Archives for 


Ethiopian subaltern corrupted officials jailed the big elephants still running!

Ethiopian subaltern corrupted officials jailed the big elephants still running. The most corrupted Azeb Mesfin, Seyoum Mesfin, Sebhat Nega, Arkebe Ekubai, Abai Tsehaye etc. remain untouched till the coming regime change.


Some small sharks such as one Gi Yon, manager of a Chinese firm. The owner of another construction firm is involved as well as former manager of the Addis Ababa Road Authority.

The number of detainees suspected of corruption has risen over forty as attorney general vowed to intensify an ongoing crackdown on the various governmental organizations.

Three of the additional suspects are from the Addis Ababa housing development project office- namely Saba Mekonnen, Shimeles Alemayhu, and Tsedale Mamo.

Appointments On Ethnic And Tribal Line: A Subliminal Meta-Dehumanization “Case of Failed State Ethiopia”

Political Appointments On Ethnic And Tribal Line: A Subliminal Meta-Dehumanization

In their scholarly journal article published in the prestigious journal of personality and social psychology, Kteily, N., Hodson. G and Bruneau, E (2016), asserted that dehumanizing an out-group is a pervasive and potent intergroup process that spark-off discrimination and conflict. The researchers therefore defined meta-dehumanization as robotizing or dehumanizing out-group. The purpose of this article is to adumbrate the significance of regional and tribal integration relative to political and national appointments and thereby decreasing a covert meta-dehumanization which is a recipe for conflict, using Ethiopia as a case study.

Just as the Austrian diplomat, Clemens von Metternich (1773-1859), described Italy in the first half of the 19th century as a mere geographical expression due to that country’s dis-unification, the same could be said about the Horn of Africa’s landlocked country of Ethiopia. In his brilliant documentary, “Ethiopia failed state” circulating on, the writer, Miller Hansen, described the current government of Ethiopia as ethnocratic, plutocratic and totalitarian. This is because the Tigris people liberation front (TPLF) continue to carryout intimidation, torture, abduction, imprisonment, massacres, ethnic cleansing, assassination and genocide. The press freedom in Ethiopia is now fizzled in a thin air. The arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of journalists have been very rife.

According to the recent World Bank group latest poverty assessment, poverty in Ethiopia fell from 44% in 2000 to 30% in 2011. In spite of economic strides in poverty reduction, about 37 million of Ethiopians continue to wallow in poverty, and from the recent World Bank data, the poorest in Ethiopia have become even poorer in the sense that the high food prices that improves lives of many farmers also make buying of food more challenging for the poorest especially those in the rural areas. Illiteracy is another major reason why Ethiopia wallows in poverty. The government of Ethiopia formed on Tigris ethnic group is heading Ethiopia towards disintegration.

The framers of the 1992 constitution of Ghana envisaged the danger of forming government based on one ethnic group. This partly explains why regional integration and regional balance were captured in the constitution. However, the makers of the constitution forgot about the real danger associated with it and what I call “the tyrant of executive president.” This is because the excessive powers wielded by the executive president could easily sink the idea of regional balance into oblivion. When political appointments are excessively based on ethnic lines like Ethiopia today, the likelihood of corruption, mismanagement, administrative ineptitude is obvious.

Conflicts do not happen by chance. Underneath every conflict in society is a remote factor. In his book: Europe since Napoleon, page 4, David Thomson intimated that revolution may begin, as wars often begin, not because people positively want them. They happen because people want other things that, in a set of circumstances, implicate them in revolution or in War. Leaders must refrain from pursuing politics that could lead into disintegration such meta-dehumanization and ethnocracy.

The former United States Supreme court judge, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, said that, “If there is any principle of the constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” As a country we cannot swallow our dangerous cough for the fear of hurting others. Looking at the recent political appointments in all the sensitive positions in Ghana, any objective analyst including NDC stalwarts and aficionados will be surprised and assert: “ebei, Mr. President, the Akan, the Ga-Adangbe and Ewe lives matter.” For example, the governor of the central bank is from the north: Dr. Abdul-Nashiru Issahaku, National Insurance commissioner, Miss Lydia Larriba Bawa, National petroleum authority (NPA), Mr. Moses Asaga all from the north.

Far from doubting the educational qualification of the aforementioned personalities, the concentration of the northern people only could not help the country to develop. They are all highly qualified for the job. However, for the safety of the nation and the welfare of the regional balance and integration, I succinctly suggest to Mr. President to conduct self-introspection on his appointments relative to regional balance and integration. Such self-appraisal will enhance the electoral fortunes of himself as a president and NDC as a party. “The mode by which the inevitable comes to pass is effort” (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr). There are other qualified people from other parts of the country. I respect people of northern Ghana for their hard work and honesty, even so a right thing must be done.

In his book, the history of Ghana, page 8, Roger Gocking, asserted that about 44% of Ghana’s population are Akans, who live primarily in the forest regions of the country. The Akans can be further subdivided into 11subgroup, the largest of which are the Asante, Bono, the Fante, the Akyem, the Akwamu, the Akuapem and the Nzimas. Tribalism, nepotism are all forms of corruption. .” In his book entitled: “The Africans, A triple heritages” page 11, Professor, Ali. A. Mazrui, opined that the ancestors of Africa are angry, for those who believe in the powers of the ancestors, the proof of their anger is obvious. For those who do not believe in ancestors, the proof of their anger is given another name. What are they angry about? Things are not just working in Africa. My own adaptation of Professor Mazrui’s statement is that the people and ancestors of Ghana are angry. Things are not properly working in Ghana and it is imperative we change our changeability. For example, I struggle to catch the drift of Ghana’s economics when it comes to import duties. Why must a country put high taxes on goods they don’t produce such as cars while people travel in a moving coffin from Odorkor to Kwame Nkrumah circle via Kaneshie?

In sum, covert meta-dehumanization inherent and pervasively revealed by political appointments base on tribal line is a recipe for conflict. Just as the Eastern African country of Ethiopia is now poverty-stricken frightened economy as a result of forming government on Trigris ethnic stock, the leaders of Ghana must not shelve the idea of regional, ethnic and religious balance in the composition of government. This will bring peace and development into our beloved country. Fellow countrymen, this article is not motivated by political campaign.

I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing (Socrates). I humbly stand for Corrections.

Nana Yaw Osei (Padigo), PhD Candidate, Psychology
College of Doctoral Studies
Grand Canyon University, Arizona, USA

Gordon Hodson
Professor, Ph.D. (Western)

Office: MC B324
Phone: (905)688-5550 ext.5127

Zenawi’s nightmare scenario :”Africa’s $700 Billion Problem Waiting to Happen in the Red Sea coasts of Africa”

Africa’s $700 Billion Problem Waiting to Happen

Back in 2002, Meles Zenawi, then prime minister of Ethiopia, drafted a foreign policy and national security white paper for his country. Before finalizing it, he confided to me a “nightmare scenario” — not included in the published version — that could upend the balance of power in the Horn of Africa region.

The scenario went like this: Sudan is partitioned into a volatile south and an embittered north. The south becomes a sinkhole of instability, while the north is drawn into the Arab orbit. Meanwhile, Egypt awakens from its decades-long torpor on African issues and resumes its historical stance of attempting to undermine Ethiopia, with which it has a long-standing dispute over control of the Nile River. It does so by trying to bring Eritrea and Somalia into its sphere of influence, thereby isolating the government in Addis Ababa from its direct neighbors. Finally, Saudi Arabia begins directing its vast financial resources to support Ethiopia’s rivals and sponsor Wahhabi groups that challenge the traditionally dominant Sufis in the region, generating conflict and breeding militancy within the Muslim communities.

Fourteen years later, reality has exceeded Zenawi’s nightmare scenario; not only has every one of his fears come to pass, but Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Saud are working hand-in-glove on regional security issues — notably in Yemen and Libya — which has raised the stakes of the long-running Egypt-Ethiopia rivalry. If the worsening tensions in the Horn of Africa erupt into military conflict, as seems increasingly possible, it wouldn’t just be a disaster for the region — it could also be a catastrophe for the global economy. Almost all of the maritime trade between Europe and Asia, about $700 billion each year, passes through the Bab al-Mandab, the narrow straits on the southern entrance to the Red Sea, en route to the Suez Canal. An endless procession of cargo ships and oil tankers passes within sight — and artillery range — of both the Yemeni and African shores of the straits.

Can Europe Connect the ISIS Dots?
The Brussels attacks expose yet again the bureaucratic walls that prevent European agencies from sharing intelligence on terror threats.

Zenawi’s nightmare scenario, in other words, may soon become the world’s — and no one has a white paper to prepare for it

Zenawi’s nightmare scenario, in other words, may soon become the world’s — and no one has a white paper to prepare for it.A crisis in the Horn of Africa has been a long time in the making. The regional rivalries of today date back to 1869, when the Suez Canal was opened to shipping, instantly making the Red Sea one of the British Empire’s most important strategic arteries, since almost all of its trade with India passed that way. Then as now, the security of Egypt depended on control of the Nile headwaters, 80 percent of which originate in Ethiopia. Fearful that Ethiopia would dam the river and stop the flow, Egypt and its colonial masters attempted to keep Ethiopia weak and encircled. They did this in part by divvying up rights to the Nile’s waters without consulting Addis Ababa. For example, the British-drafted Nile Waters Agreements, signed in 1929 and 1959, excluded Ethiopia from any share of the waters. As a result, Egypt and Ethiopia became regional rivals, intensely suspicious of each other.

The Nile remains a high-profile source of tension between the two countries to this day; Sisi’s state visit last year to Ethiopia failed to achieve much, in large part because of Egypt’s unease over a huge Ethiopian hydroelectric project on the Blue Nile. But another important source of friction between the two countries has centered for some time on two of Ethiopia’s volatile neighbors — Eritrea and Somalia — which Cairo has long viewed as useful partners to secure its interests along the Red Sea littoral. Ethiopia has shown it will resist what it views as Egyptian encroachment near its borders. From 2001 to 2004, for instance, Ethiopia and Egypt backed rival factions in Somalia, which prolonged that country’s destructive civil war.

These fractures in the Horn of Africa have been deepened by Saudi Arabia’s reassessment of its security strategy. Worried that the United States was withdrawing from its role as security guarantor for the wider region, it resolved to build up its armed forces and project its power into strategic hinterlands and sea lanes to the north and south. In practice, that has meant winning over less powerful countries along the African coast of the Red Sea — Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia — a region that Ethiopia has sought to place within its sphere of influence.

The Saudi presence along the African Red Sea coast has grown more sharply pronounced since its March 2015 military intervention in Yemen, which drew in Egypt as part of a coalition of Sunni Arab states battling Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The coalition obtained combat units from Sudan and Eritrea, and scrambled to secure the entire African shore of the Red Sea. Then in January of this year — under pressure from Saudi Arabia — Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan all cut diplomatic ties with Iran. By far the most significant of these was Sudan, which has had long-standing political and military ties with Tehran. For years, Iranian warships called at Port Sudan, and Iranian clandestine supplies to the Palestinian militant group Hamas passed freely along Sudan’s Red Sea coast (occasionally intercepted by Israeli jet fighters). Now Sudan is part of the Saudi-led coalition pummeling the Iran-backed Houthis.

But the most important geopolitical outcome of the Saudi-led Yemen intervention has been the rehabilitation of Eritrea, which capitalized on the war to escape severe political and economic isolation. After it gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea fought wars with each of its three land neighbors — Djibouti, Sudan, and Ethiopia. It also fought a brief war with Yemen over the disputed Hanish Islands in the Red Sea in 1995, after which it declined to reestablish diplomatic relations with Sana’a and instead backed the Houthi rebels against the government.

