Eritrea Liberty Magazine Issue No. 59

Sunday, 03 November 2019 21:50 Written by

Eritrean mothers and children at clinic

Source: Independent Catholic News

A demonstration will take place in front of Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 2 November, from 2.30-5.30pm to draw attention to the repressive treatment of Christians in Eritrea.

After Catholic bishops in Eritrea protested over the regime’s indefinite military conscription of young people, government forcefully confiscated all the health centres and schools of faith groups, including 29 Catholic Church health centres and seven schools that have been serving people of all faiths in the country for over 60 years.

The Eritrean Catholic Bishops have written a letter strongly opposing the actions of the government and asked the authorities to stop persecuting the church and to return its properties.

The protest rally on Saturday supports the Bishops’ letters and condemns the government’s cruel actions and policies.

.The Catholic Church in Eritrea has now been limited to operating within the confines of its church buildings, denied of its rights to providing free health care and education. The confiscation of the health centres and the schools is having an adverse effect on the most disadvantaged sections of Eritrean society, especially on the vulnerable – children, pregnant women and the elderly who live in remote and difficult to reach areas of the country.

Sisters from the Comboni, Franciscan, Daughters of Charity and Filipino missionaries are among some of the institutions who have been stopped from offering their vocational services and evicted from their places of worship and residences. Eritrea is in a sad state of affairs.

Eritrean Catholics in London write: “A young country full of hope is now at a crossroads. The Eritrean government’s policy of indefinite military conscription and persistent human rights abuses are among some of the main causes of the sufferings and endless mass exodus of the youth, which is becoming an existential threat to the nation. The government does neither allow dissent nor voices that are critical to its policies. It has prohibited free press and imprisoned tens of thousands of political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience and independent journalists without trial.

“A United Nations panel investigating Eritrea has found ‘very clear pattern’ of human rights violations and the absence of rule of law. We, who are lucky enough to become a voice of the voiceless from outside the country, are very disturbed by the actions of the Government of Eritrea and its policies.”

“We want to raise awareness among our Catholic brothers and sisters in the UK as well as the wider British public.

“We plead with our faith leaders in the UK and the Cardinal’s Office in Westminster to convey our concern to the faithful of the church, the UK government and the international community by highlighting the religious persecution and human rights violations in Eritrea, particularly, the confiscation of the religious institutions and properties.

“Faith groups in Eritrea are going through a difficult and testing time. They need the support of the international community to get justice, peace and the return of their institutions to resume their vital services to vulnerable people. The Eritrean people need and deserve a full service from its religious institutions. This protest rally is to witness and express solidarity with the Eritrean people and the Catholic Bishops who have courageously called for Truth, Reconciliation, Forgiveness, Justice and Peace for the people and the country.

Africa, Eritrea, Horn of Africa

Source: ACAPS  – an independent information provider – has just declared Eritrea to be a nation in which it is all but impossible for humanitarians to work.

Three nations are given the designation – “Extreme access constraints” – the other two are Syria and Yemen. Both are at war: Eritrea is not.

Full report here.

Gathering information is extremely difficult, but ACAPS’s assessment is that Eritrea’s risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster to be high, with

  • 4,955,000 People affected
  • 3,964,000 People in need

Eritrea retains its status as one of the countries with the highest access constraints. INGOs are prohibited in the country.

President Isaias Afwerki allows only a few UN agencies to operate, including UNICEF, FAO, and UNHCR, which has defined the operational environment as “challenging, but permissible for day-to-day activities”.

Incoming funds from the UN and other donor agencies are subject to strict limitations and must pass through the Government of Eritrea.

Information gaps are noticeable, for example on the obstacles encountered by Eritreans in accessing services or movement restrictions within the country.

Historically, Eritrea has not shared information about the level of humanitarian needs.



The Eritrean government significantly restricts humanitarian access and there is very little information on humanitarian needs. The country is governed by a one-party state; elections have not been held since 1993.

Human rights violations including arbitrary detention, indefinite national/military service, and extrajudicial killings have been reported. OHCHR 26/05/2018" class="wysiwyg_source" style="border-bottom-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 147, 194); outline-color: invert; outline-style: none; outline-width: medium; text-decoration: none; transition-delay: 0s; transition-duration: 0.1s; transition-property: all; transition-timing-function: ease-in-out;" href="">?

Following the signing of the “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship” by the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018, border crossings between the two countries were re-opened in September 2018 for the first time in 20 years. However, the last open border crossing was closed in April 2019, with no official reason given." class="wysiwyg_source" style="border-bottom-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 147, 194); outline-color: invert; outline-style: none; outline-width: medium; text-decoration: none; transition-delay: 0s; transition-duration: 0.1s; transition-property: all; transition-timing-function: ease-in-out;" href="">?

Eritrea is subject to harsh climatic conditions, including cyclical drought and flooding during rainy seasons. These events heighten the vulnerability of communities, making it difficult for families to fully recover from the effects of one emergency before another strikes. In recent years, the country’s climatic conditions have tested the coping capacities of the population, which is largely dependent (80%) on subsistence agriculture." class="wysiwyg_source" style="border-bottom-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 147, 194); outline-color: invert; outline-style: none; outline-width: medium; text-decoration: none; transition-delay: 0s; transition-duration: 0.1s; transition-property: all; transition-timing-function: ease-in-out;" href="">?Domestic food production is estimated to meet only between 60-70% of the population’s needs." class="wysiwyg_source" style="border-bottom-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 147, 194); outline-color: invert; outline-style: none; outline-width: medium; text-decoration: none; transition-delay: 0s; transition-duration: 0.1s; transition-property: all; transition-timing-function: ease-in-out;" href="">?

