A Week in the Horn (12/11/2016)
News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
The twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) and the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, (CMP12), the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, opened on Monday (November 7). (See article)
The African Union High-Level Committee on Libya held a two-day mini-Summit in Addis Ababa this week to support the process for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Libya. It was attended by the Presidents of Chad, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Niger, Uganda, and Sudan, as well as Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Also present were the UN Special Envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, the AU Special Envoy to Libya and former Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete and the AU's Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui. President Idriss Deby, Chair of the African Union, stressed the AU's belief that there could be no military solution and said the transition process must get back on track.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn congratulated Donald Trump on Wednesday (November 9) on the occasion of his being elected 45th President of the United States of America. The Prime Minister wished the President a fruitful and successful term of office. He noted the partnership of the US and Ethiopia over many years to combat terrorism and expressed his belief that the relations of the two countries would reach new heights during Mr. Trump's administration. He hoped that the people-to-people and trade ties between Ethiopia and the US would be invigorated and expanded.
The new Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Headquarters in Addis Ababa on Monday (November 7). Officials of the Ministry, including the outgoing Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, State Ministers and Directors-General welcomed the Minister. The State Ministers and Directors-General also thanked Dr. Tedros for his successful direction of Ethiopia's diplomatic activity over the last four years.
Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu met with South Sudan Foreign Minister, Deng Alor Kuol on Friday (November 11). They discussed the promotion of peace and security in the region, and in South Sudan as well as deliberating on building regional infrastructure networks and boosting bilateral trade and investment.
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao will visit Ethiopia next week and will hold discussions with senior government officials. Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Tewolde Mulugeta, said Li Yuanchao's visit is expected to raise bilateral relations of the two countries to a new level. The Chinese delegation is also expected to sign various agreements.
The Command Post issued its second implementing directive for the State of Emergency this week. The travel limit of 40 Kilometers radius of Addis Ababa for foreign diplomats has been lifted. Defense Minister, Siraj Fegessa, secretary of the Command Post said that because of the huge improvement in peace and security, the Command Post has canceled the travel limit.
The Ethiopian Diaspora Association will hold a national conference on November 17 to discuss the current situation in the country with government officials and members of opposition political parties. The Secretary of the Command Post and Minister of Defense, Siraj Fegessa, will respond to questions raised members of the Diaspora the State of Emergency.
Ethiopia and Cuba have signed a five-year scientific cooperation agreement in Havana. The agreement signed by Cuban Science, Technology and Environment minister Elba Rosa Perez and Ethiopia´s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regassa Kifle, allows for exchanges of Cuban and Ethiopian academics and industrial specialists to develop projects and initiatives in various fields.
The 2nd International Echo-hydrology Symposium took place in Addis Ababa this week (November 7-9) under the theme "Echo-hydrology for Water, Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Resilience in Africa." Opening the symposium, attended by NGO representatives, academics, ambassadors and ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen underlined the need to collaborate with research centers and higher learning institutions in order to cope with climate change and harmonize natural resources with regional development. UNESCO decided last year to establish an African Echo-hydrology center in Ethiopia.
The Ministry of Trade says next week's 6th International Conference on Pulses, Oil Seeds and Spices in Addis Ababa will widen the opportunity to access foreign markets for export. The conference (November 16-17) is organized by the Ministry in partnership with the Ethiopian Pulses, Oilseeds and Spices Processors-Exporters Association (EPOSPEA).
The Ethiopian Peace Support Training Centre has launched the 5th conflict management training for military and non-military personnel drawn from Ethiopia, Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania. Supported by the Japanese government and UNDP, the training will build the capacity of peacekeepers to prevent and manage conflicts. The head of the Center, Lt. General Birhanu Jula said the center aims to equip leaders with conflict prevention and management skills for worldwide peacekeeping operations.
The Director-general of the Ethiopian Investment Commission Director-General Fitsum Arega said in a press briefing on Thursday (November 10) that the recent demonstrations had not had any serious impact on foreign direct investment flows. He said investments worth 560 million USD has been registered over the last quarter and showed no significant decrease from the same period last Ethiopian year. The Director-General said the commission would give compensation to horticulture and floriculture growers affected by the protests, and the government facilitating conditions to give loans to affected companies so that they can pay salaries and cover other expenses.
The Finnish Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Helena Airaksinen said on Tuesday (November 8) that Finland would continue to provide professional and financial assistance to Ethiopia. This would focus on rural water supply and sanitation as well as the expansion of primary school education. She said 15 million Euros would be allotted annually to realize the development programs, and disclosed that more than 1.8 million people and 140,000 institutions would benefit from the supply of potable water.
The Security Council adopted resolution 2317 (2016) on Thursday (November 10) reaffirming the arms embargo on Eritrea and extending the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group until 15 December 2017. It urged the Government of Eritrea to facilitate the Group's entry to Eritrea and demanded Eritrea provide information on the Djiboutian prisoners missing in action. The vote was 10 in favor with 5 abstentions (Angola, China, Egypt, Russian Federation, and Venezuela). We will look at the resolution in detail next week.
