A Week in the Horn 13.9.2019

News in brief

President Sahlework Zewde hosts a reception for Heads of Mission and Higher Officials

A national program “to celebrate Pagumem with synergy” to encourage unity

Ethiopia unveils “Home-grown Economic Reform” to unlock development potential

Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew visits the Russian Federation…

…and talked to the Sputnik News Service on economic, bilateral and regional issues

African Union lifts suspension of Sudan’ membership…

… and a 200-day emergency economic plan for Sudan

Seminar on “Sustaining Traditional Friendship: China-Africa Cooperation”

 

 

Africa and the African Union

 

The UN’s Emergency Fund released another US$75 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support responses to eight underfunded emergencies on Thursday last week (September 5). Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said this would allow aid workers to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to more than 4 million of the world’s most vulnerable people affected by conflict, natural disasters, and other crises. Among the countries benefitting are Sudan and Eritrea.

 

The Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the African Union and the Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation organized a half-day seminar on “Sustaining Traditional Friendship: Achievements and prospects of China-Africa Cooperation” on Monday (September 9). The seminar reviewed the major achievements, progress and prospects following the 3rd FOCAC summit in September 2018 and the 2nd summit of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April this year. (See article)

 

The 11th International Foundation for Sustainable Development in Africa and Asia (IFSDAA) conference was held in Goettingen, Germany September 2-4 under the theme “Harnessing Scientific, Technological Innovations and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development in Africa and Asia”. IFSDAA plan to open a “Knowledge and Skill Center” in Ethiopia to provide skill training for young Ethiopians. Next year’s IFSDAA conference will be held in Addis Ababa.

 

Ethiopia

 

President Sahle-Work Zewde wished all Ethiopians peace, health, prosperity, and unity in the Ethiopian New Year (2013) which began on Thursday, Meskerem 1 (September 12). In her new year message, the President said “we should prepare ourselves for a better life in the New Year.” She said the previous year had laid a firm foundation in the political and socio-economic spheres, and the door for “the empowerment of women has been opened”.  and all should strive to keep it open until the end to allow more women to go through it.” The President urged all Ethiopians to fulfil their responsibilities to avoid recurrence of conflicts and displacements, and underlined the importance of lifting people out of poverty, meeting basic demands and respecting fundamental rights to strengthen national unity. She said that as Ethiopians, “we have to join hands to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty and ensure democracy for all”. She called on the people to strengthen their unity to build a peaceful and united Ethiopia on a firm foundation.

 

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy, speaking at the closing ceremonial of the National Unity Day on New Year’s Eve, Wednesday (September 11), laid out his vision for Ethiopia. The New Year would launch a 10 year prosperity strategy and enable the nation to join the five African richest countries by 2030. The past Ethiopian year had brought many opportunities along with challenges. It had achieved tremendous results, helping to halt years of a downhill journey, Ethiopia was still far from transformation. The New Year, he said, would be a year in which Ethiopia would realize its plans in politics, economy and social spheres. Dialogue and reconciliation would be finalized and the election would lead the country into a democratic nation. Mega projects would be completed. Ethiopians, the Prime Minister said, would confront all challenges with the spirit of medemer, synergy, changing problems into opportunities.

 

Religious leaders have wished all Ethiopians a happy New Year. The Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Abune Mathias, called on Ethiopians to leave behind damaging and unnecessary thing: ““We should use the New Year for renewal, to love one another and for unity,” the Patriarch said. The President of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Council, Mufti Haji Umer Idris, said “we should plan for, rectify weaknesses, and stand united in the New Year.” Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, said “we should renew ourselves to begin the New Year with hope.” The President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church, Mekane Yesus (EECMY), Rev. Yonas Yigezu, said “we should be a model for others by performing well in the New Year.

