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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ethiopia still on IPI’s Watch List

At the Board Meeting of the International Press Institute, in Edinburgh, Scotland on 29 May 2006, the IPI Executive Board voted unanimously to keep Ethiopia, Nepal, Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe on the IPI Watch List.

Speaking generally about the Watch List countries, IPI Director Johann P. Fritz said, "Nepal is the only country on the IPI Watch List where there have been improvements. The restoration of democracy provides hope for the future, but it is important that reforms take hold before any decision is made on the country's status."
"In Ethiopia and Zimbabwe the independent media have been systematically suppressed. The Ethiopian media are currently in disarray because of the government's determination to prosecute some journalists for treason; while, in Zimbabwe, the independent media have been drowned in a deluge of repressive legislation, antagonistic security forces, expensive litigation and red tape that continues to stifle freedom of the press," Commented Fritz.

Resolutions passed by the 55th General Assembly in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 2006
IPI Resolution on Deterioration of Press Freedom in Africa
Meeting at its Annual General Assembly on 29 May 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the IPI membership unanimously adopted a resolution expressing its concern that despite the importance of the African Union's Nepad (New Partnership for African Development), initiative in Africa with its emphasis on peer review of African countries' good political governance, there has been a further deterioration of media freedom on that continent.
As it has stated in earlier resolutions on Nepad and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), IPI affirms that good governance cannot be achieved in a country unless it fosters a free and independent media. However, since the Nepad process began and more countries have submitted to assessment under the APRM, there has been a deterioration in press freedom in Africa.
The serious situation is illustrated by a survey conducted over the last three months leading up to the IPI Annual General Assembly. Many editors and journalists have been arrested and detained, a number physically abused or beaten, a printing press destroyed and papers closed down by the authorities. In addition, legislation which would reduce press freedom has been introduced in two countries.
In that short period of three months, a total of 24 cases in 13 sub-Saharan countries were recorded including action against media personnel and their organizations involving at least 68 journalists, two instances of new legislation being introduced and two major violations.
The other countries where these incidents occurred were Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros Islands, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zamibia.
Perhaps the single most alarming trend in Africa today is the treatment of journalists in Ethiopia. At present, numerous journalists are imprisoned on charges of treason, and face the death penalty or life imprisonment if found guilty. Other countries of concern are the Gambia and Sierra Leone.
IPI calls on the African Union, its agencies and, in particular, the African Commission for Human and People's Rights to impress on its members the need to end these unacceptable practices and to reform their legislation to ensure compliance with the highest standards of freedom of expression and of press freedom and to set new standards of conduct for its officials to ensure that they comply.
International Press Institute (IPI)
Spiegelgasse 2/29
A-1010 Vienna
Tel: + 431-512 90 11
Fax: + 431-512 90 14

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The World Bank – Resuscitating a Bully

(By Paulos Dandego, Ethiopian Politics Contributor)

“What's holding down Africans is actually the bad governments, the bad policies that make it difficult for Africans to make use of their own property, What the aid money is doing to Africa is to subsidize the bad policies that are making Africans poor."
James Shikwati, director of the Inter Region Economic Network

Since the 2005 elections the Ethiopian Government has increasingly imitated its predecessor, the Marxist junta (the Dereg), and yet amazingly has managed to keep the support of most western donor countries in the process.
It has imprisoned thousands, killed hundreds and sent many into exile. Renowned organizations such as amnesty international, the Committee to protect journalists and others have issued statement after statement condemning these atrocities but still couldn’t stop the millions of dollars in aid money provided for the government in a variety of forms.
The "direct budgetary cuts" announced by the donor nations previously coupled with the insistent cry for democracy from its own people was leaving the government little choice but to negotiate, compromise and heed the voice of reason. But alas, here comes the World Bank to the rescue. It is clear to anyone who has been following events in Ethiopia that this aid money will be used by the government to strengthen its muscles and continue on the path of repressing and terrorizing its citizens into submission.

