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Ghana’s president calling for Africa to end its dependency

The idea that African countries have long been independent and free to pursue their own destinies seems obvious to young Africans across the continent. Yet, the everyday reality often feels far from that. Some 50 to 60 years after independence for many countries, Africa’s fortunes seem to still closely aligned with developmental support and financial aid from former colonial rulers, the United States, the European Union or multilateral institutions like the World Bank and IMF.

After the most recent rounds of African debt forgiveness and rising commodity prices over the last decade, that conversation seemed to have shifted somewhat. There are now more calls for investment and trade rather than aid. But with the crash in commodity prices and many of the usual long-term structural problems laid bare again, the calls for support from wealthy nations comes up again. It seems deeply ingrained. However, few African leaders, regardless of their personal beliefs, ever publicly question the idea that international support is needed for development or, in the worst cases, day to day running of their countries.

This is probably why young Africans on social media have been heaping praise on Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo for his response to a question at a joint press conference in Accra with the visiting French president Emmanuel Macron.

“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves in our continent on the basis of whatever support that the western world can give us.”

The question by a local journalist was about whether France was going to strengthen its “support” for other African countries aside its former colonies where the majority of French aid is spent. Ghana won independence from Britain in 1957. After jokingly tossing the question between each other, Macron replied with fairly standard mundane rhetoric.

But when it was time for president Akufo-Addo to speak, knowing fully what he was about to say was controversial, he began by saying: “I hope that the comments I am about to make will not offend the questioner too much and some people around here”, the latter part widely interpreted as directed to his much younger counterpart.

“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent on the basis of whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked and it will not work”, he stressed.

A visibly uncomfortable Macron fidgeted, appearing unsure which side of the room to turn his gaze as his African counterpart stopped short, saying while aid is appreciated, he wouldn’t be propositioning it.

“We have to get away from this mindset of dependency. This mindset about ‘what can France do for us?’ France will do whatever it wants to do for its own sake, and when those coincide with ours, ‘tant mieux’ [so much better] as the French people say…Our concern should be what do we need to do in this 21st century to move Africa away from being cap in hand and begging for aid, for charity, for handouts. The African continent when you look at its resources, should be giving monies to other places…We need to have a mindset that says we can do it…and once we have that mindset we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves,” his rising tone and demeanor demonstrating his passion for this subject.

While Macron might have been caught off-guard by the frankness of president Akufo-Addo’s response it was in fact in line with some of his own blunt comments while speaking about Africa’s future, while visiting neighboring Burkina Faso, a couple days earlier.

Sub-Saharan African countries are the recipients of 25% of global official development assistance, according to the OECD.

Videos of the answer have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of times already and shared by many social media users across the continent. One user describing it as “probably the most powerful message in recent times coming from an African leader.”

Others have said, it showed the difference between Anglophone and Francophone African countries which are still closely aligned to France. For example, all of Ghana’s Francophone neighbors are members of the CFA franc, the currency of 14 African countries. The CFA and its structure, in which the countries, through two regional central banks, deposit 50% of foreign exchange reserves at the Bank of France in exchange for fixed-rate euro convertibility, are facing their most significant criticism in decades.

Macron has defended the CFA, but only to the extent of pointing out that separate currencies would still need their own forex backing.

Ethiopian General Election “An Insult to the People and Democracy”

by Graham Peebles /

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Every five years the Ethiopian people are invited by the ruling party to take part in a democratic pantomime called ‘General Elections’. Sunday 24th May saw the latest production take to the national stage.

With most opposition party leaders either in prison or abroad, the populace living under a suffocating blanket of fear, and the ruling party having total control over the media, the election result was a foregone conclusion. The European Union, which had observed the 2005 and 2010 elections, refused to send a delegation this time, maintaining their presence would legitimise the farce, and give credibility to the government.