 

The annual week-long meeting of the Heads of Mission and Higher Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, held under a theme of “Institutional Reform for Diplomatic Excellence” concluded on Sunday (September 8). President Sahle-Work Zewde, hosting a dinner reception for participants at the National Palace, said it would help the Ministry carry out its duties. She emphasized that the conclusions of the discussions would reflect the direction of the country’s Foreign Relations Policy and urged the Heads of Mission and Higher Officials to implement it. (See article)

 

President Sahle-Work Zewde sent a message of condolence to President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe on the passing of former president Robert Mugabe. She expressed the deep sadness of the Ethiopian people over the passing of a great Pan-Africanist and liberation fighter. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed also expressed his condolences to the People and Government of Zimbabwe at the passing of African liberation leader and Former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

 

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy called for the last month of the year, Pagumen, to be celebrated this year under six pillars: prosperity, peace, national pride, democracy, justice and national unity, one for each day of the month, reflecting the philosophy of medemer. (See article)

 

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy opened a discussion with development partners and the diplomatic community on “Home-grown Economic Reforms” on Monday. These would propel Ethiopia to become the African icon of prosperity by 2030. He called upon development partners to continue strengthening their support. (See article)

 

Prime Minister Dr Abiy received an award from the Association of Political Consultants Africa – APCAfrica, in recognition to his contribution to democracy in Ethiopia.  The award was made at the fourth Africa Political Summit in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (September 110 being held under the theme “Campaign Financing and Elections in Africa.”

 

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy has donated the €25,000 annual award of the Hessian Peace Prize, for the construction of a “Good Youth Center” The Hessian Peace Prize is given annually by the German State of Hesse to people who have rendered “outstanding services to international understanding and peace”. The award ceremony is due to take place on September 23 in Hesse.

 

Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gedu Andargachew, arrived in Russia on Sunday (September 8) for an official visit at the invitation of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Talks on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest covered trade, investment, development cooperation and other issues. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov visited Ethiopia last year. (See article)

 

The government and the European Union launched a €15 million, five-year program to boost the coffee sector last week. The EU-Coffee Action for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (EUCAFE) program is being funded through the EU’s European Development Fund. It is focused on the primary growing regions within Oromia, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SSNPR), and Amhara regional states and will foster sustainable production systems to mitigate the impact of climate change and enhance investment in processing and value addition, create job opportunities and enhance system resilience as well as involve more women and youth.

 

An Ethiopian delegation led by the Minister of Trade, Fetlework Gebregziabher, attended the 46th biannual APIMONDIA Congress 2019 in Montreal, Canada, September 8-12). APIMONDIA is the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations and the Congress facilitates the exchange of information and discussions on apiculture. Ethiopia, with more than 2,000,000 smallholder beekeepers and 10,000,000 honeybee colonies, has offered to host 2023 Congress.

 

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Markos Tekle, met a delegation led by New Zealand’s Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Fletcher Tabuteau on Monday (September 9). Dr Markos said Ethiopia desired to work with New Zealand in the areas of climate change, investment, economy and women empowerment. Mr. Tabuteau said New Zealand would provide support to Ethiopia’s agriculture, knowledge transfer, renewable energy, and green development programs. During his visit, Mr. Tabuteau officially opened New Zealand’s new Embassy premises in Addis Ababa, before visiting Kenya.

State Minister of Peace, Zeynu Jemal, met UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock on Tuesday (September 10).

They discussed how the international humanitarian organizations can strengthen collaboration with the Government to mitigate rehabilitation of internally displaced people before they become a humanitarian crisis. The State Minister said the government was now using a community policing and dialogue-based approach alongside the establishing the rule of law to peace-building as opposed to gun point.

 

Ethiopia’s Deputy Head of Mission in Germany, Mrs. Mulu Worku met Mrs. Melanie Habeltz-Wollgam, Head of International Relations for Africa and the Middle East at the Regional Government of Bavaria on Wednesday (September 11). They discussed follow up work after the April 2019 visit of the Minister-President of Bavaria to Ethiopia. Projects include a value addition project on coffee to start in October and projects with GIZ and Menschen für Menschen on technical and vocational schools and forestry are being implemented.

 

Eritrea

 

President Isaias, on a visit to Abu Dhabi, met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Monday (September 9). The meeting, which considered bilateral ties and the means to develop them for mutual interest, was also attended by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. They also discussed regional and international developments. During his visit, President Isaias also met with

Education Minister Dr. Hussein Alhamadi, and Mr. Khaldun Almubarek, Chairman of Mubadelah (Emirates Investments).

 

Eritrea has become an Observer of the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).

 

The Eritrean Naval Force graduated 325 staff members on Saturday (September 7) at the end of 18 months of training. General Philipos Woldeyohannes, Chief of Staff of the Defense Forces, emphasizing the geo-strategic importance of Eritrea and the interest and power competition of the global powers in the region, said that the new era of peace required reinforced work and commitment.

