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Embaixada da Etiópia
Brasília, Brasil
Week

Jul 31,2015

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

President Bark Obama on his visit to Ethiopia address the African Union on Monday (July 27), the first time a sitting US President had done so. (See article)

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia and President Barack Obama of the United States of America spoke to the press following the bilateral talks, during Obama’s official visit to Ethiopia on Monday (July 27, 2015). (See article)

Ambassador Negash Kibret Botora, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Other International Organizations and Dr. Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday (July, 28, 2015) on the Implementation of the Capacity Building in the Use of Appropriate Technology Specific Technical and Scientific Information as a Solution for Identified Development Challenges.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Dr Tedros, makes a valediction to Josiah Ogina, Head of the International Organization for Migration of Mission in Ethiopia, on Thursday (July 30) in his offices.

The 10th Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum is set to be held on August 01, 2015 in Washington DC at The George Washington University. In a related development, the 5th Pioneer Ethiopian Diaspora Business Person of Year Awards Dinner is also set to be held on August 13, 2015 at the Sheraton Addis, as part of the first Diaspora Week celebration in Addis Ababa.

Djibouti

Somalia's Foreign Minister, Abdisalam Hadliye Omar, arrived in Djibouti on Monday (July 27) for an official visit. He met with President Ismail Omar Guelleh for regular bilateral talks on the security situation in Somalia, and delivered a message from Somalia President Mohamud.

Kenya

US President Barak Obama arrived in Kenya on Friday (July 24) for a two-day visit to Kenya. He attended the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in sub-Saharan Africa and held talks with President Kenyatta. (See article)

Somalia

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council authorized the Member States of the African Union to maintain the deployment of AMISOM for an additional 10 months, until 30 May 2016. The Council also extended the mandate of the UN Special Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) (until 30 March 2016. It accepted the UN Secretary-General’s recommendation that conditions would not be appropriate for a United Nations peacekeeping operation before the end of 2016.

The first Ministerial High-Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) opened in Mogadishu on Wednesday (July 29) to review the country’s progress in political, security and economic sectors and discuss political developments, progress on Vision 2016 and security. The 2-day forum, co-hosted by President Mohamud and SRSG, Nicholas Kay, brought together key international partners and representatives from 30 countries as well as local administrations.

The United Nations envoy to Somalia has criticized an announcement by the country's president that general elections will not be held in 2016. Any term extension beyond the designated mandate will be unacceptable,” Nicholas Kay, the U.N.'s special representative to Somalia, said in Mogadishu on Wednesday (July 30, 2015).

UK Minister of State at the Department for International Development, Grant Shapps, met with President Mohamud, Prime Minister Sharmarke and other ministers in Mogadishu at the weekend. He said the UK would increase its humanitarian and development support to Somalia.

IGAD expressed its profound sorrow for the Al-Shabaab terror attack on the Jazeera Palace Hotel on Sunday (July 26) in which 17 people died including a Chinese security guard was killed. Chinese embassy staff have been moved to a safer location. China restored its diplomatic mission in Mogadishu last October. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the bombing and vowed that it would not deter the United Nations from helping Somalia realize a peaceful future.

Somalia should focus on strengthening the key building blocks for stability and growth as it recovers from more than two decades of civil war, the International Monetary Fund said in its first review of the nation’s economy in a generation

Last week the AMISOM Forces (the Ethiopian and Kenyan component) together with the Somalia Government Forces have launched military operations that dislodged the Al Shabab from Bardere and Dinsor towns.  (See article)

South Sudan

The African Union Peace and Security Council Ministerial Level meeting on Friday (July 24) officially received and considered the Report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan. (See article)

The SPLM-in-Opposition will convene a consultative meeting in the first week of August in Pagak to discuss its response to the IGAD-Plus peace proposal to end the fighting. The parties are expected to consult with their respective constituencies before resumption of the peace talks in mid-August. The IGAD-Plus mediation has given a 17 August deadline for a final peace agreement.

Sudan

President Omer Hassan al-Bashir travelled to Mauritania on Sunday (July 26) to participate in the 4th summit of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative. The GGWSSI addresses land degradation and desertification in the Sahel and Sahara, food security, and support climate change adaptation. Members include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Gambia and Tunisia.

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President Obama pledges another “century of friendship” with Ethiopia…

President Barack Hussein Obama, on the first-ever visit by a US President to Ethiopia, looked back to the century-old diplomatic ties between the two countries and charted the way forward to restructure an already existing and close cooperative partnership into a meaningful approach to deal with the challenges of the fight against poverty, food insecurity, and other emerging threats in the future. The President’s visit exploring the surest ways to sustainable peace, development and democratization in the region, put the long-standing ties between the US and Ethiopia on a concrete foundation to ensure progress in areas ranging from combating climate change, to fighting insecurity, conflicts and terrorism and provide for opportunities to take lessons from the US’s development path in science, technology and education. President Obama’s visit, according to Prime Minister Hailemariam, “represents a new height in our bilateral relations” allowing for both sides to trade more, encourage the flourishing of people-to-people ties, and work together on capacity building for greater progress.

Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Barack Obama, heading their respective delegations, held bilateral discussions on various issues of common interest at the National Palace on Monday (July 27). The talks covered ways on how to deepen the quality and comprehensive nature of cooperation in trade and investment; to take advantage of President Obama’s signature Power Africa initiative; to expedite the strategic partnership in security and peace-building as well as fighting terrorism in the region; and step up cooperation to make President Obama’s Flagship Alliance for Food Security program a complete success. The talks allowed the two leaders to exchange views on how the US can champion the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the upcoming negotiations at the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York in September. They also dwelt on how best to coordinate efforts to combat climate change; work together on global health epidemics; and co-operate closely to make the COP21 negotiations a success. In addition, these bilateral talks offered an opportunity to discuss how the US might extend support in Ethiopia’s democratization process; enhance efforts to strengthen its institutions and build capacity in various areas; as well as strengthen intelligence cooperation bilaterally and regionally.

