needs more and better aid; it needs fairer trade; and it needs a green revolution to improve agricultural production and feed all its people."

The continent's wars "cry for African resolve and international attention," he said. He noted that about half the world's armed conflicts and three-quarters of the United Nations' peacekeepers are in Africa.

A bright spot is the election of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected woman president in Africa, which, Annan said, "speaks more eloquently about advances in the rights of women than words ever could."

Source: iht.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

UN's Annan Urges to Restraint in Somalia

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling on Somalia's neighbors to avoid provocative acts amid reports that foreign troops in the country could trigger "all out war."

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric Friday would not confirm news accounts saying as many as 10,000 foreign troops are massing in Somalia. He did say, however, that Secretary-General Kofi Annan is aware of the reports through what he called "the parties and the press."

The Associated Press earlier quoted a "confidential U.N. report" estimating that between 6,000 and 8,000 Ethiopians and 2,000 fully equipped Eritrean troops "are now inside Somalia." It said some of the troops support the internationally recognized government, others are backing the rival Islamic movement.

The AP said the confidential briefing paper was written to help senior U.N. officials in efforts to provide aid to one of the world's most impoverished nations.

Spokesman Dujarric said the U.N. does not comment on what he called "leaked documents." But he said Mr. Annan has cautioned all parties not to further heighten tensions that are said to be near the breaking point.

"The secretary-general stresses that the solution in Somalia is political and not military," said Mr. Dujarric. "He urges the Somali parties to settle their differences through dialogue, and he calls on the international community, especially Somalia's neighbors, to avoid any action that could further aggravate the situation."

Word of the foreign troop buildup spread as a leader of Somalia's Islamist movement called on followers to attack any Ethiopian forces found on Somali territory. News reports says crowds in Mogadishu cheered Friday as Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed called for a "jihad" or holy war against mainly Christian Ethiopia.

Ethiopia supports the interim administration in Mogadishu, and has acknowledged sending a few hundred military instructors to train Somali government forces. But witnesses have put the number of Ethiopian troops in the country much higher.

Ethiopia has repeatedly accused Eritrea of arming and supporting the Islamist movement. Both Eritrean and Islamic movement officials have denied the charge.

The United States warned both Ethiopia and Eritrea Thursday not to stoke tensions in Somalia. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called on both countries to adopt a "constructive approach". He said the United States is watching closely as events unfold in the shattered Horn of Africa nation.


Ethiopia releases detained lawyer

A European Commission lawyer has told the BBC she has been charged with trying to leave Ethiopia illegally and attempting to incite violence.

Human rights activist Yalemzewd Bekele was released on bail after spending a week in custody after being caught trying to cross the border into Kenya.

Two European diplomats were expelled over the incident - accused of helping to smuggle her out of the country.

Ms Yalemzewd was said to be in good spirits following her release.

Amnesty International had previously raised fears that she would be tortured.
Ms Yalemzewd was arrested last Thursday. At the time, the ministry of immigration said she was wanted for what they described as serious crimes.

The two international staff expelled by the Ethiopian government over the incident, Bjorn Jonsson from Sweden and Enrico Sborgi from Italy - were deported without even having time to collect their passports.

The whereabouts of an Ethiopian man arrested in connection with the incident are not known.

Torture fears

Relations between the Ethiopian government and the European Union have been under pressure since the 2005 election.

The EU's development commissioner Luis Michel warned there would be repercussions.
Head of the EC delegation in Ethiopia Tim Clarke said he had seen Ms Bekele after her release and said they were delighted that she had been freed.

They said they believed Ms Bekele had been arrested in connection with the publication and distribution of a calendar of action for non-violent civil disobedience by the opposition party the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD).

Following last year's disputed election, key members of the CUD are currently being tried on a number of charges including one of trying to overthrow the government through an armed rebellion.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Leaderships of the CUPD in exile has finally exploded

The opposition in shreds
Indian Ocean Newsletter No 1199
Leaderships of the CUPD in exile has finally exploded under the weight of its divergences. The friction within the leadership of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition) in exile has finally led to its collapse. This has led to division within many of its support committees in North America and other countries. Major Yosef Yazew and his partisans (Moges Biruck, Seyoum Solomon, Solomon Bekele etc) accuse their rivals Berhanu Mewa and Andargatchew Tsige of working for the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF, governing coalition).

