Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ethiopia’s distinct path to development, with help from China

Ethiopia is the most stable state in the dangerous neighbourhood of the Horn of Africa, despite recently facing its worst protests in decades. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has been in power since 1991, having toppled the military Dergue regime (1974-1991). 

The country is touted as an economic and developmental success story. Growth rates have approached 10% annually for over a decade, compared to just 3% in the early 1990s. GDP was $54,8 billion in 2014, up from roughly $30 billion in 2010, although with almost 100 million people, per capita GDP languishes at $550 compared to the $1,700 average in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Ethiopia’s development narrative, at times simplistic and exaggerated (glorifying the ruling party), has nonetheless translated into tangible results. And China is a major chapter in this story. 

While large parts of Addis Ababa reveal a city under heavy construction and transformation, the most significant major improvements have occurred in rural areas, home to 80 million people, through government providing better agricultural inputs, building roads and investing in education and health. 

The poverty rate has dropped dramatically from 45.5% in 1995 to 29.6% in 2010. Ethiopia’s Human Development Index has improved by 45% over the past 15 years. In this same period, life expectancy at birth increased by 15.8 years, mean years of schooling rose by 0.7 years, expected years of schooling by 6.3, and gross national income per capita doubled.

Trade and investment

Trade and investment between China and Ethiopia has also mushroomed. Annual bilateral trade volumes multiplied thirteen-fold between 2003 and 2013. China has become not only Ethiopia’s biggest foreign investor but also its largest trading partner.  

Large-scale symbolic investment projects, like the African Union’s shiny new headquarters, dot Addis’s urban landscape. Its 100-metre high tower dominates the capital’s skyline. Costing $200 million, the building was entirely financed by Chinese grant money and implemented by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, revealing Beijing’s ambition to strengthen its influence in Africa. 

Another symbol of development – Addis’s 32-kilometre light-rail system - was recently completed in just three years by China’s Eryuan Engineering Group.

Infrastructure

Chinese involvement in major Ethiopian infrastructure projects spans transport, energy and telecommunications. About 70% of the road network in Ethiopia – including the Ring Road around the capital, the Ethio-China Friendship Road and the Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway – has been built by Chinese companies.

The China Railway Engineering Corporation and China Civil Engineering Construction recently completed the 750km-long Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified railway line which cost $3,4 billion. Another huge contract, for the  major expansion of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, was awarded to the China Bridge and Road Corporation.

Energy

Energy is another key area of Chinese-Ethiopian collaboration, although most projects currently exist only on paper. The 300 MW Tekeze Dam, considered Africa’s highest concrete arch dam (or ‘the Three Gorges of Africa’), was completed in 2009 with the involvement of Sinohydro. 

Next to the partially completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Gibe III on the Omo River was inaugurated in 2015 and is expected to produce 1 870 MW. Dogged by major social and environmental concerns, the World Bank, African Development Bank and European Investment Bank withdrew from the project in 2010. 

That same year, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation and Dongfang Electric Machinery Corporation (a Chinese state-owned enterprise) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide electrical and mechanical equipment (turbines), while Italian building company Salini was awarded the actual dam construction contract. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is believed to cover 85% of the $495 million project. 

Additionally, China Eximbank is financially supporting high voltage transmission lines to Addis Ababa to be implemented by another Chinese company. Chinese operators will build power transmission lines for the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River.

Telecommunications

Zhongxin Telecommunication Equipment has helped upgrade and modernise Ethiopian telecommunications. By establishing a large mobile network in Addis and eight other cities, ZTE has boosted mobile telephony from one million to 15 million users between 2007 and 2012, despite criticism over the poor quality of the network and the installations. 

With new, more rigorous quality controls, the market has been opened to other operators, including France Telecom. Given its firm grip on the economy, the Ethiopian government shows exceptional ability to readjust to unbalanced and detrimental situations.

Politics

There are strong political ties between Ethiopia and China. The ruling Communist Party of China sent delegations to the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front  (EPRDF) organisational conferences (in 2008, 2010 and 2013) and signed an MoU on Exchange and Cooperation with the party. Close links exist between Ethiopia’s Parliament and China National People’s Congress.

Although Ethiopia, unlike China, enshrined multi-party democracy in its constitution, its growing authoritarianism and its heavy clampdowns on dissent also draw some parallels with China.

The Ethiopian government claims to have a “Developmental Democratic Model” unlike many Southeast Asian countries, including China. It says democratic rule must accompany rapid development to stave off national collapse. Yet democratic progress in Ethiopia has stagnated in the aftermath of the 2005 election crisis that left nearly 200 people dead. The future will tell if Ethiopia can transfer its developmental successes to the democratic realm.
Read the occasional paper on which this article is based here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

