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Published On  Dec 11,  2011
   
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THE FINE LINE
 

 

Heads of overseas missions of Ethiopia across the world appear to be in a hushed competition to mobilize as many resources in the form of bonds to support the Great Renaissance Dam, as they can get, gossip observed. Neither is the pressure from Menelik II Avenue easy on them.

For instance, the mission in Canada raised a little over 24,000 dollars a few months ago. Pro-government websites are now busy promoting a series of dinners and fund raising events in western cities in their bid to support what is known as the “Hidase Bond”.

Senior diplomats assigned to western capitals were told in no uncertain terms that their career path depended on how much they succeed in mobilizing the largest resources possible from members of the Diaspora, claims gossip. Recently the mission in Washington D.C., under the once influential cabinet minister relegated to become special envoy for the Prime Minister to the United States,  had proudly declared to have sold bonds worth half a million dollars, if it was not to get rebuffed by Addis Abeba that it was not nearly enough, gossip claims.

Add to this the pressure they were put into the past few months lobbying their respective host countries in Addis Abeba’s bid to win a diplomatic battle against the arch foe in Asmara, according to gossip.

The regime in Asmara, pronounced by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister as a bunch who are unable to evolve from their guerilla syndrome, has had too many enemies around the region. Literally, no country in the sub-region likes or trusts the man in Asmara. Even the Sudanese, whose forerunners in the 1980s did everything they could to support his cause, are not on the same page with Issayas Afeworki.

Yet, the resolution to punish his often unpredictable, rogue behavior was sponsored by unlikely countries; Gabon and Nigeria. And it has always been clear who, among the powerful members of the Security Council at the UN, is behind pushing for sanctions.

Monsieur Issayas had to face the wrath of Addis Abeba and Washington D.C. after an allegation by the first was confirmed by the UN monitoring group that his regime was behind a foiled attempt to attack Addis Abeba during an AU Summit back in 2010. Ironically, Russian Ambassador to the UN, V. Churkin, one of the two to abstain during the vote, argued the evidence was not “sufficient or available” for his review. So did Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong, abstain, upholding his country’s long-held views on sanctions that they have never worked.

Surprisingly, South Africa, one of four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa whose leaders appear to be locked in a global diplomatic hype contest with Meles Zenawi, was recorded as one of the 13 countries who voted last Tuesday, December 6, 2011, in favour of sanctions. Nonetheless, its Ambassador in New York, Doctor Mashabane, felt the evidence Addis Abeba produced was “inconclusive”.

Despite the declaration of victory which Susan Rice of the US claimed as a clear message to Asmara, Addis Abeba is most unhappy, gossip learnt. In effect, there has been no new sanctions imposed on Eritrea, except for beefing up the list of names of Eritrean authorities who are banned from traveling overseas and whose foreign accounts have been frozen. Yet another assignment given to the monitory group is to come up with a new list of names to be included.

It is indeed a far cry from what Tekeda Alemu (PhD), Ethiopia’s envoy to the US, and his bosses on the Menelik II Avenue, have been pushing for: hitting Issayas where it hurts by imposing sanctions on foreign firms which invest in the Eritrean mining sector (which is to mean gold) and on money sent by Eritreans in the Diaspora for their families, which revenues Ambassador Rice described as “extortion”.

Nonetheless, diplomats in Addis Abeba have been advised to put on a brave face and refrain from speaking in any manner of dissatisfaction against last week’s resolution, gossip claims. Brehane G. Kirstos, state minister for Foreign Affairs, did just that one day after the resolution, appearing on national television. This does not mean that he was not without disappointment over the extremely watered-down resolution, gossip revealed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 

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