To prove their case they point out that Berhanu Mewa’s plastics factory in Addis Ababa is still in operation and that Andargatchew’s sister is the wife of the Minister Tefera Walwa. In turn, the Berhanu/Andargatchew faction accuses Yosef Yazew and his friends of embezzling funds, hence justifying their decision to exclude them from the leadership of the CUDP in exile.

Yosef Yazew is supported in Addis Ababa by a CUDP leader, Hailu Shawel, while his rivals in the Diaspora tend to be supported in Ethiopia by Mesfin Wolde Mariam and Berhanu Nega.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

AP: Judge says Ethiopia forces killed 193S

AP: Judge says Ethiopia forces killed 193
Staff and agencies
18 October, 2006
By ANTHONY MITCHELL, Associated Press Writer
NAIROBI, Kenya - Ethiopian security forces massacred 193 people _triple the official death toll — during anti-government protests following elections last year, a senior judge appointed to investigate the violence said Wednesday.

Ethiopian officials refused to comment on the claims."There is no doubt that excessive force was used," said Wolde-Michael, who left the country last month after receiving anonymous death threats, leaving his wife and five daughters behind. He is now claiming asylum in Europe and would not disclose his exact whereabouts out of fear for his safety.

A draft of the inquiry team‘s report, which was to have been presented to the Ethiopian parliament in early July and has since been obtained by the AP, says among those killed were 40 teenagers, including a boy and a girl, both 14. The two were fatally shot.The government claimed at the time that 35 civilians and seven police were killed in November and that in June, 26 people were killed.

Ana Gomes, who was the European Union ‘s chief observer during the May 2005 elections, told the AP the report "exposes the lie" that the Ethiopian government is moving toward democracy.

Wolde-Michael and the other commissioners spent six months interviewing more than 600 people, including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, police officers, witnesses, and other government officials.The inquiry‘s mandate was to determine whether excessive force was used.

In early July, shortly before completing its report, the team held a vote and ruled eight to two that excessive force was used."Many people were killed arbitrarily," said inquiry chairman and supreme court judge Frehiwot Samuel, who is also believed to have fled Ethiopia, was heard saying on the video. "Old men were killed while in their homes and children were also victims of the attack while playing in the garden.

"But two of the commission members said the government responded appropriately."I consider the motives of the protesters was to overthrow the government," Elias Redman, vice president of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Council, said on the video. "I therefore fully support the action taken by the police.

"The prime minister said at the time that demonstrators were trying to overthrow his government in an Ukraine-style revolution. Prior to the unrest he had banned all demonstrations and announced on state television he had put security forces under his direct control.Wolde-Michael, who was appointed a judge by the current government in 1994, said the inquiry team came under intense pressure once the ruling party learned of its findings.Electricity to their offices was cut and at one point their office was surrounded by security forces, he said. The team was also summoned by the prime minister, two days before the report was to be released, and told to reverse its findings, Wolde-Michael added.Wolde-Michael said police records he saw showed 20,000 people were rounded up during the anti-government protests.Of them more than 100 opposition leaders, journalists and aid workers are on trial for treason and attempted genocide.Meles was once thought to be one of Africa‘s more progressive leaders. However his reputation suffered in the aftermath of the elections. The EU and U.S. Carter Center expressed serious concerns over the vote.In January of this year, Britain withheld $87 million in aid because of concerns about the government‘s handling of the unrest.

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world, and more than half of its 77 million people live on less than $1 a day.

