Ethiopia + 6 more

Horn of Africa: The Monthly Review (Dec 1999 - Jan 2000)

Situation Report
Originally published

European Union names envoy to help end Ethiopia-Eritrea war: The European Union has named Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Rino Serri as its envoy to help end the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The special representative is mandated to provide full support for the effort of the OAU in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. (Press Digest, December 30; The Reporter, January 5)

President Beshir pays surprise visit to Asmara: In a joint communiqué issued in Asmara on January 3, Sudan and Eritrea announced the conclusion of a peace agreement between the two countries. Marking the resumption of diplomatic ties the two countries reopened their embassies as of January 12, 2000, paving the way for opening their borders and a resumption of flights to Asmara and Khartoum by their respective airlines. The two countries also agreed to hold a joint ministerial meeting in Asmara from February 3–5, 2000. Major General Bakry Hassan Salah, Sudan’s Minister for Presidential Affairs and Eritrea’s Foreign Minister, Haile Wolde Tensae, signed the agreement. In line with the agreement the Eritrean delegation handed back the key to the Embassy of Sudan in Asmara. (Seven Days Update, January 10)

Ethiopia and Sudan hold talks on transport and communications sector: Ethiopian and Sudanese transport officials recently held talks in the Ethiopia border town of Metema on ways of consolidating bilateral relations of co-operation in the transport and communications sector. At the two-day meeting held in the Ethiopian border town of Metema the two parties agreed to open to traffic the road that links Metema and the Sudanese town of Gedaref. Work on the construction of the road had been launched five years ago and the delegations said the project was gaining momentum with 118 kms of the 175 kms road now completed with the remaining works expected to be completed within six months. The Sudanese delegation was headed by the Road and Communications Minister, Major General Alhaji Bushera, and the Ethiopia delegation was headed by the Vice Minister for Transport and Communications, Ayenew Bitewilign. The two sides also agreed to facilitate conditions for the construction of the Humera-Shewak and Assosa-Damazin roads and design joint projects that would enable the two countries to standardise telephone links. (Seven Days Update, January 3; Radio Ethiopia, December 27; AFP, January 17; Addis Zemen, December 28; Press Digest, December 30)

Presidents of Yemen, Sudan, Djibouti hold summit in San'a: President Ali Abdullah Salih, along with visiting President of Sudan General Umar Hassan al-Beshir and Djibouti President Ismael Omar Gelleh convened a summit meeting in San'a. The three leaders discussed security matters and the co-ordination of efforts to bring about peace, security and stability in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region. The Somali crisis featured high in their discussions and both President Salih and Beshir expressed their backing for Djibouti’s efforts to realize Somali reconciliation and security. Speaking to reporters following the meeting, the leaders expressed their confidence in maintaining co-ordination as far as Arab issues are concerned. The Djibouti and Sudanese presidents also voiced support for President Ali Abdullah Salih’s repeated calls for convening an Arab summit that would bring about closer Arab co-ordination and realize Arab solidarity. (Republic of Yemen Radio - BBC Monitoring Service, January 15; AFP, January 18 )

OAU objects to trade deal that ignores Africa’s concerns: The Organisation of African Unity reiterated that its member states would not sign any World Trade Organisation deal unless African concerns are given due attention. At the WTO conference, which was held in Seattle, USA from November 30 to December 3 and ended without any agreements, African ministers took the same position. During the conference the group of African members of WTO chaired by Kenya developed a declaration demanding fair negotiations. OAU spokesman Ibrahim Dagash told a press conference in Addis Ababa, "We hope the concern of African countries will be givern due attention when the WTO next meets to follow up on what has been discussed in Seattle. Otherwise, the OAU and its member countries will not be a party to any agreement that protects the interests of the industrialised countries at the expense of developing countries". He referred to press reports from Seattle that there had been "exclusive" accords and behind the scene meetings on the sidelines of the conference to work out "some kind of projectionist deal" in the interest of the industrialised countries. Dagash warned, such attempts "would be inimical to the interests of developing countries, particularly those in Africa." (PANA, December 6; Press Digest, December 9; The Reporter, December 29 & January 5 )


