17/02/11 (B591) Bloomberg / Djiboutian Opposition to Protest Against President (En Anglais) Les opposants djiboutiens vont manifester contre le Président.

By William Davison

Opposition parties in Djibouti, the Horn of Africa nation that hosts the only U.S. military base on the continent, plan to demand the resignation of President Ismail Guelleh in a protest scheduled for Feb. 18.

At least 1,000 people are expected to attend the “peaceful” demonstration that may continue through the weekend, Ismail Guedi Hared, president of the Union for a Democratic Alternative, said in a phone interview today from the capital city, also called Djibouti. The coalition group represents at least three opposition parties, he said.

“People are angry,” Hared said. “The people will say we want the president to leave. We shall stay Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.”

Anti-government protests across North Africa since January ousted the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia, while similar demonstrations have occurred in Algeria and Libya. In Djibouti, Guelleh’s People’s Rally for Progress party has ruled the country since independence in 1977. The 63-year-old leader, who was elected in 1999, amended the constitution in March to allow him to extend his rule by two more six-year terms.

“Guelleh has been president for 12 years and he wants to continue, but we are saying we don’t want you,” Hared said. “It is because he doesn’t do anything for the people or the country. He takes all the money.”

A spokeswoman for Guelleh said she couldn’t immediately comment when contacted on her mobile phone today. Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Yousef didn’t answer his phone when Bloomberg called him seeking comment.

U.S. Base

The U.S has had a base in Djibouti since 2001, while former colonial power France also has 3,000 troops stationed in the country, which is smaller than the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The republic borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and is seen as a strategic location in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism and piracy.

Last month, exiled Djiboutian opposition leader Abdourahman Boreh called for elections scheduled for April to be delayed by as much as a year and for international monitors to oversee an electoral roll that includes 130,000 to 140,000 of the population of about 865,000.

Boreh was the chairman of the Djibouti Port and Free Zone Authority from 2000 to 2009, when he left the country following a dispute with the government. He was subsequently given a 15- year prison sentence following accusations he was involved in a grenade attack in Djibouti that didn’t leave any injuries.

Boreh denied all charges and said the case was politically motivated and unfair because his lawyers were prevented from representing him.

Djibouti ranks 148th out of 169 countries ranked in the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, education and living standards.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

21/02/09 (B487) Bloomberg. Accrochage entre les rebelles éthiopiens et les forces gouvernementales : au moins 45 morts. // Ethiopian Rebels Clash With Government Forces; at Least 45 Dead (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

At least 45 people died in clashes between Ethiopia’s army and the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front in the east of the country, government and rebel spokesmen said.

The ONLF said its ethnic Somali fighters killed 140 Ethiopian soldiers and allied militia members in battles over the past five days near the towns of Fik and Degehebur, according to an e-mailed statement from the group. In addition, 29 ONLF members died in the fighting, it said.

“The area around Degehebur is now completely in the hands of the ONLF, as is the area around the city of Fik,” it said.

Ethnic Somali rebels from the ONLF are seeking autonomy for Ethiopia’s Somali region, an arid tract of land twice the size of England, which is also known as the Ogaden. In June, New York-based Human Rights Watch accused the Ethiopian government of burning villages, executing civilians and raping women in an effort to quell the ONLF’s insurgency. Ethiopia denied the allegations.

Ethiopia’s government disputed the ONLF’s version of the latest fighting.

“This is completely wrong,” Ermias Legesse, Ethiopia’s state minister for communications, said in a phone interview today from Addis Ababa, the capital. “The regional peoples fought with the ONLF and they killed more than 45 ONLF soldiers.”

Legesse said three or four innocent people died in the fighting. He said he couldn’t respond to an ONLF claim that Ethiopian attack helicopters have been active in the region.

Opposition

Ethiopia claimed the Ogaden region in the late 19th century through a series of agreements with Italy and the U.K., which colonized much of modern-day Somalia. Ethnic Somalis from the Ogaden clan have opposed Ethiopian rule, and fighting in the region surged after the ONLF killed 73 Chinese and Ethiopian workers at an oil exploration site in the region in April 2007.

