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Cablegate: Pastoralists Highlight Ineffective Governance and Conflict

VZCZCXRO5261
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #3466/01 3401246
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061246Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8765
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 003466

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM EAID SCUL ET
SUBJECT: PASTORALISTS HIGHLIGHT INEFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE AND CONFLICT
CONCERNS

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Deputy Pol/Econ Chief and USAID/Ethiopia Senior Policy
Advisor (EmbOffs) attended a UNOCHA-coordinated pastoralist
conference in Hudet, Liben Zone, Somali Region, Ethiopia November
28-December 3. Pastoralists from throughout the Horn of Africa
convened in plenary and focus groups to address common concerns and
challenges. The gathering focused primarily on conflict and
conflict resolution in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, but also
addressed other challenges such as the loss of influence and power
of traditional authorities to formal governments, and the inability
of formal government structures to provide services and peace. End
Summary.

2. (U) Several hundred pastoralist elders from Ethiopia, Kenya,
Somalia, and Djibouti -- including representatives from all but one
of Somalia's 52 districts -- convened for this conference. Minister
Bashir Ali, Chairman of the Pastoralist Subcommittee in the
Ethiopian parliament, together with representatives from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the zonal and district
administrations, represented the Ethiopian government.
International observers were invited for the last two days of the
meeting, which was extended for an additional day at the last
minute. Local and international non-governmental organizations,
including Save the Children (US), Save the Children (UK),
Pastoralist Concern Association of Ethiopia (PCAE), and Save the
Rural Society (SRS) observed the proceedings.

PEACE AND SECURITY CONCERNS
---------------------------

3. (SBU) Discontent at the overall situation in the Somali Region
marked the tone of the gathering, although, by common consent, the
elders did not generally address the current political situation in
Somalia or in Ethiopia's Ogaden region in plenary sessions.
Generally, in plenary, the pastoralists identified 1) conflict over
grazing land and water resources, exacerbated by enclosures of land
for agriculture, and 2) bad governance as the primary drivers of
conflict in the Somali Region. With respect to governance,
complaints seemed largely to focus on the loss of influence and
power of traditional authorities within formal governments, and the
inability of formal government structures to provide services and
peace. Elders blamed this authority vacuum, as well as discontent
over the lack of effective government -- either "modern" or
"traditional" -- for clan and ethnic conflict and general
lawlessness.

4. (SBU) The pastoralists did, however, conclude that the Somali
people themselves have to stop inter-clan conflict and unite with
other pastoralists to press their interests to formal government
entities. Pastoralist infighting has prevented them from presenting
a united front. Considerable discussion centered on the need for
traditional authorities to be re-empowered, especially to be given
responsibility for conflict resolution and delivery of social
programs.

SIDEBAR DISCUSSIONS ON CONFLICT
-------------------------------

5. (SBU) In addition to the plenary sessions, a number of sidebars
were held between clans to attempt to resolve longstanding disputes.
While no specific agreements were announced, some communities did
resolve to continue their dialogue upon their return to their home
regions. Notably, the Afari delegation complained about the
aggression of the Issa Somalis, appealing to the wider Somali
community to restrain Issa encroachment on Afar lands. Several
evening meetings were devoted to this issue and Afar and Issa elders
agreed to continue to discuss, at a future date, a way forward.

6. (SBU) While largely avoided in plenary, Somalia and the Ogaden
dominated many of the sidebar discussions. U.S. observers were
able to meet with a number of elders from the Ogaden and other
areas. When they felt safe to do so, they complained of Ethiopian
government abuses in the Ogaden. Recounting events dated from the
beginning of 2007 to the past few months, they detailed a number of
human rights abuses that will be recorded septel.

LIVELIHOOD CONCERNS
-------------------

7. (U) In addition to conflict resolution, the pastoralists
identified a number of other concerns facing pastoralists in the
Somali Region. These include: 1) pastoralists' wealth is not
adequately recognized or appreciated by other segments of society;

ADDIS ABAB 00003466 002 OF 002


2) the market for pastoralists' trade (i.e. animal trade) is
nontransparent and dominated by middlemen - so pastoralists do not
receive fair value for their livestock; 3) land enclosures
(primarily for farming) are disrupting traditional migratory
practices - dry and wet season areas should be identified and
reserved for pastoralists; 4) land degradation (particularly
deforestation for charcoal) has harmed grazing lands and must be
addresses; 5) social services are inadequate in pastoralist lands
(for example, Warder zone has no bank and no livestock market,
forcing people to go Somalia - only to be accused by Ethiopian
authorities of engaging in illicit trade); and 6) wildlife has been
destroyed.

OUTCOMES/CONCLUSIONS
--------------------

8. (U) Full results of the meeting were being recorded in Somali by
Somali journalists, and will be published in Somali and English in
the coming weeks.
Ethiopia's Somali region pastoralists voted to form a pastoralist
association to protect and advocate on behalf of pastoralist
interests in the Somali region. The details of the association were
being hammered out as of the afternoon of December 2, but broadly
participation in the association is to be voluntary and
uncompensated. The members agreed to have a steering committee
consisting of 1) two representatives from each Somali region woreda;
2) one woman from each of the nine Somali region zones; and 3) two
technical experts. Membership on the steering committee was to be
restricted to persons present at the conference, but subject to
modification at a later date. The Sultan urged the pastoralists to
put aside clan/sub-clan differences and select representatives who
had the interests of the broader pastoralist community at heart.

9. (U) A number of Ethiopian government officials addressed the
gathering during procedural discussions on the proposed association.
Generally, they seemed to support the initiative but it is unclear
toward what end. Representatives included a number of Members of
Parliament, including the Chair of the Parliamentary Pastoralist
Committee, Behir Ali (Jijiga), and medium to low level officials of
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Federal Affairs.

YAMAMOTO

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