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Afrika Times!

Afrika times is a website that aggregates news produced primarily on the African continent about all areas of African life, politics, issues and culture.
produced by AllAfrica Global Media, which has offices in Johannesburg,Lagos, hargeisa, adissababa, muqdisho, Nairobi, and Columbus OHIO,

Ethiopia: UN – Deaths From Starvation Reported in Tigray

(Afrika-times.com) New York — The United Nations humanitarian chief warned Tuesday that the 1984 famine that killed more than 1 million Ethiopians could occur again if aid access to that country’s northern Tigray region is not quickly improved, scaled up and properly funded.”There is now famine in Tigray,” aid chief Mark Lowcock told a private, informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, according to a copy of his written remarks seen by VOA.He said the Tigray administration has reported deaths from starvation.”The situation is set to get worse in the coming months, not only in Tigray, but in Afar and Amhara, as well.”

Last week, urgent calls went out from the U.N. and partner aid agencies for a humanitarian cease-fire. It came on the heels of a report warning that 350,000 people were already in famine conditions in Tigray and that 2 million more were just a step away.The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC as it is known, reported that more than 5.5 million people overall were in crisis levels of food insecurity in Tigray and the neighboring zones of Amhara and Afar.The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF has also warned that 33,000 severely malnourished children in currently unreachable areas of Tigray are also at high risk of death.The scope of the problem is massive. Lowcock said there were 123 humanitarian agencies operating in the area and 10 times as many aid workers in Tigray today than at the start of the crisis in November.
“But substantial further scale-up is urgently required if we are to make a significant impact on growing needs,” Lowcock said.The United Nations has appealed for $853 million to assist 5.2 million people until the end of the year, with almost $200 million needed before the end of July.Access to people in remote and hard-to-reach areas has been an ongoing problem since the conflict erupted in November between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Amde, said the situation did not warrant security council attention. He added that his government “vehemently disagreed” with the humanitarian assessment, saying data was collected in a “very botched” way.”Having said that, using humanitarian issues, particularly famine and starvation, in order to exert undue pressure on Ethiopia is completely unacceptable,” he told reporters after the meeting.
It’s not a drought or locusts that are causing this hunger, but the decisions of those in power,” British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said. “That means those in power could also end the suffering.”She added that Eritrean forces need to leave Ethiopia.”We were told in March that Eritrean forces would be withdrawing. It’s now June. There can be no further delay,” she told reporters.The Ethiopian envoy said the delay was due to “sorting some technical and procedural issues.””Our expectation is that they will definitely leave soon,” he said.U.S. envoy Jeffrey DeLaurentis told council members that “we have to act now” to prevent a famine, according to a diplomat familiar with the council’s discussion.DeLaurentis also called for an urgent end to hostilities, unhindered aid access and a political dialogue to resolve the crisis, as well as accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses.The U.N. Security Council has held a handful of private meetings on the growing crisis but has failed to take any serious action to pressure the parties to stop the fighting, allow aid workers safely in and get Eritrea’s troops to leave.In April, the council issued a statement calling for better humanitarian access, but it has taken no action to pressure spoilers to comply. Afrika-times.com

Somaliland elections: Opposition parties win majority of seats

Supporters hold banners of candidates during a rally of the opposition Waddani Party on May 25 [File: AFP]

(Afrika-times.com) Two opposition parties in Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region have won a majority of seats in the region’s first parliamentary election in 16 years, according to the National Electoral Commission.Out of parliament’s 82 seats, the Somaliland National Party, called Waddani, won 31 and the Justice and Welfare Party (UCID), won 21 seats. The ruling Peace, Unity and Development Party, Kulmiye, secured 30 seats, the electoral commission said on Sunday.The vote had been stalled for a decade by a dispute among the three major parties over the makeup of the electoral commission, which was finally resolved.KEEP READINGSomaliland: Breakaway Somali region votes in parliamentary pollsKenya suspends Somalia flights for three monthsSomalia restoring ties with Kenya after nearly six months

“Following the announcement of the election results, we have announced a political alliance to get the speaker of the Somaliland parliament,” Waddani and UCID said in a joint statement, suggesting they would appoint a speaker together.The parties, which together also won a majority of the seats in municipal races, said that they aim to collaborate on city councils across the region and select mayors together.None of the 13 women who ran for parliament won their races.‘Relative stability’Politicians in the region had described the poll as an example of the relative stability of Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia in 1991 but has not gained widespread international recognition for its independence.
The region has been mostly peaceful while Somalia has grappled with three decades of civil war.The three main parties put forward a total of 246 candidates. More than one million out of roughly four million residents had registered to vote, according to the electoral commission.Presidential elections have taken place in Somaliland, despite the stalled parliamentary vote, most recently in 2017 when President Muse Bihi, from the Kulmiye party, was elected. The next presidential vote is planned for next year.
 Afrika-times.com

Millions of Young South Africans Jobless – What Are the Answers?

The media frequently portray young people excluded from wage work as inactive, aimless and alienated from mainstream society. This image feeds into fears of crime, violence and social unrest in which people who are jobless are cast as a “ticking time bomb” that poses a threat to a country’s stability, reports The Conversation.African countries are experiencing an unprecedented level of unemployment among young people. The unemployment numbers are expected to increase given the booming youth population in Africa. The problem is particularly acute in South Africa. World Bank statistics show that in 2019 the youth unemployment rate in South Africa stood at 58%, which is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. For South Africa, the unemployment numbers are expected to increase. Over 60% of the unemployed at the start of 2020 were aged 15-34.A gender gap is also evident in the unemployment figures among people with advanced education. The unemployment rates of 2.3% in 2007 and 12% in 2019 for males with advanced education were lower than those of their female counterparts, which grew from 4.7% to 15%. This status risks long-term scarring effects for young people along with increases in informal working and social isolation

Horn Of Africa Is The Most Militarized Region On Earth

The combination of external actors has made the Horn the most militarized and complex security region, housing the largest number of foreign military bases in the world. The massive presence of six foreign military bases in Djibouti, and more in Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, underlines the strategic importance of the Horn. Dawit W. Giorgis, a visiting scholar at the African Studies Centre at Boston University.

Horn Of Africa Is The Most Militarized Region On Earth

The Horn of Africa is witnessing far-reaching changes in its external security relations. It is simultaneously experiencing an increase in the build-up of foreign military forces – on land and at sea – and a broadening of the security agendas pursued by these external actors.

