A Week in the Horn
(18.03.2011)

Somalia: More Burundi troops arrive: further problems for Al-Shabaab

                 The TFG’s Deputy Prime Minister visits Ethiopia

                 The UNSC President’s statement on Somalia

Talks in Khartoum: the SPLM and NCP agree to resume negotiations

The Prime Minister’s Press Conference, March 12th

The African Union PSC meets on Cote d'Ivoire and Libya.

The Foreign Minister’s keynote speech at a UN thematic debate on investment

The UN Office in Nairobi gets a new Director-General

 

Somalia: More Burundi troops arrive: further problems for Al-Shabaab 

On the ground in Mogadishu, Burundi has increased its troop contribution to AMISOM by a further 1,000 soldiers. This brings the numbers of Burundi troops in Somalia to nearly 4,500. This is part of the planned increase to raise the number of AMISOM to 12,000 as approved by IGAD, the African Union and the United Nations. This additional Burundi deployment will allow Burundi forces to carry out further pincer movements similar to the recent successful operations which evicted Al-Shabaab fighters from the former Defence Ministry and other strategic areas.  

AMISOM activities have been helped by the conflicts that have appeared between Al-Shabaab and ex-Hizbul Islam militias after the humiliating treatment the latter suffered at the hands of the former. After a weakened and fractured Hizbul Islam opted on December 20th last year to join Al-Shabaab, its militia forces were ordered to surrender their arms unconditionally. As a result, according to local sources, ex-Hizbul fighters have deliberately refrained from assisting Al-Shabaab fighters against the ongoing offensive by TFG and AMISOM forces. Sheikh Mukhtar Robow “Abu-Mansor”, Al-Shabaab’s number three and Hassan Mahdi and Abdikadir “Commando” of the former Hizbul Islam met to discuss the problem in Mogadshu recently. Ex-Hizbul Islam fighters were specifically blamed for not taking up their assigned responsibilities in the fighting. Their commanders, however, complained of Al-Shabaab’s refusal to provide resources, a lack of armed vehicles and a refusal to define any particular areas for defence. At the end of lengthy deliberations, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow instructed Hizbul Islam commanders to concentrate on two flashpoints, specifically the Hodan and Wardhigley districts of Mogadishu.  

The former Hizbul Islam fighters are also believed to have asked Al-Shabaab commanders to allow Col. Hassan Dahir ‘Aweys’ to lead Al-Shabaab activities in his home area in Central Somalia, around Dusa Mareb and Gure’el. Since he joined Al-Shabaab, little has been heard of Hassan Dahir, and Ahlu Sunna forces have been making gains in the Dusa Mareb and Eel-bur districts of Galgadud Region in central Somalia. Al-Shabaab made a number of unsuccessful attempts to capture and hold Dusa Mareb and more recently Ahlu Sunna has been engaging Al-Shabaab at El-lahey and God-dhurwa villages.  Al-Shabaab heavily fortified these two villages, building bunkers and extensive trenches to defend the key town of Eel-bur from Ahlu Sunna attacks.  Fighting started at God-dhurwa and then intensified at El-lahey the next day. Al-Shabaab suffered heavy losses with more than a hundred fighters killed and nearly two hundred injured. Ahlu Sunna also captured a number of weapons including two BKM and one B10.  

In Mogadishu itself, heavy fighting subsided after Al-Shabaab’s losses of fighters and territory in the recent TFG/AMISOM advances. Numbers of Al-Shabaab fighters have been surrendering to government forces, and the UN has sent a team to look into how to provide sustained and coordinated support to help those who have surrendered. The leader of one group of seven broadcast over national radio in Mogadishu to urge other youths not to join Al-Shabaab which he called a “social menace…They only target underage children, who are unaware of what is happening and are unable to account for their actions”.  

