Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sanctuary for Asses, Ethiopia's Backbone

The Mercury -- Debre Zeit: In a country where only half the population can afford or find medical treatment, a hi-tech donkey clinic with its own ambulance service may seem excessive.

But not to the Ethiopian farmers who rely on these sure-footed, stoic beasts of burden.

"My donkey is my life," says 51-year-old farmer Lema Raya.

"Without him my family cannot eat or drink. He carries our water and food - he is our provider, our car and our friend."

Lema has brought his donkey to the Donkey Sanctuary, one of a handful of hospitals in the world exclusively for donkeys and the only place in Ethiopia where donkeys can get specialised treatment.

Treatment and advice are free and the immaculate 11-year-old hospital's annual $60 000 (R379 200) budget is funded by its British-based namesake, which also runs or funds donkey hospitals in India, Kenya, Mexico, Spain and England.

The need is enormous in desperately poor Ethiopia, which has the second largest donkey population in the world.

About five million of them pick their way through the rocky, barren highlands bearing their heavy loads, according to Feseha Gebreab, Ethiopia's foremost expert on the animal.

Only China, with 12 million donkeys, has more, Feseha says.

Donkeys provide the transport that brings food and water to millions in the remotest parts of Ethiopia, where roads and communications do not exist. "Despite its importance this is an animal with a very poor image," says Feseha, who is a former dean of Ethiopia's veterinary school and now is a consultant to the sanctuary at Debre Zeit, 60km east of the capital, Addis Ababa.

While farmers like Lema extol their donkeys, they also overwork them, Feseha says.

The Ethiopian population has almost doubled from 40 million 20 years ago to 71 million today, increasing the burden on donkeys.

Exceptionally hardy, the donkey's staggering pain threshold often means it will struggle on no matter how much work it is given or how badly it is treated.

Feseha says that the result is reflected in life expectancy: just nine hard years for a donkey here, compared to around 35 years in Europe or the US.

The sanctuary's staff of 14 treats more than 1 000 donkeys a month, for parasites, crippling saddle sores and hyena bites.

Debre Zeit clinic

Saint Bob and Digging Another Hole to Nowhere

The Globe and Mail -- On Sunday, I tuned in to the CBC's Cross-Country Checkup, the phone-in radio show for virtuous Canadians. The subject was aid to Africa. Caller after caller exhorted the stingy West, including Canada, to do more. Several of them cited the debt we owe to Africa to make up for the legacy of colonialism. Finally, toward the end of the show, a woman named Hannah came on. Unlike almost all the other callers, she was African. She came from Ethiopia, the country Bob Geldof tried to save in 1985. "Ethiopia is poorer now than ever," she said. "The money just goes into the pockets of the leaders."

You remember the starving Ethiopians. You probably tuned in to Live Aid. Maybe you even bought a copy of Do They Know It's Christmas?

I'm sorry to tell you it didn't help. The Ethiopians were starving because their leader, a truly nasty Soviet-backed dictator named Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, had launched a war that killed at least 100,000. He stole the food-aid money to buy guns and feed his armies. Despite Live Aid, more than a million people eventually died of famine. Today, Ethiopia -- where private property is still outlawed -- remains one of the worst-governed places in the world. As Hannah patiently explained to the CBC host, generations of aid workers have come to dig wells for the impoverished people of Ethiopia. But they are holes to nowhere.

Saint Bob's latest campaign to save Africa is an irresistible appeal to Western pity, sympathy and guilt. It is also more arrogant than those fantasies of any old-time colonial administrator or missionary. It assumes that if only "we" put our minds to it, "we" can "save" "them." The fact that we have been trying to do this for 60 years, without success, does not deter him. His solution is to do even more of it. If you doubt the wisdom of this, you are unspeakably callous.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ethiopian Clinics Leave Jolie Horrified

Teen -- Angelina Jolie realised the sheer enormity of the tasks aid workers have in Ethiopia after a recent visit to the health clinics of Addis Ababa, where she learned 50 per cent of the women who give birth there die in labour.

The actress, a United Nations ambassador, was shell-shocked by what she learned from aid workers who can do little to halt the daily death toll.

She recalls, "I visited a malaria clinic, and I was shown how blood is taken, dyed, and then viewed under a microscope. I was literally able to see parasites in the blood, and I heard about how the medicines that the clinic has often don't work."

"We stopped at another clinic to learn about women's health issues. Clinic workers spoke of trends in maternal mortality."

"It was alarming to learn that almost half of the women who made it to the clinic during labour still died during childbirth."

Crumbs from the Carbon Banquet

Building more roads won't cure Africa's poverty - but it will worsen global warming
Ian Roberts and Mayer Hillman

Guardian Unlimited -- According to Tony Blair and the report of the Commission for Africa, what Africa needs most is more roads. More important than healthcare, HIV prevention, security or better governance, road building will jump-start the stalled economy of a continent that has been mired in misery for decades.

The commission's diagnosis is simple. Africa is poor as its economy has not grown. Improving its transport infrastructure would make its goods cheaper, allowing it to break into world markets and trade its way out of poverty. Of the $75bn needed to implement the commission's recommendations, 27% would be spent on infrastructure, mainly for transport, compared with 13% on HIV and Aids, and 10% on education.

If road building is posited as the solution to African poverty, we have learned nothing from history. For the past two centuries, Africa's roads have led to its impoverishment. Its earliest export was the indigenous population consigned as slaves to the Americas. The trade ended in the 1860s and was succeeded by a new wave of exploitation. European traders realised they could use Africa's cheap labour to extract its abundant minerals and grow cash crops to export to Europe. To this end, Europe had to control Africa, and so the colonial invasion began.

By 1900 conquest was complete. African labour was now used to create wealth from Africa's resources for the benefit of Europe. In his economic history of Africa, Walter Rodney describes how its transport infrastructure was built to that end: "Means of communication were not constructed in the colonial period so that Africans could visit their friends. Nor were they laid down to facilitate internal trade in African commodities. There were no roads connecting different colonies or different parts of the same colony to meet Africa's needs and development. All roads and railways led down to the sea. They were built to extract gold or cotton and to make business possible for the trading companies and for white settlers."

The improved transport system enabled foreign companies to make profits, but the companies preferred to fund the costs of construction through foreign loans, thereby putting in place the foundations of African debt.

After the demise of colonialism in the second half of the 20th century, the haemorrhage of African wealth continued. Africa was locked into a global economic system rigged by the rich countries. Trade barriers ensured that Africa was denied its share of the value added in the manufacturing process - not least because the commodity market was controlled by foreign companies, resulting in low prices for African exports but high prices for imports. Africa was locked into exporting more and more for less and less; its transport infrastructure proved inadequate and so its dependence on loans remained. Currently, transport accounts for more than 25% of World Bank lending to sub-Saharan Africa, around $5,367m in 2005. Most of this is for building roads.

We are now expected to believe that if Africa had a more efficient transport infrastructure it would be able to export more effectively to western countries and expand its economy. Lowering the cost of transport, we are told, would reverse the historical flow of wealth. The African economy would develop along the same lines as the carbon-hungry affluent world, but in a sufficiently sustainable way to save the planet. It is a tall order.

The commission warns that climate change is the "one final factor which will obviously be a major influence on Africa's future economic growth". Its weather is becoming more volatile, temperatures are rising, northern and southern latitudes are getting drier, threatening agriculture, and rising sea levels raise the spectre of floods and the loss of low-lying arable land. The commission says developed countries should therefore "help African countries adapt to the risks of climate change".

The only practicable and equitable solution to climate change is the Global Common Institute's framework proposal, Contraction and Convergence. A key element is the trading of carbon- emission rights. Carbon-profligate countries will have to buy unused allocations from more carbon-thrifty ones, such as those in Africa.

Tony Blair and the Commission for Africa mistakenly believe that more road building will enable Africa's economy to prosper. However, reducing transport costs will, as the commission acknowledges, greatly increase traffic volumes, thereby worsening climate change. And Africa will experience some of its most severe impacts.

Contraction and Convergence changes the direction of policy from aid for road building to payments to the poor of Africa for their unused carbon rations. This process will enable the African economy to develop, but in a uniquely African way. The affluent west can and should repay some of the wealth it has stolen from Africa. Funding for healthcare, HIV prevention, education and security is urgently needed. But Africa does not need the crumbs from the white man's carbon banquet to build more roads.

· Ian Roberts is a professor of public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

· Mayer Hillman is a senior fellow at the Policy Studies Institute and the author of How We Can Save the Planet

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ethiopia's Messy Political Reform

The African nation anxiously awaits a July 8 report on allegations of vote-rigging in 135 regions.

Christian Monitor
– The Ethiopian elections last month were supposed to solidify the country's move toward democracy. The ruling party held on to power, but opposition parties made huge gains in parliament. Election monitors, including former US President Jimmy Carter, hailed the vote as the freest and fairest in this nation's history.

But postelection violence has tarnished the initial luster of political progress - and the nation tensely awaits the results of an investigation into vote rigging.

Even before the polls closed on May 15, opposition leaders were crying foul, alleging widespread election fraud by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's supporters. By the next day, Mr. Zenawi had banned political demonstrations during the vote count. Protests were met with police bullets. As many as 36 people were killed during riots in the highland capital Addis Ababa in early June.