Ethiopia accuses neighboring Eritrea of backing the ONLF and has in turn backed Somali militias from rival clans to fight the rebel group.

Ethiopia has banned journalists from traveling independently in the region and rejected a United Nations call for an independent assessment of human rights atrocities.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

24/08/08 (B462) Bloomberg / La société TITAN, propriété du milliardaire texan, Nelson Bunker Hunt, gagne un appel d’offre en Ethiopie pour l’exploration des gisements de Gaz et de Pétrole / Titan Resources Corp., owned by U.S. billionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, won agreements to explore two areas in Ethiopia for oil and gas, the Mines Ministry said. (En Anglais)

The Dallas, Texas-based company will invest as much as $60 million to explore tracts of Ethiopia’s eastern Ogaden basin and the northern Blue Nile basin, Abiy Hunegnaw, director of petroleum operations at the Addis Ababa-based ministry, said in a telephone interview yesterday. The two blocks combined cover an area larger than 100,000 square kilometers (38,610 square miles), Hunegnaw said. Titan and Ethiopia agreed to a 25-year production-sharing agreement.

« We are very lucky to have them, » Hunegnaw said.

Exploration in Ethiopia’s eastern Ogaden region was suspended in April 2007 after separatist rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front attacked an exploration team for China’s Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, killing 74 people. ZPEB was working under contract for Malaysia’s state-owned oil company, which controls three exploration zones in the Ogaden.

Hunegnaw said he was confident exploration will resume in the region in the near future.

« Hopefully in one to two months operations will restart, » he said. « We are doing our best to find some contractors. »

Ethnic Somali rebels from the ONLF are seeking independence for the arid region of eastern Ethiopia, and have warned foreign oil firms not to explore in the area. The April attack triggered an Ethiopian counteroffensive that has left much of the region under martial law and spurred reports of human rights violations by the Ethiopian army. Aid workers and journalists have been barred from the region.

Other companies with exploration licenses in the Ogaden include Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum AB, Netherlands-based Pexco Exploration, and South West Energy, an Ethiopian-owned company registered in Hong Kong.

In the most famous attempt to corner the silver market in late 1970s, Hunt and his brother William hoarded the metal and forced the price to jump from to $50 an ounce to $6 in 1980. Eight years later, they were convicted of trying to manipulate the market.

05/08/08 (B459-B) BLOOMBERG / Au moins 16 civils ont trouvé la mort en marge d’affrontements violents entre les forces éthiopiennes et somaliennes d’un côté et les forces islamistes de l’autre. Somali Civilians Killed as Army, Islamists Clash in Mogadishu (Info lectrice – En Anglais)

By Hamsa Omar

At least 16 Somali civilians died after fighting yesterday between Ethiopian and Somali government soldiers and Islamist insurgents in northern districts of the capital, Mogadishu, according to eyewitnesses and radio reports.

The battle started when Islamist fighters fired mortars at camps housing government troops. Four Islamist fighters were killed, said military spokesman Colonel Dahir Mohamed Hersi, who denied there were casualties on the government side.

« Two of our martyrs died in the battle and three others were injured, » Sheikh Abdi Rihin Isse Adow, a spokesman for the insurgents, said yesterday evening in a phone interview. « We also killed six soldiers. »

Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in December 2006 to help the United Nations-backed transitional federal government oust an Islamic militia from southern and central parts of the country. A June 9 preliminary cease-fire agreement calls for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops and their replacement with a United Nations peacekeeping force.

Following the battle, government shelling of Islamist strongholds in the city killed civilians in the Huriwaa district and Aladale village.

« A shell landed on my neighbor’s home, killing two children aged six and eight, » Huriwaa resident Sadeek Jamal said in a phone interview.

Seven people were killed as they sheltered against a building in northern Mogadishu, Radio Shabelle reported.

02/08/08 (B459) BLOOMBERG / Les forces islamistes revendiquent l’attaque d’un convoi militaire éthiopien et annoncent 23 morts. Somali Islamists Attack Ethiopian Army Convoy, Claim 12 Killed (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

By Hamsa Omar

Islamist fighters in Somalia said they killed at least 12 Ethiopian soldiers and captured some of their weapons in a combined assault on an army convoy.