INFORM measures Eritrea’s risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster to be high, at 5.2/10." class="wysiwyg_source" style="border-bottom-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(0, 147, 194); outline-color: invert; outline-style: none; outline-width: medium; text-decoration: none; transition-delay: 0s; transition-duration: 0.1s; transition-property: all; transition-timing-function: ease-in-out;" href="">?

Ethiopia: A flicker in the gloom

Friday, 01 November 2019 12:41 Written by

Africa, Ethiopia, Horn of Africa, Uncategorized

By Rene Lefort

Source: Ethiopia Insight

A flicker in the gloom

If Abiy succeeds in transforming EPRDF into a single party, at least it will offer a possible—albeit still highly risky—way out of the morass by presenting two distinct political choices.

Ethiopia’s situation is incredibly complex and dangerous. Nevertheless, beyond the recent tragic events, perhaps the first signs of a light at the end of tunnel are emerging—weakly flickering in the gloom. The strong push by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to create a new party from the ashes of the ruling coalition could set in motion a process to exit the current crisis. Yet, it is highly unlikely to be a peaceful one.The current political context in Ethiopia is characterized by ineffectiveness at federal level and a gaping power vacuum at regional level, except in Tigray. Generally, authority at the grassroots is unsteady. It is either only nominally in the hands of powerless local officials, or in those of emerging informal local groups of influential personalities or new community groups, frequently armed. The two main symptoms are the persistence of insecurity and frequent occurrence of nominally ethnic-based clashes.

This vacuum starts from the top, and spreads through the EPRDF party-state’s chain of command. In Addis Ababa, the confusion inside the ruling circles is palpable, as demonstrated by conflicting official statements over the night-time drama at Jawar Mohamed’s residence that led to protests and deadly violence.

The EPRDF is a Front only in name. The opposition remains scattered and disorganized, although Oromo parties at least remain in discussion with each other. Elections are widely considered as a lifeline, but the schedule is overly ambitious, given the lack of conducive conditions for polls.

From this situation, two strategies present themselves for the political classes:

The first, to proceed to elections in May, come what may. This strategy is supported by a wide range of political forces, including the Prime Minister himself. The oft-stated reasoning behind it is that a postponement would only exacerbate tensions further. Following an election, it is argued, newly elected MPs will finally be legitimate enough to build a coalition which can set the course to resolve two key issues: the type of federalism to be adopted and the degree of economic liberalisation to be pursued.

The second, to defer elections and agree on something akin to a transition period towards orderly elections, or even constitutional reform. This strategy is supported by those who fear that the closer voting day gets, the more tensions will rise. Ultimately, far more important than adhering to the electoral schedule, they say, the survival of the Ethiopian state will be at stake. Therefore, holding premature polls is deemed too risky.

There are key obstacles for the first strategy:

Security problems are frequently mentioned as decisive. But elections cannot bring the crisis to an end if the political landscape is not clarified in advance. The voters should be offered clear electoral options, so that they can decide with at least a minimum degree of knowledge and confidence what the parties represent.

At the current conjuncture, however, the competing ideological positions are radically different not only between different political groupings—which is normal—but also within the EPRDF, and, furthermore, inside three of the four coalition’s parties, namely the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) and Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). Currently, voting for any of this trio would not mean making a clear statement on Ethiopia’s future political settlement.

In addition, what legitimacy would MPs possess if it cannot be guaranteed that the elections will be reasonably fair and free? Particularly so, when the PM himself admitted that he cannot take this for granted. Abiy aims for “a relatively free and fair election as compared to the previous elections.” But this would be far from sufficient. Taking the long view, it is notable that previous elections lacked even the minimum requirements of freedom and fairness. What guarantees are in place to give the electorate confidence that the upcoming polls will be any different?

With regards to the second strategy:

The idea here is that elections should only be held after a minimum of consensual rules are set through a process of dialogue between a wide range of stakeholders. While this should restore some calm, even adherents to the plan agree that a pre-condition needs to be met for such a process to succeed. That is, a pivot of the political class towards compromises in order to establish basic rules to proceed lawfully, orderly, and peacefully towards elections. But why, amid the present toxic stalemate, would this turn out well in the next few months when the political class has been unable to reach a compromise—not only since the beginning of the crisis but throughout the last half century?

Towards bipolarity

Amid this deadlock emerges a third strategy:

This is an impulse from the top—from the Prime Minister himself. Abiy has noted that he cannot assert his authority and wield his influence over EPRDF. Thus, he seems to have decided to try and force into life a new organization, tentatively reported as the Ethiopian Prosperity Party (EPP).

This potential party will not merely be an EPRDF expanded to include affiliated parties, adopting representation proportionate to their regions’ size, population, etc. Instead, it would mean the creation of a new party. One which would turn its back on the past ideology and organisation of the EPRDF. Its unifying factor would be his person alone and his philosophy of Medemer. Abiy Ahmed wants to build EPP to cement his power, now and in the future.

The former Zone 9 blogger BefeQadu Haile recently stated that according to the PM’s recently released book, the main values of Medemer are “National Unity, Citizen’s Dignity and Prosperity”. Nothing substantive is mentioned about group rights, nothing about diversity. In short, nothing about ethnic federalism.

In addition, in his statement after the recent mayhem, Abiy focused on reconciliation at the grassroots level, mediated essentially by religious leaders and elders. He did not utter a word about politicians or parties. In a press release, he also sent a strong warning to the so called “enemies”, stating: “We won’t stop the journey we have begun. We will continue, uprooting the weed and taking care of the wheat”. And further, “we will pay whatever price it takes to make sure that the prosperity of Ethiopia and its people will be realized.”