"The government's capacity to manage normal and legal forms of dissent have proved to be nonexistent," says Medhane Tadesse, a political analyst in Addis Ababa and a columnist for the Sub-Saharan Informer, a weekly newspaper here. "As the regime comes under increasing internal criticism, it appears to be abandoning any reconciliatory approach in favor of a more rigid and repressive stance."

About 3,000 people were thrown in jail during the protests. All but 400 were released this past Thursday and Friday, after international pressure and prison visits by US, Irish, and Swiss diplomats.

Just a few years ago, President Bill Clinton said Zenawi, a former rebel soldier who ousted dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, was part of a "new generation of leaders."

Some Western diplomats in Addis call the university graduate with a master's degree in economics a "visionary thinker," and he is one of only two African leaders appointed to Tony Blair's Commission for Africa.

But despite recent progress, Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries on the world's poorest continent. It has a history of dictatorship and coups, and its leaders have often favored their own tribes, families, and friends.

While Zenawi is credited with bringing a greater sense of democracy and openness here, last month's election revealed a nation still struggling to break free from its dictatorial and tribal past.

"We are no longer ignorant like the people in the fields. We read the newspapers and watch the television, and we know we can vote freely," says Samuel Asafa, a shoe-repairer squatting by his tiny cupboard-sized workshop. His views echo the fury privately expressed by many in Addis, where the opposition coalition won every seat. "Then ... the government turns and changes the results so they stay in power and the people we voted for are the losers."

While life in Addis is now back to normal, there remains a tension in the city as Ethiopians wait for the results of investigations into disputed ballots. Provisional results showed the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) held on to power by winning more than 300 seats in the 547-seat parliament. The opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) made unprecedented gains, winning 189 seats - a substantial increase over its previous tally of 12. But the CUD said there were electoral violations in 299 constituencies. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has agreed to investigate 135. The outcome of the investigations are expected by July 8.

Tribal politics play an important role in national politics. Zenawi comes from a relatively small ethnic group from Tigray, in northeast Ethiopia. He has had difficulty retaining political control in the face of opposition from the much larger Oromo and other tribal groups. Ethiopians from other ethnic groups claim that Tigray has prospered while the rest of the country has suffered.

"Parliamentary elections in 1995 and 2000 ... were carefully orchestrated to ensure a ruling-party victory, and we accepted invitations to observe this election after the prospects seemed much more democratic," said former US president Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center formed a key part of the international observer mission for this year's poll. A transparent vote count and therefore an entirely fair result would have been a "quantum move forward in democratization for Ethiopia," Carter said.

But when outrage grew at the perceived irregularities in the count, Zenawi and his supporters fell back on strong-arm tactics. "This kind of thing has been going on for 10 years, but only made the headlines this time because so many international observers were in Ethiopia for the elections," says Cedric Barnes, Horn of Africa specialist at the University of London. "There are people within Zenawi's party and his security apparatus who do have a certain amount of discretion and a lot of these people grew up at war in the bush. They are more than likely behind this reaction to dissent."

He adds that "while there are problems with Ethiopia's human rights record, and cronyism which means economic benefits don't always go to everyone, Zenawi deserves credit for holding the whole thing together and making at least some progress."

Roads which used to be dirt tracks are now paved, cutting transport time from farmer's fields to markets. More children are in school, with more school books and more teachers teaching them. Mobile phone base stations have sprung up above mud and thatch huts, bringing local businessmen closer.

There's concern that the June 6 crackdown signals Ethiopia's slide away from its recent reformist moves. But Mr. Barnes remains optimistic. "This is an emerging and immature democracy, but one which is showing signs of growing up as good as any on the continent, and Zenawi should be given the chance to continue to prove himself," he says. "The fact that he is slightly beholden to some less modern elements within his party could be the only stumbling block."

63 Ethiopians Jailed in Israel File Urgent Appeal Against Expulsion

Haaretz -- Some 63 Ethiopian citizens jailed in Israel for over one year filed an urgent appeal this week to the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court against a state order to deport them, fearing that they will be killed if they return to Ethiopia.

The group is requesting to remain in Israel as long as there is a chance that Canada will comply with their request for asylum.

The aforementioned Ethiopians arrived in Israel in 2004, some with tourist visas and some infiltrated from Egypt. According to the appeal, in Ethiopia they were students and their political activity was considered incitement against the government, and therefore they fear that they will be in danger if they return. In Israel, they appealed to the United Nations refugees office, and asked to be recognized as refugees, but their request was turned down. They were arrested, expulsion orders were issued, and they were jailed.

Aided by humanitarian organizations, the Association for Advancement of African Refugees in Israel, prison authorities and the Interior Ministry, the 63 individuals filed a request for asylum in Canada. The Orthodox Ethiopian Church in Canada agreed to support their request and provide for their needs during their first year in Canada.

The process of requesting asylum is slow, and in the meantime they have not been expelled to Ethiopia because of their staunch refusal. But in recent days it was made clear that the Ethiopian embassy issued travel documents for them. By doing so, their departure from Israel has been made possible, even against their will. It is for this reason that the urgent appeal was filed.

Hungry for an Alternative

Tewolde Berhan believes that organic farming is the only real solution to famine in Africa.Sally J Hall meets the quiet but formidable Ethiopian who has become a thorn in the side of the GM foods lobby

The Independent -- Organic farming is a slow-to-grow, low-yield industry favoured by middle-class parents who have the time and money to meander the overpriced aisles of Waitrose, deliberating over wild rocket or white asparagus. Right?

Wrong, says Tewolde Berhan. He thinks organic farming could be the solution to Ethiopia's famines. The chief of the country's Environment Agency has worked his way through academia and government to become one of the world's most influential voices in the biotechnology field. Berhan believes that, properly applied, his approach could save the lives of many of the thousands of Africans who die every day as a result of hunger and poverty.

He maintains that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remove control from local farmers. He speaks for a growing number who believe that Africa should return to natural, sustainable methods of agriculture better suited to its people and environment.

Can one man hope to stand against governments and the huge multinationals? Visiting London, Berhan appears to be a frail - if nattily dressed - sexagenarian. But our conversation reveals his determination, intelligence and encyclopedic memory, combining to create an indomitable force.

Asked why bad harvests seem to have a greater impact on Ethiopia than its neighbours, he has a simple yet stark response. "It's largely because of the lack of infrastructure," he says. "The road system in Ethiopia has doubled in the past 10 years, but is still very poor.

"Ethiopia is still an agrarian society, and there isn't one such country that hasn't had famines," he adds. "The reasons are clear: some years you have plenty and others not enough. If you don't have the technological and financial capacity and the infrastructure to store in good years, you can't make provision for the bad. People here depend entirely on the crops they produce in their fields, so when one season fails, the result is famine."

Born in 1940, Berhan graduated in 1963 from Addis Ababa University and took a doctorate at the University of Wales in 1969. Later posts as dean of science at Addis Ababa, keeper of the National Herbarium and director of the Ethiopian Conservation Strategy Secretariat kept him in touch with the agricultural needs of Ethiopia's people.

In 1995, he was made director general of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia, in effect becoming the country's chief scientist in agriculture. A strong critic of GMOs, he's a powerful voice in lobbying on food safety. His most notable triumph came in negotiations on biosafety in Cartagena, Colombia in 1999. Berhan acted as chief negotiator for a group of southern hemisphere countries. He helped to secure an agreement to protect biosafety and biodiversity, while maintaining respect for the traditional rights of the Third World population, gained against strong opposition from the European Union and North America.

So why is organic farming the answer? Given low yields, poor soil and drought, you'd think that industrial farming would help Ethiopia to maximise production. Not so, Berhan says. "Organic farming deviates little from the natural environment in supplying nutrients to crops. We've developed the ability to change things in a big way and, without considering the consequences, we create disasters. Look at what happened with DDT.

"Organic farming disturbs nature as little as possible and reduces those risks. Intensive farming has led to the exacerbation of pests and diseases, and loss of flavour in food."

These views are at odds with the "conventional" industry. Tony Combes, the director of corporate affairs for Monsanto UK, a big player in the GM market, says: "Going organic isn't the way to increase yields. But then, neither is going totally GM. Farmers need solutions suitable for local predicaments. This means choosing from a range of options - organic, conventional and GM. If yields can be increased, that surplus can be sold."

Berhan is undeterred. He has persuaded the Ethiopian government to let him demonstrate his ideas in the Axum area of Ethiopia. Old field-management techniques have been resurrected, while methods new to the area, like compost-making, have been successful.

Those who think organic farming means low yields will be surprised by Berhan's evidence. "When well managed, and as fertility builds over years, organic agriculture isn't inferior in yield. Now, farmers don't want chemical fertilisers. They say, 'Why should we pay for something we can get for free?'"

Berhan expresses gratitude for the West's famine-relief efforts, but he has reservations. "When countries want to help, they may not know how, so the intention has to be appreciated. But if you go beyond the intention and begin to dictate terms, it becomes more sinister. In times of shortage, making food aid available is helpful - for that year. If you keep making it available, you discourage production."

He believes there are times when food aid can be more about control by Western governments than assistance. "The feeling is strong that this is deliberate. I attended a meeting where farmers from the USA were present. I told them a story I'd read about how rice production in Liberia was depressed because of cheap imports from the USA. The American farmers said this was a deliberate policy by the US State Department to make countries dependent on them for food.

"I began to investigate and discovered that, while the EU has abandoned its policy of providing food aid, initially sending money so that food can be bought locally, the US still insists it will only give food in kind. This makes me feel those farmers were right."

