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Cablegate: State Minister Tekeda Discusses Regional And

VZCZCXRO8586
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #0249/01 0350758
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040758Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9389
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHINGTON DC 0094

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 000249

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E, DRL FOR SJOSEPH, AND INR/B
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA AND CENTCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV ET
SUBJECT: STATE MINISTER TEKEDA DISCUSSES REGIONAL AND
DOMESTIC ISSUES WITH PDAS THOMAS-GREENFIELD

ADDIS ABAB 00000249 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a January 17 meeting with State Minister
for Foreign Affairs, Tekeda Alemu, Principal Deputy Assistant
Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield asked about Ethiopia's

SIPDIS
outlook for the new Somali government, the Ethiopian
relationship with Sudan, as well as noted the importance of a
fair and free election when Ethiopians visit the polls in
April. Tekeda told PDAS and Ambassador that Somali Prime
Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and the new cabinet are "just
what the doctor ordered" for Somalia at this time, noting
that Ethiopia's relationship with the new government is very
productive. However, he said that the security situation
continues to be unpredictable and did not express confidence
in immediate deployment of the necessary numbers of AMISOM
troops required for Ethiopia to withdraw. Tekeda also noted
that Ethiopia's relationship with the government of Sudan is
constructive, and that "Ethiopia is committed to justice for
those in the South and the West (of the country)." On local
elections, Tekeda contrasted Ethiopia's situation with that
of Kenya's recent elections issues, noting that Ethiopia is
dominated by one strong party and that such unrest
surrounding the local elections in April is unlikely.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS IN DIFFICULT TIMES
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (SBU) Africa Bureau PDAS Linda Thomas-Greenfield,
accompanied by Ambassador and Poloff (notetaker), met with
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tekeda Alemu on January 17
to discuss a range of regional and domestic issues. Top of
the agenda was Ethiopia's current relations with the new
government of Somalia and ongoing challenges with Ethiopia's
military mission in Somalia. Tekeda said that Ethiopia is
currently enjoying an unprecedentedly close and productive
relationship with the new Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein
and components of his cabinet (specifically the Deputy Prime
Minister and the Minister of Information). He noted that the
Prime Minister has begun reaching out to parts of the
opposition and that the political scene is calming down. The
security situation, on the other hand, continues to be
"difficult to predict," Tekeda lamented. Though somewhat
better of late, he pointed out that the next contingent of
Burundian troops to support AMISOM must arrive soon. He was
less confident in support from other countries, though,
pointing out that other countries do not view the situation
in Somalia as a matter of national security, as the
Ethiopians do, and thus are less pressed to act. Tekeda
complained about outsiders seeking solutions in Somalia,
noting UNSRSG Ahmedou Ould Abadallah's recent trip to Asmara,
saying that the only solution was support for the TFG and
development of TFG security forces adequate to sustain peace
in Somalia.

3. (SBU) On relations with Sudan, State Minister Tekeda told
PDAS Thomas-Greenfield that Ethiopia has traditionally
handled its relationship with the government of Sudan very
carefully. Though still scarred by the 1995 attempted
assassination of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Tekeda
described current relations as stable and positive and noted
that there is a &good level of trust with a portion of the
government.8 He pointed out, however, that "Ethiopia has
made it clear that it is committed to justice for those in
the south and the west (of the country)."

--------------------------------------------- ---------
EPRDF LEARNED FROM PAST LESSONS, OPPOSITION HAD CHANCE
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (SBU) In response to Tekeda's comment that the recent
elections in Kenya and the subsequent unrest will be
difficult to resolve, PDAS Thomas-Greenfield inquired about
Tekeda's prognosis for the upcoming Ethiopian local elections
scheduled for April. Tekeda answered that, had the Kenyan
elections been held in an environment similar to years ago
when there was one dominant party, that there would be no
"vehicle for mobilization" of disgruntled Kenyan voters. He
then compared this with the current Ethiopian political
environment, where he pointed out, there is a very strong
ruling party. PDAS Thomas-Greenfield stressed that having a
weak opposition is contrary to the interest of the
development of Ethiopian democracy. Tekeda replied that the
opposition had had their chance to grow and enhance their

ADDIS ABAB 00000249 002.2 OF 002


political base in the 2005 elections, following "mistakes
committed by the ruling party." "However," Tekeda continued,
"the ruling party won't let that situation happen again, in
which they become complacent and arrogant." PDAS
Thomas-Greenfield outlined that a winner-take-all approach to
elections and democracy is detrimental and that the losers
need to be incorporated in the decision making process of the
government. Tekeda pointed out that the 2005 elections gave
the opposition significant gains, but that Ethiopia needs
responsible opposition, "not like Hailu Shawel" (Chairman of
the CUD coalition during the 2005 elections). "We almost
lost (control) after the 2005 elections," he said, "it was
very close." "The position taken by Washington at the time
was very helpful and helped us manage the situation. If the
US had followed the EU, it would have been very dangerous."
Tekeda concluded. (NOTE: The EU had declared the opposition
the winner in 2005 after a small sampling in urban areas.
With 70 percent of the population living in rural areas,
President Carter and the Carter Center declared the election
reflective of a win by the ruling party, which is now
accepted. END NOTE)

5. (U) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield
was unable to clear on this message before departing Addis
Ababa.
MALAC

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