As hostilities against Abiy rise in different circles, his journey to try to concentrate more power into his hands brings to mind Ethiopia’s age-old attachment to the teleq säw, the Big Man. Presently, this trend is fueling discontent.

But, above all, if the EPP comes to life, the development will likely lead to a political choice between an “Abiy pole” and an “ethnic federalist pole”.  The hope is that, thereafter, the currently diverse and divided multitude of political forces would then—more or less—gravitate to either of these two poles. This could be the beginning of a clearing-up of the political landscape:

On both sides, this rift would be based on sincerely held political beliefs and, in the long run, ethnicity should diminish in importance. Thirst for power and control over and access to resources—which go with in the present oligarchic system in Ethiopia—will undoubtedly also play a crucial, if not primary, role.

Obviously, TPLF, the Oromo opposition, and parts of ODP and SEPDM—possibly even the strong Amhara identity wings of ADP and the National Movement of Amhara—would gravitate towards this latter, “ethnic federalist pole”. While Abiy’s EPP would perhaps be more allied with one-nation, Ethiopianist political forces, such as the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party (Ezema) or movements like Eskinder Nega’s Baladeras Council.

Risky strategy

Nevertheless, it is highly probable that the rift over the EPP, which has already deepened the splits inside the EPRDF, will, in the short-term, only deepen the country’s ongoing crisis.

Moreover, it is not at all clear if the risks of further party splits have factored into Abiy and his advisor’s strategic calculations and contingency plans. Thus, in the meantime, I share the fears of commentators, such as Tsedale Lemma, Awol Allo, Birhanu Lenjiso and others who “ring the alarm bell” with convincing arguments that this (third) strategy of creating the Prosperity Party may, at first, breed further instability.

And, in addition to the risk of exacerbating deadly tensions, another question is if Abiy’s primary focus is really to move towards a democratic transition—or if it is to cement his power?

Jawar seems to share this concern. He has, since his return from exile, stood by the PM and his reform and reconciliation process. He only began criticizing Abiy openly once the latter proposed to create a unified party. Jawar then accused the PM of “taking Ethiopia back to ‘the old ways’ of authoritarian rule”. On this, Tsedale aptly noted: “Jawar Mohammed drops a bombshell when he not only outlined the dilemma of the new party, but set forth the possible scenarios, as a result of it, of a ‘constitutional crisis’ (quite frankly convincing), and which, he says, may culminate in snap elections regionally and nationally.

This is an indication that Abiy’s intention to push ahead with creating the EPP worries not only the EPRDF coalition and Abiy’s ODP, but also those political forces—outside the party-state apparatus—that helped bring him to power.

But what might be the actual impact of Abiy’s bold forward step? In every scenario, it would break the deadly day-to-day political routine of the highly fractured party-state and the opposition. The cards would be entirely reshuffled.

The PM’s move is, however, risky. Abiy could fail. ODP’s former leader and still popular figurehead, Lemma Megersa, has expressed in party meetings his opposition to the merger. Abiy may be obliged to backtrack if he cannot garner the full support of his closest allies, which is far from certain at this stage, or if opposition is too strong.

Nevertheless, if EPP sees the light of day, it could be that Abiy and his advisors have also overestimated the number of followers this new party might actually attract. Has not the recent stand-off with Jawar shown that—despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize—Abiymania seems to be on the wane?

In any case, such a miscalculation would mark a dramatic end of Abiy’s pre-eminence. He would be largely delegitimized as leader, or at least his privilege as a reconciliatory care-taker who can lead the transition would evaporate. Consequently, a wide space would open up for other parties to compete for power.

Becoming multi-ethnic

That said, and while all these concerns and caveats are valid, those who strongly oppose the creation of the new party should consider the following points:

A transition to democracy cannot occur without destroying or profoundly transforming the party-state structures of the EPRDF which were hitherto so centralised and consistent. Attempts to break down the old security apparatus have more or less already been undertaken. But this has not stabilised the security situation of country yet—on the contrary. Alongside disentangling the party from the state, should there not be a serious attempt—however risky, chaotic and full of ulterior motives—to reorder the currently fractured political landscape into distinct and coherent groupings? That is, clumped at two poles.

It is true that in order to allow a more constructive rationalising of the political landscape, both the “Abiy pole” and the “ethnic federalist pole”, would eventually need to become decidedly multi-ethnic. Only an embrace of ideology-based politics would allow this new polarisation to contribute to a shift away from politicizing ethnic divisions towards foregrounding political competition along policy divisions.

Pushing paroxysm

Some commentators have questioned the legal issues surrounding the creation of EPP and see the law book as the greatest obstacle to replacing the EPRDF. Taking into account precedents in Ethiopian politics, however, the reality is that legal checks and balances on the party-state are unreliable, as is the case within party organs. During the three main crises of TPLF and later the EPRDF, the rules have been systematically bypassed: during the hinfishfish (anarchy/weakening) phase at the end of the 70s; the dismissal of Aregawi Berhe and Giday Zeratsion in 1985; and by Meles and his followers in 2001 during the tehadso (renewal) phase.

Historically, in Ethiopian political culture, centralism has prevailed over democracy; the highest body can take decisions regardless of the positions expressed by the lower levels. The final winner is absolved of punishment for these infringements. I doubt Abiy will feel bound by party rules or the legislative. His rule so far has suggested he will governs by bypassing the laws if he feels it is necessary. He may well claim that the country’s de facto state of exception justifies whatever changes to the EPRDF he wants to make.

The ongoing turbulence across Ethiopia is getting unbearable. Almost all exits from the crisis seem blocked. The only option may be to slip through any remaining narrow gap. By trying to centralise power and further his authority around a clear-cut political position, premised primarily on his persona and philosophy, Abiy is set to push the crisis to its paroxysm.