Berhan insists on the necessity of further trials for GM crops, and believes extreme caution should be used in their growth and trade. His application for a visa to attend talks in Canada on GM labelling was turned down earlier this year, suggesting that his influence is feared. "We were finalising the labelling of grain commodities," he says. "A compromise had been reached in 2000 for labelling to say, 'This product may contain GMOs,' but we wanted to toughen it up, to say, 'This product contains these GMOs,' and to list them."

He also contests that GMOs give higher yield. "This is mainly hype. So far, there's not one GM crop that produces higher yields per acre than conventional crops. They offer an economical advantage to farmers as they can apply herbicide in large doses and not have to worry about weeds: that's all."

After protests from the media and groups such as Greenpeace, the visa was granted. Dr Eric Darier, GM campaigner for Greenpeace Canada, explained why it was so important that Berhan attended. "He is truly one of the key 'fathers' of the biosafety protocol," Darier says. "It was convenient for the Canadian government [to refuse the visa], as it prevented a major critic and opponent of pro-GM Canadian policy from attending two of the three days of the workshop on liability. Canada has failed to ratify the biosafety protocol. In view of the fact that the Canadian government has done everything to undermine the efforts of the international community to adopt a strict, effective biosafety protocol, the delays in issuing the visa are evidence of Canada's bad faith."

Is Berhan bitter? Far from it. "I think [the visa refusal] was based on a mistaken calculation. If anything, it gave the labelling issue higher visibility. We told the Canadian government: either you accept multilateral discussions, or the Office for the Commission of Biological Diversity [based in Montreal], must move to another country." The threat worked.

Berhan's message is compelling - and he is in demand worldwide. In the past month alone, he has travelled to Austria, the UK, Tunisia and Norway. He returns to the UK in July to give a talk for the Soil Association, where he will ask: "Can Organic Farming Feed the World?" He is a huge force in trying to prove that it can.

The Soil Association will be at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Tuesday 12 July (0117 987 4586;

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Sudanese Refugees Face Malnutrition in Ethiopia

Sudan Tribune -- Critical malnutrition levels have been found in Bonga and Fugnido camps in western Ethiopia's Gambella Region where an estimated 50,000 Sudanese refugees are living.

A starving Sudanese boy roams a compound run by Doctors Without Borders in Ajiep, Sudan within famine-torn Bahr el Ghazal province in south Sudan, in this July 25, 1998. (AP).

According to a nutritional survey by the World Food Programme (WFP), UNHCR and Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) there was a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) of over 20% and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) of 7% in one part of Fugnido camp.

The highest malnutrition levels were found in the newly established section of the camp at Anuak, says the report released here Tuesday.

A combination of factors have led to this severe situation.

These include delayed delivery of food due to transport problems, insecurity both inside and outside Fugnido camp, and a lack of basic health and safe water services.

In Bonga camp, food deliveries have also been delayed and crops have not been planted due to restrictions in movement outside the camp.

Meanwhile, WFP reported that it was urgently transporting blended food to the camps in order to start blanket supplementary feeding for all children under five, and to continue the supplementary feeding programme for pregnant and nursing women.

The agency was also pre-positioning food stocks for three months ahead of the upcoming long rainy season.

Ethiopians Call Attention To Troubles In Homeland

Tampa Bay Online -- Fassil Gabremarian, born in Ethiopia in 1944, wanted to bring the strife in his homeland to the attention of the downtown lunch crowd Monday.

So he collected about 30 fellow Ethiopian Americans to march in Lykes Gaslight Square before noon.

Carrying the African country's vertical-banded red, yellow and green flag, along with the U.S. Stars and Stripes, the group held placards decrying the violence in their native land, plus graphic photographs of brutalized Ethiopians.

``Terrorism takes many forms,'' said Gabremarian, a retired GTE executive and former Tampa Port Authority commissioner who moved to the United States in 1969.

He, along with the chanting group, presented written appeals to Shahra Anderson, regional director for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and John Kynes, district director for U.S. Rep. Jim Davis.

``No Justice. No Peace.'' were among the slogans protesters directed at Prime Minister Melese Zenawi.

Zenawi is blamed for the deaths of 36 students in a demonstration after the first free election in Ethiopia, held May 15.

Zenawi declared a state of emergency in the country of more than 70 million people and said he won't release election results until July 8.

The Tampa protesters also are alarmed because Zenawi's rule for the past 14 years hasn't solved the famine.

Saba Maskel, 51, wearing a native shama, a white muslin wrapped dress, said she is in touch with Ethiopian relatives, having left the country 14 years ago. ``They tell me, `Whatever you hear on the news, it's worse,' '' she said. ``They are afraid to go out and buy food.''

Iranian TIMco Exploring Overseas Mines

IranMania -- An Iranian company is involved in mining projects in Saudi Arabia and the Horn of Africa, Iran Daily reported.

TIMco has already started mining zinc, lead and silver in these countries, declared a member of the board of directors of Iran's Zinc Mines Development Company Houshang Adhami.

The official said the projects are already in the process of becoming operational, prompting the company to consider purchasing concentrates for establishing a factory in Bafq.

"Expanding the market for Iranian lead and zinc ores was one of the objectives of establishing the company," he said, noting that exploring new markets in Africa has made the export lead and copper ingots and wastes to Ethiopia and Egypt possible," Moj news agency further quoted him as saying.

According to Adhami, TIMco also directly supplies zinc and lead to Indonesia and China.

"Today, the bulk of mining exports are conducted via TIMco thanks to the company's success in coordinating the activities of producers as a result of which Iranian products are selling at a good price in overseas markets."

He said the company has also managed to absorb a considerable amount of cash from foreign sources at low interest rates, and called on the government to expedite the process for issuing ownership deeds in the sector as a guarantee for attracting more funds.

Adhami said that contrary to domestic banks, foreign banks currently do not require guarantees to extend loans to the company.

This, he said, in fact provides an excellent opportunity for further development of the mining sector by using low-interest foreign loans.

"By acquiring insurance to cover the difference in the parity rate, the 18 percent interest rate charged by domestic banks can be cut down to eight percent as this will streamline the implementation of projects," he said, adding that the company's application for receiving a 50-million-dollar loan from a foreign banks has been accepted.

Can World Poverty Really Be Wiped Out?

The Advertiser -- "MAKE poverty history," urges the slogan and campaign

It is already the hot, feel-good, global-warming type topic of 2005 at the forefront of the international political agenda.

It will dominate the latest summit of the G8 group of wealthy nations at Gleneagles in Scotland next month.

With Sir Bob Geldof's Live8 rock extravaganza coinciding, it could be the biggest media circus since the Michael Jackson trial.

Already, British Prime Minister Tony Blair – with his colleague and leadership rival, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown – is trying his hardest to make it chic and earn him his place in the history books.

In advance of Gleneagles, he has been to Washington to persuade a not particularly enthused President George W. Bush to channel more money to Africa.

But why Africa? Given the scale of the Christmas tsunami catastrophe as a reminder of the globe-girdling reach of the scourges of poverty, ignorance and disease, it is a fair question.

So is the stark statistical answer. Some 300 million people – almost half the total population in Africa south of the Sahara – try to live on 75c a day or less.

The number is projected to rise to 400 million by 2015. It is the continent of 34 of the world's poorest 40 countries.

It is being devastated by AIDS. Every day, 6300 people die and another 8500 are smitten by HIV. An entire generation of orphans is growing up.

Sub-Saharan Africa spends $40 billion a year on repaying debt that might otherwise go to health and education, often in the most basic forms of clean water and primary schooling.

Help is at hand – under the latest deal agreed by the G8 finance ministers, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Fund will write off all money owed by 18 nations – more than $50 billion. Others will qualify if they can meet standards of honest government.

Yet Africa, humanity's cradle, where our distant forebears first stood up, is rich.

The home of one-tenth of the world's population is a treasure house of oil and minerals.

Rice, coffee, chocolate and peanuts are just some of the crops that can grow in luxuriant abundance.

But Africa is also the continent of some of the most ghastly governments in history.

Rwanda and Sudan are synonyms for primitive genocides.

Most familiar to Australia is the hideous example of Zimbabwe, turned by President Robert Mugabe from the jewel of Africa into terrorised, starving pauperism in a single generation.

Yet even Zimbabwe seems not too bad when compared with the Democratic Republic of Congo – roadless, lawless and looted back to the Stone Age.

This is why the current clamour for action has included proposals to freeze or seize the overseas accounts of corrupt rulers who have stuffed them with aid funds.

This reads well, but ignores the fact that the most thuggish and stupid are still exceptionally well briefed on other offshore havens.

Echoing the title of Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Bob Geldof calls his concert the beginning of "a long walk to justice".

But critics maintain that however well-intentioned and useful debt forgiveness may be, and however essential the eradication of thieving rulers may be, this misses the point.

It is the view put by London magazine The Economist: "There is one step that rich countries could take that would help Africans in both well-governed and poorly governed states – curbing the agricultural subsidies and health and safety regulations that keep African products out of rich-country markets."

This, say the critics, is the true and enduring poverty trap. Nor, as long as American and European farmers have votes and subsidies, is it going to be easily changed.

In all of this excitement, Australia's silence seems quite deafening. Yet, witness the tsunami and earlier disaster responses – Australians and their governments are always exceptionally generous.

The official line, and it has validity, is that Australian overseas aid is focused on regional nations which would otherwise be neglected. In addition to the ongoing private efforts, the Federal Government budgeted $2.133 billion last year, rising to $2.5 billion in 05/06, to aid projects, some 0.25 per cent of gross national income.

