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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ADDISABABA3780
2005-11-07 12:48:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

AU COMMISSION CHAIRPERSON, UK, AND EU SHARE

Tags:   PREL  PHUM  KDEM  ET  AF  UNION  UNREST 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 003780 

SIPDIS

ROME PARIS LONDON FOR AF WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2015
TAGS: PREL PHUM KDEM ET AF UNION UNREST
SUBJECT: AU COMMISSION CHAIRPERSON, UK, AND EU SHARE
CONCERNS ABOUT ETHIOPIA'S DOMESTIC UNREST

REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 3757 (NOTAL)


B. ADDIS ABABA 3748 (NOTAL)

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES VICKI HUDDLESTON. REASON: 1.4 (B, D).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 003780

SIPDIS

ROME PARIS LONDON FOR AF WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2015
TAGS: PREL PHUM KDEM ET AF UNION UNREST
SUBJECT: AU COMMISSION CHAIRPERSON, UK, AND EU SHARE
CONCERNS ABOUT ETHIOPIA'S DOMESTIC UNREST

REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 3757 (NOTAL)


B. ADDIS ABABA 3748 (NOTAL)

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES VICKI HUDDLESTON. REASON: 1.4 (B, D).


1. (C) SUMMARY. On the second consecutive day of a
government crackdown on opposition demonstrators in Addis
Ababa, AU Commission Chairperson Konare expressed concern
about the safety of AU staff and of Ethiopia's ability to
weather both domestic unrest and growing tensions with
Eritrea. Perhaps because of armed patrols and gunfire near
AU headquarters, Konare appears to be more seized with
quelling violence in Addis Ababa than addressing the border
issue. Konare issued a public statement on November 2
calling for restraint, and met privately with Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi on November 3. Konare advocates a coordinated
approach by international leaders to PM Meles, and shares
many of the concerns expressed by the US and UK in a November
2 meeting with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum (ref A).
Konare told U.S., UK, and EU representatives that he supports
the release of demonstrators and was critical of Meles'
failure to negotiate with the opposition; however, Konare
also wishes to be seen as "helpful" and will therefore seek
to preserve his neutrality. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) African Union Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar
Konare summoned U.S., UK, and EU (troika) heads of mission to
AU headquarters in the late afternoon of November 2, the
second consecutive day of violent confrontations in Addis
Ababa between Ethiopian military and security forces, on the
one hand, and predominantly unarmed demonstrators protesting
the Government's November 1 arrests (ref B) of senior
opposition leaders from the Coalition for Unity and Democracy
(CUD) party. Poloffs attended for Charge, who was meeting
separately with Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi (ref A).

3. (C) Konare expressed concern about the deteriorating
internal situation in Addis Ababa, saying that he had
received reports of casualties, but lacked the means to
verify them. Recognizing the special role played in Ethiopia

by the troika, he said he welcomed any information that could
be shared with the AU. The AU needed an early warning system
and non-traditional means of intervention to address such
situations, he said. He also expressed concern about the
safety of AU staff. (NOTE: Automatic weapons fire was
reported earlier in the day at the Pushkin Square area, near
AU Headquarters, leading to the cancellation of several
meetings of the AU's Darfur Integrated Task Force. At dusk
on November 2, armored personnel carriers believed to be
carrying special "Agazzi" military units from PM Meles's home
region of Tigray continued to roll past AU headquarters. END
NOTE.) Konare condemned the GOE firing on unarmed
demonstrators, and observed that the GOE could not address
both the deterioration of its internal situation and rising
tensions with Eritrea. The suggestion of war, as well as
Ethiopia's current domestic disturbances, threatened to
undermine the AU: "Every shot fired is a shot fired against
the AU," he said. Underscoring the need to "stop
repression," he said problems arose when a country could not
guarantee democracy.


4. (C) Saying that the AU's position was not easily
expressed, and that the populace mistook the AU's silence for
inaction, Konare noted that he would issue a public statement
(text follows below); personally intervene with PM Meles, as
he had previously; and seek permission to see opposition
leaders. UK ambassador provided Konare with draft
Ambassadors Donors Group (ADG) statement of which the U.S. is
President and endorsed by all EU heads of mission. Konare
agreed with the need to promote dialogue instead of violent
confrontation. (NOTE: Charge updated Konare on the current
situation in Addis Ababa and on the border with Eritrea, just
prior to a November 3 meeting between Konare and Meles. END
NOTE.)