The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea released its latest annual report on Eritrea on Friday last week (November 4). The report which underlined concern over violations of the arms embargo, covered Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates establishment of a military presence in Eritrea, Eritrea's continued support for armed groups involved in regional destabilization, the question of Djibouti prisoners of war, the possible use of mining revenue to break the arms embargo and a mission to Italy in search of spare parts for helicopters, as well as the repeated refusal of the Eritrean government to engage with the Monitoring Group. (See article)
President Kenyatta in his message of congratulation to Donald Trump said that the ties that bound Kenya and the United States of America were close and strong. He said "They are old, and based in the values that we hold dear: in democracy, in the rule of law, and in the equality of peoples. These values remain dear to the peoples of both nations, and so our friendship will endure."
This week Kenya began the withdrawal of its troops from the UN Mission in South Sudan. This followed the sacking of the Kenyan Force Commander, Lt. General Ondieki last week, after a U.N. inquiry into the fighting in July called the U.N. response "chaotic and ineffective". (See article)
Kenya may delay the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp. The government set November 30 as the deadline, but according to the UNHCR only 34,900 refugees had returned home by last Saturday, with 276,269 still in the camp. 66,000 have said they would like to return. An Interior Ministry spokesperson said, "The government just set a target and when targets fail, they are rescheduled."
Voting for members of the Lower House of the Somali Parliament, the House of the People has been taking place this week in Puntland, Jubaland and South West states. The new state of Hir-Shabelle has also been electing its members of the Upper House. (See article)
Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, president of South West State has declared that he would be standing for the post of Federal President in the election later this month. In a statement at the weekend, he said he had accepted the voices of South West state residents who asked him to run for presidency. There are at least 16 candidates now standing for the presidency, including the incumbent, Federal President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud, his predecessor Sheikh Sharif, and Federal Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid.
The Security Council adopted resolution 2317 (2016) on Thursday (November 10), continuing the arms embargo on Somalia until 15 November 2017 and extending the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group for another year. The resolution reaffirmed Somalia's sovereignty over its natural resources. The resolution expressed concern over Al-Shabaab's reliance on revenues from the illicit sugar trade, and reaffirmed the ban on charcoal. It was concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation and by continued reports of corruption, diversion of public resources and financial impropriety involving members of the Federal Government and the Federal Parliament.
The Security Council has also renewed for another year the authorization for international naval forces to join in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, stressing that while the threat of such crime had declined, it still remained a matter of grave concern. The Council recognized the continued need for national legislative action and international capacity-building assistance for Somalia, and also expressed serious concern over reports of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Somalia's exclusive economic zone
The report of the UN Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia on Somalia was made public last Friday (November 4). It emphasizes that Al-Shabaab remains capable of launching large-scale attacks despite claims that the insurgency is weakening. This latest report, written before the current electoral processes became operational, said that investigations revealed "an incomplete, fragmented transition process with adverse implications for peace and security, security sector reform, arms embargo implementation, humanitarian and human right issues, conflict financing and natural resource governance, and corruption." (See article)
Fighting between Galmudug and Puntland forces broke out again in Galkayo on Tuesday (November 8) after the latest ceasefire agreement, brokered a week ago by the UAE, collapsed over the weekend with at least 25 soldiers being killed from both sides. Galkayo is divided, with Galmudug governing the southern part and Puntland the northern half.
Somali Interior Minister Abdurrahman Muhammed Huseyin inaugurated the Recep Tayyip Erdogan School of Health Services in Mogadishu on Sunday (November 6). As Somalia's first graduate school of health sciences, it will give 300 students training for a two-year program on nursing, childbirth and other health sciences courses. Students will also be given a nine-month Turkish language training prior to the graduate program.
The South Sudan government announced on Wednesday (November 9) that it had accepted the participation of neighboring countries in the UN mandated Regional Protection Force. The decision followed the recent visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn to Juba, during which both sides agreed not to support or allow the presence of armed dissident groups opposed to either country. (See article)
The South Sudanese government said on Tuesday (November 8) that it had withdrawn troops from the border with Sudan. Defense Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, said the move was in line with security arrangements under the Cooperation Agreements the two countries signed in September 2012. The establishment of a Joint Border and Verification mission and the creation of a buffer zone would now follow this.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Sudan says 32,000 displaced persons have returned to their homes in Central Darfur from Chad and the Central African Republic. They had left in 2013-2014 as a result of conflict between the Misseriya and Salamat tribes. The improved security situation had encouraged them to return though OCHA said they needed emergency shelter, household supplies, agricultural seeds, tools, and water and sanitation services.
A WEEK IN THE HORN ARTICLES
The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties: COP 22 – the COP of Action
The twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC and the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, (CMP12), or the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, opened on Monday, November 7, in Marrakech, Morocco. COP22 is also being called the "COP of Action" as it will focus on implementing the climate change agreement concluded in Paris at COP21 in 2015, and reached implementation level on November 4. In her opening remark, Ms. Segolene Royal, the President of COP21 in Paris, underlined that, "the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement is unprecedented and sends a powerful signal of world's commitment to combating climate change."
