Monday, January 30, 2006

The war on terrorism that most Americans don't know about

With few to fight, U.S. troops extend humanitarian help in East Africa.

This is the war on terrorism that most Americans don't know about:

Full story at Captain Marlow's.

By Shashank Bengali, Inquirer Foreign Staff, 30 January 2006.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ethiopia - Foreign reports on human causalities during Epiphany baseless

Medical Director of Menelik II Hospital in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, said inflated human causalities reported by various foreign media during Ethiopian Epiphany quoting the hospital was baseless.

Ethiopian Police opened fire on stone-throwing protesters in Addis Ababa Friday 20 January, leaving two person dead and 18 wounded - according to the official ENA - as annual religious processions turned into political protests.

Full story Sudan Tribune 26 Jan 2006.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chair of AU fears Darfur crisis could spill into Sudan's neighbours - Congo's President urges international community to react

Chair of African Union, Alpha Oumar Konare, said Jan 10 that an "urgent" solution must be found to the crisis in Darfur, to prevent a spill-over effect.

"The problem in Darfur is so worrying that we must settle it very rapidly. This is a conflict that could destabilise the entire region - Sudan, Chad, West and Central Africa - through the DR Congo and even the Great Lakes region," Konare said on Congo Brazzaville State Radio, after an audience with President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Presidents Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo) and Idriss Deby (Chad), urged the AU to find a quick solution to the crisis.

At last week's summit of the Economic Community of Central African States in N'djamena, Chad, Nguesso, whose country has troops in the AU peacekeeping force in Darfur, denounced rebels destabilising Chad and urged the international community to react before it was too late.

Full story (AngolaPress) Brazzaville, Congo, Jan 10, 2006.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

AU condemns worst right offenders, among them Ethiopia

From Basque News January 25, 2006:

An African human rights commission has criticised the continent's worst rights offenders, including Sudan and Zimbabwe, in a report analysts say marks a "coming of age" for the organisation.

The African Union's commission issued candid reviews of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the report, obtained by Reuters on Wednesday. Those countries said they wanted a chance to reply before the report became public, ensuring it remained confidential.

"If the African Union is to have a strong voice it has to foster constructive criticism, not bury it," said Reed Brody from the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

CUDP First Vice-President Message to the Ethiopian People

Note message sent by Bertukan Medeqsa, the Vice-Chairperson of Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (KINIJIT) from Kalitit Jail. Courtesy Sudan Tribune 24 January 2006.

Hissene Habre: Ex-Chad dictator's case referred to Panel

Excerpts from Guardian report by Associated Press Writer Michelle Faul, January 25, 2006:

"...Habre's fate is now in the hands of African leaders, who decided Tuesday at the annual African Union summit in Sudan to form a committee of African jurists to decide within six months what should happen to him. The case is loaded with implications for African presidents, who include coup leaders and others accused of human rights violations.

At the summit, African leaders expressed a preference for an "African solution" to the problem of what to do about Habre. That indicated a distaste for extraditing Habre to Belgium, where a judge in September indicted him for crimes against humanity and torture, a ruling made after four years of investigations. A truth commission in Chad had already estimated that Habre's regime killed 40,000 of its citizens.

Options include trying him in a Chadian court or setting up a court under the African Union.

Habre's alleged victims celebrated his indictment in Belgium, thinking they finally had found a court that would hear their case. But those hopes were crushed when Senegal refused to extradite him.

A Senegalese judge had previously indicted the Chadian dictator in 2000 when the victims' association filed suit there. But the judge was thrown off the case and Senegalese courts ruled they had no jurisdiction.

Habre's lawyer Mustafa Diouf, speaking to reporters at the conference Tuesday, said the case should have been closed with the Senegalese courts' ruling, though he did not declare his client's innocence.

Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade took the case to the African Union, saying it's a continental affair, not a Senegalese one.

The prospect of an African court trying Habre offers cold comfort to people like Abaifouta, 45, burned by his experience in Senegal. "It's difficult to find equitable justice in Africa because, always, politics interferes," he said. ..."

Ethiopian police say grenades defused in capital

Devices were found and defused after members of the public alerted police, who blamed "anti-peace elements" for planting them, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.

"The anti-peace forces are creating chaos and disturbances in schools, disguising themselves as students," ENA quoted the statement as saying.

The term "anti-peace forces" is often used by the government to refer to members of the main opposition political party, the Coalition for United and Democracy (CUDP), which claims elections last year were rigged.

Nearly all the CUDP leadership are among a group of 131 opposition supporters, journalists and others facing treason and other charges after being accused of fomenting a coup d’etat through protests against the May 15 polls.

Full story courtesy Sudan Tribune 25 January 2006.

Ethiopia CUDP leaders refuse to participate in Court's proceedings - Statement

Via Sudan Tribune: Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) Statement 22 January 2006.

Monday, January 23, 2006

BBC World Service Trust launches radio project in Darfur

Good news from the BBC in a Press Release 23 Jan 2006:
BBC World Service Trust has launched "Darfur Salaam", a humanitarian radio programme for Darfur in Sudan to be broadcast at 8.00am local time on the new BBC frequency of 11820 kHz and repeated at 8.00pm on 9640 kHz.
The first edition aired on Friday 20 January 2006.

