Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
By Aaron Maasho
Ethiopia and Eritrea are still at each others’ throats. The two neighbours fought hammer and tongs in sun-baked trenches during a two-year war over a decade ago, before a peace deal ended their World War I-style conflict in 2000. Furious veRed Sea, UNrbal battles, however, have continued to this day.
Yet, amid the blistering rhetoric and scares over a return to war, analysts say the feuding rivals are reluctant to lock horns once again. Neighbouring South Sudan and some Ethiopian politicians are working on plans to bring both sides to the negotiating table.
Asmara has been named, shamed and then slapped with two sets of U.N. sanctions over charges that it was aiding and abetting al Qaeda-linked rebels in lawless Somalia in its proxy war with Ethiopia. However, a panel tasked with monitoring violations of an arms embargo on Somalia said it had no proof of Eritrean support to the Islamist militants in the last year.
Nevertheless, Eritrea’s foreign ministry wasted little time in pointing a finger of accusation at its perennial rival. “The events over the past year have clearly shown that it is in fact Ethiopia that is actively engaged in destabilising Eritrea in addition to its continued occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory in violation of the U.N. Charter,” the ministry said in a statement last month.
The African Union has moved its July summit to the Ethiopian capital after Malawi blocked the attendance of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the bloc said
Malawi last month asked the African Union to prevent Bashir from taking part in the event, saying his visit would have “implications” for its aid-dependent economy.
By Aaron Maasho
Ethiopia did it five years ago, the Americans a while back. Now Kenya has rolled tanks and troops across its arid frontier into lawless Somalia, in another campaign to stamp out a rag-tag militia of Islamist rebels that has stoked terror throughout the region with threats of strikes.
The catalyst for Nairobi’s incursion was a series of kidnappings by Somali gunmen on its soil. A Frenchwoman was bundled off to Somalia from northern Kenya, while a British woman and two female aid workers from Spain, abducted from a refugee camp inside Kenya, are also being held across the border.
Ethiopia’s handful of TV channels are not carrying much news lately. Instead, broadcasters are spending most of their time covering every phase of the construction of a new mega dam along the country’s Nile waters.
From mawkish ballads to patriotic poems and documentaries, programmes are waxing eloquently about how far the impoverished African nation has come since the dreaded Communist junta was toppled two decades ago, by defying Egyptian pressure and embarking on a massive project from its own coffers.
Ethiopia is beating the war drums again. After a lull of more than a decade, the Horn of Africa giant is now threatening to attack its neighbour and foe Eritrea over claims it is working to destabilise the country.
When Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his country would no longer take a passive stance towards Eritrea, it marked an escalation in the bitter war of words that has ensued since a devastating border spat ended in 2000.
Ethiopia’s opposition UDJ party, completely wiped out at last year’s disputed election, says it is regrouping.
At a recent news conference, it announced it plans to rebuild its depleted ranks with young people, analyse the mistakes of the past and ensure that it’s never again hampered by a lack of leadership.
By Aaron Maasho
It is not hard to notice Haile Gebrselassie’s huge popularity in Ethiopia. It emanates from pride over his illustrious career that saw him break 27 world records, as much as from who he is when not running.
With his ever-present smile and sarcastic quips, “The Emperor” — as he is affectionately known — has never shied away from charity work, as well as providing hundreds of jobs to impoverished locals in his numerous business ventures.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi seemed to anticipate this week exactly what a lot people were thinking about his government’s plan to double the poor country’s GDP and wean it off food aid within just five years.
“I think that this is a very ambitious plan,” he said.
“This is indeed an extremely ambitious plan,” a few minutes later.
And, once more for luck, “We have put in place a high-case scenario which is clearly very, very ambitious.”
This week is 25 years since a bunch of bouffant-haired pop stars staged the most ambitious concerts of all time to help millions of starving people who had never heard of them.
Live Aid, organised to raise money to stop Ethiopia’s catastrophic 1984/85 famine, was a huge success by some measures. An audience of more than 1.5 billion tuned in around the world to watch simultaneous live concerts from London and Philadelphia — an incredible technological feat for the time — and a staggering $230 million was raised for the emergency.