Morocco's Minister of Foreign Affairs, President Salahedine Mezouar, who was elected as President of COP22, welcomed all participants to Marrakech for "the two weeks of climate change action" which would include a historic first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement that will take place on November 15. He called on all participants to commit to concretize the impact of climate change especially in Africa, as well as the least developed and small island developing states. He said: "Paris gave us a global commitment to climate change and COP22 in Marrakech will give us more ambitious climate action. We must all rise to the challenge in support of the most vulnerable countries in the fight against climate change." He also announced that during COP22, Morocco, along with a number of partners, will launch the National Determined Contributions Partnership to build capacity and direct climate finance flows towards the most vulnerable. He reiterated the importance of accelerating climate finance, innovation, transfer and capacity building to create the low-carbon economy the planet needs to stay below the 2 degree Celsius mark of global warming. Earlier on Sunday (November 6), Mr. Mezouar emphasized the importance of reaching tangible commitments from States and civil society during the 11-day conference particularly in the areas of climate finance and adaptation. He said: "We're changing the paradigm towards a low-carbon global economy that needs key climate finance flows to the most vulnerable countries."
On November 8, the second day of the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22), the Global Action Agenda was officially launched. The Global Action Agenda allows for further actions from the states to give roles to the official non-governmental players (civil society organizations, private companies, cities, regions and investors) and their initiatives. On the same day, a number of African ministers in charge of water resources took part in a side event organized in the Moroccan pavilion during which they stressed the relevance of putting water issues at the top of the COP22 agenda in light of the drastic impact of climate change on water resources. The meeting underscored a need to further consolidate enhancing the issue of water resilience adopted in the Paris agreement.
Ethiopia has been spearheading for the launch of a globally binding agreement to curb the emissions of carbon both at the national level and actively participating in almost all international forums relating to climate change. The country has already announced that it will create a carbon neutral economy and reduce emissions by 64% by 2030. Ethiopia is now the chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum elected for the period 2016-2017 by the leaders of the Forum in December 2015. The Climate Vulnerable Forum, established in 2009, is a coalition of the 43 countries from Africa, Asia and Oceania and Latin America that are the most vulnerable to the negative consequences of climate change. The Climate Vulnerable Forum was largely responsible for getting agreement at Paris to adopt a lower global warming ceiling of 1.5 C. As chair of the Forum, Ethiopia was tasked to lead the Forum's approach to the summit.
COP22 will cover numerous themes including migration, resilience and health; industry and cost; transport and innovation, territories and oceans, heritage and security, gender and health, and finance and energy. Over 40 Heads of State and 30 Heads of Government are expected to attend the Marrakech Conference. 30,000 members of civil society are expected to participate in the Green Zone and nearly 20,000 more as delegates in the Blue Zone, and with the presence of thousands of experts from all over the world, the event is a prime opportunity to exchange information and best practices to strengthen cooperation on finding ways to produce sustainable, secure and smart energy affordable for all.
South Sudan approves neighbors' participation in the Regional Protection Force
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution, on August 12, to deploy a Regional Protection Force to the South Sudanese capital of Juba, under Chapter Seven of the United Nation Charter as part of an extension of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). At that point the Security Council had reiterated its grave alarm and concern at the political, security, economic, and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, especially after the renewed outbreak of fighting in July. It was made clear that the Regional Protection Force would also be expected to provide a secure environment in and around Juba using "all necessary means" to protect civilians as well as United Nations staff and other humanitarian workers.
South Sudan's government prevaricated over the resolution, telling the Security Council that details of the deployment, including the timing and the weapons that the troops would be allowed to carry, must first be negotiated with Juba. Following this, a series of discussions have been taking place between the Government of South Sudan, the United Nations, IGAD, and IGAD Plus, with little substantial result until now. In fact, the South Sudanese government came out with contradictory statements a mere few days after a consensus was reached with members of the United Nations Security Council. Even on the eve of its approval of the deployment of regional troops for the Regional Protection Force, the government was saying it would only accept such deployment if troop-contributing countries did not include those countries with which it shared borders.
A South Sudan government representative said this week that South Sudan was now prepared to allow the deployment of troops from countries with which it shares borders because of the change in approach. "There was a fear that troops coming from countries with a direct border with us were going to take side in favor of the SPLM-IO led by Riek Machar and participate in a regime- change agenda. " Now, however, "the President has permitted the participation of neighboring countries because they have recognized First Vice-President, Taban Deng Gai, as the legitimate replacement of his predecessor and they have agreed not to host or support armed dissident groups operating against the Transitional Government of National Unity."
Following the recent visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, to Juba, the government of South Sudan seems to have changed its mind. It has accepted the participation of neighboring countries in the United Nation's mandated regional force. This represents a major shift from its earlier position. The circumstances under which the South Sudanese government changed its mind appear to relate to a series of bilateral visits following the Prime Minister's visit. The South Sudan Chief of General Staff visited Ethiopia where he had the opportunity to meet and discuss bilateral security matters with Ethiopian military and security officials. Ethiopia military officials have also visited Juba. The two sides have now agreed to upgrade and strengthen their military cooperation, a factor that will have a significant role in confidence building between Ethiopia and South Sudan. Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu also met with South Sudan Foreign Minister, Deng Alor Kuol, on Friday (November 11). They discussed the promotion of peace and security in the region and in South Sudan, as well as deliberating on building regional infrastructure networks and boosting bilateral trade and investment. Dr. Workneh emphasized: "We are part of the region and also a partner in South Sudan's peace process; and we will continue to extend support for this."