After the Ethio-Eritrean border war of 1998-2000, Eritrea became a garrison state — with an army of 320,000, it has one the highest soldier-to-population ratios in the world — and Ethiopia led an international campaign to isolate it at the African Union, United Nations, and other international bodies. This was made easier by Eritrea’s increasingly rogue behavior, including backing al-Shabab militants in Somalia. The imposition of U.N. sanctions in 2009 brought the country to the brink of financial collapse.

But the war in Yemen gave Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki a get-out-of-jail-free card. He switched sides in the Yemen conflict and allied himself with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners. As a result, the Eritrean president is now publicly praised by the Yemeni government and welcomed in Arab capitals. His government is also reaping handsome if secret financial rewards in exchange for its diplomatic about-face.

But the fact that Eritrea has decisively escaped Ethiopia’s trap does not mean it has suddenly become a more viable dictatorship. On the contrary, the renewed geostrategic interest in the country and its 750-mile Red Sea coast make the question of who succeeds Afewerki, who has been in power for a quarter century, all the more contentious — especially since Ethiopia has long sought to hand pick a replacement for the Eritrean president. Already, Ethiopia mounts regular small military sorties on the countries’ common border to let Eritrea know who is the regional powerbroker. It would not take much for these tensions to explode into open war.

Saudi Arabia’s revamped security strategy has also meant a sudden influx of Arab funds into Somalia. The Saudis promised $50 million to Mogadishu in exchange for closing the Iranian embassy, for example, while other Arab countries and Turkey have spent lavishly to court the allegiance of Somali politicians. This is partly intra-Sunni competition — Turkish- and Qatar-backed candidates pitted against those funded by the Wahhabi alliance — but it also reflects Somalia’s increasing geopolitical importance. In the country’s national elections scheduled for September, Arab- and Wahhabi-affiliated candidates for parliament could very well sweep the board.

All of this has made Ethiopia very nervous — as it should. The tremors of the region’s shifting tectonic plates may not directly cause a major crisis. The more probable outcome is deeper divisions between Egypt and Ethiopia, which could cause a proliferation or deepening of proxy disputes elsewhere in the region, such as the two countries’ competing efforts to shape the future leadership of Eritrea and Somalia.

Still, it’s impossible to rule out the possibility of a dramatic security crisis stemming from the shifting regional balance of power. It could come in the form of renewed fighting over Eritrea’s still-disputed land borders, or spinoffs from the war in Yemen, such as the eruption of maritime terrorism. That would lead to a dramatic escalation of the militarization of the region. It would also threaten to entirely close the region’s sea lanes — the ones that are so central to global commerce.

Unfortunately, the international community is sorely unprepared for such an outcome. A well-established, multi-country naval coalition patrols the sea lanes off Somalia’s coast to combat piracy, but no international political mechanism currently exists to diffuse a regional crisis. In the relevant bureaucracies that might be called upon in an emergency — from the United Nations to the U.S. State Department — Africa and the Middle East are handled by separate divisions that tend not to coordinate. The EU’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Alex Rondos, has taken the lead in developing an integrated strategy for both shores of the Red Sea, but the EU’s foreign policy instruments are ill-suited to hard security challenges such as this that span two continents.

For its part, the African Union has developed a sophisticated set of conflict management practices for its region. It has taken a hard line against coups and pioneered the principle of non-indifference in the internal affairs of member states — foreshadowing the doctrine of “responsibility to protect.” Its summits serve as gatherings where peer pressure is used for the informal management of conflicts, with more success than is usually recognized. The Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional alliance of Gulf monarchies that would inevitably be involved in a major regional dispute of this kind, should learn from these African best practices. That would require a dramatic change in the mind-set of Arab royal families, which assume that their relationship with Africans is one of patron and client. Too often, the Africans reinforce that mind-set by acting as supplicants. For example, when the African Union sent a delegation to the Gulf countries in November, the agenda wasn’t strategic dialogue or partnership — it was fundraising.