With most ballots counted, the National Election Board of Ethiopia announced the incumbent party to have ‘won’ all “442 seats declared [from a total of 547], leaving the opposition empty-handed…the remaining 105 seats are yet to be announced.” ‘Won’ is not really an accurate description of the election result; as the chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, Merera Gudina, put it, this “was not an election, it was an organised armed robbery”.

The days leading up to the election saw a regimented display of state arrogance and paranoia, as the government deployed huge numbers of camouflaged security personnel and tanks onto the streets of Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar. For months beforehand anyone suspected of political dissent had been arrested and imprisoned; fabricated charges drawn up with extreme sentencing for the courts, which operate as an extension of the government, to dutifully enforce.

Despite the ruling party’s claims to the contrary, this was not a democratic election and Ethiopia is not, nor has it ever been, a democracy.

The country is governed by a brutal dictatorship in the form of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) that has been in power since 1991, when they violently overthrew the repressive Derg regime. The EPRDF speaks generously of democracy and freedom, but they act in violation of democratic principles, trample on universal human rights, ignore international law, and violently control the people.

Independent international bodies and financial donors, from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to the European Union and the US State Department, are well aware of the nature and methods of the EPRDF, which is one of the most repressive regimes in Africa. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Ethiopia is “the fourth most heavily censored country in the World”, with more journalists forced to leave the country last year than anywhere except Iran.

In the lead up to the recent election, CPJ found that, “the state systematically cracked down on the country’s remaining independent publications through the arrests of journalists and intimidation of printing and distribution companies. Filing lawsuits against editors and forcing publishers to cease production.” Various draconian laws are used to gag the media and stifle dissent, the Anti Terrorist Proclamation being the most common weapon deployed against anyone who dares speak out against the government, which rules through fear, and yet, riddled with guilt as they must surely be, seem themselves fearful.

Democracy and Development

The government proudly talks a great deal about economic development, which it believes to be more important than democracy, human rights and the rule of law, all of which are absent in the country. And, yes, during the past decade the country has seen economic development, with between 4% and 9% (depending on who you believe) GDP growth per annum achieved, the CIAstates “through government-led infrastructure expansion and commercial agriculture development.” It is growth, however, that depends, the Oakland Institute make clear, on “state force and the denial of human and civil rights.”

GDP figures are only one indicator of a country’s progress, and a very narrow one at that. The broader Ethiopian picture, beyond the debatable statistics, paints a less rosy image:

Around 50% of Ethiopia’s federal budget is met by various aid packages, totaling $3.5 billion annually. Making it “the world’s second-largest recipient of total external assistance, after Indonesia” (excluding war torn nations, Afghanistan and Iraq), Human Rights Watch states. The country remains 173rd (of 187 countries) in the UN Human Development Index and is one of the poorest nations in the world, with, the CIA says, over 39% of the population living below the low poverty line of $1.25 a day (the World Bank worldwide poverty line is $2 a day) – many Ethiopians question this figure and would put the number in dire need much higher.

Per capita income is among the lowest in the world and less than half the rest of sub-Sahara Africa, averaging, according to the World Bank, “$470 (£287)”. This statistic is also questionable, as Dr. Daniel Teferra (Professor of Economics, Emeritus at Ferris State University,) explains, “In 2008-2011 income per capita (after inflation), was only $131,” contrary to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2013 report, which put the figure at $320.

The cost of living has risen sharply (current inflation is around 8%) and, asThe Guardian reports, “growing economic inequality threatens to undermine the political stability and popular legitimacy that a developmental state acutely needs. Who benefits from economic growth is a much-contested issue in contemporary Ethiopia.” Not amongst the majority of Ethiopians it isn’t: they know very well who the winners are. As ever it is the 1%, who sit in the seats of power, and have the education and the funds to capitalize on foreign investment and development opportunities.

Some of those suffering as a result of the government’s development policies are the 1.5 million threatened with ‘relocation’ as their land is taken – or ‘grabbed’ from them. Leveled and turned into industrial-sized farms by foreign multinationals which grow crops, not for local people, but for consumers in their home countries – India or China for example.