BBC World Service Trust launches lifeline radio project in Darfur

Photo: Darfur lifeline radio production team. This great project is being funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and the Ford Foundation.

For further information visit the BBC World Service Trust website:

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oromo uprising nearing three months

Note Oromo Liberation Front Press Release Jan 20, 2006 excerpt:

The Oromo people have continued the popular uprising that started on Nov. 9, 2005 in protest to the Ethiopian regime's gross violation of fundamental human rights.

To date we have issued four reports detailing the atrocities perpetuated against peaceful demonstrators by the government.

This fifth one is an update on the continued suppression of human rights, the basic freedom of the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia, and the ruthless ... (full story) - courtesy Sudan Tribune.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

AP correspondent Anthony Mitchell asked to leave Ethiopia

Ethiopia's Ministry of Information announced Saturday it was decided that the Associated Press correspondent in Ethiopia leave the country in 24 hours for "tarnishing the image of the nation, repeatedly contravening journalism ethics."

In an official statement, the Press License and Control Department with the ministry said it was decided that AP correspondent Anthony Mitchell be expelled from the country for "disseminating information far from the truth about Ethiopia." Full story (Xinhua) Jan 21, 2006.

Ethiopia festival turns violent

At least one person is killed and 22 wounded when violence breaks out at an Ethiopian Christian festival. Full story (BBC) Jan 20, 2006.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ethiopia and Egypt support Sudan's AU chairmanship - An open letter to Sudanese President al-Bashir

Ethiopia strongly rejects internationalization of Darfur crisis, said Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin on Friday. Mesfin said Ethiopia is keen on helping Sudan to overcome the crisis by peaceful means, noting that the issue is a local one.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit says Egypt supports Sudan's AU chairmanship. Gehit described Sudanese-Egyptian relations as excellent and pointed out that there are no obstacles impeding the relations between the two countries. (ST) Jan 21, 2006.

Message to Khartoum

If it were possible, this blog author and many Sudan Watch readers would sign their names to this open letter published in today's Sudan Tribune:

To His Excellency, Omar al-Bashir President of The Sudan, January 20, 2006:

Dear Mr. President:

As advocates for a just and lasting peace for all Sudanese, we are concerned that if Sudan accepts the leadership of the African Union in the immediate future, it will have a negative impact on the fragile Darfur peace process. Therefore we encourage you, Mr. President, to graciously decline that position at this time. You have stated your desire to see a cessation of the conflict and resulting humanitarian distress in the western region of your nation. Perhaps this can happen in the next year if those talks in Nigeria continue.

Since Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has so ably discharged the responsibilities of the office, he may be the best person to continue in that position at this sensitive time.

We ask you to step aside at this time to demonstrate the sincerity with which you seek peace and to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest.


William D. Andress, Jr.
Moderator, Sudan Advocacy Action Forum

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

UK redirects Ethiopia aid

Britain cut all of its aid to Ethiopia's government because of human rights concerns, development aid minister Hilary Benn said Wednesday.

On a visit to Addis Ababa for talks with Prime Minister Meles, Benn said the cutoff reflects "serious concern" about the aftermath of bitterly disputed May elections, which included riots in June and November that left nearly 90 people dead. He cited the detention of opposition party leaders, rights activists, journalists and members of civil society.
"Because of our concern over the political situation in Ethiopia, I have told the prime minister that we cannot provide direct budget support to (his) government under the current circumstances," Benn said late Wednesday.
Full report by DPA via ReliefWeb 19 January. 2006.

Note, News 24 (SA) report says Britain plans to redirect the $88m to humanitarian agencies working in the Horn of Africa nation.
Benn said that funding for aid agencies in Ethiopia would continue as normal and that aid earmarked for the government will now be redirected to assist with a major drought and other problems.

Oromo rebels say Ethiopian army, Sudan SPLA attack its positions

The Ethiopian rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front OLF, has accused the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) of attacking its position in a joint military operation with Ethiopian troops.

Full story (Sudan Tribune) 17 January 2006.

Eritrea rejects US peace mission

Eritrea's president, Isaias Afewerki, has snubbed a US team trying to solve Eritrea's border dispute with Ethiopia and insists Ethiopia comply with an international border ruling.

Last month, Eritrea ordered United Nations peacekeepers from Western states to leave the buffer zone.

Observers saw the US mission - which was to have been led by US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer - as the last opportunity to resolve the dispute.

Full story (BBC) 18 January, 2006.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Meskel Square: A weblog about Ethiopia

Note Meskel Square weblog about Ethiopia by journalist Andrew Heavens.

Africa's rebels take their battles online

Washington Post article by Emily Wax 14 January 2006.

[via The Blog Herald with thanks]

Sunday, January 15, 2006

US leverage with Ethiopia key to Eritrea border row

The US is throwing its geopolitical might into breaking the Eritrea-Ethiopia border deadlock but analysts say its only hope is to persuade Addis Ababa to fully accept the deal that ended a murderous war between the Horn of Africa neighbours.

