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Aug 11, 2010

Ethiopia eyes end of food aid within five years: PM

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia may not need any food aid within five years thanks to an ambitious development plan that targets a heady average economic growth of 14.9 percent over the period, its prime minister said Wednesday.

The Horn of Africa nation is still one of the world’s poorest countries, with nearly 10 percent of the population relying on emergency food aid last year.

Jul 27, 2010

African Union adds 4,000 troops to Somalia peace force

KAMPALA (Reuters) – The African Union (AU) will add 4,000 troops to its peace force in Somalia and is considering whether to let them battle Islamists who were behind suicide attacks in Uganda that killed 76 people.

AU officials at the group’s summit on Tuesday said a cap of 8,100 on troop levels for the force, known as AMISOM, had been lifted and they were mulling whether to give it powers to combat militants, despite misgivings of some AU members.

Jul 27, 2010

AU set to add troops in Somalia, won’t allow attacks

KAMPALA (Reuters) – The African Union will beef up peacekeeping troops in Somalia, but will not allow them to attack Islamists there despite the urging of several countries after the rebels killed 76 people in suicide attacks in Uganda.

African diplomats at an African Union (AU) summit Tuesday told Reuters the possibility of allowing the force to attack the rebels would likely be rejected, but a cap of 8,100 on troop levels for the force, known as AMISOM, would be lifted.

Jul 26, 2010

Egypt extends olive branch in Nile river row

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Egypt sounded a conciliatory note on Monday in a dispute over how Nile waters should be shared by the countries it passes through at an African summit in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

After more than a decade of talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya signed a new deal in May without their northern neighbors.

Jul 24, 2010
via Africa News blog

Gordon Brown resurfaces. In Africa


It’s odd to see a once powerful man walk slowly. And odder still to see him sit in the corner of a restaurant nursing a glass of water for more than an hour. But that’s exactly what delegates to an African Union summit in Ugandan capital Kampala saw former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown do on Saturday.

Brown has been treated as something of a fugitive by the British media since his May election defeat with a slew of “Have you seen this man? type articles published in the country’s newspapers. Speculation on what he was up to ranged from bashing out a book on economics to Alastair Darling’s “he’s reflecting”.

Jul 23, 2010

Britain calls for more troops in Somalia

KAMPALA, July 23 (Reuters) – Britain on Friday threw its weight behind calls for more African troops to be sent to Somalia to battle Islamist rebels, whose suicide attacks in Uganda last week killed 73 people watching the World Cup final.

An African Union (AU) summit in the Ugandan capital Kampala, planned before the attacks, has put the Somali crisis at the top of its agenda and more than 30 African heads of state are under pressure to act on the failed state.

Central to discussions at the summit is the mandate of an AU peacekeeping force of 6,300 troops, which is protecting Somalia’s besieged government. Delegates told Reuters a cap of 8,100 on troop levels would likely be lifted during the meeting.

"We certainly welcome an increase in numbers," Britain’s minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the summit. "We said yes to (lifting the restriction on troop numbers). Absolutely."

The AU force may also be given permission to attack the rebels — it can now only fight when engaged. Bellingham warned the move could backfire.

"We are cautious about that because we’re worried about possible collateral damage," he said. "We have to balance the military option with the moves that are also afoot to try and find some political progress."

Somalia’s near powerless Western-backed government is hemmed into a few streets of the capital Mogadishu. Troops from Uganda and Burundi make up the AU force — al Shabaab said that was why it attacked Kampala.

Al Shabaab — meaning "the youth" in Arabic — controls huge swathes of central and southern Somalia and is fighting to overthrow the government. Last week’s bombings were the group’s first strike outside Somalia.

A U.S. counterterrorism official this week told Reuters that, after the Kampala attack, his government now favoured "aggressive action" against al Shabaab and would increase funding to AMISOM. He did not rule out bombings by U.S. drones.

Delegates from around the continent are facing renewed pressure behind the scenes at the summit to pledge troops to AMISOM. AU officials told Reuters that South Africa was negotiating a significant deployment of troops.

The AU said on Friday that Guinea would send a battalion of troops to join AMISOM.


The only nation to be punished for its role in the Somali crisis, Eritrea, made an unexpected visit to the summit despite suspending its membership of the AU last year after the AU called for sanctions against the African nation.

In December the United Nations imposed the punitive measures, accusing Eritrea of funding and arming Islamist rebels in Somalia. Bellingham said the international pressure may have told on the small Red Sea state.

"We just had a meeting with the Eritrean foreign minister. The fact that they have come does show that they don’t want to be completely ostracised," he said.

Bellingham said the much-maligned nation could play an important role in the peace process in Somalia, citing their alleged links with insurgents.

"We don’t have any time for their regime but they are an important frontline player," he said. "They claim to be very close to al Shabaab, it goes without saying that they might have some influence to bear that other countries don’t."

Eritrea has consistently denied it has ever funded, lent logistical support or provided weapons to any group fighting an insurgency in Somalia.

Last month Eritrea and Djibouti resolved a two-year border dispute, which surprised many analysts who saw it an uncharacteristic attempt by Eritrea to mend bridges with the international community six months after the sanctions. (Editing by Jon Boyle)

Jul 15, 2010
via Africa News blog

Live Aid anniversary: Unknown Ethiopia


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.

Jul 7, 2010
via Africa News blog

Nile River row: Could it turn violent?


The giggles started when the seventh journalist in a row said that his question was for Egypt’s water and irrigation minister, Mohamed Nasreddin Allam.

The non-Egyptian media gave him a bit of a hammering at last week’s talks in Addis Ababa for the nine countries that the Nile passes through.

Jun 27, 2010

Nile agreement countries reject Egyptian pressure

ADDIS ABABA, June 27 (Reuters) – Five East African countries said on Sunday that they would not go back on a deal they signed to share River Nile waters that has drawn fierce criticism from Egypt and Sudan.

After more than a decade of talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water

Jun 26, 2010

Ethiopia says peace deal agreed with rebel faction

ADDIS ABABA, June 26 (Reuters) – Leaders controlling about half the forces of a separatist rebel group in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region have agreed to make peace, the government said on Saturday, but the rebel group denied there had been any deal.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front is fighting to make the predominately ethnic Somali

    • About Barry

      "Irish journalist who has lived in the Horn and east Africa since 2006 - first in Ethiopia, then in Uganda - covering politics, elections, society, culture and economics across the region. I have also worked for Reuters in Tunisia, Iraq and Libya and was part of the team that dominated coverage of Muammar Gaddafi's killing. Always welcome a good chat over on Twitter: @malonebarry"
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