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Friday, October 27, 2006

Meles tells diplomats, CUD's trial ends this year

Also in the news: An Open Letter to Ethiopians: Citizens’ Charter for a Democratic Ethiopia, Wolde-Michael Reacts to Report, disturbing news from a former aid darling, EU says Ethiopia released its staff member, UN report: thousands of foreign troops in Somalia, African Unite 2007 and more of today's top stories


As Professor Christopher Clapham of the University of Cambridge rightly noted, the May 15, 2005 legislative elections ushered in an unmistakable but painful transition to a democratic order in Ethiopia . The outmoded vision of sectarian and autocratic rule that masqueraded as “ethnocentric democracy” was resoundingly rejected by the heroic Ethiopian voters. The majority of voters instead endorsed a modern democratic system based on the sovereignty of the free citizen.

The Citizens' Charter Group is pleased to introduce to the Ethiopian public a “Citizens’ Charter for Ethiopian Democracy” which articulates this pan-Ethiopian vision. The Citizens’ Charter embodies what binds all Ethiopians and thereby affirms the primacy of Ethiopian identity in a manner which makes it possible to embrace diverse cultural identities.

The Citizens' Charter Group invites the public to engage in a constructive debate on the kind of Ethiopia we want to emerge out of the current crisis. The Group urges political parties which consider themselves Ethiopian to endorse the Charter, and civic organizations to adopt it as the foundation for united action. Finally, readers are kindly requested to assist with the widest possible circulation of the attached Charter document.

The Citizens' Charter Group
27 October 2006

An Open Letter to Ethiopians

Re: Citizens’ Charter for a Democratic Ethiopia (27 October 2006)
Ye’Etyiopiawian Yemebitna Gideta Qal-kidan

Dear Compatriots at Home and Abroad:

We, the undersigned, are a group of concerned Ethiopians who value civic activism in the cause of freedom, that is, freedom from unrelenting poverty and freedom from unremitting tyranny. The lessons of history clearly show that the cause of liberty is best served by a political system that respects the sovereignty of the citizen and generously rewards those activities that promote the common good. They also show that shared prosperity comes with the help of an economic system that guarantees economic freedom and rewards productive activity.

Achieving the twin goals of Ethiopian democracy and prosperity presupposes a government that is at once competent and accountable to citizens. Such a government is, unfortunately, a product of protracted struggle by a coordinated political movement that includes political parties and civic organizations. Needless to say, this movement has to be inspired by a democratic process for public decision-making and by a pan-Ethiopian vision of the future of the country. (More...)

Meles tells diplomats, CUD's trial ends this year

capitalethiopia - Prime Minister Meles Zenawi met with diplomats in Addis Ababa, on Saturday, October 14 to confer on current affairs and developments in the country, expressing his expectation that the more than 100 detained opposition members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), journalists and members of civic organisations trial will see a conclusion before the end of this Ethiopian year, diplomatic sources disclosed.

In a meeting that went on for two hours at the Prime Minister's office, Meles told the diplomats that as part of the civil service reform of the government, his administration has the responsibility for citizens to get speedy and fair justice, but affirmed that he has no mandate or authority over the case, which is the responsibility of the courts. More over, the Prime Minister told the diplomats that recent nationwide meetings of his party, the EPRDF performance over the past three years have been reviewed and it was revealed that the performance in terms of economic growth has been quite good but that there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of governance, capacity building and democratization.

“ There have been some achievements but we very much feel that there is more to be done,” he was quoted by diplomatic sources as saying.

The Ethiopian government has detained more than 100 people including 29 CUD leaders about 20 journalists accused of plotting to overthrow the government and also charged with high treason and genocide. The CUD is accused by the government of fomenting violence since the elections in May 2005.the detainees has been in custody for the last 9 months.

The opposition alleges the elections were riddled with fraud. In the aftermath of the bitterly disputed elections, at least 90 people were killed in Addis Ababa in outbreaks of violence in June and November 2005.

An anonymous diplomat told Capital that issues related with the ACP-EU parliamentarians that recently paid a visit to the country were raised in the meeting with both parts agreeing their involvement was of a paramount importance in the building up of the parliamentary democratization process. Last week's meeting took place after the diplomats met the Prime Minister in February to discuss on issues related to the Addis Ababa City Council, Oromia, Parliament and as well as EU observers being sent to observe the CUD trial.

Former Commission of Inquiry Vice Chair Reacts to Report on Post-Election Violence

“This is what the government want to be said. That’s why I left the country. We had arrived at a decision that said the force used by the security forces to stop the uprising was excessive. It was not necessary because 193 civilians were dead without any arming such kind of gun or any other weapons. So how can one say this is not excessive force? So I say this was not the will of all the members but by force,” - Wolde-Michael speaking on yesterday’s report by the “teletafi” inquiry commission (Picture by EMF)

Washington, D.C. -- 27 October 2006 -- The former vice chair of Ethiopia’s commission of inquiry that investigated last year’s post-election violence, Wolde-Michael Meshesha, says the report released yesterday does not represent the will of majority of the commission’s members. That report said 199 people were killed. At the same time it says the police did not use excessive force. But Meshesha, who fled Ethiopia earlier this month, tells VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty the commission reported what the government urged it to report.(More...)

Ethiopia: More disturbing news from a former aid darling of the West

The Economist

...But the government's (EPRDF/TPLF) grip on power is slipping. An instinct for self-preservation may explain the former rebel fighters' return to Soviet methods. Things began to fall apart last year when a disorganised opposition disputed the results of a general election. Street protests followed in the capital in June and again in November. Around 80 people were believed to have been killed, including some police, after which opposition leaders, journalists, human-rights activists and businessmen were arrested. Many have since been charged with treason and genocide.

The government promised a speedy trial but has reneged, dragging out the process while keeping it far from view. Most of those arrested are still languishing in Kaliti prison in Addis Ababa. The cells there are baking hot by day, freezing by night, infested with roaches and mice, and thick with mud in the rainy season. The government has so far used a mix of spin and harassment of journalists (local more than foreign) to avoid international condemnation. But that may be changing.(More...)

EU says Ethiopia released its staff member

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ethiopia has released European Commission staff member and rights lawyer Yalemzewd Bekele from jail, the EU said, welcoming the move but reaffirming that the bloc's ties with the African country had been damaged.

"The release of Ms Bekele is very good news. We had been extremely concerned about her fate since her arrest," European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel said in a statement on Friday.

Last week, Addis Ababa expelled two European Union diplomats -- an Italian and a Swede -- saying they had been caught trying to smuggle two wanted Ethiopians out of the country by car.

Bekele was one of the two Ethiopians detained near the border with Kenya. Amnesty International had said she was at risk of torture for aiding the opposition. There was no word on the other Ethiopian detained with Bekele.(More...)

African Unite 2007

How good and how pleasant it would be before God and man, To see the unification of all Africans (Lyrics from Africa Unite)- BOB MARLEY

Africa Unite, which was last year held in Ethiopia, will now be held in South Africa next following followinga decision by The Bob and Rita Marley Foundation.

LATE reggae icon Bob Marley's widow Rita has decided to bring the African Unite, an event meant to encourage peace, education and empowerment of the youth on the continent to South Africa.

The event that also reinforces the significance of Marley’s songs of freedom, was last year held in Ethiopia but the The Bob & Rita Marley Foundation have decided to bring next year’s event to South Africa.(More..)

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