Indigenous people cleared from their land are violently herded into camps under the government’s universally criticised “Villagization” program, which is causing the erosion of ancient lifestyles, “increased food insecurity, destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage”, relates the Oakland Institute. Any resistance is met with a wooden baton or the butt or bullet of a rifle; reports of beatings, torture and rape by security forces are widespread. No compensation is paid to the affected people, who are abandoned in camps with no essential services, such as water, health care and education facilities – all of which are promised by the EPRDF in their hollow development rhetoric.

An Insult to the People

Economic development is not democracy, and whilst development is clearly essential to address the dire levels of poverty in Ethiopia, it needs to be democratic, sustainable development. First and foremost human rights must be observed, and there must be participation, and consultation, which  –  despite the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s duplicitous comments to Al Jazeera that, “we make our people to be part and parcel of all the [developmental] engagements,”  –  never happens.

The Prime Minister describes Ethiopia as a “fledgling democracy”, and says the government is “on the right track in democratizing the country”. Nonsense. Democracy is rooted in the observation of human rights, freedom of expression, the rule of law and social participation. None of these values are currently to be found in Ethiopia.

Not only is the EPRDF universally denying the people their fundamental human rights, in many areas they are committing acts of state terrorism (one thinks of the abuses taking place in the Ogaden region and the atrocities being committed against the Oromo people, for example, that amount to crimes against humanity.

The recent election was an insult to the people of Ethiopia, who are being intimidated, abused and suppressed by a brutal, arrogant regime that talks the democratic talk, but acts in violation of all democratic ideals.

Graham is Director of The Create Trust, a UK registered charity supporting fundamental social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need. He can be reached at:graham@thecreatetrust.org. Read other articles by Graham.

Tiananmen Square 25th anniversary of Students Massacre by Chinese Dictators

Tianimen Massacre

Every   Fourth of June 1989 we remember two events ,  the People’s army that was founded for the people turned on its guns to the unarmed citizens of Peking to destroy a peaceful student-led democracy movement. And we remember also in Tibet in the end  of 1950’s the unarmed monks were shot  in cold blood  in  Lhasa by the same  so called  ” People’s Army”, and since the country has been occupied and depopulated  continually from its original inhabitants to this day.

Since June 4, 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) opened fire in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square killing a still unknown number of students, the Communist Party has tried to airbrush the event from Chinese history. Schools do not teach it, domestic media are forbidden from discussing it, and activists who invoke its memory have been harassed and even jailed.

Leaders of the protest, including Liu Xiaobo, the winner of last year’s Nobel Peace prize, urged the students to depart the square, and the Chilean diplomat relayed that “once agreement was reached for the students to withdraw, linking hands to form a column, the students left the square through the south east corner.” The testimony contradicts the reports of several journalists who were in Beijing at the time, who described soldiers “charging” into unarmed civilians and suggests the death toll on the night may be far lower than the thousands previously thought.

 Wikileaks: no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square, cables claim

Students link arms to hold back angry crowds from chasing a group of retreating

Many foreign reporters started  crying “If this is the People’s Army, God spare China.” They behaved like the Red Guards, with a systematic and frenzied brutality. They were the very institution that was once called out to protect China from the Red Guard excesses. Now they are killing civilians.

The anniversary of the date on which troops shot their way into central Beijing in 1989 has never been publicly marked in mainland China, though every year there are commemorations in Hong Kong.

The government has never released a death toll for the crackdown, but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand.

Xi’s administration has intensified pressure on dissent, detaining and jailing activists, clamping down on Internet critics and tightening curbs on journalists in what rights groups call the worst suppression of free expression in recent years.

 

At one stage some students came from side streets, shouting “go home, go home” to stalled lorries outside the leadership compound. They were scattered by militia men with clubs like axe-handles, which cracked a few skulls. It was probably the one occasion during the night when they did not use guns.

