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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Coming to America

Now Confirmed by the Indian Ocean Newsletter
N° 1191 29/07/2006

According to a source in the Ethiopian opposition, protests are expected in front of the hotel where a delegation of Ethiopian MPs is to stay in Washington. They have been invited to the USA on a visit starting on 31 July as part of an American State Department programme.
The Ethiopian delegation should consist of Olbamo Ayele Chamiso, Deputy Chairman of the Coalition for Unity and Democraty (CUD); Anore Ayele Seyoum an executive of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Member of the Chamber of Representatives; Woldemichael Temesgen Zewoude MP; Ledetu Ayalew Mehretu, MP and chairman of the EDP-Medhin; Mesfin Namarra Dressa MP and Ms Yetbarek Mesrk Mekonen, chair of the Amhara National Regional Council.
*Ethio-Zagol has a must read commentary on this issue.*
(Courtesy of Weblog Ethiopia)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Unconfirmed Report

Since late yesterday afternoon, we have been receiving updates from several sources regarding the planned visit by Mr. Lidetu and his colleagues to the United States.

According to the information we received;

Mr. Lidetu Ayalew along with his MP colleagues is expected to arrive in the United States on July 31, 2006 at the invitation of the US department of States' international visitor leadership program. According to reports, individuals invited by the state's international visitor leadership program are:

·Ledetu Ayalew Mehretu EDP-Medhin chairman, Member of House of Rep.;
·Olbamo Ayele Chamiso Deputy Chairman of the coalition for Unity and Democracy;
·Anore Ayele Seyoum Excutive member of Social Democracy Party, member of House of Rep.;
·Woldemichael Temesgen Zewoude, Member of House of Rep.
·Mesfin Namarra Dressa member of House of Rep.;
·Ms. Yetbarek Mesrk Mekonen, Speaker of the Amhara National regional Council.

These visitors are invited under the auspices of the department of State's international visitor leadership program. This program is arranged by the voluntary visitors division of the office of international visitors.

N.B – Again, the above information is yet to be confirmed by a major news outlet. It is also not clear if indeed Mr. Lidetu and his colleagues intend to campaign against HR 5680.

Whatever the case maybe, we urge everyone to refrain from emotional outbursts/immature acts and voice their opposition in a controlled, well organized and professional manner - hence making it much harder for EPRDF to label the diaspora opposition as utterly “radical”.
Meanwhile in Lebanon, IOM is continuing to evacuate stranded Ethiopians.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

2 Cents Worth

(By Hirut Abay, Ethiopian Politics Contributor)

We have been asked, as were other bloggers and web site administrators, to comment on an article that outlines the need for a forum to facilitate & coordinate the struggle for democracy; posted on several websites, entitled “A timely appeal to fellow Ethiopians”.

And I have been delegated, by my fellow Ethiopian Politics contributors, to write a short remark of our thoughts regarding this proposition. While we are not sure how exactly this forum is supposed to work, the idea is commendable. A forum, which facilitates a steady stream of diverse and fresh ideas/strategies, will do the struggle - to bring about democracy and justice in Ethiopia - a world of good. We have expressed our readiness to participate in this undertaking.

On a different note, Seminawork is reporting that Mr. Lidetu Ayalew (seen here on the cover of his book) and Mr. Temsgen Zewde are coming to the US to persuade law makers to vote against HR 5680. In the past Mr. Lidetu has managed to astonish many of us with his erratic conduct, but if true, this one surely takes the cake. There is no question Mr. Lidetu’s remaining political life consists of a maximum of four years; that is, if the EPRDF manages to stay in power for that long. He has been burning bridges left and right.

Come next election, there is no way his A.A constituents will re-elect him even if he was running against, say, Prime Minister Zenawi. Knowing this, Ato Lidetu is reduced to attempting to sustain the very system he and his former colleagues wrestled with for so long. This story, (again) if true, snuffs out any flickering hope some had of the eventual return of the prodigal son.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

IOM Comes to the Rescue

IOM (International Organization for Migration)

Ethiopian Orthodox Church service in Lebanon

1,500 Bangladeshi, Ethiopians, Sri Lankans, Filipinos and Ghanaians are expected to be evacuated by IOM from Lebanon in the next few days.

