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The Securitization of political life in the Horn of Africa August 21, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Conversation in Ideas: The Securitization of political life in the Horn of Africa




Oromia Media Network (OMN) 3rd Year Anniversary, Little Oromia (Minnesota), Minneapolis May 15, 2017

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OMN: Gratitude to German people & Government (Caamsaa 3, 2017)


OMN: Tumsa Hundeeffama waggaa 3ffaa OMN, Manchester, UK ( Caamsaa 8, 2017)

Oromia Media Network: OMN 3rd Year Anniverssary in South Africa (Johannesburg) March 23, 2017

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Kabaja ayyaana OMN waggaa 3ffaa, Afrikaa Kibbaa haala gaaariin geggeeffame.





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The situation in Ethiopia has been declared by some bloggers (see for instance Prof Chris Blattman) as the most under-reported conflict in the world right now. This is rather true. Though some media outlets reported on the recent political turmoil in Ethiopia, such as some German press in the context of the recent visit of Chancellor Merkel to Addis Ababa, generally very little has been reported on the unrest.

Already in November 2015, the first protests against the Ethiopian Government unfolded in the Oromia region when the government wanted to expand the margins of the city of Addis. As this implied the resettlement of the local Oromo population -the largest ethnic group in the country- this was seen as a further expression of political and economic marginalisation.

The situation calmed down a little over spring 2016 and erupted again in the summer when the Amhara people in the North started anti-government protests. The military was deployed and further unrest unfolded again in the Oromia region – and for the first time an alliance between the Oromo and the Amhara was built. Since November 2015, at least 500 people have been killed by security forces and tens of thousands have been arrested, according to Human Rights Watch. What started as a protest against the expansion of Addis turned into an expression of general dissatisfaction with the government’s authoritarianism and lack of political and economic participation for more than two and a half decades.

On 9th October, the Ethiopian Government declared the state of emergency for the first time in 25 years. This was after more than fifty people died at a religious festival of the Oromo people close to Addis. A week after, further details on the state of emergency were made public. Now, the government can arrest and detain for six months (the duration of the emergency state) any person breaching emergency laws and conduct searches without a court warrant. There are now severe restrictions to the freedom of assembly and protest, and any communication with foreign governments or foreign NGOs “that is likely to harm sovereignty, security, and constitutional order” (translation provided by Horn Affairs) as well as any communication with “anti-peace groups” is prohibited. Moreover, the Government can monitor and restrict “messages transmitted” through different sorts of media outlets. This is reflected in cutting off the internet via the mobile network for two months – a major internet access route in Ethiopia – as well as the similar disconnections for social media.

Shortly after declaring the state of emergency (on 15th October), the Ethiopian Government also announced reforms, including changes to the electoral system from ‘first past the post’ to a proportional system. A change of cabinet has already taken place and tackling corruption has been declared a priority.

So why are these developments in Ethiopia the most under-reported conflict of the world, to stay with the initial phrase?

To reiterate: Ethiopia is experiencing political unrest over an extended period of time and the state of emergency has been declared for the first time in 25 years. This should be reason enough to report on the situation, but there is more: Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa with nearly 100million inhabitants, only topped by Nigeria. Secondly, Ethiopia’s GDP grew rapidly over the last few years at a rate of 9.6% in 2015. Thirdly, Ethiopia is considered as a bulwark against Jihadist Islamist movements in the Horn of Africa. Despite recently retreating some forces, Ethiopia has sent it troops to fight al-Shabab – the official al-Qaeda branch in Somalia.

These economic and security features of Ethiopia are at the same time a factor, if not the main reason why the West reports so little on the current political situation. Though the low coverage of Ethiopia is also related to the fact that other issues happen in the world and dominate Western media, the situation in Syria and Trump’s election to name a few. It is likely that Ethiopia’s importance to the West heavily contributed to the lack of coverage. Looking at the ever increasing Official Development Assistance (ODA) levels to Ethiopia by Western states, most notably the US and the UK, it seems as if the West buys into two arguments of the Ethiopian Government: political participation and democratic rights are less important than Ethiopia’s economic development and regional stability in the fight against terrorism. This is also reflected in the US and UK’s national focus on the ‘war on terror’ and their own balancing of national security in relation to human rights. A similar dynamic exists with regard to the World Banks and other donor priorities of poverty reduction over issues of political governance when they decide on Ethiopia’s ODA levels.