National Pride, Power and China’s Political Calculus in Ethiopia

(Dr Romain Dittgen and Abel Abate Demissie)
Contrary to the predominant perception of all of China’s key partners in Africa being either resource rich or economic powerhouses, Ethiopia is neither. Its strategic position within the Horn of Africa and its stable and efficient – although coercive – government, coupled with the concentration of regional institutions in Addis Ababa, have gradually turned Ethiopia into one of the main entry points into Africa. While pursuing its own development path, the Ethiopian government has also been drawing inspiration from success stories in East Asia, not least China.
In terms of engaging with foreign partners, Ethiopia is increasingly skilled in linking its national development priorities to its foreign policy strategies. As a result, the ruling party’s firm grip on the economy and on political power is having a direct impact on its engagement with foreign actors. By focusing on the themes of peace and security, human security and governance capacity building, this paper not only explores the nature of political cultures and concepts of power in Ethiopia but also looks at the ways in which China navigates this complex political landscape (both domestically and regionally) while seeking to expand its foothold and bargaining power on the ground.
Bilateral relations between Ethiopia and China have improved significantly over the past two decades. Between 2003 and 2013 the yearly volume of bilateral trade has multiplied by more than 13 and China has become not only Ethiopia’s biggest foreign investor but also its largest trading partner. As part of its expanding role and tangible presence in the country, the Chinese government has constructed large-scale projects in Ethiopia, including the Express Toll Way, the first operative wind power plant, the Addis Ababa Light Track Railway, the Ethiopia–Djibouti railway line, the Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital and a Confucius Institute. This level of co-operation has also been strengthened by the relative proximity in political ideology between the EPRDF and the CPC.
Both Chinese and Ethiopian officials proudly refer to the longevity of their own history (5 000 and more than 2 000 years respectively), and speak about the importance and ownership of their state-led developmental path. Since Xi’s coming to power in 2013, domestic politics in China have been dominated by the ‘Four Comprehensives’ political guidelines. Less vague than the ‘Chinese dream’ concept, the aims of the ‘Four Comprehensives’ are for China to ‘(re)build a modern and prosperous society in all respects by 2020’, ‘strengthen the rule of law and improve the party’s conduct’, ‘enforce party discipline’ and ‘strengthen reforms’, with the last three being seen as strategic steps. Despite strong party-to-party links between the two countries, it is difficult to assess whether and how much these domestic Chinese guidelines are spilling over into the Ethiopian context.
As outlined in the course of this paper, Chinese influence in the fields of governance and politics in Ethiopia appears to be quite constrained, due to the nature of Ethiopian statecraft and the strong vertical as well as horizontal dimensions of power and control practised by the ruling party. Nonetheless, the EPRDF’s developmental rhetoric of enforcing strong limitations on personalised rent-seeking, clamping down on corruption and accelerating economic reforms, resonates strongly with the ‘Four Comprehensives’ envisaged by the Chinese leadership. This said, China’s power of persuasion is mostly limited to being perceived as an example of economic success, while, politically speaking, Ethiopia is much more drawn to emulate experiences from South Korea and Japan.
For Western partners, the importance is to assess when this eventual turning point – the evolution from a purely developmental approach to a broadening of the political discourse – might happen. Until then, maintaining a stable and effective government seems to form the basis of a tacit agreement between Western and Chinese stakeholders.
If complementaries between the broader ‘West’ and China in Ethiopia seem limited to contributing to development priorities, the importance of the regional focus provides numerous avenues for dialogue and collaboration. The most obvious one comes in the form of China’s intensified interest in engaging the AU alongside other Western powers. In the field of peace and security, where China is also becoming more active, it is fairly easy to provide practical inputs as the framework is already entrenched.
The African Peace and Security Architecture, which offers a complete overview – from prevention and management to post-conflict reconstruction and development – allows development partners to engage in specific areas. However, while the AU holds ownership at the strategic level, most financial support is still coming from the outside. According to the director of a research institute in Addis Ababa, ‘donors have a lot to say and are able to influence the decision-making process’.
As a newcomer in this position, China is willing to be guided and learn from its more established counterparts. At present, Beijing is more comfortable in supporting peacekeeping missions than getting too involved in conflict prevention and mediation. Yet Beijing’s reaction to recent terrorist attacks (also directly affecting Chinese citizens), as well as the confirmation that a logistics hub for military operations will be set up in Djibouti, not only signals a broader, more active role for China but also provides possibilities to collaborate with Western countries, both at AU level and throughout the Horn of Africa.
Continue reading the full paper, entitled “Paper Own Ways of Doing: National Pride, Power and China’s Political Calculus in Ethiopia”, on South African Journal of International Affairs.
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Promoting Stability and Development in Africa: The case of Ethiopia

(Mehari Taddele Maru and Abel Abate Demise)
During his meeting last year with Prime Minister Haile-Mariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, President Barack Obama pointed out the enormous progress in a country that once had great difficulty feeding itself. It’s now not only leading the pack in terms of agricultural production in the region, but will soon be an exporter potentially not just of agriculture, but also power because of the development that’s been taking place there (White House 2014).
Referring to Ethiopia’s economic performance as “one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” he dubbed the country as exemplary of the “bright spots and progress” in Africa. Recent promising mega trends in economic growth and relative stability in the region, coupled with an expansion of both middle class and market fueled by a fast growing population have created a surge of interest in trade and opportunity for investment.
Both internal and external factors and driving forces will have significant bearing on Ethiopia’s future peace and development and thus its regional integrative and security role. Although successful in dismantling the old unitary State of Ethiopia, the EPRDF is still struggling for a clear vision around which Ethiopia and its diverse people can rally.
Dominating the political space for two decades, the EPRDF has been striving to build a new federal developmental State. What is more, the country’s recent successes have come with a price.
Public-investment driven growth has marginalised the role of the private sector in the national economy, reducing the space for innovation and entrepreneurship required for a globally competitive economy, and for sustainable productivity-based growth. And while Ethiopia’s growth trajectory has auspiciously avoided increase in inequality, inflation – particularly food inflation – has been among the highest in Africa. The opening of opportunities for education, especially higher education, has not been met with job opportunities for a better educated youth.
From 1995 to 2009, total primary school enrolment rose by a staggering 500 percent (from 3 million to 15.5 million) (Engel and Rose 2011:7). The ripple effects of rapid mass-ification at the elementary level are felt at higher levels of education and vocational training, bringing immense challenges to educational quality and employment opportunities that match the numbers and skills of graduates.
Despite the existence of comprehensive legislative and institutional frameworks, corruption also remains an invasive social ill that could undermine Ethiopia’s development (Transparency Ethiopia 2009).
Infrastructure development, land administration, procurement, judiciary, enforcement and other organs of the State and government are the most corrupted (Tsegaye 2012). Rent seeking in the form of nepotism and corruption has been identified by the ruling party EPRDF as a grave internal challenge to the party and the Ethiopian political system.
However, given that constitutional accountability is weak under the dominant party, and the only existing accountability is intra-party, the EPRDF may not be able to combat corruption effectively.
To put it under control, corruption will require a cutthroat struggle. If not combated swiftly and effectively, corruption could easily become the most fatal political gangrene for the legitimacy of the ruling party.
In spite of all the country’s progress (World Bank 2015), extreme poverty will remain Ethiopia’s main source of threat to peace and security for decades to come.
Looking into the future, the main challenge will be maintaining the pace of transformation by scaling up and deepening reform. So far the main drivers of economic growth have been public sector investment and public service reforms. Both have their limits in terms of bringing about economic transformation.
With high population growth and demand for consumable goods, Ethiopia will be even more dependent on the security of its neighboring countries with access to the sea. Peace and security in the region will become increasingly intertwined as Ethiopia’s population and economy surge, and demand for consumption increases. The private sector will be vital in contributing towards bringing this transformation.
Regional priorities in the area of peace and security are: (1) common transnational threats to peace and security such as terrorism and piracy; (2) troubled neighbourhood due to State failure or poorly performing States; (3) nation-building based on animosity; (4) secessionist movements; and (5) rivalry surrounding geopolitical issues such as access to the sea and secure port services, including the security of trade and oil supply routes.
Ethiopia has shipping lines that are vulnerable to piracy. Any threat to Ethiopia’s secure access to the sea and port services will gravely endanger the peace and security not only of Ethiopia but also of the region.
The external context, particularly in the neighbourhood and the Nile riparian countries (especially in Egypt), will have a significant influence on Ethiopia’s future peace and development. These developments will determine whether the promising mega-trends in economic growth and relative stability in the region will continue.
Coupled with the expected expansion of the middle class (Heeralall and Ben Abdelkrim 2012) and a market fuelled by a fast growing population, Ethiopia’s role in regional integration and security will create a surge of interest in trade and opportunity for investment.
In regional diplomacy and integration, Ethiopia’s pivotal role within the IGAD and to a significant extent in the AU will continue to grow.
This paper has discussed the following six factors as the basis for Ethiopia’s contribution towards internal and regional stability and integrative development:
(1) Ethiopia’s inward-looking foreign and national security policy and efforts to address longstanding internal political instability and extreme poverty;
(2) Ethiopia’s recent promising economic performance, which offers hope for its people and attracts aid, trade and investment;
(3) Ethiopia’s military strength and role in regional peace and security;
(4) Ethiopia’s trusted mediator role in IGAD and at the AU level;
(5) Ethiopia’s role in combating terrorism and its strong counterterrorism capabilities; and
(6) A Pan-Africanist historical legacy and Ethiopia’s increased and effective use of multilateral platforms.
On a global level, Ethiopia’s overlapping interests with dominant and emerging powers such as the US, the EU, China and India, its geographic location, and traditionally strong military create demands for long-term partnership and alliance. International actors including the UN, EU, US, China and others actively endorse Ethiopia’s role in the IGAD region.
Ethiopia carries significant clout in IGAD decisions, AU endorsements and interventions, and the UNSC resolutions with regard to the region. The US, EU and China are in close consultation with Ethiopia on issues related to Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and even Eritrea.
Read the full paper, entitled “Promoting Stability and Development in Africa: How to Foster Cooperation between Public and Private Sectors” at Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).