Meanwhile, on Wednesday this week, the first one hundred Kenyan troops arrived back in Nairobi from UNMISS in Juba. This was the start of the withdrawal of Kenyan troops from UNMISS. Kenya had 1,229 soldiers in South Sudan, 995 deployed in Wau, 166 in Aweil and 304 in Kuajok, as well as 30 staff officers and 12 military observers. President Kenyatta ordered the withdrawal after the sacking of Lt. General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki as Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. The UN dismissed Lt. General Ondieki as Force Commander after a critical report by Major General (rtd) Cammaert that said UNMISS' response to events in Juba in July had been "chaotic and ineffective" and blaming the Force Commander. The report claimed the Force did not operate under a unified command, resulting in multiple and sometimes conflicting orders given to the four troop contingents from China, Ethiopia, Nepal and India. It had also underused the more than 1,800 troops available, failing to respond to attacks on civilians and humanitarian staff.
Announcing the withdrawal of the troops, on November 3, President Kenyatta said Kenyan troops would no longer contribute to a mission that had failed in its mandate and which had now resorted to scapegoating Kenyans. He said "Peace will not come to South Sudan by blaming a Kenyan commander for the wider failings of the Mission to South Sudan. We intend to withdraw Kenyan troops from the mission and we will discontinue our contribution of troops to the proposed Regional Protection Force." The President said events involving UNMISS led UN Secretariat to place the blame for a systemic failure on an individual Kenyan commander. UNMISS said it appreciated Kenya's "long-standing relationship with UN Peacekeeping, and the contribution and the sacrifices of its troops."
Kenya's Foreign Ministry said Lt. General Ondieki was not to blame for the "systemic dysfunctionality" within UNMISS. He had indeed only been appointed two months earlier. It accused the United Nations of acting without consultation. The Foreign Ministry said, "The process leading to this unfortunate decision not only lacked transparency but did not involve any formal consultation with the Government of Kenya. This demonstrates complete disregard of our key role and responsibility in South Sudan." The government therefore rejected Lt.-General Ondieki's removal and announced it would no longer contribute to South Sudan's peace process. Last week, Kenya also deported James Gatdet, the spokesman of former South Sudan Vice-President, Dr. Riek Machar, after he endorsed the dismissal of Lt. General Ondieki on behalf of the opposition Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO).
The UN Monitoring Group concerned at Eritrean arms embargo violations…
The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea released its latest annual report on Eritrea on Friday last week (November 4). The report covered several different areas of concern: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates establishment of a military presence in Eritrea, Eritrea's continued support for armed groups involved in regional destabilization, the question of Djibouti prisoners of war, the possible use of mining revenue to break the arms embargo and a mission to Italy in search of spare parts for helicopters, and the repeated refusal of the Eritrean government to engage with the Monitoring Group.
The report noted that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had established a military presence in Eritrea as part of the Saudi-led coalition against Houthis in Yemen. It said the use of Eritrea's land, water and airspace by other countries to conduct military operations in a third state was not, in itself, a sanctions' violation, but it noted that "compensation diverted directly or indirectly towards activities that threatened peace and security in the region, or for the benefit of the Eritrean military, would constitute a violation." It also said it had collected evidence that the construction of a new permanent military air base and a permanent sea base at Assab provided "external support for infrastructure development that could benefit the Eritrean military." The Monitoring Group also said it had documented the presence in Eritrea "whether for training or transit, of armed personnel and related military and naval equipment of various Member States other than Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates." Indeed, Eritrea's Foreign Minister told Reuters earlier this year that the United Arab Emirates now used Eritrean "logistical facilities"; the UAE had also trained 4,000 Yemeni fighters at Assab. The Monitoring Group said it was clear that foreign support for the construction of permanent military installations in Eritrea amounted to the provision of technical assistance, training, financial and other assistance to Eritrean military activities. The current terms of the U.N. arms embargo on Eritrea do not allow for such activities. These are banned under the arms embargo.
With regard to support for armed groups, the report noted that for the third year running it had found "no firm evidence of Eritrean support for the Somali Islamist group Harakat al-Shabaab al‑Mujaahidiin". The Eritrean authorities seized upon this to claim that this meant the Monitoring Group had found no evidence of sanctions breaking and that therefore that what it claimed were these "unjust" sanctions should be lifted. In fact, of course, support for Al-Shabaab was only one of the reasons for the impositions of sanctions by the UN Security Council at the request of the African Union.
In its latest report the Monitoring Group, as usual, defined its mandate. One element of this is that it should monitor the implementation of the Council's demand for all Member States, "in particular Eritrea, to cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their members, including al-Shabaab, that aim to destabilize the region or incite violence and civil strife in Djibouti." While the Monitoring Group said it found no "firm" evidence of support for Al-Shabaab, it certainly found considerable evidence of arming, training and support for a number of other groups which have publicly committed themselves to regional destabilization as well as indications of Eritrea's support for the armed Djibouti opposition, the Front pour la Restauration de l'Unité et de la Démocratie (FRUD). This carried out low-level attacks in northern Djibouti throughout the current mandate and continued to undermine the normalization of relations between Djibouti and Eritrea and obstruct the implementation of Security Council resolution 1862 (2009).
