domenica, Aprile 11

Ethiopia: risk of secession of the Tigray, or collapse of Abiy and the Country The clash between the Federal Government and Tigray political party TPLF on the caming elections, the economic crisis aggravated by the Covid19 pandemic, the clash with Egypt and Sudan over Great Reinassance dam, are all factors that may provoke Ethiopia collapse. Italy with a past and an opaque present is watching


Tigray is the northern region of Ethiopia, with an area of 53.638 km² (almost double that of Belgium), with a population of almost 5 million inhabitants, home of the TPLF (Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front), the Tigrinya movement. whofought the Stalinist dictatorship of Mènghistu HailéMariàm’s DERG, and who ruled Ethiopia from 1991 to January 2020, when he left the government coalition controlled by TPLF himself, due to strong disagreements with the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.

Almost a month before the decision to postpone the elections scheduled for October, the TPLF opened a strong dispute on the administrative elections, proving to be aware of P.M. political maneuvers. On Monday 04 May 2020, the TPLF announced its willingness to hold independent elections in Tigray, despite the likely postponement of the election to the national level.

On June 17, the President of the TPLF, Debretsion Gebremichael, made it clear that his political movement has no intention of opening separate talks on the date of the elections and other national issues with the Prime Minister and his party illegally in power. According to Debretsion, the disagreement between the Tigray region and the federal government can only be resolved through national talks involving all political entities in the country. The events of the past 12 months seem to give reason to the Tigrinya leader. The Prosperity Party has not faced any election, it is leading the government coalition thanks to political maneuvers conducted by Abiy Ahmed against the Tigrinya movement.

While receiving serious threats from the federal government, Debretsion said that Tigray is organizing regional elections, respecting the scheduled October date “in order to safeguard the rights of our people and preserve them from chaos”. The TPLF also accused Abiy’s Prosperity Party of having no real interest in holding national elections using the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic as “an excuse to establish an individual dictatorship.” The Prime Minister dismissed the accusation. «The claims of the TPLF have no constitutional basis. They have no mandate to hold separate regional elections. The TPLF is trying to destabilize the country in an attempt to regain power”, said Prosperity Party spokesman Awelu Abdi.

William Davison, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank, said the TPLF’s decision to proceed with elections before the rest of the country could be politically explosive due to a lack of legal clarity. “It risks deepening Ethiopia’s political crisis, as the legality of the regions holding elections without federal permission is unclear and is disputed,” he told Reuters.

Despite these risks, the TPLF enjoys the support of the Tigrigna people who spontaneously launched the media propaganda #TigraiVotes2020 whose main slogan is: ‘I am Tigrinean, not Ethiopian’.

The Italian Government on June 02, reporting the demonstrations in Addis Ababa and Oromia, recommended to its citizens the utmost prudence and to limit travel to the bare minimum, offering the emergency number of the Embassy of Italy in Addis: + 251-911247515 .

Even if there are no precise statistics, about 800 Italians would reside among employees of the Embassy, ​​private companies, NGOs and religious in Ethiopia compared to the 7,515 Ethiopians living in Italy. Data underestimated, as it is well knownthat dozens of Ethiopians reach the Italian coasts, passing through Eritreans, in order to obtain political asylum. Among the main companiesoperating in the country is Salini Impregilo (active, among other things, in the construction of the Great Reinassance dam) and Calzedonia.

It is precisely the Verona-based firm of Sandro Veronesi that takes a big risk in the current situation. In 2018 the Veronese company opened a factory in the capital of Tigray, Makelle, the ITACA Textile Factory, with an investment of 15 million dollars. The factory employs 1,100 workers and produces knitwear, pajamas and leggings for the Calzedonia, Tesenis and Intimissimi group labels, becoming the most significant industrial reality in the region.

Employees are well paid and enjoy social service support by copying the Fordists model. However, membership of any type of trade union, including pro-government and hyper-moderate ones, is strictly prohibited.

In Ethiopia Sandro Veronesi also promotes philanthropic work through the San Zeno Foundation. The production and export capacity on European markets, estimated at $ 789,569 a month, could be seriously compromised if a conflict between the Tigray and the Federal Government arises.