Already, if Jawar’s claim is accurate, a group of high-ranking officials had decided—with or without the green light from Abiy—to try to at the very least to intimidate him. This could be part of a strategy to vigorously confront the ethno-nationalist opposition. The consequences, however, were fatal: around 80 people were killed, hundreds wounded. Thus, the widespread fears of worsening conflict are palpable.

Another consequence is that Oromia, the most populous regional state, is openly divided. This includes the top echelons of ODP, who are torn over the federation’s future. Meanwhile, Jawar has suggested that he may now stand as a candidate in the next elections. The positive effect of this is that it could give each pole—Abiy and the ethnic federalists—a hefty individual force for followers to gravitate around.

Amid the gathering gloom, and a possible descent into total darkness, let us hope that the words of one of the founders of the European project, Jean Monnet, prove prescient for Ethiopia under Abiy: “Humans see the necessity of change only when they face a crisis… then it can be a new birth”.

The alternative is almost too awful to contemplate.


Africa, Eritrea, Horn of Africa

This interview – published by the Eritrean Ministry of Information – reveals the depths to which some UN officials have sunk.

How can Ms Mohamed say that: “We had an inspiring discussion with the President who reiterated what has been learned from a journey –through war and isolation into peace and the importance of keeping the peace not just for Eritrea but the regional integration for the Horn of Africa and the rest of Africa.”

Is she truly unaware of the evidence of Eritrean arming and training of rebel movements across the Horn of Africa, from Somalia to Ethiopia. Does she not know that Eritrea attempted to bomb the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January 2011 – according to the UN’s own report?

The UN then reported that: “Whereas Eritrean support to foreign armed opposition groups has in the past been limited to conventional military operations, the plot to disrupt the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January 2011, which envisaged mass casualty attacks against civilian targets and the strategic use of explosives to create a climate of fear, represents a qualitative shift in Eritrean tactics.”

Has Ms Mohamed not seen the UN’s own report saying that in Eritrea: “Much of the population is subject to forced conscription and labour, sometimes in slave-like conditions.


The world needs to share Eritrea’s recipe of “unity, equality and dividend of peace” according to UNDSG Amina J. Mohamed

ArticlesQ & A

“There are countries that have done none with more opportunities. But Eritrea with its own resources is doing a lot on development. I am excited because I’m witnessing the real Eritrea, not Eritrea on Social Media.”

A joint high-level UN-AU delegation, led by Deputy Secretary General Ms. Amina Mohammed, made a two-day work visit as part of a series of visits to neighboring countries of the Horn.

During its stay the high-level delegation met with the President, the Ministers of Justice, National Development, Information, Labor and Social Welfare and the President of the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW).

The delegation further held an interactive session with young Eritrean professionals. The delegation visited several projects including Mislam Dam, the Nefasit-Dekemhare-Serha road that is under construction and more. I spoke to both the heads of the UN and AU delegation.

Read today’s Q&A as we give you a glimpse of their stay and experience in Eritrea in their own words.

Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed

  • Welcome to Eritrea. Your impressions and thoughts on your mission to Eritrea…

We arrived yesterday on a joint solidarity mission for peace, security and development. We went straight to the filed. We experienced the investments that Eritrea is making in infrastructure; we visited the road that connects to Ethiopia. We also saw a multi-purpose dam, which for us is really important to witness how Eritrea has focused on water and is actually putting its own investment in it. Most exciting about that was seeing young Eritreans involved: engineers from Eritrea, but also from the diaspora. We ended up in a dairy farm where we saw entrepreneurship of a woman and her family producing products equal to global standards.

  • You have also met with the Eritrean leadership. How was it to actually speak with the ministers and the President himself?

We met with the ministers and saw that they are very focused on the priorities of this country; a country that has come out of war into peace. And that is actually what we wanted to hear because that is what we need to support. We had an inspiring discussion with the President who reiterated what has been learned from a journey –through war and isolation into peace and the importance of keeping the peace not just for Eritrea but the regional integration for the Horn of Africa and the rest of Africa.

  • You’ve had a chance to meet the President of NUEW and had a round table discussion with young professionals over traditional Bun! How was it?

And what a better note to come and speak with young people and the Eritrean women who have been on the forefront in the struggle for freedom, and, now, in the fight for sustainable development! We realized the challenge of finding a seamless transition from one generation to another; having the young people at the front with their vision, energy and capacities and support them to strengthen their capacities and make sure that they are taught of what Eritrea has done and what it can do both for Africa and for the globe itself.

  • You are the second high level delegation of the UN visiting Eritrea within a time frame of a month. What is the reason behind this?

The fact that now Eritrea is engaging with the world is a big thing. It has been in isolation for a long time. We know that there are remaining challenges but if we want to see Eritrea proceed then we have to start understanding the country’s priorities. We need to know where the country is coming from and where it would like to go and together see how we can support that. The UN has been in Eritrea for a long time and intends to stay as long as it can. There are many different aspects of the UN that the government is speaking with now to see how we can consolidate that partnership. That is what we’re bringing in terms of the system, which is pretty big.

  • And if you may, Mrs. Deputy Secretary General, what will your role be in the process you just mentioned?

For me this is about advocacy for the things that Eritrea is doing well.

To amplify that so that people can see and feel encouraged by the stability that is being created in the political will to have peace as a future not just for Eritrea but the region as well.

