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August 27, 2015

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir signs peace deal

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir signs peace deal

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

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Salva Kiir in the United States last year.
Image: U.S. Department of State.

Salva Kiir, the President of South Sudan, yesterday signed a deal designed to end a civil ethnic conflict that has killed thousands and displaced over two million.

Under the deal Kiir will share power with Riek Machar. Machar was Vice President but Kiir sacked him in 2013. December that year saw the dispute turn to war. Kiir is a Dinka while Machar is a Nuer, and the conflict has largely split along these racial lines.

Kiir spoke of “serious reservations” at the signing ceremony in Juba. He is concerned about a requirement to consult “First Vice President” Machar, as he will be under the deal, on policies. He is also concerned about demilitarisation of Juba.

The deal to close the 20-month conflict was negotiated in Ethiopia, where Machar signed the same deal last week. Several ceasefires have failed over months of talks. Kiir, the only leader in South Sudan since independence in 2011, sought an extension of a two-week deadline but signed yesterday after United Nations sanctions were threatened.

Both sides accused the other of continuing hostilities. The rebels claimed government forces attacked them south of Juba, but say they were victorious. Kiir claimed the rebels attacked a northern position. Kiir says international leaders were “careless” with negotiations and warned a flawed deal could do more harm.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon all expressed their approval of the deal’s signing. Kenyatta called it a “happy day for us in the region”. Earlier in the day he warned there was “no such thing as a perfect agreement” and Museveni said the conflict was “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time”.



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August 12, 2013

Dibaba’s comeback: Long-distance track star wins her first World Championship title since 2007

Dibaba’s comeback: Long-distance track star wins her first World Championship title since 2007

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Tirunesh Dibaba carries the Ethiopian flag at the 2012 IAAF World Championships
Image: Erik van Leeuwen.

Tirunesh Dibaba won her first World Championship title in six years, coming first in the 10,000 meter race at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia last night. Dibaba finished with a time of 30 minutes and 43.37 seconds, giving her the third World Championship victory of her career.

Dibaba’s victory last night ended a six-year drought for the athlete on the World Championships stage, having been unable to win a World Championship title since 2007. In that period of time, Dibaba had more luck in the Olympics, winning the 10,000 meter final in 2008 and successfully defending her title in 2012.

Dibaba waited until the final two laps of the race to take the lead, sprinting the final 500 meters in 59.98 seconds. She easily left her fellow competitors behind, with silver-medalist Gladys Cherono of Kenya trailing by almost two seconds. Belaynesh Olijra of Ethiopia, one of Dibaba’s training partners, took the bronze medal, crossing the finish line in a time of 30 minutes and 46.98 seconds.

Dibaba spoke about wanting to return the Ethiopian women’s track team to glory, when talking to reporters after her race. The team had not won gold at a 10,000 meter final at the IAAF World Championships for two years.

“Because of that, both as a team and individually, we trained very hard,” she told reporters.



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December 30, 2012

Rebel faction arrives in Addis Ababa for peace talks

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Somali Territories as of May 18th 2007, with the latest territorial exchanges in the various conflicts.

Leaders of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over the weekend of Dec. 22, with the aim of continuing peace talks with the government of Ethiopia. Talks had come to a halt in October of this year over the factions refusal to acknowledge the Ethiopian constitution. In the talks held in Nairobi and mediated by Kenya, the Ethiopian government had set as a condition that the faction respect the National Constitution of Ethiopia and work within the constitutional framework.

Abdinur Abdulahi Farah, the faction’s spokesperson says that it now recognizes the national constitution and is willing to work with the government towards their common goal of national and regional development. He said, “we can’t refuse to accept the National Constitution. It is what made us equal with all the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia.” However, he said this decision to accept these conditions has not been unanimous. Some groups within the larger organization disagree with this decision and still refuse to acknowledge the constitution.

The faction then led by Admiral Mohammed Omar Osman was responsible for an attack on Chinese-run oil exploration field which led to the death of 65 Ethiopian soldiers and nine Chinese oil workers. This attack and the following government crackdown in Ogaden led to the splitting of ONLF into two of three groups. In 2010, The government signed a separate agreement with one of these group claiming to represent a majority of the rebels. This agreement culminated in the release of faction member imprisoned by the government. The talks held in October in Kenya and continuing now in the capital Addis Ababa are an attempt to negotiate an agreement with the remaining members of the ONLF.

