Governance Aspects

ADDIS ABABA/BERLIN | | aethiopien

ADDIS ABABA/BERLIN (Own Report) - Despite continuing violence of the Ethiopian government against the opposition party, the Federal government of Germany continues its cooperation with governmental institutions of the strategically important country. The German Development Cooperation wants to focus more on "Governance Aspects" in the nearer future to accompany the "democratisation" of Ethiopia, as the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) informed this editorial office. In the East African state, members of the opposition party have been killed during police operations, up to now lawless mass imprisonments are continuing. According to Ethiopian sources thousands are detained in camps located in malaria areas. The Berlin government plans for the coming years an increasing intensification of the German-Ethiopian cooperation. Germany competes in this way with the People' Republic of China, which tries to get influence in Addis Ababa through economic cooperation.


The recent increase of the German development cooperation with Ethiopia is rooted in the governmental negotiations in spring 2005. After the negotiations, the federally owned German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) reported that "hundreds of German experts" were to take over "key positions within industry and administration" of the East African country within the coming tree years.[1] In fact German development organizations published an unusual number of job offers for high-qualified activities in Ethiopia. German citizens for examples could apply for a post as an "Advisor for the (Ethiopian) spokesperson of the parliament.[2] Currently gtz is looking for a project leader for a "University Capacity Building Program", which is connected to the new construction of thirteen universities all over Ethiopia, as well as an "advisor" for "business- and investment climate", which should contribute to the "strengthening of the private sector".[3]

Torture and Repressions

Already a couple of months before the governmental negotiations last spring, human rights organizations had sharply criticized the politics of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi during his stay in Berlin. "In Ethiopia members of the opposition party are arbitrarily imprisoned and tortured, there is no independent legislative", amnesty international (ai) warned in November 2004; moreover "critical journalists (...) have to expect repressions". Cause for the ai-protests was an assembly, where former Chancellor Schröder obviously discussed with his Ethiopian counterparts the baselines of possible future cooperation.[4] The elections, which took place shortly after the governmental negotiations in Ethiopia, were accompanied by massive accusations of fake, which also was confirmed by international observers.


Within Ethiopia herself protests from the opposition side arose again continuously after the elections, which were beaten down by the government with massive violence. According to official statements about 100 people were killed by Ethiopian security forces in the previous year and several thousands were imprisoned, frequently without any legal procedure.[5] According to reports of amnesty international, several hundreds students as well as the leaders of the opposition party "Coalition for Unity and Democracy" (CUD) are among them. According to Ethiopian sources several thousands, possibly even ten thousands are detained in camps, which have been erected in Malaria areas. Just recently in January during the celebrations of epiphany of the Ethiopian-orthodox church, several people were killed during contentions with the police, more than 40 persons were imprisoned. Since they are kept without any contact to the outside world, ai apprehends that they are "endangered (...) by torture or mistreatment".[6]


While Great Britain announced in the beginning of December, to suspend its budget for Addis Ababa, Berlin continues its support unabatedly. "The development projects are now converted towards governance aspects", a staff member of the Ministry for Cooperation told to this editorial office. A critical study, which had been published in the internet for a short while by the governmentally funded Hamburg Institute for African Science is currently no more available to the public. "Meles Zenawi would have been aware", was the judgement of the Hamburg Institute about the Berlin cooperation partner, "that during actual free and fair elections a victory of the ruling party would hardly have been possible."[7] The study was withdrawn from circulation during the Ethiopian Prime Minister's visit in Germany and is currently being "revised" according to information of the institute.[8]


Outside the internal circle of power within Addis Ababa the German Ethiopia politics encounter a lack of understanding. The former Ethiopian Ambassador in Germany, Imru Zeleke, returned under protest his "Großes Verdienstkreuz" - a high German award for political merits - to the Federal Republic of Germany after the visit of Prime Minister Meles in November 2005. "With great dismay and consternation", he wrote for further explanation, "I saw Your Excellency and Chancellor Schroeder receive Meles Zenawi, whose hands have been soaked with the fresh blood of Ethiopian men, women and children." Only few days before the assembly, where the former Minister of State of the Foreign Ministry Kerstin Müller announced a further intensification of the German-Ethiopian collaboration, Ethiopian security forces had killed more than 50 people and imprisoned several thousand oppositionists.[9]


The roots of the German politics in Ethiopia are political interests in the African continent. The country is considered as an important Christian base within the Islamic world and is rated as a useful cooperation partner due to its active policy in East Africa and its roll within the African Union, which has its main quarter in Addis Ababa. During these efforts Berlin increasingly gets into competition with Beijing, which induced a further intensification of the Ethiopian-Chinese economic cooperation just a couple of days ago. Also within the previous week a Chinese oil company started with the exploration of crude oil within the Ethiopian Gambella basin, which borderlines South of the raw material rich Sudan. German-Chinese competitions therefore seems to expand from Sudan to another state of East Africa.[10]

[1] see also Key positions
[2] see also Berater
[3] Stellenangebote Afrika südlich der Sahara;
[4] Deutschland/Äthiopien: Bundeskanzler muss Gewalt und Willkür in Äthiopien deutlich kritisieren; Pressemitteilung von amnesty international 10.11.2004
[5] see also Indispensable Rights
[6] Haft ohne Kontakt zur Außenwelt/Drohende Folter und Misshandlung; Urgent Action 025/2006
[7] see also Berater
[8] Afrika im Blickpunkt 3/2005
[9] see also Indispensable Rights
[10] see also Nucleus of a Germ, Offensive in Afrika and New Sudan