Thursday, June 30, 2005

New Statesman threatens a blogger - Defending Oxfam and Barbara Stocking's rebuttal

This afternoon, I contacted American blogger and journalist Curt Hopkins after receiving an email from Kathryn Corrick, Online Manager at the New Statesman (a UK magazine on political, cultural and current affairs) telling me to cut the majority of a post entitled "In Darfur, Sudan 700,000 people rely on Oxfam to survive" published at my blog Sudan Watch 2 June 2005.

Curt is director of the Committee to Protect Bloggers. They have good connections with Media Bloggers Association which has as its General Counsel the Coleman Law Firm.

The email from the New Statesman does not explain what they propose to do if I ignore it, so I emailed Curt at the address given at his blog Morpheme Tales.

See the post NEW STATESMAN THREATENS BLOGGER that Curt published today in response. I would have liked to have written a more in-depth post on this but will have to make do for now with posting just the link to Curt's post. I've overdone my time online today and am over tired.

By the way, the folks that do great petitions for the Committee to Protect Bloggers are at Sudan Activism Blog



Joe Trippi's blog announces ONE blog is alive

American readers might like to follow ONE Blog which covers the Live 8 event in America. Just like Live Aid concert 20 years, Live 8 is being held on the east coast of America, in Philadelphia.

[via Joe Trippi's Blog ONE is alive with thanks]
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Great links and images at Live 8 Concert - live 8 - with thanks to Live 8 Concerts for sharing the pointer in the comments at Congo Watch post entitled "The Greatest Show on Earth July 2: Geldof's Live 8 concerts to promote G8 Summit and Make Poverty History Campaign."
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Buzztone promotes Live 8: The world's largest interactive event

A few minutes ago I received an email from Nick Lezin of Buzztone saying he is working on promoting Live 8. Buzztone, The Change Agency, is smart looking marketing firm with a perfect sounding pitch.

Nick says, on Saturday, Live 8 will become the largest interactive event the world has ever seen:
"Worldwide concerts featuring the biggest names in music-U2, Destiny's Child, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Tim McGraw, Madonna, Sting and more-along with one million spectators and millions of viewers. All coming together with one purpose-to make poverty history. You can check out all of your favorite performances, on-demand throughout the summer-available to everyone, only at AOL

Make sure to check it out and add your name to the live 8 petition. If you would like to help spread the word about this great cause, go to for a variety of Live 8 content that you can host on your blog or website. We have banners, blurbs about Live 8, and the official press release available."
If you are a blogger and can put something up, please send Nick [nick AT buzztone DOT com] a link so he can check it out. Thanks.

Note, a BBC news report June 23, 2005 says AOL which has exclusive rights to broadcast the Live 8 event on the internet, also licensed it to North American TV and radio stations. Also, the report says AOL will screen the five main concerts on the internet and make them available for download six weeks after the event.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Africa Calling Live 8 at Eden in Cornwall, England, UK

Live 8 - Africa Calling

The Eden Project in Cornwall, England is to stage a major Live8 concert on 2nd July under the banner of "Africa Calling" presented in association with WOMAD and its co-founder Peter Gabriel, together with Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour.

The evening itself will be hosted by Peter Gabriel, who has championed World Music for the past 25 years. Youssou N'Dour and Peter Gabriel have invited many of their favourite African artists to perform at the event.

Live 8 Africa Calling at Eden in Cornwall

The concert will be held on the stage in the Eden arena with the world's biggest greenhouses providing a spectacular backdrop in the crater.

This outstanding line-up will bring the spectacular Eden site alive with unbeatable African party spirit. Transmissions will be made from the event by the BBC as part of the Live8 celebration.


This Week's Good Idea - Send a message to the G8

Snippets from Keith's insightful post:

Next week is the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY festival in Edinburgh before the start of the G8 summit. Even if you can't go, you can send a message to the G8 leaders.