But to prevent Zenawi’s “nightmare scenario” from coming to fruition, the Africans and the Arabs need to recognize the Red Sea as a shared strategic space that demands their coordination. A sensible place to start would be by convening a Red Sea forum composed of the GCC and the AU — plus other interested parties such as the United Nations, European Union, and Asian trading partners — to open lines of communication, discuss strategic objectives for peace and security and agree on mechanisms for minimizing risk. The fast-emerging Red Sea security challenge is well suited to that most prosaic of diplomatic initiatives — a talking shop.

The problem is, all these actors tend to start talking only after a crisis has already exploded. Here’s a timely warning.

Image credit: SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Ethiopia poorest country in the world after Niger- Oxford University Study

The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), published by Oxford University, Ethiopia ranks the second poorest country in the world just ahead of Niger. The study is based on analysis of acute poverty in 108 developing countries around the world. Despite making progress at reducing the percentage of destitute people, Ethiopia is still home to more than 76 million poor people, the fifth largest number in the world after India, China, Bangladesh and Pakistan. India has the world’s largest number of poor people at more than 647 million.

87.3% of Ethiopians are classified as MPI poor, while 58.1% are considered destitute. A person is identified as multidimensionally poor (or ‘MPI poor’) if they are deprived in at least one third of the weighted MPI indicators. The destitute are deprived in at least one-third of the same weighted indicators, The Global MPI uses 10 indicators to measure poverty in three dimensions: education, health and living standards.

In rural Ethiopia 96.3% are poor while in the urban area the percentage of poverty is 46.4%. Comparing the poverty rate by regions, Somali region has the highest poverty rate at 93% followed by Oromiya (91.2%) and Afar (90.9%). Amhara region has 90.1% poverty rate while Tigray has 85.4%.

Addis Ababa has the smallest percentage of poverty at 20% followed by Dire Dawa at 54.9% and Harar (57.9%).

Down Country Ethiopia 061

Download (PDF, 631KB)

Global MPI Interactive Databank




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



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

Djibouti receives nine Chinese  new vessels in to export its products made in Ethiopia


The Ethiopian government on Saturday received nine new vessels worth over $300 million from China at a ceremony organized in Djibouti for the Chinese government exportation of its products made in Ethiopia.

“The vessels are not only Ethiopian assets but they are also Djibouti’s properties,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the ceremony. In reality  they  do not belong to both but to China.

The vessels indicate the rapid colonization of  Ethiopia by China.

Named after the capital cities of Ethiopia’s regional states, the vessels were built with supposedly loans from the Chinese government.

Most of Ethiopia made Chinese products  exports and imports are transported through the Port of Djibouti, which is located 900km east of Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Djibouti benefits from Chinese rapid control of Ethiopia  and in turn Djibouti’s growth is an advantage to China.

“The relation between Ethiopia and Djibouti is not limited to a government-to-government level but it has been intensified in people-to-people ties,” said the Djibouti’s president.

The Djiboutian leader went on to say that relations between the two neighbors are boosting in different spheres, including the economic and social fields.

“Djibouti gives a port service to Ethiopia but it does not consider that it is giving the service to another country but regards it as it is doing it for itself,” he said.

“We believe that Ethiopia is Djibouti and Djibouti is Ethiopia, no difference at all,” he added, going on to reiterate that the new vessels will further help speed up the ongoing development endeavors in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia had used Eritrean ports until 1998 when the two countries engaged in a war of their border disputes.

Following the war, Ethiopian began to use Djibouti ports to export its products.