In fact, this latest report says firmly that the Monitoring Group "continued to find consistent evidence of Eritrean support for armed groups operating in both Ethiopia and Djibouti." It adds: "It is clear that Eritrea continues to harbor anti-Ethiopian armed groups, including the newly remodeled Patriotic Ginbot 7, and provides at least some logistical support to them." It said former fighters, including the former Chairman of the Tigray People's Democratic Movement, Mola Asgedom, provide evidence that the Eritrean authorities were providing weapons and training to these groups but because the Eritrean Government continued to refuse to allow the Monitoring Group access to Eritrea, it was unable to determine how far the Peoples' Alliance for Freedom and Democracy, incorporating such anti-Ethiopian movements as the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Front, might pose a threat to Ethiopia. However, the Group appeared to have to have no doubt that the Eritrean authorities were continuing to provide substantial support to armed groups aiming to destabilize the region in defiance of Security Council resolutions.
In the context of Djibouti, the Monitoring Group also raised the disappearance of 11 Djibouti soldiers whose whereabouts have been unknown since 2008. During Eritrea's attack on Djibouti in 2008, 30 Djiboutian soldiers were killed, 39 injured and 49 handicapped, with 19 reported missing in action, presumed to have been taken prisoner. The Government of Eritrea refused to acknowledge that it held any Djiboutian troops. Nor, incidentally, did it ever enquire about the 17 Eritrean soldiers held by Djibouti, and it still has not done so. Two of the Djibouti prisoners escaped from Eritrea in 2011, a further four of the missing combatants, held incommunicado as prisoners of war by Eritrea since 2008, were released in March 2016 after further intervention by the Government of Qatar, the mediator in the dispute. In September 2016, the Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations informed the Monitoring Group that one prisoner had died in detention and there were no more Djiboutian prisoners of war in Eritrean custody.
While the Monitoring Group welcomed this information, it also pointed out that this left 12 other Djiboutian prisoners unaccounted for. It stressed that "if this is indeed the case, it is vital that Eritrea confirm the circumstances of the death of the other combatants, whether on the field of battle or in custody, and, if the latter, the cause of death and place of burial." It pointed out this was a requirement of the Security Council, and also a requirement of international treaty and customary law by which Eritrea was also bound.
Another area the Monitoring Group is mandated to investigate is violations of the arms embargo and to what extent revenue from mining, for example, may be contributing to help violate Security Council resolutions 2023 (2011) or 1907 (2009). Owing to the government's continuing lack of transparency, the Monitoring Group said it had made no further progress in determining this. Equally, it noted the persistent failure of the Canadian mining company, Nevsun, to help determine whether any revenue from its Bisha mine might be used in this way. The question of diversion of unaccountable funds remained of concern. The Monitoring Group said it would, therefore, continue to watch British Columbia court case over the use of forced labor at Nevsun's Bisha Mine. It noted UN Security Council resolution 2023 (2011) imposed an obligation on Member States to take measures to prevent funds from the Eritrean mining sector being used in this way. Canada, the US and the EU have all been developing mandatory measures that are due to become operational over the next two years. The Monitoring Group says this will increase transparency over government revenue; but it will not, of course, address the issue of government expenditures.
The Monitoring Group also documented concerns over the visit of a group of Eritrean air force officers, headed by Major General Teklai Habteselassie, Eritrea's air force commander, to Italy this year. The delegation included two helicopter pilots and Monitoring Group believed the purpose of the trip was to procure military equipment, specifically spare parts for helicopters. It also noted that the two helicopter pilots did not apparently return to Eritrea and may have sought asylum in Europe.
The report underlined that the Monitoring Group received no replies to its official requests for cooperation on investigative and substantive matters from the Government throughout its current mandate, including to its formal requests for an official visit to Asmara. It has only been able to visit Eritrea twice in seven years, the last time in 2011! It did have two meetings with the Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations in New York, but largely had to engage with the government through individuals who have access to the country, including returning Diaspora Eritreans, academics, international journalists and diplomats. This was, it said, insufficient for the Group to carry out its mandate effectively.
In conclusion, the Monitoring Group suggested the UN Security Council should consider setting up a separate committee and monitoring group for Eritrea. It also recommended the Security Council request Member States consider offering the Government of Eritrea support to develop a program to strengthen the capacity of public financial management. The third suggestion, given the continuing military activities by Member States in and around Assab, is that Member States should be firmly advised about the need for compliance with the arms embargo on Eritrea.
It seems clear from the report that the Monitoring Group does not believe that the Government of Eritrea has been in full compliance with the sanctions regime during the last year, any more than it has over previous years. Eritrea remains consistent in its support for armed groups involved in cross-border activities and there is no evidence it has changed policies in this regard or in its approach to regional destabilization, even if the Monitoring Group found no firm evidence of specific support for Al-Shabaab. Eritrea has also remained determined not to allow the Monitoring Group access to Eritrea or access to any financial information. These are hardly the actions of a compliant state or one that it trying to respond positively to the UN Security Council resolutions or the sanctions regime.
…and a warning that Al-Shabaab is still a potent threat in Somalia
The UN Monitoring Group's report on Somalia emphasizes that Al-Shabaab remains capable of launching large-scale attacks despite claims that the insurgency is weakening. This latest report was written before the electoral processes became fully operational over the last months and the Monitoring Group said its investigations had revealed "an incomplete, fragmented transition process with adverse implications for peace and security, security sector reform, arms embargo implementation, humanitarian and human right issues, conflict financing and natural resource governance, and corruption."
