Thursday, April 29, 2010

EU deployed its election observers mission across Ethiopia

EU deployed its election observers mission across Ethiopia
From Sudan Tribune - Thursday 29 April 2010 by Tesfa-Alem Tekle:
April 28, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) — The European Union on Tuesday dispatched a first group of its election monitors throughout Ethiopia, ahead of next month’s national election.

A first phase of 90 observers unit on Tuesday left the capital, Addis Ababa, to the different regions of the country.

With a budget of eight million Euros, the EU will deploy a total of 150 monitors in Ethiopia, with 60 more observers to land in the horn of Africa’s country one week before polls open on May 23 elections. The bloc’s mission said.

The deployment comes after the Ethiopian government signed a memorandum of understanding with EU this week.

"They will observe all phases of the election from the opening of polling stations to voting, closing ad counting," said the statement.

"Their findings will be part of the overall evaluation and assessment of the process by the European Union Election Observation Mission."

Earlier this month, the head of the EU monitoring team said it will remain impartial after the bloc was accused of bias by Addis Ababa in the 2005 polls The EU observers will asses the electoral campaign, voting day, compilation of results and post-election activity, including complaints and appeals procedures.

"They will also evaluate the general political electoral context, the work of the election administration, media environment and role of civil society, the human rights situation as relates to elections, and the participation of women and minorities," the EU observer mission further said.

Ethiopia’s biggest opposition coalition, The Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Forum) last week said that it does not consider the African Union and European Union Election Observers neutral.

"We know how the AU and EU observed previous elections in Ethiopia. This time, too, we don’t expect any impartial observation from them," Beyene Petros, chairman of Forum, told Ethiopian Reporter.

Beyene added that his party had no idea as to what exactly the election observers were doing in Ethiopia and that the observers have not made any attempts to talk to any of his party members, according to Reporter.

Around 32 million Ethiopians will go to polls to cast their votes for the May 23 national polls, country’s fourth elections since the fall down of Communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. (ST)

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Monday, April 19, 2010

White honey grows scarce as bees abandon Ethiopia's parched peaks

Ethiopia is Africa's biggest honey producer and the world's fourth biggest beeswax exporter.

Such is Ethiopians' love of honey that apitherapy clinics offer treatments for many ailments. The national drink is tej – honey mead.

White honey grows scarce as bees abandon Ethiopia's parched peaks
From The Observer
By Alex Duval Smith in Ethiopia
Sunday, 18 April 2010:
Drought forces bees into valleys in search of flowers, meaning they produce yellow honey

The truffle of the apiary world – rare white honey from Ethiopia's highest peaks – is in danger of disappearing, according to beekeepers in the Tigray region. "No rain for the flowers,'' said Ashenaf Abera as he stood on his rocky, parched slope in the northern Ethiopian region whose famine inspired Bob Geldof to stage Live Aid in 1985. "The bees need high-altitude flowers for the white honey. When they cannot find them, they go to other plants and produce yellow honey.''

Abera is paid £65 a month to mind 270 hives for the Asira Metira monastery, one of a dozen religious centres in an area whose 4th-century rock churches are among the wonders of the world. "We know about bees,'' said honey seller Sheikh Mohamed Ahamedin. He grips a large screwdriver with both hands to ladle a dollop of thick and lumpy white honey out of a plastic bucket. It is snow-white and tastes sweet and more waxy than yellow honey.

"The price is the highest it has ever been this year, because of scarcity,'' said Ahamedin who sells white honey for £7.75 per kilo. Last year he charged £4.50. Ethiopia is Africa's biggest honey producer and the world's fourth biggest beeswax exporter. After coffee, gold and cowhide, bee products are major contributors to the economy, especially through exports to Italy, where white honey is considered a delicacy. Bees' products are the only export item produced by Tigray's impoverished 4.6 million people, whose region is said to be one of the worst-hit in the world by climate change.