Ethiopian Ethnocracy sold out the country to China

It is a dramatic increase in China’s investment in Ethiopia as spring board for African recolonization . By some estimates, it’s more than doubled in the past five years to more than two billion dollars and bribing the leaders to control one of the ancient independent country. This fuel the country’s recent dramatic foreign pumped growth in the cities making the rich rich and the poor to live in the feudal period creating wide parity.   

Tripartite expert committee to study the deadly impact of the Nile Dam in Ethiopia

A committee made up of experts will be formed to oversee the implementation of the recommendations made by the International Committee of Experts to combat the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Deadly Dam.

The announcement by Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdul Muttalib comes days after the conclusion of high-level meetings in the Sudanese capital after which it was agreed to hold another meeting in January to discuss some “sticking points”.

Muttalib said last week that he and his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts had discussed the implementation of a mechanism to oversee the implementation of the recommendations but provided no further details. The minister announced on Sunday that this mechanism will take the form of a committee made up of an expert representative from each country and will be formed “within two weeks of approval by the ministers.”

The minister said that it had been agreed the committee would have one year to complete its work, starting from the date of its formation. All three countries will bear the cost of the committee.

The ministers agreed that all three countries will share their collected data “required to conduct complementary studies in as timely manner.”  It was also agreed to pass on the studies of the International Committee of Experts to “a select group of global consultancy firms known for their competence and experience.”

Muttalib highlighted that the meeting in Khartoum included a “lengthy debate on the presence of an international element in the work of the commission.” The ministers deferred this decision until their meeting in January, also to be held in the Sudanese capital.

The minister said last week that the meetings had been carried out “in a good spirit”. This is a marked difference from the tension that existed previously, which intensified following a blunder by Egyptian politicians who suggested espionage as a possible solution to the potential impact of the Deadly Dam.

  • ‘Sticking points’ remain following Ethiopian Dam meeting
  • Sudan downplays negative impact of Ethiopian dam project
  • Ethiopian delegation in Cairo for dam talks
  • Nile Talks Highlight Ethiopian, Egyptian Split
  • Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia dam talks ‘successful’

Ethio Eritrean Conflict and 100 year old ICC

By Sivu Maqungo

The centennial celebrations of the ‘seat of international law’ – the Peace Palace in The Hague – are about the ideals this building stands for, rather than its beautiful architecture. The Peace Palace houses the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Hague Academy of International Law. These institutions continue to foster a culture of peaceful conflict resolution, and the two African cases that illustrate this are the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over Bakassi, on the one hand, and the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea over Badme, on the other. These two cases also exemplify the future of international justice in Africa, what is necessary to cement it and what can unhinge it.

On 14 May 1998, Eritrea, a country of just over 4 million people, launched an attack on Ethiopia, a country of over 80 million people, to seize a piece of land (Badme) administered by Ethiopia. Eritrea claimed sovereignty over Badme, charging that Ethiopia had no right to occupy the territory and was therefore violating its international border. The conflict lasted two years. After more than 100 000 lives were lost, Ethiopia still held Badme and had made inroads into uncontested Eritrean territory. The countries were cajoled into holding peace talks, which took place in Algeria, culminating in the Algiers accord. They agreed to submit their dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which duly established the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) and the Eritrean-Ethiopia Claims Commission (EECC) to arbitrate the dispute and apportion financial liability respectively.

The EEBC faced complex legal and political challenges. Ethiopia has a long history of sovereignty, while Eritrea had been colonised by Italy, with several boundary agreements having been concluded between Ethiopia and Italy in 1900, 1902 and 1908. Both parties relied on these somewhat inconclusive Ethiopia-Italy boundary agreements for their claim to Badme. The EEBC had to interpret these agreements to decide on the rightful owner of Badme.

In addition, one of the parties had started the conflict and therefore could be held liable for the crime of aggression, but this was left to the EECC to decide. The EEBC was not allowed to take the political circumstances into account, namely that Ethiopia continued to occupy Badme only through great human sacrifice.