--------------
UK OUTLINES DONORS CONCERNS
--------------


5. (C) UK Ambassador Bob Dewar informed Konare that ADG
members were trying to facilitate dialogue. The origins of
the rioting were unclear, he said, but the GOE blamed the CUD
for instigating them. Spontaneous demonstrations had erupted
on November 1 and 2. One could assume that the arrest of
senior opposition leaders (ref B) had provoked further
problems on November 2, Dewar added. He noted that the UK
had warned its citizens to avoid conflict areas and to defer
non-essential travel to Ethiopia. As for the border issue,
Amb. Dewar noted the GOE's concern that the draft UNSC
resolution on UNMEE not include language imposing demarcation
with dialogue.

6. (C) Amb. Dewar provided Konare with a readout of the ADG
meeting held earlier in the day with FM Seyoum (ref A).
Dewar said that Charge Huddleston and he had highlighted the
following points see reftel, which he would also recommend be
made by London to PM Meles:
-- deep concern at reports of up to 40 deaths; the use of
lethal means, by either demonstrators or security forces,
should play no part in a democracy;
-- the urgent need for an independent investigation of the
incidents of June 8 (during which several dozen protestors
were killed in post-election violence in Addis Ababa);
-- concern at the arrests of CUD leaders and members of civil
society, including independent teachers' and press
associations;
-- the need for the GOE to release political detainees;
-- the importance of following legal process, including
providing those detained with access to family visits and
medicines;
-- the need for maximum restraint and dialogue; all sides
should be encouraged to avoid violence, respect the
constitution, and participate fully in democratic
institutions.
-- the need to continue the dialogue on how to establish
multi-party democracy.


7. (C) EU Head of Delegation Amb. Tim Clark underscored the
need for a strong gesture on PM Meles, in order "to avoid a
conflagration." Amb. Clark said that despite promises from
Meles, "nothing has been done" in three key areas:
appointment of an independent national election board;
permitting comparative assessments to be conducted of
Ethiopia's parliamentary procedures with those of four other
countries; and ending the "daily harassment" of opposition
supporters. The GOE had conducted mass arrests of more than
1,000 individuals during the demonstrations and earlier when
motorists had honked their car horns as part of a series of
civil disobedience gestures called for by the CUD/P.

-------------- --------------
AU CHAIRPERSON ADVOCATES COORDINATED MESSAGE TO MELES
-------------- --------------


8. (C) Konare observed that the international community needs
to send coordinated message to Meles, from "the highest
levels." Meles does not understand the need to negotiate, he
said, adding that most African countries appointed national
election board members by consensus. Meles could have
benefited from a divided opposition, but instead had become
"another cause of opposition within his own party." The
opposition would likely appoint new leaders to replace those
detained, he said, which would only prolong the standoff.


9. (C) Konare said the GOE should release detainees and
promote dialogue. Other countries arrested protesters, he
said, but also sought political solutions. Long imprisonment
would only make them "martyrs". As the majority of the
populace in Addis Ababa supported the opposition,
marginalizing them "could create terrorists". Konare
asserted that the majority of victims in Merkato Square
killings on November 1 were Muslims, and warned of protests
continuing, as Muslims gathered to mark the end of Ramadan.
(Muslim celebrations passed peacefully but security forces
have been carrying out arbitrary detentions of individuals in
their homes, following the two days of protests.)


10. (C) Konare concluded that he wanted to be "helpful", and
would therefore seek to preserve his neutrality, while
privately pressuring Meles.


11. (U) Text of AU Commission's communique released on
November 2 (forwarded to AF/E and AF/PD), follows below:

BEGIN TEXT.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission expresses his deep
concern over the incidents which occurred yesterday, in some
parts of Addis Ababa, resulting in the death of several
protestors and Police Officers and wounding of many others.
He is further concerned over the incidents which took place
today in some parts of the city with reported loss of lives
and injuries.

The Chairperson deplores the upsurge in confrontation and
violence between the Security Forces and protestors in
circumstances yet to be clarified. He further deplores the
loss of lives and passes his heartfelt condolences to the
bereaved families.

The Chairperson appeals to all concerned for calm and maximum
restraint and urges them to commit themselves to addressing
existing problems through peaceful means and dialogue within
the framework of the Constitution and the law of the country.

He wishes to stress that the people of Africa are looking
forward with a keen sense of solidarity for the people of
Ethiopia and their leaders to overcome the current
difficulties through peaceful means and dialogue and give our
continent an example of democracy.

Addis Ababa, 2 November 2005


HUDDLESTON