The decision to come to peace talks seems to have created a futher divisions and disagreements within the rebel faction from the Somali Region of Ethiopia. However according to Abdinur, “those members of the front who have rejected the National Constitution have no popular support and they are only few led by Admiral Mohammed Omar Osman who is now hiding in Asmara.”

An ONLF rebel unit in 2006

The ONLF is believed to responsible for many attacks on military and civilian targets since 2007. The Ethiopian government has acknowledged the capture or killing of hundreds of rebels in the past. It has also been accused, by the Human Rights Watch of retaliatory attacks in the Somali Region against a civilian population suspected of sympathizing with the rebels. ONLF has been in conflict—in one form or another—with the ruling party of the government, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front since the first {{w:Ethiopian general election, 1995|national elections} in 1995.


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September 21, 2012

Hailemariam Desalegn sworn in as Ethiopia\’s prime minister

Hailemariam Desalegn sworn in as Ethiopia’s prime minister

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Ethiopia
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Hailemariam Desalegn in 2011
Image: World Economic Forum.

The Ethiopian Parliament has today sworn in Hailemariam Desalegn as the new prime minister following the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on August 20, 2012. Hailemariam has been Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

Hailemariam was named chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) last weekend. The EPRDF currently controls Ethiopia’s parliament.

Mr Hailemariam said he is “happy” to become prime minister, according to Agence France-Presse.

Ethiopia has been perceived as an east African ally of the U.S. on security issues. Hailemariam has said he would continue his predecessor’s “legacy without any change”. In addition, David Shinn, the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia from 1996 to 1999, has agreed that it is likely U.S.–Ethiopia relations will not change greatly with Hailemariam as prime minister.



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August 22, 2012

Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi dies at 57

Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi dies at 57

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian PM at the World Economic Forum annual meeting 2012
Image: World Economic Forum.

Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, died this week on Monday at the age of 57 years of an undisclosed illness at a Brussels hospital. This came after months of speculation about the health of the Ethiopian leader after he missed several high profile meetings in the last month. An Ethiopian government official reported a week prior to his death that Meles Zenawi was recovering well from his illness.

Zenawi ruled for more than 20 years after taking leadership from Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. His deputy Haile Mariam Desalegne, who is also the foreign minister, was appointed to occupy the Prime Minister’s post in an acting capacity following the news.

Ethiopia’s economy was transformed under Zenawi’s leadership to place it to among the Africa’s fastest growing with the Prime Minister serving as a key ally to the United States in fighting terrorism. During his time as head of state, several social, economic, religious and political developments and systems were established for the first time in Ethiopia. His government has also been accused him of oppression, killings of its critics, and unjust detention and surveillance of the opposition members in Ethiopia by the Human Rights Watch in Africa. He is survived by one widow, Azeb Mesfin.



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October 19, 2011

Jailed Swedish journalists tried as terrorists

Jailed Swedish journalists tried as terrorists

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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The trial for two Swedish journalists being tried for terrorism in Ethiopia began yesterday. The freelance journalists were arrested after entering from neighboring country Somalia without permission. They allegedly aided a terrorist group and were wounded in a gunfight, in which 15 rebels were killed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi says the two imprisoned Swedish journalists “made their way into Ethiopia with a terrorist organization that had killed 70 people who worked for a mining company in an attack.” He says “I think it would be a criminal relationship in any country”.

Cquote1.svg If that is journalism, I don’t know what terrorism is Cquote2.svg

—Meles Zenawi

“They are, at the very least, messenger boys of a terrorist organization. They are not journalists,” the prime minister said. “Why would a journalist be involved with a terrorist organization and enter a country with that terrorist organization, escorted by armed terrorists, and participate in a fighting in which this terrorist organization was involved? If that is journalism, I don’t know what terrorism is,” says Zenawi.

Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt is embroiled in allegations related to the case

The journalists were jailed after entering into Ethiopia’s troubled Ogaden region to cover rebel activity in the area. Zenawi claims one of the journalists was arrested on a previous attempt to enter illegally. “The second time he was seized with a terrorist organization in combat.”

The Swedes were found travelling with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), and were investigating actions by a company with ties to Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum, oil group, and claims of human rights violations in the Ogaden region.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has been criticised for inaction post-arrests. Kerstin Lundell, who wrote a book on Lundin in Africa, says “the fact that Carl Bildt has reason to hide what is going on in Ogaden could explain why these journalists are still in prison.”

Bildt Lundin board member but left previous to the firm gaining an Ethiopian concession for oil exploration.

Journalist Anna Roxvall, who is acting as facilitator of the Swedish journalists says the claim that one of the journalists was arrested previously is wrong. “No, no, no. It is clean cut a lie”, she says.

