OPDO says NO to TPLF’s interference, for the second time in post Meles Ethiopia

By Jawar Mohammed

September 26, 2012 (Gulele Post) – The OPDO central committee that met this past week failed to elect a replacement for its ailing party chairman and president of Oromia, Alemayehu Atomsa. It is the second time that such an attempt to elect a new leader has been adjourned without success.  During the first round that took place mid-August in Adama, the TPLF attempted to impose Aster Mamo. But she failed to garner even one third of the vote. The boiling confrontation was halted when Meles’ death was announced.

Still, the TPLF brought Mamo to sit in the EPRDF executive committee meeting with the aim of boosting her stature, even though she is not one of the nine that represent the OPDO in the 36 member EPRDF executive committee. Her and Workneh Gebeyehu’s ( Federal police commissioner) presence at that meeting without been officially delegated by OPDO , was seen as a direct affront to the leadership for their resistance two weeks earlier. The TPLF has often masterminded who could represent the OPDO in the coalition, but never has directly promoted someone to the EPRDF CC without at least symbolic and official endorsement by the parent party. Therefore, this blatant act was seen as deeply offensive, even by those in the OPDO who held reconciliatory tone towards the TPLF during the previous meeting in Adama.

The attack on the OPDO was intensified during the runup to the election to fill the seats vacated by Meles. Bereket Simon’s office purposely spread rumors alleging that the OPDO had been withholding Hailemariam’s appointment, while the truth was that the OPDO raised no objection because they were quite certain that appointment of Hailemariam Desalegn and Demeke Mekonnen was a done deal, as it has been a plan in place since 2010. Moreover, the TPLF men began encouraging selected individuals, particularly Kuma, to compete against Hailemariam – which is contrary to the OPDO’s collective decision to stay out. Having convinced members of the rest of the coalition to vote for the two, the TPLF was setting up the OPDO for sure defeat and the humiliation of its key leaders (the EPRDF CC is made up of 180 members, therefore even had all of the OPDO voted in favour of their candidate and won over some sympathizers  from other parties, they would still have been outvoted).

Nevertheless, after Kuma was forced to withdraw due to intense protest by the OPDO, Azeb Mesfin , Meles’ widow, suddenly nominated Sufian Ahmed, who had no clue what was happening. Although Bereket Simon refrained from publicly  naming the third candidate that lost to Hailemariam and Demeke, he immediately ‘leaked’ it to his friends, who announced to the world that Sufian was the loser with a mere  five  votes out  of 180.

–For Full Document click gulelepost.com


UN General Assembly Debates versus Conflict Resolution in the Horn of Africa

Oromo Press | September 26, 2012   The the conflict in Syria, the tragic murder of the U.S. ambassador in Libya and unrest relating to the anti-Islam video have overshadowed talks about any other conflict issues in sub-Saharan Africa in the 67th United Nations General Assembly. Even if prioritizing conflict resolution is not going to be translated into actions, it is a progress that the UN is trying to be proactive in conflict resolution and preventive diplomacy in some privileged war-ridden regions of the world. Less privileged conflict regions such the Horn and sub-Saharan Africa are not on the agenda explicitly.

Beyond the UNGA’s being the show of government leaders with levers of power, what are the implications of the such broad and appealing agenda for peace for the Oromo people and others in Ethiopia fighting for rights, equality and self-governance?

Bloggers at Oromo Press have tweeted about the travel of the “New” Ethiopian Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn to New York to attend the UN plenary meetings and other specific regional meeting focusing on Somalia and the the Horn of Africa. Hash tags targeting “Oromo”, “UN”, “Ethiopia” were used as ways of getting the conversations picked up globally by those who search twitter on the UNGA and Ethiopia. This is not to chronicle the life and travel of Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, as some among us have chronicled the death of Meles Zenawi more than Tigireans themselves have done, but to point out how he does not have an agenda for peace, conflict resolution and preventative diplomacy for the Oromo and the rest in Ethiopia and the Horn.

