News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
Negotiators from more than 170 countries in Kigali on Saturday (October 15) reached a legally binding accord to cut the worldwide use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), by 2018 for developed countries and by 2024 for developing countries. The Kigali deal, seven years in the making, is “much stronger than Paris” and is a mandatory agreement. (See article)
Morocco which holds the Presidency of the 22nd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hosted a Pre-COP Ministerial Meeting in Marrakech this week (October 18-19), in preparation for COP22 in Marrakech, November 7 to 18. (See article)
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) held its 19th Summit October 18-19, in Antananarivo, Madagascar. The meeting discussed issues of trade, industrialization, infrastructure and peace and security in the region under the theme: “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization”, as well considering the progress made with the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement signed with the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community last year. (See article)
The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, left Morocco on Tuesday (October 18) for a tour of East Africa. He is visiting Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. The visits come just three months after Morocco announced its intention to return to the African Union. The King is accompanied by a delegation including the Ministers of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Economy and Finance, Agriculture and Fisheries, and other civil and military officials.
President Dr. Mulatu praised Dr. Carlos Lopes, the departing Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa who took leave of the President on Wednesday (October 19) for his contribution in promoting Africa to the rest of the world. Dr. Lopes said he would be continuing to be involved in Africa and commended the progress of Ethiopia in industrialization, social and economic development.
President Dr. Mulatu met with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, on Tuesday (October 18). Mr. Maurer reaffirmed that his organization is ready to maintain collaboration and cooperation with Ethiopia on humanitarian activities. He welcomed Ethiopia’s constructive role in safeguarding the region’s peace and security and its support for the ICRC’s operations in the region.
National Flag Day was celebrated in institutions across the country and in missions abroad on Monday (October 17). The Speaker of the House and Chairperson of the National Flag Day Committee, Abadulla Gemeda, emphasized celebrating the National Flag Day enabled the youth to have full understanding of the values of National Flag. (See article)
A Command Post headed by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn was set up at the weekend and made public a series of directives for the implementation of the nation-wide six-month State of Emergency announced on October 8. (See article)
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice-President of the EU Commission, Federica Mogherini, has encouraged Ethiopia to respect democratic principles and civil rights. Ms. Mogherini in a telephone call to Prime Minister Hailemariam underlined the need to initiate an inclusive political dialogue within the shortest possible time. She further emphasized the need for transparency and said the EU expected opening up of the democratic space, and respect of fundamental freedoms. The Prime Minister stress that the state of emergency would not breach human rights protected by the Ethiopian constitution.
Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom, meeting with Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Chairperson of the United Nations Peace Building Commission, pledged Ethiopia’s support for promotion of a people-centered approach to champion sustainable peace at global and regional levels.
Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros met the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer on Tuesday (October 18) and discussed ways to bolster continued cooperation and collaboration to further improve the humanitarian situation in Africa. The talks also focused on the overall humanitarian situation in South Sudan and Somalia.
Dr. Tedros received a high-level delegation of the World Council of Churches on Friday (Oct 21). The delegation said Ethiopia was a showcase of religious and cultural tolerance and commended its efforts to promote peace and stability. Dr. Tedros underlined that Ethiopia has put in place a system that accommodated diversity and nurtured harmony among its peoples.
Dr. Tedros met with David Harden, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance of USAID on Thursday (October 20). Dr. Tedros commended USAID’s contribution to Ethiopia’s socio-economic development, its support to the country’s efforts of realizing some of the Millennium Development Goals, and its help in mitigating the El-Nino induced drought. Mr. Harden said USAID was committed to further build on their longstanding cooperation He said the US was keen to support government efforts to reform Ethiopia’s electoral law.
Dr. Tedros met with the outgoing Ambassador of Sudan to Ethiopia, Ambassador Osman Nafie Hamad, on Thursday (October 20). Dr. Tedros said the exchange of visits made by the Public Diplomacy Teams of the two countries had laid a solid foundation for the strengthening of Ethio-Sudanese ties. Ambassador Hamad noted that Ethiopia and Sudan enjoyed excellent relations
Dr. Tedros met the outgoing Ambassador of Ireland, Ambassador Mr. Aidan O’Hara, on Thursday (October 20). He noted the visit made by President Michael Higgins of Ireland in 2014 was a milestone to expanding bilateral relations. The Foreign Minister and Ambassador O’Hara discussed ways to increase cooperation in trade, investment and tourism.
State Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Wondirad Mandefro, opening an International Enset Policy and Research Conference in Addis Ababa on Monday (October 17) said the government wanted to introduce Enset, (false banana), scientifically known as Ensete Ventricosum, more widely. It was “a multipurpose crop which provides a range of uses, including food, forage, medicine, rituals, construction and even environment protection.”
The Fourth Ethio-Sudan Joint Technical Committee Meeting opened in Addis Ababa on Wednesday this week (October 19). The three day meeting brought together a range of stakeholders from the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan to review the progress of the various agreements signed during the previous Joint Technical Committee Meeting and consider other potential areas of bilateral cooperation. (See article)
President Ismail Omar Guelleh met with President Idriss Deby of Chad, Chair of the African Union, in Lome on Saturday (October 15) for talks on bilateral relations. President Guelleh was in Lome attending last week’s Special Summit of the African Union on Security and Maritime Safety and Development in Africa.