ETHIOPIA’S POLICY TOWARDS THE AU: TIME TO LOOK BEYOND UNIQUE CONTRIBUTIONS & SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES

Dr. Mehari Taddele Maru & Abel Abate

Ethiopia has a well articulated foreign and security policy called the Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy (FANSPS). Its substantive anchor on development and stability as well as geographic focus on the Horn of Africa and Egypt reflects divergence from previous regime’s assessment of the state of affairs of Ethiopia and the means (including diplomacy) necessary to move forward.
However, Ethiopia’s detailed policies towards the Horn of Africa and to that matter the entire Africa are not a substitute to its policy towards the AU for the following reasons:
First, the AU, like any multilateral regional governance institution, constitutes more than a summation of the member states. AU’s norms, institutions and procedures do not readily aggregate the preferences of each member states, rather they look for an overlapping consensus as stated in the AU Constitutive Act and its various decision and policy making, and implementation organs. Thus, AU offers opportunities to countries like Ethiopia to influence, shape and impact continental policies that have bearings internally and regionally.
Second, Ethiopia has always been home to the AU headquarters. This entails in the wording of FANSPS, ‘a special responsibility.’ In this regard, the most substantive statement in FANSPS reads: “Ethiopia all along steadfastly championed the cause of Africa and Africans dating back to a time when it stood virtually alone.” There has never been a time when Ethiopian governments shied away from taking up their responsibilities towards Africa. It can also be said that there was hardly any occasion when Ethiopia was refused political and diplomatic support from Africa when it was needed. This emphasises on historical support of the OAU/AU to Ethiopia’s interest, ensures AU’s continued and robust support to Ethiopia in the future.
Third, indeed Ethiopia has hugely sacrificed its national interest in many occasions in support of Pan Africanism albeit only with general principles and ad hoc reactions dictated by dynamic circumstances. In spite of being the seedbed for Pan Africanism, the principal force for the establishment of the OAU, and the host of the AU for five decades, Ethiopia lacks a self-contained comprehensive policy toward the AU that clearly articulates its national interest and how to strategically pursue these interests in the AU. Despite the absence of a full-fledged and self-contained policy, throughout the past five decades, Ethiopia’s commitment, overall direction and contributions have been that of continuity and consistency.
Addis Abeba: The Diplomatic hub of Africa
Since May 1963 (de jure since July 1964), Addis Abeba has served as the Headquarters of the OAU. In the earliest times of the OAU, Ethiopia provided not only land and buildings, but also offered all the human and physical facilities that the OAU required. In 1963, Nigeria, and in the early inception of the AU, Senegal and later on Libya under Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, attempted to move the seat of the OAU/AU from Addis Abeba.
Despite these attempts however, the AU rules governing the hosting of AU summits designated Addis Abeba as the only headquarters of the AU, and agreed Ethiopia to host the January/February summit every year. However, individual member states could apply to host the June/July summit. The rotation of the June/July summit was originally devised to reduce the pressure from Colonel Qaddafi as a compromise deal to have two summits per annum and the rotation of the June/July to allow member states such as Libya to host summits.
As Africa’s diplomatic centre, Addis Abeba hosts the most important of all AU organs and Pan African institutions. Chief among these include, the AU Commission, the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the all AU member states, the Peace and Security Council (PSC), and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA). Other Pan African institutions include the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), UN office to AU, the Eastern African Brigade Headquarters, and Eastern African Standby Force Logistic Base, Pan African Chamber of Commerce, IGAD programmes such as Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), IGAD Security Sector Programme (ISSP), and Liaison Offices of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Other accredited diplomatic representations to the AU include the United States, the European Union, China, India, Brazil and the United Nations agencies and other international multilateral and humanitarian organizations. While the US and EU have two heads of missions –a bilateral Embassy to Ethiopia and a multilateral Permanent Mission to the AU, China and other countries are considering establishing separate missions to the AU. On average, Addis Abeba also serves more than 1,100 meetings annually, related to Pan-African issues. During the January AU regular Summits, Addis Abeba hosts an average of 7200 delegates, and more than 40 heads of states and governments.
Addis Abeba’s special responsibility for the AU
In the words of FANSPS, Ethiopia’s opportunity to host the AU comes with “a special responsibility for the organization.” Nonetheless, what constitutes ‘special responsibility’ is not defined in the FANSPS or any other policy document. Ethiopia regularly pays its assessed contribution (for 2014, USD 1.8 million) based on the country’s GDP. Ethiopia is one of eleven AU Member States that has not only fully paid its contributions for 2014, but also one of the five that usually makes advance payments. Traditionally, Ethiopia, not necessarily for the sake of the OAU or AU, has provided a secure and enabling environment for the OAU and AU. Exemplary in many ways, these, however, do not constitute ‘special responsibilities’ of Ethiopia to the AU.
A consequence of the absence of a policy in regard to the AU, despite putting forward some of its prominent ministers and diplomats as candidates, so far, Ethiopia has failed to assume any visible, influential professional and elected posts at the AU Commission. In a bid to offer leadership to the AU Commission, Ethiopia unsuccessfully proposed several candidates (including to the posts of commissioner of peace and security in 2012, and political affairs of the AU Commission in 2003). Due to a weak nomination process and nearly non-existent campaigning strategy, unlike other significant countries, Ethiopian candidates were destined to fail.
Beyond unique contributions & special responsibilities
Signifying the genuine commitment of Ethiopia to the causes of the OAU/AU, regardless of their diametrically opposed internal policies, successive rulers of Ethiopia have continued to pursue the same policy on the OAU and AU. Ethiopia’s approach to the OAU/AU is characterized by continuity throughout many decades albeit in the significant changes in the internal underpinnings of Ethiopia foreign policy.
While the Pan-African positions promoted by the last three regimes were equally solid, nevertheless, their policies foundations and ambitions in relation to the AU were unambiguously divergent. While the regimes of Emperor Haile Selassie and Colonel Mengistu were outward looking and excessively externalized Ethiopia’s internal problems, the current regime is extremely inward looking. The former two also reduced Ethiopia’s domestic problems to what they termed ‘historical enemies’, and thereof used OAU to mitigate these external threats. Rooted in its ideological beliefs about the root-causes of Ethiopia’s internal troubles and perceived solutions, for the EPRDF, the AU and the IGAD remains another platform for solving regional challenges that affects Ethiopia’s internal governance and development problems. Consequently, unless directly affecting Ethiopia’s developmental agenda, Ethiopia’s current approach to the AU and continental affairs is un-ambitious and self-restraining. It is narrow as well as ad hoc. For this reason, Ethiopia has no grand strategy regarding the AU.
For Ethiopia, a country with a population of 90 million, projected to reach 120 million in the next 20 years, a strategy that proactively deals with its challenges with foresight is not only vital for its economic transformation, peace and stability, but also critically important for the peace and security of the entire region. Extreme poverty, internal political stability, economic development and regional integration, security in water, energy, food and climate change, the Nile River Basin, access to the sea and port services, as well as transnational threats dictate the need for grand strategy towards AU and even IGAD.
Thus, in order to maintain and increase Ethiopia’s influence in the AU, in addition to and beyond the personal capacity of its leaders, Ethiopia needs strategic long-term policies and institutions anchored inwardly not only to protect, but also promote its interest at the AU level. Enough has been changed to demand a grand strategy for Ethiopia regarding the AU. FANSPS needs a fundamental rethinking and reorganization to ensure Ethiopia benefits from the AU. Less concerned about ideological positions, grand strategies on the AU would detail how Ethiopia should make use of the AU in fostering peace, security, prosperity and stability. Anchored within the inward looking foreign policy along the lines of the national interest of Ethiopia, such a grand strategy to the AU need to be an outward looking pursuing multilateralism in vigorously promoting economic and integrative opportunities and dealing with threats proactively. Such a strategy would take Ethiopia’s history, large population, strategic geographic location, military strength and economy, but primarily on mega trends that will define Ethiopia in the future.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In defense of the IGAD-led mediation original position on multi-stakeholder negotiations