The combination of these factors has made the Horn the most militarized and complex security region, housing the largest number of foreign military bases in the world. Though Egypt and Yemen are not in the Greater Horn, they are however part of the security complex of the Red Sea arena. It is known as the “choke point,” because much of the world’s commerce goes through this maritime route. At one point, when Somali pirates ruled the sea, the area was identified as the most dangerous naval zone in the world, notoriety now claimed by the Gulf of Guinea.

Those who control the Horn of Africa control a significant chunk of the world’s economies. The massive presence of six foreign military bases in Djibouti, and more in Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, underlines the strategic importance of the Horn.

This situation would have inspired or forced the countries of the Horn to be more united and have common strategic and security policies. Each of these forces has a stake in the development of events in the Horn and an agenda that puts their interests at the forefront.However, there are notable rivalries between the countries of the Horn of Africa, which has not enabled the forging of the necessary harmony in their relationships.

Eritrea and Djibouti have not put their border conflict of 2007 behind them. However, they agreed to normalize their relationship two years ago, although Djibouti still considers Eritrea an enemy, considering a recent statement in relations to the prosecution of a pilot that allegedly tried to run away to an “enemy” territory.But a conference call between the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East African countries on March 30, 2020, was made to forge a regional plan to combat the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

Four presidents from Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and Djibouti were joined by the prime ministers of Ethiopia and Sudan and the first vice-president of South Sudan. Eritrea did not participate, because its membership has not yet been regularized since it left IGAD in 2007.

This is while Kenya-Somalia relations have escalated in the last few years. It stems from the security concern related to the terror group Al-Shabaab and the maritime border dispute between the two states.

The terror group has been continuously launching attacks across the border at Kenyan military outposts and against civilians in the area.The maritime boundary dispute between Nairobi and Mogadishu further complicates the relationship between the two. Somalia instituted proceedings against Kenya before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about their maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean, on August 28, 2014. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has approved a request by Kenya to delay the public hearing of its maritime boundary case with Somalia.

The case is still pending.Taking the matter further, Kenya has started negotiating the withdrawal of its forces the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) by 2021, making Ethiopia carry the bulk of troop contributions of the five countries that will remain.

These are bad signals of souring relationships, which can contribute to the overall destabilization of the fragile region.Neither are Ethiopia and Sudan on the best of terms. The borders between the two countries are the scene of occasional fighting, with recent skirmishes having turned deadly. It is unnecessary and preventable incidents that only add to the burden of stress the two countries have on their very sensitive and fragile relationship.“It is not clear exactly what triggered a flare-up of this long-standing border dispute,” stated the International Crisis Group (ICG). “Sources suggest that Sudanese security forces may have responded to incursions by Ethiopian troops.”Sudan is in the unique position of being a member of the Arab League, which makes it close to Egypt, but a generally close ally of Ethiopia as well. It has to play high stakes diplomacy not to be seen as siding with either.

Despite enormous pressure from Egypt and the United States, Sudan has held its ground. The bold and calculated decision manifested this in voting against other members of the Arab League on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).Sudan expressed “reservations” that the resolution does not serve its interests and might lead to confrontations between the Arab League countries and Ethiopia. This support of Sudan should not be taken for granted though. Last week, Sudan called for the United Nations Security Council`s intervention regarding Ethiopia’s plan to fill the Dam.“While acknowledging Ethiopia’s right to utilize its natural resources, Sudan has stressed the need for consultation and cooperation among the three countries to avoid the harm lower stream countries could suffer as a result of Ethiopia’s activities,” read Sudan’s memorandum to the Security Council.Concerning the GERD, Sudan highlighted the benefits and threats that could follow the construction. It acknowledged the benefits the Dam could have in helping manage periodic flooding and in raising Sudan’s capacity to generate electric power.“On the other hand, Sudan claimed that the construction of the Dam could change the flow line of the river and that it could affect Sudanese citizens negatively if the design, construction and filling works are not followed daily and closely.”This should be of great concern to Ethiopia, especially considering that a new regional organization with suspect motives – Council of Arab and African States Bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (CAASBRSGA) – has already been established on January 6, 2020. Although Egypt first initiated the idea, it was later taken over by Saudi Arabia.Its members are the coastal states of the Red Sea, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen (the internationally recognized government), Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia.

The stated goals of this new organization are to improve cooperation and coordination among the members in matters related to politics, economy, culture, the environment and security. The Council is an unnecessary organization and one loaded with an Arab and Egyptian agenda. The Arab League is installing its subsidiary branch closer to home.“One of the most important issues is the one of membership. Currently, the criteria to be a member of the Council are to be a Red Sea coastal state.

This is the criterion defended by Egypt,” wrote the Middle Eastern business and financial news outlet MENAFN. “This position seeks to keep Ethiopia outside of Red Sea affairs, a position not shared by many of the members, who believe that despite its lack of access to the sea, Addis Ababa is a key player in Red Sea affairs. The reason for this absence is the litigation that Egypt and Ethiopia maintain over the construction of the Renaissance Dam in the Nile.”The stated goals of the Council include matters related to the Nile, an issue vital for Ethiopia. The strategy of Egypt and its allies is to choke Ethiopia through myriad projects. Ethiopia must vigorously fight such moves, but it does not seem that the Ethiopian government is aware of the dangers. At the same time, it flirts with the very countries that are active partners on the other side of the debate.

There has been a flurry of activities between South Sudan and Egypt as well since the crisis between Ethiopia and Egypt intensified over the GERD. Some of these activities are suspicious.

South Sudan had submitted its application in 2018, for a second time, to join the Arab League. There have also been diplomatic moves led by Egypt within the Arab League emphasizing the importance of South Sudan joining the organization, given Juba’s strategic geographical position serving as the Arab gateway to Africa.

With steadily and warmer relations with Ethiopia’s new neighbor, South Sudanese President Silva Kiir and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi have exchanged visits followed by several others at ministerial levels.Bringing South Sudan into the Arab League completes the strangulation of Ethiopia by Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.

Seen together with the Council on The Red Sea Coast, the threats directed at Ethiopia are real and severe.This is the result of the failure of Ethiopia`s diplomacy.

Its fractured unity and volatile internal security situation have resulted in establishing a fertile ground for Egypt and other extremist and hostile forces to recruit people and spread propaganda that will further destabilize the country.Ethiopian diplomacy suffered a big blow when the 23 Arab League members, except Sudan, supported the draft resolution prepared by Egypt.

This must have been a clear sign that there was little effort from Ethiopia’s side.“The draft agreement proposed by the United States and the World Bank is fair and serves the interests of the three countries,” affirmed The Arab League.Somalia and Djibouti, Ethiopia’s “close allies,” voted for it. Eritrea, an observer, said nothing.

