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Opinion: Obasanjo has an unforgiving mission in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 21, 2016 – Some of Africa’s leaders are responsible for instability on the continent because they have failed to manage diversity in their societies, the former Nigerian President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has said” (TANA Forum – ‘Press Statement: “Some African leaders to blame for conflicts” – Obasanjo’ 21.03.2016).

Today Olusegun Obasanjo as the Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union for the Horn of Africa. One of his key objectives and mandate is to mediate in the Ethiopian conflict. Alas, he has a mountain to climb and it’s an unforgiving job. This is a position and a office, which isn’t for the kind-hearted. Since, the parties here are in the trenches and in a brutal war. They are not in this for a small token or to get global recognition.

Obasanjo is now meddling and intervening within a battle, which has become broader and wider than what the Tripartite Alliance anticipated. The alliance of FDRE, SOE and Amhara allies didn’t anticipate the formation of a broad alliance of nationalities to combat the Tripartite Alliance. Therefore, at this point, the war isn’t only Addis Ababa-Asmara versus Mekelle. No, it is much more wider and with the objective of rectifying the leadership structure of the nation.

This is why the African Union (AU) is late here and the talks is only stalling things. The mediator can drop a statement saying today: “I am optimistic that common ground towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict can be secured. The interlocutors I have engaged on all sides have stated their wish for peace, security, and stability in Ethiopia. The main point of difference between the actors is in the means by which they seek to achieve this essential objective. War represents a failure of politics. Thus dialogue remains the only reliable and sustainable avenue to peace. There is no military solution to the conflict and battlefield victory cannot guarantee political stability in Ethiopia. I, therefore, appeal to the leadership of all sides to halt their military offensives. This will allow an opportunity for dialogue to continue to progress. Such talks cannot deliver in an environment of escalated military hostilities” (African Union – ‘Statement on the Prospects for Peace in Ethiopia by H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo High representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for the Horn of Africa’ 14.11.2021).

It is like Obasanjo haven’t learned from his own experience. Just 5 years ago as a Tana Forum speaker or delegate. He spoke of the reason why we are seeing a war within Ethiopia today. The diversity and marginalization of certain groups is the reason for the conflict in Ethiopia. That’s because one man wanted to consolidate all power and use old grievances to settle it. He wanted to overcome the TPLF and by doing so hurt the Tigrayan ethnic group. This he got done by getting allies who has suffered, because of the leadership in Mekelle.

Deep down, I think Obasanjo know the difference and the difficulties here. The parties are not willing to really talk. These are just cordial meetings to buy time. We know the United Front against Prosperity Party is running towards Addis Ababa. This is just common knowledge as they are aiming to use arms to change the leadership. They are not trusting or having faith in negotiations. That’s why the former President is to hopeful in this manner.

I don’t see Abiy or Afewerki talking to Debretsion. I wish I could, but these have already vilified and gone total genocide on the enemy. They are arresting people for being associated or allegedly associated with either Tigray Defence Force (TDF) or Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Therefore, seeing them talking or having a meeting seems unlikely. If the TPLF/OLF went to talk. I would be worried of arrests and authorities surrounding the venue. This is why the hope is very dishonest at this moment of time.

The talks Obasanjo was maybe positive and had a good vibe. However, those vibes will not change the matters on the ground. As the FDRE is going into a “survival campaign” mode and the TDF-OLA is slowly advancing towards their target. This is not a time or a moment of thinking these will give way. No party will earn on it and that would only salvage the reign of Abiy. A ruler, which is a warlord and someone who many wants gone. Therefore, if Obasanjo wants to save his term or if he wants peace. That is two difference objectives….

I don’t see the hope or the possibilities of quick or brief ceasing of military operations. That means an unilateral ceasefire, which means all parties would silence their guns. The Tripartite Alliance never did that and only played the facade of that. While they we’re still annexing Western Tigray and besieging the rest of Tigray region. Therefore, Obasanjo is too positive or naive. I doubt any of the parties will give way. These parties will fight to the death or until they have to go to exile. Peace.

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Djibouti: You know your not popular, when the people wish you gone…

Djibouti President, Ismail Omar Guelleh, in ‘serious condition” after being admitted to a hospital in Paris. Most of his family members gathered in France. Djiboutian opposition claim he’s dead. DJ FM says Guelleh is fine and “undergoing medical check up due to lack of rest”” (Morad News, 14.09.2021).

The Djiboutian President since 1999 is now under possibly dire distress in Paris. It is not uncommon that the former colonies leaders are residing and getting medical treatment in France. President Guelleh is no different here.

The President has ruled with an iron-fist and used the authorities against dissidents. His allies in government has also sponsored the violent ethnic militia of Issa-Somali as well. So, it is not like the President is a beloved character.

That’s why there are plenty of people awaiting for his demise. The opposition would clearly not be alone. As the authorities and state has gone after the Afar people in the Republic. Many of them would wish death upon the President. They have been targeted and their livelihoods has been taken away.