Sveriges Radio, Sveriges Television, TT and Dagens Nyheter journalists applied for visa to attend the trial but were originally denied entry to the country. Ola Larsmo, writer and chairman of the Swedish Pen says access to information will be restricted if Swedish journalists do not attend. Zenawi says “we do not need to Swedish journalists to prove that our courts operate in accordance with international standards.”

Amongst the crowded court audience were eighteen Swedish journalists and several Western diplomats, including US ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Booth.

Voice of America says legal experts expect a quick resolution. The accused’s lawyers claim a four-to-six month trial is likely. An unnamed attorney close to the trial has claimed a negotiated settlement is still possible. The two journalists face fifteen years in prison if convicted of engaging in terrorist activity. The trial is scheduled to resume tomorrow.


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November 8, 2010

Haile Gebrselassie announces retirement from athletics

Haile Gebrselassie announces retirement from athletics

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Gebrselassie in New York, in 2003.
Image: pjmorse.

Haile Gebrselassie, a 37-year-old Ethiopian road-running athlete, announced his retirement from the sport on Sunday, after leaving the New York City Marathon with an inflamed knee. Gebrselassie is widely considered “one of the greatest distance runners in history.”

“I never think about to retire. But for the first time, this is the day. […] Let me stop and do other work after this,” Gebrselassie said during a press conference. The athlete dropped out of the competition after running 25 kilometers. “Why should I retire? Why should I say I will retire in three or four years? You retire the very moment you utter those words,” he added.

New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said on Saturday that “he had his knee drained and was given cortisone,” and that “it was unlikely Gebrselassie would even start the race.”



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March 5, 2010

BBC: Ethiopian famine aid \’siphoned off\’ to buy weapons according to rebels, report

BBC: Ethiopian famine aid ‘siphoned off’ to buy weapons according to rebels, report

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Ethiopia
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  • 12 August 2013: Dibaba’s comeback: Long-distance track star wins her first World Championship title since 2007
  • 21 September 2012: Hailemariam Desalegn sworn in as Ethiopia’s prime minister
  • 22 August 2012: Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi dies at 57
  • 19 October 2011: Jailed Swedish journalists tried as terrorists
  • 8 November 2010: Haile Gebrselassie announces retirement from athletics
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According to a BBC report, funds raised for famine relief aid in Ethiopia, such as those raised by the Live Aid benefit concert pictured here, were “siphoned off” by rebels to buy weapons.
Image: Squelle.

An investigation by the BBC has revealed that millions of dollars in famine relief aid money, including the money raised from the charity supergroup Band Aid and the Live Aid concert held by Bob Geldof, was “siphoned off” by Ethiopian rebels to buy weapons. One rebel said that at least US$ 95 million (£63 million) from — Western governments and private charities — was diverted into rebel coffers.

This was also noted in a declassified Central Intelligence Agency assessment of the famine situation titled Ethiopia: Political and Security Impact of the Drought, in which the report states, “Some funds that insurgent organizations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes.”

During the 1984–1985 famine, Ethiopia was fighting Eritrean and Tigray rebels in those two northern provinces, although Eritrea has since gained its independence. Since the countryside was out of the government’s control, aid was brought in from neighboring Sudan. Some aid came in the form of food, while other aid came as cash which would be used by the aid agencies to buy grain from Ethiopian farmers.

Rebels would disguise themselves as traders and merchants to get their hands on the currency. “I was given clothes to make me look like a Muslim merchant. This was a trick for the NGOs,” said Gebremedhin Araya, a senior member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Cquote1.svg Some funds that insurgent organizations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes. Cquote2.svg

Ethiopia: Political and Security Impact of the Drought, a CIA report

One such aid worker that brought the grain was Max Peberdy, who worked for the charity Christian Aid. Peberdy is seen in a photo with Araya buying grain.

Araya said that only some of the sacks were filled with grain; the rest were filled with sand. The transaction was overseen by a member of the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), the humanitarian wing of the TPLF. The money was then given to TPLF leaders, including chairman Meles Zenawi, who has been Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 1991. Zenawi has not commented on the allegations.

Peberdy disputes the claims that he was duped, saying, “As far as we were concerned and as far as we were told by REST, the people we were dealing with were merchants.” He added, “It’s 25 years since this happened, and in the 25 years it’s the first time anybody has claimed such a thing.”

Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 1991 and chairman of the TPLF since 1985.
Image: Helene C. Stikkel, Department of Defense.

