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Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Horn of Africa

They may have fled from Eritrea, but the refugees in Hitsats camp in northern Ethiopia have not forgotten the plight of their friends and families back home.

These videos, sent from the camp, show their determination to support the residents of Asmara, who have been resisting attempts to take over their school, with the arrest of Hajji Musa Mohammednur, the president of the school’s board.

In taking this stand they join thousands of Eritreans who have shown their opposition to the regime’s attack on the independence of the school in protests around the world, including Washington, London and Stockholm.

Hitsats camp was opened in 2013 by the UN refugee agency, and was designed to hold 20,000 refugees.

Eritreans, Sudanese worse affected by Israel's forced deportation plan


A plan by Israeli authorities to forcibly deport to third countries or jail African migrants will affect predominantly Eritrea and Sudanese migrants in the country.

Israel is looking to close its Holot detention center for African migrants within four months. The center is home to thousands of refugees.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in a statement last week said it was seriously concerned about the move under which proposals: “Eritreans and Sudanese asylum-seekers and refugees would be compelled to accept relocation to countries in Africa or face imprisonment in Israel.”

Eritreans and Sudanese asylum-seekers and refugees would be compelled to accept relocation to countries in Africa or face imprisonment in Israel.

“In light of the intention to see the departure of infiltrators on a large scale to third countries, we may reconsider the need for the continued existence of the Holot facility, as the infiltrators’ departure could come directly from city centers to the third countries,” Israeli authorities are quoted to have said.

It is believed that for Africa, Rwanda and Uganda are the third countries that Israel plans to send the refugees to. An Israeli High Court in August okayed the emigration policy but tasked the government to ensure that deported migrants will be safe with the third countries.

If successful, it will be the first time that such a move has been executed given that earlier attempts by Italy (Libya) and Australia (Malaysia)with third-party countries were dismissed by local courts with the reason that such deportations were inconsistent with international law.

It is believed that over 40,000 African migrants are residing in Israel by close of 2016. The government insists they are largely economic migrants even though most have applied for refugee status and that they are fleeing conflict and persecution back home.

Eritrea is one of the African countries that produces the largest number of refugees and asylum seekers from south of the Sahara. Most young people flee harsh economic conditions back home and the political situation as well.


German coalition talks fail after FDP walks out

Monday, 20 November 2017 13:26 Written by

Chancellor Merkel announces the failure of talks, as the EU's largest economy gets closer to a possible new election.

Merkel is due to meet the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who could call for new elections [Reuters]
Merkel is due to meet the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who could call for new elections [Reuters]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that her efforts to form a three-way coalition failed after liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) withdrew from the talks.

"Now we have to deal with the facts. And the fact is that we were unable to finish the coalition talks with success," Merkel said in a press conference on Monday.

"It is a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany. As chancellor, I will do everything to ensure that this country is well managed in the difficult weeks to come."

Merkel's centre-right Christian democratic political alliance (CDU/CSU) secured 33 percent of the general election that took place in September, losing about nine percent of the votes compared to the last election in 2013 and failing to form a single-party government.

The chancellor was holding talks with the FDP, which secured 10.7 percent of the votes in September, and the Greens, which scored 8.4 percent in the vote, to form a coalition government.

FDP: We made compromises

FDP leader Christian Lindner said that his party made various compromise offers during the talks that ended unsuccessfully.

He said that tax policies, European policies, questions of migration and education were among the compromises his party was willing to make.

"We know that politics lives from balancing and with just 11 percent one cannot dictate the course of an entire republic," he told reporters in Berlin.

Immigration levels, climate change and the future of the EU were reportedly among the areas of contention in the failed coalition talks.


Merkel is due to meet the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who could call for new elections.

She can also form a minority government if she can secure enough support from other parties in individual policies.

"A snap election would lead to rougher and much more polarised political campaign than we had seen in September," Michael Thumann, diplomatic correspondent at DIE ZEIT newspaper, told Al Jazeera from Berlin.

"I think the first thing Merkel will try is to form a minority government. The president will try to work with her on that," Thumann said.

Merkel has been the chancellor of Germany for the last 12 years.