Source: Jackson News Tribune

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Oromo: Children of Ethiopian Minorities Ignored

The 43rd Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child was held from 11 to 29 September 2006. The Committee is a UN Human Rights Treaty Body constructed to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. All ratifying States must submit regular written reports to the Committee, which examines and responds to these, making recommendations where necessary.
The last session of the Committee considered amongst others the report of Ethiopia. Though noting some areas of recent progress with respect to the rights of Ethiopian children, the Committee also notes with some concern that issues relating to minority groups remain entirely ignored. The Committee draws particular attention to the persecution and stigmatisation of Oromo children:

“Children belonging to a minority or indigenous group
79. The Committee notes the absence of information on ethnic minorities in the State Party’s report and is concerned over the situation of children belonging to minorities, in particular Oromo and Anuak, as they suffer stigmatisation and persecution by the armed forces, including torture, rape and killings, due to the presence of opposition groups within their territories.”
“80. The Committee urges the State party to;
(a) respect the life of the members of minorities groups and in particular that of children, taking into due account the humanitarian law principle of protecting civilians;
(b) pay due attention to children of ethnic minorities in the next periodic report.”

The Oromo in Ethiopia are represented by the Oromo Liberation Front, an organisation aiming to address this prevailing reality in many areas of Ethiopian society, including the rights of children. They have been members of UNPO since 2004.
Committee on the Rights of the Child

Monday, October 09, 2006

We must not turn a blind eye to AFD

By Abera Oluma

Much has been said about the crises within the OLF leadership and it is not the aim of this message to discuss it. Many would agree with me if I say we all are the losers and left with polarized and weak organization. This is the reality at hand after many years of internal and public discussion. As usual, one may speculate on moral winners and losers, but I can leave it for history to judge.

Accepting the above reality (all became losers) is the first step for those who still have the moral to contribute for the Oromo cause. Accepting the reality alone is not enough, we need to analyse the past, the present and the future. More over, we need new ways of working: from the ground. The risk if we continue to do as we always did is that we will achieve what we always used to achieve. As you know the successes and failures of an organization and its leadership are strongly related and therefore OLF members and supporters cannot be dissociated from the set back. We, who once promised to change the Oromo situation, are equally responsible for the set back.

We lack serious discussions/debate among Oromo intellectuals. By Oromo intellectuals I mean Oromos who have the capacity and deep interest in the Oromo cause, reason it and try to bring us together. To be academician or PhD holder does not automatically qualify one as an Oromo intellectual. There are many academicians capable in their respective fields of training but near zero when they come to the Oromo issues. At the same token there are people with out any formal educations qualifying My? Definition of Oromo intellectual.

I call up on Oromo intellectuals because I do not think that they have fully played their role. There are reasons for that and probably I will come to it when time allows. This time I want to bring your attention on the current political issue: the alliance of Shane with Qinijjit. This issue must be discussed in detail. The issue is not something that we say yes or no to it and leave to the side. It has very serious consequence that can take us to a new scenario.

To start with I am against the formed alliance. I promise to change side if some one convinces me that the alliance with Qinijit contributes towards the Oromo cause. My motive in short is that Habashas are not willing to accommodate new perspectives. Many including Shane knows this very well. Remind you the discussions we had this time last year. All Oromo organizations including Shane argued that Qinijjit is an organization that has aims, which go against Oromo interest. Look for example at the following description by Oromia speaks journal.

The competing candidate, the CUD, is the greater of the two evils. The neo- nafxanyas never learn from history. They are set to repeat all the mistakes of their Nafxanya predecessors. This group will not hesitate to partition the Oromos and other nationalities along rivers and hills into miniature provinces to effectively weaken the unity of the Oromo and other southern peoples so that they could easily prey on them. They are busy preparing to deny nations? Their constitutional rights to self-determination etc. These are deportments that might lead hell to break loose in that country leading to another round of civil war, shames and woes. (OROMIA SPEAKS volume I, issue 1, OLF USA Office P.O.Box 73247 Washington DC 20056 USA)

I could not agree more. But what made Shane to form alliance with such greater evil organization? The assumption should be that Shane either was lying to its members and the Oromo people last year when they described Qinijjit as greater evil or Shane became forced to form alliance with evil organization against its will.

According to my friend (with good position in Shane), the formation of the alliance went very fast and it was a real surprise for him. My friend further argues that opposing the leadership at this stage means more damage to the organization and therefore members choose to wait. My friend fully agrees with me on the role of external forces and on the formation of alliance.

Shane is happy to tell us that they enjoy diplomatic recognitions but never dare to tell us at what cost. It is good to know that respecting only the international aspect and neglecting the Oromo opinion can only lead us to more divided and weakened nation. It was after 1998 that the external forces took control over the OLF and many of us were aware of that, but never believed it plays a decisive role. For example I mentioned the following in one of my mails 2002. The current crises in Oromo struggle (within the "OLF leadership") has several internal and external causes, it is even deeper and more complex than we think. Just to mention, there are forces that try to bring packet solution to the conflict in the Horn.

Thanks to Waaqaa, they have understood that there cannot be any sign of peace or military rest as long as the question of Oromo and the south remains unsolved. So far, however, this has done no more than awareness of the problem of the region and it is only a first step. There are also forces that try to use the "Oromo card" for their interest. Some thing like 1991 where EPLF and TPLF are the main actors is not precluded.

However, real danger for the Oromo struggle is not the West, EPLF or TPLF. They can never stop the struggle of the Oromo people for their self-determination. The real danger for our struggle is in fact the crises within "our selves" (Onet march 15 2002).

By forces that try to use the "Oromo card" for their interest I meant Eritrea. It was by then that Eritrea started with its project to form Alliance force against TPLF for its own cause. The baby AFD from the start to the end is the product of Eritrea; Eritrea that has never recognized the fact that Oromo is colonized. Remind you the years 1992-1998 when EPLF and TPLF acted as one both in the war front and internationally against OLF and Oromo interest. It is this Eritrea that forces an Oromo organization to form alliance with the enemies of our people. Let us ask our selves: Is it really only the leadership who is responsible?

My answer is clear, we are all responsible if we do not distance our selves from such fake but dangerous alliance. I really lack any understanding for genuine Oromos (I know why many of the followers do) who give their sup-port for such an alliance. I do not buy my friends argument? Opposing the leadership at this stage means more damage to the organization?

Within external forces there are two lines. Eritrea and the West (EU & US). The west does not favour the formation of AFD, not only because it is formed by Eritrea but also because they know it is not lasting long. The fact that there are forces in AFD (Arbenoch ginbar/Patriotic front) that has military activities in the North is another reason for the west not to favour AFD. This in fact is going to lead us to another scenario; division with in Shane: Asmara Shane (led by obbo Daud and Maqale Shane (led by Obbo Leencoo Lata). For many Oromos it is a choice between pest and cholera.

A year a go there was a serious discussion on negotiation. In an interview with journalists Meles Zenawi declared that his government is ready to negotiate with OLF without any precondition. Later Meles declared that there couldn’t be any negotiation on the Ethiopian Constitution. This created irritation within Shane. Shane had to fulfil demands from the Ethiopian government i.e. accept the Ethiopian constitution, stop military activities and become legal opposition or continue to fight the government the other way. In fact Meles is right on this issue. One cannot be legal opposition and at the same time keep its military activities.

It is just the history of milk and meat. You choose either the milk or the meat from the same cow, not both. The demand from Meles was not a surprise for the Maqale Shane group because they had already accepted this in 1998 but was stopped last minute by Obbo Galaasaa. Working with Meles is what the Maqale Shane architectures including some countries for example Norway prefer. They were ready to fulfil the demands from the Ethiopian government. This was even the agenda of Bergen conference.

The demand became unacceptable to the Asmara Shane and Eritrea. The best alternative would have been to solve internal crises, organise it self and continue the struggle both politically and militarily. But the military issue became Shane’s problem because it is considered to be against the wishes of the West ( globalisation).
Concerning the crises within the organization Shane did not want to accept that it is really a big problem. For Shane it is minor problem that few power-hungry individuals and lukkes created and therefore never considered solving the internal problem.

