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Monday, December 18, 2006

Free our leaders, stop the war

Also in the news: [Yemen And Sudan Urge Ethiopia to Pull Its Troops Out of Somalia] - [International Court Close to Filing Darfur War Crimes Charges] - [289.7 million birr for Ethiopia's Millennium Festival] - [What is the point of war with Somalia?] - [Somali Islamists hint they are open to talks with Ethiopia]

International: [Former spy chief takes over Pentagon] - [Hamas to boycott early elections] - [Iran vote "decisive defeat" for president: reformers] - [The Vatican to own a team in Serie A?] and more of today's top stories.

(capitalethiopia) Some 289.7 million birr is required to finance projects proposed to mark the Ethiopian new millennium, according to the Ethiopian Millennium Festival National Secretariat's draft strategic plan. presented on Wednesday for evaluation and endorsement by the Ethiopian Millennium Festival Council, the Secretariat's strategic plan comprises a number of multifaceted millennium projects, including those proposed by individuals and private businesses. According to the strategic plan, projects the Secretariat proposed will consume 170.8 million birr, while those proposed by individuals and businesses (and submitted to the Secretariat) are expected to take 118.9 million birr.

Free our leaders and stop the war
Press Release

Under the banner, "Free our leaders and stop the war" Europe kinijit support groups in collaboration with civic organizations will be holding vigils in Johannesburg and more than 8 European cities. Our leading slogan will be "This time there is no Christmas in Ethiopia"; a line taken from the famous song composed by the world top artists to raise funds to tackle famine in Ethiopia in 1984.

We call upon all Ethiopians all over the world to join us by organizing similar vigils to remember the dead and the imprisoned and protest against a war designed by Meles Zenawi only to prolong his stay in power.

The history of Christian Ethiopians is as old as Christianity. Its beginnings came long before Europe accepted Christianity. On the record this will be, at least, the 1650th celebration of Christmas holiday in Ethiopia. Yet Christmas this year in Ethiopia will not be celebrated with customary joy and festivity.

The reason for it is not a natural calamity such as the famine of the 1980s which forced Europeans to sing the famous song; "Do They Know it is Christmas" to raise funds to feed the starving.

The misery associated with this Christmas is a product of the actions of a brutal regime. The ruling party that lost the May 2005 general election and its determination to hang on to power by brute force has turned Ethiopia virtually into hell. Hundreds have lost their lives; thousands have disappeared and tens of thousands have ended up in prisons and concentration camps to languish in subhuman conditions.

Among them we find democratically elected members of parliament that are leaders of the largest opposition party, CUDP, Coalition for unity and democracy. The first ever democratically elected Mayor of the city of the capital, Addis Ababa, scores of journalists who were serving the fledgling free press and a number of prominent civic organisation leaders are also among those thrown into prison. Torture and extrajudicial killing has replaced the rule of law.

In its desperate attempt to cling on to power, and to divert the attention of the indigenous population and the international community from its crime against humanity, the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is now actively campaigning to invade Somalia under the guise of the war on terror. The prospect of a dangerous and destructive war is looming.

On top of the gross human rights violations and the grinding poverty which Ethiopians have to endure recently, a new front of suffering has been launched to make their lives more unbearable.

It is in this climate of daily abuse, fear and uncertainty that Ethiopians are forced to greet Christmas.

This Christmas, you can give millions of Ethiopians a gift that will cost you nothing.

Tell your representatives in parliament and government officials to use their influence on the Ethiopian government and demand the release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia.

Tell them to work on your behalf to stop the prime minister of Ethiopia from executing a war that will drag the whole region deep into troubled water.

Yemen And Sudan Urge Ethiopia to Pull Its Troops Out of Country

December 18, 2006 - Yemen's effort to mollify the dire situation in Somalia was supplemented by an endeavor of Sudan that is also taking roles in preventing the Horn of African country from falling into clannish wars again.

The news came as Ethiopian troops were massed along the Ethiopian border with Somalia. Fresh Ethiopian troops were also brought in the government base of Baidoa to protect the transitional federal government (TFG) against the expected invasion of Islamic Courts fighters that gave an ultimatum, which will last tomorrow. The ultimatum calls on the Ethiopian government to pull its troops out of the country or that it will face major jihad wars.

Reliable sources in Yemen say that Sudan and Yemen were cooperating to convince the Ethiopian government to withdraw its troops from Somalia to calm aggravating situation in the country. (More...)

What is the point of war with Somalia?

It is foolish in the extreme not only to resort to force before necessity compels, but especially to madly create the conditions that will lead to this necessity: Benjamin Tucker, Liberty , May 22, 1886

By Kebour Ghenna

...Ethiopia is in a no-win situation for favoring war and for tying its interest with the TFG, a party perceived by the Somalis public as not defending their interests. Yes, Ethiopia has the fire power and the tacit support of the US (for now), but we all have learnt (and continue to learn) this is not enough to bring conflicts to end. Of all countries, Ethiopia should not believe in war with Somalia - a country with which we share part of our soul. Ethiopia is constituted with an important region inhabited and governed by Somalis who share their culture, language, and religion with Somalia .

Let's use our wisdom and start working on political compromises and winning peace. One word of cautious: by closing the doors of participation to the ICU, it is a question of time before it (the ICU) finds a segment, say among the opposition in the Somali regional administration that defer from Ethiopia's policy, to cooperate and communicate with. Finally, by seeking parliamentary power to conduct military action to solve the Somali conflict, I am afraid the government may have underpinned its decision on political choice instead of national security necessity. Is this is a gamble worth taking? (More...)

Somali Islamists hint they are open to talks with Ethiopia

ADEN, Yemen (AFP) - Somalia's powerful Islamist movement appeared to open the door to talks with neighboring Ethiopia to avert war with the weak Ethiopian-backed Somali transitional government.

A top Islamist official, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said the movement was prepared for "dialogue" with Ethiopia, which has troops in Somalia protecting the government.

At the same time, Ahmed and the speaker of the Somali parliament announced a deal to bring the Islamists and the government back to the negotiating table after peace talks collapsed last month.

However, the prospects were unclear as the Islamists have given Ethiopia until Tuesday to withdraw or face major attacks and the Somali government says the window of opportunity for talks has closed. (More...)

International Court Close to Filing Darfur War Crimes Charges

The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) told the U.N. Security Council December 15 that he has enough evidence of "willful killings, massive rapes and pillaging of entire cities" to charge a number of individuals with war crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan by February 2007.

In Washington, a senior U.S. diplomat reaffirmed support for a hybrid peacekeeping force made up of United Nations and African Union troops. The United States also is willing to consider a "no-fly zone" to protect civilians in Darfur.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said there is "sufficient evidence to identify those who bear the greatest responsibility for some of the worst crimes in Darfur," including torture, murder and rape, but declined to reveal the names of those under investigation or say how many are involved. Presentation of the first case, Moreno-Ocampo said, "sends a signal to those who are considering committing further crimes that they cannot do so with impunity."

The prosecutor told the 15-nation Security Council that the perpetrators of atrocities "are standing in the way of progress towards peace and security in Darfur, as well as the neighboring states." (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Former spy chief takes over Pentagon amid Iraq strategy review
-Bush signs nuclear deal with India into law
-Hamas to boycott early elections
-Iran vote "decisive defeat" for president: reformers
-The Vatican dreams of fielding its own team in Italy's Serie A
-Indian ‘woman’ runner fails gender test