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Cablegate: Ethiopia: Bi-Weekly Report September 29 2006

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DE RUEHDS #2650/01 2750502
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R 020502Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2678
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 002650

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TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ETRD ECON KFLU ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: BI-WEEKLY REPORT SEPTEMBER 29 2006

1. The following reports compiled over the last two weeks
illustrate the variety of economic, political, and social
developments occurring in Ethiopia.

POLITICAL
---------

Kidnapped Red Cross Workers Released

1. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
reported September 24 that two of its staff kidnapped by the
United Western Somali Liberation Front rebel group near the
town of Gode in Ethiopia's southeastern Ogaden region had
been released. ICRC said the two had been released unharmed
and without condition. The rebel group claimed to be
fighting for the rights of ethnic Somalis in western Somalia
and eastern Ethiopia and warned foreign energy firms against
operating in the Somali region. ICRC resumed operations
after the kidnappings had prompted a temporary suspension of
activities in the region.

3.3 Million Year-Old Toddler Discovered in Ethiopia

2. The skeleton of a three year-old girl who died 3.3
million years ago was discovered in the northeastern
Ethiopian region of Afar and is said to be the most complete
skeleton of the juvenile human ancestor Australopithecus
Afarensis ever found. According to experts, the skeletons
completeness, antiquity, and age at death combine to make
this finding unprecedented in the history of
paleoanthropology, and opens new research avenues to
investigate the childhood of early human ancestors.
Discovered in an area called Dikika, the fossil of the child,
named Selam by her discoverers, belongs to the same family
best know for the adult skeleton nicknamed Lucy.

EPRDF to Convene Conference Focusing on Development and Good
Governance

3. The EPRDF convened its sixth regular conference September
24 aiming to address good governance and development issues
at the national level. Conference Organizing Committee
Chairman Taddese Kassa said that good governance was chosen
as one of the conference's topics as it is the basis for
rapid development and creation of democratic order.
Representatives from academia, business as well as the
African National Congress, the Communist Party of China,
Rwanda, from Yemen, Uganda and Sudan also attended the
conference as observers.

Bereket Simon Declines Party Spot

4. Head of the Political Department of the EPRDF Bereket
Simon declined to continue on as chairman of the Amhara
National Democratic Movement (ANDM) citing the need for "new
blood" to take over. The former Minister of Information
served as ANDM deputy chairman for nearly seven years and has
been a member since the party's inception 26 years ago.
Bereket currently holds the position of Media Advisor to the
Prime Minister.

Business Executives for National Security (BENS) Visits
October 12-13

5. At the request of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of
Africa Commander RADM Richard Hunt, business leaders from
BENS will visit Ethiopia October 12-13 to familiarize
themselves with U.S. military training operations and meet
with GOE officials and business leaders.

ECONOMIC
--------

$20 Million Agribusiness and Trade Expansion Program Launched

6. USAID and its contractor, Fintrac, launched a $20 million
agribusiness and trade expansion program on September 19.
More than 400 representatives from the business, farming,
sectoral, government and donor communities attended. In the
first three years, this project will support four key sectors
-- coffee, horticulture/floriculture, oilseeds/pulses,
hides/skins/leather products -- to increase sales and exports
by $450 million in national, regional, and international
markets.

Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO)

7. The first national seminar for phyto-sanitary and
sanitary measures was held in Ethiopia with a WTO expert
leading the workshops. More than 50 participants from the
Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Trade and
Industry, and Health were trained on WTO accession rules and
sample national standards and certification.

ADDIS ABAB 00002650 002 OF 002

Ethiopian Airlines Rated Africa's Best

8. Ethiopian Airlines was named African Airline of the Year
by the African Aviation Journal. According to the journal,
Ethiopian won due to its financial performance,
profitability, passenger growth, route network expansion,
fleet modernization, inflight services and overall customer
care. Ethiopian Chief Executive Officer Girma Wake received
the award in South Africa from Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Aviation and International Affairs Susan McDernoff.

DEVELOPMENT
-----------

Ambassador Signs Small Grants for FY06

9. The mission's small projects program held its annual
signing ceremony for FY06 recipients of the Ambassador's
special self-help and democracy and human rights grants.
Ambassador Huddleston authorized 11 projects totaling
$155,000 for communities in each of Ethiopia's 11
administrative regions. Among the projects made possible by
this year's grants were initiatives to provide potable water
for a school and surrounding community in the Oromiya region,
to produce a nationwide radio program that raises awareness
of issues facing disabled persons, and to establish a
telephone hotline through which women in Addis Ababa can
obtain legal assistance against abuse and discrimination.


USAID Works to Improve Distribution of Health Commodities

10. On September 25, USAID Mission Director and
representatives from the Amhara Regional Health Bureau and
Regional Council inaugurated renovations to the Central
Warehouse for health commodities in Bahir Dar. This
intervention will help essential health products flow
efficiently through the warehouse and improve the supply and
distribution of health commodities to service delivery
points. Ultimately, it will help the logistics system to
fulfill the "six rights" of logistics management: to ensure
that the right products are available in the right
quantities, in the right condition are delivered to the right
place, at the right time, for the right cost.

Acute Watery Diarrhea

11. The GOE reports that the number of cases of AWD has
risen to 20,900, including 199 deaths. AWD continues to be
of concern in 61 woredas, not including the Somali Region,
where there are unconfirmed reports of the disease. To date
USAID has provided $50,000 and $48,800 to the SNNPR and
Oromiya, respectively, regional health bureaus for logistics
and procurement of water purification products. There are
unconfirmed reports that the National Laboratory confirmed
that the causative agent for AWD is viviro cholera subtype
01. However, neither the government nor WHO has declared a
cholera emergency in Ethiopia.

ENVIRONMENT
-----------

U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Technical Assistance to Ethiopia

12. Two U.S. Forest Service experts will visit Ethiopia in
mid-October to provide technical assistance to the Amhara and
Tigray water bureaus as a component of the broader ongoing
Integrated Water Resource Management project. The USFS
technical assistance will focus on improving the capacity of
the water bureaus to monitor watershed conditions and
implement management interventions to address water quality
and quantity issues.

CONSULAR
--------

Diversity Visa Allocation Met

13. Ethiopia reached its allocated 3,500 diversity visas
September 22 for FY2006. Post's DV2008 campaign, which will
provide application instructions and general information,
will begin October 2.
HUDDLESTON

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