In order to meet the escalating and urgent demands for the evacuation of those foreigners who are stranded in Lebanon without money or papers and with governments without the resources to assist them, IOM has released US$750,000 from an emergency fund. The Organization has appealed for US$14 million to provide evacuation assistance from Lebanon and Syria and humanitarian assistance for internally displaced people in Lebanon but it is likely that this may need to be revised to reflect an evolving crisis.

IOM has now been asked by 19 governments to help their nationals who are currently stranded in Lebanon, some in difficult to access locations. Various individual requests are also coming in with numbers growing by the day. IOM has been made aware of a minimum of 11,600 people who need evacuation assistance urgently from the following countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Iraq, Madagascar, Mali, Moldova, Nepal, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Venezuela and Vietnam.

With increasing numbers of calls for help by individuals, some by people whose employers are refusing to let them go, IOM has also set up a helpline number for those needing assistance.

The number is:
+961 70 972 520.

For further information, please contact:

Jean Philippe Chauzy
IOM Geneva
Tel: + 41 22 717 9361/mobile: + 41 79 285 4366

Jemini Pandya
IOM Geneva
Tel: + 41 22 717 9486/mobile: + 41 79 217 3374

Monday, July 24, 2006

Forsaken in a Foreign Land

Audio Clip
Numerous News agencies and Media outlets are reporting on the bleak reality facing Ethiopians that are currently stranded in Lebanon. Contrary to what the Ethiopian embassy in Lebanon is claiming, there apparently has been no effort made to evacuate these citizens. Ethiopian Politics is in the processes of contacting the Red Cross, Amnesty International and UNHCR regarding this issue. We ask all concerned Ethiopians to join us in voicing the plight of our brothers and sisters to anyone who may be in a position to help. Please call the following organizations:

Amnesty, EU
Amnesty, USA

Orion Mengistu, a concerned Ethiopian, recently informed us that the UN is organizing convoys for foreign citizens who are abandoned by their respective countries. According to Mr. Mengistu the person to contact is :

Mr. Vincent Hover
Phone: 011 962 79 62228955

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ruling Party Divided on Somalia

ION update: 07/22/06
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1190 22/07/2006

The possibility of a military intervention to support its allies in Somalia is dividing the EPRDF.

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF, governing coalition) is split over the idea of a military intervention in Somalia to support its allies of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Sebhat Nega

The militia of the Islamist Courts Union (ICU) are preparing for military actions in the direction of Baidoa, the stronghold of the Somalian TFG and warlords who oppose the Islamists. The question of Ethiopian aid for the TFG forces is on the cards, but is dividing the Ethiopian authorities. According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newletter, the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, supported by Bereket Simeon, is considering a direct and decisive intervention against the Islamists. But the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Seyoum Mesfin, as well as Sebhat Nega and Abay Tsegaye advise him to take a more cautious approach.

Seyoum Mesfin

There are similar divergences within the army, with the Army Chief of Staff Samora Yunis along with some Tigrayan generals in favour of a strong intervention in Somalia. On the other hand, other generals, whether Tigrayan, Oromo or Amhara, are opposed to such intervention. They are wary that it may be exploited by Eritrea as in this case the EPRDF forces would be divided on two fronts a long way from each other.

According to sources in the Ethiopian opposition, several hundreds of combatants of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF, opposition), armed and supported by Eritrea, have already infiltrated these last few weeks via Djibouti into the Ethiopian region of Ogaden, in the hope that an Islamist victory in Mogadishu would favour the development of their own breakaway struggle in Ethiopia.

Bereket Simeon

Another topic of discussion in the EPRDF leadership concerns the idea of changing the name and the manifesto of this coalition. Certain nostalgic people, such as Adissu Legesse, are strongly opposed to such a change. Meanwhile, the EPRDF is setting up a committee to celebrate the millennium (according to the Ethiopian calendar, the first day of the New Year 1999 will be on 11 September). Mulugeta Asrat Kassa, son of the late Asrat Kassa, was called to Addis Ababa from his home in London to be one of the executives of this committee.

