AU Endorses Joint Mission with UN for Somalia

The African Union says it wants to partner with the United Nations in a proposed joint mission to support Somalia in its efforts to battle armed extremists and achieve stability.

In a statement, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council said it endorsed an independent assessment team’s recommendation for a hybrid operation that would replace the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) after this year.

Since 2007, the regional peacekeeping mission, which operates with U.N. approval, has aided Somali government forces in their battle to stabilize the Horn of Africa country, mainly against al-Shabab militants.

The African Union communique notes “grave concern at the worsening security situation in Somalia … in large parts of the country, (which) has detracted attention from the critical processes of state-building and stabilization.”

The hybrid mission was among several options recommended by the assessment team in a report released in May. The plan, which the African Union has proposed to take effect in January, would need approval by the U.N. Security Council and Somalia’s central government.

It faces stiff opposition. Last December, a separate U.N. assessment team had proposed that the African Union reconfigure or modify its current mission. But it did not recommend military involvement by the U.N., which already has a diplomatic mission in Somalia.

Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdirizak previously rejected calls for a hybrid plan.

“We prefer an option that emphasizes the Somali transition plan,” he said in an August interview with VOA Somali. That plan “pursues the enemy while building the capacity of the Somali forces and eventually transfers security responsibilities to Somalis.”

The African Union assessment team’s May report recommended the hybrid A.U.-U.N. mission have a mix of police (50%), military personnel (35%) and civilians (15%).

The African Union, U.N. and Somali government would have to decide on the strategic objectives, mandate, size and composition of the new mission, the statement said.

Currently, five countries — including Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Djibouti — contribute to the more than 19,000 AMISOM military personnel operating in Somalia. The communique said the African Union wants to expand the number of countries supplying troops.

The communique called for establishing the hybrid mission under the U.N. Charter’s Chapter VII, which it said would “ensure predictable and sustainable multi-year financing for the future mission through U.N. assessed contributions.”

Currently, international donors — mainly the European Union — cover the mission’s operating costs. The IPI Global Observatory has estimated it costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

In pressing for the hybrid plan, the African Union communique cited “deep concern” at the political impasse between Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (commonly known as Farmajo) and his prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, and its “significant impact on ongoing political processes. …” The two are embroiled in a fight over the case of a missing female intelligence officer.

Somalia chooses its president through indirect elections. The country is in the midst of a slow-moving election process that could take months. Most lawmakers in the 54-seat Upper House have been elected, but the process to elect 275 members of the Lower House has not begun. The two chambers will vote on a president at a date that has not yet been determined. The next president was expected to have been elected by October 10.

The communique said that the leaders’ dispute is not only negatively affecting the political process and elections but is also delaying discussions on a post-2021 African Union mission.

The African Union seeks immediate consultations with the U.N., the Somali government and other stakeholders to work out transition plans.


Source: Voice of America

Ethiopian Army Starts Ground Attack on Rebellious Tigray Forces – Regional Party Spokesman


Ethiopia’s national army launched a ground offensive against forces from the northern region of Tigray on Monday, the region’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said.

TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda told Reuters by phone that the army, alongside allied forces from the northern Amhara region, had launched the offensive to push Tigrayan forces out of Amhara on Monday morning.

Reuters could not independently verify Getachew’s statement.

Asked if a ground offensive had been launched, Billene Seyoum, spokeswoman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, said the Ethiopian government had a responsibility to protect its citizens in all parts of the country from any acts of terrorism.

“The government of Ethiopia will continue to counter the TPLF’s destruction, violence and killings in the Amhara region and elsewhere,” she added, without elaborating.

Amhara and Tigray have a decades-long dispute over territory after Tigray enlarged its borders a quarter of a century ago, to include fertile farmlands also claimed by the Amhara region. Amhara sent forces into that territory — officially known as Western Tigray — when fighting erupted in November between the national army and rebellious TPLF forces, and has retained control ever since.

In June, Tigrayan forces took back control of most of Tigray, forcing the national military to withdraw. Tigray then invaded the neighboring region of Amhara in July, saying it was a tactic to try to force Amhara forces out of the heavily militarized region of Western Tigray.

The Amhara regional spokesman signaled on Twitter last week that an offensive against Tigrayan forces could be imminent, and since Friday there has been heavy airstrikes reported in several Tigrayan-held areas of Amhara, diplomatic sources said.

Getachew said ground fighting had begun on Monday.

“On the morning of Oct. 11, the Ethiopian military with the support of Amhara special forces launched coordinated offensives on all fronts,” the office Getachew heads said in a statement.

Getachew said there was fighting in Amhara region’s Wegeltena, Wurgessa and Haro towns, and that the forces were using heavy artillery, fighter jets, drones, tanks and rockets to attack.

Asked for comment, the Amhara regional government referred Reuters to the federal government.

The fighting since November 2020 has displaced millions of people and forced hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans into famine — a situation the United Nations has blamed on a government blockade. The government denies it is blocking aid.

The fighting has made around 5.2 million people in Tigray — more than 90% of the population — and another 1.7 million people in Afar and Amhara dependent on food aid.


Source: Voice of America

Nation Marks 14th National Flag Day

The 14th National Flag day was observed across the nation starting early in the morning today.

Particularly, the day was marked under the motto: “ New Beginning with Full Sovereignty,”   at the House of Peoples’ Representatives.

President Sahlework Zewde and other senior government officials as well as religious fathers were in attendance.

The National Flag Day has also been observed in regional states and government institutions.

Ethiopia marks the National Flag Day every year on the first week of October.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Ethiopia Encounters 2,800 Cyber Attack Attempts during Concluded Eth. Year

Ethiopia has encountered some 2,800 cyber-attack attempts during the last Ethiopian fiscal year (2020/21), according to the Director General of Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Dr. Shumete Gizaw.