The World Bank group has approved a plan to, as they put it, “preserve the delivery of basic services”. This they say is not “direct budgetary support” to the government of Ethiopia but rather a way to continue sustaining basic services to the population through grants to local governments.

Who are the local governments?

In a study published by the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) entitled Ethnic Federalism in a Dominant Party State: The Ethiopian Experience 1991-2000, the author states:

"Centralization of federal-regional relations in Ethiopia has severely undermined the federal division of power. This implies that the regional governments are not able to act independently from the federal government and are acting more or less as extended arms of the party in power at the central level.......the Ethiopian federation was introduced in an undemocratic manner. There was no genuine bargaining between different political forces, and the federal constitution was practically imposed from above by the ruling party. The study of the functioning of the federal system revealed that the ruling party uses force and intimidation to control regional affairs. Due to these circumstances, it is possible to argue that the Ethiopian federation can be seen as a result of and is maintained by coercion from above. Accordingly, if we follow the argument above, the Ethiopian polity should not be defined as genuinely federal.

The Economic expert from addis ferengi’s highly informative interview affirms:

Each and every regional government is controlled by the very same ruling party, EPRDF, that had broken the donors’ trust! Whether they provide aid to the federal or the regional governments, the former are tightly controlled by the latter, so donors have in a sense deceived both the Ethiopian people and their own taxpayers by structuring the PBS the way they did.

But what is wrong with giving aid money to the government? Doesn’t that alleviate poverty and help the country prosper?

It has recently been learned that Ethiopia has received over twenty one billion dollars in aid money since the EPRDF took over in 1991, yet still we have seen no significant progress.

Reporter JOHN STOSSEL did an interesting research on this subject for his show/book entitled "Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity."

Here’s an excerpt:

Two studies by World Bank economists say foreign aid is one of the problems because "higher aid levels erode the quality of governance."

Former World Bank economist William Easterly agrees. His new book, "The White Man's Burden," argues that Western efforts to cure poverty in the rest of the world have done more harm than good.

"Aid has the perverse effect that it makes [African] politicians much more oriented toward what will get them more money from the West than it does to making them meet the needs of their own people, which is really a scandal," he said.
Fifty years ago, countries in East Asia were as poor as Africa. Now many are rich, despite much lower levels of aid because their governments created understandable laws so people could trade, borrow and start their own businesses.

He finish off with this statement:

It's good to help. I'll contribute to a charity like "The Free Africa Foundation," which builds malaria-free villages from individual contributions. Charities are much more likely to keep a close eye on the money. If they don't, donors stop giving.
By contrast, foreign aid often just makes politicians rich — but leaves their people poor.

This declaration made by the Sister of a 17-year old shot dead by government forces in the aftermath of the May 15, 2005 election, is a clear message to all who wish to know how to really help the poor in Ethiopia - a message to all donors.

“Please tell them this: We don't want bread. We don’t want money. But please don't allow the government to take away our hope."


Need more info. on this subject? Listed below are some excellent opinions and analysis essays that explore this topic:

World Bank vs Ethiopia: Response to Dr. Ishac Diwan's letter by the Ethiopian American Civic Advocacy

Donor ‘Good Governance’ Rhetoric vs. Democratic Governance by The Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)

Is aid in Ethiopia a tool for, or a hindrance to, poverty reduction?

Addis ferengi - Protection of basic services... a disguised budgetary support granted to regions?

Mr. Obang O. Metho, Director of International Advocacy, Anuak Justice Council (AJC): Statement to the World Bank, Washington DC.

World Bank, PBS, and Aid Politics for Dummies: Part 1 (weichegud! ET politics)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

CPJ - Critical Web sites Inaccessible in Ethiopia

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned by reports that Web sites critical of the government have been inaccessible in Ethiopia since late last week. Several blogs have reported that the authorities are blocking sites, although the information minister denied this.(More...)

VOA Reports on Censorship in Ethiopia

[Listen to the Report]

".....The head of the organization's internet freedom section, Julien Pain, says he suspects that the Ethiopian government has blocked the Internet sites.

