Friday, May 27, 2011

Ambassador Dr. Abdul Majid Hussein--The Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations passes away (29 March 2004)

The Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations passes away (29 March 2004)

The Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Dr. Abdul Majid Hussein passed away in Dire Dawa town on 29 March 2004 from an illness that was beyond the efforts of doctors in New York City, United States of America.
Doctors in New York City attempted to treat the Ambassador but the illness reached a level where they could not provide any further medical remedies. After hearing the opinion of his wife and the doctors, he asked that he return to his country to be among his people before he passes away.

Ambassador Dr. Abdul Majid Hussein arrived at Bole International Airport in the evening of 28 March 2004 where Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, other senior government officials, Members of Parliament and friends and close relatives, received him. He immediately flew to Dire Dawa town where he met his relatives as planned and then he passed away at 5 a.m. on 29 March 2004.
After the fall of the dergue regime, Dr. Abdul Majid served Ethiopia by working in high government positions and has since served his country full heartedly disregarding his own personal comfort.

The Ambassador had also held a high position in the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) where he promoted the interests of his country and fellow compatriots. He was also engaged in struggle for peace and democracy, which had once led to an assassination attempt on his life by anti-peace elements in Ethiopia that failed to stop him from accomplishing his objectives as a patriot of the country.
Apart for his utmost efforts he made for the promotion of democracy, peace and stability in the Somali region, Dr. Abdul Majid was also the Chairman of the Somalia Democratic Peoples’ Party (SDPP).

With his eagerness to serve Ethiopia, Ambassador Abdul Majid was appointed and served as the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations in New York where he fully executed his duties and responsibilities.

Dr. Abdul Majid Hussein is remembered as being friendly with all his colleagues who loved him.
A funeral ceremony was held on 29 March 29, 2004 in Dire Dawa where higher government officials were in attendance.

"Our people felt they definitely came from Ethiopia," he told Reuters. "They were attacking Lugh. Our staff at the airport as they left saw Lugh under missile or artillery fire from across the Ethiopian border." No faction in Somalia is believed to have any aircraft.
An Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman in Addis Ababa declined to comment on the reports of the invasion, Reuters and BBC Radio reported.

Since the collapse of central authority in Somalia after the overthrow of President Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991, rival clans have carved the nation up into fiefs, ruled mostly by young clansmen with guns.

The Islamic Union is a faction made up of fervently religious people, mostly from the Ogadeni clan in Somalia. The group controlled Dolo and Lugh, having turned them into tiny Islamic city-states ruled according to strict Koranic codes. Even cigarette smoking was considered a crime in Lugh.

The group, which has offices in Mogadishu, has also claimed responsibility for a violent campaign inside Ethiopia aimed at gaining independence for the Ogaden region. In January, a bomb at a hotel in Addis Ababa killed one person. A month later another bomb at a hotel in Diredawa took three lives. On Aug. 5, a third blast killed another man at a hotel in the capital.

The Islamic Union has also said it was behind the attempted assassination of an ethnic Somali who is the transportation minister in the Ethiopian government, Dr. Abdul Majid Hussein.

In his capacity as Minister of Transportation and Communication Dr. Abdul-Majid, the chairman of the governing ESDL party, disclosed his ministry’s plan to install a network of telephone lines to various parts of this peripheral region, including Jigjiga, Dhagah Bur, Xarshin, Gaashaamo, Gallaadin, Wardher, Kabri Dhaharre, and others. The installation of the network would be completed within period of 4-14 months. Dr. Abdul-Majid also made public plans for the construction of new airports and immediate flights of Ethiopian Airlines to important towns in the region, such Jigjiga and Kabri Dhahar.

To conclude, the regional adminstration succeeded in achieving most of the intended goals of this remarkably successful conference. First, the administration provided the impetus for wider participation in the affairs of this underdeveloped region. Second, it secured the necessary consensus and cooperation of the public on critical issues (peace and developement), which are still affecting the development of good governance in this previously unstable region.

The administration’s underlying objective of putting behind itself the inauspicious record during the transition period (1991-1995) warrants the encouragement and support of the federal government, donors and international community. However, this optimistic view will certainly not be confirmed until the conclusion of the negotiations between the ESDL and ONLF.