Government introduces new surtax and increases fuel prices: The Government of Ethiopia on December 14 introduced a 10% increase in surtax on imported goods. The announcement came only 17 days after an 18% price increase announced on petroleum and petroleum products. The prices of gasoline, kerosene and diesel per litre were increased by Birr 0.44, 0.22 and 0.15 respectively. The price increases were necessitated by the rising fuel prices on the world market and a slight weakening of the Birr against the US dollar according to the announcement by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The new fuel tariff will remain in effect for the next three months. According to Minister of Finance, Sufian Ahmed, the increase in surtax was only a short-term measure designed to finance a budget deficit estimated at around 800 million Birr. The Council of Ministers had earlier disclosed that the continuing surge in the price of oil on the international market had forced the government to "adjust" local prices. Refering to the import surtax, Radio Ethiopia has clarified that according to Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed, the increase does not apply to goods brought to the country for investment purposes or to fertiliser, aeroplanes, public and freight transport vehicles, or special purpose vehicles. (Africa News Online, December 20; Press Digest, December 23; Seven Days Update, January 10 & 17)

Saudi-German group to build hospital specialising in orthopaedics: A Saudi-German group which operates several hospitals in Saudi Arabia and Yemen is to build a hospital in Addis Ababa with state-of the-art equipment specialising in orthopaedics for US $75 million, a local Amharic language weekly has reported. The report quoted Dr. Khalid. A. Batergi, vice-president of the Saudi-German medical group as saying that the company has finalised arrangements for the construction of the hospital. "Our hospital will closely co-operate with the Ethiopian Sports Commission and military hospitals in the country in the treatment of orthopaedics patients" he said. Although the weekly did not specify it in its report, sources said the Saudi-German group had purchased the armed forces hospital located at Addis Ababa’s old airport as the future site where the new hospital will be built. (Dpa, January 17)

Ethiopia’s use of Berbera Port increasing: According to local media reports, in the past year Ethiopia has transported some 46,000 tons of food aid through the northern Somali port of Berbera. In the first round 30,000 tons were imported via Berbera while in the second, 16,000 tons of grain was expected to be imported via Berbera. Efoita newspaper quoted the Vice Minister of Transport and Communications, Ayenew Bitewilign as saying that preparations are underway to take advantage of the port and that the road from Berbera to Ethiopia was being repaired by both countries with assistance from the European Union. The vice-minister added that Ethiopia is also interested in using Moqdishu port when situations improve. Preparations are also being made to use Kenya’s Mombassa port as soon as the Kenyan authorities improve the road leading to the Ethiopia border town of Moyale. (Efoita Newspaper, December 20, Radio Ethiopia, January 5)

Congressman's article provokes outrage: US Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, Republican representative from New York and chairman of the House International Relations Committee published an article which appeared in the Op-ed page of the Washington Post on January 3 under the headline "Ethiopia Needs a Push Toward Peace". The article coincides with the United States becoming the chairman of the UN Security Council and January 2000 being declared the "Month of Africa" and says Ethiopia is rigidly resisting the OAU peace plan. The editorial calls for the US and international community "to condemn Ethiopia’s intransigence and urge them not to launch an attack." In response the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin sent an article to the Washington Post on January 5 which denies the Congressman’s claims. In addition the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the Congressman entitled "Ethiopia never surrenders to any external pressures". Outrage and dismay to the Congressman’s article have been expressed by various writers in letters to the Congressman, including Horn of Africa specialist Paul Henze and Professor Andreas Eshete, UNESCO Chair for Human Rights and Democracy, the private press and Radio Ethiopia. (Washington Post, January 3; Voice of America, January 4; Ethiopian Herald, January 6, 9 & 12)


Eritrean opposition leader denied entry into Egypt: Egypt has denied the leader of the Eritrean Opposition Forces Alliance, Abdalla Idris entry into Egypt despite bearing an entry visa. Earlier the Eritrean government had requested four Arab countries, including Egypt, that Eritrean opposition figures are denied entry into their territory and also that opposition figures in these countries be turned over. All four countries turned down the request. The Egyptian government had assured the Eritrean government that it would not allow opposition groups to operate in its territory, but that it could not prohibit entry into Egypt since many of them were in possession of valid non-Eritrean passports. The decision by Egypt to refuse Abdalla entry into its territory indicates a change of stance. The opposition alliance leader was held up at Cairo International Airport for nine hours before leaving for an unnamed Arab country. It was reported that Abdalla has a family that has been residing in Egypt for 20 years.