When you live around people who are struggling to provide for their families day by day, much of the political posturing, and criticism of Live 8, "Saint Bob", and stuff is really hard to listen to. There is injustice in the status quo, resulting in millions of people dying. The answer can never be charity alone, if we don't address the fundamental injustices. How can we not fight to change it? We need to recognise that for the poor to get a good deal, we need to be willing to pay a price, and that international structures and decisions should reflect this. Surely this is an expression of righteousness - to help others at our own cost. You too can send a message to the G8 leaders to tell them you want them to act for the poor.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Global Call to Action Against Poverty July 1 - International White Band Day

July 1, the first Global White Band Day will see people around the world wearing their white bands and wrapping public buildings in white to send a message to the G8 world leaders that they demand action on trade justice, debt cancellation, and more and better aid. International White Band Day will prove to be one of the largest global actions ever taken.

Below are just some of the White Band events planned. More will be announced soon. For more information or to get in touch with national coalitions, please visit the GCAP Country Coalitions section.

July 1 International White Band Day
Source: GCAP - United Kingdom Coalition against Poverty: Make Poverty History.

Massive white bands will be wrapped around buildings across the world, including:

- The Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa, a group of shacks will be wrapped in a white band, to symbolise perpetuating poverty in Africa.
- In Freetown, Sierra Leone, the famous cotton tree, planted by freed slaves when the nation was founded, will be draped in a white band.
- In Senegal, the slavery archway will be wrapped in a white band.

From June 30 to July 14 the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in Australia, will be wrapped in a white band, with the Australian coalition's slogan "Make Poverty History" across it.

- The Coliseum in Italy.
- The Brandenburger Tor in Germany.
- In Paris, France, the Trocadero's buildings which sit either side of the Eiffel Tower, will be wrapped with two white bands.
- In Spain, bridges will be wrapping on the main highways of Spain.
- In Georgia all the trees along the Central Avenue of the capital, Tbilisi, will be wrapped in white bands.

[via White Band Blog with thanks]


Friday, June 24, 2005

The Greatest Show on Earth: Geldof's Live 8 concerts July 2 to promote G8 Summit and Make Poverty History campaign

50,000 people are dying, needlessly, every day of extreme poverty. Everyday, poverty kills 30,000 children in Africa alone. Another 100 will have died in the time that it takes you to read this post.

Live Aid July 13, 2985 logo

Image: Live Aid concerts were staged on 13 July 1985 to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. It is estimated the concerts reached an audience of 2 billion people, raised $140 million and saved 1-2 million lives.

Once again, the ball is rolling on tackling extreme poverty and after many years of hard work by the British Government, Sir Bob Geldof (of Live Aid fame), Bono (leader of the Irish rock band U2) and many others involved in the Commission for Africa things are starting to come to fruition that could, eventually, lead to the scrapping of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

With only eight days left before the Live 8 concert is beamed to billions of people around the globe on July 2, things are hotting up here publicity wise in Britain. The countdown is beginning to the greatest concert on Earth.

There are just 13 days to go before the G8 Summit takes place at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, UK July 6-8.

LIVE 8 concerts

This year, the UK -- as well as holding the presidency of the European Union (EU) for the second half of the year starting next week -- holds the presidency of the G8, which is why the summit is hosted in Britain with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the chair.

Tony Blair's Commission for Africa

Tony Blair has travelled to the countries of the G8 leaders to garner support for initiatives on the environment and to help make poverty history.

Tony Blair in Ethiopia at his Commission for Africa

Photo: Mr Blair last year in Ethiopia at a meeting of his Commission for Africa

Britain's Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was born in Scotland, UK where the G8 summit is to be held July 6-8 at the famous Gleneagles Hotel. He and Tony Blair have spent several years lobbying hard to help countries such as Africa. They have worked closely with Bob Geldof, Bono and many others on the Commission for Africa which, after initial meetings in Ethiopia chaired by Mr Blair, produced its first report 11 March 2005.


Photo of Bono by Barry Brecheisen. [See article "Bono Assembles an Army" and Bono's DATA campaign website Debt AIDS Trade Africa.]

Britain's Make Poverty History campaign brings together a cross-section of over 100 charities, campaigns, trade unions, faith groups, church leaders and celebrities who are united by a common belief that 2005 offers a unprecedented opportunity for global change.

