Friday, 19 September 2008


Dear Friends,
Mr Ayodeji Omotade asked us to let everyone know that his trial has been adjourned – no date yet. He sends his heartfelt thanks everyone who wrote messages of support.

The protest at BA’s headquarters tomorrow Wednesday 17 September is continuing as planned (see below).
We will keep everyone updated.

If opposing violence is a crime,
we are all on trial
Support Mr Ayodeji Omotade!

Peaceful protest
12 noon, WE D N ES D A Y 17 SEP T EM BE R, 2008
Waterside (H A A 3) Harmondsworth UB7 0 G B

More details: Respect Nigerians Coalition: and
All A frican Women's G roup:
Women of Colour, G WS: T el: 020 7482 2496
An attack on Ethiopia emerging in the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee
· Ethiopia enjoys healthy relations with the United States of America . A long historical relationship has, in recent times, witnessed qualitative improvement as issues linking us have multiplied. Nonetheless, there have been frequent challenges to our friendly relations. The annual report from the US State Department on human rights around the world has never attempted any objective assessment of Ethiopia , making sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations against the Government. However, the Government of Ethiopia has never considered the reports as any major impediment to the US/Ethiopia relationship despite their lack of objectivity and the excuse they create for others less knowledgeable about the realities of the situation in Ethiopia . In this regard the efforts by one branch of the US Government, Congress, have gone well beyond this. Following numerous hearings which have seldom been constructive the House of Representatives passed an ‘Ethiopian Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007’. Now a ‘Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Ethiopia Act of 2008’ has been introduced in the Senate. This draft is of concern because it makes no effort to provide any context for criticism. Moreover, the timing is bewildering with Congress about to close in order to participate in the Presidential elections. It is a surprise to find that this issue is of such interest to members of Congress at this stage in the life of the present Congress. This is particularly so in light of what the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee himself says about the critical role Ethiopia plays in the sub-region. This draft bill is regrettable not just because of factual errors, which are numerous, or the lack of accurate information portrayed, but because the message is that Ethiopia, despite its friendship with the US, can still be dictated to simply because there will be no consequences for the US. It is disingenuous to couch such a bill in friendly terms with claims to support democracy in Ethiopia when no such bill would be introduced against other governments regarded as friends of the US . Ethiopia is being targeted with complete disregard for building the mutual trust between the two countries so vital for long-term Ethiopia/US relations.
Ethiopia’s New Year hopes for regional peace
· While the Ethiopian New Year 2001 provides renewed commitment to forge ahead with the impressive economic development registered over the past five years, and with the democratization process, there is no doubt that a great deal remains to be done to ensure durable peace in the region. One critical aspect of this remains the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea . For Ethiopia , this situation could easily have been resolved previously on the basis of the two components of the Algiers Agreement. The first, the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities signed on June 18, 2000, at Algiers , provided for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission with the detailed mandate to create a Temporary Security Zone and for punitive measures to be taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter should either party violate this agreement which were meant “ contribute to the reduction of tension and to the establishment of a climate of calm and confidence, as well as to create conditions conducive to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the conflict…” The peace settlement as concluded under the Algiers Agreement of December 2000, included the delimitation and demarcation of the border based on pertinent colonial treaties and applicable international law, and allowed for the establishment of a neutral Claims Commission “ decide through binding arbitration all claims for loss, damage or injury by one Government against the other, and by [their] nationals…”. The expectation was for Algiers Agreements to be implemented in synergy and provide a conclusive settlement of the dispute. The various elements of the Agreements have been gradually implemented in different ways. The Claims Commission, for example, has completed the liability stage and is now expected to detail its compensation awards. One of its most significant decisions was its finding that Eritrea violated Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter when it invaded areas peacefully administered by Ethiopia . On the other hand, the Boundary Commission adopted its delimitation decision in 2002; implementation, however, could not proceed because Eritrea did not want to proceed to demarcation in line with international practice.