International Court of Justice gives final verdict on Hanish dispute: The Arbitration Tribunal of the International Court of Justice formed to adjudicate the territorial sovereignty of the Hanish Islands in the Red sea and to delimit the international maritime boundary between the two countries announced its second and final award on December 17, 1999 in London. The basis for the verdict took into account the fact that both countries had been using the Jebel Atahir, Zuber, Hanish and Zihur islands until the 1990’s. While the courts first Award on Sovereignty for the islands was attributed to Yemen its final decision upholds Eritrea’s right to use the islands for fishing and transport purposes."It entitles both Eritrean and Yemeni fishermen to engage in artisinal fishing around the islands which, in its first Award on Sovereignty, the Tribunal attributed to Yemen. This is to be understood as including diving carried out by artisinal means for shells and pearls. Equally these fishermen remain entitled freely to use these islands for those purposes traditionally associated with artisinal fishing the use of islands for drying fish, for way stations, for the provision of temporary shelter and for the effecting of repairs". In addition, according to the verdict, new laws promulgated by the Yemeni government regarding the territory have to be ratified by the Eritrean government. The Tribunal explicitly noted that "any administrative measures impacting upon these traditional rights shall be taken by Yemen with the agreement of Eritrea". (Africa News Online, December 20; PanAfrican News Agency, December 22; Press Digest, December 30)

UNHCR to resume operations:The Eritrean government and UNHCR have reached agreement to allow the refugee agency resume operations in the country, from which it was expelled in May 1997 for what Eritrea considered "undue pressure" to revive the stalled repatriation from Sudan of Eritrean refugees who fled their home country during the war of independence with Ethiopia. The agreement, under which the refugee agency will focus on the voluntary repatriation of 147,000 Eritreans registered in refugee camps in Gedaref and El Showak in eastern Sudan, followed a visit to Asmara by UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner Soren Jessen-Petersen. Acknowledging that "the new political atmosphere which has been developing between Eritrea and Sudan" had helped matters, and that Khartoum was keen to have the situation resolved, UNHCR spokesman Jacques Franquin told IRIN that "it's time to proceed with the repatriation of these people, who are a bit forgotten." Two UNHCR staff aree scheduled to travel to Eritrea in February to begin working with the government on a repatriation plan. (IRIN News Briefs, January 26)


Djibouti President discusses Peace Proposal for Somalia: Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh, who is the current chairman of the Inter-Governmental Authority of Development, is proposing the establishment of a transitional government and legislative council for neighbouring Somalia. President Guelleh first introduced his peace proposal in September 1999 during his address to the UN General Assembly. Guelleh's proposal envisages transitional arrangements in which the entire Somali society will be represented through various groups, including civil society. President Guelleh briefed President Daniel arap Moi and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on his proposal during a visit to Nairobi and stopover in Addis Ababa’s Bole International airport on January 14. The Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin told reporters that according to Guelleh’s briefing to Meles, a cross-section of the Somali society is presently discussing the proposal for establishing a transitional government and legislative council in their country. Seyoum added that Ethiopia and Kenya fully support the Djibouti Guelleh’s latest peace proposals for Somalia. Later in January President Guelleh flew to Cairo where he met with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak. In a joint statement, Egypt indicated its support for the Djibouti peace plan on Somalia which it viewed as a bid to preserve the territorial integrity and security of Somalia. The two countries said they will cooperate and coordinate their efforts to restore peace and stability in Somalia. (Panafrican News Agency, January 15; MENA, quoted by BBC Monitoring Service, January 26)

Djiboutian journalist detained for seven months: Reporters Sans Frontieres has protested the alleged detention in Harar, eastern Ethiopia, of Amir Adaweh, editor in chief of "La Republique'" the newspaper of the Djibouti opposition Partie Nationale Democratique (PND). In a letter to Djibouti's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Abdi Farah and Ethiopian Minister for Justice Wolde Woredewolde, RSF asked for the journalist's location and the reason for his detention to be made known. "If it turns out that he is imprisoned because of his work as a journalist, we ask for his immediate release," said RSF secretary-general Robert Menard. According to RSF, Adaweh has been held in Harar for more than seven months, since he and other people were reportedly arrested by Ethiopian police while on holiday. (Reporters Sans Frontieres, January 11)

