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Published 25th July 2003

Vol 44 No 15


Ethiopia

Boundary boobytraps

East Africa's quarrelling brothers could be squaring up for new confrontations over their common border

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is fighting for his political life and his international reputation amidst growing internal dissent. The main issue remains the frontier with Eritrea, focus of the war in 1998-2000 which killed up to 100,000 people on both sides. Since the Border Commission clarified its award of Badme and part of Irob to Eritrea in March 2003, Meles has been under pressure to refuse the ruling. He faces a couple of dangerous months ahead and his problems are aggravated by looming economic collapse and the constant threat of famine. As opposition within the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front and pro-EPRDF parties has begun to mount over Meles' plans for wholesale political reform, a key feature of discontent is the government's policy over Badme and its apparent acceptance of the Boundary Commission's decisions (even if reluctantly and under protest). The original opponents of Meles' conduct of the war were out-manoeuvred in 2001 and they remain on the side-lines. Former Defence Minister Siye Abraha has just been acquitted over charges of procuring a job for his sister but he remains in gaol with several other charges still pending. Others, such as Gebru Asrat, former President of Tigray Region, are still attempting to organise a political opposition and to 'renew' Meles' own Tigray People's Liberation Front. While Gebru may be making little progress, support for Meles within the TPLF is still haemorrhaging. Several of those who supported him in 2001 have defected, including a Tigray member of parliament and the administrator of the region's eastern zone. The TPLF Central Committee is showing signs of unease. One recent meeting in Tigray split 19/16, with the majority against Meles and these were people who supported him in 2001 against hardliners (AC Vol 42 No 9).


Peacekeepers and peers

Mbeki finds peacekeeping a better bet than dictating democracy to dictators

Defying the ever extending setbacks to Africa's peace and security agenda, South African President Thabo Mbeki has again shown his impatience with fellow African leaders over their...


NePAD doubts mount up

With its emphasis on new concepts of African collective responsibility and its promise of strong moral and financial support from Western countries, the New Partnership for African...


Who loses?

While some developing countries, such as competitive wheat and beef exporters like Argentina, would like the Common Agricultural Policy reform to be intensified, many African agric...


Slow to go

Diplomacy, not urgency, is the Bush-Mbeki formula for regime change in Harare

United States President George W. Bush's quick tour of Southern Africa may have strengthened fellow President Robert Mugabe and it has certainly weakened Zimbabwe's opposition lead...


Kenya: Virtue unrewarded

Donors and investors are not backing Kenya's new democracy with the cash it needs

Since last December, when voters decisively rejected 39 years of rule by the Kenya African National Union, the victorious National Alliance Rainbow Coalition (NARC) has begun to do...


A can of subsidised worms

Europe is offering reforms to its restrictive farm policies, but Africans fear footing the bill

Reforms to the European Union's controversial Common Agricultural Policy adopted in Luxembourg on 26 June have met a mixed reception in Africa. While subsidising European farmers i...



Pointers

Regression

The National Islamic Front government may well return to the Machakos peace talks, on 3 August, after it stormed out on 11 July. This is not simple brinkmanship, as at least one me...


Desperados

The latest coup attempt in São Tomé e Príncipe, which only temporarily toppled President Fradique de Menezes (who was in Nigeria when it happened on 16 July) a...


Fighting on

The indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas by the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) in the latest upsurge of fighting has removed any lingering hope...