Prime Minister Hailemariam, underlining that the U.S. is Ethiopia’s strategic partner in many fields, explored ways to encourage U.S. investors to come to Ethiopia in large numbers with a view to benefitting from the competitive and comparative advantages available here.  In relation to security and peace building, both sides acknowledged the US’s pivotal role in regional peace and security. They agreed to work closely on South Sudan to bring lasting peace there as well as build peace in Somalia by helping to create stable institutions and strengthening the Somali security forces to provide for them to take charge of the peace of their own country. The two sides appreciated the progress made by AMISOM forces and Somali National Army in the fight against Al-Shabaab with the support of the U.S. and other partners. They agreed to intensify the campaign against terrorism in the region, and agreed to deepen cooperation in intelligence both bilaterally as well as regionally.  

Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Obama spoke to the press following the bilateral talks. Prime Minister Hailemariam, who noted that given Ethiopia is the cradle of mankind, a beacon for African independence, an inspiration for the struggle of all people across the globe, the political capital of Africa and a pacemaker in registering impressive economic growth, described President Obama’s visit to this country as “fitting and appropriate” as well as a “well-deserved one.” The Prime Minister, who said that the Government of Ethiopia was committed to deepen the democratic process, emphasized that Ethiopia’s commitment to democracy was “real, not skin-deep.” The Government of Ethiopia, the Prime Minister added, welcomed U.S. support in this regard to make the system robust and effective. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to deepen the democratic process already underway in the country and work towards respect of human rights and improving governance.

President Obama, indicating that his visit was a reflection of the cardinal importance the USA attaches to its relationship with Ethiopia and to Africa, noted that Ethiopia and the USA share a longstanding friendship. The President said the connection of the two peoples was “deep and enduring”. President Obama, noted that Ethiopia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world and had changed its image from that of a drought-stricken and impoverished state into a leading country battling poverty and lifting many out of poverty. The US, he said, was keen to sustain that momentum, step up cooperation to eradicate extreme poverty and work in concert to combat food insecurity. The President underlined this point when on the final day of his visit he toured the Faffa Food Factory in Addis Ababa and discussed his Feed the Future initiative aimed to increase the productivity of small farms throughout Africa.

The President also focused on the importance of continuing to build resilience in the sphere of climate change, expand private sector engagement through the renewal of AGOA, help the Government increase electricity across Ethiopia through the Power Africa Initiative, and keep moving forward with the progress made so far. The renewal of AGOA, in particular, the President said, opened the window of opportunity for both countries to increase trade to provide more for better results. The President, appreciating the Prime Minister’s role in the global consensus produced at the recent International Conference on Financing for Development, reiterated that “Ethiopia is now helping to shape a new set of sustainable development goals for the world.”

On security cooperation, the President pointed out that their partnership was helping to rollback violent extremism. He said Ethiopia’s role had enabled AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia, to liberate wide areas from Al-Shabaab control. The President, stressing the need to do even more in this regard, underlined the urgency “to now keep the pressure on.”  He went on to note that Ethiopia was also a major contributor to U.N. peacekeeping efforts and “contributes more troops than any other country in Africa.” He added, “and we’re working together to improve the ability of Ethiopian peacekeepers to respond rapidly to emerging crises, before they spiral into widespread violence.” He said that Ethiopia had “also been a key partner as we seek to resolve the ongoing crisis in South Sudan.”  He was appreciative of Ethiopia for the sanctuary it is providing for the “hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled South Sudan and conflicts throughout the region.”

The President also noted that he and the Prime Minister had discussed steps that Ethiopia might take to show progress on promoting good governance, protecting human rights, fundamental freedoms, and strengthening democracy. He said: "The governing party has significant breadth and popularity and, as a consequence, making sure to open additional space for journalists or media or opposition voices will strengthen rather than inhibit the agenda that the Prime Minister and the ruling party have put forward." Prime Minister Hailemariam said Ethiopia needed "ethical journalism," not reporters that "pass the line" and work with "terrorist groups." President Obama disclosed that both sides had agreed to hold further conversations and consultation because, he said, “we strongly believe in Ethiopia’s promise and its people.” He said that “Ethiopia is a strong partner with the United States and a leader on so many vital issues in the region”, adding that “it has the opportunity now to extend its leadership in ways that benefit all of Ethiopia’s people and that sets a positive example for the region.” 

On Monday, the President and his delegation attended a State Dinner hosted by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn after the bilateral meeting and joint press conference. Speaking at the State Dinner, the Prime Minister, recollecting that the historic ties between the two countries began in 1903, said that the US had offered powerful inspiration for the promotion of science and technology in Ethiopia as well as democracy and good governance. In a similar fashion, the Prime Minister said, Ethiopia, being “the only surviving vessel of freedom and independence in Africa, had offered inspiration to many in America including such great African American thinkers as the philosopher, Du Bois, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Prime Minister went on to say that the spirit of Ethiopia had lifted the hearts of many by “courageous struggle as the symbol of the struggle of the whole community of Africans across the world for civil liberty, equality, and freedom.” He recalled that Ethio-American ties were built on concrete foundation of mutual understanding, respect and dignity and these had flourished during the fight against fascism. He applauded the role of the people of the US as “historic” when the US had denounced Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, with its people mobilizing funds and sending medical supplies, as well as expressing their willingness to a point of enlisting themselves to fight for Ethiopia. 