Along the tree-lined streets beside the Forbidden City, groups of people were talking softly, scared but curious.. About half an hour later some of the armour returned again from the square, and in a continuing moving circle, they opened fire all around. It was a battlefield. It was a lesson in brute powerThe world  was weeping for the people of Peking. One  cannot see how they are ever likely to trust their leaders again.

Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Chinese government’s deadly June 4, 1989 crackdown on student protests in Tienanmen Square, Beijing is casting a wide net to round up would-be agitators. The government has “routinely  tightened control over activists as well as relatives of those who died during the protests” before the June 4 anniversary and “continues to deny any wrong-doing,” according to Human Rights Watch, but this year’s roundup seems especially thorough. What’s also striking is the advanced age of many of the detainees: because the event was 25 years ago, many of the “grownups” who witnessed it, publicly denounced it, and continue to mark it are now of retirement age (though many continue to write, teach and report).

Nearly half these people are in custody: Back, L to R: Hao Jian, Cui Weiping, Liu Di, Liang Xiaoyan, Hu Shigen, Li Xuewen, and Guo Yuhua. Front: Zhou Fan, Xu Youyu, Zhang Xianling, Qin Hui, Ye Fu, and Pu

Ethiopia student crackdown taints the so called “higher education success”

  • Western backers of the Ethiopian education system should not ignore reports of violent clashes on university campuses

by Paul O’Keeffe -theguardian orignal title –Ethiopia crackdown on student protests taints higher education success

 

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Oromia, Ethiopia, where at least three dozen people were reportedly shot dead by security forces during student protests

Over the past 15 years, Ethiopia has become home to one of the world’s fastest-growing higher education systems. Increasing the number of graduates in the country is a key component of the government’s industrialisation strategy and part of its ambitious plan to become a middle-income country by 2025. Since the 1990s, when there were just two public universities, almost 30 new institutions have sprung up.

On the face of it, this is good news for ordinary Ethiopians. But dig a little deeper and tales abound of students required to join one of the three government parties, with reports of restricted curricula, classroom spies and crackdowns on student protests commonplace at universities.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in Ambo in Oromia state. On 25 April, protests against government plans to bring parts the town under the administrative jurisdiction of the capital, Addis Ababa, began at Ambo University. By the following Tuesday, as protests spread to the town and other areas of Oromia, dozens of demonstrators had been killed in clashes with government forces, according to witnesses.

As Ethiopia experiences rapid economic expansion, its government plans to grow the capital out rather than up, and this involves annexing parts of the surrounding Oromia state. An official communique from the government absolved it of all responsibility for the clashes, claiming that just eight people had been killed and alleging that the violence had been coordinated by a few rogue anti-peace forces. The government maintains that it is attempting to extend Addis Ababa’s services to Oromia through its expansion of the city limits.

However, Oromia opposition figures tell a different story. On 2 May, the nationalist organisation the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) issued a press release that condemned the “barbaric and egregious killing of innocent Oromo university students who have peacefully demanded the regime to halt the displacement of Oromo farmers from their ancestral land, and the inclusion of Oromo cities and surrounding localities under Finfinnee [Addis Ababa] administration under the pretext of development”. The Addis Ababa regime dismisses the OLA as a terrorist organisation.

While news of the killing of unarmed protesters has caused great concern among many Ethiopians, there has been little coverage overseas. The government maintains strict control over the domestic media; indeed, it frequently ranks as one of the world’s chief jailers of journalists, and it is not easy to come by independent reporting of events in the country.

Nevertheless, the government’s communique does run contrary to reports by the few international media that did cover the attacks in Ambo, which placed the blame firmly on government forces.

The BBC reported that a witness in Ambo saw more than 20 bodies on the street, while Voice of America (VOA) reported that at least 17 protesters were killed by “elite security forces” on three campuses in Oromia. Local residents maintain that the figure [of those killed] was much higher.