There was another blow to Al-Shabaab recently when a huge explosion rocked Al-Shabaab’s training centre at Lanta-bure, thirty kilometers south-west of Mogadishu, close to Afgoye.  Lanta-bure is the former Somali Police training centre. A lorry, fully loaded with explosives and shells, including shrapnel, and ready to be transported to Mogadishu city, accidentally exploded. It rocked the entire centre, killing everybody around and largely destroying the camp. Among those killed was Abu Yusuf “Abu Mujahid”, a Syrian who was Al Qaeda’s top East African explosives expert, together with a number of other senior Al-Shabaab figures and fighters. A similar explosion recently killed dozens of Al Shabaab fighters in Beletweyn.

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The TFG’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence minister visits Ethiopia

Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Abduhakim Mohamed Haji Faqi, visited Addis Ababa this week. During his visit he had discussions with Prime Minister Meles, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, and State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Berhane Gebre Christos; he also met with senior defence officials. The Deputy Prime Minister, who underlined the strong relations existing between the Ethiopian and Somali peoples and the need to do more to enhance the relationship, thanked Ethiopia for its continuous support in training and capacity building for both the TFIs and Somali security institutions. He gave an account of recent progress on the ground against Al-Shabaab in Gedo and Bakool regions as well as Mogadishu, achieved in collaboration with AMISOM and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a. He underlined the TFG’s efforts to bring peace and stability in Somalia and detailed the main activities of the new cabinet over the last hundred days. He noted that the TFG would now embark on creating administrations in the areas of Gedo, Galgudud and Bakool regions now free of Al-Shabaab following its recent defeats. Ethiopian officials made it clear they appreciated the progress made on the ground against Al-Shabaab but underlined that this needed to be replicated on the political front. The TFG had to make the extra effort to accomplish the remaining tasks of the transition period before it ended in August. They reassured the visiting Minister that Ethiopia would be prepared to provide capacity building support to the TFG to sustain the positive progress achieved on the ground. 

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ambassador Mahiga also met Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn this week. They discussed current developments in Somalia and the way forward for the post-transition period. Ambassador Mahiga briefed Ato Hailemariam on his recent discussions with a wide range of Somali interlocutors. He detailed the results of yesterday’s meeting of the troop contributing countries in Addis Ababa. This had considered how to sustain the progress made in recent military operations against Al-Shabaab, and discussed how to improve TFG security management procedures as well as medical treatment, compensation and support for the security forces. The meeting appreciated the impact of the effective operations being carried out by Ahlu Sunna in the west and south, while the TFG is concentrating on action in Mogadishu. It underlined the need to support these efforts within the context of the agreement signed between Ahlu Sunna and the TFG in March last year. Concern was expressed about the possibility of foreign fighters of Al-Shabaab fleeing to join pirate forces, and the need for the multinational naval forces to cooperate in detaining extremists to prevent any efforts to join in the piracy activity now hampering the movement of ships in the Indian Ocean. Ambassador Mahiga also discussed the remaining political tasks that should be accomplished before the end of the transitional period and the need to reform the Transitional Federal Parliament. There is a plan for Ambassador Mahiga to convene a meeting to bring together the major actors in Somalia and the guarantors of the Djibouti peace process to exchange views and ideas on the way forward.  

Ato Hailemariam underlined the need for the international community to speak with one voice and to allow the TFIs to move forward with their plans. Following their recent military successes, the TFG, Ahlu Sunna and AMISOM should be strengthened further, as it is only the total defeat of Al-Shabaab which will ensure a sustainable peace and stability. The recent advances will open corridors for humanitarian support, something IGAD had called for during its January Summit. There was also a need to move quickly to establish and strengthen local administrations in the areas liberated from Al-Shabaab, to provide services and allow direct contact between the TFIs and local populations. This would also create an environment for popular consultations on the draft constitution that is to provide the basis for Somalia’s permanent government after the transition. Ato Hailemariam emphasized the need for the international community to speak with one voice regarding Somalia’s future.