The international pressure on Shane was not only to stop military activities, but also to democratise the empire and to come to the power with legal means. In other words Shane had to find some thing that makes it alternative to TPLF. This reality and demands made by Meles led Shane form alliance not only with the enemy of Meles but also the enemy of the Oromo people; the greater of the two evils? The truth is that Shane itself knows very well that AFD does not positively contribute neither to the stability in the area nor to the Oromo cause. It is just a face saving politics followed by irritation from Meles (fird beet endayimelallesuu lemaadan naw) and pres-sure from EPLF for its interest.

Dear all!
As I mentioned above, the AFD issue is not something that we say yes or no to and leave it to the side. Oromos at home and Diaspora are refusing because they know that it has a serious consequence. We must not turn a blind eye to AFD. The situation as bad. There are others who de-scribe it as best, for example Obbo Leencoo Baati. I was very amazed when I read mail from Obbo Leencoo Baati, the spokesman of Shane. He writes. ’’I can assure that the OLF has begun counting down the end of tyranny not by years but by months’’ (Obbo Leencoos mail to some one in June, 2006). This for me is just an oversimplification of the big problem. Unfortunately, it is not only Obbo Leencoo who oversimplifies the problem.

Read for example; Obbo Daud’s press release on the suspension of the Shane
from ULFO. Instead of trying to solve the problem through discussions and
understandings, obbo Daud prefers to condemn ULFOs decision. Of course he got
support for the press release. Next day we could read? ULFO the first enemy of Ethiopia?
On Habasha media. Is this not an oversimplification (Eessa abbaashii geessii?) of the problem we have at hand.

In conclusion we do not need to hide the problem because we don’t come any where near stopping tyranny for Oromos by hiding the problem. There is no choice at all except to accept the reality, solve internal crises, organise our selves and continue the struggle for freedom.

Best regards.
Abera Oluma

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is keen to fight the CCIC in anticipation of the potential aid Ethiopia would receive if it were to be viewed as

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is keen to fight the CCIC in anticipation of the potential aid Ethiopia would receive if it were to be viewed as a partner in the US-led war on terror.

ISN Security Watch
Regional war looms over Somalia
The Islamists have taken over another Somali city despite talks of peace, while some observers say the CCIC has everything to gain from conflicts that would only legitimize its role.
By Simon Roughneen for ISN Security Watch (-4/10/06)

Despite talks designed to secure agreement on governance in Somalia, Islamists have followed up their control of Mogadishu by seizing the country’s third city - the port of Kismayo - on 25 September, only days after a failed assassination attempt on President Abdullahi Yusuf.
Following the failed suicide bombing attempt targeting the president, the latest Islamist advance may signal a drive to assert control over the rest of Somalia, which is nominally under the jurisdiction of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

This has in raised international concerns that the Consultative Council of Islamic Courts (CCIC) advance could lead to “the possible Talibanization of Somalia,” Harvard University’s Robert Rotberg told ISN Security Watch.

Somalia’s neighbors also seem apprehensive that the situation could spark a regional war in the Horn of Africa.

Militias loyal to the CCIC - originally a clan-based attempt to restore Islamic-based law and order to Mogadishu - wrested control of Mogadishu on 5 June from secular warlords widely viewed as backed by the US after a three-month battle that cost upward of 300 lives.
The US sees the CCIC as a seedbed for Islamic terrorism. US President George W Bush responded to the taking of Kismayo by saying that "The first concern […] is to make sure that Somalia does not become an al-Qaida safe haven […] a place from which terrorists can plot and plan."
Islamists and the TFG were due to meet in Khartoum, Sudan at the end of October to discuss the formation of a national unity government, but it is unclear whether these talks will now go ahead. The attack on Kismayo is regarded as a breach of earlier discussions held in Sudan.

Into the vortex: regional rivalries

In response to the taking of Kismayo, hundreds more Ethiopian troops reportedly have moved over the border to the TFG outpost-headquarters at Baidoa. The CCIC regards any Ethiopian presence in Somalia as illegitimate. However, the anarchy that prevailed in Somalia since 1991 worked to undermine any notion of effective sovereignty, and the northern regions of Puntland and Somaliland have de facto seceded, with relatively stable governments seeking international recognition.