However, an exiled TPLF commander who lives in the Netherlands, Aregawi Berhe, is backing Araya’s story. He said the group got their hands on over US$100 million (£66 million) of which 95% went to buy weapons and build up a hardliner Marxist party inside the rebel movement. The remaining five percent would go to famine victims. Berhe told the BBC that the group would put on a “drama” to get the money. Berhe said, “The aid workers were fooled.”

In response to the allegations, the charity Christian Aid issued a statement saying, “There are allegations in the story which are against all of Christian Aid’s principles and our initial investigations do not correspond to the BBC’s version of events.”

Cquote1.svg I was given clothes to make me look like a Muslim merchant. This was a trick for the NGOs. Cquote2.svg

—Gebremedhin Araya, senior TPLF member

Nick Guttmann, who is director of emergency relief operations for the group, says the “story has to be put into context”. “We were working in a major conflict, there was a massive famine and people on all sides were suffering,” Guttmann said, adding, “Both the rebels and the government were using innocent civilians to further their own political ends.”

Bob Geldof, the Irish rock star who help organized Live Aid, said, “We are talking about a disgruntled, exiled general. The essence of the report also is not just about Live Aid. It’s that all monies going into Tigray — that would be Oxfam, Save the Children, UNICEF and Christian Aid — somehow, we were all duped and gulled. And that’s simply not the case. It just didn’t happen.”



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January 31, 2010

Gaddafi loses African Union chair

Gaddafi loses African Union chair – Wikinews, the free news source

Gaddafi loses African Union chair

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gaddafi at last year’s African Union summit, where he became president.

File photo of Mutharika, who is taking the presidency.

Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya, has not been able to win his bid to stay as chairman of the African Union, losing out to Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika, who was backed by several eastern and southern states.

Gaddafi used his final speech to highlight the need for political unity between African states. Libya has been chairing the African Union for the last year, and the job of chair was due to go to a southern African representative. However, Gaddafi wished to retain the presidency, which was backed by Tunisia, and had allegedly won over other countries by paying their membership fees.

The African Union summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, involved a speech to the African leaders by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who called for the countries to strive for national union in Sudan, where the southern part of the country may secede from the north. In addition, the Secretary General highlighted the various achievements of the African Union. He said that they had “seen a sharp decrease in malaria and measles deaths across the continent, virtual gains in primary school enrolment [and] marked improvement in child health”, stating that “we must build on these successes and help spread them around the world”.

The three-day summit involves topics such as the state of affairs in Somalia, and a Senegalese proposal to resettle Haiti earthquake victims.


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January 26, 2010

Officials say crashed Ethiopian plane didn\’t follow suggested tower directions

Officials say crashed Ethiopian plane didn’t follow suggested tower directions

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

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Lebanon’s transportation minster said that the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Monday didn’t follow the directions suggested by the air traffic control tower after departing from Beirut in a thunderstorm. He said that the aircraft turned opposite the heading indicated by controllers.

All ninety people aboard Flight ET409, which was headed to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, were feared dead. The jet reportedly went down in fire at around 02.30 local time, disappearing from radar screens after leaving the airport.

“They asked him to correct his path but he did a very fast and strange turn before disappearing completely from the radar,” commented Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi. He added: “Nobody is saying the pilot is to blame for not heeding orders. There could have been many reasons for what happened. […] Only the black box can tell.”

Defence Minister Elias Murr also commented that the plane didn’t follow instructions upon takeoff. “A command tower recording shows the tower told the pilot to turn to avoid the storm, but the plane went in the opposite direction. We do not know what happened or whether it was beyond the pilot’s control.”

Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO, Girma Wake, however, countered Aridi’s comments, saying that it is too soon to draw any conclusions. “Rushing remarks, I don’t think that helps anybody,” he said in the Ethiopian capital.

Lebanese officials, meanwhile, have ruled out foul play as being the cause of the aircraft’s crashing. The Associated Press quoted Ethiopian Airlines as saying that the pilot in control of the downed plane had twenty years of experience, although it did not disclose his name.

According to an unnamed aviation analyst, Lebanon controllers were directing the Ethiopian flight for the first two to three minutes of the flight due to the thunderstorms, and noted that this was standard procedure during inclement weather.

US-based airline pilot Patrick Smith remarked that the plane could have crashed for many reasons. “Had the plane encountered extreme turbulence, or had it suffered a powerful lightning strike that knocked out instruments while penetrating strong turbulence, then structural failure or loss of control, followed by an in-flight breakup, are possible causes.”



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