In more understandable terms, this translates as $1.70 a week for each of us, about the price of a loaf of bread. Africa was allocated a seemingly derisory $77 million of this, the Asia-Pacific argument kicking in. But the Africa issue has had its impact here, too.

Treasurer Peter Costello told Parliament this week that Australia had committed $112 million to World Bank and IMF write-offs.

"Australia has been a very strong supporter for debt forgiveness through the IMF and the World Bank for heavily indebted poor countries," he said.

"In fact, in 2000 the Government pledged 100 per cent bilateral debt forgiveness for countries that qualified for that program. Australia has forgiven 100 per cent of the bilateral debt of Ethiopia and Nicaragua, which were the two countries known as HIPCs that owed money to Australia."

He also joined the trade liberalisation chorus – which, incidentally, could be a boon to Australian farmers.

The melancholy truth behind all these uproars and posturings is that warm hearts and smart, chic spinning are not enough.

Free Trade in 2005: Subsidies for the Richest, Tariffs for the Poorest

African sugar workers may be happy with their lot, but the idustry is one of many endangered by Western protectionism

Times Online -- SWEAT trickles down Paulo Zunguze’s face, cutting channels through a cover of charcoal dust. The sugar cane cutter is tired but eager to press on. “It’s good to have a job,” he says with a broad smile. “I came here a year ago because things were not good at my place — no work, no food, only fish to eat sometimes.”

It is early in the day but already the sugar cane fields of the Maragra plantation — the country’s largest — are hot and sultry. Black clouds of smoke from fires burning unwanted foliage drift over the fields as workers move through tall, swaying swaths of ripe green sugar cane, swinging long, wooden-handled metal cutters.

To earn £1.60 a day each, Paulo and five members of his team must clear at least six tonnes. It is seasonal and irregular work but quickly translates into food, basic education and health for families in a country ranked among the five poorest in the world.

“It is hard work but worth it,” Paulo, 24, who used to be a river fisherman, said. “Sugar has changed my life. Now I can pay for many things (which) before I only dreamt of.”

With the support of Western governments, Mozambique rehabilitated its sugar industry at the end of the civil war in 1992. About £190 million was invested in new plants, production and infrastructure.

Today it produces some of the cheapest sugar — between £60 and £80 a tonne. By comparison it costs Europe about £320 to produce one tonne.

Yet Mozambique’s sugar industry is in danger. The reason is the European Union’s highly protectionist Common Agricultural Policy, which hits the country’s sugar producers from three directions simultaneously. The CAP subsidises European producers of the much more costly sugar beet by £550 million a year. Much of this goes to companies such as Tate & Lyle in Britain, which alone is estimated to receive £120 million a year. The CAP places import tariffs of more than 200 per cent on cane products from non-EU countries, making it even more difficult for dirt-poor producers such as Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique to take advantage of low wage costs.

And the CAP’s price-support system leads to over-production. As a result roughly five million tonnes of European sugar are dumped on the world market annually, driving prices downwards.

“Because of dumping, the weighted average price per tonne on the world market is now below even our cost of production. No one can compete with those prices,” says Tony Currie, a South African manager of the Maragra estate, a joint government-private sector venture of exactly the sort that is recommended by modern development gurus.

The situation may be about to get worse. To head off criticism of the subsidy system, which had gone unreformed for four decades, the EU agreed in 2001 to buy a tiny amount of sugar from the world’s poorest countries at preferential rates.

It said that the system would be reviewed in 2009. The total amount represented only four days of EU consumption but it gave Mozambique and other countries some price security.

Now, under mounting external and internal pressure to cut the costs of the system, the EU wants to slash those prices by about 40 per cent, meaning that countries such as Mozambique will receive even less income from their sugar. Luke Simbane, a team manager at Maragra, said: “They want to change rules which we had no say in making. They want to cut our throats again and make us pay hardest for their reforms. But we are still poor, they are rich.”

Next month’s G8 summit at Gleneagles will discuss ways of helping Africa. It will agree a debt-relief package worth £22 billion, and a new aid package, but one of the biggest obstacles to economic progress in Africa is the protectionism that prevents its farmers selling their products to the West. The United States, which pays millions of dollars to its cotton farmers each year, is as much a culprit as the EU. Rich countries are believed to spend as much as £560 million a day on agricultural subsidies — a huge barrier preventing even the most free-market-orientated developing country from trading its way out of poverty. Across Africa, from Zambia to Mali, it is the same story whether the produce is cotton or rice, tomatoes or fruit.

In Ghana, dumped American rice has had a devastating effect on producers. In markets outside the capital, Accra, local traders sit behind piles of unsold rice, unable to compete with subsidies that give the American farmer back 72 cents for every dollar laid out.

Cotton producers fare even worse across West Africa. Small family farms in Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Togo are unable to compete with $3.2 billion (£1.8 billion) in annual subsidies to American growers, a vast proportion of which goes to 27 plantations in the southern states.

Overall, the charity Oxfam calculates direct losses to West Africa as a result of combined EU and US cotton subsidies at £140 million a year, and accuses industrialised nations that preach free trade of lacking the stomach to take on farm lobbies and the vested interests of the agri-business world.

Amy Barry, of Oxfam, said: “Protectionism is the problem. Aid and debt relief are fine if they are part of a concerted policy with trade reform, otherwise it risks being wasted money. Aid and debt relief can be used to help countries like Mozambique put in the infrastructure to be able to take advantage of improved trade. If you do not manage the world trading system better, you jeopardise all that at a stroke.”

Oxfam estimates that if Africa could boost its share of world trade by 1 per cent it would result in extra funds of about £40 billion annually.

“It is a classic case of the left hand and right hand not working together. What we need is trade not aid,” Mr Currie, of the Maragra estate, said.

For Rabeca Avore Mandleia, 47, a mother of four who lost her husband in the civil war that followed Mozambique’s independence in 1975, life without her job scattering fertiliser on newly planted sugar cane is unimaginable.

“We had nothing for the family before we came here. I am alone now, but all my children go to the school,” she said.

“If sugar goes, we will return to poverty.”

Another day, another dollar

  • The World Trade Organisation has declared EU sugar subsidies and US cotton subsidies illegal
  • EU subsidies give each European cow $3 (£1.80) a day. More than half of Africa’s population live on less than $1 (60p) a day
  • For every dollar given to poor countries in aid, two are effectively taken back because of “unfair trading”
  • Rich countries spend $1 billion (£560 million) a day on agricultural subsidies. Surplus production is dumped in Africa, driving down prices and production
  • The EU gives £28 billion a year in farmers’ subsidies. Grants double that amount

Arms Sales Fuelling Poverty: Claim

Sydney Morning Herald -- Arms exports from G8 nations such as Britain and the United States to poor, conflict-ridden countries are fuelling poverty and human rights abuses, Amnesty International and Oxfam have claimed.

As foreign ministers from the G8 industrialised countries prepared to meet in London on Thursday and Friday, Amnesty and Oxfam urged them to end the problem by adopting a proposed international arms trade treaty.

Amnesty and Oxfam said if such a treaty was made international and legally binding it could establish universal standards regarding arms exports and end up saving lives.

"Each year hundreds of thousands of people are killed, tortured, raped and displaced through the misuse of arms," said Amnesty Secretary General Irene Khan.

"How can G8 commitments to end poverty and injustice be taken seriously if some of the very same governments are undermining peace and stability by deliberately approving arms transfers to repressive regimes, regions of extreme conflict or countries who can ill afford them?" she said in a statement.

The foreign ministers will meet ahead of a summit by the leaders of the G8 countries, Britain, the United States, Japan, Russia, Canada, France, Italy and Germany, on July 6 to 8 in Scotland.

Amnesty, Oxfam and another human rights group, the International Action Network on Small Arms, said their new report shows G8 countries are still supplying military equipment, weapons and munitions to destinations such as Sudan, Burma, the Republic of Congo, Colombia and the Philippines, where they contribute to gross violations of human rights.

"This research shows that, as well as the G8 being responsible for more than 80 per cent of the world's arms exports, they persist in selling weapons that oppress the world's poorest and more vulnerable people. G8 foreign ministers meeting this week must back the Arms Trade Treaty and agree a swift process to make it happen," said Oxfam director Barbara Stocking.

The human rights groups said their report exposes a series of loopholes and weaknesses in arms export controls that are common across G8 countries.

The report's claims included:

- Britain: From January 2003 to June 2004, Britain licensed arms exports to countries with serious human rights concerns, including Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel and Indonesia. Britain also has increasingly used "open licences" that allow companies to make multiple shipments without adequate scrutiny.

- Canada: Military exports to countries involved in armed conflict or human rights abuse, including light armoured vehicles and helicopters to Saudi Arabia and aircraft engines and hand guns to the Philippines.

- France: Exports in the UN category of "bombs, grenades, ammunition, mines and other" to countries subject to European Union arms embargoes, such as Burma and Sudan.

- Germany: The use of German components in military equipment destined for countries involved in serious human rights violations, such as German engines incorporated into military vehicles that have ended up in Burma.

- Italy: A loophole in Italian law allowing large quantities of so-called "civilian firearms" to be exported to countries suffering gross human rights abuses, such as Colombia, the Republic of Congo and China.

- Russia: Exports of heavy weaponry, including combat aircraft, to states whose forces have committed abuses such as Ethiopia, Algeria and Uganda.