Rather than agree with the current claims of continuing success against Al-Shabaab, still the most immediate threat to peace and security in Somalia, the Monitoring Group said it did not think the security situation had improved over the previous year. Al-Shabaab still had the ability to make large-scale attacks against AMISOM bases. It continued to launch attacks in Mogadishu, including at least six against hotels which had claimed a total of some 120 lives, including three parliamentarians and a Minister. Although Al-Shabaab had not launched a major terrorist attack outside Somalia since the massacre at Garissa University College in Kenya in April 2015, the Monitoring Group believed it still had the capacity and capability to carry out similar arracks, and it had, indeed, proclaimed its intent to attack the AMISOM troop-contributing countries. AMISOM is largely made up of troops from Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda and Burundi. The report also suggests that Al-Shabaab has "a robust and ideologically committed 'middle management' capable of easily stepping into positions vacated by assassinated senior leaders", at least three of whom had been killed by drone strikes or other attacks in the last year.
The report emphasizes that the continuing problems of corruption, mismanagement and financial constraints have compromised the effectiveness of the Somali National Army. It says so-called "ghost soldiers" still remain on the payroll; and its investigation revealed significant inconsistencies in payment of salaries. It says the lack of regular salary increases has led to withdrawals from strategic positions and the subsequent temporary return of Al-Shabaab. The Monitoring Group also notes that its investigations have revealed probable misappropriation of rations and supplies arising out of a contract between the Federal Government and a private company. Support provided to the military by Member States may also have been subject to misappropriation. It provides details of these issues in the series of annexes attached to the report.
The Monitoring Group identifies a number of challenges in implementing the arms embargo, not least a failure of the Federal Government's reporting obligations, and a lack of compliance by Member States supporting other Somali security sector institutions. The report says that the continued calls by the Federal Government for the complete lifting of the arms embargo are misleading. The embargo, the Monitoring Group stresses, is not an impediment to the import of arms and ammunition. Since the partial lifting of the arms embargo in March 2013, the Federal government has received more than 20,000 weapons and 13 million rounds of ammunition, for which Member States have provided advance notification. There has, however, been an increase in maritime stopping of illicit arms over the last year. The report also noted improvised explosive device attack on a Daallo Airlines flight from Mogadishu in February this year, which it suggests offers a substantial new threat to civil aviation in the region.
The Monitoring Group notes Al-Shabaab's continued obstruction of humanitarian assistance and violations of international humanitarian law. This includes attacks on humanitarian workers and the diversion and misappropriation of humanitarian aid. Al-Shabaab has continued targeted assassinations of government officials, civil servants, parliamentarians, international agency staff, civil society activists and journalists. There has been an overall increase in the number of instances of the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Overall, armed conflict and insecurity led to the internal displacement of some 598,000 Somalis between 1 January 2015 and 30 June 2016.
The Monitoring Group does find some positive trends, one being the implementation of the ban on charcoal which has led to a declining volume of charcoal exports. However it also adds "there are currently no effective barriers to prevent Al-Shabaab from reverting to systematically taxing the production and transport of charcoal." Al-Shabaab has also been offsetting the loss from charcoal by increased taxation of illicit sugar trade, agricultural production in southern Somalia and livestock. The Monitoring Group estimates that Al-Shabaab now gets up to $18 million a year in revenue from checkpoints demanding payment from trucks carrying sugar; it quotes a Somali intelligence estimate that $9.5 million is collected from taxing agricultural production.
It also finds that the Federal Government still lacks the capacity to regulate the financial sector and that Hawala companies do not have sufficient monitoring systems and due diligence procedures in place. The Federal Government is unable to implement targeted asset freezes imposed by the Security Council on individuals and entities in Somalia. Corruption, in fact, remains a serious problem, especially in regard to public contracts and misappropriation of public land for private gain.
In conclusion, the Monitoring Group stresses that sanctions have never been more relevant to assist the country through the process of conflict resolution and state formation. Al-Shabaab remains an imminent threat to peace and security; security sector reform remains far from complete; the obstruction of humanitarian assistance and violations of international humanitarian law remains of concern; conflict financing from natural resources is still a significant problem; and corruption remains a problem and the proposed regulations lack institutions to implement them.
The Monitoring Group therefore suggests a number of recommendations covering the tightening of the arms embargo, as well as dealing with the obstruction of humanitarian assistance and violations of international humanitarian law. It wants to see stronger action against violations of the ban on charcoal. With reference to threats to peace and security, it wants to see more cooperation over information sharing and a comprehensive, inclusive and affordable national security structure. It also wants a civilian-led auditing committee to report monthly to the Ministry of Finance and international donors providing security sector support; inclusion of efforts to deal with misappropriation in regional administrations and federal states; for the Federal Government to refrain from signing oil or development contracts until a model has been finalized with relevant Federal bodies, including a petroleum authority and a national oil company have been set up.
Voting for Somalia's House of the People starts
At the beginning of the week, the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT) called for the federal states to expedite elections for the House of the People, the Lower House of Parliament. FIEIT underlined the importance and urgency of completing the Lower House election process. FIEIT Spokesperson Mohamed Kenyan said Jubaland, Galmudug and Southwest needed to speed up the process and delegates should be ready to elect their representatives. FIEIT said the State-Level Implementation teams should complete preparations for the Lower House elections in their respective regions. It said it wanted Galmudug, Jubaland and Southwest to complete the election within 3 days. The parliamentary polls were originally scheduled to take place between October 23 and November 10, at the capitals of all the Federal states, but recurrent delays have meant the election deadlines have not been met. These delays in completing the parliamentary elections may cause a delay in the presidential election which is due on November 30, when the members of the joint houses of parliament are due to cast their votes in a presidential election in which there are now some 16 candidates.
