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Cablegate: Addis Ababa Eac Meets to Assess Security Situation Related

DE RUEHDS #2620/01 2350928
R 230928Z AUG 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 80096

1. (SBU) On August 22, the Addis Ababa Emergency Action Committee
(EAC) met to assess the security situation in regards to the
Ethiopian Millennium (celebrated September 12). EAC members present
Peace Corps, Health Unit, MGT, PAS, the U.S. Mission to the African
Union, MSG, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and RSO.

--------------------------------------------- --
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2. (SBU) Thousands of visitors (primarily Ethiopians returning from
the Diaspora) are expected to visit Ethiopia throughout the year for
the Millennium celebrations (reftel). The primary Millennium
celebrations will occur the evening of September 11 at a large
public venue in Addis Ababa near Bole International airport. A
recently constructed concrete, steel frame, and fiberglass structure
(similar to an aircraft hanger) will serve as the main venue and is
expected to accommodate 15,000-20,000 guests. This structure will
have two floors: the ground floor for the general public and a
second-floor balcony for VIPs. With a little more then three weeks
to go, this venue still requires extensive construction (completion
of the perimeter wall, site grading/preparation and completion of
the building and other facilities). According to event organizers,
celebrations will be simulcast to large billboard-size televisions
in at least two venues in Addis Ababa (one directly adjacent to the
main venue and the other located at a major square/traffic
intersection in the center of Addis Ababa), as well as to other
similar venues throughout the country. A private Millennium event
will also be held at the Addis Ababa Sheraton hotel.

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3. (SBU) It is difficult to determine the number of visitors to
Addis Ababa for the immediate Millennium period. While many major
hotels in Addis Ababa report being fully booked for the Millennium,
and many home-owners are leasing their private residences to
visitors, tickets for commercial air carriers into Ethiopia during
this period are still available. The Millennium celebrations will
undoubtedly draw significant interest of the local population within
Addis Ababa and the surrounding environs.


4. (SBU) The musical band the Black Eyed Peas are also expected to
perform in Addis during the Millennium. Most local citizens will
view the event for free at the two public venues. Additionally, the
Great Ethiopian Run will take place o/a September 9-10 and is
expected to draw large crowds to Addis Ababa.


5. (SBU) Obviously there is concern among the Government of Ethiopia
(GOE) regarding ensuring security for this event as well as
throughout the city. Not only is the current threat in the region
high, but also this event falls on the anniversary of September 11
and occurs when the GOE is actively engaged in military operations
in Somalia and a counter-insurgency campaign in the volatile Ogaden
region. Possible threats include extremists from Somalia, the
Ogadeni National Liberation Front (ONLF), the Oromo Liberation Front
(OLF), al-Qaeda (who publicly declared Ethiopia to be a viable
target after Ethiopia's December 2006 military intervention in
Somalia), Eritrea, and other indigenous terrorist/opposition groups.
The GOE assures us they are taking all necessary precautions to
ensure security. During the past several weeks, the GOE has stepped
up vehicle inspection security check-points on all roads leading
into Addis Ababa and reported the uncovering of two possible
terrorist plots. Increased police and security service presence was
also noticeable in Addis Ababa. Ensuring security for such a large
and high profile event in the current threat environment would be a
monumental task for any country, more so for Ethiopia with its law
enforcement, defense and security services already heavily engaged
on three fronts (Ogaden region, Somalia, and Eritrea).

6. (SBU) The event organizers advise there will be access control
and security screening at the primary Millennium venue. It will be
more difficult to secure the public Millennium venues, and even more
difficult to secure the crowded streets and countless private
entertainment venues. All these venues present viable and lucrative
terrorist targets.