The EPRDF is trying to sell a line of propaganda that roughly attempts to sell Post-Zenawi Ethiopia as “a New Ethiopia,” meaning no more dictatorship since it has a new PM hailing from the minority Walayita people. “New Ethiopia” is a fabrication because the death of one tyrant just led to the replacement of another in a completely intact Ethiopian state system–still mono-ethnically controlled by Tigirean elites. Hailemariam Desalign is a great opportunity for these all-powerful elites who control the army and the resources of the nation. The idea/plan is to use him as Trojan horse to continue attacking the long disfranchised and abused Oromo and others peoples to the south. The idea is also to deny that it is not the Tigreans who are doing massive rights abuses and genocidal campaigns any more. “Look it is somebody else in power!” kind of responsibility dodging!

Given that the agenda at the UN is mostly focused on the Middle East and South East Asia, neither Hailemariam Desalegn nor sub-Saharan Africa will be featured as important in the debates. However, Desalegn will still have the opportunity to hoodwink the world since he is from the Horn of Africa, a region that obviously receives relatively higher attention compared to the rest of Africa.

–Full Report  click oromopress

Ethiopia: jailed journalists, opposition leader property confiscated


Not only freedom, your property is also confiscated under TPLF   September 25, 2012 (The Africa Report) – The Ethiopian Federal High Court has ordered the property of a jailed Ethiopian journalist and opposition party leader to be confiscated.   The decision to confiscate Eskinder Nega’s property, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice, comes after a request made by federal prosecutors.   However, the courts ordered that a villa house registered under Nega’s name and another residential house, inherited from his parents, as well as an automobile registered under his wife’s name, not to be sold or transferred to a third party.   Nega is currently serving 18 years imprisonment on terrorism charges.   In May 2012, Eskinder was awarded the prestigious Pen American’s Freedom to write annual prize for his work.   The courts also ordered that opposition leader, Andulem Arage’s car, which was believed to be his, but registered under his wife’s name, not be sold or transferred to a third body.   Arage is serving life imprisonment under the same terrorism charges.   The federal court also ordered the property of another journalist, Abebe Gelaw’s property, a stand and a residential villa in Addis Ababa not to be sold or transferred to a third body.   Gelaw, a United States resident, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in absentia. His residential house is said to be registered under his wife’s name.   In July 2012, Ethiopian courts sentenced 20 journalists and opposition politicians between eight years to life imprisonment.   –The Africa Report

Ethiopia bans Swedish state television: report


Sept 22, 2012 (The Local) – The website of Swedish state broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT) has been blocked in Ethiopia amid claims that the reason is their reporting of the case of journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye.

According to sources contacted by SVT, the svt.se website has been down in the country since early on Saturday morning.

Persson and Schibbye were recently released from Ethiopian prison and SVT is among the news media which have reported on claims that evidence was falsified to secure their convictions on terror charges.

“Ethiopia is very uncomfortable with the information that we have broadcast. They know that we are going to produce more,” said reporter Johan Ripås to svt.se.

According to Mikael Hvinlund at SVT the cause of the interruption is under investigation.

“It is very regrettable if it is that they have shut down our site, that a country imposes such restrictions. We have had a comprehensive coverage and have strong sources, and they are obviously irritated by the publicity,” he told the TT news agency.

“If they have done so deliberately then it is a very serious and powerful signal.”

He confirmed that SVT were given no notice, and that it had come as a surprise.

“We are going to contact Ethiopia’s embassy in Sweden to seek an explanation for why they have done this.”

SVT are also busy investigating whether other Swedish news sites have also suffered the same fate.

“There are others also reporting so if there should be any point with it then they should close more Swedish sites,” he said.