The South Sudan crisis has invited many parallel peace initiative alongside the IGAD-led mediation, such as the Arusha Intra-party process, the Khartoum process and the less talked about Entebbe meetings.
In addition to siphoning off scarce resources and eroding the necessary sense of urgency and shared purpose, these parallel processes also produced widely divergent end states. Some of them undermined and even contravened the IGAD-led mediation. Some proposed military intervention as a solution, while others focused on restoration of SPLM/A intra-party unity. In direct opposition to IGAD’s choice of a constitutive multi-stakeholder dialogue most actors, particularly Western powers, pressurized for negotiations limited to the two warring parties led by President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar (PhD).
The institution of IGAD-Plus Mediation is the latest mediation effort includes heavyweights under the Troika (US, UK, and Norway), China, five AU Peace and Security Council members representing all regions of Africa (Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa, Chad, and Rwanda), EU and UN. Despite the term ‘Plus’, in this brief piece, I advance reasons why IGAD should remain in the driver’s seat and why it should return to its original position of settling the South Sudan crisis through a constitutive multi-stakeholder negotiation process. Let us carefully examine these parallel initiatives and their chances of success, and why I support the IGAD-led multi-stakeholder dialogue.  
For some, support for President Salva Kiir was considered as a solution to the problem. This approach treats the symptom.
Using their long-standing relations with the SPLM/A, in early 2014 ruling parties in Ethiopia (the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front [EPRDF]) and South Africa (African National Congress [ANC]) organized SPLM intra-party negotiations. However, they failed to solve the intra-party problems and re-constitute the SPLM/A. Subsequently, Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapiunduzi (CCM) with the support of ANC tried to continue this effort and came up with the Arusha agreement that did not even survive a day. 
Even before the official declaration of the independence of South Sudan, it was clear that the SPLM/A would never transform itself into a democratic party or be able to convert South Sudan into a stable and viable state that exercises civilian control over the SPLA. The South Sudanese leadership lacks not only the capacity, but also the willingness to transform itself into a democratic party or ensure civilian control over the SPLA. A testament to political immaturity, self-serving leadership, and the SPLM’s inability to handle differences within it, many issues, particularly the corruption within the leadership, forewarned of the inevitability of a crisis and the challenges ahead for South Sudan. The measures taken by President Kiir in July 2013, and the subsequent arrest of senior officials of the government and the Party were legally unconstitutional, politically unwise and devoid of any elements of a visionary leadership. The 2013 crisis exposed the bankruptcy of the SPLM/A leadership that squandered the sense of legitimacy it generated during the armed struggle. Since independence, the SPLM/A did not produce new legitimacy sources. Devoid of ideological foundations, a commonly shared national vision for the country and a strong organizational structure, SPLM/A and its various factions have now become the biggest threats to the future viable of South Sudan. Failing to replace the glue of national liberation with a commonly shared vision of a post-independence state, the strings now holding the SPLM/A together are power and money. Competing for more power and money, rival groups have emerged. It was therefore clear that the SPLM had ruptured beyond repair and thus did not have any legitimacy to rule the country.
Dead on arrival intra-party process by Ethiopia’s EPRDF, South Africa’s ANC and later on Tanzania’s CCM unsuccessfully tried to repair the fractured SPLM/A. Many South Sudanese highly and emotionally associated with the SPLM/A did not want to see the end of SPLM/A. Despite being the wish of all, intra-SPLM/A mediation was and will remain a quixotic, futile effort. History of left leaning liberation movements teaches us that SPLM/A like movements never allow two commanding heights to survive in an organization. One has to surface as winner to lead the movement. This is what happened in ANC, EPRDF, EPLF and so on, and that is what happened in SPLM/A. Even worst, unlike the others liberation movements, in SPLM/A, the group lead by President Kiir was unable to monopolize the means of violence and mobilize more votes within the movement than the rebel groups. In actual terms, opposition groups, particularly the rebel movement led by Reik Machar, has been able to galvanize more than half of the SPLA and the entire Nuer community. Now the genie is out of the bottle. SPLM/A is not and will not be able to assemble adherents as it did during the independence struggle. Depending on the political measures to be taken by the government, other communities may join the rebel group. Increasingly South Sudan will only being able to address this problem through a genuine federative arrangement. For such a solution, the will of the President is not sufficient; the capacity to effect will is necessary. It is highly questionable if President Kiir now has the power to implement his will through the current incumbent ministers and vice president. For the incumbent cabinet members and other lower ranking officials, transitional government would mean effectively purging themselves from their current positions of power and authority. They will resist it to the extent their power allows. For that reason, President Kiir is a prisoner of his own cabinet formed after the crisis of 2013. Hence, SPLM/A is beyond repair, and the government of South Sudan is a plane on autopilot.  
In the view of other actors, particularly some Western countries, dialogue between the warring parities will somehow bring peace to South Sudan. This would be a welcome relief in order to focus on other ongoing chaotic and confusing situations elsewhere, such as in the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. They felt that the IGAD multi-stakeholders approach precluded them from achieving this relief. What is more important, the only position that the two warring parties agree on is their rejection of the proposed IGAD multi-stakeholder mediation process. In this regard, both camps immediately and unequivocally rejected the idea of multi-stakeholders. The reason for this commonly shared position between the two arch foes is clear and simple: a multi-stakeholder mediation may empower all vital South Sudanese forces including non-state actors, non-warring opposition groups and faith-based organizations. All South Sudanese actors with stakes in their country would fully and substantively participate in the determination of the fate of the country. This could culminate in dispersing the current power exercised by the warring parties. With the same objective of monopolizing power, both warring parties have rejected multi-stakeholder negotiations.
For this very reason, the warring parties, some Western countries and a few African countries pushed IGAD to call off its original plan of multi-stakeholder negotiations, and focus on the two warring parties. So far it has not brought any solution. Even if the warring parties were to agree to some deal, this would be nothing more than a quick fix.
As in the cases of Darfur, Sudan, in 2006 and Somalia until 2010, such parallel processes emanate from different interests of individual actors. It also reflects the divergent views about what constitutes a successful end state in terms of the IGAD-led mediation. As we have witnessed with the Peace Agreements (PAs) in Sudan, mainly the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), most of the fundamentals required for a peaceful Sudan were only addressed on paper and never implemented.