 

Kenya

 

President Kenyatta said the Kenya Defense Forces would continue supporting the quest for peace and stabilization of Somalia under the auspices of AMISOM. Speaking at a Defense Forces passing out parade at Eldoret on Wednesday (September 11) he said: “Not only does this bring peace, security and stability to a neighbouring state with which we share deep historic bonds, it also provides our nation with safety and security from terror groups and other asymmetrical threats.” The President said the soldiers would continue to carry on Kenya’s proud tradition of participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations whenever called upon.

 

The International Court of Justice has postponed the hearing of Somalia-Kenya maritime border dispute case for two months. This followed a Kenyan request for a postponement to allow it to recruit a new legal team. The case will now reopen on November 4.

 

Somalia

 

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre met a delegation of Somalia’s international partners in Baidoa in South West State on Saturday (September 7) to discuss priority areas for national and international engagement in advance of Somalia Partnership Forum to be held in Mogadishu on October 1-2. They agreed to focus on key priorities for action, drawn from the roadmaps for reform on Inclusive Politics, Security and Justice, Economic Recovery and Social Development, in order to maximise national and partner efforts and resources.  They noted that delivery of these priorities would require urgent steps to strengthen cooperation between the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States. They called for reconciliation and electoral processes in the Federal Member States to be concluded without violence, and in the spirit of dialogue and respect for human rights.

 

An assessment mission from the African Union Peace Support Operations Division after a two-day visit to Somalia said it was satisfied with the progress being made to transfer security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali Security Forces, in line with the Somali Transition Plan. AMISOM is presently implementing the transition plan which provides for the transfer of security responsibilities ahead of AMISOM’s anticipated exit in 2021

 

Somalia has handed over the chair of the Arab League to Iraq. It took over the chair in March. Foreign Affairs Minister Isse Awad, addressing his final session as chair of the Arab League Council of Foreign Ministers this week called on the Arab League to stand with Palestine and support its efforts to become an independent state. He also appealed for support for Somalia to fight terrorism and restore peace and stability.

 

The Norwegian Refugee Council called on donors to increase emergency humanitarian assistance to help prevent further population displacement in Somalia. The Country Director for Somalia said on Tuesday (September 10) that drought, conflict and insecurity had forced more than 250,000 people to leave their homes in the first seven months of 2019, and this figure was likely to rise. This year’s UN humanitarian aid appeal for Somalia requested US$1.08 billion for 2019; it is only 47% funded so far.

 

The World Bank said on Monday (September 9) that Somalia’s economy was expected to grow by 2.9% this year, up from 2.8% last year, before growth quickens to 3.2-3.5% in the medium term. The higher growth forecast would depend on the country being able to sustain its current economic reform momentum. Tax collection by the government up by 29% last year was “encouraging, but the available fiscal space remains insufficient to meet expenditure needs (for) education and health sectors.”

 

The UK signed an agreement with Somaliland and the Netherlands to support the implementation of Phase II of the Somaliland Development Fund program on Tuesday (September 10). SDF II is a £25 million program covering 2018-2022 to help provide infrastructure including roads, water systems and agricultural facilities, and build capacity. The UK also signed a renewed MoU to support implementation of an Energy Security and Resource Efficiency in Somaliland (ESRES) Program

 

South Sudan

 

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have agreed that the revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity should be formed by November. They had during a face-to-face meeting in Juba this week, the first time they had met since the Vatican in Italy at the invitation of Pope Francis in April. Dr. Machar was last in Juba in October 2018. The Chairperson of the National Pre-Transitional Committee, Tut Gatluak, said the meeting focused on the need to establish the security arrangements, and reviewed progress on cantonment sites and on the process of screening. They also discussed the draft Constitutional Amendment, Security Laws, peace dissemination, funding the peace process and engaging the Non-signatories to the Revitalized Peace Agreement to come on board. They agreed to form a committee to look into the final report of the Independent Boundary Commission on the number of states and boundaries and come up with findings that would be suitable for both parties, and the people of South Sudan. They also agreed to meet from time to time to deal with problems prior to the formation of the Transitional Unity Government.

IGAD’s Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais, met President Kiir on Thursday last week (September 5) to discuss critical tasks necessary for the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity in November. The areas of concern included security arrangements, reconstitution of the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Commission and the number of states and their boundaries.” Ambassador Wais urged President Kiir to release the balance of the $100 million pledged for implementation of the peace agreement.