The Prime Minister, who noted that many more had come to Ethiopia to extend their support for post-war reconstruction, following the Second World War, particularly remembered Colonel John Robinson, otherwise known as the “Brown Condor of Ethiopia”.  An exemplary model of Americans in Ethiopia’s fight against fascism, he was responsible for setting up the Ethiopian Air Force during the Italian invasion and subsequently served as the first commander of the Ethiopian air force. The Prime Minister also expressed his gratitude to the US administration and to the members of the US Congress for the recent renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another decade. He underlined that “this bipartisan action by Congress was an impressive example of the way the United States is prepared to assist in the development and growth in Africa.”  This was also a demonstration that reflected the US interest to work closely and harmoniously with Ethiopia and Africa for mutual progress, he said. The Prime Minister stressed that the time was ready for both sides to take these links to a higher stage and cement their long-standing, time-tested and exceptional relationship.

President Obama visited the 3.2-million year-old bones of ‘Lucy’ and in his reply at the dinner, he highlighted that “Ethiopians are an ancient people in an ancient land.  We honor Ethiopia as the birthplace of humankind.” The President quoted Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebre Medhin: “Here is the land where the first harmony in the rainbow was born…Here is the root of the Genesis of Life; the human family was first planted here.” He said that visiting the 3.2 million year-old remains of Lucy, the earliest ancestor of the human race, was a reminder of the fact that “Ethiopians, Americans, all the people of the world are part of the same human family, the same chain.” The President recalled that Ethiopia, a symbolic example of freedom and a living expression of the right of self-determination, had played an important role in igniting the imagination of Americans and inspiring African Americans before they won their civil rights. He reminded his listeners that Ethiopia uplifted the imagination of American poets like Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes by showing a dignity “to be celebrated and emulated.” President Obama, indicating that the deep connections of the two peoples were set on a solid footing of shared values, pledged “another century of friendship, to our one human family.”

President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia sent a clear message that the US would continue to be supportive of Ethiopia’s march towards development and progress, highlighting that it was a key and lasting sign that the two countries could expect “another century of friendship”. It also underlined that Ethiopia’s vision of joining the list of Middle Income Countries and of becoming a Carbon Neutral Middle Income Manufacturing Hub by 2025 surely complemented the U.S. commitment to “expanding economic growth and trade, strengthening democracy on a global scale, and investing in the next generation of African leaders.”

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… commends Africa’s progress and development to the African Union ….

While in Addis Ababa, President Obama held talks with AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, and he also addressed the African Union. It was the first time a sitting American president has addressed the 54-member states of the African continent, and his historic speech marked the end of his five-day tour to Kenya and Ethiopia. Speaking at the Nelson Mandela Hall of the African Union Headquarters on Tuesday (July 28), Barack Obama began his address by thanking Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the Ethiopian people for the wonderful hospitality he and his delegation had received and the African Union for hosting such a historic event.

In his key note address, President Obama said, “I’m grateful for this opportunity to speak to the representatives of more than one billion people of the great African continent,” adding that “I stand before you as a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of an African.”

Reflecting on Africa’s contributions to humanity, President Obama recalled that Africa and its people had helped to shape America and allowed it to become the great nation that it is now.  Africa as a cradle of humanity, the President said, was notable for its ancient kingdoms that were home to great libraries and universities. Unfortunately, the President noted the evils of slavery and the impact of colonialism had robbed the peoples of the continent of their capacity to shape their own destiny. Despite these frightful and tremendous ordeals, the President said Africa in “a great burst of self-determination” had been able to achieve its freedom and had been able to restore its dignity with the resurrection of its national sovereignty and independence. 

Touching upon the significant progress that the African continent has made across in recent years, Obama noted that Africa was now one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.  Africa, with its middle class projected to grow to more than one billion consumers and with hundreds of millions of mobile phones provided ever-growing access to the Internet, “is beginning to leapfrog old technologies into new prosperity.” He said: “Africa is on the move, a new Africa is emerging, propelled by this progress, and in partnership with the world.” The President pointed out that Africa had achieved historic gains in health as the rate of new HIV/AIDS infections dropped, African mothers were now more likely to survive childbirth and have healthy babies, malaria deaths had been slashed saving the lives of millions of African children, and millions had been lifted from extreme poverty, Africa, he said, led the world in sending more children to school. Accordingly, the President said, “more and more African men, women and children are living with dignity and with hope.” Reminding his listeners that “Africa doesn’t need strongmen; it needs strong institutions,” President Obama noted that the Africa Union was one of those institutions that could serve as a platform for “a shared commitment to human dignity and development,” adding that “here, your 54 nations pursue a common vision of an 'integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”

Given Africa’s successes in setting out its own choices and determining its own future, President Obama called for the rest of the world to take note of the changes that have been taking place in the continent and act accordingly. With regard to aspects of development cooperation between the United States and the African Continent, President Obama noted that “as President, I’ve worked to transform America’s relationship with Africa .... We are truly listening to our African friends and working together, as equal partners.” President Obama also noted that a lot of progress has been made and American exports to the African continent had shown a rise. He said the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which he recently signed following a display of bipartisan support from Congress, showed America’s strong commitment to a mutual partnership with Africa. In addition, President Obama noted, the US has launched major initiatives to ensure food security, promote public health and access to electricity, and to help prepare the next generation of African leaders and entrepreneurs. All this combined to make up “investments that will help fuel Africa’s rise for decades to come,” he said; and to this end, he had personally welcomed nearly 50 African presidents and prime ministers to Washington last year. This meeting, the President said, set up a forum dedicated to begin a new chapter of cooperation. He said that “by coming to the African Union today, I’m looking to build on that commitment.” Stressing the fact that Africa’s rise was important not just for Africa alone but also to the entire world, President Obama noted that the world will not be able to meet today’s challenges “from ensuring a strong global economy to facing down violent extremism, to combating climate change, to ending hunger and extreme poverty -- without the voices and contributions of one billion Africans.”