- United States: Substantial US military aid to states carrying out persistent human rights violations, including Pakistan, Nepal and Israel.

- Japan: Exports of small arms and light weapons to countries with poor human rights records, such as the Philippines.

June 14, 2005 -- A patrol car of the Ethiopian special forces drives through Addis Ababa.(AFP/File/Marco Longari)

Ethiopia, Japan Sign 4.7m US Dollar Grant Agreement -- The Ethiopian and Japanese governments signed here on 20 June a 4.79m US dollar grant which will be used for undertaking clean water development project.

The fund will be used to improve the health and living standard of the people in Southern Ethiopia Peoples State by providing safe and clean water through the construction of 240 water supply facilities and procurement of equipment related to the stated undertakings.

It was reported that water is one of the priority sectors identified in Ethiopia-Japan development cooperation.

The Japanese government has provided support to the sector through building, research and development as well as construction of rural water supply projects.

State Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mekonen Manyazewal and Japanese Ambassador Kenjiro Izumi signed agreement.

Speaking on the occasion Izumi expressed his belief that the project will contribute its share in improving the livelihood of the people in the state.

'A Storeroom of Diseases'

Issues surrounding water are central to achieving the UN millennium goals. Jeevan Vasagar visited Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in Africa, to see how a scarcity of clean water affects the people of Addis Ababa

Schoolchildren drink tap water in Addis Ababa
Schoolchildren drink tap water in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Sven Torfinn

Guardian Unlimited -- Ethiopians like to look spic and span. Whether in western suits or traditional white cotton shawls, their clothing is kept spotless.

The same cannot be said for the sprawling slums of Addis Ababa. In just over a century, Ethiopia's capital has grown from a royal village founded by an African queen to a metropolis of over 3 million people. The poorest, most densely populated quarters of the city have expanded too rapidly, and with too little planning, for basic services to keep pace.

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Rahima Abagado does her best to keep her children clean, but for years she fought a losing battle. On the other side of her living-room wall was the neighbourhood's communal latrine.

"This is where the children used to sleep," Abagado says, pointing to mats on the floor by the wall. The blue, plastered wall looks cracked and weak, and there is a faint, dank smell. "The latrine used to fill with water. It used to smell from underneath. There would be water running off into the street. The wall was soggy and we were worried that it would collapse."

Abagado, a grandmother in her 60s, lives in the tightly packed quarter of Tekle Haymonot, in a two-room shack of mud, plaster and rusting iron sheets. Outside on the cobbled street, chickens peck at the dirt, cats wander between the houses and children play. The children are forbidden to use the communal latrines, for fear that they will fall in. The latrines are wooden huts, built over vast, dark pits, with shaky wooden slats to stand on. There are buzzing clouds of flies circling the holes.

"Addis is a storeroom of diseases," said Bedria Ahmedin, 40, a mother of six. "People have to go to the toilet and that exposes us to diseases. We try to keep the area outside the toilet clean, but children touch things, put things in their mouth."

Poor sanitation has deadly consequences. There is increased susceptibility to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentry, as well as the eye infection trachoma and scabies, a skin infection.

In countries such as Ethiopia, diarrhoea is not just a nuisance; it accounts for 46% of mortality among children under five. For people living with HIV, lack of sanitation creates further problems. Wubiye Bekele, a 28-year-old woman who found out she had the virus two years ago, says: "I've had TB, skin problems, and swellings of my lymph glands.

"We used to have just a pit latrine, but then it burned down. So I either have to ask the neighbours or use a night potty, and dump it in an open sewer. While I had TB I had diarrhoea and had to go to the toilet a lot more. I need more water for washing myself, and also for drinking."

Ethiopia has some of the lowest levels of sanitation in the world. Only a tiny fraction of the population in Addis Ababa, just 3%, have flushing toilets linked to the sewer system.

There are a variety of alternatives; for nearly a quarter of the city's people, the solution lies in the streams running through poor areas, which have been turned into open sewers.

Others use pit latrines, of the old-fashioned, hazardous and filthy variety, or sometimes a safer, modern version built by an aid agency. If they have enough money to build one, some have their own septic tanks at home.

"The bulk of the population in Addis is not in a position to pay for such [sanitation] services," says Mesfin Tegene, Ethiopia's deputy minister for water resources.

"Addis has a population of 3 million-plus. The great majority of the population lives in poverty so a few people, a small percentage of this population, can afford to pay for such services."

Sanitation is a Cinderella service. Everyone knows they need water, and even the poorest are prepared to pay for it.

But the costs of poor sanitation - the increased risk of disease and the environmental damage - fall more heavily on society as a whole than on the individual. So few poor people are prepared to pay.

"The impact of bad sanitation is more long-term," says Abebe Belete, deputy general manager of Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority. "The pollution for example, from liquid waste disposal, pollutes the environment in general, the soil, the vegetation. But there is a natural process - the ecosystem tries to recover itself, you many not notice the immediate effect.

"People think more about getting food or water, rather than considering [that] their child is going to be affected or [how] it's going to cause other detrimental effects for the next generation to come."

Even with the public and political will to build a better system, there are big practical challenges. First, a sewer system requires flushing toilets, because the waste is flushed through the system with water. And that requires plentiful access to water. The second difficulty is the expense of building the sewer lines themselves. The system depends on gravity rather than pumping, so the sewer lines do not necessarily take the shortest route.

"Because of gravitational flow, the system has to be very perfect," Mr Belete says. "It may take a longer time to deliver it to the treatment centre.

"In flat areas we have to pump, and pumping is very expensive, because it has to handle solids combined with liquid, that makes it more expensive compared to the water supply."

The parts required for engineering work are imported either from Europe or the far east, increasing the expense.

The doubling of aid could clearly make a difference here. The levels of aid going into Ethiopia now are low by comparison with other sub-Saharan African nations: in 2001, it was $16 per person, compared with $33 in Burkina Faso.

But there are delays in spending the aid money that is already coming in. According to the British charity WaterAid: "In the water sector, these delays arise from lengthy tender procedures and even repeated losses of paperwork."

Spending can be poorly coordinated, WaterAid says. Some donors prefer to spend their money directly at regional level, rather than going through a ministry, but this can mean that an equivalent amount is simply deducted from that region's central government grant.

The way that some donors choose to spend their aid money can cause further problems. Some aid grants are hedged about with conditions that require the Ethiopian authorities to hire consultants and contractors from the donor country.

Mr Belete says: "Their companies build up their own overhead costs, pay expatriate salaries. Sometimes the amount of money required for a project may be more than double our assessment."

The excess has to be found from Ethiopia's public coffers.

"In some cases [aid] is beneficial," Mr Belete says. "But in some cases it can take more money from us, and we do not benefit from the grant."

Making Addis cleaner and healthier is not always a question of vast projects requiring millions of aid dollars. A far more small-scale initiative is making a big difference in Tekle Haymonot. Every morning, just after dawn, gangs of women and men dressed in long gowns and face masks go out to collect household rubbish - a mix of ash from cooking fires, vegetable peel, bones and chewed up qat leaves which might once have been tossed into a river or dumped in a street corner.

Households pay a small fee, between two and four Ethiopian birr [12p-25p] a month. The narrow streets, where women wash their clothes in steel drums and dogs sun themselves on the steps of houses, are largely clear of rubbish now.

Asnaku Mamo, 35, a mother of two, says: "There have been lots of changes. Our children get sick less often, and there is more of a sense of cleanliness in our environment. Everybody used to leave their rubbish out. It was unsanitary and unhealthy. Everybody knew this and did nothing about it.

"We're not spending so much money on medication. You had to spend 100 birr taking a child to the doctors, compared with spending a few minutes a day or a few minutes a week to clean in the environment."

As well as collections of household rubbish, there is a communal clean-up of the streets every Saturday morning. Each household is responsible for clearing the space outside their front door.

Some people fail to pull their weight, though others have been spurred to display signs of new-found communal pride; there are tiny box gardens by the doors of some houses.

Zehara Bashir, 38, one of the rubbish collectors, says: "There are changes coming, really good changes, but some people just chuck rubbish in the river and that undermines everything. People say, 'Why do I bother paying? Why don't I just chuck things in the river as well? ' It's important that everybody does it. Otherwise we still have a problem."

Night Flights to Ethiopia's Main Airport to Resume After Crash

Sudan Tribune -- Night flights to Ethiopia's international airport were expected to resume Tuesday after they were halted because of the crash-landing of a cargo plane over the weekend, an official said.

Investigators are examining the wreckage of a Boeing 707 that crashed on Sunday as it was landing at Bole International Airport in the capital, Addis Ababa, said Adawork Regassa, the Civil Aviation Authority's acting head of flight safety.

The crash forced authorities to close one runway.

"We expect night flights to resume this evening, but we are still trying to get the plane off the runway," said Solomon Emer, the general manager of Ethiopian Airport Enterprise, a government company that runs the airport.

Adawork said that preliminary investigations found that there was a fault with the plane's landing gear. Officials said that it was leased by Ethiopian Airlines but did not have any other details.

Ethiopian Airlines officials were not immediately available for comment.

None of the five crew members was injured and there were no passengers on board, said Solomon.

Adawork said that this was the first time in 12 years there had been a plane crash at the airport.

Ethiopian Elections: U.S. State Department Statement

The United States condemns the violence and unnecessary use of excessive force in the continuing election-related violence in Ethiopia. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those who have died. Reports of numerous arrests and detentions have increased tensions. We urge the government to respect the rule of law, international principles of human rights, and due process with regard to those arrested or detained. The United States looks to the opposition parties to abide by the rule of law, to respect their commitment to end the violence, and to ask their followers to remain calm.