So, when people play the sympathy card for the President. It is hard to forget how he treats his enemies and other minorities within his rule. Guelleh should be aware and so should his allies. It is like the 50 Cent song “Many Men” because men many wish death upon him. Some might say it’s insensitive and disrespectful to the President. However, he has ensured other people’s death and extra judicial killings. He has secured dissidents being detained as political prisoners and they have also been tortured too. Therefore, it isn’t like this man is an angle or a statesmen.

However, the President isn’t that and that’s why people spread rumours of his death. They are tired and ready for someone to truly represent them all. Guelleh is a tyrant and a dictator who just happens to have favourable friends across the spectrum, because he let them build bases in the Republic and they want him to reign for life. That is the sort of stability that makes it worth to invest and have soldiers on the ground there.

We know the family and the government will not drop the truth of the matter. They will not say or state the decease in question. The old man is suffering and knows that the health-care isn’t good enough in Djibouti. That’s why he had to travel across the continent to Paris, France to get help. This says a lot of his lacking concerns for his own citizens. When he can use the power and prestige doing this. However, his own citizens wouldn’t be allowed or have the coins to pay for the services.

That is why the opposition and everyone wishes him ill. It is not like they would say and spread rumours like this without any proper context. This is also in-connection with how the President has run the state. That is why they not so merciful and showing him common courtesy, because it is not like he would have shown that to his adversary. Peace.

A memo to the AU: If IGAD can’t do it, why do you think Obasanjo can do it?

The African Union (AU) has today appointed the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as the High Representative for the Horn of Africa. The African Union Commissioner might have the best interests at heart here and the will to make a difference. However, at this point of time and with the leaders at today. This appointment will go nowhere.

The AU could have appointed a saint, a maverick and a superstar to this role. They could have had the best negotiator even known to mankind and it still wouldn’t resolve anything. In 2021 and with the current head of states. There will not be any will or resolve to silence the guns. No, that’s not happening.

Mr. Obasanjo is getting another pay-check. He is getting another retirement-fund and additional high ranking official status. Being a diplomat and getting VIP treatment in Addis Ababa. He will not lack the perks and the bottle-service. However, that will not change the matters on the ground.

If there would have been a possible change, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) would have made some significant moves. The IGAD is already there to do this and ensure stability on the Horn of Africa. As IGAD says itself: “IGAD to be the premier Regional Economic Community (REC) for achieving peace and sustainable development in the region. Mission: Promote regional cooperation and integration to add value to Member States’ efforts in achieving peace, security and prosperity”.

So with that in mind, the Horn of Africa should already have an organization and the apparatus to achieve peace and security. Now, that is futile and lacking. That’s why the AU is boosting it’s operation and hiring Obasanjo to make things look good. However, he will not go anywhere or get anything done. At least nothing substantial or fruitful. Except for cashing-in and enjoying VIP treatment.

Obasanjo will get the cold-shoulder, which Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has gotten. Not to mention the double-speaking and erratic diplomatic cables of Mogadishu. Which we have seen in coordination with the AU Chair of the Year Felix Tshisekedi. When Hamdok have gotten silent treatment from Addis Ababa. Not like Asmara will be friendly either. Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh will be all smiles, as he has all the major powers having military bases and that’s why he feels untouchable.

The former Nigerian President have to magic. He has to show all of his tricks of his trade and negotiations. As there are several of conflicts and not lacking of guns in rotation. There are so much hurt, pain and social animosity. That it isn’t a steady and strong Horn of Africa at this point. No, everyone is pinned in one conflict or another.

If it is battle of clans within Somalia. If it is Al-Shabab sending suicide bombs or retaliating at the AMISOM mission somewhere. If it is Issa-Somali militias targeting Ethiopian regions of Ogaden and Afar. If it is all the Liberation Fronts going to war against the Tripartite Alliance within Ethiopia. If it is the skirmishes and the simmering conflict between Ethiopia and Sudan over the Al-Fashqa triangle. Together with the genocidal war in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. There is no stop of warfare and conflicts currently happening.

That is why Obasanjo have not only a mountain to climb but several actually. In combination with the elections in Somalia. There is no shortlist of hurdles and hardships. If he will even touch on those and not only smile for pressers. It would be likely to have low-level consultations and meetings. However, he will not gather all the hopeful and neither be allowed to meet all parties. No, the states involved rather wants to annihilate and get rid of enemies. They are not willing to talk to them. That’s why IGAD has failed and why Obasanjo will be left astray as well.

Obasanjo will be a nice-poster child for this. He will bring good publicity but not achieve anything. That is the outset and the ones around making sure of. It is not like the heads of state is changing in a matter of no-time and that these are suddenly becoming will partners of dialogue. Especially, when they haven’t considered or even tried before. That’s why the mission of the High Representative is futile.

He should call up IGAD and get their in-put. Because, there is nowhere to hide here and the snakes are ready to bite. Peace.

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