The polls opened in Jubaland and South West states on Tuesday (November 8) for the election of 112 members of the Lower House from these two states. South West state whose numerous sub-clans command the highest number of MPs, 69, voted for 23 MPs on Tuesday, and voting continued during the week. Voting was held under tight security and monitored by observers. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia office in Baidoa said "The authorities responsible for the electoral process as well as the Somali security forces, in particular the police, deserve a lot credit for the successful management of the process and making sure that this very closely contested process went forward." The South West State-Level Indirect Electoral Implementation Team said, "We have so far exceeded the expectations of everyone as far as delivery by the SIEIT is concerned. Elections are being held in a calm and secure environment. We will keep up the momentum until our work is done." It said the voting would resume next week.
Jubaland has been allocated 43 MPs and seven were elected in first round of voting which took place on Tuesday. Three of these were women. However, overall as of Wednesday this week only eight women candidates appear to have won seats out of the 40 so far elected in Puntland, South West and Jubaland. This is far less than the required 30% parliamentary quota for women established by the National Leadership Forum.
Puntland started the Lower House elections last week. The State-level Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (SIEIT) in Puntland announced that the second phase of voting for 25 members of the House of the People will begin on 14 November. A dozen members of the House of the People, were elected during the first phase of polling that ended on 6 November. SIEIT said it would continue with the registration of the candidates and their accreditation on Friday (November 11) and the next two days. Then it would be ready for the voting process. There have also been some reports of interference, harassment and intimidation in Puntland, and last week, the Electoral Dispute Resolution body said it had received more than 1200 complaints from clans across the nation in relation to the process.
Of the other states, the Federal electoral body, FIEIT, announced on Wednesday that Galmudug state had yet to meet the requirements set out for the composition of the voting lists. Problems have surfaced in Galmudug over the election for the Lower House with complaints of corruption and vote rigging, leading to a halt in the campaigning and the electoral process. The process for Somaliland in Mogadishu still remains unclear as the electors have not even started the process for the Upper House. The government in Somaliland has made it clear it does not recognize the Somali electoral process.
The newest state, Hir-Shabelle, has now completed its Upper House election. State President Ali Abdualhi Osoble announced the list for Upper House seats of Hir-Shabelle state on Friday (November 4). The candidates for the 8 seats included 4 women. The State Indirect Electoral Implementation Team for Hir-Shabelle also said that all candidates had satisfied electoral prerequisites and were most worthy to represent the people of Hir-Shabelle. Hir-Shabelle held the Upper House elections in Jowhar on Wednesday (November 9) a day after candidates wrapped up their campaign speeches in front of state parliamentarians and state officials who attended the sessions. Two of the 8 successful candidates were women.
President Mohamud has welcomed the start of the Lower House elections in Baidoa and Kismayo describing this as step towards democracy. He said, "The Lower House elections taking place in Baidoa and Kismayo show the level of high commitment both from the Somali people and the regional leaders." He thanked both regional leaders and the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team in their support and dedication to the electoral process.
IFAD's Rural Development Report 2016
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) presented a new report, "The Rural Development Report 2016: Fostering Inclusive Rural Transformation", in Nairobi late last month. The nearly 400-page report, which includes numerous tables and figures, looks at the whole of sub-Saharan Africa and concludes that the agricultural sector is expanding but that its foundations are weak, preventing any broad-based reduction in poverty and inequality. The report demonstrates that clear government policies and investments in smallholder agriculture can make a significant difference. It sees the agricultural sector in East and Southern Africa as being transformed by increased productivity as more land is being cultivated but finds agricultural growth has not always led to poverty reduction. Many small farmers in East and Southern Africa continue to live in poverty while struggling to own land and access credit. It concludes that agricultural growth is not reaching its poverty-reducing potential. The report claims that with sufficient supportive government action, growth in agriculture could be eleven times more effective in lifting people out of poverty than growth in other sectors of the economy, such as mining, utilities and services.
The report also points out that inclusive rural transformation does not happen automatically: it must be made to happen. To do this, four interconnected strategies are needed: overcoming the challenge of increased agricultural productivity; the promotion of manufacturing and the optimization of opportunities in agriculture; support for the rural non-farm economy; and finding an answer to the problem of unemployment or coping with the youth bulge. The IFAD report notes that despite rapid urbanization over much of the region, all projections indicate that young people reaching adulthood and seeking to establish families and livelihoods will remain predominantly rural in sub-Saharan Africa for at least two more decades. Creating jobs for youth both on and off the farm is crucial. In addition, to further combat poverty, the report suggests a special focus should be given to encourage young people into the agriculture sector and create a conducive environment for the private sector to invest in smallholder agriculture. Rural transformation, it insists, must go beyond getting food onto the table, it must help rural youth enter and actively participate in the economy.