Moreover, it will be also about addressing the challenges. What more challenges and gaps have we got? Whether it is in development or human rights, all of that needs to be addressed if one is to be an equal member of the global community. And so I see this as the first of many conversations and activities for the future. We are hearing from young people who tell us what they would like and how they’d like to be part of the networks that are regional and global… so we’ll need more, not us giving you prescriptions, but you telling us what you need. That will help us find solutions together.

  • Thank you for your time. Is there anything you’d like to put on an ending note?

Yes. I think there are three things that Eritrea should share with the world. The first is what we saw and felt as well, your unity. There aren’t many countries that are as unified as you are and I think that the next generation should share this value with young generations across the border. The second trait is how the government has approached equality. I think in many countries inequality is the root-cause of destructions that we see. And last, whatever Eritrea has gained as a dividend of its past must be carried on as a dividend for peace in the future; and that is based on gender equality. You have it in many places. Don’t take it for granted and you, the young people, must hold on to it tight as well.

Mrs. BENITA DIOP, AU special envoy on Women, peace and security

What we have said as women for peace, security and development from both the AU and the UN was listen to the women in Eritrea and the leadership.

And what we found is something that we need to echo because we need to change the narrative. I think here we have seen a country that has been resilient despite challenges.

A country that has been striving to show the world that it has been working to develop its own economy. A country that has put women as part of its undertakings for development. Speaking with the Head of State of Eritrea we realized that this is normal; Eritrean women fought for liberation and now are on the field working on agriculture and much more in the fight for development.

We at the AU have put in place, along with the UN, programs for young people to connect so that they share their experience and accelerate and innovate. So it will be important to involve young Eritreans as well.

I have been very happy about my visit to Eritrea. I will take the message to the AU but also to my sisters in the African Women’s movement. I have actually been to Eritrea during the border war. I, then, met with Mrs. Luul Ghebreab and visited the war field. We visited the displaced camps and young men and women fighting in the war. The disaster of war was heavy but we saw women who stood next to their brothers to defend their nation. We appreciated what the young women were selflessly doing back then; nevertheless, we really hoped for peace. And today, I comeback at a time when Eritrea and Ethiopia have made peace I am glad to have been here on this joint mission.

I have been in good contacts with several Eritrean women having had a chance to work with them in different contexts. The intergenerational cooperation of the youth and the old working together to build Eritrea is an example for us to learn from.

Sudan withdraws 10,000 troops from Yemen

Wednesday, 30 October 2019 22:51 Written by

Sudan has dispatched thousands of troops to Yemen since 2015 (Sky News Arabia photo)
October 30, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Some 10,000 troops of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have definitively returned from Yemen in what is described gradual drawdown of the Sudanese soldiers participating in the Saudi-led war against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The surprising withdrawal has been announced by the SRF General Commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (Hemetti) who is also a member of the Sovereign Council in a joint meeting held on Monday including the two bodies of the transitional authority and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC).

Khartoum based Al-Tayyar newspaper reported that Hemetti told the tripartite meeting that 10,000 troupes have been withdrawn from Yemen and stressed that he would not replace them.

"The gradual withdrawal of troops from Yemen has already begun," he added.

One of the FFC senior officials who participated in the meeting confirmed to Sudan Tribune that Hemetti had unveiled the RSF drawdown from Yemen.

The official who refused to be identified further said that Hemetti spoke about the RSF withdrawal when he was responding to criticism over the RSF involvement the public transport and campaigns to eradicate epidemic diseases.

The RSF leader has been blamed during the meeting of seeking to improve his image as his troops are accused of killing peaceful protesters on 3 June.

In a separate report, the Associated Press reported that Sudanese official confirmed the partial withdrawal but stressed that does not mean that Sudan is quitting the coalition.

"The officials say Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the RSF, agreed with Saudi Arabia that he would not replace returned forces as fighting on the ground has dwindled in recent months," said the AP

"They said a "few thousand troops" remain for training Yemeni government forces".

The Sudanese officials further said the RSF participating in the Yemen war reached over 40,000 when the conflict was at its peak in 2016-2017.

Last week, Saudi forces have been deployed in Aden as the UAE withdrew its troops from Yemen.

Since last June, the Emirati army scaled down its troops in Yemen, after the international pressure to end the conflict which triggered a grave humanitarian crisis.



29.10.2019 Ethiopia


"If there is no free movement from both sides, what is the point of the peace deal?" Zaid Aregawi asked. By MICHAEL TEWELDE (AFP)

When Zaid Aregawi learned that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won this year's Nobel Peace Prize, her first thought was of her brother Alem, who is languishing in jail across the border in Eritrea.

He crossed over five months ago carrying wood for an Eritrean businessman -- exactly the kind of trade that people in the border region hoped would flourish after Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal last year.

But Eritrean soldiers arrested Alem Aregawi without explanation, making him one of scores of Ethiopians who officials say have recently been taken into custody by Eritrean security forces.

For Ethiopians like Zaid Aregawi, the detentions are the most troubling sign that the peace deal -- the main reason Abiy was awarded his Nobel -- has yet to be fully realised.

"If there is no free movement from both sides, what is the point of the peace deal?" she asked in an interview with AFP. "They say there is peace, however we have got big problems along the border."

Abiy's attention is currently consumed by ethnic and religious clashes that broke out last week in the capital Addis Ababa and Ethiopia's Oromia region, leaving nearly 70 dead and highlighting divisions within his ethnic Oromo support base.

Meanwhile, hundreds of kilometres north, frustration with his Eritrea deal is mounting in cities and towns nestled among the steep escarpments of Ethiopia's northern Tigray region -- the area most affected by the 1998-2000 border war and the long, bitter stalemate that followed.