Although its president, Isaias Afwerki, has come out as an elder statesman and mentor of Ethiopia`s Prime Minister, we have yet to see him as “a friend in need, a friend indeed.”This diplomatic spat is occurring in a region that should otherwise be banding together to address challenges that affect every member.

Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) has warned East African countries about the outbreak of the desert locust, which has already placed around 20 million people in acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

Ethiopia and the region are facing three-pronged attacks: pandemics, possible famine and regional and internal security challenges. A vital organ in such a time would have been IGAD, which until 1996 was preceded by the establishment of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought & Development (IGADD) was initiated in the mid-1980s.This was after Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda took action through the United Nations to establish an intergovernmental body for development and drought control in their region in 1983 and 1984.

The Assembly of Heads of State and Government met in Djibouti in January 1986 to sign the agreement, which officially launched IGADD with its headquarters in Djibouti. Eritrea became the seventh member after attaining its independence in 1993.

Then the focus was drought and food security.The recurring and severe droughts and other natural disasters in the decade beginning 1974 caused widespread famine, ecological degradation and economic hardship in the Eastern Africa region.

Although individual countries made substantial efforts to cope with the situation and received generous support from the international community, the magnitude and extent of the problem argued strongly for a regional approach to supplement national efforts.IGAD has never solved any political crisis. But it serves as a forum where leaders can meet and discuss their shared concerns.

However, IGAD can only be what its members want it to be. It can be an excellent tool if external agendas do not subvert it.

Members must first be committed to peaceful resolution through bilateral negotiations.

Creating other layers of organizations for the Horn will not help achieve any of the development, security and cooperation goals, but merely makes IGAD redundant. The regional body must be supported and reinforced to be a relevant organization. The spirit of cooperation needed here is one that President Isaias, Somalia’s Mohamed Farmajo Abdullahi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) showed when they agreed on a joint plan of action for this year after the third edition of a tripartite summit in Asmara. This was in February 2020.

The alliance also adopted a new Joint Plan of Action for 2020.The plan focuses “on two main and intertwined objectives of consolidating peace, stability and security, as well as promoting economic and social development,” as Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrea`s Information Minister, explained.“They also agreed to bolster efforts for effective regional cooperation.”On the security front, the leaders formulated a strategy to combat common threats, such as terrorism, arms and human trafficking, and drug smuggling. These efforts are leading “to some sort of Horn of Africa coalition,” even a “Cushitic Alliance,” according to the East African newspaper.Such an alliance will overlap with the mandate of IGAD.

It remains ambiguous what is in the minds of these leaders. But to an outsider, this looks like more of a problem than a solution.How can the three countries, in exclusion of Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya, forge an alliance that can bring peace to the region?Beyond the long-term ambition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to control the Horn of Africa, the immediate goal of Egypt is to secure its interest on the Nile. Many Ethiopians are expressing their anger and showing patriotism through a rhetoric of war.

War in this politically charged, highly militarized strategic region would be destructive beyond our imagination.

If anyone “wins,” it will only be at enormous cost. Even that will be a preparation for the next round of war.The case of Egypt needs wisdom and patience.

War should be the ultimate exercise to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any country. Heroes are those who prevent war and not make war.

There is an attempt to resuscitate discussions between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt, but tripartite talks should not be the preferred way for Ethiopia. This case is about the Nile and the rights of the Nile Basin countries. Sudan is not a reliable partner in this case for Ethiopia.

The issue is best served if brought before the Nile Basin countries and not a tripartite meeting where the odds do not favor Ethiopia.The only viable option for Ethiopia and Egypt is to bring back their case to Africa, call an emergency meeting of the heads of state of the Nile Basin countries and continue the dialogue and, if necessary, bring it to the level of the African Heads of State.

But before this can be done, the Ethiopian government has to do the legwork by approaching each of the Nile Basin countries and presenting its case and a possible solution that will serve the interests of both Egypt and Ethiopia. These discussions should be led by knowledgeable people that understand the intricacy of the problem at hand.

In the meantime, unilateral actions on both sides should be avoided as much as possible.The foundation for stability in the Horn begins with bilateral efforts to solve their differences in the face of mounting political, security and pandemic crisis. It is not patriotism not to compromise but is expressed best when the crisis between countries are solved through bilateral negotiations, including compromise.Give and take is the essence of diplomacy. But leaders need to know what to give and what to take. This requires a grasp on history and debate.

The building blocks for sustainable peace in the region begin with a capacity of each leader to discern the truth and not to mistake information as knowledge.

For the latter, leaders have people who have a sense of history and can see the big picture through the lenses of current affairs.The fact that the Horn of Africa is the most militarized region on earth is not a coincidence. Let us encourage our leaders to take stock of the situation on the area and trek carefully in this treacherous minefield: what the Horn has become.

Author Publisher: @shakiressa

More than 350,000 suffering from famine conditions in Ethiopia’s Tigray, says UN

More than 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray region are suffering famine conditions, with millions more at risk, according to an analysis by UN agencies and aid groups that blamed conflict for the worst food crisis in a decade.“There is famine now in Tigray,” the UN aid chief,

Mark Lowcock, said on Thursday after the release of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.“The number of people in famine conditions … is higher than anywhere in the world, at any moment since a quarter million Somalis lost their lives in 2011,” Lowcock said.Most of the 5.5 million people in Tigray need food aid. Fighting broke out in the region in November between government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.The violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 2 million from their homes in the mountainous region.Ethiopia rejects calls for ceasefire in Tigray, claiming victory is nearThe most extreme warning by the IPC – a scale used by UN agencies, regional bodies and aid groups to determine food insecurity – is phase 5, which starts with a catastrophe warning and rises to a declaration of famine in a region.

ICJ should now drop Kenya-Somalia case

Kenya and Somalia will reportedly share equally any revenue from the maritime triangle under a Qatar-brokered deal 

The International Court of Justice in the Hague has been hearing arguments over ownership of the maritime triangle

ICJ should now drop Kenya-Somalia case

Kenya and Somalia have reportedly agreed to share equally any oil revenues from the disputed maritime triangle

The deal was brokered by Qatar and prompted the recent resumption of diplomatic relations between Somalia and Kenya. Two years ago Qatar bought blocks in the maritime triangle from Italian oil company ENI that had been issued by Kenya.

This is a win-win for all concerned. Somalia cannot afford to fall out with Kenya as there are so many links between the two countries. For its part, Kenya has a weak case as the unfair maritime convention states that any sea border should run perpendicular to the coastline.

And it is a big win for Qatar as it demonstrates that the tiny Gulf nation has diplomatic muscle and economic clout.

But the International Court of Justice must now wind up the long-running case over the maritime triangle. If Kenya and Somalia have agreed to leave the matter pending and to split 50-50 any oil and gas revenues, there is no need to pursue a legal case that will only divide the two nations and threaten the stability of the region. 

1’400 Somalia soldiers killed in Eritrea and TIGRAY region war

somalia mercenaries killed in tigray region of ethiopia

Somali National soldiers, some pretending to hold a weapon, take part in a training exercise on March 28, 2013, at the AMISOM Jazeera Training Camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

Somalia

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Former deputy head of Somalia’s Intelligence Agency Abdilasalan Guled said hundreds of Somali recruits deployed by Eritrea to Tigray region were killed in the initial offensive in the northern Ethiopian region.

Somali National Army soldiers, some pretending to hold a weapon, take part in a training exercise on March 28, 2013, at the AMISOM Jazeera Training Camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

Former deputy head of the Somali Intelligence Agency (NISA) Abdisalan Guled, in an interview with Kulmiye radio based in Mogadishu, stated that he received information saying that 370 Somali recruits trained by Eritrea had been killed in the recent war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

“Following an investigation and contacts I made with different people, it was confirmed that 4000 Somali soldiers participated in Tigray war, who were fighting alongside Ethiopian and Eritrean forces against the TPLF,” said Abdisalan Guled.

“I was shocked when I was told that nearly 1400 of those Somali recruits trained by Eritrea were killed and hundreds more were wounded [in Tigray war], and those wounded were returned to Eritrea.”

Abisalan Guled citing Ethiopian military sources told Kulmiye radio that “only a few men have survived from recruits numbered between 1900 and 2100 who had been deployed on just one frontline, nearly all of them were killed,”

Speaking further, Mr Guled said he was told that the Somali recruits thrown into the battle were led by Eritrean military officers.

“When i asked the officers, they told me that Somalia had signed agreement with Ethiopia and Eritrea that required Farmajo [Somalia’s president] to prepare Somali troops who would take part in the stabilization of Tigray, which he accepted,”

The former deputy head of the Somali Intelligence Services said president Farmajo had requested his Eritrean counterpart not to return those soldiers to their country if he does not win reelection.

“I have heard two days ago that president Farmajo said ‘those soldiers should not be returned home, if I win reelection the matter will be discussed with me, if I don’t return, it will be dealt with those in power but during this sensitive election time I should not be given information on whether they are alive or dead’.

7 Steps to Becoming a Dictator

manual for strengthening your power position as elected leader.

January 7 2021

As a democratically elected leader, getting absolute power is no easy feat. Just look at Hitler, or more recently, at Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, Russia’s Putin, or Turkey’s Erdogan. Here are some helpful tips for a prolonged iron rule.

photo: how to be a dictator

1. Expand your power base through nepotism and corruption.

This is not just a tactic adopted in third world countries. Scandals like Bridgegate, Koreagate, Monicagate and Watergate demonstrate that the powerful will always find ways to abuse their privileges. Be warned, though: You will eventually be rumbled, so corruption tends to work only in the short term.article continues after

The lesson: Make sure to surround yourself with loyal kin who you can trust to do what’s best for you and your family.   

Photo:How to be a dictator like urdogan

2. Instigate a monopoly on the use of force to curb public protest.

Dictators cannot survive for long without disarming the people and buttering up the military. Former dictators such as Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo, and Idi Amin of Uganda were high-ranked army officers who co-opted the military in order to overthrow democracies in favour of dictatorships. Yet democracies are not always more popular than dictatorships. In reality, people prefer dictatorships if the alternative is chaos. This explains the nostalgia for rulers like Stalin and Mao, who were mass murderers but who provided social order. One retired middle-ranking official in Beijing told the Asia Times: “I earned less than 100 yuan a month in Mao’s time. I could barely save each month but I never worried about anything. My work unit would take care of everything for me: housing, medical care, and my children’s education, though there were no luxuries…Now I receive 3,000 yuan as a [monthly] pension, but I have to count every penny—everything is so expensive and no one will take care of me now if I fall ill.”

Indeed, when given the choice in an experiment, people will desert an unstructured group (analogous to an anything-goes society) and seek the order of a “punishing regime,” which has the authority to identify and reprimand cheats. This lawlessness can be seen in hunter-gatherer tribes, too. When anthropologists visited a New Guinea tribe, they found that a third of males suffered a violent death.  

7 Steps to Becoming a Dictator

The lesson: Any aspiring dictator who restores order, even through coercion, is likely to earn the gratitude of his people.

3. Curry favour by providing public goods efficiently and generously.

Benevolent dictatorship was practised by Lee Kuan Yew, prime minister of Singapore for 31 years. Lee believed that ordinary people could not be entrusted with power because it would corrupt them, and that economics was the major stabilizing force in society. To this end, he effectively eliminated all opposition by using his constitutional powers to detain suspects without trial for two years without the right of appeal. To implement his economic policies, Lee allowed only one political party, one newspaper, one trade union movement, and one language.article continues after advertisementhttps://93192547278b31c4b30b0c0af0b9a441.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

Socially, Lee encouraged people to uphold the family system, discipline their children, be more courteous, and avoid pornography. As well as setting up a government dating service for single graduates, he urged people to take better aim in public toilets and handed out hefty fines for littering. Singaporeans tolerated these restrictions on their freedom because they valued their economic security more. On this point, Lee did not disappoint, turning Singapore into one of the world’s wealthiest countries (per capita).

The lesson: Restore the economy and develop large infrastructural projects that create a lot of jobs; it will strengthen your power base.  

4. Get rid of your political enemies…

…or, more cleverly, embrace them in the hope that the bear hug will neutralize them. Zimbabwe’s former dictator Mugabe abandoned the unpopular practice of murdering political rivals and instead bribed them, with political office, for their support. Idi Amin, who came to power in Uganda after a military coup, stuck with the murderous route: During his eight years at the top, he is estimated to have killed between 80,000 and 300,000 people. His victims included cabinet ministers, judicial figures, bankers, intellectuals, journalists, and a former prime minister. At the lower end of the scale, that’s a hit rate of 27 executions a day.

The lesson: Keep your political enemies close to you.

5. Create and defeat a common enemy.

By facing down Nazi Germany, Churchill, de Gaulle, Roosevelt, and Stalin sealed their reputations as great leaders. Legendary warlords such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon were military geniuses who expanded their countries’ territories through invading their neighbours. Dictatorships feed on wars and other external threats because these justify their existence—swift military action requires a central command-and-control structure

2011 arab spring dictators Bashar al-Assad, Hosni Mubarak, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Muammar Gaddafi

More than half of 20th-century rulers engaged in battles at some point during their reign, either as aggressors or defenders. Among dictators, the proportion rises to 88 per cent. Democratic rulers find this tactic more difficult to adopt because most wars are unpopular with voters. To attract support, the ruler must be perceived as a defender, not a warmonger. The former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher received a lucky boost to her popularity after Argentina, a military dwarf, invaded the British-owned Falkland Islands; she triumphed over her Argentine enemies. Another former British PM, Tony Blair, was not so lucky. Although the 9/11 attacks did much to strengthen his government, his decision to attack Iraq (ostensibly to defend Britain from a long-range missile attack) sullied his legacy.

The lesson: Start a war when your position as leader becomes insecure. Having generals in top political posts will certainly help.

6. Accumulate power by manipulating the hearts and minds of your citizens.

One of the first actions of any aspiring dictator should be to control the free flow of information, because it plugs a potential channel of criticism. Turn the media into a propaganda machine for your regime like Hitler did and Erdogan does now. Other leaders, such as Myanmar’s ruling junta, shut down media outlets completely. Democratically elected leaders are somewhat more restrained, but if they have enough powers, they can rig an election or do away with meddlesome journalists (like Vladimir Putin’s Russia) or, if money is no object, build their own media empire.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owned nearly half the Italian media, encompassing national television channels, radio stations, newspapers and magazines. Unsurprisingly, these outlets carefully managed Berlusconi’s public image and shielded him from criticism. Aspiring dictators should note that muzzling the media is most effective in an ordered society: A 2007 poll of more than 11,000 people in 14 countries, on behalf of the BBC, found that 40 per cent of respondents across countries from India to Finland thought social harmony was more important than press freedom

The lesson: Control the media or, even better, own the media. It’s as simple as that.

7. Create an ideology to justify an exalted position.

Throughout history, leaders have used—or in some cases invented—an ideology to legitimize their power. In the original chiefdoms like Hawaii, the chiefs were both political leaders and priests, who claimed to be communicating with the gods in order to bring about a generous harvest. Conveniently, this ideology often passed as an explanation of why the chief should occupy the role for life, and why the post should pass to the chief’s descendants. Accordingly, these chiefdoms spent much time and effort building temples and other religious institutions, to give a formal structure to the chief’s power.

Henry VIII of England started his own religion when the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. He created the Church of England, appointed himself Supreme Head and granted his own annulment. Other ideologies include personality cults such as Mao-ism or Stalinism; some serve to unite a nation divided by ethnicity, religion or language.

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Somalian Opposition Suspects Government Will Sign Secret Oil Deals

Members of the opposition in Somalia warned this week that the country’s federal government is about to sign a secret petroleum exploration and drilling agreement with two foreign companies a month before its term in office expires, which would “pose a great danger” to the future of Somalia and its natural resources.

 

Somalian Opposition Suspects Government Will Sign Secret Oil Deals

The opposition has received information that Somalia’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources would sign the secret deal in the coming days, Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the leader of the opposition Wadajir Party, said in a letter to the top officials in Somalia posted on Twitter.https://eb78af75e59148b61392f3f115543780.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

“On 5 June 2018, the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member states signed an agreement on sharing of natural resources in Baidoa, which states that any agreement on the drilling, exploration or search for oil in the country must be transparent, thoroughly debated, evaluated and agreed upon, and finally approved by the House of the People of the Federal Republic of Somalia, before it is signed,” the letter reads.

The Council of Presidential Candidates (CPC) in Somalia strongly opposes the secret deal between Coastline Exploration Inc and Liberty Petroleum Corporation on oil block deals, Warsame said on Twitter.

“Any agreement on the drilling for oil must be transparent, thoroughly debated, evaluated, agreed upon & approved by the Parliament, before it is signed,” he added.

The secret agreement would be signed just a month before the current government’s term in office ends, the opposition says in the letter, noting that this timing of an oil deal “creates strong suspicions.”

Somalia launched in August last year its first-ever offshore licensing round. Back then, the country expected to announce the winners of the oil auction in the first quarter of 2021, Ibrahim Ali Hussein, the chief executive of the Somali Petroleum Authority (SPA), told Reuters.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

Malawi delegation arrives in Somaliland for high level talks

A high-Level delegation from Malawi led by Foreign Minister of Eisenhower Mkaka arrives in Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland for an official state visit.

Malawi delegation arrives in Somaliland for high level talks

The delegation will meet Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi to discuss aspects on how to strengthen bilateral relations.

The trip by the Malawian government delegation comes just days after Somaliland president Muse Bihi visited Kenya.

Kenya and Somaliland on Tuesday reached a deal for direct Kenya Airways flights to Hargeisa in Somaliland, in what will be the first destination for the national carrier into a Somali region. Kenya also agreed to set up a consulate in Hargeisa by the first quarter of 2021, joining Ethiopia and Djibouti and Turkey which have diplomatic outposts in the Somaliland capital.

shakir essa

Shakir Essa

served as manager at National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) And Somali News Tv reporter | news publisher at allafricas.com

you can find me on social media

Worldremit generates over $200bn in revenue and manages more than $700bn of remittance FLOWS. Nigeria received 24B

As a youth, Ismail Ahmed was forced by the outbreak of civil war to escape his homeland – Somaliland – and take refuge in the UK. Today, the company he founded is one of the most successful money transfer companies in the world. Profile

At the end of August this year, WorldRemit, one of the leading players in the world of international money transfers, put in a reported $500m bid for the takeover of the US app-based remittance company Sendwave. Not bad going for a company that was founded only 10 years ago by a Somali entrepreneur, Ismail Ahmed.

Remittances today account for more than FDI or overseas development aid. The global market is estimated at $700bn a year. Nigeria alone received an estimated $24bn in remittances in 2018, up from $4bn in 2013.

Photo: The founder of worldremit ismail ahmed

Many economists predicted that the economic meltdown caused by Covid-19 would lead to a massive drop in remittances and as a result, adversely impact emerging markets. The World Bank, at the start of the pandemic in April, estimated a 20% fall in remittances, anticipating catastrophic consequences.

However, these predictions were confounded when some countries, such as Kenya, posted growing year-on-year remittance numbers as at August. Ahmed is not surprised by this. He says he couldn’t fathom the World Bank estimates as experience had shown him that remittances were generally countercyclical.