The main material-military intervention in Somalia has been two-fold: by Ethiopia in support of its TFG ally-cum-proxy; and in response, by the Eritrean government of Isaias Afewerki. Eritrea has no Islamist leanings but has sent arms consignments to the CCIC. Eritrea is also believe to be used as a staging post for weapons supplies from Iran, Egypt and Libya - including sophisticated surface-to-air missiles according to diplomats and military analysts.

Tensions have persisted between Ethiopia and Eritrea even since the end of their 1998-2000 war, a highly destructive trench conflagration that killed about 100,000 people.

With Ethiopia’s history of intervention in Somalia - the two countries fought a war in the late 1970s, and Ethiopia (in alliance with Yusuf, then a warlord) destroyed the al-Ittihad terrorist movement in Somalia during the 1990s - Eritrea knows that its enemy to the south sees itself as obliged to counter the CCIC.

Asmara in turn acts “on the basis that my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” as Richard Cornwell of the Institute for Security Studies, based in South Africa, expressed it for ISN Security Watch.
Internally, Ethiopia is prone to tensions in the mainly ethnic-Somali Ogaden region, which borders Somalia itself. Groups such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) have engaged in sporadic conflict with the Zenawi regime since the early 1990s. Both rebel groups have reportedly established contact with the CCIC, and CCIC hardliner Sheikh Aweys has spoken in favor of Somalia retaking the Ogaden, according to Rotberg.

Kenya has voiced anxiety at the UN about the political and humanitarian situation in Somalia, and remains watchful of some of its own Somali-linked Islamic leaders.

Kenya’s remote border with Somalia is difficult to police and defend, something Nairobi is keenly aware of as it contemplates the Islamist advance. Moreover, the months since the CCIC took Mogadishu has seen an increase in the number of Somali refugees into Kenya, stretching the national and UN capacity.

Somali-linked al-Qaida operatives were responsible for the 1998 attack on the US Embassy in Nairobi, and for the attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet over Monbasa in 2002. Kenyan authorities fear that regional destabilization caused by an Islamist conquest of Somalia would have dire economic and political implications.

It is also likely that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is keen to fight the CCIC in anticipation of the potential aid Ethiopia would receive if it were to be viewed as a partner in the US-led war on terror. Much of Ethiopia's foreign aid has dried up because of allegations of human rights abuses, and Zenawi sees Somalia as a way to get the aid flowing again.

Kenya would also like to jump start international aid, since World Bank allegations of corruption earlier this year prompted the suspension of US$265 million in loans. With former Bush administration official Paul Wolfowitz at the helm of the World bank, diligent efforts to prosecute the war on terror may be seen by beneficiaries as a solid means to gain financial credits.

In the meantime, the TFG has called for an international arms embargo to be lifted as it seeks to defend itself against the CCIC. The Horn of Africa regional body known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) proposes to send peacekeepers – which the CCIC has strongly opposed.

Richard Cornwell of the Institute of Security Studies in South Africa told ISN Security Watch that the African Union (AU) backing for such a peacekeeping mission was really just dangerous "bluster."

"IGAD has not the means to launch such an expedition,” he said.
A CCIC spokesman described the taking of Kismayo as a pre-emptive strike to prevent foreign troops or peacekeepers gaining a beachhead in Somalia.
While the CCIC has its own internal divisions, the attack on Kismayo and the assassination attempt on Yusuf appears to signal a victory for the hardline elements in Somalia.
Chairman Sheikh Sharif initially emerged as the moderate face of the CCIC. However, Sheikh Aweys, a former leader of al-Qaida affiliate al-Ittihad, has apparently emerged as the predominant figure. While the CCIC has denied any intention to force any particular type of government on their people, or forge new links with al-Qaeda or international terrorism, Aweys has publicly called Kenya "an enemy of the Somali people" and consistently threatens Ethiopia, which is not slow to reciprocate.

Contesting a contested legitimacy

Both the TFG and CCIC are attempting to assert their legitimacy largely over the heads of Somali citizens. Political legitimacy in Somalia is derived more from clan identity than from Somali nationalism or Islamist credentials. The CCIC, with foreign military and financial backing, has demonstrated greater military capacity than the TFG, which is dependant on Ethiopian support.