Though it has to be mentioned that the US, amongst others, expressed that they were ‘deeply concerned’ over the situation in Ethiopia, actions speak louder than words. It needs to be seen whether or not Western ODA levels continue to grow. And in the same manner, we should report on whether or not the Ethiopian Government will really deliver on its reform promises.

N.E. Africa: Washington’s Closest Ally on the Horn of Africa Has a Terrible Human Rights Record July 12, 2016

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Washington’s Closest Ally on the Horn of Africa Has a Terrible Human Rights Record    11 July 2016

Tiny Djibouti is a key U.S. ally in the “war on terror.” But that doesn’t mean Washington should stay silent on its abuses.

Djibouti's dictator

On the Horn of Africa, tucked between quarrelsome neighbors who receive the lion’s share of the regional spotlight, lies the nondescript and mostly forgotten Republic of Djibouti. The country rarely makes its way into international headlines — and this is exactly what the government and its allies, namely the United States, prefer. Washington has been content to keep its close collaboration with the government in Djibouti City under the radar, thereby avoiding the need to publicly defend its alliance with a highly repressive regime.

The United States’ investment in the country — which amounts to over $70 million per year, including economic aid — has everything to do with its strategic location on the Gulf of Aden. Indeed, what Djibouti lacks in size (it is about the size of Massachusetts and has a population of about 900,000) it more than makes up for with its status as a “geographical goldmine.” The government is a key contributor of troops to the African Union force in Somalia, which combats Al Shabaab and other armed opposition groups. It is also an important staging area for attacks against suspected terrorists, especially through its role as host of a base for U.S. drones that operate in the region. In March 2014, President Obama announced plans for a “Binational Forum” in which senior officials from both countries committed to building a “vibrant 21st century strategic partnership grounded in friendship, mutual trust, and common security.”

Djibouti’s president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, has been a regular guest in the White House.

Djibouti’s president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, has been aregular guest in the White House. They also explain why his government has managed to dodge criticism of its dismal record on human rights, democratic governance, and the rule of law.Guelleh has quietly ruled Djibouti since 1999 (his uncle, who had reigned since 1977, personally anointed him) and he stands today as one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s longest-serving leaders. Like some of his fellow autocrats, Guelleh appears to have no qualms about openly and violently rigging his country’s so-called “democratic elections” in his favor, often winning absurdly unrealistic majorities. This April, Guelleh and his ruling coalition, the Union for the Presidential Majority, reportedly won 87 percent of all votes cast. This impressive showing surpassed the 80 percent he won in 2011 after the country’s National Assembly amended the constitution to allow him to run for a third term in office.

According to many international observers,

Guelleh will leave office only “when he feels like it.”

Guelleh will leave office only “when he feels like it.” His government has repeatedly been accused of myriadhuman rights abuses, including documented cases of torture and arbitrary detention of opposition supporters, as well as the denial of fair public trials, severerestrictions on freedom of the press, deliberate targetingof human rights activists, and high levels of corruption. Most recently, during the lead-up to the presidential election in April, authorities used deadly force to break up public demonstrations, including an incident in December 2015 during which 19 people were reportedly killed after police opened fire. To its credit, the United States condemned the disproportionate and deadly use of force, and also called for the release of opposition leaders who were unjustly detained in the country.

In what has become a routine defense of the indefensible, authorities justified the killings by blaming the victims, claiming the peaceful protesters had tried to “destabilize our nation.” The rationale for gunning down citizens in broad daylight was also premised on combating “armed individuals from abroad” (subtext: terrorists). Of course, this designation is no accident. It is meant to placate the international community and particularly the United States, which since 2009 has headquartered its East African Terrorism Task Force at Camp Lemonnier on the outskirts of the capital, Djibouti City. The base is so crucial to U.S. military operations in the region that, in 2014, the Pentagon signed an agreement to secure its lease through 2044. Since 9/11, the base has grown in “almost every conceivable fashion,” with more than$600 million allocated or already awarded for related projects.

All told, Djibouti is a classic case of how a fundamentally undemocratic and abusive government can appeal to the so-called “war on terror” to justify its repression and secure its legitimacy. As recently as May 2014,

President Obamapraised the Guelleh regime and expressedhis “strong support” for its“leadership in the Horn of Africa.”