The United States commends the signing of the June 10 Joint Declaration by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF). The parties should abide by their commitment to the agreement without condition. We expect the parties to resolve electoral complaints through the established legal electoral mechanisms.

The United States commends the Ethiopian people for their peaceful and democratic expression of political will on May 15. The elections have immutably changed Ethiopia’s political landscape and broadened that country’s democratic horizon. We stand ready to assist Ethiopia as it meets these new democratic challenges and looks forward to engaging all elements of civil society during this important period in Ethiopia’s history. We are working closely with the European Union, African Union, United Nations, and others in this effort.

Bangalore Likely to Take Path of Ethiopia: Na D’souza

Deccan Herald -- The chief minister has been warned that Bangalore will soon become another Ethiopia if the green cover is drastically reduced.

Chief minister Dharam Singh seems to be in a hurry to convert Karnataka into another Ethiopia, writer Na D’souza said.

He was speaking after inaugurating the 'Hasire Usiru Parisara Jagruthi Vedike' in Shikaripura town on Monday.

Mr Dsouza said that the king of Ethiopia Haile Selassie gave away his forests to foreign companies on contract thirty years ago to exploit at will. As a result Ethiopia does not have any forest cover today and more than five lakh people die of hunger in this country every year.

Though this is a living example before us, our chief minister has decided to reduce the green cover in Bangalore from 1240 square kilometers to a mere 419 square kms. Perhaps the chief minister wants to hand over the land claimed from the green belt to foreign companies and allow them to develop concrete jungles. Incidentally, is it possible to convert Bangalore into Singapore without developing concrete jungles, he wondered.

Politicians are eager to destroy the delicate balance between man and environment. In the coming days residents of Bangalore will have to wear masks to protect themselves from pollution. If the public do not protest against such moves immediately and intensely they will have to face untold miseries and tragedies in the coming days, he warned.

Accusing the state government of having failed completely to maintain the environmental balance he noted that in Japan there is an order prohibiting the flying of planes in places where there are birds. In Bangalore ironically huge nets have been installed to prevent birds from entering the skies near the airport. If a bird accidentally strays in it is shot dead, he noted.

Tree cover is reducing with every passing day. Rainfall has depleted to alarming levels and the rivers and falls which were always full of water were now dry for the most part of the year. Bagar hokum cultivation was increasing. Who should take the responsibility of this rampant deforestation, he questioned and felt that voluntary organizations have a major role to play in creating awareness about the need to protect the environment.

If forests are denuded and environment continually abused in this manner there will be very bad days ahead for the next generation, he said.

Range forest officer Satish noted that the forests of the district come under the Western Ghats which is noted for its rich bio diversity. Each and every individual has a responsibility towards these forests and trees, he said.

President of the Hasire Usiru Parisara Jagruthi Vedike K S Huchrayappa presided over the programme. Honorary president M M Jayaswamy made the prefatory remarks. Sagar assistant commissioner Dr Narasimhamurthy, taluk Kannada Sahitya Parishat president Raghu, tahsildar Krishnappa were present.

Lions Save Child from Abduction in Ethiopia

Ireland Online -- Police in Ethiopia say three lions rescued a 12-year-old girl kidnapped by men who wanted to force her into marriage, chasing off her abductors and guarding her until police and relatives tracked her down in a remote corner of the country.

The men had held the girl for seven days, repeatedly beating her, before the lions chased them away and guarded her for half a day before her family and police found her, Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo said.

“They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” Wondimu said, adding he did not know whether the lions were male or female.

News of the rescue on June 9, which took place in a forest on the outskirts of Bita Genet, was slow to filter out from Kefa Zone in southwestern Ethiopia.

“If the lions had not come to her rescue then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage,” he said.

“Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people,” Wondimu said.

Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said that it was likely that the young girl was saved because she was crying from the trauma of her attack.

“A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they (the lions) didn’t eat her,” Williams said. “Otherwise they probably would have done.”

The girl, the youngest of four brothers and sisters, was “shocked and terrified” and had to be treated for the cuts from her beatings, Wondimu said.

He said that police had caught four of the men, but were still looking for three others.

The United Nations estimates that more than 70% of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practised in rural areas where the majority of the country’s 71 million people live.

Ethiopia’s lions, famous for their large black manes, are the country’s national symbol and adorn statues and the local currency. Former emperor Haile Selassie kept a pride in the royal palace in Addis Ababa.

Despite their integral place in Ethiopia culture, their numbers have been falling, according to experts, as farmers encroach on bush land.

Williams said that at most only 1,000 Ethiopian lions remain in the wild.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The G-8 -- Send 104 Million Friends to School: Gene Sperling -- Those who don't believe that idealism still flourishes among today's youth should look at what some 3 million children worldwide sent to the Group of Eight leaders.

As many as 1 million paper cut-outs representing other children had a simple message written on the back: Ensure that our friends, the 104 million children between 6 and 11 years old who will not see the inside of a classroom this year, can get a free, basic education.

As director of the U.S. Global Campaign for Education, a coalition of antipoverty, religious and teachers organizations, I helped bring to Washington 20 such idealistic students who participated in the ``Send My Friend to School'' effort to talk to their members of Congress.

More than just a cute classroom activity, the children's message is intended for G-8 leaders, who should treat it as a matter of life and death during their summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, July 5-8.

While no one ever sees a child dying from a lack of education the way they see a child perishing from hunger or AIDS, make no mistake about it -- children die every year from lack of education.

Basic Education

Seven million cases of AIDS might be prevented if all children completed basic education. Girls' education in particular has been found to not only raise incomes, but to reduce infant and maternal mortality as well as violence against women, and lead to greater democracy.

A bold effort for universal basic education can be a way to win a pre-emptive war in the battle for hearts and minds: Terrorist leaders may be well-educated, but the enthusiasm and number of their followers will no doubt diminish when hope and opportunity are provided.

In Dakar, Senegal, in April 2000, more than 180 poor and rich nations alike signed on to what became a Millennium Development Goal -- that all children should complete a basic education by 2015. Yet now 104 million children are out of school, 150 million children who are in school are projected to drop out, and more than 80 poor nations are off track to meet the Millennium goal.

The compact designed in Dakar required that poor nations develop a national education plan for universal basic schooling with good governance, comprehensive reform and special efforts to ensure that girls weren't excluded.

Donor nations agreed that their part of the program would be to ensure adequate funding for those poor countries that stepped up to the plate by fulfilling their responsibilities.

Fast Track Initiative

Donors have taken an important step by setting up a framework -- the Fast Track Initiative -- to develop uniform standards and coordination for external financing.

For a brand new global financing mechanism, the initiative has done well. More than $385 million has been approved for the first 12 nations that have qualified. Yet this compact or any sort of global fund for education can't succeed unless the major donor nations commit the additional $7 billion to $10 billion needed for the global community to deliver on its promises for universal education.

Even if the G-8 members can't summon the will to commit the billions needed, they could close a major gap: An initial commitment to provide every African girl a free, quality basic education.

Fund 25 Countries

The best way to do this is to agree to fully fund the 25 additional nations with acceptable national education plans that could receive coordinated financing through the Fast Track Initiative this year.

This group includes many of the major African countries that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made the focus of this year's G-8 meeting, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Senegal.

The costs would be about $3 billion a year, with the U.S. share being $1 billion. On the other hand, if these major African countries -- many of which have begun all the reforms that donors asked of them, including eliminating fees -- aren't supported, they could understandably and sadly conclude that when it comes to getting the poorest girls and boys in school, the donor nations are all talk and false promises.

In the U.S., Congress, a bipartisan team of appropriators, Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona, and Democratic Representative Nita Lowey of New York, have helped to gradually increase the amount the U.S. spends on such aid. Yet, we still commit only $400 million for the education of all the poor children in the world -- about what we spend to build a mere 20 high schools in the U.S.

Greatest Danger

Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York has proposed the first Education for All legislation, seeking $2.5 billion by 2009. Meanwhile, First Lady Laura Bush has spoken eloquently about the importance of girls' education. It is safe to say that if the U.S. came forward with a truly bold education-for-all initiative, it would attract significant bipartisan support.

The greatest danger is that the U.S. and other G-8 nations will produce a pilot program that sounds good but accomplishes little to show Africa and the rest of the developing world that we are serious about reaching universal basic education by 2015. The G-8 leaders must reject such slight efforts in exchange for a bold signal to the developing world.

When I asked fifth grader Dion Thomas from Georgia if he knew what the G-8 was, he responded: ``They are the eight countries rich enough to really help get all kids in school.'' I couldn't have said it better.

Anguish Over Ethiopia's Disappeared

BBC NEWS -- Tigist Shiferow (not her real name) last saw her husband on 8 June.

He was arrested a few minutes after he left their family home in Addis Ababa at 1700 that day, and he has not been seen since.

He was one of the thousands arrested after post-election demonstrations that left at least 36 people dead.

The unrest in the city was sparked over alleged irregularities during the country's general elections on 15 May.

In total about 3,000 people were arrested in Addis Ababa, according to the Minister for Information, Bereket Simon.

About 700 people have now been freed, but that is little comfort to Tigist, 28.

Tigist starts crying as she explains that she doesn't know why her 38-year-old husband was arrested.