The Italian Foreign Ministry has announced that Ambassador Stefano Moscatelli has been approved as the new Italian ambassador to Eritrea. A former Ambassador to Zimbabwe, he was most recently deputy director general for administration, information technology and communications in the Ministry.
Dozens more former workers alleging forced labor and intimidation at the Bisha mine are set to join in a civil action against the mining company, Nevsun Resources. This follows the recent ruling by the British Columbia Supreme Court rejecting arguments by Nevsun that the case should be heard in Eritrea rather than Canada.
The Chief of Kenya’s Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe said on Friday last week (October 14) that the Defence Forces had set up a border command unit to counter AL-Shabaab infiltration. He said “the newly proposed border command will play a major role in securing our porous border with Somalia.” He added the Defence Forces would continue to maintain their presence in Somalia until “our objectives and those of the international community are achieved, including security for Kenyans and the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia”.
State Assemblies have been electing candidates to seats in the Upper House of Parliament this week, voting on candidates endorsed as acceptable by the State Indirect Electoral Implementation teams (SIEIT). At least two candidates have been required for each seat and there has been the added requirement of a 30% quota for women. There are 11 seats available for Puntland and for those claiming to represent Somaliland, and 8 each for Jubaland, South West, Galmudug and the newest state, Hir-Shebelle. (See article)
AMISOM and UNOCHA this week held the first Regional Civil-Military Working Group meeting in Baidoa to discuss humanitarian challenges in Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions. Participants included local and international NGOs, UN agencies and an AMISOM team from Mogadishu. The meeting agreed to develop a reliable mechanism to ensure humanitarian supplies were safely delivered. Similar groups have been established in Belet Weyne and Kismayo; others are planned for Dhobley and Jowhar.
AMISOM began training on Monday (October 17) for Somali police officers in Mogadishu to improve their capacity to safeguard the 2016 electoral process. The training, funded by the Japanese government, covers the importance of elections and election security, voting systems, electoral justice and the role of police and security forces before, during and after elections. It includes prevention of electoral violence, and screening and searches.
UNHCR said on Sunday (October 16) in its bi-monthly report that a total of 26,819 Somali refugees have confirmed their intention to voluntarily return home. UNHCR said 2,525 returnees had returned September 16-30, and in total, as of September 30, 32,949 Somali refugees had returned since December 8, 2014, when UNHCR started supporting voluntary return of Somali refugees in Kenya. Road convoys were suspended on August 30, after Jubaland refused to receive any more returnees until integration processes were improved. Flight departures to Mogadishu were also suspended on September 25 for security reasons.
The Chinese government donated $US2 million to the World Food Program on Tuesday (October 18) for its humanitarian work in Somalia. WFP Somalia Country Director Laurent Bukera thanked the Chinese government at a ceremony held in Mogadishu. He said the donation would be used to provide access to nutritious and curative food for malnourished children and mothers. A UN FAO report last month said, over 300,000 children under five in Somalia are acutely malnourished.
AMISOM completed a two-day training workshop on Thursday (October 20) aimed at improving relationship between the military, civilians and humanitarian actors to help improve delivery of aid in the country. The training, brought together civilians, Somali police force and AMISOM’s security officers, civil affairs and gender unit also discussed how to tackle humanitarian challenges in Somalia.
Prominent religious scholars have called on Galmudug and Puntland States to stop the fighting in Galkayo and help displaced civilians return to their homes. In a statement on Sunday (October 16), the religious leaders urged immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities. According to the UNHCR 50,000 people have fled the town since the fighting broke out nearly a month ago. Both sides blame each other for starting the latest clashes.
A delegation led by Puntland President Abdiwali Mohamed Ali Gaas left for the UAE on Saturday (October 15) where the President is expected to hold meetings with UAE-based firm which agreed in May 2015 to carry out expansion of Bossaso port. Nothing has yet materialized, and last week President Ali appointed a new Minister for Ports and Marine Transport.
Ali Abdullahi Osoble has been elected as the president of the newest state, Hir-Shabelle State. President Osoble won 61 out of 97 votes cast by the members of the state assembly. He promised to serve the people of Hir-Shabelle with diligence, determination and sincerity.
The 22.3 billion South Sudanese pounds (SSP) budget presented to the national parliament by Finance Minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau, on Tuesday (October 18) allocated half of expenditure to the security sector. The Minister said the government would improve net oil revenues this fiscal year to 7.2 billion SSP; non-oil revenues were estimated at 9.2 billion SSP, and grants from donors are expected to amount to 2.4 billion SSP.
A four-day workshop to develop a legal framework for a single border crossing point between Ethiopia and Sudan was held in Khartoum this week. Legal experts from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa participated. The Minister of Presidential Affairs and head of the higher committee for border crossings Fadl Abdalla Fadl, said the workshop aimed to develop a draft agreement on the border crossing as part of efforts to combat cross-border crimes such as illegal drug trade and human trafficking. (See article)
The Director General of Sudan’s Police, Lt. General Hashim Osman al-Hussein, said on Sunday (October 16) that a delegation from the Sudanese Ministry of Interior had concluded a visit to Berlin where it held talks with the German police on transfer of crime-fighting technology and illegal migration. The delegation also discussed ways to promote cooperation between Sudan’s police and German federal police in the various fields. It reached a joint understanding with the German police on ways to combat illegal migration and human trafficking. Germany promised to provide Sudan’s police with advanced crime-detection equipment and training opportunities.