The attack occurred at Jero Kulow, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, yesterday, said Farhan Abdi Eelmoge, a spokesman for Jabha al-Islamia Somalia, a faction of the Islamic Courts Union. Colonel Dahir Mohamed Hersi, a spokesman for the Somali national army, didn’t answer his mobile phone when called today for comment.

« Twelve Ethiopians were killed during the battle waged together by the Islamic Courts Union and our brothers Jabha Islamia al-Somalia, » Sheikh Abdi Rihin Isse Adow, a spokesman for the Islamic Courts, said in a mobile-phone interview today. He wouldn’t disclose his location.

The Islamic Courts Union controlled parts of southern Somalia in 2006 before being ousted by United Nations-backed Transitional Federal Government soldiers and U.S.-supported Ethiopian troops. Yesterday’s clash is the latest in a series of attacks by Islamists after last month’s cease-fire between the government and the opposition Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia.

The agreement called for Ethiopian troops to withdraw from the country within four months and be replaced by a UN peacekeeping force.

In June, Abu Yahya al-Libi, an al-Qaeda spokesman, urged militants in Somalia to fight the planned UN peacekeeping force and set up a caliphate, or Islamic government, in the Horn of Africa country, the Associated Press reported.

14/06/08 (B452) Bloomberg / Des groupes islamistes affirment vouloir intensifier les attaques en Somalie, ignorant le cessez-le-feu et les accords de Djibouti. Somali Islamists Vow to Intensify Attacks, Ignore Cease-Fire (En Anglais)

By Hamsa Omar and Jason McLure

June 13 (Bloomberg) — Somalia’s main Islamist militia will increase attacks on government soldiers and their Ethiopian backers to intensify its opposition to a cease-fire signed by a rival opposition group in Djibouti earlier this week.

« We need to demonstrate that the deal in Djibouti was a false cease-fire agreement and we need to show that it won’t function in Somalia, » Sheikh Mukhatar Robow Abu-Mansoor, a spokesman for Al-Shabaab, told reporters late yesterday in a teleconference monitored in the capital, Mogadishu. The group will fight « Ethiopians and the puppet government until we liberate our territory from Allah’s enemy. »

On June 9, the government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia agreed to halt attacks within 30 days and for Ethiopian troops to withdraw from the country within four months and be replaced by a United Nations intervention force.

Somalia has been wracked by violence since the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government and U.S. supported Ethiopian forces ousted an Islamic militia from southern and central parts of the country in January 2007. The nation hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the 1991 removal of former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.

Al-Shabaab won’t meet the government for talks until Ethiopian troops leave the country, Robow said.

« I call on all Mujahedeen to unite them against Allah’s enemy who invaded in our country and to increase their attacks on them every time especially for the coming days, » Robow said yesterday. The group will also oppose any deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in Somalia, he said.

« If the UN arrives in Mogadishu, I am calling on all Somalis to fight against them because they are the same as Ethiopians, » Robow said.

Al-Qaeda Links

Al-Shabaab has been accused by the U.S. of providing safe haven and logistical support to al-Qaeda’s east Africa cell. The group has no links with al-Qaeda, Robow told Newsweek in April. This week’s accord was also rejected by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an influential Islamist leader who is designated a terrorist by the U.S. for his suspected links to al-Qaeda.

The UN’s humanitarian office said today that at least 30 people died this week in Somalia as a result of conflict.

On June 8, 18 people died in fighting between government forces and insurgents in Mogadishu’s Hawl Wadaag and Warhedley neighborhoods, according to a report released by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The following day, a U.S. naval ship rescued 82 migrants in the Red Sea en route to Yemen after their boat broke down. Nine people died from lack of food and water before the rescue.

Other deaths include the shooting of the director of a Somali aid organization on June 10, while on June 11, a truck driver working for the UN’s World Food Program died in an ambush in southern Somalia, raising the number of aid workers killed this year to 15, the OCHA said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hamsa Omar in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.