The Americans have to deliver something on the Ethiopian side to be credible, and that is Ethiopia accepting the border decision," said Princeton Lyman, a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria, who also worked in Ethiopia.

See full analysis (Reuters) 15 Jan 2006.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sudanese army withdraws from eastern rebel-held town near Eritrean border

Associated Press report January 14, 2006 confirms Sudan withdrew some 1,000 troops from an eastern rebel-held town, defusing a stand off between the Sudanese army and former southern guerrillas in the first test of a year-old peace deal, ex-rebels said on Saturday. Excerpt:

The troops entered Hamesh Koreb town on Wednesday, threatened to expel the former southern rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and set up positions just 200 metres (yards) from SPLM trenches. They later withdrew when a U.N. investigation team arrived, the SPLM said.

"I am now seeing approximately two battalions about 500 metres from the town," SPLM officer Benjamin Wol, a member of the joint U.N.-Sudan army-SPLM team, told Reuters from Hamesh Koreb, which borders Eritrea.

Note the report says under the southern deal, the SPLM were supposed to have redeployed from the east to the south within a year, but they said this week they were unable to meet that deadline because of logistical reasons.

Pronk said slow withdrawal was a major problem to the peace deal. On Friday he said: "This is creating a void with a potential for new armed conflict."

The Sudanese army is supposed to occupy SPLM positions once they have withdrawn. But eastern rebels, also in the same areas, say the government will have to fight them first.

"If they want to replace the SPLM they will have to fight and expel the eastern troops first," said Eastern Front spokesman Ali el-Safi. The Eastern Front contains both eastern rebel groups and the main political parties.

Libyan-mediated east Sudan peace talks were due to start after Jan. 17, the rebel said. Safi said the government entered Hamesh Koreb because they wanted a military solution rather than negotiated talks.

Ethiopia frees 2,252 held during election protests

Ethiopia's police have released without charge 2,252 people who were detained during a crackdown on protesters against the disputed results of last year's elections, a state-run newspaper reported Saturday.

International donors have announced they will withdraw US$375 million (A311 million) in aid to the Ethiopian government following the crackdown. The money will be reallocated the U.N. and aid agencies working to combat poverty among the bulk of Ethiopia's estimated 77 million people who live on less than a dollar (euro) a day.

Full story Associated Press 14 January 2006.

Friday, January 13, 2006

AU lauds Darfur women's peace role

Angola Press reports that women in Sudan's Darfur are supporting the African Union-brokered peace process through their presence at the peace talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, according to a report released on Thursday by the AU Commission.

"The women have initiated a constructive dialogue and have worked together to produce a common gender platform for the women of Darfur," AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare told the 45th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC).

Full story 13 January 2006.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

US bid to avert new Horn conflict

The United States says it is sending a high-level team to Ethiopia and Eritrea to try to solve their border dispute.

US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton presented the initiative to the UN Security Council.

He said the team of diplomats and military officials would spend 30 days trying to resolve the disagreement.

Last month, Eritrea ordered western UN peacekeepers to leave the buffer zone, amid fears of a renewed conflict.

Full story BBC 11 January 2006.

Monday, January 09, 2006

US launches diplomatic initiative to mark Ethiopia-Eritrea border

The US launched a diplomatic initiative Monday to try to mark the contested border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a dispute that led to a 2 1/2-year war and has raised concerns of a renewed conflict.

US Ambassador John Bolton told the Security Council that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer and retired Marine Gen. Carlton Fulford, who directs the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, would be traveling to the region "to discuss how to begin implementation of the demarcation process.

Full story (AP/ST) Jan 9, 2006.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Digimotion Digital Album Blogged

See my latest entry at Sudan Watch: Digimotion Digital Album - Powerful stuff, check it out.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Ethiopian opponents denied bail

Are changes afoot in Africa? First, there is recent news of people aiming to overthrow the leader of Chad. Yesterday, African leaders condemned the leader of Zimbabwe. Today, there is news of campaign aiming to unseat the leader of Uganda and now the BBC says the entire leadership of the CUD in Ethiopia is in jail and denied bail:

A group of Ethiopian opposition leaders, aid workers and journalists - facing treason, conspiracy and genocide charges have been denied bail.
The High Court judge said the severity of the accusations against the group of 131 precluded their release.

The group, including all the leaders of the main opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party, are refusing to recognise the court's legitimacy.

Full story.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

In pictures: Ethiopia's remote people

'Dead men'

Ethiopia's remote people

Photo: The Russians were the first white people to visit the area since an anti-polio campaign 35 years ago.

“Many moons ago, pale-skinned people arrived with aircraft and brought medicine," says Ekedi, chief of the Kangini village.

"Our children rushed away from the village, fearing that they were dead men."

Milky Way

Ethiopia's remote people

Photo: During holidays, Surma children paint their faces and bodies with chalk.

“When our parents finish harvesting the maize, they make bonfires and sing and dance around them.

"During these nights we see many stars and the Milky Way, which looks like a plane.

"So we take chalk and put dots, looking like stars, on our bodies”, one boy said.

Text and photos by Sergei Vertelov and Leonid Kruglov.

See more pictures courtesy BBC.