WFP launches appeal to feed drought victims: The United Nations World Food Programme has approved a US $2.7 million emergency operation to feed 100,000 people affected by an on-going drought in Djibouti, the food agency has announced. According to WFP Country Representative Sanda Maina, "drought symptoms are clearly evident in all areas of the country, Little rain has left watering holes at dangerously low levels and livestock has died either because there is a lack of pasture land or because it's drastically deteriorating." The influx of nomadic families into the city shows their growing desperation, he added. WFP's operation, which is expected to run through the middle of June, will distribute over 6,000 metric tons of food aid to needy people in the drought-affected areas. (WFP Press Release, January 27)


Negotiators attempt to resolve Sudan’s political crisis: A committee comprising the chairman of Sudan's National Congress Party, Abdel Rahim Ali, and a number of trade unionists is acting to resolve the political crisis in Sudan along with a joint government-National Congress committee which has also offered its good offices. The executive body of the National Congress gave the government and good offices committees a month starting December 20 to "patch up the rift" between President Omar al-Beshir and NC Secretary General Hassan al-Turabi, a senior NC official told the daily Al Rai al Aam newspaper. Yassin al-Haj Abdin, the party’s rapporteur told the paper that failing that the NC faction backing Turabi "will become a political party independent of those in disagreement with it and will expel the dissidents in a peaceful manner that averts violence and clashes". The Khartoum government and a faction of the ruling National Congress Party have pledged to find a solution to Sudan’s political crisis. Seven representatives from each side in the political stand-off pitting Islamist Hassan al-Turabi against President Omar al-Beshir have been meeting behind closed doors in order to find a solution to the crisis that erupted after Beshir on December 12 imposed a three-month state of emergency and dissolved the National Assembly. Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Ahmed Omar heads the government team while North Kordofan governor Ibrahim al-Sanousi heads the Turabi faction. No date has been set for the negotiations to be completed. (AFP, December 21 & 22)

Oil pipeline on-stream again: Oil tankers at Sudan’s Beshir port on the Red Sea will be loaded on schedule despite an attack on the oil pipeline that caused damage totalling some US $400,000, the SUNA news agency reported. SUNA quoted Ministry of Energy and Mining Secretary General Hassan Mohamed al-Tom as saying that repairs were under way and the crude would resume flowing to Beshir Terminal for exportation on 18 January. He said the crude lost in the attack would be replenished by raising the pumping rate from oil fields in southwest Sudan. The Sudanese government has blamed the Bejah Congress, a faction of the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), for the time-bomb attack on the pipeline that took place on January 16 about 150 kilometres south-west of Port Sudan. (AFP, January 17)

Sudanese government resigns: Three weeks after President al-Beshir declared a state of emergency and dissolved parliament 48 hours before a debate and legislative vote on measures to curb presidential powers, Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir has announced his acceptance of the resignations of the central and state governments. The President said the resignations were in line with resolutions adopted by the ruling National Congress Party’s consultative council which called for reorganisation of the country’s federal and state executive bodies. After accepting the resignations, the President asked the former government officials to continue in office until a new administration is set up. Sources say the changes were expected and were intended to remove supporters of Beshir’s former ally-turned-rival, Hassan al-Turabi, who was ousted on December 12 amid a growing power struggle. (AFP, December 31)