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The UNSC President’s statement on Somalia 

Last week, the current President of the UN Security Council, Mr. Li Baodong (China) issued a statement on Somalia after a day-long open debate on the subject of a “Comprehensive strategy for the realization of peace and security in Somalia”. The statement urged the Transitional Federal Institutions to broaden and consolidate the reconciliation process, intensify efforts to complete outstanding transition tasks, and prioritize the timely completion of the constitution and the delivery of basic services to the population. It called on the TFIs to reach agreement on post-transitional arrangements in a more constructive, open and transparent manner to promote broader political dialogue and participation. It regretted the Parliament’s decision to extend its mandate without carrying out necessary reforms and called on the TFIs to refrain from any further unilateral actions. It emphasized the importance of strengthening Somali security forces and the importance of providing predictable, reliable and timely resources for AMISOM. It urged member states, as well as regional and international organizations, to contribute generously to the UN Trust Fund for AMISOM. It encouraged the full deployment of 4000 additional AMISOM troops as authorized by Security Council Resolution 1964 (2010) as soon as possible. The Council expressed serious concern over the worsening humanitarian situation, the impact of drought and the decline of humanitarian funding. It strongly condemned the targeting and obstruction of humanitarian aid by Al-Shabaab and demanded all parties should ensure full access for the delivery of such assistance. It also condemned the increased violence by pirates in the strongest terms, recognizing that instability in Somalia had contributed to this and stressing the need for a comprehensive response to tackle it. The Council called on all member states, particularly those in the region, to refrain from any action in contravention of the Somalia and Eritrea arms embargo and to take all necessary steps to hold violators accountable. It affirmed the importance of enhancing the monitoring of arms embargoes through persistent and vigilant investigation. The UN Monitoring Committee is due to report again in July. In conclusion the President’s statement commended the efforts of the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and other regional organizations to promote peace and stability in Somalia. It reiterated the Council’s full support to AMISOM and its troop contributing countries, Burundi and Uganda.

Opening the debate, Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon emphasized that AMISOM would be more effective if it had more resources, including helicopters and support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. He said there were critical gaps in the UN’s support package and appealed to member states to increase their contributions to enable the Mission to reach its full strength. It was also necessary for the TFIs to rise to the political and governance challenges. Any extension of the transition period must be earned with the focus on fulfilling outstanding tasks. The process should be open and inclusive. Ambassador Mahiga, his representative, had been working with clan and religious leaders, he said, to reach a consensus of these issues as outlined in the Djibouti Agreement. The Secretary-General noted that the recent advances in Mogadishu and in southern Somalia would allow the UN to expand its presence in Somalia, and by reinforcing military gains, providing humanitarian relief and achieving political progress “we can set Somalia on course for greater stability and peace.” However, he added, this year’s humanitarian appeal for Somalia called for US $529 million but as of last month only a quarter of that had been received.    

The Council also heard from Somalia’s Prime Minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the AU’s Special Representative, Boubacar Diarra, Uganda’s representative and the UK’s Minister for Africa. Somalia’s Prime Minister listed his government’s priorities: improving security, enhancing reconciliation, completing the transitional tasks, addressing the humanitarian crises, and promoting good governance. The TFG, he said, was the first line of defense against two evils – the scourge of piracy and the plague of terrorism - and it was committed to defeating two common enemies: Al-Shabaab and the pirates. Mr. Diarra said, despite some positive results, the situation remained challenging. He said the AU strategy hinged on the need for AMISOM to support the TFIs, paving the way for a new dispensation in August. He requested the Council to continue to support the TFIs and enhance AMISOM’s support package. It must, he said, authorize naval operations off the coast of Somalia to provide more direct support. It was also important to ensure effective implementation of sanctions, and to approach the issue of piracy holistically. The UK’s Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, stressed the need for an inclusive political process. It was troubling that political infighting appeared to have a higher priority than reconciliation in the TFIs. There should be no extension of the transition period without reforms. 