A government vacuum in Europe's largest and strongest economy might affect many issues such as the eurozone’s stability and discussed reforms backed by France.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


NOV. 19, 2017

Thousands protested on Saturday in Harare, Zimbabwe, demanding that President Robert Mugabe step down. Credit Ben Curtis/Associated Press

President Robert Mugabe’s own party voted to oust him as its leader on Sunday, a day after thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets to celebrate his stunning fall from power after a military takeover.

The governing ZANU-PF party, which held emergency talks at its headquarters in the capital, Harare, to consider the fate of the president who had ruled for 37 years, appointed the previously fired vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as Mr. Mugabe’s successor.

Under the Constitution, Mr. Mugabe remains president, even if in name only. But if he does not resign by noon Monday, the committee members decided, he would face impeachment by Parliament.

Cheers and dancing broke out in the building after the vote, according to video shared on social media.

Before the committee’s decision, Chris Mutsvangwa, a war veteran who has led the campaign to oust Mr. Mugabe, said as he went into the meeting, “We are going all the way,” according to Reuters.

The central committee also expelled the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe, as head of the ZANU-PF Women’s League. Mrs. Mugabe, widely viewed as his likely successor, has not been seen in public since Wednesday.

On Sunday, she was barred from the party for life, along with several other government officials — including Jonathan Moyo, the minister of higher and tertiary education.

Mr. Mugabe, center, made a public appearance on Friday at a university graduation ceremony despite a military takeover. Credit Ben Curtis/Associated Press

The downfall of the 93-year-old autocratic ruler began with a military takeover on Wednesday. Once respected as a liberation icon who went into exile after fighting colonial rule, Mr. Mugabe became isolated from fellow party officials.

Other veterans of the fight for independence from white-minority rule joined the march on Saturday as Zimbabweans poured into the streets and danced, sang and shouted with joy at the prospect of Mr. Mugabe’s rule ending.

After voting to fire Mr. Mugabe as party leader, the party committee took up the matter of impeachment.

Innocent Gonese, the parliamentary chief whip from the Movement for Democratic Change — Tsvangirai party, told The A.P. that when Parliament resumed this week, the chamber would “definitely” put in motion a process to impeach Mr. Mugabe.

Mr. Mugabe was also meeting on Sunday for a second round of talks with the army commander Constantino Chiwenga, who had placed the president under house arrest. The military, seeking to deflect claims of a coup, said that the action was aimed at rounding up ZANU-PF officials implicated in economic crimes that have ravaged the economy of the southern African nation.


Mr. Mugabe, who has resisted stepping down, was seeking to negotiate a dignified departure, the Zimbabwe state-run broadcaster said.

The youth league of Zimbabwe’s ruling party said Mr. Mugabe should resign and take a rest as an “elder statesman,” while his wife should be expelled from the party “forever,” The Associated Press reported.

Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, Zimbabwe, earlier this month when he was still vice president. Credit Aaron Ufumeli/European Pressphoto Agency

The league leader, Yeukai Simbanegavi, praised the military on Sunday for moving against what she described as a group of “criminals” led by Mrs. Mugabe, The A.P. said.

“It is unfortunate that the president allowed her to usurp executive authority from him, thereby destroying both the party and the government,” she said.

A majority of the party’s leaders had recommended expelling Mr. Mugabe — a harsh rebuke of the man who had controlled the organization with an iron grip since the country gained independence in 1980.

In a resolution, party leaders said Mr. Mugabe should be removed for taking the advice of “counterrevolutionaries and agents of neo-imperialism”; for mistreating his vice president, Mr. Mnangagwa, whom Mr. Mugabe abruptly dismissed; and for encouraging “factionalism.”

It urged the “immediate and unconditional reinstatement” of Mr. Mnangagwa, at least until the national elections that are scheduled for next year.

On Sunday, the leaders put force behind their recommendations, ousting Mr. Mugabe and setting up the vice president to succeed him.

But the fired vice president also has critics, who accuse him of being politically ruthless and of plotting to form parallel institutions within the governing party. Mr. Mnangagwa is unpopular in parts of the country: He lost his parliamentary seat at least twice, once after he was accused of firebombing his opponent’s house, according to an editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper.

The political crisis will be on the agenda for a summit meeting in Angola on Tuesday of four countries in the southern African regional bloc: South Africa, which sent envoys to negotiate with Mr. Mugabe on a departure; and Angola, Tanzania and Zambia.