–The Local

Ethiopia’s new leader takes oath of office

Sept 21, 2012, ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn took the oath of office Friday, vowing to maintain the legacy of long-time ruler Meles Zenawi who died last month.   “I, Hailemariam Desalegn, in front of the parliament, accept to be the prime minister of Ethiopia,” he said, as lawmakers banged on their desks in support.   Hailemariam, 47, was elected last week as the chairman of the ruling coalition Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which holds an overwhelming majority in parliament.   “With the decision of the EPRDF and the parliament, I am very happy to take the responsibility of being prime minister,” he said, speaking after taking the oath with his hand on the bible.   A close ally of Meles as deputy prime minister and foreign minister since 2010, Hailemariam vowed to continue in the footsteps of the late ruler.   “We brought peace, democracy and development to the country,” he said.   “Meles considered himself as a son of the people,” he added, promising to continue “Meles’s legacy without any change.”   Some analysts have argued that Hailemariam will be handicapped by his relatively young age, lack of experience and the fact he was not part of the still powerful core of former rebels who seized power in 1991.   Education minister Demeke Mekonnen, elected last week as deputy chair of the EPRDF, was elected deputy prime minister, taking over the post from Hailemariam.   “I will serve the country and faithfully serve the prime minister,” Demeke said as he took the oath.   He vouched his support for Hailemariam, praising his “leadership with the late prime minister” and his “significant role in the EPRDF regarding democracy, and the development of the country.”   Hailemariam, a Protestant, comes from the minority Wolayta people, from the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, where he was president for five years.   Demeke, from the Amhara people of Ethiopia’s central highlands — who make up around a quarter of the country’s 84 million people — is a Muslim.   “What is very surprising is that you now have in power a Protestant Wolayta and a Muslim Amhara,” a Western diplomat told AFP, noting that for the first time neither of the top two leaders were members of Ethiopia’s Orthodox church.   Meles, who died after a long illness aged 57, was hailed as an African hero and was a key Western ally in a region home to Al-Qaeda-linked groups, but was also criticised by rights groups for a crackdown on basic freedoms.   But in his acceptance speech Hailemariam appeared to address concerns by human rights groups, who have said the new leadership offers an opportunity for change.   “We will reinforce democracy and human rights in the country. If there are problems, we will fix it,” Hailemariam said.   “We will work with human rights organisations, the national elections board and some opposition parties,” he added.   Some analysts say Hailemariam’s ethnic origins in the south of the country will play against him as many key figures, like Meles, hail from the Tigray region in the north of the country.   Others argue that on the contrary his position outside the Tigray power base will work in his favour.   “His ethnicity is considered an advantage, because it is a minority in a multi-ethnic region and, most importantly, not from the numerically dominant Oromo or Amhara,” International Crisis Group said in a recent report.


Ethiopia to swear in new prime minister, a hand-picked successor to Meles Zenawi, on Friday