Among the over thirty other speakers were representatives of France, the United States and the Russian Federation as well as Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the UN, speaking on behalf of IGAD said the situation in Somalia remained critical. The reasons were obvious. Although the end of the transition period was fast approaching, the TFG has not discharged all its responsibilities. Nevertheless, allowing the transition period to lapse and the Djibouti Peace Process to collapse was not an option. The last few days demonstrated that that the TFG could make progress in security. This momentum needed to be maintained and expanded; indeed, it was critical to raise the credibility of the TFG and convey the message that the extremists are far from being “the wave of the future”. There were now opportunities to be seized. The question was: were all stakeholders ready? It was important to ensure the full implementation of the March 15th, 2010, agreement between the TFG and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a and strengthen cooperation with all those committed to peace and the Djibouti Peace Process. The Djibouti Agreement remained the basis for consolidating the process of national reconciliation. At the same time much more must be expected from others. Security Council resolution 1964 (2010) only partially addressed the AU requests regarding AMISOM’s authorized strength, an enhanced support package for AMISOM from UN assessed contributions, and the impositions of a naval blockade and a no-fly zone as well as effective implementation of sanctions against the “spoilers”. All this was made imperative by the worsening humanitarian situation in the country.  Ambassador Tekeda noted that IGAD countries continued to do their share and he stressed IGAD was deeply grateful to Uganda and Burundi for their sacrifices. Enhanced cooperation between AMISOM, UNPOS and IGAD was demonstrated by the MOU signed in April last year on consultation and coordination. This had become the basis for a joint regional strategy agreed last month. This might, indeed, serve as a template for other regions. In conclusion he appealed for the Council to give the Somalia situation far greater attention in the future.  

Virtually all speakers called for greater support for AMISOM, for the Djibouti Peace Process and for increased moves against piracy, with the exception of Ambassador Araya Desta, the Eritrean Representative, who referred to “parties wishing to cling to policies and arrangement that had clearly failed” and to concerted efforts being made to maintain the status quo, even while the military involvement of external actors continued unabated. He claimed Eritrea was ready to make “its own modest constructive contribution” to an inclusive Somali political process but his statement was sharply at odds with the continuing activity of Eritrea in trying to undermine the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, which Eritrea alone continues to call illegitimate. Eritrea, in fact, made it clear it continued to assume its own right to support extremist and terrorist groups committed to trying to overthrow the TFG, the internationally recognized government of Somalia, and to carry on with its own destabilizing role in Somalia and throughout the region.

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Talks in Khartoum: the SPLM and NCP agree to resume negotiations

The top leadership of the NCP and the SPLM have been meeting in Khartoum this week under the auspices of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel. The meeting took place amid accusations and counter-accusations over military confrontations in Malakal and skirmishes in Abyei. The conflict in Malakal between SPLM forces and General George Athor’s militia has resulted in hundreds of deaths. The people of South Sudan have passed through serious challenges to reach this point and they cannot afford to return to such conflicts. They have shown their political maturity by conducting an unprecedented referendum. Its success emphasized that the people of South Sudan had had enough of war. Any leaders with grievances must resort to dialogue for the sake of peace. The SPLM and its opposition must stop fighting and allow the process of full implementation of the CPA to continue without delay. Any fighting in the South throws a shadow on the efforts of the top leadership of the NCP and the SPLM. All parties must refrain from any further escalation.  

Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has made tremendous progress since it was signed in 2005. The signatories have also worked out mechanisms to deal with issues that the CPA did not envisage originally. Progress has been possible because of the strong commitment by both signatories, the SPLM and the NCP, to the process. This commitment must be sustained and strengthened as any reversal of the process or a return to war in the Sudan would be devastating to the Sudan and the region as a whole. It is in this context that the recent meeting of the two parties at Kuriftu Resort in Ethiopia was critical. This clearly spelt out the economic issues that the parties should handle with care, the necessary compromises and their readiness to understand the challenges of the realities that will unfold after July 2011. Acceptance of the basic principle of working for two viable states, in the north and the south, enables both to understand each other’s difficulties and challenges. It is not an easy ride. The issues of national debt, assets, currency, future trade relations and wealth sharing have challenging and concrete implications. Addressing these challenges needs careful political decisions by the two leaderships.  

