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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The hunt for seized Chinese oil workers continues as death toll rises to 77

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Washington Update ] - [Ethiopia says Eritrea behind Chinese oil field bloodbath] - [Somalia's interim government suspected of preventing humanitarian aid] - [Beijing condemns attack that killed 9 Chinese in Ethiopia]

[Nigeria's president says elections not fatally flawed] - [Democrats predict they can win Iraq vote] - [Potentially Habitable Planet Found ] - [French centrist Bayrou rebuffs presidential rivals ] and more of today's top stories!

A procession of ambulances leaves Bole International airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Wednesday, April 25, 2007. Some of the ambulances were carrying Chinese workers who were injured in Tuesday's attack. (AP Photo/Anita Powell)



The Coalition for H.R. 5680


Washington Update

(By Mesfin Mekonen)

I. Congress

Rep. Donald Payne introduced the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 on April 20. The bill essentially the same as HR 5680 that Rep. Chris Smith wrote and introduced last year. The primary differences are:
1) the “findings” have been updated to include language from the State Department’s human rights report that describes outrages the Meles regime has inflicted on members of the opposition, including unlawful killings, beatings, and arrests.

2) the findings describe the results of an investigation by the Commission of Inquiry that the Meles regime created to investigate the use of force by government security forces. Although the Commission was hand picked by the government, it concluded that government security forces acted illegally and with extreme brutality.

3) Makes U.S. non-humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia contingent on punishment of security personnel who were involved in the unlawful killing of demonstrators. The bill specifically mentions Etenesh Yemam and the killing of prisoners at Kaliti prison.

4) The section on economic development assistance for Ethiopia has been expanded. It specifies that the U.S. government is to provide financial assistance for the development of irrigation to avoid future famines, including funds for the Blue Nile and Awash River. It also directs the U.S. to support Ethiopia’s healthcare infrastructure.

5) The bill authorizes the expenditure of $20 million per year for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 to accomplish its goals.

6) Language in the previous version of the bill that provided assistance for development of Ethiopia’s tax collection system, debt management and other financial infrastructure has been deleted.
This legislation may not be perfect, but its enactment would be a tremendous benefit to Ethiopia. We should have an initial list of co-sponsors very soon. Once we have the list we will know who should be thanked for their support and especially who should be contacted to solicit support.

We have spoken with Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and he has indicated that he will co-sponsor the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007. He was a co-sponsor of HR 5680.

At this point it is important for every Ethiopian in the U.S. to contact Rep. Payne’s office to thank him for introducing the legislation and to urge him to push hard for its rapid enactment.

It is also important to acknowledge Rep. Smith’s efforts and to ensure that this remains a bipartisan issue. Especially when this legislation moves to the Senate, bipartisan support will be critical.

The Meles regime is certain to look for cracks that it can exploit to block the bill. We need to create and maintain a united front. There is no reason that Ethiopian human rights, freedom, democracy and economic development should be a partisan issue in the United States.

II. State Department

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald Yamamoto, has helped arrange for a physician to travel from South Africa to Addis Ababa to treat Hailu Shawel, who remains in prison. We are hoping that he and all political prisoners will be released quickly.

The hunt for seized Chinese oil workers continues as death toll rises to 77

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - Ethiopia searched for up to seven seized Chinese oil workers Wednesday after an attack on a Chinese-run oil venture which killed 77 people, according to a new toll.

Ethiopia sent an investigation team to the Ogaden oil prospection site in a remote eastern region, while a local leader added three more Ethiopians to the death toll, which includes nine Chinese.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front separatist group claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack in a statement on its website in which it said it had completely destroyed the oil facility.(More...)

Ethiopia says Eritrea behind Chinese oil field bloodbath

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - Ethiopia on Wednesday accused arch-foe Eritrea of supporting the rebels behind an attack on a remote Chinese-run oil field that killed 74 people, including nine Chinese workers.

Eritrea immediately denied the claim -- the latest in a string of accusations and counter-accusations between the rival neighbours.(More...)

Beijing condemns attack that killed 9 Chinese in Ethiopia

BEIJING: China condemned an attack on a Chinese oil company site in Ethiopia that killed 74 people, including nine Chinese, and said Wednesday it was working for the release of another seven Chinese taken hostage in the assault.

Rebels stormed a Chinese-run oil field in eastern Ethiopia on Tuesday, destroying an exploration facility, killing 74 people, and kidnapping seven Chinese in the first such attack against a foreign company in the Horn of Africa nation.(More...)

FACTBOX - Facts about rebel group ONLF

* Formed in 1984 amid a resurgence of separatist sentiment in the Ogaden region on Ethiopia's border with Somalia, many of its first members supported Mogadishu in its failed war with Addis Ababa over the region in the late 1970s.

* The ONLF's aims have varied over time, ranging from full-scale independence to joining a "Greater Somalia", to more autonomy within ethnically diverse Ethiopia.(More...)

Somalia's interim government suspected of preventing humanitarian aid

Somalia's interim government is suspected of preventing humanitarian aid from urgently reaching people who have fled fighting in the capital.

Western diplomats say demands to inspect all aid shipments was adding to the misery, AP news agency reports. Earlier, the UN humanitarian chief said insecurity, checkpoint harassment and new administrative directives have all obstructed humanitarian efforts.

An estimated 320,000 people have left Mogadishu since February, the UN says. This is the eighth consecutive day of clashes between Ethiopian troops backing the interim government and insurgents and fighters from the city's dominant Hawiye clan.(More...)

Ethiopian tanks pound Somali insurgents, peace talks under way

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Civilians were caught in the crossfire Wednesday as the government’s Ethiopian backers used tanks and heavy artillery to pound insurgent strongholds, witnesses said.

Ethiopian military officials met with elders of Mogadishu’s dominant clan to try to broker a peace, said Abdullahi Sheik Hassan, a spokesman with Mogadishu’s powerful Hawiye clan. He gave no further details. Hundreds have been killed in eight straight days of fighting.(More...)

Also see:
-Fighting in Somalia kills 29 civilians
-Mogadishu clashes enter second week
-Militant group linked to Somalia bombing

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