Zimbabwe: “Power is not sexually transmitted”

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 21:08 Written by

Africa, Zimbabwe

This quote – by a leader of the war veterans – sums up their disquiet with Grace Mugabe.

Below is my take on the ‘coup’. But first an image constructed from social media, indicating how the situation developed on Tuesday 14 November.

At the end I have added the statement from ZANU-PF that triggered these events.


Zimbabwe social media

Source: New Statesman

Zimbabwe’s coup pits Grace Mugabe against the old guard

After complaints of a “bedroom coup”, the army launched one of its own.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Zimbabwe’s army went on the air to announce that they had taken control. This had become increasingly clear, as armoured personnel carriers and troops had been seen around Harare on Tuesday and the state broadcaster – ZBC – had been surrounded.

The statement read out by Major General S.B. Moyo couched their actions as an attempt to uphold the existing order.

“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice. As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

But no-one was under any illusion about what was taking place: this was a coup by another name. Nothing like it had been seen in Zimbabwe since Mugabe took power in 1980.

 The key warning had come three years earlier, when the veterans of the war against white rule that put Mugabe in place told the 93-year-old president that they would not accept his second wife as the leader of the country. “Power is not sexually transmitted,” said Jabulani Sibanda, who complained that the ruling party was “plotting a bedroom coup”.

The war veterans, who had stood by President Mugabe during all the crises and challenges he had faced, were not prepared to see Grace and her acolytes to take control.

Since her marriage to the president in 1996, the First Lady of Zimbabwe has become legendary for her ostentatious living. While her countrymen and women live on the breadline, “Gucci Grace”, or “the first shopper” as she is known, indulged her lavish lifestyle. The Mugabe family accumulated a substantial property portfolio both inside Zimbabwe and abroad.

Notorious for her vicious temper, Grace was only recently smuggled out of South Africa after escaping an assault charge for hitting a model.

Zimbabweans complained, but it was when Grace began to seek political office that she crossed a line. She began to be hailed as party rallies as the “Mother of the Nation”. Grace surrounded herself with her acolytes: Generation 40, or G40, faction which included the ZANU PF youth wing. She began pushing her husband to nominate her his successor.

This brought her up against the old guard, who coalesced around the vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Last week Mnangagwa was sacked and he fled to South Africa via Mozambique. It was this that triggered the current events.

By dismissing Mnangagwa, Mugabe had broken with someone who had stood by him since the earliest days of the war against Ian Smith and white rule. Mnangagwa had led the first group of guerrillas to China for military training. After finishing his training, Mnangagwa returned to Tanzania in May 1964, where he and other returning ZANU guerrillas formed the “Crocodile Gang”.

Mnangagwa was captured after blowing up a railway train in Rhodesia, and only narrowly escaped the death sentence. He spent 10 years in jail and was released in 1974 as part of the “unity talks” amnesty. In Mozambique, he was elected special assistant to the president at the 1977 Chimoio congress – which meant he was the military and civilian representative of the party. He also accompanied Mugabe to the Lancaster House negotiations, which paved the way for official recognition of the state of Zimbabwe.

After independence Mnangagwa stood by Mugabe, and was responsible for the suppression of the Ndebele, as well as involved in the rigging of elections. He held a string of ministries, including – importantly – Defence from 2009 to 2013.

It was precisely because he represented such a threat to Grace’s succession that Mugabe removed Mnangagwa from the vice presidency. He was accused of displaying “traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability”.

The scene was set for the current showdown. On Monday the army chief of staff, General Constantino Chiwenga, warned the president to “stop” purges by the ruling ZANU-PF party. “We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in,” he said at a press conference.

ZANU PF responded on Tuesday by issuing a statement accusing General Chiwenga of treason. The party said the general’s comments were “calculated to disturb national peace… [and] incite insurrection”. Since treason is a capital offence in Zimbabwe, the general was left with few options: fight or flee the country. He – and most of the military – chose the former.

What lies ahead? It is possible that Mugabe will be allowed to retire and live with some dignity. There are suggestions he might be allowed to leave the country for Singapore or Malaysia, to enjoy the wealth he has salted away overseas for many years. But Mugabe in exile might be unpalatable to the military, since he could act as a magnate for dissidents.