At this week’s meeting with the AUHIP, discussions centered on Abyei, both in terms of recent security problems and the future of the area. Both Parties had agreed to hold a parallel referendum for Abyei at the same time as the Southern referendum. This had not happened for various reasons. Now, the Parties have agreed to work together to avoid any more skirmishes, taking concrete measures and setting up mechanisms to address any obstacles that the process faces. They have agreed to mandate the AUHIP to come up with specific proposals to determine the fate of Abyei, considering all issues so as to enable the Sudanese Presidency to take its decisions.  

The Parties also discussed the recent decision of the SPLM to pull out from the negotiations following the serious security problems around Malakal. The SPLM accused the NCP of trying to sabotage the South’s endeavour in peace making. Now both have agreed over the security issue, and to implement the agreement reached between the two parties at Kadhugli in South Kordofan in January. They have agreed to resume negotiations in earnest and the second round of the talks covering economic issues will reconvene as planned next month in Ethiopia. This is real progress and both parties and the AUHIP now need all possible support to redouble their efforts to address all outstanding issues before July.

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The Prime Minister’s Press Conference, March 12th

Last weekend, Prime Minister Meles answered a range of questions from local and international journalists at a press conference covering major current concerns in both internal and foreign affairs. Referring to the wave of protests in North Africa and elsewhere, he said Ethiopia was most concerned by the situation in Yemen which was more or less a neighbour. Any instability there directly affected the Horn of Africa. It was a situation which could create a political vacuum leading to the disintegration of the country and opening a door for Al Qaeda activity in the region. Ethiopia hoped, and expected, that the Yemeni government and people would manage their differences successfully to avoid state failure. Another element of concern for Ethiopia was the situation in Egypt. Ethiopia, like other countries, wanted to see Egypt continue as a stable state; and the Prime Minister stressed that a destabilized Egypt could never be in Ethiopia’s interest.  He said he did not feel the emerging political situation there would bring about any policy change over the Nile. In the past, Egyptian authorities have used the issue of the Nile to divert attention from internal problems and as long as these remained unresolved, the Prime Minister said he did not expect any change in Egypt’s attitude to the Nile waters. The necessary two-thirds requirement for the implementation of the Nile Basin Framework has now been achieved so it could become a legal agreement. However, the signatories have still to obtain parliamentary approvals and this will take time. The aim of the framework agreement, he pointed out, was to enable all countries to benefit from scientific and fair usage of the Nile waters.  

On Libya, Prime Minister Meles noted that this concerned only Ethiopia indirectly through the rise in oil prices, though that was very unwelcome. He hoped the problem there could be resolved amicably. He emphasized the government’s commitment to the safety of Ethiopian citizens in Tripoli and Benghazi. Ethiopia has no embassy in Libya but it was working through the Sudanese embassy in Libya to register Ethiopians to try to evacuate people from there by sea. It isn’t possible to use Ethiopian Airlines and the government was working together with UN agencies to get clearance to use charter flights. He said he didn’t think there were any alleged Ethiopian mercenaries in Libya but if there were they would be criminals. The Prime Minister said the possibility of any similar uprising in Ethiopia was unlikely as the country’s economy was growing and last year the EPRDF was given a five year contract in a successful democratic election to bring about real change. The government’s priority now was to carry out that responsibility. There were no grounds for such a North African situation to occur in Ethiopia, he added.  

Replying to questions about Eritrea, Prime Minister Meles said the Eritrean government had not ceased its efforts to destabilize the region. He referred to the Eritrean efforts to disrupt the last AU Summit in Addis Ababa, and its attempts to create other disturbances, but these were no more than security issues and had little impact. He also referred to armed infiltration from Eritrea into Djibouti and noted that Ethiopia had shared its intelligence with the Djibouti authorities. Ethiopia did not believe the demonstrations in Djibouti indicated serious danger but it was more concerned about Eritrean attempts to destabilize Djibouti by terrorist activities during the forthcoming election. In answer to a question, the Prime Minister said Ethiopia should either work towards changing Eritrea’s policies, or its government. This could be done diplomatically, politically, or through other means.