"I am very upset - it was totally unexpected," she says.


"My seven-year-old daughter keeps asking where her father is but I don't know and I don't know when he will come back."

Many families across the city are in similar situations. Human rights groups say their loved ones just disappeared and the majority have not been seen since.

"People are trying to find out where their loved ones are by visiting different detention centres," says Adam Melaku, the secretary-general of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council.

Activists arrested

"We have six people from the Ethiopian Human Rights Council arrested and we do not know where they are. We hope they are alive.

"One of our investigators was taken from his home last Wednesday at 2100 by uniformed police and two were taken last Monday at 1730 when they came out of their office at the Lalibela Hotel," Mr Adam continued.

"We don't know where they took them and we don't know where they are. Three of our committee members were also taken from Dessie."

Mr Adam said this would change Ethiopia's image abroad.

"The world was thinking that Ethiopia was on the right road to democratisation but now I think from the international media that the world is losing hope on what democratisation in Ethiopia is, and its direction."

Aid freeze

UK Development Minister Hilary Benn said recently the British Government would be freezing $36m (£20m) of additional aid that had been earmarked for Ethiopia, and was waiting to see how the situation developed.

Mr Bereket said the Ethiopian government realised the country's image had been tarnished by recent events but defended the actions taken to deal with the demonstrators.

"We are not happy that people have died. We are not happy that Ethiopians are being detained - some of those for reasons they don't stand genuinely for - but this is a country which needs to move forward, which needs to guard itself from anarchy taking over.

"If you allow violence and anarchy to reign in this country the result - that we have managed to avert - will take place and that, I assure you, would be very very disastrous," he added.

The National Electoral Board has now launched investigations into complaints made in 151 of the country's 547 parliamentary constituencies.

The official election results are due to be announced on 8 July.

The Emerging Irony in Ethiopia

By the Network of Ethiopian Scholars, Scandinavian Chapter

Addis Tribune -- Peaceful elections normally occasion a time of celebration. Unfortunately Ethiopia has gone through what seemed to be a largely peaceful election, only to be bolted up and confronted with a reality of yet another murder by heavily armed military and police against the unarmed and peaceful citizens. The popular mood at home and abroad had a high anticipation to celebrate not only for the possibility of scoring peaceful political change for the first time ever in the country’s recorded history but also for the sheer achievement of going through a process of relatively free and fair elections regardless of who wins or loses.

That expectation has been now thoroughly disabused and dashed with stories of vote-rigging, the lack of neutrality of the election board, the declaration of pre-mature victory by Meles & Co. before irregular votes have been recounted, heightening tensions and artificial alarm under the guise of opposing hate campaigns, the deliberate spreading of rumours, fear, mistrust, the numerous arrest of opposition members, the needless action by Meles to order the murder of peaceful protestors and above all to sell all these dastardly actions so arrogantly and insensitively as ‘legitimate’ to the foreign media.

It is indeed a tragic turn to witness once more that the nation is being forced to carry the burden, reality and memory of dealing with death and mourning when there was everything going for it to experience a collective sense of joy and buoyancy. This is what makes the current killing not easy to understand or tolerate. It has been reported that apparently a specially recruited Agaazi troops loyal to Meles have been flown from Tigray to Addis Ababa and the other main cities to commit these atrocities. Nothing justifies this type of action if the reports are true.

It is time that Meles & Co. must pay a grave political price, if, at all; true justice is going to be done. They cannot go away easily out of their irresponsible actions anymore by using their verbal pyrotechnics. People know better and realise Meles lacks not only historical sense but also now clearly also a democratic sense. There can be no self-exoneration of this crime by claiming contrived justification of any sort after the hard fact of death exhibited before the world. Why did they go to the extent of bringing extra-regional forces? What is wrong with relying on the local security personnel unless there is mistrust of the local security personnel? The courts have to be involved, the full truth and extent, intrigue and responsibility of Meles in this crime have to be exposed. The Ethiopian people throughout the breadth and depth of the land must not give up their peaceful protest and peaceful disobedience to secure collective justice for all the bereaved families that lost so brazenly and embarrassingly their loved ones.

The killing also sharply brings into relief not only the political impact on the future of democracy in Ethiopia, but also the existential impact on the loved ones who have to bear such unexpected loss. Those who are directly affected by the deaths of loved ones will find it terribly difficult to learn to forget their loss. After all the families probably laboured hard and strong to bring up their sons and daughters to university level and then to lose them so easily by officially ordered violence is unforgivable as it would be forever unforgettable. Nothing will replace their sons and daughters for them. The rest of their lives will probably continue to be lived with spasms of deep sorrow from their loss. In Ethiopia, stopping the tradition of politics that terrorises, and replacing it with one that heals through debate and public participation is an essential part of the democratic turn. Is this turn here yet or is it still a long way down the line? The full significance of ordering killing in the midst of democratic elections must be unearthed and known.

The Hypocrisy of the Official Account of the arrests and the Killings

According to Meles the terror was unleashed on the peaceful protestors because “things were beginning to get out of control.” He claimed they have to choose and use “forceful action.” The defeated candidate of Lalibea or the unelected propaganda minister Bereket Simon has been quoted to respond to the killing with the following statement: “Anyone who incites violence, other than those elected, will have to face the law.” Bereket’s logic makes Meles and not himself, who failed to win his seat in Lalibela, above the law. Meles won a seat in an Adwa district with 100% vote unopposed and seems to have broken the record of past one party election that always claim victory with 99 % like Ex- Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu, leaving very often 1 % for some unknown dissidents that they themselves curiously know about. Incidentally the latter was driven out of life and history in the end for murder and embezzlement. According to Bereket, elected Meles can incite violence and get away with it because he is ‘legitimated.’ And Bereket’s logic seems to warrant that being elected bestows a legitimacy to be above the law and to order action when the elected like Meles imagine things may be beginning to spin out of control. The question is this: How one can read as “out of control” the peaceful demonstrations of students or the strike of taxi drivers or even the possible civil disobedience that citizens may use in the coming days, is every one’s guess. In a time of election where the general behaviour has been invariably cheerfully peaceful, any association of citizens and opposition rallies poses no threat either to the sitting Government or the process.

There is no hard evidence that neither the population nor the opposition had either the inclination or intention to create “instability” in the country. Ironically it is Meles & Bereket that assumed this intention and inclination and acted with authoritarian completeness to bring about exactly what they feared, a state where they can kill and arrest at will all over the country. They have begun to attack citizens without remorse or care.

Let us say at least Meles can claim being elected. But Bereket has lost the election. He has joined the ranks of the unelected. According to his logic, he too should face the full brunt of the law not pretend to be above the law and arrest and be part of the order that kills citizens. Ato Lidetu, Engineer Hailu Shawl, Dr. Berhanu Nega and others who have been subjected to restrictions and detentions have been elected. According to Bereket’s jaundiced logic, they too would be above the law. Nevertheless, they are still treated by Meles and Berket as if they have not been elected and legitimated. The rejected Bereket is still in a position, if he wants to, to harass, intimidate, detain and arrest the legitimately and duly elected members of the opposition leadership. By his own logic, Bereket is the one that should be liable to be detained and the opposition leaders should be free. Meles cares less for election because he says if the situation gets hotter, he is ready to intimidate, detain, arrest or ban the elected from travel. Bereket’s logic escapes and goes past Meles. Should Bereket criticise Meles then? Whatever they are up to, these fellows seem to suffer from bad logic, not just bad politics. They seem confused and do neither appear to coordinate their thinking or their intended actions. Confused against each other, these characters confuse the Ethiopian population and the world.

Meles also shows another of his usual cunning contempt for the choices people made. He said, referring to the loss of his protégés: ” The individuals did not lose, it is the party which lost.” This is indeed an ominous give-away of what his intentions are for the next five years. He is preparing the ground to bring back to Government characters such as Bereket even though they were voted out of their constituencies. There are also a number of ministers that were voted out. They too might be re-invited by Meles to join a future Government that he wishes to form alone. The attempt to bring back those that have been de-legitimized through loss of seats is nothing but an act of incitement and affront to the people of Ethiopia that will no doubt challenge their forbearance and gaud them to resist. It is to impose unelected officials by throwing the gauntlet to the people to accept what they rejected through the ballot-box. The emerging irony is that the rejected would be used to rule as if they were the elected and legitimate rulers. But since they are unelected, assuming the protest by the people continues, and if these unelected officials incite forceful action to control, the law should be after them to use Bereket’s logic. The prospect of re-inviting unelected former officials to power will make the next five years one of the most trying times in Ethiopia’s long historical durée. This is a prospect that no Ethiopian wishes to see. And all who think for Ethiopia should dread this prospect. It is, however, probable that is what is behind the thinking of Meles & Co.

If Meles has any vision, he would have taken a different course, a course of engaging with the opposition and bringing about a national social contract involving all the significant stakeholders in the country. It appears that at no time has Meles said, hinted anything related to bringing in the opposition and trying to work with them by including them in the next five years. Meles and his party talk of setting up a Government based with their own exclusive monopoly on their own counting and pre-maturely announced victory. The loose talk by Meles that Bereket and others that as individuals Bereket and others did not ‘lose’, it is only EPDRF as a party that lost is an invitation by the back door that these persons will be invited to misgovern the already highly wronged, angry and protesting Ethiopian population. Meles is looking to use these unelected ministers and officials now more than ever, since they are vulnerable and have no base except to swear 100 % loyalty to Meles. He will use them to bolster his personal dictatorship and they will serve him by fulfilling his every whim by doing his bidding.