Ruling body votes on administrative reform: The Consultative Council of Sudan’s National Congress Party, the highest body when the party’s general assembly is not meeting, has voted overwhelmingly in favour of measures to reform the party’s 60 member Leadership Authority which is currently chaired by former speaker of the National Assembly, Hassan al-Turabi. The Authority was created in September and gave Turabi, its chairman, wide-ranging powers. The Authority’s tasks include appointing ministers and other senior government and party officials. The Secretary of the Consultative Council, Ibrahim Abdel Hafiz told reporters that the 345 members voted for the measures although it is not clear how many of the council’s 525 members attended the closed-door meeting. The measures include revising the party’s rules and restructuring other party organs and were recommended by a committee that has been mediating between Beshir’s and Turabi’s camps. The committee also recommended that the December 12 state of emergency be lifted as soon as possible. Ibrahim Abdel Hafiz added that Turabi will keep his position as the National Congresses Secretary General while Beshir will remain party chairman. Beshir later told a conference of Sudan's Pensioners Union that the Council’s new resolutions "called for a unitary leadership, reinstated the government’s authority, and banned interference in the government policies," Beshir said the changes were a victory for his decision to disband parliament and declare a state of emergency. (AFP, December 20 & 30)

Egypt and Sudan restore diplomatic relations: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Sudan’s President General Omar al-Beshir have issued a joint statement announcing the restoration of full diplomatic relations between the two countries and the return of the Egyptian ambassador to Khartoum. The last Egyptian ambassador to Sudan was recalled in 1995 following an assassination attempt on Mubarak in Ethiopia that was blamed on Sudan. Since then Egypt has only been represented by a charge d’affaires in Sudan although Sudan kept an ambassador in Cairo. In the joint statement, released on December 23, the two presidents also said they had reached an agreement on the Red Sea border area of Halaib, which has been under dispute since Sudan’s independence in 1956. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had travelled to Egypt for the first time in 6 years as part of a tour of neighbouring states that included Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Uganda. (AP, December 22; AFP, December 23)

UN announces US $10 million humanitarian assistance for Nuba Mountains: The United Nations has announced a US $10 million humanitarian assistance programme for the people of the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan’s South Kordofan State. The announcement of the programme was based on a month long tour that ended October 15. The mission was comprised of representatives of UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations who travelled to areas in the Nuba Mountains held by the government and the rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Army. The report of the mission was transmitted to both sides in the conflict and the programme for the area was for the first time included in the Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal for Sudan for the year 2000 to address the most essential humanitarian needs as well as the medium-term recovery and rehabilitation needs in government and SPLA-held areas. (AFP, November 12; IRIN News Brief, December 20)


Somali faction leaders open new port near Moqdishu: Two Somali faction leaders have opened a new port close to the capital Moqdishu - more than seven years after the city’s main port was closed by civil war. Jasira port, 12 kms south-west of Moqdishu, controlled by minor faction leaders Muse Sudi Yalahow and Colonel Abdi Hassan Qaybdid, was inaugurated January 6, witnesses said. Both men are members of the Habr Gedir clan and have in the past been close to prominent warlord Hussein Mohamed Aideed, although they now appear to be operating independently. Two vessels carrying food docked at the new port, marking the start of operations. Large vessels will be charged $6,000 for entry while smaller ones will pay $3,000, the port’s new authority said. The two warlords will take 50 percent of the port’s income for providing security to its users while the balance will go to businessmen who financed it construction. Moqdishu’s main warlords Hussein Mohamed Aideed and Hussein Haji Bod opposed the opening of Jasira saying it would jeopardise efforts to open the main port of Moqdishu. (AFP, January 6; The Monitor, January 11, Press Digest, January 13)

Somali faction leaders agree to set up joint authority for Moqdishu: Five main Somali warlords have agreed to establish a joint authority to administer the Moqdishu region as a first step towards forming a national government for Somalia. Hussein Aideed, Hussein Haji Bod, Osman Hassan Ali “Atto’, Mohamed Qanyare Afrah and Ali Mahdi Mohamed signed the agreement late on December 22 following three days of talks. Each of the five warlords, all members of the Hawiye clan, controls part of the Somali capital. Aideed, Atto and Qanyare each has a fiefdom in south Moqdishu, while Bod and Ali Mahdi control parts of north Moqdishu. The agreement indicates that factions will set up a regional authority for southern Somalia, after first making institutions in Moqdishu operational. The new administration will run Moqdishu’s main port and the airport, the warlords said in a statement. If the joint authority succeeds it is expected to pave the way for the resumption of Somalia’s stalled national reconciliation process. According to the agreement, "after fulfilling the first part of the agreement, the leaders will proceed to discuss the formation of a national government through reconciliation with other factions in Somalia". The meeting also resolved to establish a co-ordination committee for the administration of Moqdishu and its environs. The mandate of the committee, consisting of 26 members, includes overseeing the framework of the operations, monitoring and assessing the progress of various committees that had been formed earlier, as well as updating the various faction leaders on the progress made by various committees. Previous agreements signed between warlords in Somalia failed mainly because of lack of goodwill among the feuding faction leaders. (AFP, December 22; Aayamaha, quoted by BBC Monitoring Service, January 5)