In Ethiopia there is also an important office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), located inside the headquarters of the Embassy, ​​in Villa Graziani (home of General Rodolfo Graziani, at the time of the fascist occupation) renamed ‘Villa Italy‘. The areas of intervention are agro-industry, basic services, good governance and migration. Accused in past years of being too close to the Tigrinya regime and of concentrating aid in areas inhabited by Tigrinya, since 2018, AICS has also developed humanitarian interventions in Oromia, Somali Region and Gambella Region (on the border with South Sudan). There are also several Italian NGOs including: CISP, COOPI, LVIA, GVM, VIS.

Some Ethiopian opponents suspect that the funding given by AICS and the Italian Ministry of the Interior, concerning projects aimed at mitigating immigration to Italy, hide an attempt to register potential Ethiopian citizens who are migrants. Suspects not proven by evidence and firmly rejected by the AICS office in Addis Ababa, while the Ministry of Interior has ignored these accusations “tout court”.

Since 2018, the Italian government has been attempting to increase the Italian industrial presence and trade with Ethiopia. Several official visits were made including Matteo Renzi in 2015, President Sergio Mattarella in 2016 and recently that of Emanuela Claudia Del Re, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Conte I and Conte II governments.

Despite these reports, Italian entrepreneurship seems to be struggling to take off in Ethiopia due to the hidden Ethiopian diffidence towards Italy. A mistrust born from the crimes against humanity committed during the fascist occupation and increased by the systematic refusal of every Italian government, from 1948 to today (including the Conte government), to recognize these crimes and face the delicate issues of financial reparation and responsibilities policies.

Italy’s reputation has worsened in Oromia since 2015. The Oromos accuse Italian companies in Ethiopia of doing business with the regime precisely in areas where the population is particularly repressed to favor the regime’s private interests.

durante l’inaugurazione (provvisoria) della diga, insieme al premier etiope. Nell’occasione Renzi definì la costruzione della diga «un orgoglio italiano», immemore del crimine contro l’umanità compiuto dal Governo etiope. Una dichiarazione interpretata dagli Oromo come un insulto aggravato dal fatto che sarebbe stato pronunciato da un ‘nipote’ di ‘quelli’ che massacrarono 780.000 etiopi durante la guerra di invasione e il periodo di occupazione militare da parte del Fascio Littorio.

Explicit references to Salini Impregilo, conductor of the construction works of the Glgel Gibe III dam (called Great Renaissance), where between 100,000 and 200,000 people were dislodged by the Army. The Oromos would never have forgiven Matteo Renzi’s unfortunate sentence (then Prime Minister), pronounced in July 2015, during the (temporary) inauguration of the dam, together with the Ethiopian Prime Minister. On this occasion, Renzi called the construction of the dam “an Italian pride”, forgetful of the crime committed against humanity by the Ethiopian government. A statement interpreted by the Oromos as an insult aggravated by the fact that it would have been pronounced by a ‘nephew’ of ‘those’ who massacred 780,000 Ethiopians during the invasion war and the period of military occupation by the “Fascio Littorio”.

The ‘Italy system’ in Ethiopia would also be involved in the production of palm oil and jatropha curcas (plant with oilseeds, destined for biofuels) to be exported to Italy through the FRI-EL Green, which, through the local subsidiary Fr-El Ethiopia Farming and Processing PLC, in 2007, was awarded the concession of 30 thousand hectares of arable land in the lower South Omo valley. The plantation would have directly caused a drastic decrease in agricultural production destined for the Oromo’s food needs, creating severe child malnutrition.

The Ethiopian political opposition, in addition to the failure to recognize the crimes against humanity committed during the fascist occupation, accuses Italy of an inexplicable silence in the face of two well-detailed investigations into the nefarious role of Italian entrepreneurship in Ethiopia, conducted in 2016.

The first, conducted by the NGO Survival International and the second by the weekly ‘Nigrizia’ with journalists Giulia Franchi and Luca Manes. In both investigations, the ‘alleged’ Italian complicity with the crimes described was confirmed by Human Righjts Watch and Amnesty International.

The Oromo judgment towards Italy seems without appeal. “It seems that the international community is not aware that it is donating money to allow the Ethiopian government to destroy the lives of indigenous peoples in the Omo valley. Is Italy complicit in this violence and abuse? “, Said an inhabitant of the area in 2015, interviewed by Italian journalists Franchi and Manes. “Perhaps this is the explanation of the incomprehensible silence of the Italian media on what is happening in Ethiopia?”, One wonders today, how do Ethiopian opposition voices forced to keep well away from the media spotlight.

