Washington (HAN) August 7, 2014 – Regional strategic & Diplomatic partnership News: Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki, was not invited US-Africa leaders summit, and that snub has become big topic among Washington’s Eritrean-American community. “It was abnormal that Africa accepts to go to this meeting while one of its very important members (Eritrea and Sudan) was not invited”, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti said in comments published in Sudan and Geeska Afrika Online on Sunday.
“My president is not invited and I am not happy about it,” one Washington cab driver said. “The policy of American government when it comes to Eritrea is totally wrong.”
US-Africa Leaders Summit, Eritrean community agree on one thing ‘president Isyas Afwerki is missing nothing-out’. President Obama took a swipe at China in a speech to a summit of African leaders in Washington on Tuesday, claiming that the US is interested in the continent for more than just its minerals and oil.
“We don’t look to Africa simply for its natural resources. We recognise Africa for its greatest resource which is its people and its talents and its potential,” he told the largest gathering of African leaders ever held in Washington. “We don’t simply want to extract minerals from the ground for our growth. We want to build partnerships that create jobs and opportunity for all our peoples, that unleash the next era of African growth,”
President Obama did not directly mention China by name, but the comments were clearly aimed at China as Obama administration uses the summit to promote the US as a better partner with Africa, in its efforts to catch up with the rapidly expanding Sino-Africa trade that promotes Eritrean and Sudan leadership.
“We can’t lose sight of the extraordinary promise of Africa,” Obama wrote in an opinion piece that McClatchy published Tuesday. “And just as Africa is changing, we need to change the way we think about the continent, put aside old stereotypes and respond to Africans’ desire for a partnership of equals where Africans take the lead in their own development.” But, Eritrean Foreign minister, Osman Slaeh said, Obama administration ignored Eritrean diplomatic contacts and regional security concerns.
Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerk has been dubbed Africa’s “North Korea.” Afewerki’s regime stands accused of committing gross human rights abuses including forced lifetime conscription, detainment without due process, and providing funding and support to the Somali militants of Al-Shabaab. The Eritrean regime is also under UN sanctions. The United States and Eritrea have very limited diplomatic ties, with no aid and very little trade between them. And though both maintain embassies, neither has an ambassador serving in their respective countries.
Because of those false accusations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia and Eritrea should look for specific strategic ways of working together in trade and the economy; Russia’s main focus on return was to develop and secure favorable trade and economic conditions for Russian businesses that already shows growing interest on the implementation of a number of investment projects in Eritrea specially on Eritrea’s burgeoning mining and natural resource projects. Eritrean Foreign minister, Osman Slaeh called it “a good opportunity to develop strategic partnership”.
“My Eritrean president is missing nothing,” the Eritrean cab driver says. “A group of people will lecture each other and they will go. All they will do is eat special food and go back.” A fancy dinner, he says, isn’t going to bring change back home.
The Eritrean cabbie didn’t want to give his name, but he describes himself as an Eritrean nationalist. He takes umbrage with the fact that his country was left out of these historic meetings: “They sanction us, they don’t invite us. There are more worse leaders who are invited here.”
Eritreans find like minds at the Expo Restaurant and Nightclub in Washington said that may not be true: Eritrea has sometimes been called the North Korea of Africa. The government of Afwerki, who’s held power since Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, has been accused of major human rights abuses, including forced labor and detainment without due process.
“He shouldn’t be invited anyway because he’s one of the bad leaders,” says Tadasse Alma, an Eritrean American who has lived in the US for nearly 40 years. He’s at the Expo Restaurant and Nightclub in the heart of Washington’s “little Ethiopia” neighborhood. It’s become a place where expat Eritreans who oppose the Afwerki government can find community.
Eritreans find like minds at the Eritrean Cultural and Civic Center in Washington’s Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood:
“There is no parliament. There’s one president who has been running the country for how long? 23 years?” Alma complains. “He can do anything that he wants. That’s not a country where people want to live.”
That wouldn’t be a popular opinion at the Eritrean Cultural and Civic Center, where Eritrean state television plays on a big screen. Flags of the president’s ruling party hang from the ceiling.
Zecarias Berhe is a former organizer for that party, but he’s not offended that Afewerki’s invitation to the summit never arrived. “The reason why they didn’t invite us, we are not ‘Yes, sir,’” Berhe says. “We don’t believe in, ‘Yes sir.’ We believe in self-reliance. We don’t believe in loans and all that. So all African nations, they are dependent. They are parasites.”
Unsurprisingly, Berhe thinks the summit is a joke. “People are dying in Nigeria, but Nigerian president is invited here,” he says. “He’s corrupted. All of them are corrupted. In Ethiopia, there’s wars. They’re fighting each other and killing each other. But they’re invited here. So what is the use of inviting these idiots when they’re not doing anything for their own people?”
As diverse as their opinions might be, all three Eritrean men agree on one thing about the summit: Nothing is going to get done.
“My president is missing nothing,” the cab driver says. “A group of people will lecture each other and they will go. All they will do is eat special food and go back.” A fancy dinner, he says, isn’t going to bring change back home.
Sources: Reporter, Lauren Obera, PRI and Jamal Sh, Geeska Afrika Online, Washignton, USA
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