Despite the remarkable growth in Africa, the President noted that much remained to be done in the face of extreme poverty, power inadequacy and water shortages. Given the huge number of the continent’s young population, the President noted that “the most urgent task facing Africa today and for decades ahead is to create opportunity for the next generation,” noting that unleashing economic growth for all remained a necessity. The President reminded his listeners on the critical need to end “the cancer of corruption,” He said this was the key to unlocking Africa's economic potential, and this was money that could be used to create jobs and build schools and hospitals. He added that if Africa committed itself to end corruption, the United States would cooperate with the continent to combat illicit financing and ensure transparency. He said the rapid economic growth in Africa was changing "old stereotypes" of a continent hit by war and poverty, but it was important to tackle unemployment urgently in a continent whose one billion people would double in a few decades. The President said: "We need only look to the Middle East and North Africa to see that large numbers of young people with no jobs and stifled voices can fuel instability and disorder.”

President Obama emphasized the critical need to boost Africa’s trade and investment. He said many countries in Africa have made important reforms to attract investment. These had provided the spark for growth although, he added, the prospect of doing business and investing still leaves much to be desired in many parts of Africa. Improvement requires modernizing customs and border crossings as has been evident from the example of the East African Community and thereby getting the best out of the huge domestic market in the continent. On the issue of expanding America’s efforts across Africa, President Obama said “we’re increasing trade missions to places like Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique; and we’re working to help more Africans get their goods to market.” Moreover, the President noted, the central focus of America’s engagement with Africa is built on “helping you build your own capacity to realize that vision,” which involves helping more than two million farmers to use new techniques to boost their yields, feed more people and reduce hunger, “instead of just shipping food aid to Africa.”  Similarly, the US was mobilizing billions of dollars in investment from governments with the Power Africa Initiative “instead of just sending aid to build power plants.” He maintained that America’s engagement with Africa involved delivering new tools and financing to more than 40 African nations to help them prepare and adapt “instead of just telling Africa, you’re on your own.” It also meant dealing with climate change and investing in better treatments and helping Africa prevent and treat diseases “instead of just sending medicine.” President Obama said the US would be hosting a U.S.-Africa Business Forum to mobilize billions of dollars in new trade and investment.

President Obama noted that democracy was taking root in some parts of the continent, but he cautioned on the need to work hard to unleash the wishes and meet the choices of its own peoples. He said the effort of building democracy was a work in progress. American democracy was not perfect, he said, and was not immune from criticism. There was always the need to continuously re-examine the process of making democracy better in Africa. He strongly criticized the refusal of some few leaders in the continent to step aside when their term officially ended. President Obama said: "Sometimes you will hear leaders say 'I'm the only person who can hold this nation together.' If that's true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation."

The President underlined that Africa’s progress depended on security and peace. He pointed out that countries like Angola, Mozambique, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have seen conflicts come to an end and much work done on rebuilding, but terrorism, he said, still remained a threat in countries like Somalia, Nigeria, Mali and Tunisia. “In the face of these threats,” he said, “Africa, and the African Union, has shown impressive leadership.” Under this, the Somali Government, thanks to the peace and security efforts of the African Union, was getting stronger than ever, the Lord’s Resistance Army was being degraded and forces from several nations with the backing of the AU were bent on fighting Boko Haram. In South Sudan, however, President Obama noted that the leaders on both sides had shown no interest in ending the plight of their people and finding a lasting political solution. He said the international community must raise the costs for the leaders if they fail to come to terms on August 17. In all these situations, the President noted, “good governance is one of the best weapons against terrorism and instability.” With reference to terror and conflict, he said, “I want you to know that the United States stands with you.” And mindful of the fact that the fight against terrorism requires a global action, the President said he will host a UN Summit in the next few months to secure new commitments to strengthen international support for peacekeeping, including Africa.

President Obama, in conclusion, stressed that African progress would depend on upholding the human rights of all people. In this context, he dealt at length on the critical need to empower women.  He noted that it remains a tragedy that more than “80 percent of new HIV cases in the hardest-hit countries are teenage girls.” He emphasized that the world would be better off when women receive equal opportunities, adding that America was forging new partnerships with 10 African countries in order to allow teenage girls get safe schooling and thus become future leaders and business owners. The President also stressed the need for inclusivity, noting that “for instance, the diversity in Ethiopia represents the diversity in Africa.”  Taking note of Lucy as an ancestor of humanity, and reflecting on Africa’s natural and historical attachment to the rest of the world, President Obama concluded: “In this tree of humanity, with all of our branches and diversity, we all go back to the same root. We’re all one family -- we're all one tribe.”

Dr. Nkosazana Dlami Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, extended a warm welcome to the President: “although we welcome you as the President of the United States of America, we also claim you as our own”.  She also warmly welcomed the Congressional delegation, recalling their bipartisan unwavering support, and the support of ordinary Americans, to the African struggle against colonialism and apartheid. Dr. Zuma stressed the need to cooperate with the United States to combat illicit financing, to deal with climate change, and ensuring peace and security in the continent. The Chairperson noted that Africa was in a unique position to chart a path for development and industrialization through renewable energy and climate-smart agriculture. Equally, Dr. Zuma said, “we do require the cooperation of our partners and of the USA, through technology transfer, and investment in infrastructure development, renewable energy and our blue and green economies so that we develop without destroying the planet.”  Taking note of the need for reform in the United Nations, Dr. Zuma noted that the world has the responsibility to correct the historical injustice of Africa being the only continent without permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Dr. Zuma said 2015 marks the African Year of Women empowerment for the realization of Agenda 2063, and investing in women remained critical to “shared prosperity and to Africa becoming a prosperous, integrated, peaceful, people-centered continent, playing a dynamic role in the world.”