Eritrean refugees still cross into Ethiopia by the hundreds each day. Shown here is the border village of Sebeya.  By MICHAEL TEWELDE (AFP) Eritrean refugees still cross into Ethiopia by the hundreds each day. Shown here is the border village of Sebeya. By MICHAEL TEWELDE (AFP)

Residents of Ethiopia's northernmost villages complain of a lack of progress on demarcating the two countries' shared 1,000-kilometre (600-mile) border.

Eritrean refugees -- who still cross into Ethiopia by the hundreds each day, according to the United Nations -- note that peace has not moderated the behaviour of Isaias, widely considered one of the world's most repressive leaders.

And nearly everyone laments that bilateral relations hinge on meetings between Abiy and Isaias, with little input from people on the ground.

'Peace stuck between earth and sky'

"We can say that peace is stuck between the earth and the sky," said Ahmed Yahya Abdi, an Eritrean refugee who has lived in Ethiopia since the war.

"When Abiy went to Eritrea he flew to Asmara, but he didn't implement peace here, at the border between the two countries."

The demilitarisation of the border, especially on the Ethiopian side, is the main benefit of peace cited by most people in the region.

It has permitted some Ethiopians to cross for weddings and funerals in Eritrea with little harassment from the security forces.

But Yosef Misgina, an official in the town of Dawhan, says he receives regular reports of Ethiopians being detained, jailed and beaten in Eritrea -- often after they are caught transporting construction materials and other goods.

Among them were 13 traders who were taken into custody just days before Abiy won the Nobel, two of whom remain behind bars.

One recent detainee, Tsegay Suba Tesfay, spent two weeks in an overcrowded cell after soldiers arrested him while he was transporting rice and bottled water.

Abiy accepted a 2002 UN boundary ruling that would split the ethnic Irob community in two. Here elders from both sides hold a reconciliation meeting.  By MICHAEL TEWELDE (AFP)

He said police officers beat him with a baton multiple times, and that he was deprived of food and allowed outside for just a few minutes each day.

"They don't give you any reason when you are detained," he said. "In Eritrea, there is no freedom."

Yosef attributes the detentions to continued ambiguity about the status of the border.

While the main crossings were opened shortly after the peace deal was signed, they have all since been closed, with no word on when they might reopen.

"Now we are asking that peace be institutionalised," Yosef said. "If it is institutionalised it cannot be disrupted by individuals."

'I don't accept this prize'

An even bigger source of anxiety for the region is the border demarcation process, which so far has gone nowhere.

When Abiy first reached out to Eritrea last year, he stunned observers by agreeing to accept a 2002 UN boundary ruling that Ethiopia had long rejected.

The ruling would transfer some villages and towns from Ethiopian to Eritrean territory, and would split the ethnic Irob community in two.

It is unclear what is holding up demarcation, but many analysts suspect Eritrea is dragging its feet.

"I would say that the Eritrean government probably wants to take things a little bit more slowly because the rapprochement has implications for the domestic situation in Eritrea. It has been a closed country for 20 years," said Michael Woldemariam, an expert on the Horn of Africa at Boston University.

"As a human being I don't accept this Nobel prize," said Sebhatleab Abraha Woldeyesus, a refugee who crossed into Ethiopia a few weeks ago. By MICHAEL TEWELDE (AFP)

"The contradictions between the new era of external peace and Eritrea's internal situation will be a significant challenge going forward."

For refugees like Sebhatleab Abraha Woldeyesus, who crossed into Ethiopia a few weeks ago, waiting for change from Eritrea seems futile, meaning true peace along the border is likely to remain out of reach.

"As a human being I don't accept this Nobel prize," he said. "We don't see the peace. Abiy and Isaias, they haven't brought it."


ENCDC has to pursue a constructive productive and effective diplomacy in their struggle for change. Since its foundation in 2011 has failed to win the sympathy and support of foreign states.

ENCDC is now in its revival with a new spirit and mutual respect.

ENCDC have to make use of the diplomacy based on the know-how of the modus operandi of international relations which had been administering the world today, the interests of countries with national sovereignty, and international organizations attends to the interests of international security, regional organizations that sponsor the security and interests of the countries in the region, as well as non-governmental organizations that has become of great influence in international politics and overseas companies with a significant impact on the process of political decision-making.

Therefore any formulation of diplomatic action plan must be based the above mentioned backgrounds, it would be helpful to point out some important guideline here bellow:

  1. A diplomatic action built on positive interaction, that is to say, there are parties in the world who have their respective stakes in Eritrea, who need to be convinced that the opposition can be faithful to their interests as long as not inconsistent with the national interests of Eritrea, therefore countries which their interests have been damaged by the Eritrean Regime will cooperate with the opposition, but first, the opposition must confirm its credibility and seriousness
  2.  A diplomatic action built on negative interaction, and we mean that there are parties in the world that Eritrean Regime constitutes a source of concern for their respective national security, whether serious or minimal concern, such forces would be more than happy to watch the Eritrean Regime disappearing.

The recent relations with Ethiopia are only personal relations and are temporary. Most of the Horn of African countries have genuine interests in the disappearance of this Regime due to the keenness to their respective national security,  but these countries can not risk to establish relations with the opposition unless ascertained in the seriousness of the opposition, for fear that the establishment of such a relationship might deteriorate the internal affairs of their respective countries, the Eritrean Regime is notorious/warmongering in exploiting the internal contradictions of foreign countries, which constitute a threat to the security of those countries, the seriousness of the opposition/ ENCDC would be associated with its political discourse and its mechanisms.

3- A diplomatic action built on bilateral policy and attitudes, where some countries are in harmony with opposition/ ENCDC on their stance towards many issues, attitudes towards public issues is inconsistent with the positions of the Eritrean Regime, therefore compatibility with opposition or contradiction with the regime, is stimulus for diplomatic cooperation between the opposition and the foreign nations.