Such is Ethiopians' love of honey that apitherapy clinics offer treatments for many ailments. The national drink is tej – honey mead.

Beekeepers are increasingly scrapping traditional mud hives for square box-like hives from Europe which produce a higher yield. "The bees will not make white honey in the modern hives, but at least with them we can obtain a decent yield of yellow honey,'' he said.

The region's bee population is also in decline, with climate change and deforestation to blame. Tigray was a wealthy, lush region 150 years ago when its king, Johannes IV, brought a carpenter from Italy to fashion his imposing throne from local juniper wood. But wars with Italy, Egypt, Sudan and neighbouring Eritrea led to deforestation. '"Without the trees, the rainwater – which seems to be declining – does not run off the limestone in a useful way. That is why we end up with a landscape of rocks and little else,'' said local water expert Leul Fisseha.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eritrean refugees have new camp in Ethiopia

Eritrean refugees have new camp in Ethiopia
From Sudan Tribune, Sunday, 18 April 2010:
April 17, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopian authorities said this week they opened a new camp in the northern part of the country to meet the growing number of Eritrean refugees who arrive each month.

The new center located in Adi Harush in Tigray is the fourth to be established in the region since 2004.

The first batch of 356 people arrived on Thursday at the camp 80 per cent of this group is composed mainly of young people between 21 and 34, said a statement released by the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA).

According to the ARRA, up to 2,000 mostly young men and women are now crossing the border each month to "avoid excessive repression, gross human rights violations and forced conscription into the army."

Rights groups accuse Eritrea of turning into a "giant prison" where detentions, torture and prolonged military conscription have become rife since a 2001. But Asmara rejects these accusations saying they are immigrants for economic reasons.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) plans this year to resettle some 3100 Eritrean refugees to a number of western countries.

Nearly all Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia refuse home-return for safety reasons and the UN agency believes that resettlement to a third country is the appropriate option.

Since 2006, a total of 5,850 Eritrean refugees screened from different camps are resettled to different western countries. (ST)
Copy of 2 Forum messages
18 April 03:12, by visitor
We don’t want them in the West. Our countries are becoming hell-holes of tribal and religious fighting and endless neediness. A Sudanese man (Dinka) I met who had gone back to Sudan said to me "Europeans have built up their countries by themselves. We need to do the same." I agree. We can’t survive in the West if we have thousands and thousands of refugees turning up every year, costing us a fortune. The Eritrean people should stay in their countries and fight for freedom. They wanted independence; they got it. Now the UN says their problem is our problem? We can’t go on like this! Especially as they are bring too much Islam to Christian countries, and demanding that WE change to suit them.

18 April 05:07, by miss JOOK
You are absolutely right Visitor, am sudanese Dinka myself and i salute the southern who stayed and fought for their freedom. Eritreans wanted their freedom so they have it now. what else do they want?

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Sudanese in Ethiopia voting for country’s presidency seat

Sudan Elections 2010

Photo: Sudanese woman waits outside a polling station in Omdurman, west of Khartoum April 12, 2010. Sudan's elections commission on Monday announced a two-day extension to voting until April 15, after many voters experienced delays across Africa's largest country in the first open elections in 24 years. (Yahoo)

Sudanese in Ethiopia voting for country’s presidency seat
From Sudan Tribune, by Tesfa Alem Tekle, Tuesday 13 April 2010:
April 12, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) - Hundreds of Sudanese residing in Ethiopia are smoothly casting their votes in the presence of election observers here in Addis Abab since yesterday.

Voting in Addis Ababa began early on Sunday with Sudanese Ambassador to Ethiopia, Moheieddin Salim Ahmed, casting the first vote.

A according to the Sudanese embassy, there were nearly one thousand eligible Sudanese in Ethiopia however most didn’t register.

Ambassador Moheieddin affirmed that the process being going on smoothly pointing out that the number of registered voter amount to more than 230. He added that the voting process is taking place in the presence of observers.