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… and stresses reconciliation and anti-corruption in Kenya

President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia was preceded by a visit to Kenya to attend the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in sub-Saharan Africa. This highlighted a key theme of the President’s engagement in Africa, the importance of the tremendous business and economic opportunities now available in Africa. Kenya is one of the major driving forces in the East African Community as well as on the frontline facing Somalia and the threat of al-Shabaab and plays a key role in the African Union’s Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). All these are reasons why President Obama visited Kenya in addition, of course, to the fact that his father was Kenyan.

Speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, President Obama said holding the Summit in Nairobi underlined that Africa was on the move; one of the fastest-growing regions of the world: “People are being lifted out of poverty.  Incomes are up.  The middle class is growing.” He added: “Kenya is leading the way.” Entrepreneurship created new jobs and new businesses, new ways to deliver basic services, new ways of seeing the world. It helped citizens stand up for their rights and push back against corruption.  It offered a positive alternative to the ideologies of violence and division. It meant ownership and self-determination, and brought down barriers between communities and cultures and built bridges. But it wasn’t easy to get started and that was why he had made encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship a key part of America’s engagement in the world. The President pledged over a billion dollars in investments from the U.S. government along with U.S.-based banks, foundations and donors.  He emphasized that 50 percent of the investments would go to women and young people, who faced obstacles when trying to start businesses. Referring to women who face gender oppression in Kenya he told the conference that “If half of your team is not playing, you’ve got a problem.” He said three women’s entrepreneurial centers were being set up, one in Zambia, one in Nairobi, and one in Mali. 20 members of Congress and 200 American investors to promote U.S.-African trade, technological innovation and the President’s Power Africa initiative, which aims to double access to electricity in Africa over five years, attended the Summit.

President Obama’s visit to his father's native Kenya was the first by a sitting US President to Kenya. It was both personal and political, with both family and political commitments. He described himself as a "Kenyan-American" President and met with members of his family, but equally he was prepared to speak of major issues in Kenya.

In discussions with President Kenyatta, President Obama committed the United States to an intensified fight against terrorists in East Africa, announcing that the US would expand support for counterterrorism operations in Kenya and Somalia, including increased training and funding for Kenya’s security forces. In 2015, Kenya received $100 million in U.S. counterterrorism assistance, more than doubling the previous year, and the US administration pledged to work with Congress to provide additional counterterrorism aid to Kenya. President Obama also met with survivors and families of victims of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in 1998, and laid a wreath at the memorial to the victims. He noted that the Kenyan people had shown “incredible resolve and remarkable resilience…in the face of despicable violence, such as the attack on Garissa University College and the Westgate Mall.” He said: “On security, the United States and Kenya are already strong partners, and today we reaffirm that we stand united in the face of terrorism.”

At the joint press conference he held with President Kenyatta, he encouraged the Kenyan Government to engage all segments of the community and to work with it as partners in confronting Al-Shabaab. He saluted the Kenyan people for their hard-won progress in strengthening democracy and noted the new constitution was one of the most progressive in Africa, “with its strong protections for freedom of expression, assembly and the press, and its emphasis on equality and against discrimination. “ He said “a free press helps make a nation stronger and more successful, and it makes us leaders more effective because it demands greater accountability.” He praised Kenya’s vibrant civil society, something which he said “is essential for any democracy”.

Both at the joint press conference he held with President Kenyatta  and when he addressed the nation at the stadium on Sunday, President Obama spoke of the need to fight corruption, empower women, get rid of outdated practices such as female genital mutilation and respect gay rights. He commended President Kenyatta for his announced commitment to root out corruption, which he said might well be the biggest impediment to Kenya growing even faster and preventing more people having more opportunity. He said the US would offer advice and technical assistance to support increased transparency and accountability, and strengthen institutions that fight corruption.  He also said the entire nation needed to commit itself to do away with  corruption. President Obama also spoke of women’s equality, girls’ right to an education, and female genital mutilation.

President Obama said it was important to avoid restricting legitimate organizations as that could have the effect of actually increasing the pool of recruits for terrorism and resentment in communities. He said the experience of the US was that the rule of law and respecting, embracing civil, particularly in communities that might be targeted for recruitment by organizations like Al-Shabaab, becomes more important with the significance of the threat.  He said he believed in the principle of treating people equally under the law, and that all were deserving of equal protection under the law. The state, he said, should not discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation. 

President Kenyatta said he and President Obama had held “very frank and, indeed, very fruitful discussions” on a variety of issues of mutual interest. They had also signed a number of agreements covering security, visa reciprocity, and development and cooperation amongst other things. President Kenyatta said their discussions had underlined the fact that Kenya and the United States shared deep values in many areas, and their peoples and governments spoke the same language in many areas. Kenya, he said, was an open, democratic society, and it was deepening that democracy while fighting global terrorists. It shared many values with the US including a common love for democracy, entrepreneurship and value for families. However, he added, there were some things they did not share. It was, he said, very difficult to impose on people something they themselves do not accept. For Kenyans today, he said, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue and people wanted to focus on health issues; ensuring inclusivity of women in the mainstream of economic development; infrastructure; education; roads; giving people power; and encouraging entrepreneurship.  Once these had been dealt with new issues could be looked at.

President Obama reaffirmed the partnership of Kenya and the US against terrorism. Earlier, he had  met with survivors and families of victims of the bombing of the  U.S. embassy in 1998.  He said: “In the face of despicable violence, such as the attack on Garissa University College and the Westgate Mall, the Kenyan people have shown incredible resolve and remarkable resilience.” He paid to the sacrifices of Kenyan forces in AMISOM. He said the two governments had signed an action plan under which the US would support Kenya’s effort to strengthen its judiciary, police and border security. They had also discussed broader efforts to counter violent extremism, both in Kenya and elsewhere as well as talked about “the terrible conflict in South Sudan” where the situation is “dire”.