The rise in remittances, for example in countries like Kenya, has been attributed to a number of factors. One is that many of the people sending money back home are actually those ‘essential workers’ who have kept health facilities going, and provided the services that have kept the economies of the West afloat.

In addition, government stimuli had cushioned the economic blow and the different economic mitigation schemes have meant that in some countries, such as the US, disposable income at the end of the month has at times actually been higher than what many workers were earning before the pandemic.

Ahmed says that the figures for WorldRemit, as at October, were quite strong for the year. “The only region where there was a noticeable fall are the Gulf countries, especially with Indian workers sending money back home.”

Recalling his life story, he says it seems that he was destined to work in money transfer services. He was born and raised in what is now Somaliland and he reflects that his family often received monies from a relative working in the Gulf.

With an excellent head for figures, he was awarded a World Bank scholarship to study economics at the University of London in the UK. But before he could take up the offer, the Somali Civil War intervened.

In the chaos that followed, he managed to escape and thanks to the money sent to him by his brother working in Saudi Arabia, he was able to purchase an air ticket out of Djibouti to the UK.

Expertise in the world of remittances

Fascinated by the world of remittances, he wrote a research paper on the subject at Sussex University; and whilst at the London Business School, as part of a case study project, he put together a model of a remittance business. This was to become the blueprint for what is today WorldRemit.

Before setting up WorldRemit, Ismail worked at the UN to advise on the system of remittances after 9/11.

While working on a UN Development Programme for Somalia, out of Nairobi, he noticed fraud involving senior colleagues. He blew the whistle and, for this, was dismissed.

He fought his corner, alleging unfair dismissal. He won his case and substantial compensation. This was the seed money he used to launch WorldRemit together with Catherine Wines, who also had extensive experience in money transfers, having herself restructured a remittance business that was subsequently sold to Travelex.

He says the scope of their ambition right from the get-go was big – hence the name of the company. As a student, he had experienced the frustrations and high charges involved in sending money back home. Working at the UN, he had realised that the process could be expensive as well as far from frictionless.

Right from the outset, he says, he knew that using rapidly improving IT technology was going to be the ace in their pack. Properly deployed, it could challenge the two giants in the field – Western Union and Moneygram.

He sees WorldRemit as an aspect of the increasingly important fintech sphere. The runaway success of M-Pesa and mobile money in Kenya underscored to him, in the early 2000s, the enormous potential of digital.

However, breaking into the market wasn’t plain sailing. The dominant players had, in many cases, struck exclusivity deals with banks or agents and seemed unassailable.

Given the very tight space left in the market, WorldRemit started with a single agent in both Uganda and Kenya. But the company still managed to get considerable business. This proved to them that their business was viable and also that the market was growing apace.

It was not long before WorldRemit became a substantial global player. Today the company operates in over 6,500 money transfer corridors worldwide and sends money from 50 countries to more than 150 nations.

The acquisition of Sendwave will make it a company that generates over $200m in revenue and manages more than $7.5bn of remittance flows.

The deal will strengthen the company’s position in the US, the world’s biggest source of outward remittances. “You can’t be big in money transfers if you’re not big in the US,” says Ahmed.

Industry more streamlined

The remittance industry has definitely benefited from having more players in the market: costs have been drastically reduced and the spread on exchange rates has also fallen considerably. However, some analysts warn that it is becoming an increasingly difficult area in which to make money as competition is eroding margins and the marketing costs to acquire new customers are greater than the gains.

Ahmed doesn’t agree; he counters that the industry will not only grow but will evolve. One factor behind the resilience of remittances has been the digitisation of payments. “Somaliland is pretty much a cashless society today. In Kenya, 90% of remittances are non-cash based, with the majority going to mobile money. In Nigeria 90% of international money transfers will end up in a bank account. So even during lockdowns, remittance flows still take place.”

He believes that the digitisation of remittances will also enable countries and analysts to better understand and make use of data that is now more readily available.

He also anticipates that the infrastructure backbone of remittances, which is ultimately about matching and settling trades, can help play a greater role in business transactions such as purchasing machinery or goods from abroad, as well as in intra-African trade, where too often buyers need to access dollars or euros to settle a payment within Africa.

Remittances have often been overlooked as a development tool, he says, but today they are a key indicator from a macro-economic perspective. Nonetheless they have been criticised for being ‘unproductive’ capital in that they are used in the ‘receiving’ country to make basic purchases.

Ahmed refutes this and says that as well as covering expenses such as school fees, food or medical bills, a big chunk of remittance payments goes to starting new businesses, investing in land and property.

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Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya over Somaliland

Photo: kenyan president uhuru kenyatta and somaliasomaliaSomalia president mohamed abdilahi farmajo, somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya over Somaliland,

Somalia on Tuesday morning announced it is cutting diplomatic ties with Kenya, in the latest escalation of a spat between the two, and following the invitation of Somaliland leader Muse Bihi to Nairobi.

Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya over Somaliland

Osman Dubbe, the Somali Minister for Information declared the news on national TV a few minutes to 2am in the morning, breaking tradition of countries making such pronouncements during the day.

Photo: somaliland and kenyan flag, Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya over Somaliland,

Dubbe said Kenya had “constantly interfered” with Somalia’s internal affairs and that Nairobi was violating Somalia’s sovereignty.

He said Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu will have seven days to leave the country. But this came just a week after Mogadishu actually expelled the Kenyan ambassador to Somalia, Lucas Tumbo, and recalled theirs to Nairobi, Mohamud Ahmed Tarzan, following a similar complaint of interference.

Somalia had also submitted a complaint to regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to include the spat with Kenya during the upcoming virtual summit on Dec 20 on Tigray.

Kenya though, became the second country in a year after Guinea, with which Somalia has cut ties over the Somaliland issue.

Also Read

Spokesperson’s Office
State House, Nairobi

14th December 2020

Press Release

Bilateral talks between Kenyan and Somaliland delegations

Kenya hosts Bihi

But as Mogadishu moved in the night, Nairobi was hosting Bihi for bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Both sides on Monday said they had agreed on a number of issues and would continue discussions on Tuesday on business and security cooperation.

With the cutting of diplomatic ties, it means the Kenyan embassy in Mogadishu and Somalia’s mission in Nairobi will be shut and their officials sent back home. But both countries, based on Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, will remain obligated to offer visa and other travel and immigration services to nationals of each other.Advertisement

In fact, each country will remain obligated to protect premises owned by either side on their host territories.