For the moment, the Italian government, through the Farnesina, is silent; if and what he is doing is not known. The risk of implosion from Ethiopia would have serious consequences, not only in Africa, but also in Italy (a migratory wave would not be excluded), and worldwide, especially in the post-pandemic period in which a serious international economic crisis is expected.

What is the ‘big capital’ position towards Ethiopia? It can be found expressed by the famous economic newspaper ‘Bloomberg’, in an ‘opinion’ of July 3, signed by Bobby Ghosh. “No tightening on communications can hide the fact that the celebrated peacemaker is struggling to calm his people. Nor can the economic success of Ethiopia, which has won Abiy’s praise abroad, collapsed on the country’s political complaints and ethnic rivalries, some of which triggered by its ambitious reforms. All of these factors threaten to stain Abiy’s Nobel Peace Prize laurel,” writes Ghosh. And he adds, expressing all the concern of the economic-financial world: «Worse, they could jeopardize the economic progress of Ethiopia. Just last week, the revised outlook for 2020 by the International Monetary Fund slowed growth to 1.9% “, indicating that Abiy,” who reacted slowly to the coronavirus pandemic, had to seek emergency funding from ‘IMF to face the crisis ».

In addition to all the rest, Ghosh points out, «the Prime Minister is preparing for his most difficult foreign policy test after the peace agreement with Eritrea which earned him the Nobel Prize. Relations with Egypt are almost to the limit»due to the gigantic Ethiopian dam project on the Nile.

The Bloomberg editorialist warns: political upheavals within the country “will likely worsen when the country suffers the economic shock of the pandemic, combined with a devastating plague of locusts and floods caused by unusually intense rains. This will complicate Abiy’s efforts to attract more foreign investors, particularly to the private sector. (His government worked to establish Ethiopia’s first stock exchange) “.

Nor does it fail to underline Ghosh, that “the territorial disputes between Tigray and the Ahmara region” which could “flare up”.

Even harsh remarks, without evading the fact that Abiy’s credentials “have been questioned by reports of human rights groups on extrajudicial killings”, but in the end international capitalism defends the Prime Minister, as Ethiopia represents a potential and interesting market of 110 million people, thanks to the economic reforms promised by Abiy Ahmed, all aimed at the privatization of state industries and openness to the free market and international investors so far reluctant to invest in the country, due to the strict control state economy.

The process of privatization and openness to the free market is in its study phase, but the national economic management of the premier and his ‘Prosperity’ party, according to some observers, would already be bankrupt, or is likely to be bankrupt after this delicate phase

The rate of economic development in 2019 grew by only 1.9%, the lowest index since the great famine of 2003. Social inequalities and poverty have increased. In Ethiopia there is a class of super-rich (all tied to the regime), a middle class that survives thanks to state subsidies and jobs in the Public Administration, and an army of desperate people who live on less than 2 euros a day . This situation appears likely to worsen when the privatization process is completed and state subsidies are repealed. Poverty is a ticking time bomb ready to explode.

And the riots risk turning into civil war.

The crisis between the central government and regional governments, primarily Tigray, the dam issue, both internally and internationally with the diplomatic confrontation with Egypt, the economic crisis that will emerge in the post-pandemic period, the devastation of the crops caused the invasion of the locusts and the floods that have affected various parts of the country, as the Bloomberg editorialist also points out, are factors that herald an imminent economic crisis and a combined social and political crisis.

It should be emphasized, in closing, that the country remains isolated (several internet blocks). The news is leaking with extreme difficulty. Government newspapers (or close to the government), starting from those published online in English, seem to have chosen the information blackout option. Facts that are of particular concern.

Some news received from the Indian online information site NDTV do increase the death toll to 239. The news was confirmed by a short press release from the Commissioner of Police of Oromia: Mustafa Kedir. “As a result of the unrest in the region, nine police officers, five militia members and 215 civilians lost their lives” In Addis Ababa, 10 more civilian casualties are reportedly reported. The data show a frightening increase compared to the 81 deaths recorded in the first two days of the uprising. The official figures are considered by many underestimate observers, especially regarding the victims registered in the capital where there would be severe gunfights between federal police and demonstrators who have forced to protect the international airport. NDTV reports that many government buildings and private properties have been damaged and looted in Oromia. The arrests would rise to 3,500.

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