The role Bereket is playing as minister of propaganda in inflaming tension in the country is related to the loss of his own personal credibility suffering from the psychological syndrome of the rejected and the de-legitimised. He is not just a lame duck; he is a rejected minister by the popular vote. His denunciation of the opposition’s gains by belittling their efforts that it is the “wind that blew the votes to their ballot boxes” shows his arrogance as it tries to mask his deeper insecurities and weaknesses. He is putting out arrogant and inflammatory rhetoric at a time when his de-election should have sent a warning signal to him to step aside, show humility and try to do what the former ex-president did. The latter run as an independent and won an election in this round. Instead Bereket is permitted to play out his insecurities by contributing to the worsening climate in Ethiopia by inciting forceful action, justifying detention and arrest of opposition leaders around the country by serving only Meles loyally and not the country. He should take a leaf from the ex-president and try to re-win legitimacy. What is critically important is for Bereket not to contribute to a situation that will make it difficult for himself and Meles and others not to live in the country as citizens. As a rejected minister, it is strange that Meles contemplates retaining these persons whose liability is more than anything they offer to the country and the people. Meles and Bereket must be stopped from continuing to damage democracy and the country.

There is even a larger danger of inciting ethnic tensions. Meles & Co. seem to be even playing a more sinister game to ignite or aggravate ethic tensions in the Addis

Ababa than their other easily discernable gimmicks. It has been reported that the OPDO or the Oromo People Democratic Organisation has decided to move the capital from Nazareth (Adama) to Addis Ababa. Meles & Co. threw out this idea when it was raised by the OPDO in the past. What makes it right to permit this now especially at a time when Addis Ababa is meant to pass into CUD’s control, the party that won overwhelmingly all the seats in the city? What brought about this rush and change? This is no doubt designed to aggravate the tension in the capital and shows Meles & Co. are singularly pursuing the goal of exclusively controlling power everywhere by any means possible.

Is the Worst Over for Ethiopia?

Meles & Bereket do not fathom the significance of their order to shoot to kill. They see this as if it is a matter of the counts of the numbers killed, the arithmetic of the death toll, and not the algebra of the politics it signifies. They have not understood that it is ‘never again’ for Ethiopians in relation to subjecting citizens to death, killing and terror any more. Enough is enough. A genuinely gentle people, Ethiopians have been through a lot of these murders. This kind of politics that kills unarmed citizens even if these citizens may show one form of civil dissent or another will not, cannot, and must not be condoned.

As long as Meles and his rejected propaganda minister continue to want to order to kill or incite to take forceful action because of their unreasoning reasons that bolster them to justify the lethal actions they take to be above the law, we cannot yet say the “worst is over” for our country as Ethiopia is still lumbered such persons. We say to Meles’ description that the worst is over to foreign journalists is wrong from diagnosis to prescription, and from intention to reality. His related assertion and bragging that “ our democracy” is “maturing” does not hold water either. Meles justifies the killing of citizens and holds his breath and claims shamelessly by bragging that “our democracy matures.” Only when Meles brings protest under control with democracy and not killing can we say there is a new direction to maturity. From the April 11, 2001 massacre of unarmed students, this latest one invokes the larger tragic history of terror the nation has been forced to endure. When will this recurrent episode and reversion or reflex to resort almost instinctively to terror and the politics of deceit stop from being re-enacted by power holders? It is within this larger context and view that we must place the recent killing of unarmed citizens and the sorrow we all felt. The democracy we seek, and the kind of political power that needs to be constructed must make it impossible to make the killing legal of those who march peacefully and associate freely as part of the expression of their democratic, civil and political rights.

Given the abundance of force, terror, deception and fraud in the country’s political life, the lack of transparency, ethnicity and moral and political principles, as Meles & Co. repeatedly admit they cannot afford “ principles”, the time is long overdue to change historical course. One important milestone that all Ethiopians who care for the people, country and nation must strive for is to make the resort to terror impossible by building democratic procedures, institutions and substantive values and visions. A value or principle that takes the killing of one Ethiopian is like the killing of all us, and, equally important, the saving of one life is as if it is like saving of all the lives of each and every one of Ethiopian citizens. Democratic politics should ingrain such deep values. This latest killing of 26 officially confirmed citizens, intimidation by arresting opposition leaders and activists throughout the country flies in the face of institutionalising democratic politics in Ethiopia.

Democracy in Ethiopia means that we deal collectively as parties, civic organisations, and citizens with the long history of Ethiopia that has been autocratic and authoritarian. The legacy of that tradition has left a tasteless tragic story to our existential, political, social and cultural lives. It has embroiled our country to suffer from being a victim of proxy wars during the Cold War. Our youth was decimated by terror. The nation has been traumatised ever since and we have not yet fully recovered from the loss of a generation. The politics in the country remains violent even at a time that the demand for respect of human rights and democratic governance is strong. Leaders often think if they do not behave arrogantly they would not be taken seriously. The more they abuse the more they they think they can govern. A leader in Ethiopia until today is one who fixes his existential identity by a dictum like this: “I abuse, therefore I am’, much as Descartes used to define his time and himself with’ I think, therefore I am.’ Meles openly talks to the press with arrogance and ignorance about extending military rule by prolonging the state of emergency, a sure mechanism to continue harassing and arresting citizens and even possibly re-launching terror and death on a grander scale.

Oblivious to the fact that citizens who voted are angered by his own behaviour of relying on the military to deny them the significance and meaning of their exercise of the rights of voting, he blames the situation he created for continuing the policies of repression: “ If things get hotter they (meaning opposition leaders) will be detained without any question. If that’s intimidation, so be it.” That is an attitude, which simply is destructive and fails to exhibit any higher purpose or vision that is expected of leadership. The reason why the process is derailed has nothing to do with what opposition groups may have intended or not or said or not, it is due primarily to the overreaction of the panicky and arrogant Meles. It is the train of events such as banning all demonstrations, declaring a state of emergency and imposing a cognitive strategy of dealing with the situation by anticipating, ascribing subjectively bad intentions to the opposition, fearing popular resistance and reacting to all of these with force that is at the heart of the current crises.

NES demands:

  • Meles and Bereket show immediately and unconditionally, with humility and sensitivity accountability to the families that lost their loved ones.
  • Immediate release of all detainees in every part of the country.

  • Release all opposition leaders that have been arrested.

  • Those who are elected should be in parliament and not in prison or house arrest.

  • Stop extending any ban that can lead to killing and arrests.

  • Desist from future arrests, detentions, intimidation and harassment.

  • Never again should any winner use lethal means of force against peaceful protestors of any type.

  • Develop the tradition and art of using non-lethal means of protest control that puts no one in harm’s way.

  • Not to ban people from showing their grievances through peaceful protest.

  • Send to the barracks the army, including the so-called reported Agaazi armed units that have been apparently deployed into the major cities.

  • Enter into direct negotiation with all the opposition parties to create a peaceful environment for free flow of information, democratic debate, use of public media, and work for national renaissance.

  • Call on all the external powers especially the USA and UK that have so much hand in helping to install Meles & Co in the first place against our protest at the time, to put maximum pressure now to knock sense into Meles and beat back his overweening, cheap, insensitive, inhumane and disgusting arrogance.

  • Call on the USA and UK Governments and their followers to reject tying their interests to Meles and his clique and even when the latter so obliviously and fragrantly violates the peoples will and engages in unsavoury activities like legitimising the killing of peaceful protestors.

  • That opposition groups unite and think of the country’s destiny above any other interests and try to work together with unconditional cooperation for a government of national concord.

  • Call on all opposition groups to be strategic, learn to walk together and negotiate from a united and single voice to undo the bag of tricks of Meles and his clique.

  • Concluding Remarks

    For Ethiopia democracy has a much deeper meaning than just going through the motion of elections. It means there will be no more terror, neither the reality nor memory of it. It means a new historical chapter, no more authoritarianism or violence in effecting political transitions. It is high time that the current regime understands that it does not have the backing of the population of Ethiopia. Even if it assumes it has won the majority in parliament, the next five years on its own will not be easy to coast through. The new forces grouped around the opposition have shown sufficient strength to be reckoned with. The striving to deflect this by all sorts of tricks, talk, threats and cunning would be myopic. This is time to rise beyond the blinding vision of self-interest and try to anticipate the future of the people, the nation and the country with foresight and vision.

    Let the Ethiopian people celebrate the result of their democratic expressions through the vote in peace. Let Meles & Co through fear and selfishness NOT deny them their glorious moment of joy and historic achievement. We say the sooner the state of emergency and military authoritarian rule is lifted, the better for all concerned…for the people, the country and the nation including also for the democratic process. We have seen before millions of citizens lawfully and peacefully marching led at one time by the regime and at another by the opposition sides, things went without any reported incident of death. There is no reason to assume that people will march in any other way than peacefully despite the provocations of voting irregularities, heavy handed and military measures. It is these measures that need to be rescinded without delay for peaceful environment to resurface in the land. Let us all say and mean it as well: At last let freedom ring in Ethiopia and for Ethiopia at all levels!

    Professor Mammo Muchie, Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
    Berhanu G. Balcha, Vice-Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter

    Contact address:
    Fibigerstraede 2
    9220- Aalborg East
    Tel. + 45 96 359 813 Or +45 96 358 331
    Fax + 45 98 153 298
    Cell:+45 3112 5507
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