However, despite having legal obligations to protect citizens of each other, the actual protection of each other’s nationals may be granted to a third acceptable state.

It was unclear by Tuesday morning what will happen to military cooperation between Somalia and Kenya which has sent troops to the country under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). Legally, it is Amisom to make a decision about troop movements, but in consultation with the UN and troop contributing countries.

About 350,000 Somali refugees also live in Kenya, most of them in camps in Dadaab and Kakuma. Kenya will have to continue protecting them, under the international humanitarian law.

What may be exposed, however, are the properties owned by Somalia businesses and politicians in Nairobi.

Officials in the Kenyan capital said on Tuesday morning they had not yet received any formal communication from Mogadishu on the severing of ties.

Afrika-times.com

Uhuru kenyatta is clearly seeking recognition to somaliland as newest country in africa

somaliland and kenya flag Afrika-times.com
  • Somalia had accused Somaliland of undermining its sovereignty after a delegation led by President Muse Bihi was hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Nairobi’s Statehouse

• But Somaliland through its Foreign Affairs responded by saying such an irrelevant statement Somalia shows nothing but only failure and irresponsibility.

  • KENYA MAINTAINED ITS RECOGNITION OF SOMALILAND AS NEWEST COUNTRY IN AFRICA

(Afrika-times.com- Somalia and Somaliland on Monday engaged in a war of words on Twitter following the latter’s delegation visit to Nairobi.

Somalia had accused Somaliland of undermining its sovereignty after a delegation led by President Muse Bihi was hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Nairobi’s Statehouse.

Through its Foreign Affairs, Somalia said Bihi’s visit must be treated with all contempt it deserved.

The ministry later deleted the tweet.

“Somaliland is the federal Member State of Somalia. It, therefore, has no legitimacy to directly deal with Kenya especially now that we have severed our diplomatic ties,” part of the tweet read.

It also read, “Muse Bihi’s visit to Nairobi undermines the sovereignty of Somalia and must be treated with the contempt it deserves”.

But Somaliland through its Foreign Affairs responded by saying such an irrelevant statement Somalia shows nothing but only failure and irresponsibility.

Somaliland said as an independent country it has a right to make a decision to strengthen its mutual relationship with Kenya which is also an independent country.

“The irrelevant statement from the failed administration of Somalia shows nothing but only failure and irresponsibility. The Republic of Somaliland and The Republic of Kenya are two independent countries which has (sic) the rightful decision to strengthen their mutual relationship, ” the tweet read.

President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted bilateral talks between Kenya and Somaliland delegation led by President Musa Bihi Abdi at State House on Monday.

President Abdi arrived in the country on Sunday for a three-day official visit.

During the meeting, the two leaders initiated discussions on a number of subjects of mutual interest between Kenya and Somaliland.

The two delegations are set to meet again on Tuesday to finalise the talks.

Kenya has no diplomatic presence in Somaliland but takes cognizance of the political and economic stability of the region.

The country is keen to enhance and broaden trade in goods and services, as well as an investment as the cornerstone for long-term development cooperation with the region.

There has been a looming diplomatic spat between Nairobi and Mogadishu after Farmnajo expelled Kenya’s ambassador to Mogadishu Ambassador Lucas Tumbo.

Mogadishu cited what it termed as the Kenyan government’s interference in its internal and political affairs.

Uhuru receives Somaliland President Musa Abdi at State HouseThey initiated discussions on issues of mutual interest between Kenya and Somaliland Afrika-times.com

“The federal government f Somalia expresses it regret in the government of Kenya’s overt and blatant interferences in the internal and political affairs of Somalia which has the potential to be a hindrance to stability,” a statement from Somalia’s foreign ministry said.

But Kenya in its response dismissed the claims terming them unsubstantiated allegations.

Nairobi said it had not received any Note Verbale or any other official communication from Mogadishu requesting Kenya’s ambassador to leave for Nairobi for consultations.

“However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ attention has been drawn to a press statement purportedly released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Somalia,” a statement from the ministry said. 

“This action is reportedly based on unsubstantiated allegations, namely, “continued interference in the internal affairs of Somalia”. The Government of Kenya respects and upholds the cardinal international principles of self-determination, sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of all countries, and in particular those in Africa,” Nairobi said.

Mbili Niagro, Nairobi Kenya Afrika-times.com

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Kenya maintained its recognition of SOMALILAND as newest country in africa

President Uhuru Kenyatta is hosting his Somaliland counterpart Muse Bihi Abdi amidst worsening relations with Somalia.

Kenya maintained to its recognition of somaliland as the newest country in africa, uhuru kenyatta meets with somaliland president muse bihi abdi

KENYA 🇰🇪 MAINTAINED ITS RECOGNITION OF SOMALILAND AS NEWEST COUNTRY IN AFRICA

The visit by the leader of the self-declared country seeks to give Kenya a platform through which Nairobi can have presence in Hargeisa, as it has no diplomatic presence in Somaliland

President Abdi jetted into the country for a three-day state visit yesterday and was received. Official invitation from uhuru kenyatta

This visit comes after Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmaajo, imposed restrictions on Kenyans hoping to travel to the country. At the same time, there has been a maritime dispute that saw Somalia file a case against Kenta at the International Court of Justice in 2014.

Mogadishu has accused Nairobi of meddling in its upcoming elections by allegedly putting pressure on the leader of Jubaland region, Ahmed Mohamed Islaam Madobe, to pull out of poll agreement brokered two months ago.

Mogadishu expelled Kenya’s diplomat to Somalia Maj Gen (rtd) Lucas Tambo and recalled its ambassador to Kenya, Mohamud Ahmed Nur ‘Tarzan’, over claims of Nairobi’s continuous interference in its internal affairs.

“President Kenyatta, on Monday, is scheduled to host President of Somaliland for talks on mutual interests and discuss diaspora issues as they seek to deepen trade ties,” reads a press release by the Foreign Affairs ministry.

Uhuru, according to the ministry’s brief, will be seeking stronger relations between the two countries to bolster security, economic and social

“Somaliland is an important partner in the Horn of Africa region in the fight against terrorism and particularly Al-Shabaab,” the statement read.

This file photo taken on May 18, 2016 shows a woman holding a flag as soldiers and other military personnel of Somalia’s breakaway territory of Somaliland march past during an Independence day celebration parade in the capital, Hargeisa. [AFP]

“ takes cognizance of the political and economic stability of the region and is keen to enhance and broaden trade in goods and services, as well as investment as the cornerstone for long-term development cooperation with the region.”