At last year's G8 summit, Tony Blair came close to getting Britain's proposal for cancelling the debts of the world's poorest nations accepted, but US President George W. Bush rejected it. This year, the historic proposal succeeded. On June 11, 2005, following a meeting of G8 finance ministers held at Gleneagles, Scotland, Gordon Brown announced the world's richest countries had agreed to write off the debt owed by 18 mainly African countries. This is just the beginning.

Nelson Mandela and Gordon Brown

Photo: Nelson Mandela and Gordon Brown [see below copy of Mandela's poverty speech given ahead of the meeting of G8 finance ministers June 11, 2005]

On Saturday 2 July, as the leaders of the G8 summit gather, tens of thousands of people will attend a rally in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, to demand trade justice, debt cancelling and more and better aid for the world's poorest countries.

Bob Geldof and friends have generated global publicity for Live 8, G8 summit and Make Poverty History campaign, sponsored by America Online, BBC, Nokia Nseries, 95.8 Capital fm, O2.

British TV news reports say the British police, coastguards and security forces were alarmed when Geldof used the media to call for one million people to turn up in Edinburgh. He launched Sail 8 and called for those with access to a boat to set sail on July 3 and recreate D-Day to be part of the Long Walk to Justice. He even called for sailors to bring over as many French as possible to support the protest action against poverty.

Sir Bob Geldof and Sail 8

Photo: Bob Geldof calls for sailors and boat owners, to form a massive flotilla across the English Channel in July as part of the global call for action against poverty (GCAP). Dame Ellen MacArthur is supporting the Make Poverty History campaign and international transport and travel companies have pledged their support by providing planes, trains, coaches to get people to Edinburgh by Wednesday 6 July when world leaders arrive for the G8 meeting.

Henry Northover of Make Poverty History says:
"It is imperative that thousands turn out on the streets of Edinburgh on 2 July to demand action from the G8 that they fulfill their promises to halve poverty by 2015."
Bob Geldof, with the help of some great supporters, is chief organiser of the Live 8 concerts. Unlike Live Aid in 1985, Live 8 is not about raising funds for charity, it is about raising awareness of extreme poverty and the G8 Summit 2005. Live 8 aims to reach as many people around the world as possible. Geldof has spent the last few months browbeating top names in the rock business to participate. Groups like The Who and Spice Girls may reform for the special event that will be beamed by satellite all over the world and reach an audience of 2 billion. There is even talk of Status Quo, the band that opened Live Aid with "Rockin' All Over the World".

The aim of the global Live 8 concerts is to fight world poverty. Live 8 will take place on July 2, ahead of the G8 summit July 6-8 . So far, the latest concert locations are: Johannesburg, Tokyo and Toronto which add to a growing list of venues that includes London, Philadelphia, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Cornwall. According to the BBC, Geldof, who originally co-ordinated five main concerts in Europe and the US, said he decided to arrange more after the European Union agreed to double its development aid to poorer nations. He said he hoped former South African president Nelson Mandela - who has also campaigned for the alleviation of poverty in Africa - would head the Live 8 Africa concert.

British blogger and journalist Stephen Pollard, in a May 23 article in the Times, suggests activists campaign for property rights and the rule of law - in other words: for better governance which is what I have said here in many previous posts. Another point he made is for campaigns to focus on:
"...not to abolish free trade but to extend it - attacking, for instance, the EU Common Agricultural Policy and its immoral tariff barriers against the developing world. The EU spends EUROS 2.7 billion a year subsidising farmers to grow sugar beet; at the same time it imposes high tariff barriers against sugar imports from the developing world. And the EU’s agricultural tariffs average 20 per cent, rising to a peak of 250 per cent on certain products. The European market remains barely open to the majority of low-cost textiles from the developing world."
The Live 8 concerts around the globe on July 2 will mark the start of The Long Walk To Justice. It will be watched and listened to by more than 2 billion people.