The mediation also have to avoid what I called in 2007 the ‘DPA-effect’ in which mediation has exacerbating the existing divisions within the warring and other forces and spawned new differences among the rebel groups, ending in the exponential fragmentation rebel groups in the process towards the signing of DPA in 2006. These agreements were effective only in getting short-range deals with ultimate purpose of secession for South Sudan and intervention in Darfur. More importantly, they were results highly internationalization mediation processes with a pressure to produce some agreement for the consumption of the media. They were not helpful in nation building. Since the international community has been the guarantor of the CPA and DPA. It has significant responsibility for the situation in South Sudan. Clearly, the political, economic and diplomatic capital of the international community and IGAD, particularly Ethiopia has been put to test in this mediation.  But, the mediation needs to avoid ‘CPA-like face saving’ deal that has more outstanding issues than those settled even after almost a decade.
Those who are not satisfied with face saving ‘PAs’ have been long convinced that an inclusive multi-stakeholder peace process is the only way to solve the continuing and seemingly intractable crisis in the region. South Sudan's crisis might be easily undermined by the short-term gains of an agreement between the warring parties, about sharing powers that could be promoted as a success by some regional and international actors as well as the news media. This approach may end up with a ‘CPA’ type of agreement with more outstanding issues than those that are settled. With the priority given to satisfying the demands of warring parties, and exclusion of unarmed political groups from the negotiation process, the only way to be heard and taken seriously by in the mediation will be to pick up an AK-47 and continue resorting to violence.  This would encourage grievances to escalate into violence. Moreover, with such heavy reliance upon rebel groups, South Sudan, would constitutionally end up as a state made up of a ‘patchwork’ of peace agreements with a never-ending peace process like the efforts of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in Sudan. IGAD Plus should not tolerate the kind of disrespect shown to AUHIP by the incumbent National Congress Party that failed to attend the Pre-Dialogue Meeting. As such IGAD Plus should prepare itself for a scenario of non-cooperation by one or both warring parties. 
The IGAD provides both procedural legitimacy and substantive local expertise. Its mandate is supported by the member states, the AU principle of subsidiarity and above all its experience in the regional peace process and capacity to sustain the peace process if necessary for long-time. Despite, challenges emanating from untamed national interests of member states in IGAD, it remains the only forum appropriate to lead the mediation effort. IGAD knows the problems of South Sudan very well. It was the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD), the forerunner to the IGAD that launched the peace initiative at its Addis Ababa summit of September 7, 1993. IGADD, with the initiative of Ethiopia, introduced the 1994 Declaration of Principles (DOP) that aimed to identify the essential elements necessary for a just and comprehensive peace settlement in order to end the civil war in Sudan. The current envoys and the leaders in the region know the origins and current situation in the region and in South Sudan in great details. What is important as the region that will be most affected by crisis, the stakes are higher for the IGAD than any other organization. This provides interests that sustain efforts in seeing a stable South Sudan unlike other actors with short-term interest and thus limited commitment. A case in point is the unceasing effort of IGAD in Somalia even at times the international community had abandoned the effort. Applying the principle of subsidiarity, IGAD is the most proximate entity to deal with the crisis. As we have seen in the Sudan and Somalia peace processes, quick fixes and face-saving agreements for the consumption of the news media have never worked.
As reflected in the first draft protocol for transitional government, IGAD’s long-term perspective entails a multi-stakeholder negotiation process for a constitutive transitional dialogue and the establishment of a government that is inclusive but not limited to the warring parties, the former detainees, and other sources of legitimacy such as religious and traditional elders. Accordingly, it was appropriate for the IGAD to push for the establishment of a transitional government of national unity (TGNU), which is yet to be realized. The establishment of the TGNU in August 2014 was intended to be a broad based stakeholder consultation forum that included the two warring groups, former detainees, other political parties, the CSOs and faith based leaders. 
Any lesser arrangement would be a short-term gain that will place South Sudan and the region in the same situation applicable to Sudan, with no peace and no war, but considerable instability, lacking any long-term vision and with no end to the AUHIP peace process in sight. 
The IGAD-Plus mediation efforts and transitional processes should avoid excessive reliance on the warring parties as if they are democratically elected representatives of the population affected by the conflicts. Only inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogue among all forces in South Sudan that can address major national questions within and outside of the SPLM could reconstitute the legitimacy of such actors to govern as a single body. A prerequisite for a stable South Sudan, the IGAD Plus process needs to re-institute the original concept of IGAD's multi-stakeholder constitutive national dialogue. First, the two parties only negotiation has reached a cul-de-sac. Aggravating the crisis, it may fester the crisis into total civil war beyond the current areas of conflicts. Second, the negotiation has degenerated the mediation into power play between the warring parties at the cost of nation building. One cannot pretend that South Sudan is a nation, thus turning the crisis into opportunity, the mediation effort should be used an initiative to help South Sudanese to begin a proper constitutive process towards nation building. The mediation, though multi-stakeholder negotiation, was and ought to be about nation building, it was rather effectively reduced into power and wealth sharing deals. This is an illusion, as a mediation of the two warring parties could not galvanize the necessary popular legitimacy for nation building. Third, a multi-stakeholder dialogue does not preclude negotiations between the current and potential warring parties.  Fourth and most importantly, as proven in the Arusha and Mwanza rounds of negotiation for Burundi, one would understand that multi-stakeholder negotiation could better usher relatively durable deal through a multi-stakeholder negotiations with representatives not only of warring parties but also civilian political formations and civil society organizations. With a specific time frame, these processes invited various groups representing the Burundian society to come together. While some of the warring parties were vital for the process without which the negotiation could not succeed, the other representatives were also critical parties to the success of the mediation effort.
IGAD needs to stick to its old multi-stakeholder approach to peace negotiations, regardless of the time it required to achieve a successful outcome. It would be far more beneficial to devote as much time as is required to ensure a durable peace than to settle for a fragile face-saving deal that holds only until the parties arrive in Juba.   It may take a long time, but as happened in Somalia, international and other regional forces will eventually come to realize that only a multi-stakeholder peace process holds out  hope of a durable peace
By Mehari Taddele Maru