Sept 18, 2012, ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP)— Ethiopia’s new prime minister is to be sworn into office on Friday.   Hailemariam Desalegn is the hand-picked successor of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died Aug. 20 after ruling Ethiopia for more than two decades. Hailemariam is a former deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister under Meles.   Hailemariam’s ascension to prime minister has been delayed for at least a month after an emergency meeting of parliament was canceled last month.   Shimeles Kemal, communications state minister, said Tuesday that Hailemariam will take the oath Friday morning.   The extraordinary parliament session follows a meeting by the leadership of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, which on Saturday named Hailemariam its leader. The party controls 545 of the country’s 547 parliament seats, ensuring Hailemariam will be approved Friday.   –Washington Post       Hailemariam Desalegne Biography   ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An official says Ethiopia’s ruling party has named as its leader acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who took over after the death last month of longtime leader Meles Zenawi.  As chairman of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, Hailemariam, 47, will almost certainly be confirmed as the country’s prime minister. Bereket Simon, Ethiopia’s communications minister, said Saturday that Hailemariam would be sworn in soon, perhaps in a few weeks. It remains unclear exactly when this will happen.  Hailemariam’s ascension to the ruling party’s top leadership signals that he is not just warming the seat for someone else and that influential party officials are keen to respect the wishes of Zenawi, who picked Hailemariam from obscurity and made him foreign minister and deputy prime minister.   Questions Quick Information  Name Haile Mariam Desalegne  Born July 19, 1965 (47)  In Office Aug. 20, 2012 – Present  Title Acting Prime Minister  Religion Protestant Christian  Spouse Married to Roman Tesfaye  Children Three: Joanna (22), the rest unknown  Ethnicity Welayta Ethnic Group  Twitter @HailemariamD  Languages Welaytta, Amharic, and English   Political Positions   Hailemariam Desalegn is an Ethiopian politician and the acting Prime Minister of Ethiopia. He formerly served as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister from 2010 until August 2010. Following the death Meles Zenawi, who passed away from complications of liver cancer in Brussels, Belgium on August 20, 2012, the Council of Ministers appointed Hailemariam as the country’s temporary successor.   Early Childhood   Described as a timid and short-tempered individual by his childhood friends, Hailemariam was born on July 19, 1965 in the Welayta district of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region of Ethiopia. He spent most of his youth playing football and assisting his father, Desalegne, with the family business.Upon entering high school, Hailmariam joined political youth group representing the former military junta, Mengiustu Hailemariam.   Hailemariam’s Education   Hailemariam obtained a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Addis Ababa University in 1988. He subsequently worked as a graduate assistant in Arba Minch University. Shortly after, he obtained a scholarship to attend Tampere University of Technology in Finland and achieved a masters degree in sanitation engineering. Upon his return to Ethiopia, he served in a number of academic and administrative positions, including the dean of the Water Technology Institute for over a decade.

Hailemariam married his longtime girlfriend, Roman Tesfaye, in 1989. Like her husband, Roman was born in southern Ethiopia and has a lengthy educational and political background. She has two Masters Degrees in leadership and economics from local universities. Prior to her current job at the African Union, She was an advisor for the people of South region and was on the human rights commission of Ethiopia. The couple have three daughters, with 22-year-old Joanna being the eldest of the three.

Ethiopian Ruling Party Confirms Hailemariam as Meles’s Successor

By William Daviso

September 15, 2012 (Bloomberg) — Ethiopia’s ruling party confirmed acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as the successor to the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Meles, who led Ethiopia for 21 years and who oversaw one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, died on Aug. 20 from an infection contracted while he was recovering from an undisclosed illness. Hailemariam, Meles’s deputy in the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front and a former foreign minister, took over in an acting capacity the next day.

“Out of three candidates, Hailemariam has got the unanimous vote of council members and will serve as chairman of EPRDF and Demeke Mekonen will serve as well as deputy chairperson of EPRDF,” Communications Minister Bereket Simon said in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Whoever’s elected as chair and deputy chair of party will automatically be the nominees for the premiership and deputy premiership. So both Mr. Hailemariam and Mr. Demeke will represent the party and be candidates and be presented to parliament for approval when it starts its formal session in early October.”

Ethiopia, the continent’s second-most populous nation, is a key U.S. ally in its battle against al-Qaeda in the region. Ethiopian troops in December invaded Somalia for the second time in four years to join the battle against al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s Somalia affiliate.

The federal parliament, which has only one opposition lawmaker out of 547, is expected to swear in Hailemariam on Oct. 8, Bereket said.

At Meles’s funeral on Sept. 2, Hailemariam vowed to continue with his state-led development model that channeled loans, aid, investment and domestic revenue into infrastructure, industry and public services. The result was growth that averaged 10 percent in the past eight years, according to the government.

Human-rights groups criticized the government for cracking down on civil liberties and introducing anti-terrorism laws in 2009 that have been used to jail opposition politicians and journalists.

The EPRDF is a coalition of four parties representing the Amhara people, the Oromo, the Tigray and a collection of southern groups. Meles was leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which led the ouster of a military junta in 1991, while Hailemariam hails from the southern bloc. His deputy is from the Amhara National Democratic Movement.

The EPRDF’s council, which has 45 representatives from each bloc, chose Meles’s successor from the 36-member executive committee of the party. Ethiopia’s next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2015.