Somaliland:Meles Zenawi With Jendayi Frazer on SL, Eritrea | 7TH Leaked Cable of US Embassy Addis Abba

 The whistleblowers’ site Wikileaks published a leaked Cable of US Embassy Addis Ababa. This is the 7th Cable of its kind. The Cable presents a 1 hour and half longJ endayi frazer, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs  meeting between,

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Jendayi Frazer, the then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs that covers a broad ranging issues concerning Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Somaliland, and the Eritrean border. The meeting, held on Jan. 31/2008, was also attended by Donald Yamamoto, US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Courville, Sudan S/E Williamson, AF/SPG Director Lauren Landis.

Kenya’s post-election violence: Meles appears to prefer pressuring the opposition parties and their candidate Rayla Odinga(now Prime Minister). Though he advised US and EU to warn both sides ‘regarding accountability for violence’, he seems to hold the opposition responsible for it. Meles said:

‘the international reaction thus far does not inspire moderation. The EU response of cutting off assistance gives the message that ]President] Kibaki is the “bad guy” and does not push Odinga or his group to moderate their positions.’

‘it would be helpful for the United States, in coordination with the EU, to speak to both the opposition and [the pro-government] key Kikuyu figures in clear terms regarding accountability for the violence.’

Jandayi Frazer doesn’t appear to contradict his assessment of the opposition, rather claims the lack of leverage over the opposition, and wishes to see more accommodating efforts by President Kibaki.

Sudan-US relations: A/S Frazer expresses twice its disenchantment with the Sudanese ruling party, National Congress Party (NCP), negative rhetoric towards the US and its threatening to expel US  Charge d’Affaires and those engaged in building the peacekeeper building camps. Remarkably, Meles Zenawi, downplayed Khartoum’s rhetoric saying,

‘the government in Khartoum is “not a one man show” and he did not think these threats were serious’.

‘the NCP was posturing a bit and that they would not push too far.’

Somaliland Recognition: Both Meles and Frazer wants the African Union to take the lead in the recognition Somaliland. She said that:

she had raised the issue with AU Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare, who seemed to be placing unrealistic conditions for addressing the Somaliland issue. The first was that Somaliland negotiate with the government in Mogadishu, either the TFG or its successor, regarding its independence, and the second was that there be a regional consensus on Somaliland’s status, neither of which are likely to happen or result in any clear decisions.

Meles stated his government position on Somaliland is similar to the United States. However, he said ‘the political situation within the AU was not yet ripe for addressing the Somaliland issue.’ Meles claimed the then Somaliland President, Rayale, messed up by not following his advise on how to raise the issue in the AU. Meles said that:

he urged him[Rayale] to write to the AU requesting that they identify a timeframe for a discussion on the Somaliland issue. However, Rayale “messed things up” by essentially re-sending his previous letter requesting recognition and membership in the AU, rather than asking for a timeframe for a discussion on Somaliland.

Meles said that, if Somaliland had taken the route that he suggested, it would have been likely that the issue could have been addressed soon. However, if the elections for a new AU Chairperson take place during the AU Summit, Meles said that the next chairperson is unlikely to be as positive towards Somaliland as Konare, which will only further delay any discussion of Somaliland.

Ethio-Eritrean border: The cable also contains a vague discussion on the Ethio-Eritrean border. A/S Frazer asked Meles ‘what would have been the consequences of dropping out of the Algiers Agreement.’ Meles’s response is even less clear, he noted that

had Ethiopia dropped out of the Algiers Process, it would not have changed Ethiopia’s position to remain committed to avoiding conflict with Eritrea. Dropping out would have consolidated hard-liners within his own government who advocate a tougher line with Eritrea and the U.N., and confused the Eritreans.



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