The Prime Minister said Ethiopia expected to register an estimated 11% growth this year and the preparation activities for the five year Growth and Transformation Plan launched last year were encouraging. Capacity and financial constraints were being dealt with, and financial gaps should be covered by contributions from the private sector, public enterprises and development partners. Extensive training was being provided for farmers; investors in fruit and vegetable business were being encouraged to expand into different areas of the country; special attention was being paid to supporting micro-and small-businesses; road construction was being strengthened; additional hydroelectric power projects were in the pipeline; there were plans for six sizeable sugar factories and seven fertilizer factories;  and agreements had been made with Chinese and Indian companies for railway construction. The Prime Minister noted that exports were showing progress and last September’s devaluation had boosted exports and narrowed the trade gap though this still remained very large. Exports were now growing faster than imports, and foreign exchange reserves had increased. This was a healthy trend and the Prime Minister said he hoped and expected it to continue.  The Prime Minister said that the government hoped to lift the lending cap within the next three weeks.

Referring to the price caps introduced in January to ease inflation, the Prime Minister said the government intended to import lots of edible oil and sugar “to flood the market and make sure it stabilizes”, to address shortages of items that have disappeared from the shelves of many shops. He said the gaps in the system would be filled in the short run. He added that structural flaws would be addressed through legislation to promote transparency and a corruption-free competitive trade environment. He also noted that the government had been cracking down on corruption and illicit business activities and taking officials involved in any such activities to court. Corruption, he stressed, is not going to be profitable in Ethiopia any more.      

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The African Union PSC meets on Cote d'Ivoire and Libya.

The High Level Panel established by the AU Peace and Security Council for resolution of the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire is composed of the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, South Africa and Tanzania. It met in Addis Ababa last week on March 9th and 10th to produce proposals for a settlement and present its report to the Peace and Security Council. 

The Panel had invited both the protagonists in Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo, to come to Addis Ababa to hear its proposals to end the political impasse and prevent the country sliding back into civil war. These included the withdrawal of Mr. Gbagbo and the swearing in of Mr. Ouattara, the appointment of a government of national unity and reconciliation to include supporters of Mr. Gbagbo, implementation of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement, reform of the electoral process and legislative elections, an amnesty law, the lifting of all sanctions as soon as President Ouattara was sworn in, and the establishment of an AU, ECOWAS and UN committee to monitor any agreement for a way out of the crisis.   

The meeting of the Panel, seen by many as a last chance to broker a compromise, discussed the issues with the two parties separately. Mr. Ouattara, who came to Addis Ababa to attend the meeting, accepted the proposals; Mr. Gbagbo, who was represented by his Prime Minister, did not. The Panel then presented its report to the PSC which issued a communiqué after deliberating on the report. The Council commended the work of the High Level Panel for the effort it had deployed in search for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire, and expressed its grave concern over the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the country. Condemning all atrocities and other violations of human rights and acts of intimidation, it endorsed the recommendations and proposals of the High Level Panel. These, the PSC communiqué said, offered a viable basis for a way out of the crisis. 

The second item on the agenda of the PSC was the current crisis in Libya. Recalling the communiqué issued on February 23rd, the PSC expressed its deep concern at the prevailing situation in Libya. This posed a serious threat to peace and security in the country and in the region as a whole. The PSC reiterated its strong condemnation of the indiscriminate use of force and lethal weapons. The Council announced its decision to establish an African Union ad-hoc High Level Panel on Libya. The members would be the Heads of State and Government of the Republic of Congo, Mali, Mauritania, South Africa and Uganda and include the Chairperson of the Commission. The Panel, which will be assisted by the relevant Ministers of Foreign Affairs, will be expected to engage with all parties in Libya and with AU's partners to facilitate the coordination of efforts as well as seek support for an early resolution of the crisis. The Panel is expected to travel to Mauritania on Saturday (March 19th) for preliminary consultations before proceeding to Libya on Sunday, March 20th. 