Find out more, including where the concerts are taking place, how to get tickets and who is performing: Apparently, there may be arrangements to allow hundreds of thousands more into the London concert at Hyde Park on the day.
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Educ8 The G8

Does your school want to hold a MAKE POVERTY HISTORY day or week of events during the G8 summit? You can dowload lesson plans to introduce the G8 here. The lessons are suitable for a variety of subjects, and help pupils critically engage with the concept of the G8, as well as the themes of Africa and Climate Change.

Understanding the G8 - Lesson Plan1 (suitable for ages 10 to 13)
Understanding the G8 - Lesson Plan 2 (suitable for ages 13 to 16)
Assembly ideas and suggestions for getting involved.
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Live 8 List

Wherever you are located in the world, you can add your name to The Live 8 message addressed to the 8 most powerful leaders in the world:
"At this year's G8 summit meeting, it is within your power to put an end to this tragedy. It is an extraordinary opportunity which it would be shameful to ignore. We urge you to take these 3 steps to make extreme poverty history...

- double the aid sent to the world's poorest countries,
- fully cancel their debts,
- change the trade laws so that they can build their own future."
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Bloggers talking about Live 8

See Joi Ito's post Technorati Live 8 launches re tags, badges and tracking what bloggers are saying.
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Make Poverty History Campaign

What is Make Poverty History campaign? BBC explains about the campaign that bids to end poverty trap.

Click here to get the code for a whiteband on your website and here for white bangles.
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Mandela's poverty speech

Via BBC News online: the full text of Nelson Mandela's speech in London's Trafalgar Square for the campaign to end poverty in the developing world.
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'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'. - Nelson Mandela
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Bono launches ONE campaign
Photo: ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans - ONE by ONE - to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. The campaign was launched at a rally in Philadelphia with the help of U2's Bono.

Readers, especially those from America, might like to follow the ONE Campaign and Joe Trippi's blog.


Monday, June 20, 2005

World Refugee Day

Refugee Day

Photo and caption via Reuters: "A Sudanese refugee girl sits in the shadow of her hut as they celebrate Refugee Day at Ikafe camp in northwest Uganda near the borders of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo June 20, 2005. Marking World Refugee Day with his first overseas trip in the role to Ikafe camp, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said on Monday that nations like Uganda that host hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighbouring African conflicts should serve as a lesson to the West, where asylum policies are increasingly restrictive. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)"

Note, "celebrate" is not a word I would use in connection with World Refugee Day. Not sure what the new UN High Commissioner Antonio Guterres is getting at when he says Sudanese refugees in Uganda should serve as a lesson to the West. What is he suggesting, that millions of people from the Sudan, DR Congo, and Uganda, to name a few countries in Africa, be given residency in tiny countries like England with the British taxpayer footing the bill?

I suggest the lesson lays with African people and their leaders - not the West. African countries are rich in oil and other natural resources. Billions of dollars of taxpayers money have gone from the West to Africa. It is the fault of corrupt African leaders and African people not getting their act together for so many years that is the problem. For too long poor people in Africa have been marginalised and denied access to the law and land/property ownership. And too many are coming to the West to get educated and not returning home to spread their knowledge, training and skills. The fault lays with African people and their leaders, not the West. They need to wake up. The population of Africa will double in 27 years time. If Africa does not pull itself up by its bootstraps like many Asian countries have done so admirably, it will become unmanageable for the rest of the world. African people must get educated and get rid of despotic dictators who spend Africa's wealth on arms and decades of continual war.

Eritrea appeals to global powers over border

Copy of a report by Ed Harris for Reuters courtesy Sudan Tribune:

ASMARA, June 20 (Reuters) - The international community should put pressure on Ethiopia to respect a legally binding ruling over its disputed border with Eritrea, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said on Monday.

Diplomats have warned that Ethiopia and Eritrea, which went to war from 1998-2000 over the border, run the risk of starting a new conflict unless there is a breakthrough.

In December, Ethiopia moved as many as 48,000 soldiers closer to the border, saying the movements were purely defensive. But Eritrea said the move was provocative.

"We call on those that claim to tag themselves with the label of 'the international community', and who continue to allow that the rule of law be violated and our sovereign territories remain under occupation to shoulder their responsibilities before it is too late," Isaias said.