"We found out that many opposition Web sites and web blogs have been blocked in Ethiopia," Pain says. "We cannot prove that it is because of government's decision, but we believe it is very likely because they were accessible three weeks ago and all of a sudden they just disappeared from the internet. The Web sites are not shut down. They are blocked, and obviously filtered in Ethiopia and still accessible in the rest of the world."

Pain says the Web sites' blocking will increase political tensions in the country, and that that he thinks many Ethiopians will suffer because of the blockages."(More...)

Other sources covering this development:

American chronicle
International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)
The Age
Sudan Tribune
Political Gateway
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Business in Africa

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Reporters Without Borders asks for an Explanation

Reporters Without Borders has called on Ethiopia’s information and culture minister to explain why several websites critical of the government have been inaccessible in the country since 17 May 2006.
Ethiopians have also seen all publications hosted by blogspot disappear from the Internet. (More...)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Statement announcing the formation of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD)

Members of the New Alliance are the CUDP,OLF,EPPF,ONLF and SLF ( UEDF has refused to join the Alliance)

(Left to right)
Mr Abdulkadir Hirmooge (ONLF), Mr Meskerem Atalay(EPPF), Mr Dawud Ibsa(OLF), Shaleka Yoseph Yazew (CUDP), Mr Galfato Feqa (SLF), Mr Meazo Meke (SEPJE).

May 22, 2006 - Utrecht, Netherlands

A historic meeting convened, by the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP), the Ethiopian People's Patriotic Front (EPPF), the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Sidama Liberation Front (SLF) and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), at Utrecht in Netherlands, from 19 to 22 of May 2006 has successfully completed by forming the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) and elected its officers. The UEDF supports the formation of the alliance and its objectives and has requested a month to consult its member organizations.
The formation of the Alliance is an outcome of a series of bilateral and multilateral discussions conducted in the past several months. The Founding Agreement has been unanimously accepted and ratified by all members of the Alliance. The formation of this Alliance reflects the aspirations and best wishes of all people in Ethiopia whose life has been blighted by political repression, marginalization and exclusion.

The ultimate aim of the Alliance is to establish a just, representative and a genuine democratic process through the convening of an all-inclusive conference where the country’s problems will be discussed and resolved.

We are confident that the formation of this Alliance will be a vehicle to eliminate mistrust and suspicion between political groups and communities so that all will work together in the spirit of mutual understanding and to the benefit and well-being of all. We believe the collective effort behind the Alliance will put an end to the existing destructive mentality of winner takes all and the habitual indifference towards the excluded.

The Alliance aspires to purposefully cultivate the values of compromise, tolerance, inclusion, reconciliation and mutual understanding. That is the only way to end the underlying causes of repression, bloodshed, insecurity, political instability and exclusion in Ethiopia and the region, which are inflicting severe hardships and suffering on all people, and seriously hampers the prospects for development and the attainment of equality, justice and prosperity.

Time and time again the people in Ethiopia have risen up and paid unimaginable sacrifice to satisfy their yearning for freedom, justice, liberty and democracy. The struggle and the sacrifice that is being paid in relation to the May 15 2006 election is a recent addition to the series of quashed aspirations.

Our people have demonstrated their readiness and ability that a just and democratic political order is feasible in Ethiopia. What stands between the aspiration for freedom and democracy and its realization is the unwillingness of the incumbent EPRDF regime to submit to the expressed will of the people and its flagrant violations of human rights and civil liberties and failure to even respect and abide by its very own constitution.

The Alliance will therefore struggle to pressure the ruling party to stop frustrating the realization of the yearning for freedom and democracy. The Alliance would use its generous spirit of inclusiveness in convening the conference that would facilitate a way towards the establishment of a democratic and representative order.

We call upon all the people of Ethiopia, both at home and abroad, to rise up in unison to support the cause of the Alliance and struggle to make the convening of the conference, which paves the way for a democratic transition, a reality. The struggle should continue to challenge the current spate of repression in the country, halt the futile and destructive military campaigns, security crackdowns and end the farcical political trial of elected members of parliament and others and to free all political prisoners, including those detained in the small towns and villages.