Thursday, April 16, 2015

No End in Sight for South Sudan's crisis


By: Abel Abate and Dr. Mehari Taddele Maru

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) would perform an important service to the people of South Sudan if it succeeds in ending the current civil war, revitalises the role of its collective leadership and decision-making, and transforms itself into a popular, democratic movement that appeals to its political rivals and the general population with the simple message of unity and equality, insist Abel Abate Demissie and Dr Mehari Taddele Maru


It has been a year and few months since the South Sudan conflict erupted and led to the killings of tens of thousands of civilians and the displacement of over two million people, more than 10 percent of the population, according to the United Nations estimate. There have been many peace and power sharing agreements signed between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Dr Riek Machar, but to no avail. On March 6, 2015, on the completion of the deadline for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led mediation, the IGAD Chair, Prime Minister Haile Mariam of Ethiopia expressed his disappointment on the failure of the two warring parties to come up with a breakthrough in the mediation. With an intention of putting pressure on the warring parties while in a closed-door ‘final’ negotiation in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on March 3, the United Nations Security Council members unanimously adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on those disrupting efforts to restore peace in South Sudan. With the endorsement of IGAD countries, both Russia and China supported the sanction.

Challenges Affecting the Mediation Effort 

International actors supporting the South Sudanese peace effort, including the IGAD as well as the ‘Troika’ (comprising the US, UK and Norway), have reiterated warnings to impose severe sanctions on those dragging their feet in the peace process. The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power was quoted by Reuters as saying,“(IGAD) are now sitting down with the parties and making (it) very clear that if this round of talks ... do not succeed then IGAD and the (Security) Council are going to need to move out on these long-threatened sanctions.” This is the continuation of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort in June 2014 to persuade three of South Sudan’s immediate neighbours to impose tough penalties against the spoilers of the mediation process.

The Information and Broadcasting Minister Michael Makuei Lueth has reportedly expressed his dissatisfaction with the IGAD-mediation team. “We are appealing to the region and especially the Kenyan government. Kenya is the centre for everything here in the region. This is where our message should be carried from,” he is reported to have said. In August 2014, Ezekiel LolGatkuoth, former South Sudanese ambassador to the United States and top aide of Dr Riek Machar, criticised the IGAD for ‘legitimising Kiir’. In June 2014, the South Sudanese government threatened to withdraw from the IGAD mediation after the Executive Secretary of the IGAD, (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim, allegedly said that the warring parties were ‘stupid’ if they believed they could win militarily.

The only reason that has kept the warring factions in the negotiation process seems to be the fear of alienation and sanction across the region and the world. South Sudan, which receives a major part of its budget from international donors, is not expected to survive long without it. Lacking the type of party and state structure and popular anti-western social base that enabled the Sudanese and Eritrean regime to survive and sustain themselves under similar sanctions and international pressure, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the state would be unable to sustain similar levels of sanctions, if imposed. The state, which depends solely on oil revenue for FINANCING the entire public service, faces a serious decline in its ability to exercise legitimate core functions, including the maintenance of law and order, and the operation of the armed forces (SPLA). This weakness constitutes a recipe for state failure in South Sudan.

On the other hand, if the anticipated sanctions that include asset freezes are imposed, the damage on the rebel’s side will also be fatal. As most of the FINANCE is received from the Nuer diaspora and some other sympathisers abroad, there is no way the Machar group can afford a cut in its budget.

There is also a growing consensus that the mediation efforts should employ a fresh approach as present efforts have not delivered the anticipated result. The mediation has taken place in unfavourable circumstances with the requirement to adopt some imperfect positions and approaches, such as the inclusion of ethnic and religious representatives with the vision and commitment to transform themselves and their followers from a purely sectarian outlook to that of democratic citizenry. In this regard, a serious concern of the IGAD-led mediation process is the need to ensure the inclusivity of representatives of all communities, particularly those from peripheral areas located far away from the capital Juba. These include organisations that were disenfranchised even before the crisis erupted (mainly in the diaspora) and those who were displaced during and after the crisis.