The ministry also disclosed that Uhuru would be seeking intensified cooperation in banking and financial sector to accelerate investment opportunities for both parties. Kenya Airways flights connecting Nairobi and Hargeisa to enhance trade and movement is carefully being explored, the statement said.

Other issues on the table include information sharing on security, particularly in countering terrorism in the Horn of Africa. “Kenya and Somaliland will work together to actualise these aspirations,” the statement read.

This is the first official visit to Nairobi by President Abdi since he took over Somaliland in 2017, and the second by a Somaliland leader following a similar one by President Kahin Riyale Kahin in 2009.

Such differences are not new to Kenya. Tanzania cancelled landing rights for three Kenyan airlines — Kenya Airways, Fly540 and Safarilink Aviation — after Kenya insisted Tanzanians arriving in the country had to be quarantined for 14 days.

The actions by the two countries have recently stalled business ventures for Kenyans over ‘bad’ policies by Nairobi.

While receiving President Abdi together with his delegation, which includes uhuru kenyatta and the members of the Cabinet, Munya said today’s talks between the two leaders would be of mutual interest.

Somaliland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said President Abdi left Hargeisa on Sunday and would meet Kenyan officials for bilateral talks.

Somalia has had issues with Kenya over miraa (khat) export. The country has since banned Kenyan miraa from its market.

The matter resurfaced last week after a delegation of farmers’ representatives travelled to seek audience with Somalia officials. However, they were met with a list of demands, including a tax charge of $4 per kilo.

The farmers were also told to report to the Kenyan authorities that they would only be allowed to sell miraa in Somalia if flights from Mogadishu are not forced to stop in Wajir for security checks.

Somalia officials say Kenya should treat their country as an equal partner.

In 2016, Mr Munya, then Meru Governor, caused a diplomatic storm after he ‘offered recognition’ of Somaliland if they were assured a steady miraa market.

KENYA MAINTAINED ITS RECOGNITION OF SOMALILAND AS NEWEST COUNTRY IN AFRICA

Escalating conflict could threaten Ethiopia’s economic success story

Ethiopia is teetering on the brink of civil war as fighting intensifies in the north of the country, sparking fears that its economic transformation could be stymied by protracted conflict.

Federal government forces loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are making advances in the semi-autonomous northern Tigray region, which is currently controlled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF led a coalition which ruled Ethiopia for almost three decades prior to Abiy taking office in 2018.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch called on Tigray’s regional authorities and the national government to protect civilians and property amid reports of mounting casualties.

Tweet 1

Abiy, who last year won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve a long-standing border conflict with neighboring Eritrea, tweeted on Sunday that the military campaign in the region to “uphold the rule of law” was “progressing well.”

“By advancing rule of law and holding accountable those that have been looting, destabilizing Ethiopia, we will lay the foundation for lasting peace & harmony,” Abiy said.

Economic implications

The prospect of a bloody and protracted conflict could dent Abiy’s recent push to transform the country’s economy.

Africa’s second-most populous nation has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world so far this century, consistently posting double-digit percentage annual growth in GDP (gross domestic product). However, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the IMF has slashed Ethiopia’s 2020 growth forecast to 1.9% from 6.2% — and this was before the unfolding events in Tigray.

Risk consultancy EXX Africa has highlighted that the government’s Tigrayan offensive and its “perceived authoritarianism” was jeopardizing the country’s relations with key economic partners.

“Growing domestic and international criticism of the government’s crackdown on political opponents, journalists, activists, and business leaders is attracting the attention of some of Ethiopia’s key partners, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is assisting the country in its response to the coronavirus and slowing economy,” EXX Africa Executive Director Robert Besseling said in a report last week.

“Foreign investors seeking to participate in Ethiopia’s privatization and liberalization drive will also be cautious of such human rights abuses and unilateral state actions, such as the suspension of internet service and closure of media networks.”GP 201117 Amhara militia Tigray EthiopiaAmhara militia men, in combat alongside federal and regional forces against the northern region of Tigray, receive training in the outskirts of the village of Addis Zemen, north of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on November 10, 2020.EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images

In addition, a growing focus from investors on ESG — or environmental, social and corporate governance — could mean additional overseas investment courted by the government remains on the sidelines, as reports of civilian casualties emerge from a region in which outside access and communication is mostly blocked.

“Human rights abuses will deter ESG-conscious investors at a time when Abiy is looking to attract foreign investment to drive his Homegrown Economic Reform agenda which aims to transform Ethiopia from an agrarian to an industrialized economy by 2030,” said Verisk Maplecroft Senior Africa Analyst Ed Hobey-Hamsher in a comment last week.

“The conflict will prove an expensive distraction from government efforts to address systemic poverty and food insecurity, exacerbated this year by the disruption that travel restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid-19 has had on agricultural production and markets.”

Conflicting narratives

Both sides have sought to assert the moral high ground under international scrutiny since the government began military operations on Nov. 4, in what Abiy said was a response to an attack on a federal military base by the TPLF.

Reuters reported on Monday, citing military and diplomatic sources, that government forces had dropped bombs on the Tigrayan capital Mekelle.

It comes after Amnesty International said last week that “scores, likely hundreds” of civilians had been killed in the western part of Tigray, likely by TPLF personnel following defeat to government forces.

Each side has denied responsibility for various air and ground attacks, and accused the other of trying to destabilize the country.PREMIUM: Ethiopia Eritrea 180718 EUEritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki (second right) is received by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (third right) as he arrives at Bole International airport in Addis Ababa on July 14, 2018.Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

Communications have been interrupted in the region since Nov. 4 as Abiy declared a six-month state of emergency, and access is blocked by road and air, making reports difficult to verify by international agencies. However, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) now estimates that more than 25,000 displaced Ethiopians have arrived in neighboring Sudan.

“Tight restrictions on access for aid agencies and communications mean that millions of people in Tigray affected by the fighting may be at grave risk,” said Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Ceasefire promising?

Abiy has appeared to suggest in tweets that a swift resolution to the conflict could be possible. However, his resistance to ceasefire calls from the UN and various international powers have raised fears of a protracted conflict with a knock-on effect for the region.

“At this stage the prospect of a negotiated settlement or ceasefire does not appear promising, and the reported atrocities being committed in Tigray will only intensify the conflict – so will moves by the federal government to establish a parallel government for Tigray to replace the current TPLF-led administration,” said Louw Nel, political analyst at NKC African Economics.

“Concerns over neighboring Eritrea being drawn into the conflict are not unfounded; however, the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have been projecting an image of solidarity and commitment to the peace agreement concluded in 2018.”