Shifferaw Jarso

The EPRDF wants to still be in power when it celebrates the first day of the year 2000 (according to the Ethiopian calendar) and hopes that by that time the unrest in the opposition will have dissipated. Particularly as the big shots have not entirely cut off links with the radical opponents. Hence, the Norwegian authorities have passed a message to open negotiations on to the government in Addis Ababa, from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD).

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Girogis, currently undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia and whose mandate ends in October, could be replaced by the present Minister for Water Shifferaw Jarso.

(Courtesy of Weblog Ethiopia)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Online Censorship in Africa


"...The Ethiopian blogosphere has been one of the most vibrant on the continent and highly critical of the government of Meles Zenawi. Though the government is still denying any involvement in the shut down there is really no other explanation. Ethiopian bloggers in the Diaspora continue to relentlessly attack the tyranny of Zenawi’s government and question the US and other Western countries who continue to support his government..."(More...)

Treason Charge Filed Against another Journalist

(The Committee to Protect Journalists - CPJ)

New York, July 17, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists has confirmed that Solomon Aregawi, owner of the defunct Amharic-language newspaper Hadar, has been charged with antistate crimes in connection with his journalistic work. This raises the number of journalists jailed for their work in Ethiopia to 18 from 17, according to CPJ research. Three are serving lengthy sentences under Ethiopia’s repressive press law, while 15, including Aregawi, are on trial for antistate crimes, and could face the death penalty if convicted.(More...)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Blogger released from Jail

(By Hirut Abay, Ethiopian Politics Contributor)

Wu Hao, a Chinese blogger, who was incarcerated by the authorities in China has been released. For the past five months bloggers from all over the world united to raise awareness of Wo Hao’s case. Finally, in her July 11 blog post, his sister announced to the world his release from prison.

It is widely rumored that the Chinese government’s advice and assistance contributed to the blockage of blogs and websites in Ethiopia. Even though no blogger has so far been arrested in Ethiopia, all political bloggers residing in the country conceal their identity for fear of government retribution. Nathalie Amiot-Margiotta, a french blogger known to many as Addis Ferenji, was commenting on the political situation in Ethiopia when she was forced to leave the country due to intimidations and threats by government agents.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

7.2 Billion Birr Unaccounted for from Ethiopia's Budget

“Unbelievable and embarrassing” says opposition

(By Simegnish Yekoye, the Sub-Saharan Informer)


(Note: The Sub-Saharan Informer is now back online; but it seems that links to articles critical of the government, such as this one, have been permanently removed form the website)

A message from Ethiopian Politics

The Sub-Saharan Informer was an independent newspaper, reporting on news from: Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Kenya, Somaliland, Ghana, Tanzania and Sudan. In June of 2006, it was shut down by the Ethiopian government for failing to notify the authorities about its change of location.

Journalist Andrew Heavens at the time reported: “Its (The Sub-Saharan Informer’s) staff spent all Thursday night laying out the latest edition. But when they delivered everything to the printers, they hit a brick wall. The printers told the paper they had had a phone call from the Ministry of Information telling them not to start the presses. They said the Ministry told them it had temporarily withdrawn the paper’s license.”

Blogger Urael writing form Addis commented: “now that the Amharic free press is silenced, the internet is blocked; the English language press cannot be left alone….It is clear that nothing and nobody will escape from the total control.”

In its last issue, the Sub-Saharan Informer reported on the astonishing level of corruption plaguing Ethiopia’s EPRDF-led government. Many believe that this and other similar reports, critical of the government, significantly contributed to the revocation of the paper’s license. The departure of the Sub-Saharan informer from the news stands did not Get much attention here in the U.S or Europe from the free press in diaspora. Therefore, in solidarity with the Sub-Saharan Informer, and because of the need to bring attention to the mystery of the missing 7.2 billion birr, we are posting the first article from the paper’s last issue.

