News in brief, Week in the Horn

Africa and the African Union

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Tuesday (May 31) approved $175 million in financing to help mitigate the impact of forced displacement on refugee-hosting communities in the Horn of Africa. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project(DRDIP) “should bring more stability to the region and offer more economic opportunities for people living in these areas.” The low to no-interest funding is for $100 million (Ethiopia), $50 million (Uganda) and $20 million (Djibouti) as well as a $5 million grant to IGAD. (See article)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is making an official visit to Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia this week between May 31 and June 1. (See article)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague said on Thursday last week (May 26) that it would hold hearings in September into the maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya. Somalia wants the maritime border to continue along the line of the land border, to the southeast; Kenya wants the sea border to go in a straight line east, giving it more sea territory.


President Dr. Mulatu Teshome on Tuesday (May 31) received a UN delegation headed by Stephen Cutts, UN Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Central Support Services in the Department of Management. The UN is planning to build its third largest office, after New York and Geneva, in Addis Ababa, and the planned construction will include an exhibition center and museum as well as other facilities.

Ethiopian National Day, May 28, 2016, (Ginbot 20, 2008), the Silver Jubilee of the overthrow of the oppressive military dictatorship of the Derg, was celebrated across the country, as well as in Addis Ababa where it was marked at the Addis Ababa stadium. Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said Ginbot 20 was about much more than a simple change of government. It was the start of ‘the New History of Ethiopia’ in terms of political, economic, social and cultural change and the dawn of a new era of peace, democracy and development. (See article)

The UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, Philip Hammond, arrived in Addis Ababa on June 1 for an official visit to Ethiopia. He held meetings with Prime Minister Hailemariam and Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom. (See article)

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom met with a High-Level EU Delegation on Tuesday (May 31) to discuss the issue of migration. The talks covered the proposed signing of a strategic cooperation agreement on migration, partnerships in migration and the strengthening of further cooperation between Ethiopia and European Union.

Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sameh Shoukry, said on Tuesday (May 31) that Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam had become a reality and that it is “pointless to bury our heads in the sand by not acknowledging a tangible physical reality.” He said there had been a “transformation,” in Ethiopia’s approach since the signing of the Malabo agreement in June 2014. Egypt, he said, was discussing with its Ethiopian and Sudanese partners” to reach an agreement on how to deal with any risk of harm to Egypt.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie held the first round of bilateral consultations with Portugal’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mrs. Teresa Ribeiro, in Lisbon on Monday (May 30). The two sides exchanged views on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest and agreed to bolster the relationship which dated back 500 years (See article)

Ambassador Taye led the Ethiopian delegation to the 5th Political Consultation between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Czech Republic in Prague on Thursday this week (June 2). Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, Martin Tilapa led the Czech Republic delegation to the Consultation which focused on bilateral, regional and global issues. (See article)

The Ethio-Sudan Joint Technical Economic Committee met in Port-Sudan at the beginning of the week. They agreed to improve customs procedures, underlined the importance of free and preferential trade and of establishing a joint force to combat smuggling. They also discussed improved banking to facilitate movement of capital and of banking transfers and allow for setting up each other’s banks in Khartoum and Addis Ababa. The meeting was followed by a meeting of the Joint Higher Committee under the chairmanship of Sudan’s Vice-President and Ethiopia’s Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael, Deputy Prime minister for Finance and Economic Cluster and Minister of Communication and Information Technology,to approve the committee’s recommendations.

The Export and Import Bank of China has promised a loan of $1 billion for the construction of an industrial park in Adama, Ethiopia’s Oromia Regional State. Arkebe Equbay, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, says China’s Hunan Provincial Government and Ethiopia have agreed to develop an industrial park to host manufacturers that will produce heavy-duty earth-moving machinery. The park will be built by CGC Overseas Construction.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has generated over US$2.6 billion during the past nine months, and achieved 88% of its targets. The Ministry’s nine month performance report, presented to the House of People’s Representatives, said this meant over 700,000 foreign tourists had visited the country’s various tourist destinations in this period.