The EEBC duly ignored the political circumstances and concerned itself with the law, arriving at a decision that the legal interpretation of the Ethiopia-Italy boundary agreements gave the Badme territory to Eritrea. The EECC, on the other hand, held that the blame for starting the war lay with Eritrea and that Eritrea should thus compensate Ethiopia. The EECC also looked at various claims of breaches of international humanitarian law and held that both Ethiopia and Eritrea had committed breaches for which they should compensate each other.

Ethiopia first rejected the EEBC outcome and then later in principle agreed to it, but said that negotiations should be held in an effort to normalise relations as part of implementing the decision. Eritrea rebuffed Ethiopia’s offer of negotiating the implementation of the EEBC decision, arguing that linking the implementation of the EEBC decision to a process for normalising relations was contrary to the Algiers accord, which provided that the EEBC decision be final and binding.

The President of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki, called on the international community to compel Ethiopia to implement the EEBC decision. Frustrated by the lack of results, he became contemptuous towards the United Nations (UN) and eventually forced the UN peacekeeping forces to withdraw from the disputed area. This left the matter without a UN mediator and no process for encouraging the implementation of the EEBC decision. To date a stalemate persists on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, resulting in cross-border intrusions that create a lot of tension.

In the Nigeria vs. Cameroon case, Bakassi, a territory rich in fishing with suspected reserves of oil, is strategically very valuable. It is a peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea and was occupied by about 3 000 Nigerian troops, protecting about 300 000 Nigerian nationals who had made the territory their home for generations. Cameroon claimed sovereignty over Bakassi and almost went to war with Nigeria. However, sanity prevailed and the parties submitted their dispute to the other tenant of the Peace Palace, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in March 1994. In 2002, the ICJ, using the colonial treaty of 1913 between Britain and Germany, decided that Bakassi belonged to Cameroon. This was a very bitter pill for Nigeria to swallow, while an increasing number of Bakassi inhabitants started calling for the self-determination of the Bakassi people.

The Nigerian senate sat to consider the judgment of the ICJ and voted to reject it. Years passed and fears grew that Cameroon would find it difficult to accept the injustice and humiliation of the judgment not being implemented. The UN stepped in under the leadership of then Secretary-General Kofi Annan and brokered an implementation plan (the Greentree agreement) between President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Paul Biya of Cameroon. This time, unlike in the Ethiopian-Eritrean scenario, the UN found leaders willing to negotiate. Obasanjo, facing considerable resistance from his senate, began the process of implementing the ICJ decision by withdrawing his troops in piecemeal fashion over a number of years, starting in 2006, eventually seeing the full handover of Bakassi to Cameroon in 2012.

These two case studies demonstrate that African leaders sometimes do recognise the value of peaceful dispute resolution and are using the institutions housed in the Peace Palace. However, submitting a case for resolution to any of the Peace Palace tenants is the easy part: the difficulty comes in implementing the decisions. The future of international justice in Africa hinges on this. Will African leaders muster the necessary political courage, as illustrated in the case of Nigeria vs. Cameroon, or succumb to brinkmanship, as in the case of Ethiopia vs. Eritrea?

As the world celebrates the centenary of the Peace Palace, we can draw comfort from the fact that there has been a rise in peaceful resolutions to conflicts, using institutions housed in the Peace Palace. Africa helped to establish the International Criminal Court (ICC), the African Union (AU) is in the process of setting up the African Court of Justice, and African regions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have established regional courts.

Difficulties arise, however, when leaders must live up to the commitments made; an area in which Africa occasionally still stumbles, as demonstrated by the disbandment of the SADC tribunal, the AU’s coldness towards the ICC and the absence of a concerted effort to have Ethiopia and Eritrea work out the modalities of implementing the EEBC decision.

Africa, notwithstanding, is all the better for the establishment of the Peace Palace and should join the rest of the world in celebrating 100 years of this symbol of international justice.

Sivu Maqungo, Senior Research Consultant, Transnational Threats and International Crime Division, ISS Pretoria