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… and President Obama and IGAD leaders meet to consider options

During his visit to Ethiopia, President Obama also met with IGAD leaders to discuss South Sudan on Monday. In addition to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam, those present included

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, Chair of the African Union Commission.

The meeting stressed the importance of the success of the peace proposals but it also explored alternatives should the two parties not accept the proposals by the deadline of August 17.  It agreed to warn the combatants in South Sudan that if they did not agree to the IGAD-Plus negotiated proposals by the deadline they could face international sanctions against individuals or organizations involved in the conflict. President Obama’s personal involvement in the meeting demonstrated that the United States had not abandoned responsibility for South Sudan.

If this latest effort fails, the President was focused on returning to the UN Security Council to secure international sanctions against individuals or organizations involved. "If we don't see a breakthrough by the 17th, then we have to consider what other tools we have to apply greater pressure on the parties," President Obama told a news conference in Addis Ababa. The President expressed his frustration over President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. They were failing to look out for the best interests of their people, at least 50,000 of whom have been killed and a further one million displaced by 19 months of conflict. President Obama said "We don't have time to wait. The conditions on the ground are getting worse and worse. ” If the Addis Ababa meeting has succeeded in impressing regional leaders of the need to isolate and sanction the combatants, that could be considered a meaningful step.

Earlier, Prime Minister Hailemariam met with Ugandan President Museveni to discuss with South Sudan and other regional and bilateral issues. They agreed on the necessity of exerting maximum pressure on South Sudanese warring parties to enable them reach a final agreement.

As IGAD members, the two countries are working together on regional issues and during their discussions the two leaders agreed to exert maximum efforts to encourage the South Sudanese parties reach agreement. Prime Minister Hailemariam said that the two countries share the same stance over an agreement in South Sudan and they agreed on the need to put pressure on the parties to do this. They also discussed on the need for strong measures if the Sudanese parties fail to reach agreement, PM Hailemariam said.

The carefully crafted IGAD-Plus mediation on South Sudan was launched on June 14. The IGAD-Plus initiative is a revised, expanded mediation effort that includes the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), the US, UK, China, European Union (EU), Norway and IGAD Partners Forum (IPF). The initiative, proposed by Prime Minister Hailemariam, is designed to present a united international front behind IGAD to the warring sides and demonstrate the international community’s support a realistic, regionally-centred strategy to end the war. Supporting IGAD-Plus efforts to get the parties’ agreement on a final peace deal in the coming weeks is the best chance to end the conflict and prevent further atrocities of the civilians in the country.  IGAD-Plus is the proposed bridge between an “African solution” approach and concerted high-level, wider international engagement.

On Thursday last week (July 23), the IGAD Special Envoys announced the release of the proposed Compromise Agreement which provides for an inclusive transitional government and covers issues of security sector and economic governance, justice and reconciliation and permanent constitution before the country’s election. The Compromise Agreement document exposes the disagreements on the initial proposals made by the stakeholders and the compromises reached on more than fifteen decisive issues. The problem over the scope of power sharing concerned whether power should only be shared at Central Government level or at all levels of the government. The Compromise Agreement provides for power sharing ratios in government and in the conflict affected areas of the Greater Upper Nile. For the Structure of the Government, it suggests the President should be the Executive Head of the State during the transition with shared responsibilities within the top leadership, which should also include the First Vice President (from the SPLM-in-Opposition).

If a question of succession arose, a controversial question, the top leadership of the SPLM should nominate the President’s successor within twenty four hours. A successor for the First Vice President should similarly be nominated from the SPLM-in-Opposition but within 48 hours. On the future of the National Legislative Assembly, the number of seats should rise from 332 to 400 and redistribution of the additional seats would be the responsibility of the SPLM-in-Opposition (51) and other political parties (17) respectively. The proposed Transitional Government of National Unity should reconstitute a competent and impartial National Elections Commission to conduct free and fair elections towards the end of the Transitional Period on the basis of inclusivity. The Compromise Agreement adds that competent and impartial local, regional and international observers should be invited by the National Election Commission to monitor the conduct of the entirety of the electoral process in accordance with the provisions of an amended National Elections Act. The Agreement provides for a federal system of governance which would help devolution of power and resources to lower levels of government. Proposed institutional reforms include new proposals on economic issues to be carried out via an Economic and Finance Management Authority comprising ministries that will have an international advisory body, and which would be guided by the President or by First Vice President.

The status of the Army is one among a number of issues in which there have been clear differences between the Parties. Suggestions have ranged from integrating the armies within 3-6 months or keeping them separate for the entire transitional period. The Agreement calls for the two leaders to remain commanders-in-chief of their respective armies with realization of unification within 18 months of the signing of the Agreement. Details on the size, doctrine, strategy and budget of national defense were not included in the document but are left to be resolved later. The Compromise Agreement allows for the demilitarization of Juba (a 25 kms radius from the center of the city) within ninety days of  the signing of the Agreement in order to create conducive conditions for the formation of the Transitional Government and the return of SPLM-in-Opposition and SPLM (Former Detainees) to Juba. Another element of the Agreement is for the withdrawal of all foreign forces within forty-five days from the signing of the Agreement with the exception of Western Equatoria State.

Meanwhile, on Monday (July 27) the International Crisis Group produced its latest report on South Sudan. The ICG said firmly that the international community needed to support a realistic, regionally-centered strategy to end the war, underpinned by coordinated threats and inducements, to support IGAD-Plus’ efforts to get the parties’ agreement on a final peace deal. This was the best chance to end the conflict and prevent further regionalization. The ICG suggested IGAD’s efforts had been limited by regional rivalries, by centralization of decision-making at the Heads of State level and a lack of institutionalization within IGAD, and the challenge of expanding the peace process beyond South Sudan’s political elites. The ICG emphasized that IGAD was important as a forum to regulate the regional balance of power, but it needs high-level support if the region is to reach a unified position on peace. IGAD-Plus should become a unifying vehicle to engage the internal dynamics in South Sudan more effectively and buttress all efforts among IGAD members. It said that the process needed to seek common ground to end the war and firmly push the parties to reasonable compromises whose outcome should be guaranteed by IGAD, the AU, the U.S and China. It concluded that further mediation alone was unlikely to resolve remaining issues and coordinated pressure and inducements would be necessary to reach an agreement.