Possible Way Out

The international community needs to continue exerting its utmost pressure on the warring parties. The pressure should also be imposed on regional countries that are directly involved in support of one group over the other. The unilateral involvement of certain countries to support one group over the other will drive South Sudan in particular and the region in general into a deeper political quagmire. The best way to resolve the South Sudan crisis is to form a transitional caretaker government, composed of individuals considered independent, but with popular legitimacy and professional integrity, to lead the country for a specified time period. The transitional government would be entrusted with the role of formulating a constitution and forming an electoral board. It also needs to envision a federalist state as the conflict is mainly along ethnic lines. This would ultimately require the exclusion of the two leaders of the warring factions from any state leadership position. Ensuring a transitional process that is insulated from undue influence of the warring groups like an independent transitional arrangement would create a level playing political field for all participants, including those outside the SPLM/A.

Given that legitimacy is now dispersed among many actors, including the incumbent, the rebel faction, the third bloc and other civil society organisations, mainly religious organs, this legitimate transitional process could unite all South Sudanese political actors. For the transitional process to enjoy popular legitimacy, it must be inclusive. The caretaker government must bring representatives of Internally Displaced People (IDP) and refugees as well as the diaspora together to participate in a constitutive national dialogue. Such an arrangement would ensure that stability and legitimacy can be pursued together, without sacrificing legitimacy for the sake of stability by allowing the powers that be to remain in power. This arrangement would ensure the comprehensive nature and sustainability of the peace agreement.

However, despite being most desirable, this scenario still remains the least probable, as it is mainly dependent on the political will of the warring parties, particularly their leaders. For the incumbent group and perhaps for the current president and the former vice president, personally, inclusivity may not lead to a happy ending. Companies and external forces may work against such an arrangement, as it may endanger existing financial and other interests.

Multiple Scenarios

A more pragmatic solution would be to work for a government of national unity. South Sudan can usher in a transitional Government of National Unity similar to that of Kenya and Zimbabwe where the ruling and opposition parties share power. As a result, these countries entered into relatively peaceful election processes.

A similar situation might occur in South Sudan. However, there is no strong judiciary in the country, as in Kenya, and to a limited extent in Zimbabwe. More essentially, the SPLA is not a professionally neutral and with a united army as in the case of the Kenyan armed forces. Despite many concerns surrounding the result of Kenya’s last election, the Kenyan armed forces remained neutral. The SPLA still remains an ideologically and ethnically politicised rebel army. Governments of national unity do not necessarily lead to democratic dispensations, but as experienced in Kenya and Zimbabwe, they are capable of delivering stability and reducing political violence.

A government of national unity composed of the warring groups of the SPLM is highly probable, given that a stable central government is vital in order to prevent further violence and total collapse of the South Sudanese state. While seeking the best scenario under a caretaker government, a government of national unity may simply be the best outcome that the IGAD-led mediation effort can deliver.

However, the continuation of the current situation where the incumbent SPLM group in government continues to stay in power is unacceptable. With such dispersed centres of legitimacy, the status quo is unsustainable unless the SPLM/A is reconstituted afresh. The root cause of the current crisis resides in the unwillingness of the SPLM/A to transform itself into a democratic political party fit to govern post-independent South Sudan. Thus, stability and democracy in South Sudan requires radical reform of the SPLM/A, or total replacement of the current system of governance by a constitutional democracy. The current government will be able to achieve popular legitimacy only if it embarks upon the democratic reconstruction of the governing structures of the SPLM/A and commences an inclusive, constitutive national dialogue process. The SPLM would perform an important service to the people of South Sudan if it succeeds in closing this chapter, revitalises the role of its collective leadership and decision-making and transforms itself into a popular, democratic movement that appeals to its political rivals and the general population with the simple message of unity and equality.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ethiopia's Policy towards the AU: Unique contributions and special responsibilities?



Ethiopia's Policy towards the AU: Unique contributions and special responsibilities?
Dr.iur. Mehari Taddele Maruand Abel Abate

Needless to say, as discussed elsewhere in detail by the authors,Ethiopia has well articulated foreign and security policy calledthe Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy (FANSPS). Its substantive anchor on development and stability and geographic focus on the Horn of Africa and Egypt reflects divergence from previous regimes desired state of development in Ethiopia, the assessment of the state of affairs of Ethiopia and the means (including diplomacy) necessary to move from the current to the desired state of affairs. A policy towards African and the Horn of African countries may echo the applicability of the general considerations of Ethiopian policies towards the AU. Notwithstanding, Ethiopia’s detailed policies towards the Horn of Africa, and to that matter the entire Africa are not a substitute to Ethiopia’s policy towards AU. Firstly, AU, like any multilateral regional governance institution, constitutes more than a summation of the member states. The AU is not the summation of individual states. Legally and substantively, a coming together of the distinct members states, AU represent a third body expressing an overlapping continental normative, institutional and procedural framework to address commonly shared human security challenges. AU, norms, institutions and procedures, do not readily aggregate the preferences of each member states, rather they look for an overlapping consensus as stated in the AU Constitutive Act and its various decision and policy making, and implementation organs. Thus, AU offers opportunities to countries like Ethiopia to influence, shape and impact continental policies that has a bearing internally and regionally. The prepared seizes opportunities more readily than those ill-equipped. Second, Ethiopia has been the AU headquarters hosting the most powerful and vital organs of the AU, and the Pan African community. This entails in the wording of FANSPS, ‘a special responsibility.’In this regard, the most substantive statement in FANSPS,reads:
Ethiopia all along steadfastly championed the cause of Africa and Africans dating back to a time when it stood virtually alone. There has never been a time when Ethiopian governments shied away from taking up their responsibilities towards Africa. It can also be said that there was hardly any occasion when Ethiopia was refused political and diplomatic support from Africa when it was needed.

This emphasises on historical support of the OAU/AU to Ethiopia’s interest, not on to ensure AU’s continued and robust support to Ethiopia in the future. Formulated in the negative, the FANSPS focuses on the absence of diplomatic obstructions emanating from the AU organs during time when Ethiopia was invaded by Eritrea could not constitute a grand strategy as it lacks long-term intent. In contrast to its clearer and proactive policies on IGAD and its member countries, and on the Nile Basin riparian countries, FANSPS does not bestow the necessary emphasis on the AU. Indicative of the minimalist policy position, FANSPS focuses on responding to threats andlacks adequate foresight and strategy for predicting, preventing vulnerabilities, seizing and developing opportunities.