Both countries agreed to accept as "final and binding" a 2002 boundary ruling under the terms of a deal to end their two-year border war, which killed 70,000 people.

The ruling awarded the flashoint town of Badme to Eritrea.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said in November that Ethiopia accepted "in principle" the ruling on the demarcation of the 1,000 km (620 mile) border, but called for dialogue first. However, Eritrea insists on full demarcation first.

Isaias, in a speech commemorating Martyrs' Day, criticised unnamed foreign nations for the simmering tensions between the Horn of Africa countries.

"All this is a result, not of the TPLF's might, but rather of the external blessings of spoilers that continue to encourage the regime's defiance of the rule of law," he said, referring to Meles' former rebel Tigrayan People's Liberation Front.

"A legal decision remains overstepped for three years and the prevalence of a dangerous situation that demands due attention has become inevitable," he added.

In May, Isaias said the United States should shoulder much of the blame for the U.N. Security Council's failure to enforce the border ruling.

He accused Washington of giving political and military support to Ethiopia cloaked in the guise of counter-terrorism.

The United States has said the border decision should be implemented without qualification.

Eritrea says international inaction responsible for tension with Ethiopia

ASMARA, June 20 (AFP) report via SudanTribune:

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Monday accused the United Nations and the international community more broadly of fanning instability in the Horn of Africa by treating rival Ethiopia with kid gloves.

Isaias said Ethiopia was continuing to "drag the region into a dangerous predicament" with the collusion of the world body and powerful nations which refuse to hold Addis Ababa to account for its actions.

In a speech delivered to mark Eritrea's annual Martyrs' Day commemoration, the president blamed the international community for allegedly allowing Ethiopia to run roughshod over the 2000 peace deal that ended a two-year border war between the two nations.

He also suggested that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government was escaping scrutiny and condemnation for recent deadly post-election violence in which police opened fire on crowds during protests in Addis Ababa.

"It has become unambiguously clear that it is under the intensive care of sympathisers and the auspices of the United Nations, and not through its own ability and ingenuity, that the (Ethiopian) regime continues to occupy our sovereign territories, subjugate the people of Ethiopia, ensure its presence in power and drag the region into a dangerous predicament," Isaias said.

"On the occasion of Martyrs' Day, it becomes appropriate that we call on those who claim to tag themselves with the label of 'international community' ... to shoulder their responsibilities before it is too late," he said.

Martyrs' Day, a national holiday here, commemorates those killed during the 1961-1991 struggle for independence from Ethiopia and the 1998-2000 border war.

Official statistics say 65,000 Eritreans died during the independence struggle and 19,000 during the border war although some observers believe the real figure may be far higher.

Isaias, noting that the "martyrs" represent one in every 50 Eritreans now living, said their memories should be preserved with the full implementation of the 2000 peace accord under which Asmara and Addis Ababa were to have accepted the border demarcation of an independent commission.

But three years after the panel issued its "final and binding" ruling, Ethiopia has yet to accept the decision, leading to increased tensions along the border amid reports of troops build-ups.

UN peacekeepers are stationed in a buffer corridor that hugs the length of the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) border between the two states, and in March the UN envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea warned that the world must "act fast" to defuse the growing tension or face the risk of a new war.

Asmara regularly blames the international community for not putting enough pressure on Addis Ababa to accept the ruling.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Britain minister calls for rule of law in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, June 17, 2005 (PANA) -- Britain's Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn has urged the Ethiopian government and opposition parties to abide peacefully by the rule of law in the aftermath of last week's deadly street violence.

"I expressed to all parties the British government's grave concern about the situation in Ethiopia, and our dismay and sadness at the tragic deaths of civilians last week during the confrontations between demonstrators and security forces," Benn said at the end of his brief visit here.

In a statement the British Embassy released, Benn said he has urged Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the leaders of opposition parties to show calm and restraint.

"There can be no repetition of the tragedy," he emphasised, calling for investigation of the incidents.

At least 26 people were killed after security forces used live bullets to shoot unarmed demonstrators.

"I urge all sides to abide peacefully by the rule of law, the democratic institutions and the courts, the Constitution and international principles of human rights.

"All those detained who have not been charged under due legal process must be released.

"Restrictions on free movement of the Opposition leaders, as well as the alleged detention of many of their party officials, are counter-productive given the need for all political leaders to work together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect," he said.

The minister cautioned the opposition to play its part fully, avoiding violence and confrontation.

"For Ethiopia's multiparty system to work effectively, Ethiopian political leaders on all sides must establish mutual trust and a collaborative partnership.

The opposition and the ruling parties signed a declaration relating to a review of the complaints arising from the 15 May parliamentary elections.

Benn emphasised that all parties must stand by and implement the declaration to which they have committed themselves.

"The Prime Minister and leaders of the opposition parties owe it to the people of Ethiopia to ensure the democratic process is completed peacefully and successfully so that the voice of the Ethiopian people can be heard," he added.

Results of the polls, which the opposition claims were rigged by the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), are due to be officially declared on 8 July 2005.

In the meantime, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia is reviewing complaints raised by different parties on irregularities committed during the polls in different constituencies.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

EC urges compromise to resolve the Ethiopian crisis

Press release from European Commission Brussels, June 9 2005:

Commissioner responsible for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, spoke with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in order to convey a message to the government of Ethiopia urging tolerance and restraint on the use of force in response to recent unrest following disagreements over the electoral process.

Louis Michel expressed the Commission's deep concern about recent developments in Ethiopia and in particular the violence which occurred in Addis Ababa, resulting in tragic loss of human life.

Louis Michel strongly encouraged the ongoing negotiations between the political parties seeking compromise and a peaceful solution to the crisis. He appeals to the government of Ethiopia, all political parties and the electoral authorities to continue their discussions with a view to concluding the compromise on the complaints procedure.

He further appeals to all parties to avoid any incendiary language or action that could lead to further violence.

The High Representative and Commissioner Louis Michel met with Prime Minister Meles and opposition leaders on May 26 in Addis Ababa, where they discussed the post-election situation, EU-Ethiopia relations and encouraged a negotiated solution.

UK's Conservative questions Ethiopia's membership on Africa Commission

June 9, 2005 report via Associated Press:

Britain's Conservative Party questioned Thursday whether Ethiopia should remain on Prime Minister Tony Blair's Africa Commission, after deadly riots in the country.

Ethiopian security forces opened fire on stone-throwing protesters in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday, leaving at least 22 people dead.

Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Liam Fox queried whether it was appropriate Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi remained on the commission, which promotes democratic values and human rights in Africa.

"Would you agree that the actions of the Ethiopian government's security officers were completely at odds with these principles?" Fox wrote in an open letter to Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

"If so, can you please explain whether you believe it is appropriate for Meles Zenawi to remain a member of your commission?"

Britain has called for an urgent investigation into the deaths and has urged Meles to show restraint. There was no immediate response from the Foreign Office to Fox's letter.

Blair established the Africa Commission last year to assess the crisis in Africa and develop policies to help the impoverished continent. Meles is a prominent member of the 17-strong commission, which has made a series of recommendations to G8 countries about how to lift Africa out of poverty.


Ethiopia 'in danger' after deaths

June 9, 2005 report from the BBC:

Wednesday's violence in Ethiopia in which 22 people protesting about election results were killed, has been condemned by European Union observers.

EU mission head Ana Gomes expressed deep concern at "the dangerous situation Ethiopia was now facing".

There is a heavy police presence on the streets of the capital which are quiet as a transport strike continues.

Addis Ababa has seen three days of street protests over the ruling party's alleged massive election fraud.

Final results have not been announced three weeks after the parliamentary election as reports of the fraud are investigated.

The United States, United Kingdom and United Nations have urged restraint from the government and opposition.


Ms Gomes also criticised the house arrest of the main opposition leader and his deputy on Wednesday.

Hailu Shawul heads the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), which denies organising student protests in Addis Ababa at alleged election fraud.

State radio blamed Wednesday's violence on "gangsters" while a government minister blamed the CUD directly.

EU observers have voiced concern over irregular vote counting and biased reports by the state-owned media.

The BBC's Mohammed Adow reports that Wednesday's shooting began after army special forces arrived at the central business district, where protesters were throwing stones.

However, it is unclear whether the gunfire came from the heavily armed troops or the regular police, our correspondent says.

Opposition blamed

Journalists reported seeing at least four bodies with bullet wounds in the head in one hospital and the number of injured was put at about 100.

Information Minister Bereket Simon told Reuters news agency shortly before reports of Hailu Shawul's arrest that the CUD would "have to take responsibility".

Protests began on Monday when some 500 students were arrested

He told the BBC the opposition was trying to overthrow a legitimate government in what he called a Ukrainian-style revolution.

According to the minister, seven buses were destroyed and businesses and banks damaged by looters. He denied police had used excessive force to restore order.

Speaking for the EU, Ms Gomes said her mission condemned "harassment and threatening measures" with regard to CUD leaders.

She confirmed that Berhanu Nega, the CUD's deputy leader, had been warned not to leave his home.

Unrest spreads

Some of the wounded told journalists they had not been involved in the demonstrations.

"I was looking for my son, I opened the door and I was shot," Ateneyesh Mamo, a mother of two hit in the pelvis, told AFP news agency.

Wednesday's killings came after two days of student protests in which police beat back protesters with batons and rifle butts, as well as firing warning shots in the air, witnesses said.

The UK Foreign Office has warned citizens travelling in Ethiopia to be cautious and says that tension is spreading to other towns and cities.

According to provisional election results, the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front and its allies have won 320 seats so far, giving it a majority in the 547-member parliament.

The opposition have, however, won almost 200 seats - a huge gain from the 12 they had in the previous parliament.


60 percent of Eritreans need food aid

June 9, 2005 report via AFP:

About 2.3 million Eritreans, or almost 60 percent of the population, need food aid as a result of drought and conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said Thursday.

"Five years of severe drought in Eritrea, coupled with the ongoing border dispute with Ethiopia, have exhausted the coping mechanisms of vulnerable farming families throughout the country, contributing to widespread poverty and food insecurity," the Rome-based FAO said in a statement.

"To reduce dependency on emergency food assistance and improve the ability of rural populations to adapt to recurrent drought conditions, agricultural inputs such as seeds, farming tools, animal feed and veterinary support are also needed."

Last year's meagre harvest has already been exhausted and the hunger season, which arrived two months early in March, is expected to continue until the next harvest in November, the statement said.

Many households could be forced to consume their limited stocks of seed and sell or eat their breeding animals.

Although Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace agreement in December 2000, tensions remain over their still-disputed border, the FAO says.

With large numbers of men doing compulsory national and military service requirements, there is a shortage of skilled manpower.

The FAO said it was currently procuring seeds for the June planting season for distribution to 27,000 poor, drought-affected families in the main crop production regions of Gash Barka, Debub and Anseba.

"But importing seeds only solves the problem for a year or two," said Marco Falcone, FAO emergency coordinator for Eritrea.

"Promoting local production of quality seeds is the only way out of the current situation, particularly given the rather fragile agro-ecology of Eritrea, the non-availability on the international market of adapted varieties and the current poor quality of local seeds."


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Britain 'alarmed', 'concerned' after deadly Ethiopian clashes

June 8, 2005 report via AFP:

A senior official at Britain's Foreign Office said Wednesday he was "alarmed" and "concerned" about reports of deadly clashes between police and protestors in Ethiopia and called for an urgent inquiry.

The comments by parliamentary under secretary of state, Lord David Triesman, came after hospital sources in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa said at least 22 people were killed and hundreds wounded as Ethiopian police fired on crowds during protests against alleged fraud in disputed elections last month.

"I have been alarmed to hear reports of loss of life and continuing unrest in Ethiopia and extend my deep sympathies to the victims and their families," Triesman said in a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

"I note with deep concern reports that the security force's reaction resulted in many of the deaths," he said.

"These incidents should urgently be investigated. Equally we note and regret the reported deaths of some members of the security forces."

The minister also reiterated a call to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for restraint and urged all political parties to resolve the dispute over the election results to enable the democratic process to continue.

Ethiopia's opposition party accuses the ruling Ethiopian People's Democratic Front (EPRDF) of trying to steal the polls with ballot rigging and is trying to quash the certification of provisional results by the election board.

PMs Tony Blair and Meles Zenawi

Photo: Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, right, is greeted by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, left, in Addis Ababa, Wednesday Oct. 6, 2004 where Blair attended the Commission For Africa meeting. (AP)


22 Dead in Ethiopa election protests

June 8, 2005 report via Associated Press:

Ethiopian security forces opened fire Wednesday on protesters angered by election results, leaving at least 22 people dead in the capital, while European observers said some opposition politicians were placed under house arrest.

Ethiopian federal riot police point their weapons at protesting students in front of Addis Ababa's Tegbareed Industrial Technology College near the capital's Mexico Square June 7, 2005. (Reuters).

The government said security forces acted to restore order and it did not have casualty figures. The government also said the demonstrations were illegal and that organizers would be dealt with sternly.

A police statement issued Wednesday evening said only 13 people were killed and 40 injured. The police also said demonstrators tried to steal their weapons.

An Associated Press reporter saw 11 bodies in the capital's main hospital, at least four with gunshot wounds to the head. Doctors at two others hospitals reported an additional 11 dead and hundreds of injured.

The head of the European Union observer mission said some opposition politicians had been placed under house arrest.

"The mission has conveyed to the government its condemnation of the home arrests and other harassment and threatening measures imposed on the opposition coalition ... leaders in the last days, severally curtailing their political activities and personal movement," Ana Gomes said at a news conference.

She said the E.U. mission expressed its "deep concerns about the dangerous situation Ethiopia is now facing."

The protests have erupted despite Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's move to ban demonstrations immediately after the May 15 legislative election. Meles' party won a majority of seats in the election, according to official results. Opposition parties say there was widespread fraud and intimidation, charges the ruling party denies.

The elections had been seen as a test of Meles's commitment to reform his sometimes authoritarian regime. Before questions surfaced about the count, E.U. observers had called the campaign and voting "the most genuinely competitive elections the country has experienced," despite some human rights violations.

Wednesday's shooting began after soldiers arrived at the central business district where protesters were throwing stones.

One of the injured, who refused to give his name because of fear of retribution, said the army fired on fleeing people. He said he was caught up in the protests, and was not taking part in it.

The Addis Ababa city police also shot at protesters, said another person lying on a hospital trolley after emergency treatment.

"The police were running at the crowd, firing shots. I got shot in my leg," the 22-year-old day laborer who identified himself by one name, Getu, said. "I was just trying to get home to avoid the trouble."

Information Minister Bereket Simon, who is also the ruling party spokesman, said the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy was behind the protests.

"Today, some of their followers - and some who wanted to use this opportunity for looting - have gathered in some parts of Addis and disrupted the smooth functioning of life. So the government had to use the anti-riot police to resolve the situation," he said, adding that seven buses were destroyed and businesses and banks were damaged.

Bereket rejected claims the police used excessive force.

The two main opposition groups, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy and the United Ethiopian Democratic Front issued a joint statement demanding an end to the violence.

"These murderous acts have resulted in the killing and wounding of a large number of innocent Addis Ababa citizens, including women and underage youth," the statement said.

The leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, Hailu Shawel, said police tried to place him under house arrest, but he climbed over a back fence before they could seal off his home. His deputy, Berhanu Nega, said he was being followed by security personnel.

State-run radio broadcast a warning in Amharic to Ethiopians not to stage more protests.

"With effect from today, especially after the issuance of this statement, the police and security forces will take stern action against those shouting in groups, trying to cause destruction of government and people's property and piling stones on the roads and trying to disrupt peaceful and legal movement of the people," the warning said.

Ethiopian police

Photo: Ethiopian federal riot police point their weapons at protesting students in front of Addis Ababa's Tegbareed Industrial Technology College near the capital's Mexico Square June 7, 2005. (Reuters).