The International Crisis Group suggested these might include the use of force, UN sanctions and criminal accountability, as well as development and security assistance, an economic bail-out and political guarantees. It also suggests instituting a 90-day ceasefire to prevent the parties from continuing to fight for additional leverage, and insist on a timescale to finalize an agreement. It recommended providing third-party security to protect the transitional government and address the security interests of both Uganda and the Sudan while refraining from encroaching on South Sudan's security interests and sovereignty. It also suggested that the UN should provide IGAD-Plus with support for sanctions and an arms embargo, third-party security for a transitional government, and future development.

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South Sudan: the AUPSC Council considers the Commission of Inquiry report

The African Union Peace and Security Council Ministerial Level meeting on Friday (July 24) officially received the Report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS). It also took note of a Separate Opinion submitted by a member of the AUCISS, and introductory remarks from the Commissioner for Peace and Security as well as statements from the representatives of the Government of Republic of South Sudan and of IGAD and others. It reiterated the AU’s deep concern at the situation, which it described as “marked by continued fighting and attacks against civilian populations and other serious human rights abuses, as well as by a dire humanitarian crisis, including forced displacement, acute food insecurity, access restrictions and other impediments to humanitarian assistance”. It expressed shock and outrage at the level of violence and cruelty meted out by the South Sudanese protagonists on the civilian population and the disregard of the South Sudanese leaders to the suffering of their own people. It condemned in the strongest terms all the violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of 23 January 2014. It demanded the armed belligerents immediately and fully respect the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and end, once for all, all acts of violence, and agrees, should this become necessary, to deploy an African force to bring the ongoing tragedy in South Sudan to a definite end. It reiterated Africa’s deep disappointment at the continued unwillingness and lack of political will of the leaders of the warring parties to make the compromises necessary to reach an agreement that would end the conflict.

In its communiqué the Council reiterated the AU’s support to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), as well as to the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM), and demanded once again that the parties fully cooperate with UNMISS and the MVM. It also made clear its support to the steps taken towards implementation of the Arusha Agreement of 21 January 2015, and efforts aimed at reuniting the SPLM and the subsequent return to South Sudan of the former political detainees. It expressed its conviction that the achievement of lasting peace and reconciliation in South Sudan required a holistic approach and the need an African solution to the challenges, an approach “rooted in the understanding of the South Sudanese context, including the multiple historical, political, moral and economic causes” of the prevailing situation, on the understanding that those who have committed crimes, irrespective of their status and level of responsibility, shall be held accountable for their acts”

The Peace and Security Council congratulated the Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan its hard work and commitment and on the following steps to expedite the in-depth consideration of the recommendations contained in the Commission’s report and subsequent implementation.

It set up an Ad Hoc sub-Committee, comprising of Algeria, Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, to consider the report and the Separate Opinion and make recommendations on the way forward. It said the Ad Hoc sub-Committee of its report should submit its recommendations to all members of the Council by the third week of August. The Council should hold a meeting at Heads of State and Government by the end of August to consider the recommendations of the Ad hoc sub-Committee and take the required decisions.

Ethiopia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos briefed the Council members on the progress of the IGAD-led South Sudan Peace negotiations and the need for further collaboration to assist South Sudan and its people. He expressed his profound appreciation to the members of the Commission of Inquiry, under the leadership of Chief Obasanjo, for accepting their job and “for work very well done.” The State Minister noted that since 27 December 2013, the IGAD Summit has met on more than nine occasions to resolve “this massive challenge”. He also noted the “complementary effort being made by the Arusha process focusing on the SPLM/A intra-party unity to contribute to the overall peace processes.” Despite all these efforts, Ambassador Berhane said that the situation on the ground continued to be precarious.” He said, “the lack of trust between the Parties to the conflict continues to be a major obstacle of the negotiations.”

Ambassador Berhane detailed the failure of the warring parties to meet numerous deadlines including the April 1 deadline for the finalization of all outstanding issues for formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity.” He said it was in this context that Prime Minister Hailemariam, Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly, had told the people of South Sudan in March that “IGAD has tried to mediate the crises as best it can, but we must acknowledge that our efforts have not yet produced the necessary results. Our efforts cannot continue unaltered and expect a different outcome; the peace process must be reinvigorated and informed.”

The State Minister reviewed the efforts exerted by the IGAD-led negotiations and stressed there was no doubt that the AU High Level Ad-hoc Committee of Heads of State and Government on South Sudan, set up in March 2015 would further enhance IGAD’s efforts within the IGAD-Plus mediation effort.”  He noted the submission of the IGAD proposed compromise Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict was now being formally submitted to the parties. He said “the IGAD-Plus partners of South Sudan expressed their readiness to assist the South Sudanese people in implementing the compromise Agreement to achieve a sustainable peace.”

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Major gains by AMISOM and Somali Government Forces

AMISOM Forces, including Ethiopian and Kenyan units, together with Somalia Government Forces last week launched military operations that dislodged Al-Shabaab from Bardhere and Dinsoor towns.  Bardhere is the capital of Gedo region while Dinsoor in Bay Region is in the heartland of the Digil community of the Rahanwyne clan.