ADDIS ABAB 00002620 002 OF 003

7. (SBU) While there is a good chance Ethiopia's Millennium
celebration will pass without noteworthy incident, given the current
threat in the region, this event poses a significant security
concern and challenge. In the best case scenario (nothing happens),
the Embassy is anticipating the following security concerns:

--Commercial communications (cell phone and land-lines) are
disrupted or otherwise unavailable. The large influx of visitors
could easily over-burden commercial communications networks, making
them unavailable. In the past, the GOE has also cut off commercial
communications networks (primarily cell phone) as a security

--Severe vehicular traffic and pedestrian congestion, making it
difficult to easily move around the capital, Addis Ababa;

--Road closures and security checkpoints;

--Significantly enhanced host country police and security service
presence around Addis Ababa and environs;

--Enhanced security at major hotels;

--Local cafes, night clubs, restaurants and other entertainment
venues will most likely experience significantly increased
patronage. Most have little if any security;

--Increased request for American citizen services from visitors who
get into trouble, are the victims of crime, or who require other
Embassy assistance;

--Increased possibility of petty street crime;

--Possibility of crowd control issues at the public venues;

--Possibility of crowd and access control issues at the Millennium
venue near the airport;

--Possibility of increased motor vehicle accidents, especially late
at night due to intoxicated drivers;

--Delayed response due to traffic congestion of Embassy security and
emergency response personnel to situations that arise.


8. (SBU) The current Consular Affairs East Africa warning cautions
American citizens to avoid "prominent places." The official
Ethiopian Millennium celebration venues would most certainly fall
into this category. In addition, the EAC deemed it prudent to advise
official Americans to undertake the following precautions:

--Do not attend or go to any of the public Millennium celebration
venues. If in Addis Ababa, stay close to home during the Millennium

--Avoid prominent places and large crowds;

--Embassy personnel who have a official representational requirement
to attend the Millennium events will do so in an organized manner
coordinated by the RSO, staying at the event for the shortest time
possible in accordance with protocol and security concerns;

--Have a three-to-four-day supply of food and water at residences in
the event one is unable to move around town;

--Ensure adequate cash currency (local and USD) is on hand for

--Carry and monitor embassy-issued two-way radios at all times.
Post recently received 200 additional two-way radios to issue to
USDH, MOH, and EFM personnel. These radios will serve as back-up
communications in the event commercial cell and landline phone
networks are unavailable, and as primary communications in the event
of a developing security situation requiring rapid notification of
the Mission community;

--In the event of a major incident, all official Americans will be
subject to rapid recall to ensure accountability and provide
whatever assistance is required in accordance with Post's Emergency
Action Plan and their abilities;

--Ensure fuel tanks of vehicles and generators are filled;

--The Mission is taking precautions to stage armored vehicles, and
ambulances with medical supplies and drivers, at various locations

ADDIS ABAB 00002620 003 OF 003

around Addis Ababa, to provide enhanced response in the event of
traffic congestion;

--Mission satellite phones will be assigned to key locations and
individuals to ensure communications in the event of disruption of
local commercial communications networks. The numbers/assignments
will be forwarded to the Department (SEPTEL);

--An ALDAC has already been issued (reftel) advising USG personnel
to defer official travel to Ethiopia during this period;

--All three RSOs will be in-country during the Millennium and in
close contact with other international security chiefs, host country
law enforcement/security services, and other relevant contacts;

--The Ambassador will limit embassy operations for a four day period
(Sep. 11-14) during the Millennium. Most Embassy personnel will
have a difficult time getting to work. Essential personnel will be
on duty or available;

--Official personnel are prohibited from traveling (official and
personnel) within Ethiopia (outside Addis Ababa) during this period;

--Security posture at the Embassy and other official locations
(USAID and CDC) is already good. Post's local guard force (LGF) and
surveillance detection team (SDT) have been briefed regarding the
situation and will be on a heightened state of alert.


9. (SBU) Post's consular section will work with the Department to
draft and release a warden notice reminding American citizens to
avoid prominent places and regarding the elevated threat in East
Africa (especially Ethiopia) due to ongoing events in the region.

10. (U) Direct any questions regarding this matter to RSO Addis


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