Appeal for Somalia launched: The United Nations has appealed for US $50 million in relief aid for Somalia, saying it would be used to purchase seeds and settle farmers. According to the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Randolph Kent, half of the money would be used to keep people on their lands so they can take advantage of the rains and not become internally displaced and therefore increasingly vulnerable. He emphasised that UN officials were negotiating with warlords and militias to persuade them to allow WFP and non-governmental organisations such as CARE and World Vision to deliver seeds to farmers. The UN Humanitarian Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for the year 2000 was launched in Geneva on November 23. The CAP 2000 for Somalia amounts to $50.5 million for humanitarian assistance. Another $73.7 million was requested for other priority assistance to respond to post conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation needs in northeast and northwest Somalia. Randolph Kent told a news conference at the launch of the appeal that "Somalia should be seen in a totally different light than we have seen over the past 5 years". He added that the country had one of the most sophisticated portable telephone networks in Africa. Kent urged donors to "back away from the standard view of Somalia as one great tragedy". (UN Somalia Monitor, November 17; AFP, December 7)

Islamic Court Administration faces resistance in Southern Somalia: Warlords in southern Somalia, who fear the Islamic courts will deprive them of political power, are resisting the courts’ authority. The courts have been appointing local administrators, Islamic court officials and recruiting militia. The courts finished recruiting 100 militiamen in Lower Shabelle regional capital of Merca on December 11. Some of these militia were immediately dispatched to Jamamme District in Lower Shebelle region where an Islamic Court appointed District Commissioner was killed. The District Commissioner, Sheikh Abdurahman Barre who was appointed to the post by the courts in October, was also responsible for running Islamic courts in the area. He was killed as his car approached a roadblock outside Jamame town. In another development, 28 prisoners of the Islamic Court in Merca have escaped from jail. Most of the prisoners had been arrested for setting up illegal roadblocks and extorting money from the public. (AFP, December 12)

Somaliland re-opens border with Djibouti: Somaliland has re-opened its common border with Djibouti after blocking movements by road for more than seven weeks. Somaliland closed its main land route to Djibouti at the end of November following allegations by the interior ministry that Djibouti was sending infiltrators and interfering in the domestic affairs of Somaliland. The Djiboutian "infiltrators" were apparently seeking to convince influential elders in Somaliland of the need to reverse the Somaliland position on secession from Somalia. The border was closed at Lowyada, the principal crossing point between Somaliland and Djibouti for the importation of consumer goods. Flights between the Somaliland and Djibouti were not affected. The border was re-opened on January 19 following a directive issued by President Muhammad Ibrahim Egal. (AFP, December 5; Radio Hargeisa, quoted by BBC Monitoring Service, January 19


Garissa town’s clan wars curfew lifted: The Provincial Commissioner of Kenya’s North East Province, Maurice Makhanu, who had imposed a partial curfew on the province’s capital Garissa district, announced the lifting of the curfew for the Ramadahan fast. He also said that the curfew, from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. had been an effective response to escalating gun battles between the Abduwak and Aulihann clans which began in June and claimed a total of 48 lives. The two clans have been quarrelling over grazing and water, while an element of political differences which dates back to the last decade has also been evident. Makhanu said that the government had given the warring clans sufficient time to make peace, but the failure of political leaders and elders to intercede had given the government "no option but to take full responsibility for security". He added that the government had been forced to deploy the crack General Service Unit of the army in the violence-torn areas because the peace initiatives by elders do not yield results. He also reiterated that the Kenyan border with Somalia would remain closed while patrols would be stepped up along the frontier with Ethiopia. (PANA, December 20; Press Digest, December 23)