These reports, while difficult to corroborate, have been backed up by Human Rights Watch, which issued a statement saying that “security forces have responded [to the protests] by shooting at and beating peaceful protesters in Ambo, Nekemte, Jimma, and other towns with unconfirmed reports from witnesses of dozens of casualties”. One university lecturer said he had been “rescued from the live ammunition”, and that it was the “vampires – the so-called federal police” who fired on the crowds.

The Ethiopian government likes to trumpet its higher education system to its western aid backers as a crowning success of its development policy. As billions in foreign aid are spent annually on Ethiopia, the west must be more cognisant of the fact that this money helps reinforce a government which cuts down those who dare to speak out against it.

Inevitably, continued support for such an oppressive regime justifies its brutal silencing of dissent. Yes, the higher education system has grown exponentially over the past 15 years but the oppression and killing of innocent students cannot be considered an achievement. Any system which crushes its brightest should not be considered a success.

Paul O’Keeffe is a doctoral fellow at La Sapienza University of Rome, where he focuses on the higher education system in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Dictator Melese Zenawie Died officially today 8/21/2012 a new social time for Ethiopia

 

The Ethiopian regime hid for a month the death of  Dictator Melese Zenawie and declared his  death  after the death  of  Melee’ss  personally picked  Patriarch Paulos last weak. Both originated  from the famous historical city of Adwa where Menlik II won anti colonial war in 1896.

 

 

The Former guerrilla leader came to  power in 1991. He will  be succeeded by deputy prime minister, state TV say.

Melese had not been seen in several weeks. The government  lied in July that he was taking a break to recover from an

unspecified condition and will come to office before the Ethiopian New year.

State television finally declared today  that Hailemariam Desalegn, deputy prime minister, will be acting prime minister.

Rumours that Meles was seriously ill had been rife since the former guerrilla leader  failed to attend an African Union summit in Addis Ababa last month. Last seen thin and weak  at Los Camos, G -20 meeting.

Ethiopian Melees Zenawie came to power in 1991 marking a beginning of a new social time in the Horn of Africa in General and in Ethiopia particular. This era includes 3 social times;-
The first 1991-1998. This is a time Issaias Afwerki and Melese Zenawie ruled together.
The second time started in 1998 with the war between Melees Zenawie and Isasias which ended in 2005 a time Melees Zenawie Lost election.
The third time started in 2005 and ended in 2012, where Melees Zenawie and Isasias Afwerki fall sick and became incapacitated to control power with arm.
Each social time contains 7 years with a total of 21 years which ended in 2012.
Now is the commencement of new era of social time for the people of the Horn of Africa particularly Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.

” Patriarch” Paulos named by Ethiopian Dictator died while the country is waiting for Zenawie

His Holiness Abune Paulos was the Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axum/Photo/ReutersThe Ethiopian Orthodox Church has announced the death of its ” patriarch”, Abune Paulos named by Melese Zenawie.

He was hand picked by the Melese Zenawie the Ethiopian Dictator. Zenawie himself   has not been since Los Cabos G20 Meeting in  June 20, 2012. Paulos is known for killing an Ethiopian inside the Church. He is repeated carrying pistol with his cross even inside the church. He was supposed to show to public the three thousand years old Ark of covenant with out success.
 Paulos, whose full title was His Holiness Abune Paulos, Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axum, died early Thursday in Addis Ababa, aged 76.
The patriarch, who was one of the seven serving presidents of the World Council of Churches is said to have been taken ill a few weeks ago with that of  Melese Zenawie , but the cause of his death, is yet to be established. All Ethiopia with the international community is waiting the new about the where about of Melese Zenawie. It is promised he will show him self before the Ethiopian New year . Majority believed he is dead like that of Paulos his ” personally elected Patriarch.
 He was Born in Adwa in Tigray Province like that of  Dictator Melese Zenawie in the  northern part of the country, the patriarch did his education at the Theological College of the Holy Trinity in Addis Ababa under the patronage of Patriarch Abune Tewophilos.
He was sent to study at the St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in the United States and later undertook doctoral degree at Princeton Theological Seminary.
The patriarch also lived in exile in the United States.