Report on the Peace and Development Conference
Jigjiga, 10-13 March 1996
Dr. Ahmed Yusuf Farah, Anthropologist, UNDP Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia - 3 April, 1996

"Shirweynaha Nabadda Iyo Horumarka"
Conference on Peace and Development

1.1. Participants

The administration of the Ethiopian Somali National Regional State organized a conference, held in the capital city of the region, Jigjiga, between 10 - 13 March 1996. As indicated by its title, peace and development were the two major topics deliberated upon during the confrence. This brief report is prepared by EUE/UNDP anthropologist who attended this 4 day conference.
A total number of 700 persons attended the Jigjiga confence. The majority of the particpants (460) were delegates representing the 46 districts administered by the regional administration - 10 representatives came for each district. In addition, 75 delegates representing 15 disputed districts along blurred border areas between the neighboring Somali and Oromo autonomous entities also attended the conference. Thus an overwhelming majority of the participants (535) were from the weredas.
Somali officials working at various levels of the regional and federal government constituted a large number of the remaining participants - including members of the regional council and 30 members of the federal parliament, the minister of transport and communication, Dr.Abdul-Majid Hussein and the two vice ministers, Shamsudin Ahmed (vice minister of energy and mining) and Abdurashiid Dullane (vice minister of water resources development). Non-Somali senior officials also attended the conference. The Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Tamirat Layne, inaugurated the conference with an extensive in-depth analysis of the security issues in the region. The presence of the Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, added to weight to the participation from the federal government and signified the importance attached to the event. At the closing ceremony Dr. Abdul-Majid apologized on behalf of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for not being able to attend, and read his message which implored Somalis to carry out the agreements reached in the course of the conference. The presidents of Tigrai and Harari regional administrations and representatives from Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalilties Peoples National Regional State also attended the conference. They expressed their support and solidarity to the weak administration of the Ethiopian Somali National Regional State.
Even though a good number of the wereda representatives were religious leaders, some distinguished Somali spiritual scholars also attended the conference. Their participation was to enhance Islamic solidarity among the estranged Muslim Somalis and clarify religious arguments used by the fundamentalist itixad, in perpetuating violence in the region.
The Ethiopian Somali Democratic League (ESDL), which represents a coalition of more than a dozen local clans and is headed by Dr. Abdul-Majid Hussein, as well as representatives of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), participated the congress. A representative of the EPRDF also attended the conference.

1.2. Characteristics
In contrast to Kabari Dheherre conference of February 1995, women were well represented- for the good reason that they constitute half of the regional population and for the fact women and children are often greatly affected by the prevailing instability and ensuing underdevelopment. Fair representation of women, and other social groups from the districts, traditional and religious leaders, youth organizations, etc. corroborate the grassroots nature of the Jigjiga conference. As mentioned in the preceding section, the Jigjiga conference was conceived, organized and carried out by the incumbent administration.
The wide participation in the Jigjiga conference could be considered as a deliberate decision on the part of the present administration. Several reasons explain this inclination. First, is an apparent lack of effective communication and interaction between Jigjiga and the weredas. The initial need to reorganize and reform the administrative structures at the regional and zonal level, together with the absence of popular mass media, shortage of communication facilities and essential infrastructure as well as the large size of the region certainly contributed to limited interaction between Jigjiga and the districts.
To assure the electorate that the government is trying to fulfill its mandate and also to ensure public support and cooperation, the government felt the need to establish a dialogue on crucial issues affecting the lives of the population in the region - development and peace - with the representatives from all the weredas.
The first routine meeting of the regional council was due at time of the conference. This made the political atmosphere in Jigjiga replete with distracting and confusing propaganda, with ONLF radicals alleging that the intention of the conference was to replace members of the regional parliament who oppose the ESDL and the present administration. Many of these rumors were said to have been propagated by individuals with personal ambitions for power ambition and who were against the development of a viable regional government. Thus, the administration thought it imperative to bypass these individuals, who falsely represent groups in the districts, and conduct the conference.
The conference served as a successful public relations exercise for the administration. In addition to the support it enlisted from the participants, the administration presented progress reports on the activities by bureaus in the first half of the year and also presented its plans for further administrative reorganization and reform. As requested by the participants from the weredas, the administration promised to hold follow-up grassroots conferences at the zonal and wereda levels. The request of the participants to make this conference an annual event was also endorsed by the administration.
Another important feature of conference was that it was multi-dimensional. Guests from the central government and presidents, or representatives from other autonomous regions attended the conference, presumably to witness the changes taking place since the elections in the middle of last year. Regional artists performed an entertaining and educating drama featuring the developments that has taken in the region. That the Somali region is no more a troubled and dangerous place but a reviving part of the country, seems to have been the underlying message of the drama.