The TFG is riven with clan-based disputes, which culminated in a public row between Yusuf and his Prime Minister, Gedi earlier this year. In July, over 40 ministers resigned from the TFG, and on 7 August, Yusuf dissolved the cabinet. Somalis see the TFG as a foreign-imposed and ineffective government.

After more than two years, the TFG has had negligible success in promoting reconciliation or curbing the power of Somali warlords. Some ministers in the pre-June TFG cabinet were themselves former warlords, as is Yusuf. Nevertheless, the TFG is the only tangible result of a protracted, internationally brokered reconciliation process, and as such continues to be supported by the UN, the US, the AU, and the EU. However these same backers have failed to support the TFG materially or invest in rebuilding Somalia.

Warlords and clan leaders/alliances in the traditional non-Islamist sense have been unable to match the resources available to the CCIC, Rotberg told ISN Security Watch.

The CCIC itself is to a large extent a Hawiye clan project, in opposition to the Darod-backed TFG, though there are exceptions to this given that Gedi is from the Hawiya clan.
According to Cornwell, “the CCIC’s seizure of Kismayo is significant in that it was relatively bloodless and saw defections to the CCIC. This will help broaden the CCIC from its Hawiye clan base.”
Residents greeted the CCIC conquest of Mogadishu with jubilation, understandable after 15 years of chaos. However, hardline social decrees, calls for the abolition of civil society organizations and the marginalization of many business and civic leaders who lent the CCIC both moral and material support in the past year have led to a rethink, and the possibility of secular warlords re-emerging in the capital to contest CCIC dominance.

When the CCIC militias invaded Kismayo, they shot dead three protesters who decried the burning of the Somali flag by Islamists. Despite this, a large-scale Ethiopian assault on the CCIC would likely align many Somalis behind the Islamists, with newspaper reports outlining how educated and self-styled moderate civilians regard Ethiopia as a putative regional hegemon to be opposed at all costs. As such, the CCIC can align its Islamist thinking with popular Somali nationalism, threatened by an ancient enemy and US/Western meddling.
This plays heavily into CCIC calculations, which take into account the fact that the more of Somalia its brings under its control, the more likely a punitive Ethiopian response.

For now, it may be unnecessary to move on Baidoa - as the international will does not seem to be there to pressure the CCIC. However, Ethiopia may not want to let the TFG “wither on the vine,” as Cornwell described its prospects to ISN Security Watch after the fall of Kismayo.
An Ethiopia-CCIC conflict - with regional involvement and global repercussions - is growing more likely by the day. This would give the CCIC the legitimacy it needs to establish itself as the pre-eminent domestic political and military force in Somalia.
Source: ISN Security Watch

Monday, October 02, 2006

Health is very fundamental for human life and it forms the basis for the development of any nation.

Health is very fundamental for human life and it forms the basis for the development of any nation.

The successive Ethiopian regimes have been eroding the fundamental basis for economic and social development of the Oromo people. While the productive manpower of Oromia such as farmers, intellectuals, businessmen and professionals are denied the opportunity to play their respective roles in the society and rather put in jails, killed or forced to flee their country, it is unthinkable to build a healthy and prosperous Oromo society. It is clear that the primary cause for famine, diseases, abject poverty, an all-out misery and wretchedness in oromia is the complete erosion of political rights, economic and social justice and the rule of law.

Health is very fundamental for human life and it forms the basis for the development of any nation. It is true that development is unthinkable without having a healthy and striving working people. The development of health in a country needs to be supported by the development of health science & technology, which enables people apply solutions that are already available & generate new knowledge for tackling emerging health problems. The formulation of health science and technology policy should be based on a firm commitment to improve the health status of the country's population, taking in to account the prevailing health and health related problems.
In Ethiopia, parasitic & infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS account for high mortality & morbidity. Malnutrition is prevalent particularly among children & mothers.
Environmental health problems are attributed to the occurrence of the great number of communicable diseases in the country. Therefore, emphasis must be given to preventive public health.
Research on public health is the key to tackle and prevent diseases. Research work can be effective and efficient if all stakeholders (researchers, decision-makers & communities) are actively involved in the whole process. This is not the case in Ethiopia. Health professionals are the ones that contribute to this end.