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The Foreign Minister’s keynote speech at a UN thematic debate on investment

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, delivered a keynote address at this week’s UN General Assembly “Informal thematic debate on investment in and financing of productive capacities in least developed countries”. The debate was part of the preparations for the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Counties, to be held later this year in Istanbul, Turkey, from May 9th – May 13th.

The debate emphasized that the least developed countries, already facing structural challenges, severely affected by the recent economic, food and energy crises, and suffering disproportionately from climate change, were now at risk of further harm from the current spike in oil prices. A program of action was needed for the next decade, a program that emphasized sustained and inclusive economic growth, improved productive capacity and a structural transformation to generate jobs and benefit society as a whole. United Nations Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon, urged the international community to produce concrete plans during the May conference to improve the plight of the world’s most vulnerable people and meet the 2015 deadline for realizing the Millennium Development Goals. He noted that many of the least developed economies were heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture and extractive mining. This made them highly vulnerable to swings in commodity prices and other upheavals. The least developed countries needed more support in this regard. Attention should be given to domestic resource mobilization, south-south cooperation and private sector as well as Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to achieve their development objectives. The Secretary-General also noted the importance of the donor community’s support through aid, foreign direct investment (FDI) and technical assistance. This generated growth and strengthened the least developed countries’ economic resilience as well as improving their capacity in agriculture, manufacturing, services and other productive sectors. 

In his keynote address, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minster underlined the remarkable progress that Ethiopia had registered in overall development aspects in recent years. He noted that a reasonably high level of sustained investment and financing had been central to the effective use of productive capacities in accelerating the growth and development that Ethiopia had achieved. He emphasized that democratization, based on a federal, decentralized arrangement, had opened possibilities for Ethiopia’s different nationalities to exercise self-rule and gain empowerment. In fact, it had been radical political reforms generated internally, rather than donor-driven priorities, which had enabled Ethiopia to create an environment conducive to productive investment. Ato Hailemariam noted that the country had used a market-based regulatory policy to build up a broad-based domestic private sector, using tax breaks and other incentives to foster development, while at the same time investing aggressively in roads, power, telecommunications and other infrastructure as well as in education, training and primary health care in order to build up human capital. Different critical measures were also taken to ensure macro-economic stability in the face of the inflationary pressures and foreign exchange constraints that followed the recent global financial crisis. The overall result was that after decades of decline Ethiopia had registered one of the world’s fastest growth rates, at more than 11% annually, for the past seven years. In order to continue that success Ato Hailemariam said the government had recently launched a five-year plan to further transform the economy through more diversification; this was to include support for the industrial sector as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, while still focusing on agriculture.

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The UN Office in Nairobi gets a new Director-General

A Week in the Horn congratulates Ambassador Sahle-Work Zewde who has been appointed Director General of the UN Office at Nairobi. The appointment was made by UN Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon this week and Ambassador Sahle-Work has also been promoted to Under-Secretary- General.  The UN Office in Nairobi serves as the UN’s African headquarters. The Secretary-General noted that Ambassador Sahle-Work would bring to the position nearly two decades of increasingly responsible experience at national, regional and international level, and her wide knowledge of the region and of Africa as a whole would be of great value to build up partnerships.

Ambassador Sahle-Work has been the UN Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic. Previous to being appointed to this position in the United Nations, Ambassador Sahle-Work was in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs where she held a number of positions, most recently serving as  the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa, and previously as Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry. Ambassador Sahle-Work has also served as Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Senegal with accreditation to Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Guinea (1989-1992), and to Djibouti and as Permanent Representative to IGAD (1993-2002). She was Ethiopia’s Ambassador to France as well as Permanent Representative to UNESCO with accreditation to Tunisia and Morocco (2002-2006).    

 

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          Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

                     Ministry of Foreign Affairs