4- Diplomatic functioning based on lobbying through local communities, civic organizations and individual relationships, where every vote counts on the part of the Western countries in times of elections, the grouping of communities and activating civic organizations or take advantage of individual relationships can influence and stimulate the policies of Western states towards Eritrea.

5- Benefit from Non-governmental Organizations of certain areas of concern, such as human rights organizations, and organizations concerned with freedoms of religion or press, or transparency and those NGOs fighting corruption, and even the relief and health humanitarian organizations that the Eritrean Regime refused to give access to providing aid to the Eritrean people, all these factors could be valuable for the diplomatic advancement of the opposition if used properly.

The Eritrean opposition need to muster the factors that manipulate world politics through a specialized and skilful apparatus the make use of its political and administrative authority, and perhaps the most important aspect in this regard is appoint united-external-political unit. The following points might be useful in this respect.

  • Formation of diplomatic apparatus for the Eritrean National Council for Democratic change/ ENCDC to run the international relations with political and administrative competency and capabilities.
  • Consensus on the features of the external political discourse of the ENCDC.
  • Coordination of the foreign policies of the political organizations through a united committee consisted of the external relations officials of the ENCDC organizations. With the task of making ENCDCs’ foreign policy a non-partisan policy through the evaluation of external policy functioning, exchange of information and proposal of plans, and benefiting from the relationships of organizations and individuals in this area.
  • Coordination with the civic organizations that support the overall objectives of the opposition, especially in Europe, America and Australia, and take advantage of their relations, and to mandate the civic organizations to implement and illuminate the foreign policy of the Eritrean opposition.
  • To draw a maximum benefit from all partners struggling for freedom and change at regional and global level.
  • Improvement of ENCDC’s website so that it could be a reference to all the questions that may arise in the mind of any policy-maker or a diplomatic mission, as well as writing leaflets carefully prepared and in different languages.

Strategic Media Development

In today's world, which is dubbed as the “age of information evolution”, though the media of the Eritrean opposition is not commensurate with the magnitude of the cause it is raising and the challenge it is facing, despite the progress that opposition media has registered in general, but that is not enough to deliver the message of opposition, especially when the regime it is opposing has an information outlets that are considered the most prominent strengths of the regime.

even the improvements that opposition’s media outlets have shown are due to efforts without any coordination which is not enough to deliver the message of the opposition , most of the oppositions media outlets lack professionalism, most of the ENCDC’s organizations have their own media outlets which lessen the effectiveness of the spirit needed for change, even the oppositions media outlets are often used to highlight the secondary political contradictions between ENCDC organizations , we could point out the following points in this respect: 

  • Formulation an information policy with clear goals and instructions to convey a convincing message through all available information means.
  • Tolerate secondary contradictions of political and civil forces, and focus on the overarching challenge of removing the dictatorial regime in Eritrea.
  • Coordination of work between media organizations and the signing of the Code of Conduct for the media outlets, so that the media war between the organizations, degradation or questioning of the principles, personal attack would be perceived as a red-line.
  • development of the radio through the creation of an independent radio with working-hours for as long as possible pursuing a dynamic approaches in conveying the opposition’s message to resist the Regime and to deliver ENCDC’s message in an intelligent way.
  • Diligences in founding a TV-channel to convey the goals of the opposition and reflect the suffering of the Eritrean people, and work to highlight the abuse of the regime against our people.Establishing ENCDC’ Satellite TV challenging the PFDJ’s ERITV.
  • Develop opposition websites on the web and make it more professional and more easily viewed, and more substantive and meaningful.
  • Pay much attention to the Internet to benefit from groups on facebook, Twitter and other tools that gains the attention of a large number of sympathizers.
  • The importance of training and the adoption of assigning media work according to individual competency and not organizational affiliation.
  • Opening up communication with TV channels, news agencies, global and regional newspapers and magazines and all that can contribute to delivering the message of the opposition.
  • Use the universal language in the media, in terms of focus on the concepts of human rights, democracy, transparency and good governance.
  • Documentation of the regime’s Violations, and reporting the evidences in figures and images because it makes the message of the opposition more credible and acceptable to the recipient.
  • adoption of mechanisms and means to evaluate the feedback such as surveys, questionnaires and others to determine the effect of the message on the recipient
  • Co-operate with global organizations that provide skills and Knowledge on democracy, human rights, rule of law , good governance and peace.


October 23, 2019 Ethiopia, News

Hundreds of Jawar Mohammed’s supporters gathered at his residence this morning

Ephream Silesh & Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, October 23/2019 –Protests erupted in several cities and towns across Oromia regional state and various spots surrounding Addis Abeba after Jawar Mohammed, executive director Oromo Media Network (OMN) and prominent activistposted information in his Facebook page that his security detail were told “to pack their stuff and leave the compound quietly without alerting me.”

Jawar has been posting several messages throughout the night including anaudio/video purportedly carrying a conversation between his security detail and a third person who Jawar said was a security official. In it, Jawar’s security can be heard saying they will not leave their post in the middle of the night without replacements.

The area where Jawar’s residence is located at, off Bole road, was quickly flooded by hundreds of his supporters. As of the publishing of this article, standoff continued between his supporters and the police who are trying to disperse the crowd, our reporter, Mahlet Fasil, said from the scene. Protesters are chanting “Jawar, Jawar” and “Down, Down Abiy.”

In a separate part of the city, in Kara Qore area in western Addis Abeba, a counter protest erupted when a group of youth began chanting “Jawar thief”. The Police quickly stepped in to disperse the standoff between his supporters and those protesting against him.