This stalled the peace process for some time before Ethiopia produced its five-point Peace Plan whose fundamentals were: the proposal to resolve the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea only through peaceful means; to resolve the root causes of the conflict through dialogue with the view to normalizing relations between the two countries; to accept, in principle, the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission decision; and to start dialogue immediately with the view to implementing the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission’s decision in a manner consistent with the promotion of sustainable peace and brotherly ties between the two peoples. Eritrea not only rejected these proposals but responded by imposing restrictions on UNMEE, expelling certain nationals serving in UNMEE, and by deploying its own military in the TSZ. At the request of the Security Council, the then Secretary General tried to unlock the dispute by appointing a Special Envoy. Eritrea rejected the appointment and refused to receive the envoy. The Security Council passed resolution 1640(2005) threatening Eritrea with sanctions if it did not lift the restrictions it had imposed on UNMEE. With the Security Council expected to consider the possibility of sanctions on Eritrea following the Report of the Secretary General, the Witnesses to the Algiers Agreement then convened in New York at the invitation of the United States to adopt an initiative aimed at breaking the impasse. The Security Council supported this and called on the Boundary Commission to re-convene meetings with the two parties. The Commission resumed its work on 10 March 2006 when Ethiopia clarified its stance that its acceptance of the delimitation decision was without any precondition, a point the Commission fully and publicly acknowledged. Eritrea , however, then made it clear that it would no longer cooperate with the Commission. Indeed, this initiative failed to break the impasse in the peace process because Eritrea refused to lift restrictions on UNMEE or cooperate in the appointment of a neutral facilitator to assist in the demarcation process and enter into technical discussion with Ethiopia as the Witnesses had highlighted in their initiative. Eritrea ’s persistent rejection of all avenues for peace effectively blocked the possibilities of a legally valid demarcation process. Faced by this intransigence, the Boundary Commission sought a way out by suggesting ‘virtual’ demarcation in lieu of physical demarcation.
Ethiopia made it clear that this course of action could only be considered ultra vires and that Ethiopia was not obligated to accept it. Indeed, the Security Council in fact subsequently adopted resolution 1798(2008) demanding physical demarcation of the boundary, making it clear that any transfer of territorial control could only arise after “…the final status of the contested areas… will be determined at the end of the delimitation and demarcation of the border and, if need be, through an appropriate mechanism of arbitration”, pursuant to the Algiers Agreements. So the questions of sovereignty and occupation that Eritrea has raised remain irrelevant, even frivolous, in the absence of valid demarcation and a transfer of territory in accordance with this.
Rather than respond to any of the criticisms and demands from the Security Council, Eritrea actually intensified the severe restrictions it imposed on UNMEE. This led to the Security Council’s termination of UNMEE’s mandate. Unfortunately, Eritrea, after starting the war unlawfully, being found liable for this by the Claims Commission, meting out humiliating treatment to UNMEE, violating the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement by deploying military forces inside the TSZ, continuously threatening to use force and carrying out multiple efforts at destabilization in the region, has gone unpunished. Verbal condemnation by the Security Council, in the absence of any punitive measures under the Charter of the United Nations or the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, has emboldened Eritrea to remain defiant to all the Council’s numerous resolutions demanding responses from Eritrea . In this context, it should be noted that in terminating UNMEE’s mandate, the Security Council, in resolution 1827(2008), reaffirmed the integrity of the TSZ. Under the Algiers Agreements, the TSZ and UNMEE’s mandate end only when valid demarcation has been conducted in accordance with the Agreements and international law.
Now, of course, all this is behind us and the problem is no longer an issue of the technicalities of boundary demarcation. Eritrea , with its persistent efforts to destabilize Ethiopia has made it clear that it is not prepared to reach any accommodation with the present government of Ethiopia . In fact this is not something new. It has been the main problem from the beginning. Despite this, in this New Year, Ethiopia will maintain its firm intention to achieve a peaceful resolution of the dispute with Eritrea . It remains fully committed to a lasting and durable peace between the two countries through negotiation and discussion. It can only hope Eritrea will reciprocate