President Obama praised the Guelleh regime and expressed his “strong support” for its “leadership in the Horn of Africa.” By turning a blind eye to Guelleh’s attempts to seal off avenues of democratic participation, the United States is raising the prospects of future unrest in Djibouti — the very outcome that it and other shareholders in the country, and region writ large, are ostensibly working to prevent. Indeed, the Fund for Peace, which publishes the annual Fragile States Index, already registers Djibouti as having a “very high warning” risk of state collapse.

The U.S. government should reject the notion that allying with brutal regimes in the short-term somehow protects our long-term national interests. Blank checks to repressive governments who abuse their own citizens, often under the guise of “anti-terror,” often backfire (see:Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda just for starters). This flawed strategy fails to take into account the resentment that will ultimately boil over when a people’s legitimate grievances are not addressed.

The antidotes to these problems — genuine democratic governance, the rule of law, free and fair elections, and support to civil society and human rights activists — should be key planks of U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century. Only investments in these key sectors can counter the heightened repression, undue consolidation of political power, and manipulation of the courts that breed extremism.

To be sure, the United States must tread carefully as it calibrates its relationships with strategically important allies, including Djibouti, that have poor records on governance and human rights. But it’s long past time to stop shaking hands with retrograde strongmen and rolling out the red carpet for the likes of Ismail Omar Guelleh, and other African leaders, whose time has come and gone.

N.E. Africa:Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) Categorically Condemns the Past and Ongoing Massacre of Unarmed Civilians by TPLF/EPRDF’s Ethiopian Government May 31, 2016

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Odaa OromooPAFD NEWSPAFD nations flagsPAFD, the genuinely-multinational coalition for freedom and democracy in Ethiopia, covers greater than 70% of area in Ethiopia

Press Release on the occasion of 14th Commemorative anniversary of Sidama Loqqee Massacre and the Massacre of the other civilians.

May 30, 2016, London

The repeated massacres and genocides of past 25 years that the TPLF’s barbaric regime has committed on unarmed civilians of all regions-and the ongoing indiscriminate massacres it is committing now are likely to continue unabated for a long time if the peoples in Ethiopia remain fragmented, divided and refuse to take the responsibility of confronting and stopping this criminal regime. Failure to do so has already unquestionably contributed to the longevity of the regime.

We, the PAFD member organizations envisage a dynamic and flexible approach with potential of accommodating the interests of all stakeholders without any differences and without actually dictating our own agendas for all the peoples in Ethiopia. This will allow all to move forward in unison in their strides towards justice, democracy and genuine self-determination, which is practically denied by the current regime. Moreover, we strongly believe that this is the only way forward to stop the ongoing genocide, to restore the rule of law, human dignity and pride and democratic order in Ethiopia.

To be able to do so, all the peoples in Ethiopia and their respective organizations must put their differences aside and unite strategically in order to end the suffering of all perpetrated by the TPLF led EPRDF’s brutal regime.

Today’s Sidama Loqqee massacre 14th commemorative anniversary isn’t unique to Sidama nation and isn’t a past history. It has been committed on tens of thousands of civilians in Ethiopia from Amhara, Afar, Benshagul, Hadya, Kambata, Ogaden Somali, Omo, Oromia, Sidama, Shakicho and the rest of regions of Ethiopia. And it is ongoing in Oromia, Ogadenia, Gambella, Konso, Omo Valley and the rest of regional, Zone and district levels.

Unconditionally condemning the past and ongoing genocides and massacres, the PAFD calls upon all organizations and peoples in Ethiopia to be united, move forward and stop the regime brutalizing them all.

PAFD also urges the international and regional communities to stand on the side of the people in order to stop the ongoing blatant human rights violations and hold the perpetrators into account both locally and in the international arena

PAFD salutes the indefatigable and resilient spirits of the Sidama Loqqee martyrs and all the other civilians who have been the victims of past and ongoing massacre by current callous regime in Ethiopia.

Finally, PAFD promises that all those wronged souls may rest in peace and that their valuable lives will be not be lost in vain. It will continue fighting for justice and democracy and righting the wrongs committed against them and the other living multitudes. PAFD will never forget your courageous and honorable sacrifices for generations to come.

PAFD Executives, May 30, 2016, London


Oromian Voices: Current Affairs, News, Views, Analysis and Entertainment from Oromia Media Network, Madda Walaabuu and Other Various sources. #Oromia. #Oromo September 13, 2015

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