Protesters in Oromia carrying a banner that reads “Touching Jawar if touching our eyes.”

Elsewhere in Oromia, several spontaneous protests broke out including in Ambo, the hotbed of the four years’ Oromo protests prior to Prime Minister Abiy’s assent to power, Haramaya and Bale Robe, among other places. Roads in outskirt areas of the capital Addis Abeba were also blocked by the Oromo youth, Qeerroo.

Speaking a while ago, Endeshaw Tasew, Federal Police Commission Commissioner,denied the reportsthat there were attempts to remove Jawar’s security. “His message that the police were taking measures against him are false. Neither the government nor the police took any measure against him,” he said.

But he admitted that the government has assigned security details for activists and political leaders who returned home from abroad in order to guarantee their safety and security. However, recently, there has been measures to remove private security details based on evaluations and circumstances that indicate low threat levels and increasing stability, according Commissioner Endeshaw. He called for calm and an end to road closures in various places.

Earlier tension

Tension started simmering since yesterday afternoon following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s speech at the national parliament during a question and answer session with parliamentarians. An MP asked the prime Minister on what measures the government was planning to take to tame media organizations which are “fueling conflict.”

“The media wants to be free, but wanting to be free and managing to be free are different things’, the PM said, adding ethnic, religious and political entrepreneurs were to blame. He further said that the media, rather than trying to facilitate Ethiopia’s peace and democracy, have resorted to collecting funds from a people and ethnic groups they claim to represent and hinted at the broadcast authority to enforce the law without hindering the process of strengthening the media. “Owners of media who are foreign nationals, who do not have an Ethiopian passport, who can leave the country when things go south” should know that the government was practicing patience to broaden the space. “If [you] become a threat against Ethiopia’s peace and survival, whether or not you speak Amharic or Afaan Oromoo, it should be noted that we will take the necessary measures,” the PM said, adding, “we do not have another country we can flee to” and “those of you with [a second] country, if you are willing to help us with our peace, development and democracy then you are welcome”. In what many saw as an accusation directed at Jawar Mohammed, PM Abiy went on to warn that talk of democracy and freedom cannot be used to mask those that profit off of the media and that measures must be taken to control this.

A few minutes after the Prime Minister’s response at the parliament Jawar Mohammedwrote a direct response to PM Abiy, which was written in Afaan Oromo, and posted to his 1.7 million followers on Facebook.

He started off by saying he never fled the country, but left it to study and had to get a foreign passport because the government wouldn’t renew the one he had. “After Woyane was pushed out by the blood and bone of Qeerroo, you had elders to try and convince us not to come back. But we put our people above everything and came home to help you transition this country with the influence and knowledge we have,”he said. He reminded the PM of their meeting in Minnesota and then in Addis Abeba in which he said Oromia was his life and death from then on.

Speaking about his media,OMN, Jawar said they have always respected the laws of the countries in which they operated and kept on reporting the people’s protest despite the millions of dollars spent on lobbying and jamming the media. Respecting the laws and constitution of the country and putting into consideration the current situation of the people and nation would be what they will continue to do so, he further said.

In the last paragraph, Jawar countered the Prime Minister’s accusation saying he didn’t come home to run away when things go south, and he was “here to face all of it with my people” and signed off by saying his assurances were neither the government of Ethiopia nor an American passport, but God and the Oromo people.

Running for office?

On Saturday last week,a breaking news on The Finfinne Intercept, a Facebook page which quickly gained prominence for its inside information, said citing its sources that “activist and political analyst Jawar Mohammed has initiated the process to renounce his US citizenship.”It added that Jawar was “considering running for a seat in the regional or federal legislature in the upcoming election.” Ethiopian social media space was awash with subsequent speculations that he was indeed running for office, a claim he denied during several media interviews he gave in the past expressing his disinterest to participate in politics.

Jawar himself brushed thespeculation with humor: “The story about me running for office is just speculation. I am running to [lose] weight,” he tweeted. But reliable sources close to him toldAddis Standardthat he in fact was considering to run for office. “He sees the Prime Minister’s move to merge EPRDF and create a unified party as a dangerous move that could potentially tip the country into a civil war,” one source said.

In an interview he gave toLTV and was aired last night, Jawar severely criticized PM Abiy’s move and called it a plot to “extend individual’s power” and a recipe to “disintegrate the country”. He also criticized “Medemer”,the book written by PM Abiy Ahmed.

One of the pictures that emerged from today’s protests show a group ofpeople burning several copiesof “Ida’amuu”, the Afaan Oromo equivalent of “Medemer. “AS

20 October 2019

Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

Somalia is negotiating with Turkey and Eritrea for deployment of their military commanders and supply of equipment for the war against Al-Shabaab when the African peacekeepers under Amisom, finally withdraw in 2021.

But the deployment can only be bilateral with the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which despite ordering the phased withdrawal of peacekeepers is aware that Somalia's security forces lack the capacity to protect the whole country.

Turkey has been Somalia's leading donor and has invested billions of dollars in infrastructural projects--roads, hospitals, the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu and schools--while Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia have recently forged what is known as the Cushitic Alliance, to foster co-operation on economic and security issues among the Horn of Africa countries.


The Turkish ambassador to Kenya Ahmed Cemil Miroglo said he is not aware of such consultations and referred us to their embassy in Somalia and Eritrea.

Eritrea restored relations with Somalia last year, after nearly 15 years of animosity--with Mogadishu accusing Asmara of funnelling money to the Al-Shabaab.

If Turkey and Eritrea are to step in, it could be a win for Somali given that Amisom, with the help of donors, was supposed to train and equip 30,000 Somalia soldiers before exiting, but so far have only trained 10,000.