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Friday, September 29, 2006

Press freedom in Ethiopia non-existent: Kifle Mulat

Also in the news:political bigwigs in Addis, Egypt developing nuclear energy program, A message from the Coalition for H.R. 5680, Professor Alemayehu Takes Battle to Hastert’s Backyard and more of today's top stories!

(Picture by EMF) The government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is one of the leading jailers of journalists in the world. Over 20 journalists are in prison and close to a 100 have fled the country. In addition to journalists, over 100 opposition politicians, NGO activists, lawyers, and trade union leaders are currently in confinement. Among the detained journalists is, 26 year old Serkalem Fasil, who was pregnant when she was arrested and subsequently gave birth in prison.

The political bigwigs in Addis Ababa
indian ocean N° 1196 30/09/2006

While some Western embassies had been expecting Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to make substantial changes in the teams leading the various factions of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF in power in Addis Ababa), the outcome of the congresses of these parties was something of an anticlimax. Some minor changes were made at the top of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the EPRDF) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) without changing the overall balance of power. The changes among the leaders of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) were purely cosmetic and the team leading the Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) remained in control, in spite of an increase in the number of members of the executive of this organisation’s, which incidentally is quite marginal in the governing coalition.

Exit Sebhat Nega. The only new member of the nine man executive council (EC) of the TPLF, chaired by Meles Zenawi, is the Minister of Health Tewodros Adhanom Gebreyesus. He is the first leader of this party not to be the outcome of the guerrilla war waged against the previous Ethiopian regime. A graduate in biology from Asmara University (1986), and then with higher degrees in immunology from the University of London (1992) and community health from the University of Nottingham (2000), he was deputy minister of health before becoming the minister in October 2005 after the elections last year. His promotion was coupled with the demotion of Sebhat Nega, who had for a long time been the Prime Minister’s grey eminence. He left the TPLF EC and is now in 36th place among the 45 members of the central committee (CC), of which his sister Kidusan Nega is also a member. For the remainder, the TPLF executive team has not changed very much. But some people have left the CC (Tesema Gebre Hiwot, Alem Gebre Wahid, Tekle Berhan Araya and Aklilu Damberkai) and the Prime Minister’s wife Azeb Mesfin has joined. Although hated by Seyoum Mesfin (TPLF deputy chairman), Roma Gebre Sellasie (wife of Ambassador Tewolde Gebru, also a member of the TPLF CC), Adhana Haile and Berhane Kidane Mariam (publisher of the TPLF house newspaper) kept their seat on the party’s CC.

Bereket Simeon hands over power. The advisor to the Prime Minister, Bereket Simeon, who is sick, has handed over his seat of deputy chairman of the ANDM to the Minister Tefera Walwa but remains a member of its EC. This team is chaired by Addisu Legesse and includes the leaders of the Amhara Regional State - Ayalew Gobeze and Yoseph Reta - the Minister of Information, Birhan Hailu, the director of the Bahr Dr Management Institute, Ambachew Mekonnen, the representative of the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission at Bahr Dar, Demeke Mekonnen and some less well-known people like Yohannes Buayalew. Some heavyweight former dignitaries, including some ex-ministers who have become ambassadors (Kebede Tadesse, Tadesse Kassa, Genet Zewde, Dawit Yohannes and Hilawe Yosef) are still members of the ANDM CC.

Change in continuity. Long in internal crisis, the OPDO is still headed by the duo Abadula Gemeda/Girma Biru. The disgraced and the rehabilitated former leader Kuma Demeksa, is also a member of the OPDO CE, as are Jarso and Juneidi Saddo and the Ministers Aster Mammo Negewo and Muktar Kedir. Among the newly promoted figure the former administrator of the Western Wollega region, Zelalem Jamaneh and the former head of the bureau of agriculture and rural development of Oromia Regional State, Driba Kuma. On the other hand, the name of Ali Abdo and a few other former Oromo dignitaries are no longer on the official list of OPDO executive. The Minister Sufian Ahmed has had to be content with a seat on the CC, as have two former members of the OPDO EC, Mohamed Hassen and Alemayehu Atomsa. The SEPDM is still chaired by Hailemariam Desalegn with Shigute as his number two and a handful of government personalities in his CE, such as the Speaker of Parliament Teshome Toga, Kassu Illala, the Ministers Berhanu Adelo and Siraj Fegessa and also the head of the bureau for industry and urban development of the regional administration of south Ethiopia, Mekuria Haile.

Press freedom in Ethiopia debated in London

Exiled President of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA), Ato Kifle Mulat, now living in Uganda, appeared with his hands bound in chains to give accounts of the struggle of journalists, lawyers and other human rights activists as well as his personal struggle in the face of restrictions by the Ethiopian government.

Mulat is reportedly one of the foremost personalities in African journalism. He has been editor-in-chief of many African and bi-lingual newspapers in Ethiopia and internationally. He has been incarcerated on several occasions by the Ethiopian government for his work of press freedom, and was awarded the "Human Rights Journalism Under Threat" award by Amnesty International (AI) UK in May 2004 amongst other accolades.(More...)

Egypt developing nuclear energy program

CAIRO, Egypt - Determined to lead the Arab world into the nuclear club, Egypt is working on a nuclear energy program intended to reduce the country's dependency on oil. The program, announced last week by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, is expected to cost as much as $2 billion and will take more than a decade before the plants produce electricity. While other Arab nations also are looking into nuclear research and development, Egypt already has two low-level reactors, a half century of research and the remains of a comprehensive plan that was scrapped after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986.

Egypt is looking for alternative power sources because of the rising cost of oil and its increasing energy needs. The government estimates that oil reserves in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, will be depleted within 20 years unless new oil fields are discovered.(More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Professor Alemayehu Takes Battle to Hastert’s Backyard:Task Force H.R. 5680
-*A tribute to ethiopian athletes:Tewodros Abebe*
-Somali Islamists shut radio station
-Senate passes bill on terror detainee trials
-Al Qaeda No. 2: Bush a liar, 'spiller of Muslim blood'
-Pakistan accused of hundreds of terror abductions
-Georgia orders Russia 'spies' held
-Thai junta to anoint ex-army chief
-Thailand: The deal that angered the nation (Newsweek)
-White House gates shut to BORAT