Therefore, Oromo Health Professionals have the duty and responsibility to contribute to the health of the Oromo people by organising themselves and identifying and acting on the health needs of Oromo people back home.

It is understood that health is the vital component of the socio-economic and political system of a nation and access to health care is the universal right of citizens. However, people under national oppression and subjugation have problem of access to proper health care and social development as is the case for the oppressed nations and nationalities of the Ethiopian Empire.

It is known that the world community is repeatedly witnessing human tragedy as a result of famine, HIVAIDS and related diseases in Ethiopia. To provide a lasting solution, we need to tackle the root cause of the Oromo health problems. Doing so would not only benefit the people directly exposed to the problem, but also create a mental relief for the Oromos living in Diaspora in general and for the Oromo health professionals in particular.

Analysis of the current health problems of the Oromos and other nations and nationalities living in Oromia and neighbouring regions and refugee camps in neighbouring countries showed that:-

There is lack of sufficient resources for the health sector due to the government’s refusal to reinvest the resources generated in Oromia for Oromia’s development.

Non- existent rural development initiatives that could potentially improve the lives of the Oromo people.

Banning of indigenous Oromo relief and professional associations by using various pretexts have denied the region a voice and helping hand during critical situations.

Viable and clear cut health policy is unavailable in Oromia

There is a lack of visible development in health infrastructure in Oromia

There is inadequate medical and drug supplies to the region

Material and human resources are being removed from Oromia.

There is deliberate denial of health awareness among the people, which could have helped the people to prevent most of the diseases including HIVAIDS.

Currently, there are many Oromo health professionals living as refugees or otherwise in Africa, Europe, North America and Oceania. We believe that it is high time for Oromo health professionals to come together and assess their own state of affairs. It is time for these professionals to communicate with one another and find ways and means by which they could maintain their own professions and also contribute to the health and welfare of their own people at home and abroad. We recognize the invaluable time, knowledge and experience that could have been used for the well being of our people and ourselves have not been utilised because of lack of organisation.

Therefore, we the Oromo health professionals living in Scandinavia and Great Britain, took the initiative to organize ourselves and established the Scandinavian Oromo Health Professionals Association (SOHPA) in 2002. with main objectives of:

Building a network of Oromo health professionals and supporters in Diaspora so that these professionals get to know and sensitize one another.

Making one another aware of the basic problems of our people and discuss on how we can react to the problems.

Informing other Oromos of the health problems with a view of obtaining support to alleviate these problems.

Presenting the Oromo health problems to other health professionals’ organizations to get support and assistance.

Making NGOs aware of Oromo health problems so that they focus on these problems and work on them.

Trying to convince governmental and non-governmental organizations to establish health infrastructure in Oromia by using appropriate technology.

Encouraging Oromo and non-Oromo health scientists and researchers to invest on health science and technology.

Finding ways and means of supporting and promoting activities in Oromia by utilizing health science & Technology to help improve the health status of the population at large & underserved and vulnerable in particular.

Promoting Health Science & Technology in order to build up & strengthen sustainable capacity in Health Science & Technology in Oromia in the long term.

Encouraging and initiating Oromia National Health Research (ONHR) in order to accelerate health development in a manner that ensures equity, multi- directionality & interdisciplinary approaches.

Breaking the silence and acquiescence of the international community with regard to spread of disease and recurrence of devastating natural and man- made disasters in Ethiopia.
Campaigning for assistances so that we can be able to provide financial and material support directly or indirectly to NGOs engaged in humanitarian & health relief works in Oromia, and neighbouring countries.

SOHPA has subsequently embraced health professionals from other countries and has become Oromo Health Professionals Association (OHPA) with the same objectives listed above. This association is highly strengthened by non-health professional supporters.
More Oromo health professionals and supporters all over the world are humbly requested to join the association so that we can make it more strong and productive organization. The supporters will be co-members of the association.