There are reports that Mnangagwa has returned to Zimbabwe and – together with General Chiwenga – will act to shore up his position, while proclaiming that they are acting to “protect the revolution”.

At present South Africa – a critical player during the Rhodesia crisis, and still the major power in the region – is attempting to keep its distance. Speaking on Tuesday ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe made it clear that the ANC doesn’t want to get involved in the rift. “ZANU-PF must deal with that issue because Zimbabwe is not our colony… it’s not our province, it’s our neighbour. If things go wrong there, of course, we’ll be concerned because it’ll impact on us, but we have no authority over them, that’s the point we’re making.”

How long Pretoria can keep a cool detachment will depend on whether the factions within Zimbabwe can find an orderly way of resolving the current crisis.



Zimbabwe's President Mugabe 'confined to his house'

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 13:09 Written by

South African leader says he spoke to Zimbabwean counterpart, who 'indicated' he was fine but not allowed to leave home. 

Zuma said Mugabe indicated that he was confined to his home [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]
Zuma said Mugabe indicated that he was confined to his home [Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]


U.N. Security Council renews arms sanctions on Eritrea and Somalia


The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday voted to extend an arms embargo imposed on Eritrea and Somalia.

The fifteen-member UNSC in a majority vote of 11 as against four abstentions adopted resolution 2385 to renew sanctions regime against the two Horn of Africa nations.

According to Sebastiano Cardi, the Italian ambassador to the U.N., the current extension spells out of further reviewing both regimes in the coming months.

The decision of the council comes barely a week after a panel of experts called for the lifting of sanctions particularly on Eritrea. The panel in a report said there was no conclusive evidence that Eritrea was supporting al-Qaeda linked insurgents Al-Shabaab group based in Somalia.

A United States – backed resolution led to the imposition of arms sanctions on Eritrea in 2009, with the main reason being their alleged support for Al-Shabaab. Eritrea has described the sanctions as ‘useless and unjustified.’

Somalia on the other hand are also under a sanction regime despite being the biggest sufferer of attacks by al-Shabaab. Security watchers say the arms embargo is partly to blame for the inability to effectively match rampaging insurgents.

The Horn of Africa region is generally one that has complex security issues. Ethiopia has internal crisis to deal with aside its border tensions with Eritrea. It is also actively engaged in the fight against Al-Shabaab inside Somalia. It is, however, at peace with Sudan and Djibouti.


Eritrea: Call from underground for an international inquiry

The underground resistance movement in Eritrea has spoken by telephone to Dutch journalist Wim Brummelman about the protests at the Akria school in Asmara.

Speaking by phone from Asmara, members of the Freedom Friday (Arbi Harnet) movement called for an international inquiry into the events that took place a week ago.

The protests that were sparked by the arrest of a 92 year old community elder who was chair of an Asmara School that the government was attempting to bring under its control. This resulted in a volley of shots and was followed by a widespread roundup, including the arrest of underage children and women.

The spokesperson for Arbi Harnet in Asmara confirmed that, despite reports to the contrary, so far they haven’t come across any fatalities. He contended that this was because the soldiers sent to put down the protests refused to shoot directly at the protesters: “They did not shoot the people. That, they refused,” said the Abri Harnet spokesperson.

In addition the member of the underground, a Christian himself, explained that despite the fact that the protests started at an Islamic school the march was soon joined by Christians. “Muslims and Christians are united,” he said. “They want the government to stop interfering with their education. That’s why the people took to the streets”.

And he added that the matter is not just a question of religious freedom: it is about all aspects of human rights in Eritrea. “This regime puts [restrictions] in place, on all possible freedoms of its citizens. That’s why so many people flee Eritrea. That has to stop. Therefore, we pray that this government disappears. ”

Finally the spokesperson for the Asmara underground said that although calm appears to have returned to the city, resistance will continue.   “Of course I’m afraid. So many people are afraid. We run great risks. But there will be new protests. Perhaps at a small scale in the beginning, in different places. And maybe that sounds like something big. That’s why it’s so important that the world knows what’s going on here.


Note: Arbi Harnet was established on 11/11/11, as a diaspora based movement with the aim of linking the diaspora struggle for justice in Eritrea to the movement inside the country.


EPDP Liberty Magazine Issue #47

Thursday, 09 November 2017 18:36 Written by