Fiji has opened its new mission in Addis Ababa and a high-level opening ceremony was held in the presence of Ethiopian Government Officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps and invited guests. Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said Fiji was honored and grateful to the Government of Ethiopia for its support in the setting up Fiji’s diplomatic representation in Ethiopia and allow it to effectively service and forge partnerships in the region.

Mr. Fekade Tadesse, the Honorary Consul General of the Government of Sri Lanka to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia since 2010, passed away on Sunday (May 29). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to express its condolences on the death of Mr. Fekade and wishes to express its sincere sympathy to his family and friends.

The Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority said on Tuesday this week (May 31) it would start issuing television licenses for private broadcasters at the end of the current Ethiopian year in September. The Authority has so far issued licenses for over 10 federal and regional FM stations and provided permits for 30 community radio stations in Ethiopia.


Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, speaking at a ministerial level conference on “Sustainability of Migratory Phenomenon: towards a new model of dialogue” in Rome, said illegal migration had become a politically motivated agenda serving as part and parcel of a larger campaign to vilify, isolate and destabilize Eritrea and tarnish the nation’s image. “Sensationally manipulated statistics and the perceived number of Eritrean migrants frequently quoted by the UNHCR” were a tool of political disinformation about Eritrea.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the UN Human Rights Council to stop the UN Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights’ Abuse in Eritrea releasing its report before Eritrea has been given “a meaningful opportunity to study and respond to the allegations.” Its statement accuses the Commission of lacking “the rudiments of fairness, impartiality, professionalism and integrity. Its methodology has been flawed, its sources suspect and one sided, its “evidence” flimsy.”

The Canadian company, Nevsun Resources, has produced a video defending itself against the widespread allegations that it knowingly allowed “forced conscript labor” to be used in the construction of its Bisha mine in Eritrea (See article)

The UNHCR says it is greatly concerned about recent expulsions of Eritreans from Sudan to Eritrea. 313 Eritreans arrested on May 6 were forcibly returned to Eritrea on May 22. There had been a previous expulsion of 129 Eritreans a few days earlier. The UNHCR said the forcible return of refugees in need international protection to their country of origin could amount to refoulement. It urged the Sudanese government to refrain from forcible returns of Eritreans to their country of origin.


President Kenyatta held talks on Tuesday (May 31) with the visiting South Korean President Park Geun-hye who was in Kenya for a three-day State visit. Kenya and South Korea enjoy business ties and cooperation in education, information and communication technology, water and sanitization. President Park said she believed cooperation would continue to develop. Her visit will further mutual and bilateral engagement between Kenya and the Republic of Korea.

Kenyans on Wednesday (June 1) celebrated the 53rd Madaraka Day to commemorate the day Kenya attained internal self-rule. President Kenyatta led festivities at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, the first time the event has been held outside Nairobi. He told Kenyans to be wary of leaders who want to violate the Constitution and stressed the need to be “a nation that respects and follows the rule of law.”

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Amina Mohamed, who met with Somali Foreign Affairs Minister Abdisalam Omer and representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday (May 31), said repatriation of Somali refugees would be carried out humanely.  Kenya says Dadaab will close in November. The Jubaland Interim Administration is reported to have promised 10,000 hectares to resettle returning refugees from Dadaab and the Kenyan government has begun to mobilize money and tents.


President Mohamud opened a meeting of the National Consultative Forum on Sunday (May 29) in Mogadishu. The Presidents of the Jubaland, South West, Puntland and Galmudug administrations attended as well as Prime Minister Sharmarke. Among the topics for discussion were implementation of the proposed electoral model, promulgated by Presidential decree on Sunday (May 22) after delays in Parliament, security, the role of traditional elders, technical preparations and poll venues as well as representation of Benadir/Mogadishu in the Upper House of the Federal Parliament. The President said earlier that it was “unsustainable for a city of three million not to be represented in the Upper House” of Parliament. They agreed to hold their next session in Baidoa on June 25.