We also call upon the international community to realize that dialogue and good-faith negotiation offers the only way to achieve a lasting solution and back the alliance's call for this all-inclusive conference to break the current impasse. We hope the international community will realize that peace and stability, sustainable development and good governance can be a reality in Ethiopia only when the disfranchisement of the many by the few is stopped and by bringing all the stakeholders together to chart a genuinely democratic course.

Ethiopian's problems are immense and grossly complicated. Convening an all-inclusive conference to address them is well over due. We do not underestimate the obstacles and challenges facing us. However, with patience and perseverance we are certain that we will succeed.

The Alliance will hold a Press Conference to lay out its vision and work programs in detail.

Freedom and Democracy for all!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Breaking News - Government Blocks Blogs!

According to Ethio Zagol all "blogspot" blogs have been blocked in Ethiopia including "the Ethiopian Review" and "Free our leaders" websites.

Ethio Zagol further states that this was done by the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation with the advise and help of the Chinese government.

Journalist Andrew Heavens also confirms that indeed all “blogspot” blogs have “stopped working” in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Politics is one of the blogs that can no longer be accessed from Ethiopia. We are looking into possible solutions to this predicament, rest assured our esteemed contributors will come up with a reliable solution promptly.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mr. Obang Metho-Interview

(Interviewer - Sintayehu Tefera, Ethiopian Politics Contributor)

Mr. Obang Metho Director of International Advocacy for Anuak Justice Council (AJC); sat down with Ethiopian politics Blog, before leaving for Europe to participate in the Parliamentary hearings, to discuss a variety of political and human rights issues concerning Ethiopia.


Saturday, May 06, 2006


Regional Conference for Press/Media Council at Bagamoyo, Tanzania

May 2-3 2006

WHEREAS May 3rd is internationally recognized as World Press Freedom Day and is a time to reflect on the basic human right of all people to receive and impart information freely via media of their choice.

AND WHEREAS it is noted by respected international organizations that in many nations these rights are abrogated by repressive government actions that include murder, jailing, harassment of journalists, and suppression of the means of communication,

AND WHEREAS the current Ethiopian government has employed all of these repressive methods against journalists and media workers,

AND WHEREAS at least 20 Ethiopian Journalists have been sentenced to long jail terms, and that many others have been forced into exile while facing charges such as treason for exercising their basic right to free expression, thus ranking Ethiopia among the worst nations in the world for use of these methods,

AND WHEREAS we observe that the Ethiopian regime has especially targeted the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA) as an object of this repression,

AND WHEREAS we find intolerable that any nation would employ these draconian methods against their own population,

AND WHEREAS we are journalists and representatives of African nations and have ourselves struggled for democratic goals and we find it shameful that Ethiopia is emerging as a pariah state on the African continent,

That we condemn the Ethiopian regime for jailing journalists or any other persons for exercising their basic human right of self expression and we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all held under these conditions.

Further, we demand that the charges against journalists that have forced them into exile, be dropped so that they may return home to their families without threat of punishment, whether through exercise of police power or by extra-judicial harassment or violence. We demand that the campaign of terror against the EFJA cease immediately so that this organization can join with others in civil society in restoration of democratic government.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

ETHIO-DUTCH Journalists International Conference-2006

"Throughout the world, 3 May serves as an occasion to inform the public of violations of the right to freedom of expression and as a reminder that many journalists brave death or jail to bring people their daily news. The main theme of World Press Freedom Day 2006 is the correlation between media freedom and the eradication of poverty." - UN.Org

EthiopianPolitics received the following press release pertaining to an event sponsored by: the Foundation for Ethiopian Information and Documentation in the Netherlands (FEIDIN), the Dutch Journalists Union (NVJ) and PRESS NOW. “The conference, in the process of its deliberation, is expected to seek and propose an Independent Alternative Media, to serve in place of the state-silenced Independent Press in Ethiopia.”

Event will be held June 10 – 11, 2006, at the Center for politics and culture building, De Balie, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Read the Press release