2.1. Security
As reflected in the 7 point resolution (see annex) endorsed by the conference, three crucial issues: security, administration and development, attracted the most attention and interest of the conference. During the transitional period (Mid 1991-mid 1995) governance in the Somali region not only prove elusive, it was seen as part of the problem contributing to the low intensity but disruptive conflict blamed on armed Itixad and ONLF groups. During this period the tendency of administration officials to give loyalty first to the interest of their kin group rather than the public interest, further explain the poor record of the weak and unstable administrations during the transitional period.
The current administration appears determined to tackle any lingering insecurity posed by the armed Itixad or ONLF factions. In this regard the participation of senior ONLF delegation headed by chairman, Bashir Abdi, signals positive sign of a possible end to instability. The chairmen of the two main political organizations, ESDL and ONLF, disclosed an on-going dialogue between them to settle their differences, through negotiation.

The change of policy on the part of ONLF and the stated desire to settle their differences with the governing party, the ESDL, through negotiation and dialogue received applause from the participants of the conference. Public appreciation of this move to possible political reconciliation between the two important organizations in the region was further encouraged by the reported advanced stage of the bilateral talks.
The talks are said to based on a six point agenda covering crucial issues including those addressed in the conference (peace and development), regional administration, fate of ONLF members in prison, etc. The ONLF chairman declared that the two sides had agreed to cooperate on matters concerning peace and development. The ONLF chairman also warned that they will not tolerate further violence from either the Itixad or radical ONLF factions, whose externally based leadership had been replaced in the organization’s conference at Harar prior to the elections in 1995. Bashir pledged that the ONLF will take an active take part in restoring peace and stability to region by using all means necessary, including fighting against armed elements who refuse to renounce violence.
In a televised discussion between the secretary of the ESDL and the chairman of the ONLF, the latter stated that their differences on most issues on the agenda had been narrowed down to a manageable level, thus predicting a successful and rather quick accord. Nevertheless, he stated that agreement on sharing power between the two organizations in governing the Somali federal unit is far from being resolved. Here the contentious issue relates to the proportional representation of parties in the regional council.
Although there are about 20 ONLF members in the regional council, only one of of them holds a seat in the executive council. Allocation of additional seats may be undertaken if it could deliver the desired goal- an end to violence and peaceful participation in the affairs of the region. If other matters are successfully resolved and there are encouraging signs towards this end, Dr. Abdul-Majid affirmed the possibility of integrating ONLF to the regional administration.
Accommodation of ONLF in the regional politics and its participation in the administration is crucial to the process of restoring peace and stability. The other destabilizing force, Itixad, lacks a social constituency in the region. With access to funds received from fundamentalist groups based abroad, the supporters of militias of Itixad are mostly individuals belonging to different clans. Because of the significance of clan based social organization in matters relating to security, Itixad or any other guerrilla group cannot operate anywhere in the region without the approval of the clan or clans controlling the area of operation.
Just before the conference, Itixad initiated raids to areas in Jigjiga zone controlled by the Abiskuul clan (Jidwaq - Abiskuul, Bartire and Yeberre), apparently in collaboration with .disaffected members of this clan. Established local security forces cleared Itixad infilterators from Jigjiga zone. Dr. Abdul-Majid reported that the defeated remnants of the Itixad militia had sought refuge in disputed border areas between the Somali and Oromo regions, which act as hideout for the Itixad and Ormo fundmentalist rebel groups.

As reported by Dr. Abdul-Majid, a settlement and durable solution will soon be reached on the governance of the weredas claimed by both Somali and Oromo regions. This will deny the fundamentalist militias in both states a base from which launch their violence. Possible reconciliation and accommodation of the ONLF most probably will further marginalize the Itixad in the region.

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