Nevertheless, Sudanese refugees in Ethiopian refugee camps, one of the largest in neighboring countries, will not participate.

"We have talked to the UNHCR and they said the refugees cannot vote. We are convinced with their explanation," the Ambassador told reporters.

The voting here is underway with observers from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the African Union (AU) and the Arab League.

Voting in Sudan’s first multi-party elections in 24 years is underway for a second day amid reports of confusion and delay in many regions.

The presidential, parliamentary and state polls are part of the comprehensive peace agreement that ended Sudan’s north-south civil war.

For many in Southern Sudan, these elections are a prelude to the referendum next January on self-determination.

Sudanese residing outside the country participate only in the presidential vote. They have no representatives in the national parliament.

The Electoral Commission of Sudan, voting to the presidential elections is underway in 21 countries, including in nine Arab countries, five European and four African states, in addition to the United States, Canada and Malaysia. Voters abroad are said to amount about 0.8 percent of the total Sudanese who are entitled to vote estimated at nearly 16 million.

Friday, April 09, 2010

SPLM's Kiir visits Maiwut County near Ethiopian border

SPLM's Kiir visits Maiwut County near Ethiopian border
From Sudan Tribune by James Gatdet Dak Friday 9 April 2010:
April 8, 2010 (JUBA) – Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Southern Sudan presidential candidate for the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) visited Maiwut County of Upper Nile state, on Wednesday, during his last days of campaign as the polling day is only 72 hours away.

Kiir urged the population of Gaajaak-Nuer inhabiting the County to vote for SPLM, which he said was born in their area in 1983, as he was referring to Itang where the SPLM/A was formed and historical Bilpam, which was the SPLM/A GHQrs and territory of Gaajaak-Nuer.

Bilpam, which is on the Ethiopian side of the border, is currently inhabited by the Ethiopian Gaajaak-Nuer under the administration of Gambella region in Ethiopia.

According to Biel Thich, one of the President's campaign team in Upper Nile state, over five thousand people gathered in the town to listen to the President.

Kiir promised the County citizens that his re-elected administration would construct a road connecting the state capital, Malakal to Pagak, a Payam headquarters under Maiwut County and less than one (1) kilometer away from the Ethiopian border.

The President was accompanied by the Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and members of Campaign Management Team (CMT) chaired by Dr. Samson Kwaje.

Kiir also talked about other activities related to development, especially the education of females, and opening of healthcare centers. (ST)

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

EU to observe Ethiopian election

EU to observe Ethiopian election
From Sudan Tribune, Saturday, 03 April 2010:
April 1, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) — After been mulling whether to observe polls in Ethiopia, the European Union has hinted sending a team of observers to monitor Ethiopia’s election.

The decision was announced by the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, to African and European parliamentarians meeting in Tenerife on Monday.

The Union’s decision comes after an EU exploratory mission concluded assessment of the electoral environment in the country. The European Union is expected to send an official letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi any time now to notify its decision.

Ethiopia last polls, in 2005, drew a record number of voters, with 90% of the electorate turning out to cast their vote however the election was deemed by the European Union election observer team which alleged irregularities and the whole election process lacking international standards for fair and free election.

The EU monitor team claims then created deep divisions between the Ethiopian government and the EU.

Over 29 million Ethiopians will go to polls to cast their vote in May, the first parliamentary elections in Ethiopia since 2005, when the post-election period was marred by controversy and bloodshed

The horn of Africa’s country has drawn up a code of conduct for international election observers so irresponsible comments or possible bias won’t lead to violence.

Recently, The Carter center announced that it will not be sending an observer mission to monitor Ethiopia’s national election.

The decision comes after the Ethiopian government postponed carter center’s request of sending an exploratory team in December to February.

Carter center argued that the arrival of its exploratory team in February will be too late to study whether to accept or reject the invitation.

Despite growing accusations of harassment by some opposition groups, Ethiopian officials have repeatedly gave their words to conduct fair, free, democratic, peaceful and credible elections. (ST)

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