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Thursday, May 17, 2007

EU, WB attempting to buy cooperation and stability at the expense of human rights?

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Somalia premier escapes bombing] - [Lawyer to Congress: Help free man held in Ethiopia] - [Washington Update] - [Condoleezza appoints special envoy for somalia] - [CPJ: two journalists killed in ambush of official’s motorcade]

[Israel launches retaliatory airstrikes, killing two] - [Search for 3 missing soldiers continues] - [U.S. confirms US-Iran meeting set for May 28] - [Scientists find a possible way to reverse baldness] and more of today's top stories!

EU, WB attempting to buy cooperation and stability at the expense of human rights?

ETP -- The EU has granted about 180 million euros (1.8 billion birr) to the Ethiopian Government for "PBS" (Protection of Basic Services). That is, in addition to the 150m given last year for "road construction". The WB has also agreed to grant more than half the above amount in aid.

So much for the oversold idea of "aid suspension" that followed the post-election human rights crisis in Ethiopia.

One wonders what could be the progress that these two institutions saw and the majority of Ethiopians couldn't.

This news comes a week after we learnt that a genorous grant was extended by the EU to the Eritrean Government and - the UN issued a statement saying it is concerned about the "highetened tension" between the two countries.

Are they attempting to buy cooperation and stability at the expense of human rights and democracy? Is that still the MO? Is it possible?

As we see throughout history, the unspoken approval of the crimes of despots will only encouraged more crimes which lead to instability.

What incentives are left now for these two regimes to become peaceful or respect human rights if they get all they wanted with no strings attached?

Here is what Ishac Diwan (seen here), World Bank director for Ethiopia had to say:

"The Ethiopian government has worked hard to meet the stringent requirements of reporting and financial accountability.....The main reason we switched (the type of grant) is that in direct support you put the money in the budget and the decisions on how to spend it are done by the government"

Below, some examples of the Financial accountability Mr. Diwan speaks of:

-7.2 Billion Birr Unaccounted for from Ethiopia's Budget
-Prime Minister Meles fires auditor who exposed corruption

Other sponsors of the grant include the African Development Bank, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Britain.

The opportunistic philosophy of supporting dictators when it suits one’s plans - and denouncing them when it doesn’t - is not only morally wrong, but also has the tendency to backfire in the end.

Also see:
-World Bank, donors commit $780 million to Ethiopia
-Is aid in Ethiopia a tool for, or a hindrance to, poverty reduction?
-The World Bank – Resuscitating a Bully
-World Bank vs Ethiopia: Response to Dr. Ishac Diwan's letter

Washington Update

By Mesfin Mekonen

1. The Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs of the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on May 10. Secretary of State Rice testified and was questioned about human rights in Ethiopia. Rice did not address the issue in a meaningful way.

However, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT.) plans to follow up with written questions. Leahy has expressed great interest in supporting human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.

In his written remarks, which will be placed on the record, Leahy (seen here) pointed out that the U.S. has "been spending g a lot of money and effort to keep the Horn of Africa a stable and safe place for the people of the region, and to assist governments who are allied with our joint war on terrorism."

He asked Rice if she can "assure the people of East Africa that we are not going to forsake our values of liberty, freedom, and the democratic rule of law, by looking the other way when we observe an increasing tension over political and economic repressions in the region?" Leahy will be a champion for human rights and democracy in Ethiopia when the Senate addresses the issue.

We have been asked to submit official comments from the Ethiopian-American Council. Our statement is extensive. One of the points it will make is that the Meles regime's policies "jailing opposition leaders, suppressing legitimate political activities, censoring the media, corruption and especially intensifying ethnic divisions" are actually creating the conditions that breed terrorism.

We expressed gratitude fro Sen. Leahy's very active interest in human rights and democracy in Ethiopia, and the hope the human rights legislation becomes law so the entire world will know that the U.S. really supports democracy and human rights.

2. New legislation has been introduced in the House, H. R. 2228, the `Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2007'. The legislation is excellent. It is similar to Rep. Payne's bill and it is likely that the two bills will be combined in the future as a result of bipartisan negotiation.

The fact that both Democrats and Republicans have introduced similar legislation demonstrates that Ethiopian human rights is not a partisan issue in the U.S. Congress.

3. There has been some interest in the media in Ethiopian human rights and democracy. The Washington Post ran a story on May 14 (page A12) that mentions the pending legislation and some of the events that are occurring in Ethiopia. Other newspapers and magazines are preparing articles.

BBC: Somalia premier escapes bombing

Somalia's prime minister has escaped unhurt after an apparent attempt to kill him in the capital, Mogadishu.

A bomb was aimed at Ali Mohammed Ghedi's convoy but it is not clear if it exploded. No-one was hurt but one man was arrested, officials say.

The convoy was returning from the airport, where the bodies of four Ugandan peacekeepers were flown home after they were killed on Wednesday. This is the third apparent attempt to kill Mr Ghedi since he took office.(More...)

Also see:
-CNN: Somali prime minister survives grenade attack
-Reuters: Blast near Somalia PM's convoy
-AP: Roadside bomb explodes in Somalia

Condoleezza appoints special envoy for somalia

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
May 17, 2007

I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Ambassador John M. Yates as Special Envoy for Somalia. He will represent the United States with the Transitional Federal Institutions and other key Somali groups, as well as coordinate on Somalia with our regional and international partners.

The United States is committed to helping Somalis develop their national institutions and overcome the legacy of violence and disorder of the past. By supporting the people of Somalia in this effort, we are also contributing to the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa, and to the African continent as a whole.(Source)

CPJ: two journalists killed in ambush of official’s motorcade

New York, May 17, 2007—Two radio reporters covering a provincial governor in south-central Somalia were gunned down on Wednesday after the official’s motorcade was ambushed by clan militia.

News editor Abshir Ali Gabre and reporter Ahmed Hassan Mahad of Radio Jowhar were killed when the motorcade of Mohammed Omar Deele, governor of the Middle Shabelle province, came under attack from gunmen of a rival sub-clan, according to local journalists. Deele was unharmed, but at least six people were killed and several injured in the ensuing gun battle, the independent station Radio Shabelle reported.(More...)

Lawyer to Congress: Help free man held in Ethiopia

A lawyer representing the family of a Monmouth County, N.J., man being held in Ethiopia for alleged ties to Islamic militants, is calling for Congress to hold hearings on the case to determine what, if anything, the U.S. government is doing to help Amir Mohamed Meshal.

"Mr. Meshal's case raises important questions about the United States's failure to protect the rights of American citizens and its possible involvement in an operation designed to outsource an American citizen's detention to a foreign government to avoid this country's laws," wrote attorney Jonathan Hafetz.(More...)

Today's Top International Stories

-Algeria votes amid tight security
-U.S. confirms US-Iran meeting set for May 28
-Search for 3 missing soldiers continues
-Blair Makes Final Visit to White House
-Sarkozy names moderate Fillon as PM
-Israel launches retaliatory airstrikes, killing two
-Korean Trains Cross North-South Border for First Time in 56 Years
-Cannes abuzz over Seinfeld's `Bee Movie'
-Scientists find a possible way to reverse baldness
-Hillary puts campaign song to public vote