Monday, May 20, 2024

Ethiopia official creditors to extend deadline for IMF deal, source says

Ethiopia’s official international creditors will give the East African nation until the end of June to wrap up talks on IMF support after a prior deadline lapsed, a source close to the Paris Club of creditors said on Wednesday.

The International Monetary Fund concluded a visit to the country on Tuesday to discuss a request for support without reaching an agreement.

The Paris Club of developed creditor nations had said last year that an agreement to suspend Ethiopia’s debt payments through 2025 could be voided if the country did not secure an IMF loan by March 31.

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 “There’s a meeting today to say that the deadline is being extended to the end of June in order to maintain the incentive to reach a (IMF) staff level agreement,” the source told Reuters.

Ethiopia became the third African nation to default in as many years when in December it failed to make a coupon payment on its USD one billion Eurobond.


Somalia gives Ethiopia envoy 72 hrs, summons its envoy from Addis

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Somalia issued an official statement confirming Ethiopia’s Ambassador Muktar Mohamed Ware “has been informed to depart from Somalia within the next 72 hours.”

The Ministry also said its Ambassador to Addis Ababa is “summoned back to Mogadishu for comprehensive consultations.”

“These measures were taken in the interest of safeguarding the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia”, the official communiqué said.

The decision follows the resolution passed by the Council of Ministers in response to “the actions” of the government of Ethiopia, “which infringe upon Somalia’s sovereignty and internal affairs,” the statement said without mentioning the specific action in question.

Somalia also said the Ethiopian Consulates General in Hargeisa and Garowe, the capital cities of Somaliland and Puntland, “are to be closed within a period of seven (7) days.”

Diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Somalia plummeted to a new low following the signing on 01 January of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland, granting access to the sea for a leased military base in return for recognition for Somaliland.

Somalia said the MoU “violates its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Although further developments on the MoU front seemed to have subsided from both sides amidst news of diplomatic efforts to mediate, Ambassador Mesganu Arga, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, welcomed a senior ministerial delegation led by Puntland’s Minister of Finance, Mohammed Farah Mohammed, at his office on Wednesday.

During their discussions, both delegations explored “collaborative opportunities in trade, investment, energy cooperation, and joint infrastructure projects to strengthen and expand the ties between the two regions.”

The meeting, which many see as provocative, came a few days after Puntland State said it was withdrawing its recognition of the federal government of Somalia as well as its recognition of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as legitimate.

It followed Puntland’s criticism with Mogadishu’s decision to amend the federal constitution, which Puntland deemed illegitimate and non-inclusive. According to local media reports, Puntland stated it only recognizes the 2012 version of the constitution.


Ethiopian Airlines inaugurates new Jinka airport terminal, renovates domestic facilities

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Ethiopian Airlines Group, has inaugurated its Jinka Airport project, unveiling a new terminal and support facility buildings. 

A statement by its media consultant in Nigeria, said that the new state-of-the-art airport terminal was now open for service, following a grand celebration held on Wednesday in Jinka, one of the emerging cities in the South Ethiopia Regional State. 

The two-and-a-half-year project covered the construction of a new terminal building, having a total built-up area of 3,500 square meter, support facility building, and external facilities including exclusive VIP parking area and other facilities. 

Commenting on the inauguration of the new terminal, Mesfin Tasew, the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Ethiopian Airlines, said, the company was delighted to witness the completion of the terminal building project that has been under construction for the last few years. 

He added: “As a national flag carrier, Ethiopian is playing its part in the country’s aviation transformation and Jinka is our latest contribution to Ethiopia’s modern aviation facility. 

“The new Jinka airport will further offer a comfortable travel experience to/from the city thereby boosting trade and tourism in the region and beyond. Committed to enhancing customer experience, we will continue to invest in renovation and upgrading of domestic airports.” 

Following the finalization of the project with an investment cost of more than EUR eight million Euro for construction, Jinka Airport Terminal is now equipped with modern passenger service areas, including departure and VIP lounges and other facilities that would enhance customer experience. 

The completion of the airport would help Ethiopian offer an upgraded customer services to its passengers to/from the city. 


HRW calls for UN probe into Ethiopian army killings

Human Rights Watch on Thursday called for the United Nations to investigate “war crimes” committed by the Ethiopian army in Amhara, a region that has been plagued by conflict.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, a public independent institution, estimated in February that at least 45 people were killed on January 29 by government forces in Merawi city after clashes with local militia Fano.

According to testimonies collected by the New York-based rights group, after the Fano withdrew from Merawi, Ethiopian soldiers shot civilians on the streets as well as during house raids over a six-hour period.

“The soldiers also pillaged and destroyed civilian property,” HRW said in a statement.

It said the incident “was among the deadliest for civilians during the fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and Fano militia since the outbreak of fighting in Amhara in August 2023”.

HRW urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to launch an independent inquiry into abuses in the region.

The NGO called on the African Union to suspend all deployments of Ethiopian federal forces to peacekeeping missions until “commanders responsible for grave abuses are held accountable”.

Laetitia Bader, the group’s deputy Africa director, said: “The Ethiopian government’s failure to ensure meaningful accountability for abuses by federal and regional forces contributes to ongoing cycles of violence and impunity.”

The deliberate killing of civilians has become a “daily occurrence” for Ethiopians in conflict zones, she said.

In early February, Ethiopia’s parliament extended a state of emergency introduced in August 2023 in Amhara — the country’s second most populous region — in an attempt to quell a so-far unsuccessful Fano insurgency.

The Fanos and other Amharas felt betrayed by a peace agreement signed in November 2022 by the government and dissident leaders of the Tigray region — long-time foes of Amhara nationalists who claim parts of Ethiopia’s northernmost region as their ancestral lands.


Fears of violence grow as Somalia scraps power-sharing system

An overhaul of Somalia’s constitution, scrapping its power-sharing system and handing the president increased control, is threatening to destabilize the fragile country, as its wealthiest and most stable state refuses to recognize the changes.

The amendments risk worsening violence, the information minister from the semi-autonomous state of Puntland has warned.

MohamudAididDirir told the Guardian that “almost a totally new constitution” had been introduced without input from the state’s leaders. He accused the Somali president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, of using parliament to “gather authority into his hands”.

Somali lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last weekend to adopt a slew of amendments to the constitution, which will reshape the political and electoral system and hand more power to the president. The parliamentary speaker, Adan Mohamed NuurMadobe, called the move “historic”.

The current power-sharing model of government, a system that ensures the country’s four main clans get equal representation in parliament, will be also scrapped in place of universal suffrage.

“We are a fragile country still recovering from a civil war, which doesn’t have stable politics. If power is concentrated in one person’s hands, there is a risk we could go back to civil war. We have always warned that this could happen,” said Dirir.

Dirir claimed Puntland was stonewalled by central government when it tried to participate in consultations. He said the region would not recognize the changes.

“We are not declaring independence, but Puntland will stand alone until it is consulted.”

In a sign of escalating tensions, the Somali government on Thursday ordered the closure of Ethiopia’s consulate in Puntland in apparent retaliation for a visit by representatives of the semi-autonomous state to Addis Ababa this week. The government also expelled the Ethiopian ambassador, citing interference in Somalia’s internal affairs.

Dirir said concentrating authority in Mogadishu “threatens national unity”. “Our government is federal, which means powers are divided,” he said.

Experts argue that Puntland’s withdrawal from the federal system could further imperil the viability of a unified Somali state.

The other federal states, Jubbaland, South West state, Hirshabelle and Galmudug have yet to comment on the amendments.

Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, said: “Somalia’s recent constitutional development is an internal matter.”

Somalia’s current constitution was introduced in 2012, but was intended to be a provisional document and has long been under review. Crafting a new constitution was one of President Mohamud’s key election pledges in 2022. Last month he said further delays were “not an option”. “We are not a provisional government, but we have a provisional constitution,” he added.

AfyareElmi said the 2012 constitution was based upon a political settlement with broad input from Somalis and had four key elements: federalism, clan power-sharing, regular elections and a spirit of inclusiveness to build consensus.


Sudan charges former PM, anti-war leaders with serious crimes

The Public Prosecution in Sudan has filed criminal cases against former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, head of Tagadum and several leading members of the anti-war coalition. The charges, linked to the ongoing conflict, could carry the death penalty.

Tagadum, a coalition of political parties, civil society, and professional groups, advocates for a peaceful end to the conflict. Earlier this year, they signed a declaration of principles with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), calling for an end to hostilities and direct negotiations with the military.

Sudanese state television reported that the Public Prosecution filed cases against former civilian government Prime Minister HamdokTagadum leader and 15 others, including party leaders and journalists. The charges include incitement to war against the state, undermining the constitutional order, and crimes against humanity. These charges carry the death penalty under Sudanese law.

Those charged were identified as Al-Wathiq Al-Brair, Secretary-General of the National Umma Party, Zainab and Maryam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, NUP leadership members, Omer al-Digair, head of the Sudanese Congress Party, and his deputy, Khaled Omer Youssif. Yasir Arman, head of the SPLM-N Democratic Revolutionary Current, Suleiman Sandal, head of the Justice and Equality Movement, and Taha Osman Ishaq, a leading member of the civil forces, along with several journalists such as Maher Abu Al-Joukh, Shawqi Abdel Azim, and RashaAwad were also targeted.

Military leaders recently launched a frenzied campaign against the anti-war alliance leaders, considering them an RSF political mouthpiece. Calls for their prosecution have also increased recently by the supporters of the military-led government.

Earlier this year, the leaders of Taqadum requested a meeting with the Chairman of the Sovereign Council and the Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Army to discuss ways to end the war. Still, the charges against them today reduce the chances of dialogue between Tagadum and the country’s military leadership.

(Sudan Tribune)

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