IMF team expected for negotiations on resumption of aid: Kenya’s Finance Minister Chrysanthus Okemo has announced that an International Monetary Fund delegation was expected in the country on January 24 to begin talks aimed at concluding a successor programme to aid the resumption of the Fund's assistance to Kenya. The IMF suspended its US $205 million Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) meant for budgetary support in July, 1997 citing poor governance and widespread corruption as the reasons. Meanwhile, a cross section of opposition leaders has called for non-resumption of IMF aid to Kenya. Accusations have also been made against the head of Kenya’s Public Service Commission, Dr. Richard Leaky and the Britain’s High Commissioner to Kenya Sir Jeffery James, that they misled the IMF and World Bank over the resumption of aid to Kenya and cajoling donors to resume aid with a view to securing the interests of locally-based British multinationals and British Asians residents in Kenya. Sir Jeffrey was further accused of giving the impression that the country would break up unless aid resumes. The envoy has dismissed accusations from eight opposition MPs and some civil society leaders that he had misled his government and the donor community over aid resumption negotiations. He said his advice on resumption of negotiations was based on Kenya’s improved record on good governance and serious commitment to tackling of corruption. The Kenyan Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Dr. Bonaya Godana has defended the British High Commissioner and told the opposition groups that the attack on the diplomat was uncalled for since his job was to promote friendly relations between his government and Kenya. (PANA, December 18; East African Standard, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, quoted by BBC Monitoring, 5 January)

Drought causes pastoralists to migrate: An acute shortage of food in Kenya’s Turkana district is causing thousands of Turkana herdsmen to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, news reports claim. Two hundred and fifty thousand people in Turkana District are faced with starvation following the absence of rainfall during the critical short rains of September-October and media reports from the drought-stricken district indicate that at least 30 people have died so far. According to the Turkana District Drought Monitoring Bulletin Report for October, the complete failure of these short rains has constrained availability of water for both livestock and domestic use and increased the "trekking distance to watering points even within traditionally dry season grazing areas". The Minister of State in the Office of the President, Shariff Nassir, who confirmed that the food situation in Turkana District was critical, appealed to members of the Turkana community not to flee to neighbouring countries, saying the government will be seeking long-term solutions to the food problems in the district. (All Africa News Agency, December 13; KTN Television, quoted by BBC Monitoring Service, November 19)


Coffee exports record over 80 percent increase in Uganda: Uganda's coffee exports have increased by over 80 percent, earning the country over US $24.8 million, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said in a monthly report released early December. The report attributed the increase in both volume and earnings to good weather and improved international markets. It said that coffee exports in November stood at 411,903 bags of 60 kilogrammes each, which earned up to US $24.8 million, compared to 225,025 bags valued at US $13.5 million recorded in October -- an increase of about 83 percent both in volume and value. The November exports again saw an improvement of about 70 percent in volume and 20.5 percent in earnings compared to the same period during the last coffee year, which ended last September, the UCDA report said. Up to 2.5 million people in Uganda are employed by the coffee sector. Meanwhile, Uganda's inflation rate has remained in double figures for the third month running, according to figures released in December by the finance ministry. A statement from the ministry said the annual headline inflation for November 1999 rose to 10.6 percent, up from the 10 percent recorded in October, and up from 5.1 percent in May. Some analysts blamed the sharp increase on bad economic management by the government, while economists at the finance and economic planning ministry pointed the finger at regular hikes in the price of food -- a major component of the country's consumer basket. (AFP, December 4)

Ugandan parliament approves long-awaited amnesty bill: The Ugandan parliament has passed long-awaited legislation under which amnesty will be granted to rebels operating in the country. The legislation, which was moved by Internal Affairs Minister Edward Rugumayo, will be in force for six months, with a provision for extension. Amnesty has long been called for by people living in war-affected regions of Uganda, particularly in the north where the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of spirit medium Joseph Kony have been waging war against the government of President Yoweri Museveni since 1988. Rugumayo described the bill as "exciting, because for the first time the government has come out clearly and unequivocally to say that the amnesty will be granted to all those who have been waging war against the country." (AFP, December 7)