Thirdly, indeed Ethiopia has hugely sacrificed its national interest in many occasions in support of Pan Africanism, however, only with general principles and ad hoc reactions dictated by dynamic circumstances. In spite of being the seedbed for Pan Africanism, the principal force for the establishment of the OAU, and the host of the AU for five decades, Ethiopia lacks a self-contained comprehensive policy toward the AU that clearly articulates its national interest and how to strategically pursue these interests in the AU. Despite the absence of a full-fledged and self-contained policy, throughout the past five decades, Ethiopia’s commitment, overall direction and contributions have been that of continuity and consistency.

Addis Ababa: The Diplomatic Hub of Africa

Since May 1963 (de jure since July 1964), Addis Ababa has served as the Headquarters of the OAU. In the earliest times of the OAU, Ethiopia provided not only land and buildings for the AU in Addis Ababa, but also offered all the human and physical facilities that the OAU required. In 1963, Nigeria, and in the early inception of the AU, Senegal and later on Libya under Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, attempted to move the seat of the OAU/AU from Addis Ababa.

The AU rules governing the hosting of AU summits designated Addis Ababa as the headquarters of the AU, and agreed Addis Ababa to host the January/February summit every year. However, individual member states could apply to host the June/July summit. The rotation of the June/July summit was originally devised to reduce the pressure from Colonel Qaddafi as a compromise deal to have two summits per annum and the rotation of the June/July to allow member states such as Libya to host summits.

As Africa’s diplomatic centre, Addis Ababa hosts the most important of all AU organs and Pan African institutions. Chief among these include, the AU Commission, the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the all AU member states, the Peace and Security Council (PSC), and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA). Other Pan African institutions include the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), UN office to AU, the Eastern African Brigade Headquarters, and Eastern African Standby Force Logistic Base, Pan African Chamber of Commerce, IGAD programmes such as Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), IGAD Security Sector Programme (ISSP), and Liaison Offices of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Other accredited diplomatic representations to the AU include the United States, the European Union, China, India, Brazil and the United Nations agencies and other international multilateral and humanitarian organizations. While the US and EU have two heads of missions –a bilateral Embassy to Ethiopia and a multilateral Permanent Mission to the AU, China and other countries are considering establishing separate missions to the AU. On average, Addis Ababa also serves more than 1100 meetings annually, related to Pan-African issues. During the January AU regular Summits, Addis Ababa hosts an average of 7200 delegates, and more than 40 heads of state.


Addis Ababa’s Special Responsibility for the AU

In the words of FANSPS, Ethiopia's opportunity to host the AU comes with a special responsibility for the organization.Nonetheless, what constitutes ‘special responsibility’ is not defined in the FANSPS or any other policy document. Ethiopia regularly pays its assessed contribution (for 2014, USD 1.8 million) based on the country's GDP. Ethiopia is one of eleven AU Member States that has not only fully paid its contributions for 2014, but also one of the five that usually makes advance payments.Traditionally, Ethiopia, not necessarily for the sake of the OAU or AU, has provided a secure and enabling environment for the OAU and AU. Exemplary in many ways, these, however, do not constitute ‘special responsibilities’ of Ethiopia to the AU.  

A consequence of the absence of a policy in regard to the AU, despite putting forward some of its prominent ministers and diplomats as candidates, so far, Ethiopia has failed to assume any visible, influential professional and elected posts at the AU Commission. In a bid to offer leadership to the AU Commission, Ethiopia unsuccessfully proposed several candidates (including to the posts of commissioner of peace and security in 2012, and political affairs of the AU Commission in2003). Due to a weak nomination process and nearly non-existent campaigning strategy, unlike other significant countries, Ethiopian candidates were destined to fail.


Conclusion and Recommendations

Signifying the genuine commitment of Ethiopia to the causes of the OAU/AU, regardless of their diametrically opposed internal policies, successive rulers of Ethiopia have continued to pursue the same policy on the OAU and AU. Ethiopia’s approach to the AU (during Emperor Haile Selassie, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, and EPRDF and the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn) is characterized by continuity throughout many decades albeit in the significant changes in the internal underpinnings of Ethiopia foreign policy.

While the Pan-African positions promoted by the three regimes were equally solid, nevertheless, their policies foundations and ambitions in relation to the AU were unambiguously divergent. While the regimes of Emperor Haile Selassie and Colonel Mengistu were outward looking and excessively externalized Ethiopia's internal problems, the current regime is extremely inward looking. Emperor Haile Selassie and Colonel Mengistu were outward looking, and excessively externalized and reduced Ethiopia's domestic problems to what they termed ‘historical enemies’, and thereof using OAU to mitigate these external threats. Rooted in its ideological beliefs about the root-causes of Ethiopia’s internal troubles and perceived solutions, for the EPRDF, the AU and the IGAD remains another platform for solving regional challenges that affect Ethiopia’s internal governance and development problems. Consequently, unless directly affecting Ethiopia’s developmental agenda, Ethiopia’s current approach to the AU and continental affairs is unambitious and self-restraining. It is narrow as well as ad hoc. For this reason, Ethiopia has no grand strategy regarding the AU.

For Ethiopia, a country with a population of 90 million, projected to reach 120 million in the next 20 years, a strategy that proactively deals with its challenges with foresight is not only vital for Ethiopia’s economic transformation, peace and stability, but also critically important for the peace and security of the entire region.  Extreme poverty, internal political stability, economic development and regional integration, security in water, energy, food and climate change, the Nile River Basin, access to the sea and port services, as well as transnational threats dictate the need for grand strategy towards AU and even IGAD.

Thus, in order to maintain and increase Ethiopia’s influence in the AU, in addition to and beyond the personal capacity of its leaders, Ethiopia needs strategic long-term policies and institutions anchored inwardly not only to protect, but also promote its interest at the AU level. Enough has been changed to demand a grand strategy for Ethiopia regarding the AU. FANSPS needs a fundamental rethinking and reorganization to ensure Ethiopia benefits from the AU. Less concerned about ideological positions, grand strategies on the AU would detail how Ethiopia should make use of the AU in fostering peace, security, prosperity and stability.Anchoredwithin the inward looking foreign policy along the lines of the national interest of Ethiopia, such a grand strategy to the AU need to be an outward looking pursuing multilateralism in vigorously promoting economic and integrative opportunities and dealing with threats proactively.Such a strategy would take Ethiopia’s history, large population, strategic geographic location, military strength and economy, but primarily on mega trends that will define Ethiopia in the future.