Tut Gatluak, the chairman of the South Sudan Government Committee for Peace Mediation in Sudan delivered a message from President Kiir to the Chairman of the Sovereign Council, General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan on Saturday (September 8). It briefed General al-Burhan and Prime Minister Hamdok on the recent meetings in Juba between President Kiir and leaders of Sudanese armed movements.

Sudan

 

The African Union lifted the suspension of the Sudan from African Union activities at the 875th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on Friday (September 6). The decision came after the formation of Sudan’s civilian government on Thursday (September 5) when Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok unveiled a new 18-member cabinet, a major step toward civilian rule. The move was hailed by AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki as “the beginning of a new era” for Sudan, describing it as “a fitting tribute to the determination of the Sudanese people for a new Sudan”. (See article)

 

Prime Minister Hamdok travelled to Juba on Thursday (September 12). accompanied by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Trade and Industry, and Energy and Mining. It was his first foreign visit. Discussions covered bilateral relations with South Sudan and prospects for cooperation, including ways to ease the movement of people, goods and services between the two countries as well as Juba’s efforts to bring peace to Sudan.

 

Representatives of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and armed groups signed “The Juba Declaration of Confidence Building Measures and the Preparation for Negotiation” on Wednesday this week (September 11) in Juba. The agreement was signed by the leaders of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the Sudan Liberation Forces Alliance (SLFA). Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, the leader SPLM-N al-Hilu signed the same text in a separate document. The agreement provides for implementing confidence-building measures provided in the Constitutional Document, and to establish appropriate mechanisms for this. Negotiations will start in Juba on 14 October and agreement should be signed before or on 14 December. The agreement was also co-signed by South Sudan President Salva Kiir who brokered the talks.

 

Prime Minister Dr. Hamdok met with visiting Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the beginning of the week. Mr. Shoukry, who expressed his pride in Egypt’s “strategic” relations with Sudan, said Egypt supported the removal of Sudan rom the [US] list of terrorist entities. They discussed ways Egypt could help Sudan during the transitional stage. Also on the agenda was Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Asma Mohamed Abdullah also participated in the talks. Prime Minister Hamdok said Sudan was keen to strengthen the long-standing relations between Khartoum and Cairo.

 

Prime Minister, Dr. Hamdok, met Yemane Gebreab, Political Adviser to President Isaias, on Monday (September 9) who brought congratulations of the Eritrean leadership on the formation of the transitional government. The Prime Minister said his government was keen to enhance relations and cooperation with Eritrea. They discussed the future of cooperation between the two countries and an expected visit of President Isaias to Khartoum in the near future.

 

Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Badawi announced a 200-day emergency plan to restore the country’s economy during the transitional period. He said the plan was based on five main areas, macroeconomic stabilization, measures to stabilize commodity prices, addressing youth unemployment, a transition from humanitarian aid to sustainable development and capacity building of economic management institutions. (See article)

 

African member states of the United Nations Security Council, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa, and the African Union have urged the lifting of international sanctions against Sudan. A statement on Tuesday (September 10) called for the lifting of all sanctions including withdrawing it from the list of countries supporting terrorism as the country was now ruled by a civilian transitional government. It also urged the new government to implement faithfully the provisions of the roadmap as agreed, and ultimately hold free, fair and transparent parliamentary and presidential elections.

 

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President Sahlework Zewde hosts a reception for Heads of Mission and Higher Officials

 

The annual week-long meeting of the Heads of Mission and Higher Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which concluded on Sunday (September 8), was held under a theme of “Institutional Reform for Diplomatic Excellence.” The meeting discussed and assessed the Ministry’s major activities and set directions for the next year, reviewing strategic goals and key programs as well as considering the draft Foreign Relations Policy Document and current regional issues. At the conclusion of the meeting, Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, who detailed the possible ways of building a robust and competitive institution, noted the previous year had been focused on bringing peace and security to the Horn region. The successes achieved, he said, had enabled Ethiopia to build trust and create solid cooperation among neighboring countries.

 

During the meeting, the Prime Minister also gave guidelines and directions to the assembled members of the Ministry. He briefed the Ambassadors and Higher Officials about the country’s achievements in the diplomatic sector, and the overall reform process. The Prime Minister underlined the dynamic nature of world diplomatic affairs, and encouraged the officials to promote the national interest of the country and give special focus to mobilizing investment and tourism flows.