This military success over Al-Shabaab and the liberation of these two towns was significant for both military and political reasons. Bardhere was the last district in Gedo region still held by Al-Shabaab, and the largest of the region’s 6 sub-districts. It is a major center for agriculture and livestock because of the Juba River, and its loss will be an important additional element in the continued degradation of Al-Shabaab’s ability to raise funds. In addition, it means Al-Shabaab has lost a vast training and recruitment ground. Bardhere was where many of the foreign Jihadists fighting alongside Al-Shabaab were based. The Syrian-born US international terrorist, Al Ameriki, operated out of Bardhere before he was killed by Al-Shabaab because of differences of opinion over operations and influence.  The UK-born international terrorist, Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the ‘White widow’, was also active around Bardhere after moving out of Mombasa in Kenya to Somalia. Equally, the capture of Bardhere not only denies Al-Shabaab human and financial resources, but it also deprives it of free access to Eastern Kenya where it was targeting civilian and military facilities. The capture of Bardhere therefore has regional security implications and will reduce Al-Shabaab’s impact in both Kenya and Somalia.

It is also significant that Dinsoor is the centre of the Digil community of Bay and its liberation will help to cut Al-Shabaab’s logistical route between the Juba regions and Bay-Bakool regions. Its capture also denies Al-Shabaab a vast area of operation for training and resources, human and financial. It will largely limit Al-Shabaab’s free movement in the Middle Juba region though this remains under the terrorist group’s control. In practical terms, the liberation of Dinsoor will enhance the capacity of AMISOM and the Somali Government troops to maintain their pressure on Al-Shabaab in the areas around Qoroyole, Buale, Jilib, and Jemame where Al-Shabaab is still in control. It is through these towns in recent times that it has been able to raise funds and gain opportunities to have access to the sea.

Overall, these victories by AMISOM and the Somali National Forces are an important development meaning that in central and southern Somalia Al-Shabaab’s control is now limited to parts of Middle Juba region, the capital of which is Buale. This is a significant development in terms of promoting security in Somali. The liberation of Dinsoor and Bardhere also signifies that all districts in the Bay-Bakool and Gedo Regions are now free from the yoke of Al-Shabaab. This underlines the need to enhance the political development track along with the recent gains on the ground. Importantly, it allows the Juba Interim and the South West Somalia Interim Administrations the chance to expand governance structures into newly liberated areas. It also offers the Federal Government the opportunity to expand its territorial control. Indeed, although most major cities in Central and Southern Somalia are now in the hands of the Government and AMISOM forces, traveling from and between regions and their capitals is still dangerous. One cannot travel from Afmadow to Kismayo, from Baidoa to Huduur, or Bulo Hawla to Garbehare and other places, let alone between major cities, or even within Mogadishu or other major towns without heavy security and in convoy. The Federal Government and the Regional Administrations will now have to fill the gap left by Al-Shabaab to provide services, effective governance and representative administrations. It is also a necessity for police and intelligence services to engage in effective community policing in order to ensure that Al-Shabaab cannot continue to terrorize the people and render these continued victories less meaningful.

It is equally important for the working relationship between the administrations and the spirit of moving Somalia to completion of Vision 2016 for proper consideration to be given to the less than warm relationship between the leaderships in Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa, Garowe and Adaado leadership. The most recent state formation, the Central Somalia State must also be aligned to the terms of achieving Vision 2016. The liberation of Bardhere and Dinsoor offers a good opportunity to the Federal Government, to AMISOM and to the Regional Administrations for these to move forward together in the struggle to continue to degrade Al-Shabaab’s capabilities. However, there is still the challenge of AMISOM and the Somali National Army becoming over- stretched in terms of their current capacity and number of troops on the ground. With these continued successes, Al-Shabaab has a large target available to it. It can be expected to continue operations, if in a limited area of activity, and try to sustain its hit and run operations suicide bombings. In this respect, the continued effort to build up the capacity of the Federal Government’s security and administrative capacities must be a priority.

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The 7th Ministerial and Tripartite National Committee (TNC) Meeting held in Khartoum

The 7th Ministerial and TNC meeting was held in Khartoum, Sudan from July 22-24, 2015. The meeting was conducted in the presence of the Water Affairs Ministers of the Three Eastern Nile countries, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt as the continuation of the 6th TNC meeting held in Cairo, Egypt from 1-3 July 2015. The objective of the 7th TNC meeting "concentrated on discussing the remaining points during the 6th meeting concerning contracting the consultancy firms to carry out the two IPoE recommended studies."

The Ministers of the respective countries, in their opening remarks, highlighted the importance of cooperation among the countries. H.E. Ato Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy of Ethiopia stated that "the cooperation of the three countries is growing and strengthening with time." He also expressed his appreciation for "keeping the momentum of cooperation of the three countries through continuous dialogue."

Prof. Hossam Moghazy, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt also stated that the 7th TNC meeting is a continuation "of what has been built and achieved so far." Ambassador Mutaz Mussa, Minister of Water and Electricity of Sudan added that "the importance of cooperation in the region cannot be overemphasized" as it is "obligatory upon [the countries] to work hard and exert [their] utmost efforts to harness available opportunities in the region to ensure that [their] people have enjoyed the benefits from their shared water resources, to meet their current and future needs."

The three countries discussed on four points namely, modality and management, approach and methodology, responsibility of the consulting firms and the road map for the way forward. The discussions were held based on the agreed points of the 5th TNC meeting held in Addis Ababa in April 8-9, 2015. After three days of deliberations, "the meeting succeeded in achieving the set objectives of the 6th TNC meeting and decided to instruct the lead consulting firm to present the updated technical proposal to the three countries by 12th of August 2015." The three Ministers further agreed on a road map for the way forward and to hold the upcoming 8th TNC Meeting in Addis Ababa on 20-21 August 2015, as a step forward to sign the contract with the lead consultancy firm-BRL.

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