President Mohamud said on Monday (May 30) that the trade and consumption of miraa (khat) from Kenya had a devastating impact on society. He said: “We have had a series of discussions and consultations and agreed to end the trade”. Somalia, which takes 90% of the miraa produced in Kenya, has already imposed a 100 per cent tax on it.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited Mogadishu on Thursday (June 2). He held discussions with President Mohamud on security and political developments, and announced plans to send 70 British troops to Somalia to enhance security forces ahead of the August elections.

Somalia’s Finance Minister Mohamed Aden Ibrahim on Sunday (May 29) launched the $30 million Somali Core Economic Institutions and Opportunities Project (SCORE), which aims to create thousands of jobs in the hope of reducing poverty and economic grievances among Somali youth.

Ambassador Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and head of AMISOM opened a new military training facility for the Somali National Army at the Jazeera Training Centre in Mogadishu on Tuesday (May 31). It will be used to train soldiers on urban warfare.

Ambassador Madeira condemned the terrorist attack on Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu which ended on Thursday (June 2) after ten hours. Security officials said twenty four people died including the four terrorists, among them two members of parliament with sixty others injured.

Somali officials say the organizer of the killing of 148 people, mostly students, at Garissa University College in Kenya in April last year, was killed earlier this week. Mohamed Mohamud ‘Dulyadeyn’ was head of Al-Shabaab’s “Amniyat” assassination and security unit. Missiles from a helicopter hit the car in which he and two others were travelling; members of the Somali ‘Danab’ commando unit subsequently recovered the bodies.

The United Nations Security Council approved a two-month extension of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on Saturday (May 28). This will allow the Security Council further time to consider its recently-concluded visit to Mogadishu and Nairobi.

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday last week (May 27) it would provide a staff-monitored oversight program for Somalia to help restore macroeconomic stability, rebuild institutions and improve governance and economic statistics. It will also aim to try and keep the government’s budget balanced. The IMF carried out its first annual review of Somalia in more than 26 years last year.

An agreement signed by the governments of Turkey and Somalia on May 26 provides for $2 million monthly grant, up to $24 million, to assist in budget financing and institutional capacity building. The grant will be supervised in accordance with the financial rules, administrative regulations and practices of Somalia.

The deputy Mayor of Mogadishu, Mohamed Ahmed Dirie, announced at a press conference on Sunday that security agencies in the city had been put on high alert over possible attacks by Al-Shabaab militants during the holy month of Ramadan. He said: “It’s our responsibility to take necessary measures to prevent Al-Shabaab from carrying out their heinous acts in the capital during this holy month.”

South Sudan

President Salva Kiir, First Vice-President, Riek Machar, and Vice-President, James Wani,met on Tuesday (May 31) at the Presidential palace in Juba. It was their first meeting since the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity on 29 April. They agreed to set up a committee to review the number of states in South Sudan (See article)

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday (May 31) voted to renew sanctions for a year on a number of individuals accused of obstructing peace in South Sudan. The Council’s resolution, which welcomed the recent formation of a unity government, said much was yet to be done to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict.


The joint mediation for Darfur peace and a delegation from Sudan’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), ended two days of talks in Doha on Wednesday (June 1). Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, described the talks as “intensive, positive and transparent”. The delegation confirmed the two movements would continue to work through the Doha process.

Vice-President, Hassabo Mohammed Abdul-Rahman, co-chairing the closing sessions of the Joint Sudanese-Ethiopian High Economic Committee in Port Sudan with Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister, reaffirmed Sudan’s keenness to boost economic relations with Ethiopia. He also announced the opening of Ethiopian Banks in Khartoum and offices for Sudanese banks in Ethiopia to ease flow of money and exchange of trade.

The Minister for Minerals, Ahmed Mohamed Al Sadiq Al Karouri, said the value of the gold produced during the first quarter of current fiscal year in Sudan reached 903.15 million dollars, with production of over 22 tons.




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