 

President Sahle-Work Zewde hosted a dinner reception for the Heads of Mission and higher officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the National Palace. The President said the annual meeting, held under the theme of “Institutional Reform for Diplomatic Excellence”, would help the Ministry carry out its duties. She emphasized that the conclusions of the discussion would reflect the direction of the country’s Foreign Relations Policy and urged the Heads of Mission and Higher Officials to implement it.

 

The President noted that the hope of peace in the Horn of Africa would play a positive role in Ethiopia’s diplomatic activities. Ethiopia’s efforts in the resolution of instability in Sudan had showed its commitment to peace and enhanced its diplomatic credibility. She highlighted the importance of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and its role for regional integration. The President also underlined Ethiopia’s mediatory role in the Sudan peace settlement and thanked Ambassador Mahmoud Dirir for the prominent role he had played as a chief negotiator of peace in Sudan.

 

The President advised the Heads of Mission and Higher Officials to work closely with partners in order to achieve the country’s focus on peace. She also emphasized the importance of protecting the national interest of Ethiopia, and of promotion of tourist resources and focusing on the development of tourist destinations by coordinating with development partners. She noted the importance of conducting diplomatic works appropriately taking account of the dynamic realities of the world.

 

The President also emphasized the importance of strengthening IGAD as it plays crucial role in regional peace and economic integration as well as in the efforts to achieve the vision of the Africa Union 2063. She said: “It’s important to strengthen IGAD so that it can promote the economy and peace of the region.  Due attention should also be paid to the implementation of the African Free Trade Zone Agreement.”

 

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A national program “to celebrate Pagumen with synergy” to encourage unity

 

Pagumem is the 13th and final month of the Ethiopian calendar, adding 5 or 6 days to the twelve months, each of thirty days. This year, Pagumen had six days, leading up to New Year’s Day, Meskerem 1 (September 12), and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy called for it to be celebrated under Medemer, synergy and inclusivity, under six pillars: prosperity, peace, national pride, democracy, justice and national unity. Pagumen 2 was designated as National Peace Day last year, and this year the Minister of Peace, Mrs. Muferiat Kamil, joined others in planting trees in the Peace Park. The Ministry’s Communications Director said the programs to celebrate the day were in line with the theme “Climate Action for Peace” of the International Peace Day that is celebrated on September 21. Plants require sustained attention and consistent and concerted efforts are needed to build and maintain lasting peace.

 

National Pride Day was celebrated on Sunday with as many as 250,000 people taking part in a ceremony in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square to celebrate Ethiopian history, culture, and patriotism. Ethiopian Airlines, members of the Ethiopian Defense Forces, police and athletes, took part in the ceremony. acting Mayor, Takele Uma, told the crowd that what had kept Ethiopia alive was the “unity of people.” Ethiopia’s national pride, he said, was “the unity of the people.”

 

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Shitaye Minale, launched celebration of Democracy Day at the Sheraton Addis hotel. She said the justice and democratic institutions of Ethiopia were undergoing reforms to become impartial, and highlighted the need to take the opportunity of the ongoing reform process to build democracy in the country. She said works were underway to ensure the participation of all citizens and build a country that is fit for all, and stressing the importance of accommodating diversity, the Deputy Speaker also urged all community members to contribute to the development of democracy. “Democracy Day” was celebrated under the theme: “with the thinking of togetherness, let us stand to build strong and sustainable democracy”.

 

President Sahle-Work Zewde called upon all stakeholders to maximize efforts to see a new Ethiopia where access to justice was ensured. The President was speaking at the celebration of the Justice Day at the Millennium Hall on Tuesday (September 10). She said ensuring access to justice had an irreplaceable role to accelerate development and democracy as well as to build public trust in judicial institutions. Lack of public trust in judicial institutions was, she said, a threat to the country by eroding the unity of the people.

 

The concluding National Unity Day was celebrated with different events across the county under the theme, “coming together for national unity.” The Prime Minister’s Office called for people to make a concerted effort “to create the nation that we want to see, a reality with the sense of unity and coming together in the coming New Year.” President Sahle-Work, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy and prominent religious and political leaders attended a celebration at the National Palace, coinciding with the celebration of New Year’s Eve, and providing the culmination of the six days of Medemer during Pagumen.

 

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Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew visits the Russian Federation…

 

Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew made an official visit to the Russian Federation this week at the invitation of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Minister Gedu, leading a delegation which included Minister of Defense, Lemma Megersa, was welcomed on arrival on Monday (September 9) by Ambassador Gorge Todiwa, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Head of African Affairs, and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Russia, Ambassador Alemayehu Tegenu.