The Director General made the remark at a  ceremony organized to launch the month long cyber security program under the title “Cyber Security Shared Responsibility, Let’s Know & Be Cautious”.

During the occasion, the Director General emphasized the need to take the appropriate and adequate preparedness and preventive measures in advance by acquiring the necessary knowledge and skill in order to repel the cyber-attacks.

Cyber-attack attempts have been increasing on Ethiopia particularly in connection with the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the six general elections and the law enforcement operation held in the northern part of the country, he indicated.

According to him, in the Ethiopian 2013 fiscal year (2020/21) alone some 2,800 cyber-attack attempts were made on several institutions in the country.

Minister of Education Professor Birhanu Nega for his part urged all to take the appropriate precocious measures with a view to repelling such attacks in addition to making efforts to acquire the necessary knowledge about cyber security.

Otherwise, the cyber-attacks will pose grave threats to the national security of the country, he added.

He also stressed the need to strengthen human capacity and establish a strong procedural system as well as provide adequate awareness about the sector in order to control and foil the attacks successfully.

The objectives of Cyber Security Month are to carry out mobilization with a view to enhancing awareness among the cyber community including individuals and institutions and to help ensure the national interests of the country.

During the month, awareness creation activities will be carried out among individuals, governmental and private institutions focusing on ways to mitigate and control  cyber-attacks on technologies being used by them.

Workshops, exhibitions and panel discussions are also part of the month long cyber security awareness creation program, it was indicated.

Studies show that by 2020 some 2.5 trillion USD was lost due to cyber-attacks worldwide and by 2021, it is projected to reach 6 trillion USD.

Cyber ​​Security Month is being celebrated for the 2nd time in Ethiopia and the 18th time internationally, it was learned.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Ethiopians Need to Work Together to Overcome Emerging Challenges: President Sahlework

President Sahlework Zewde said Ethiopians need to work together to overcome emerging challenges the country is facing.
The President made the above remark at the celebration of 14th National Flag Day that was observed at national level in the premise of House of Peoples’ Representatives today.

During the occasion, President Sahlework said that “our flag is a symbol of our unity   preserved by the sacrifices of generations.

She said the National Flag Day celebration should be a reminder of the heroes who handed over a free country with their blood and striving to realize the new hope and vision.

“Ethiopia has been facing many challenges over the years and if we work together we will overcome the challenges we are still facing,” she said adding that “unless we stand firmly together , we will not achieve anything.”

The president calls all sections of the society to ensure that the next generation should honor and properly recognize the national flag, which is a symbol of national unity.

The only way to ensure the flag’s dignity and splendor is to achieve the comprehensive reforms that have begun in Ethiopia, she noted.

Participants approached by ENA also said that Ethiopia has made sacrifices to preserve its flag for centuries and expressed their patriotism to protect this honor.

They said Ethiopians have gathered under this flag to protect themselves from internal and external attacks and have shown that they will never compromise on the sovereignty of their country.

The 14th National Flag day was observed across the nation starting early in the morning today.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Congratulates Ethiopian Counterpart

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov congratulated Demeke Mekonnen on his reappointment as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.

FM Lavrov said the bilateral cooperation of Russia and Ethiopia aims to the benefit of peoples of the two countries, in the interest of strengthening stability and security in the Horn of Africa and on the African continent as a whole.

In his telegram message, Lavrov said, “I am ready for our further collaboration to expand friendly Russian-Ethiopian relations, enhance cooperation in political, commercial, economic and other spheres for the benefit of peoples of our countries, in the interest of strengthening stability and security in the Horn of Africa and on the African continent as a whole.”


Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Diplomats Urged To Be Aware of National, Int’l Issues to Effectively Safeguard Ethiopia’s Interest

All diplomats should be aware of the national, regional and international developments and strive to safeguard Ethiopia’s national interest and expand its positive image in their respective missions, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen urged.

Demeke disclosed this today at the opening of the second-rounds training program organized by Ministry of Foreign affairs to its diplomats serving across the globe.

At the opening of the program, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen said currently it is necessary to build a strong diplomatic presence of Ethiopia in the international fora as foreign powers are putting pressure on the country.

The government has been struggling with the misinformation and disinformation campaigns regarding the conflict in the north part of the country, the Ethio-Sudan border dispute, GERD and the 6th General National Elections, he underlined.

Deputy Prime Minister elaborated that “ Ethiopia’s diplomatic sector has been facing intensive pressures and obstacles  due to misinformation and disinformation from external forces. Now, we are in critical time that needs the concerted effort of all us to overcome these pressure and challenges.”

Demeke stressed that it is time for Ethiopians and Ethiopians residing abroad to work together to overcome the challenges and pressure posed on the country’s national interests.

He also emphasized the need to engaging all citizens to act as the country’s ambassadors to curb the ongoing pressure, he said, adding activities have been exerted to scale up the country’s influence in the diplomatic arena.

Furthermore, he noted that various activities are underway to restructure headquarter and the missions in the world in order carry out effective leadership and coordination on the diplomatic endeavours of the country.

The ministry is revising its foreign policy and receiving final input, in a manner that is consistent with the  national and international situations, he stated.

The training program, which will run for week is organized under the theme: “The Diplomatic Mission for Sustainable Peace and the Common Benefit for the Country’s Prosperity.”

The trainees are expected to receive training on the importance of developing a new mindset, ongoing reforms in the country, regional and international issues, among other issues, it was indicated.

The training aims to build the capacity of diplomats at national, regional and international level in different sectors in order to ensure the national interest of Ethiopia at international fora.

It is to be recalled that a 10-day capacity building training for diplomats held at Africa Leadership Excellence Academy last month.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency