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Embaixada da Etiópia
Brasília, Brasil

September 16, 2016

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

The UN General Assembly began its 71st session this week in New York with the theme of "The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World." The new President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson from Fiji, took the oath of office at the opening session of the Assembly on Tuesday (September 13).

IGAD held an historic Summit in Mogadishu on Tuesday (September 13), attended by Ethiopia's Prime Minister and the Presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Somalia to discuss the upcoming Somalia elections.  The Special Representative of the African Union Commission Chairperson for Somalia and Head of the AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), Ambassador Madeira, said the occasion was an endorsement of Somalia's recovery. (See article)

The African Green Revolution Forum 2016 was held in Nairobi last week (September 5-9) under the theme: "Seize the Moment: Securing Africa's Rise through Agricultural Transformation."  It brought together more than 1500 delegates from 40 countries offering a diverse range of influential change agents from across the African agriculture landscape and around the world.


At the weekend, Ethiopia celebrated the Ethiopian New Year, ‘Enkutatash', 2009 on Sunday (September 11) followed by Eid al Adha. President Mulatu Teshome, expressing his wishes for a peaceful and prosperous Ethiopian New Year, said it was important to sustain the achievements in social and economic sectors and make progress by helping the nation to effectively implement development programs. He said it was important to safeguard the peace and stability of the country, and stressed the government would provide solutions for problems in accordance with the constitution. He announced an amnesty to 707 federal prisoners. 

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, in his capacity as Chair of IGAD, opened the IGAD Summit in Mogadishu on Tuesday (September 13).

Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom held talks with Singapore's Senior Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Minister, Dr. Mohammed Maliki Bin Osman who visited Ethiopia last week, and also attended the Ethio-Singapore Business Forum on Friday (September 9).  

Following the IGAD Summit on Mogadishu Summit, Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister, hailed the improving security situation in Somalia as a significant development for Ethiopia. Ambassador Berhane said Somalia had turned a new page on its past. He noted Ethiopia's firm commitment in assisting peace efforts in Somalia. Ethiopia, he said, had paid dearly in its efforts to assist Somalia when the rest of the world ignored it; and the current positive developments for peace and stability in Somalia therefore had a special meaning for it.


US Congressional Representative Chris Smith on Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs' subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, on Tuesday (September 13) announced he was introducing a bipartisan resolution "supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive government in Ethiopia." Representative Smith said the U.S. should consider all aspects of its relationship with Ethiopia, including foreign aid and the issuance of visas, when addressing rights abuses in that country.

The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity said over the weekend that the installation of transmission lines that would transfer power generated from Ghibe III to the national grid has been finalized. State Minister Engineer Wondimu Tekle said the added though the project has the capacity to generate 1,870 MW, and is currently supplying 800 MW with six turbines.

Ethiopian Airlines has won awards as Reward Employer of Choice, and Local Attractiveness Employer of Choice at the first East Africa Careers in Africa Choice Awards, at an event hosted by the Global Career Company in Nairobi on September 8. Ethiopian Airlines took the runner-up award in the category of East African Employer of Choice. 

The International Monetary Fund appointed Abebe Aemro Selassie from Ethiopia as Director of the IMF's African Department on Thursday this week (September 15). The appointment was announced by Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF who said Mr. Abebe would bring a unique blend of extensive knowledge and experience to his new position.


Last week, an official delegation from Eritrea visited Berlin, aiming to strengthen bilateral ties with Germany.  Yemane Gebreab, political head of Eritrea's single ruling party and advisor to President Isaias Afwerki, led the delegation, which included two ministers. During his visit Mr. Gebreab gave an interview to Deutsche Welle.

The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, subcommittee on Africa, held a hearing on "Eritrea: A Neglected Regional Threat" on Wednesday (September 14). The Committee heard testimony from Linda Thomas–Greenfield, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Ms. Bronwyn Bruton of the Atlantic Council; Father Habtu Ghebre-Ab, Director of External Relations, Canonical Eritrean Orthodox Church in Diaspora; and Dr. Khaled Beshir, from the Awate Foundation. We will look at their testimony in detail next week.

NaanDanJain Irrigation Ltd, an Israeli company, signed a contract with Eritrea's Ministry of Agriculture and National Development last week to supply and install solar powered drip irrigation systems valued at 18.7 million Euros. The project, funded by the European Union, will provide water from reservoirs to groups of smallholder farmers through drip irrigation systems.


President Kenyatta launched a new political party on Saturday (September 11) in Nairobi. He told the crowd at the stadium in Kasarani the new party affirmed togetherness and peace. He said "The party we launch here today is an expression of our unity. In launching it, we renew and strengthen our ties that bind Kenyans together. We rise from the ashes of conflict to express the beauty of reconciliation and collective purpose." He said "Jubilee will not make the mistakes of the party that came before us. Every shred of opinion will have its say in this party, every member will get a fair hearing, and we will embrace internal party democracy."

President Kenyatta and President Mohamud agreed on Tuesday (September 13) that direct flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi could start in three months time. The present Wajir stopover will be replaced by establishing security measures in both Mogadishu and Jomo Kenyatta airports. This will halve the flight time from Mogadishu to Nairobi. A Joint Commission of Cooperation will meet soon to agree on visa processes.

Somalia agreed to lift a week-old ban on imports of Kenyan miraa (khat). The decision came on the margins of the IGAD Summit in Mogadishu on Tuesday (September 13). The ban on aircraft carrying miraa was announced early last week and it led to serious concern in Kenya, particularly in Meru County, where most of the miraa exported to Somalia is grown.

Following discussions between President Kenyatta and Somali President Mohamud in Mogadishu on Tuesday (September 13), the Kenya Commercial Bank will be allowed to open an office in Mogadishu before the end of the year.

Karanja Kibicho, principal secretary for Kenya's Interior Ministry reaffirmed on Thursday (September 15) the plans to close the Dadaab largest refugee camp by November. He said ""Our timeline is November 30th for closure of the camp." Mr, Kibicho, rejecting allegations by Human Rights Watch that Kenya was harassing and intimidating Somali refugees to return home, said "We are trying to restore sanity in matters of refugee affairs. We are a sovereign country that is trying to address a security concern, and we are as humane as possible."


President Mohamud launched a national strategy to counter violent extremism in Somalia on Monday (September 12). He said the Comprehensive National Strategy on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism was in line with the United Nations' call to the member states to develop national strategies.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has once again offered a pardon to anyone renouncing membership of Al-Shabaab or Al-Qaeda. On Monday (September 12) at the Isbahaysiga Islaamka mosque in Mogadishu at prayers marking the start of the Eid al Adha festival, he called on "the youth fighting for Al-Shabaab to come back to their societies and join the rebuilding of Somalia.  Also attending the prayers were the Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, and the regional presidents of Puntland and Galmudug.

President Mohamud officially opened the second phase of the state formation conference for Hiiraan and Middle Shebelle in Jowhar on Thursday (September 15). A Ministry of Internal Affairs official has said that the election for the head of the state administration will take place on October 3

The National Leadership Forum meeting last week came to an end on Sunday (September 11) with a reported agreement on the modalities for the choice of members of the Upper House of the Parliament. The Forum finally decided that the 54 seat Upper House, agreed at the Forum meeting in Kismayo earlier in the year, would have 48 seats distributed evenly among the Federal member states and the remaining 6 seats would be divided equally between Puntland and Somaliland.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni after attending the IGAD Extraordinary Summit in Mogadishu visited AMISOM's Ugandan troops at the Halane military camp in Mogadishu and met Ugandan Defense Force commanders and addressed the Ugandan troops. He thanked them "for helping our brothers and sisters in pacification of Somalia, and being a good example of unity." The Chief of the Uganda Defense Forces, General Katumba Wamala told the Uganda Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs this week that it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the UPDF in Somalia after the European Union cut its budget to AMISOM by 20% in January this year.

The Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) said on Thursday (September 15) that the Federal Government would provide security for all presidential candidates throughout the campaign period. It also assured opposition candidates the electoral process would be free and fair, and that all candidates will be accorded equal and fair chance during the presidential election which will take place on October 30.

President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo of Somaliland on Wednesday (September 14) criticized the IGAD Summit communiqué for reaffirming "the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia." He said this did not represent the real situation between Somalia and Somaliland.  He said "We are not part of the Federal states of Somalia," and "politicians and elders from Somaliland regions, presently in Mogadishu, do not represent our government nor they are mandated to represent us."

South Sudan

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday (September 14) called on South Sudan to honor its commitments to allow a Regional Protection Force into the country and grant peacekeepers freedom of movement, or face a possible arms embargo. The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, said South Sudan's government had not taken any action on the pledge it made 10 days ago to cooperate on the deployment of more troops.

A South Sudan army spokesperson, Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang, over the weekend strongly denied that the SPLA Chief of General Staff, General Paul Malong Awan, and President Salva Kiir, organized and oversaw the renewed clashes in the national capital, Juba, between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former first Vice-President, Riek Machar in July 2016, as a recent UN report claimed.  He said the SPLA General Headquarters was outraged by the accusation describing it as an "irresponsible statement" which confirmed the UN's "negative smear campaign against top leadership of the military."

A report by the Washington advocacy group, the Sentry, on Monday (September 12) claims that President Salva Kiir and former First Vice-President, Riek Machar, conflict have amassed enormous wealth inside and outside the country, some of it illegally. The report claims the real struggle in South Sudan is over control of the country's mineral and oil resources. It says the "The leaders of South Sudan's warring parties manipulate and exploit ethnic divisions in order to drum up support for a conflict that serves the interests only of the top leaders of these two kleptocratic networks."


The Sudan Call opposition grouping has announced it will meet in Addis Ababa between September 25 and 30 to coordinate positions ahead of meetings with the government over cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access followed by a national constitutional dialogue conference. The meeting will also choose a delegation for the Strategic Meeting with the Government before the constitutional conference.  Last week the Sudanese government said the chief mediator Thabo Mbeki would visit Khartoum to discuss the resumption of talks.