 

During the ministerial discussions, Foreign Minister Gedu noted that the two countries had established formal diplomatic relations 121 years ago, soon after the victory of Adwa, and Russia had consistently supported Ethiopia in its struggle to defend its sovereignty against colonial encroachment, and at times against misguided regional expansionist forces. He noted relations were not confined to State-to-State relations, but also had a people-to-people dimension, and quoted the renowned 19th-century poet Alexander Pushkin of Ethiopian and Russian ancestry. The 50-year extended contribution of the Russian Science and Cultural Center was a significant factor in cementing people-to-people relations, and thousands of Ethiopians had been educated in various universities of the Soviet Union.

 

Minister Gedu mentioned the Intergovernmental Joint Commission, set up to enhance cooperation in trade, investment, science and technology, aviation industry as well as cultural ties, was due to meet at the end of the month in St. Petersburg. He said it was expected to discuss and reach agreements on different issues to strengthen bilateral relations, adding “We are particularly interested in negotiations in regard to the use of nuclear energy to produce power. The Minister, who noted Ethiopia and Russia were working closely in international forums including the UN Security Council, where Ethiopia had been a non-permanent member until the end of 2018, briefed Mr. Lavrov on the role being played by Ethiopia to bring peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and promote regional economic integration. He called on Russian investors to invest in Ethiopia. Minister Gedu hoped this year would usher in “a new spirit of hope and cooperation with our Russian brothers and sisters;” he invited Mr. Lavrov, who visited the country in 2018, to visit Ethiopia again.

 

Mr. Lavrov said Russia appreciated the traditions of friendship, mutual respect, trust, and support that had developed over 120 years “and make up the basis of our relations today.” At the joint press conference, Mr. Lavrov said their talks had focused on increasing cooperation in trade and the economy. He said the volume of trade in absolute numbers wasn’t too impressive, but the growth rates were. They had agreed to support this trend. He emphasized the importance to the upcoming seventh meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation and Trade. They agreed to encourage it to implement joint investment projects across a variety of fields, including hydrocarbon energy, hydroelectric energy and nuclear energy. Mr. Lavrov said a biological research centre was being established in Ethiopia under the Joint Russian-Ethiopian Biological Expedition. There was a rich history of interaction including military-technical and military cooperation and they discussed effective cooperation in supplying military equipment. Many Ethiopian students study at Russian universities, including civilian universities and those operated by the Defense and Interior Ministries. This would be expanded. Russia would, at Ethiopia’s request, provide two specialised courses for Ethiopian diplomats at the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy next year.

 

Mr. Lavrov said the two sides were “on the same page on most issues.” He said they would continue to coordinate actions at the UN and Russia would promote the principles of the UN Charter including reform of the UN Security Council. He strongly supported the idea that Africans should have the decisive role in deciding on ways to resolve African problems. The two sides discussed the situation in Africa and the goals to be addressed to overcome crises and conflicts in the Horn of Africa, South Sudan and Somalia. Mr. Lavrov said these and other crises must be resolved through peaceful political means, and inclusive national dialogue. Mr. Lavrov added that the two sides had also discussed preparations for the first ever Russia-Africa summit to be held in Sochi in late October.

 

…and talked to the Sputnik News Service on economic, bilateral and regional issues

 

Foreign Minister Gedu emphasized that Ethiopia wanted to see increased trade with Russia as well as expanded economic activities and investment flows. The mining sector and hydrocarbon exploration were two key areas where Russia and Ethiopia could be working together. He said he and Foreign Minister Lavrov had discussed how to strengthen relations between Russia and Ethiopia in the field of science and technology, areas in which Ethiopia would like to learn from Russia’s experience. Ethiopia also wanted to strengthen the existing military cooperation under which Ethiopian personnel are trained in Russia and the country receives military equipment. He had raised the possibility of Russian companies being engaged in Ethiopian railroad construction; and this would be a matter for detailed negotiations in the future.

The Minister hoped Russian companies could invest in Ethiopia as the country was a harbour for Foreign Direct Investment from across the world and it was pushing to assist Russian companies to come to Ethiopia. He pointed out that the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement would provide new momentum for boosting pan-African trade and creating more business opportunities. It would foster intra-continental trade and business development as well as spur industrialization and employment opportunities. Every corner of Africa would be open, creating opportunities for business people throughout the continent.

Minister Gedu said Ethiopia was interested in the peaceful use of nuclear power for energy. He said negotiations were under way with Russian State Nuclear Corporation Rosatom to construct Ethiopia’s first nuclear power plant. They had signed a three-year road map on cooperation in April, and he hoped an agreement might be signed during the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on October 24. The Minister said Ethiopia would be represented at Sochi at the highest level, and he hoped the Russia-Africa summit would boost relations between Ethiopia and Russia. Ethiopia, he added, could be a gateway for Russia to Africa. Another important area for cooperation should be a greater focus on international affairs, such as fighting terrorism. Minister Gedu said “we need more agreements and to push relations to the higher level.” He and Foreign Minister Lavrov had agreed that the relationship between Russia and Ethiopia should be at the highest level, at strategic level, whether in specific sectoral cooperation or in cooperation in international areas.

 

Talking of regional affairs, the Minister referred to the most recent events in Sudan, noting the importance of the talks between the Sudanese Sovereign Council and armed groups on implementation of a peace agreement. Ethiopia, he said, was mediating or facilitating such negotiations. It had an interest to see a democratic Sudan as well as a strong, peaceful and prosperous Sudan. Problems in Sudan might be replicated in Ethiopia; instability in Sudan might affect the whole region. He urged all parties to the talks to reach an agreement, emphasizing that IGAD, the AU Commission, the Sudan people and government, as well as neighboring countries, and the international community, all had a stake in bringing matters to a positive and peaceful conclusion.

 

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African Union lifts suspension of Sudan’ membership…

The African Union lifted the suspension of the Sudan from activities of the African Union at the 875th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on Friday (September 6). The decision came after the formation of Sudan’s civilian government a day earlier when Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok unveiled a new 18-member cabinet, a major step in the transition toward civilian rule after decades of authoritarianism. The move was hailed by AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki as “the beginning of a new era” for Sudan, describing it as “a fitting tribute to the determination of the Sudanese people for a new Sudan”.

 

In their meeting on the situation in Sudan, the Peace and Security Council welcomed the appointment of Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and the formation of his cabinet on Thursday (September 5). It said that as Sudan had established a civilian-led Government, the Council “commits to support its reconstruction and international mobilization efforts.” Then Peace and Security Council also called for the lifting of economic and financial sanctions on Sudan, including the removal of Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism. The Council said that this would “enhance the economic activities of the country and encourage foreign investments”. It called for the broader international community to support the efforts of the African Union in this respect. It also called on AU Member States, the UN and all partners to continue providing their support, including mobilization of financial and humanitarian assistance to Sudan, to rebuild a peaceful Sudan, as well as creating conducive conditions for economic recovery.

 

The Peace and Security Council suspended Sudan on June 6 and said this would remain until the effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority. It said transferring power to a civilian-led authority was “the only way to allow the Sudan to exit the current crisis” and tasked Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Dr. Abiy with mediation to restore democracy in Sudan.

 

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry welcomed the lifting of the suspension: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its full satisfaction at the fact that this resolution is favourable to Sudan’s full integration into the regional and international community.” It said: “[We] use this great occasion to reaffirm our commitment to the goals and objectives of the African Union.”

… and a 200-day emergency economic plan for Sudan

Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Badawi has announced a 200-day emergency plan to restore the country’s economy during the transitional period. Addressing a press conference on Sunday (September 8) after the cabinet swearing in ceremony, he said the plan was based on five main areas, macroeconomic stabilization, measures to stabilize commodity prices, addressing youth unemployment, a transition from humanitarian aid to sustainable development and capacity building of economic management institutions. He said: “Every effort must be made to address this crisis with an urgent emergency plan until economic programs such as macroeconomic stabilization, combating inflation, exchange rates, liquidity and others are prepared.”

The Minister said the government would work first to stabilize the macro-economy, restructuring the budget and carrying out actions to ensure the could fulfil its obligations towards people in terms of social welfare and spending on education, health and development. The economy had been suffering from a lack of foreign currency and a high level of corruption had added to the international isolation and international sanctions. All these factors had contributed to the problems of the national economy, particularly after the independence of South Sudan which had deprived Sudan of three-quarters of oil output. The Finance ministry would impose regulations, and when necessary take penal measures to stabilize prices and reduce the cost of living.

 

The Minister said the government would provide short-term and long-term programs for youth employment, and would be working to achieve the transition from humanitarian aid to sustainable development in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states in support of the peacebuilding process. He said it was vital to prepare the economy during the second and third year of the transitional period to move towards value-added activities. This would mean stopping exportation of raw material and developing manufacturing. During the second term of the transitional period the government would also work to move from subsidizing goods to directly supporting the people. Overall, the plan aimed to fight poverty and achieve social justice in Sudan and to prepare the county for the structural transformation of its economy. Minister al-Badawi described his 200-day plan as a “strategic project aimed at achieving sustainable development goals during the transitional period, the most important of which is fighting poverty and achieving social justice.”

 

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Seminar on “Sustaining Traditional Friendship: China-Africa Cooperation”

 

The Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation and the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the African Union organized a half-day seminar on “Sustaining Traditional Friendship: Achievements and prospects of China-Africa Cooperation” on Monday (September 9). The seminar reviewed the major achievements, progress and prospects following the 3rd FOCAC summit in September 2018 and the 2nd summit of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April this year.

 

China’s Ambassador to the African Union, Ambassador Liu Yuxi said China and Africa would continue to embrace the future with joint hands, irrespective of the tremendous changes going on in the contemporary world. He said: “Despite complicated and profound changes in the international situation, China-Africa cooperation for common wins is pressing ahead vigorously.” China, he said, would preserve the global aspirations of China-Africa cooperation and work with Africa to implement the outcomes of the FOCAC summit to build a closer community of a shared future.” Ambassador Yuxi said they would strengthen cooperation in international and regional affairs, and step up efforts to align development strategies so that the practical achievements will benefit more people for a bright future for China-Africa cooperation.”

 

Ambassador Osman Abdel Khalek of Egypt, Chairperson of the AU Permanent Representatives Committee, noted that African countries, and the continent as a whole, enjoyed its partnership with China, which defined cooperation areas depending on the priorities of Africa, and of the specific interests of individual countries. He noted China had forged partnership and cooperation with Africa without any conditions or strings attached. He asserted the sky was the limit as far as China-Africa cooperation and partnership is concerned. He hailed the eight initiatives set out during the latest FOCAC summit, including infrastructure, trade facilitation, and industrial development, which complemented the priorities of the AU’s “Agenda 2063.”

 

Ambassador Mahlet Hailu, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Ethiopian government, congratulated the People’s Republic of China for the successful recent Summits of FOCAC and the Belt and Road Initiative and for taking the lead on issues of global development as well as its relationship with developing countries. This was, she said, particularly critical given the current onslaught on multilateralism. These structures were of great geopolitical significance, fostering global partnership and sustainable cooperation.  She said: “We in Africa are confident that the major initiatives unveiled by President Xi provide a new blueprint for win-win cooperation aimed at “building a shared future” between China and Africa.” Ambassador Mahlet said Ethiopia had signed in April 2019 an MOU with China on jointly promoting the implementation of the economic and commercial measures of the eight major initiatives of the FOCAC Beijing Summit. It had also been an active participant in the first “Dialogue on the Implementation of China-Africa Peace and Security Initiative’, hosted in Addis Ababa. Ambassador Mahlet stressed Ethiopia and China enjoyed excellent relations, now elevated into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. China was Ethiopia’s major development partner “with whom we share common goals of lifting our people from poverty”, and Ethiopia was committed to strengthening the relationship.

 

Other speakers at the seminar lauded the China-Africa partnership and cooperation in various areas, underlining where China had proven to be a real strategic partner with Africa. They spoke of the importance, the vitality and the viability of the cooperation and partnership Africa has with China. Africa-China relations had evolved through various phases, and this had allowed the relationship to become well-integrated, allowing the partnership to acquire new vigour and meaning and to adapt to emerging challenges and realities. Equally, it was still essential to sustain relations through critical appraisal. Speakers stressed that inter-dependence between peace-security and development should continue to feature high in the China-Africa partnership. They firmly underlined the importance of implementing the 2019-2021 Beijing Action Plan and the major initiatives of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) as a means of fostering development, peace and security in Africa.

 

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We would like to wish all our readers Melkam Addis Amet, with all good wishes for a successful, prosperous and peaceful New Year, for the Ethiopian Year 2012, (September 12, 2019 to September 10, 2020); and our thanks for your interest.

 

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