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press” - Thomas Jefferson


ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - The Ethiopian auditor general’s performance report on the budget of the previous fiscal year and the first nine months of this year indicated that 7.2 billion birr was unaccounted for. The report, presented to the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives on Tuesday, drew harsh criticisms from opposition leaders.

“This is unbelievable and embarrassing. If it were in other countries the officials (criminals) involved in this would have lost their jobs,” said Temesgen Zewde, a representative of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUDP).

Unbelievable as it may seem, this lack of accountability is not without precedent in Ethiopia.In 2003 (1995 Eth. calendar), 4.8 billion birr allocated to regional states was taken as being completely spent without any knowledge of where the money had gone.In response to the report the Ministry of Economy and Finance said to the auditor general that it is not its responsibility to check where the money goes and what it was spent on. Their duties only entail registering the budget as an outflow.“Living in poverty and getting the money through taxes, loans and donations, it is amazing that the ministry says that it isn’t its responsibility to follow up on where the money goes,” Temesgen added.

The report’s findings presented to the parliament showed that a shortfall of 82.2 million birr was accounted for in 27 federal and 18 regional offices.15 federal and 25 regional revenue offices were also cited for not collecting a total of 1.3 million birr in taxes from last year ‘s budget, excluding the Federal Inland Revenue and customs offices.

“We feel there is a danger in the country when 7.2 billion birr is lost from our budget through mismanagement…without any proof of where the money has gone,” opposition Ethiopian Union Democratic Party (EUDP)/Medhin representative Abdurahman Ahmed said after listening to the report. In the presentation of the report, auditor general Lema Aregaw said that a total of 13.1 million birr was found registered as expenditures in seven federal and 22 regional offices without any explanations attached. “Out of the specified [13.1 million], 4.2 million birr is from the ministry of defense, 2.8 million from the 103rd Ethiopian army corps, 2.9 million from the Somalia militia bureau and 1.9 million from the Somali education bureau,” Lema said.

Misappropriated funds and flawed documentation were also noted in the auditor general’s report. In reply, minister of tourism and culture and ruling party MP Mohammed Drire said that the report presented was not meant to make parliamentarians feel depressed or cry over what had happened, but to study the problem areas and find ways for parliament to maintain checks and balances on the executive bodies and make them accountable to the rule of law. “This doesn’t mean changing the place to a kangaroo court,” Drire said. “Because according to our constitution, a person is called a criminal only when the court passes a verdict on it.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Congresswoman Maxine Waters affirms her Support for H.R. 5680

(H.R. 5680 Task Force)

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representative Maxine Waters (D) Los Angeles, addressed a capacity crowd of Ethiopians on July 7, 2006, assembled for the 23rd annual Ethiopian soccer tournament and cultural event at the historic Los Angeles Coliseum. Her keynote speech was accompanied by thunderous applause on numerous occasions.

Congresswoman Waters brought the crowd to its feet when she declared her unequivocal support for H.R. 5680, the “Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006.” This bi-partisan human rights bill co-sponsored by New Jersey representatives Chris Smith (R) and Donald Payne (D), among others, aims to promote the protection of human rights, asks for the unconditional release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and growth of democratic institutions and practices in Ethiopia.

Congresswoman Waters said, "All political prisoners and prisoners of conscience must be released immediately and unconditionally".
Congresswoman Waters informed the crowd that in the past year she has been inundated with information about the conditions in Ethiopia among others, by Ethiopian Taxi drivers in the Washington D.C. area which pushed her to critically examine the situation and that she has become increasingly concerned about the human rights situation there following the May 2005 elections. Congresswoman Waters said she has been working with other members of the congressional Black Caucus, including representatives Payne, Rangel and Lee to support H.R. 5680, which passed by a unanimous vote in the House International Relations Committee on June 27, 2006. Furthermore, the Congresswoman has committed to support the passage of the same Act when the Bill is presented to the Full House.

We call on everyone who stands for democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Ethiopia to call on their Representatives and urge them to support H.R. 5680, the “Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006.”

(For more information, E-mail: , Tel #: (310) 599-0200)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES) - Scandinavian Chapter

Kinijit International Political Leadership