Increase in rebel activity in western Uganda: In early December twelve people were killed and five were wounded as rebels in western Uganda led simultaneous dawn raids on five military units. The Allied Democratic Forces rebels struck small barracks at Butama, Kabango, Ndugutu, Ngite and Kanyamirima, Bundibugyo's resident district commissioner Edward Masiga told AFP. Kanyamirima and Kalindi are both within six kilometers of the district capital Bundibugyo, which lies at the base of the Ruwenzori Mountains less than 30 kilometers from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 100,000 people in the area are internally displaced, living in camps in trading centres and along the roads. As tensions increased in the area, the ADF warned humanitarian agencies in Bundibugyo district that their relief convoys would be attacked by its rebels. In a letter faxed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the ADF accused the two groups of ferrying military supplies to the Ugandan army in the region. The UNHCR does not, however, operate in Bundibugyo because the people affected are internally displaced and not refugees. The threat resulted in a four week suspension of UN relief operations in the district. At the end December, the Ugandan army said it had killed 86 members of the ADF in the west of the country during the month. State Minister for Defence Steven Kavuma said that during the recent battles, the army also captured from the rebels 64 AK-47 assault rifles, an assortment of ammunition and other war equipment, as well as drugs. He noted that some of the weaponry captured seemed to have been newly acquired and that the government would investigate its source. (AFP, December 10 & 18, January 26)

Sudan, Uganda sign pledge to stop backing rebels: Uganda and Sudan moved closer to normalising their relations when they pledged to undertake to stop supporting each other's rebel groups in an agreement signed on December 8. In the accord reached during talks in Nairobi, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Sudanese President Omar el-Beshir agreed to take steps to re-establish diplomatic relations and to promote peace in the region. Points of the agreement included pledges "to renounce use of force to resolve their differences, to stop support for each other's rebel groups, to disband and disarm the terrorist groups and to respect each country's territorial integrity." The Carter Center, which oversaw the talks, issued a statement saying: "This agreement complements the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace process in Sudan, chaired by Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi." The 11-point agreement also includes clauses on the return of prisoners of war (POWs), locating and returning abductees to their families and an amnesty for returnees who renounce use of force. The accord called for the formation of a joint ministerial committee and technical teams to establish a timetable of specific steps for implementation. "If all other terms of this agreement are honoured satisfactorily, we desire to re-establish normal relations between our two countries within a month," the two presidents said in the agreement. "Within a month of this date, we will open offices in both capital cities and assign junior diplomatic personnel for service, and by end of February 2000, ambassadors will be exchanged and full diplomatic relations restored," the agreement added. The return in January by Sudan of a number of individuals abducted by Ugandan rebels operating from southeastern Sudan was one of the first initiatives taken following the signing of the new agreement. By January 23, some 10 adults and 43 children had been handed over to UNICEF. The United Nations estimates that 10,000 Ugandans have been kidnapped in the past five years, but many are believed to have died in battle or from disease. Thousands more have escaped. Ugandan authorities believe that up to 2,000 abducted people are still in rebel hands. In a reciprocal arrangement, the Ugandan authorities handed back 72 Sudanese prisoners of war captured by Ugandan soldiers inside Sudan while on a pursuit operation against LRA bases in April 1997. (AFP, December 8 & January 23)

Senior US official consults Uganda on AIDS: A senior US official arrived in Kampala January 9 to start a three-day visit to Uganda for consultations with AIDS researchers, support groups and officials on efforts to reduce the scourge. The visit of Sandra Thurman, who is National AIDS policy director at the White House, will be part of a four-nation, two-week tour which will also take her to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. Up to 1.5 million Ugandans are believed to be carrying the HIV virus that causes AIDS, while more than 100,000 other cases of the disease are full-blown. Uganda, whose AIDS orphans have reached 1.7 million, launched a new multi-sectoral approach last year aimed at renewing commitment to fighting the deadly pandemic. Uganda is one of the few countries in the world which have been successful in drastically reducing AIDS rate and new infections. An awareness programme, launched 13 years ago, made significant gains, reducing prevalence rates by 50 percent in the past seven years. (AFP, January 8)



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Information in this update has been obtained from official and private media reports, U.N. agencies and NGO sources. No claims are made by the UNDP-EUE as to the accuracy of these reports.

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