The report notes just how far recent changes have presented challenges to rural communities. Urbanization, demographic shifts, the growing integration of food supply chains and food systems, and the rising domestic and foreign investment in the sector, all combine to generate new risks for those involved in smallholder agriculture. These also produce new opportunities for entrepreneurial activity and employment, in the food value chains, in processing and transport, in developing and servicing technology and infrastructure. The report also notes that the diffusion of digital devices and Internet access allows for more information and knowledge to be generated and shared with speed and accuracy, if not always equally. In addition, climate change is leading to concern about the sustainability of some current agricultural practices. It also underlines that smallholder farmers already face long-standing difficulties in accessing resources, technology, inputs, finance and knowledge as well as access to markets. Equally, pressures on rural resources are growing because of population growth, unsustainable agricultural practices, urbanization, mining, land-use changes and conversion, and deforestation. It is already difficult to meet the rising demands for food and the threats to food security in many parts of the region.
This latest IFAD report, in fact, underlines the importance of exactly the policies that the government of Ethiopia has been implementing over much of the country as part of its determination to reduce poverty, to provide smallholders with the means for transforming rural areas, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and, most recently, the policies announced to reduce youth unemployment.
The IFAD Report examines rural development through the prism of the transformation of rural areas and the wider economy, and underlines a number of ways forward. The first is that rural transformation does not happen in isolation, but as part of a broader process of structural transformation shaped by the inter-linkages between agriculture, the rural non-farm economy, manufacturing and services. It emphasizes that rural transformation is essential for structural transformation. Another fundamental point is that inclusive rural transformation does not happen automatically: it must be made to happen. It does, of course, have the effect of altering the structure of landholding, the technologies in use, the capabilities and capacity of local populations, and the distribution and dynamics of the labor force. Benefits are not confined to the rural areas; they are an integral part of the overall development process. Most important perhaps is the report's assertion that inclusive rural transformation hinges on agriculture, which must retain its importance as the transformation progresses. It stresses that hundreds of millions of rural people will be key actors in developing sustainable development solutions. It therefore focuses on inclusive rural transformation as a central element of the global efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger, and build inclusive and sustainable societies for all.
The report also notes that improving prospects for tomorrow's farmers entails more profitable management of existing farms, with enhanced access to technology, markets, finance, information and infrastructure. It suggests that because of the widespread lack of secure property rights over land, progress in land administration and documentation of tenure needs to be consolidated and expanded as a matter of urgency, and rental markets strengthened. The report notes that about half the countries in the world are engaged in some form of land tenure reform and as of 2010 around a billion farmers had already benefitted. The report stresses that all successful programs have involved "major investments in the infrastructure of land registration, including cadastral surveys, computerized records, training in legal rights and resolution of land disputes."
Related areas to be addressed include closing the gender gap, obtaining access to assets, inputs and services, land, livestock, labor, education, extension and financial services. Equally, those who leave the agricultural sector need to acquire technological skills or vocational training skills to provide for employment prospects and abilities as well as the life skills for industrial or other working environments. All this needs to be accompanied by expanded access to finance and financial services. Growth in the rural economy also requires significant infrastructure development. Similarly, attracting private investment into agriculture and into the rural non-farm economy is critical. Improving the prospects for private investment in value chains that serve smallholders must be a priority.
The IFAD report provides detail of two impressively successful projects in Ethiopia: the Pastoral Community Development Project supported by IFAD, the government of Ethiopia, the World Bank and the International Development Association; and the Managing Environmental Resources to Enable Transition to More Sustainable Livelihoods program (MERET), supported by the UN World Food Program (WFP) in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The first of these is a long-term intervention over 15 years to reach 4.7 million people. A key element has been to decentralize woreda (district) processes and empower pastoral communities, local administrations and regional governments to better manage local development. It involved a bottom-up community-driven development approach to promote, creating genuine participation of communities who engaged in a dialogue to ensure that the available resources were applied to their development priorities. They identified education, health, water supply and animal health care services as their investment priorities. The multi-phase design of the project allowed lessons to be applied in subsequent phases, "enhancing inclusiveness and accountability of planning processes." This allowed for greater outreach and consolidated reform processes and institutional measures, offering tighter integration of pastoral communities into the national policy agenda. Policy dialogue in developing pastoral areas is now an established practice in Ethiopia, and the Pastoral Standing Committee in the House of people's Representatives has become a strong proponent of pastoral institutions.
The Managing Environmental Resources to Enable Transition to More Sustainable Livelihoods program (MERET) aims to address root causes of vulnerability and chronic food insecurity by rehabilitating natural resources and enhancing land productivity. It is being implemented in 72 woredas of five regions and in one chartered city, Dire Dawa. It provides food assistance through food-for-work as a short-term means of enabling longer-term progress in agriculture. The main activities are physical and biological conservation, reforestation, small-scale irrigation, road construction and maintenance, income generation, livelihood diversification and soil fertility improvement. A core element is that the community defines and prioritizes problems and identifies solutions. The community implements activities through its own labor and management, with external support as needed or available. It therefore promotes a high level of community awareness and ownership of environmental rehabilitation. An impact evaluation completed in 2012 found that MERET participants were undertaking income-generating activities including livestock fattening, plant nurseries, bee-keeping and fish production. Farmers were using small-scale irrigation and shallow wells in increasing numbers. Savings rates for MERET households showed significant increases and those that saved money were also more likely to have made formal arrangements with a financial institution than others.
- The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties: COP 22 – the COP of Action
- South Sudan approves neighbors' participation in the Regional Protection Force
- The UN Monitoring Group concerned at Eritrean arms embargo violations…
- Voting for Somalia's House of the People starts
- IFAD's Rural Development Report 2016
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