Ethiopia's Foreign Minister's lies exposed at the UN General Assembly
By: Sophia Tesfamariam
September 30, 2005

I can only imagine the disconcertment felt by Ethiopians as the shameless, deceptive prevaricator Seyoum Mesfin, the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia presented his hollow statement at the 60th Session of the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2005. Ethiopians in Ethiopia, and in the Diaspora, must have been embarrassed to read and hear his distorted statement, in which he attempted to present his vote rigging minority regime as legitimate, law abiding, peace seeking and rational when the whole world already knows that the minority regime in Ethiopia, led by the defiant, street smart, deceptive, flip flopping Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is a thugocratic regime that is not only racist, expansionist and aggressive, but one that is ruling Ethiopia through the force of the gun.

Seyoum Mesfin's shallow 23 September 2005 statement at the UN General Assembly is not much different from those he has given in the past, in which he told brazen lies without even blinking an eye. I am not sure why he bothers to come all the way to New York, the information capital of the world, to spew his lies. Surely, he must know that anything he says can be checked for veracity. It is not my intention today to re-visit his lies-filled statement or to give it more attention than it deserves, but I would like clarify, for the record, two issues which the Foreign Minister chose to lie about. The first issue is related to the May Ethiopian elections, and the second issue is related to the Eritrea Ethiopia border demarcation.

The May Ethiopian Elections

Trying to cover up his regime's crimes against the people of Ethiopia, the massacres of innocent Ethiopians who were protesting the rigging of the Ethiopian elections, and in a futile attempt to hide the internationally known truth, and mislead some gullible in the audience, the Ethiopian Foreign Minister said:

"...The recent elections in Ethiopia, despite all the complications and the absence of a tradition of loyal opposition, has demonstrated the depth of commitment we have to transform the governance tradition in Ethiopia ---a tradition which has been as remote from democracy as it is possible to be. These elections stand out as a milestone in the process of democratization of the state and the society at large. Ethiopia has entered into a new era of vibrant multi-party political system..."

The truth about the Ethiopian May elections and the crimes perpetrated by Meles Zenawi's regime are known to all.  The elections were fraudulent and rigged. The detention of thousands across Ethiopia, the murders, the intimidations, harassments etc. etc. by Meles Zenawi's security and military apparatus (which are now under his total control) have all been exposed in numerous articles, news reports, interviews, letters to the European Union and US State Department, and in reports by human rights groups in the region. 40 Ethiopians were massacred in cold blood in Addis Ababa on 9 June 2005 for exercising their right to protest. So I am not sure who Seyoum Mesfin thought he was fooling with that erroneous statement.

Even today, almost 5 months later, hundreds of opposition members and their supporters are being arrested, intimidated, harassed and killed. The truth of the matter is that the democratization process in Ethiopia has been reversed, whether Seyoum Mesfin wants to acknowledge that fact or not. Other than making himself a diplomatic laughing stock, Seyoum Mesfin accomplished very little with his lies at the UN. Nobody was fooled by his false statements. The truth and the facts are all over the airwaves...

As everyone knows, the Ethiopian elections were not only "marred by irregularities", they also failed to meet international democratic standards and today, almost five months later, remain contested and unresolved despite efforts by a long queue of foreign diplomats and officials (donors who have backed the regime politically, diplomatically and financially) searching for ways to salvage Meles' rule. Not only did the ruling party declare victory before the votes were even counted and certified, but its hand picked and appointed Ethiopian National Election Board (ENEB), declared it the winner. Adding insult to injury, the ENCB had the audacity to turn around and announce that members of the minority regime who had been overwhelmingly defeated in the May elections "regained their seats in the re-run polls" which were held in August. One of those who "regained" his seat is Bereket Simon, the infamous Ethiopian Minister of MisInformation. Only in Ethiopia!

Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on the continued crackdown, detention, and intimidation of Ethiopian opposition members and their supporters by the minority regime's security and military apparatus in its 27 September 2005 report. AFP reported:

"...Just one day after reporting that 43 opposition members had been detained for alleged subversion in northern Tigray state, the official Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) said 80 people had been arrested on similar charges in southern Oromia state and another three south of the capital... Protests over the election results have already turned violent, with at least 36 and as many as 42 people killed when police opened fire on crowds during demonstrations in the capital in June.."

The minority regime in Ethiopia is attempting to suppress the voice of the Ethiopian people, denying them the right to peaceful protest as guaranteed by the Ethiopian Constitution, by issuing extra-constitutional decrees and threatening them with violence. Meanwhile the international community is issuing toothless statements, blaming the victims and the criminals equally.

The demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia Border

The Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, an inveterate liar, insulting the intelligence of the international community and the Ethiopian people, attempted to hoodwink them by misrepresenting the issues surrounding the demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border. While the issue is Ethiopia's rejection of the final and binding decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) delivered on 13 April 2002, and Ethiopia's refusal to allow for the speedy demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border in accordance with that decision and the EEBC's demarcation directives, orders and procedures without preconditions, feigning innocence and in a futile, old and tired attempt to portray Eritrea as the aggressor, Seyoum Mesfin said:

"...officially threatened to use force against Ethiopia based on the unfounded allegation that part of Eritrean territory is under Ethiopian occupation... Any suggestion, as the one made by the Eritrean representative on Wednesday, that Eritrean territory is occupied, is a mockery of the truth, and an insult to the intelligence of the international community..."

Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, the whole world knows that ever since 13 April 2002, when the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) delivered its final and binding decision, Badme and other sovereign Eritrean territories have been under Ethiopian military occupation. 

The Commission, in its 13 April 2002 Decision and in subsequent responses to Ethiopia's endless attempts to amend, change, revisit and revise, the final and binding decision, have unanimously and unequivocally stated that Badme was sovereign Eritrean territory. Ethiopia has rejected the EEBC decision and has refused to allow for the demarcation of the border in accordance with that decision and the EEBC's demarcation directives, orders and procedures.

As to what Seyoum Mesfin shamelessly claims in his statement to be "unfounded allegation that part of Eritrean territory is under Ethiopian occupation", I would like to remind the Foreign Minister of his Prime Minister's interview with IRIN on 29 October 2003, in which, Meles Zenawi defiantly admitted that Ethiopia was militarily occupying Badme by saying:

"As you know there is an Ethiopian army there [in Badme]. The only way it [taking possession] can be done is by removing the Ethiopian army and the Ethiopian administration"  

Since the Border Commissioners have stated that Badme is unequivocally sovereign Eritrean territory how does the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia justify his regime's military occupation of Badme? If not occupation, what would he have Eritrea call it? If you ask me, the mockery of justice and the rule of law is the minority regime's rejection of the EEBC decision, its flagrant violations of international law, reneging on agreements it willingly and consciously signed and the Security Council's continued reluctance to take appropriate punitive actions against it.

Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, ever since the EEBC delivered its final and binding decision, Eritrea has made numerous calls on the international community, as witnesses and guarantors of the Algiers Agreement of 2000, to urge your minority regime to abide by international law and allow the demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border in accordance with the EEBC decision without delays and pre-conditions. Eritrea has been calling on the UN Security Council to honor its legal and moral obligations under Article 14 of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities as well as Articles 41 and 42 of the UN Charter to use all available mechanisms available to it to enforce the Algiers Agreement and the Border Commission's decision.

According to Article 14 of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia on 18 June 2000 in Algiers:

"The OAU and the United Nations commit themselves to guarantee the respect for this commitment of the two Parties until the determination of the common border on the basis of pertinent colonial treaties and applicable international law... This guarantee shall be comprised of... measures to be taken by the international community should one or both of the Parties violate this commitment, including appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter by the UN Security Council..."

And Article 41 of the UN Charter states:

"The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations"

So far the Security Council has not taken any punitive actions against Ethiopia and its inaction has emboldened Meles Zenawi to act and talk even more irrationally, erratically and with impunity. Under international law, the UN Security Council does not have the option of non-action; it cannot shirk off its responsibilities to UN member states like Eritrea. But it has.

Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, the international community and the UN Security Council which has decided to leave the issue to the "two parties" cannot expect Eritreans to do nothing; remain perpetually patient and magnanimous while Eritrea's security is at risk and Eritrea's sovereignty and territorial integrity is being violated by Ethiopia and international law is eroded. As you well know Mr. Foreign Minister, Article 51 of the UN Charter recognizes Eritrea's inherent right of self-defense.  Article 51 of the UN Charter clearly states the following:

"Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security"

Eritrea's inherent right to self defense is justified under international law and the UN Charter because:

  1. There is an armed attack/ military occupation. Ethiopia's army is militarily occupying sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme.
  2. There is no practicable alternative or it is demonstrably unavailable. The authority, the UN Security Council, which has the legal powers to stop or prevent the infringement, has so far refused to take any appropriate punitive deterrent actions against your regime. Ethiopia's provocative resettlement of Tigrayans on sovereign Eritrean territories continues unabated, and Ethiopia has obstructed the work of the Border Commission and has refused to allow it to fulfill its mandate to demarcate the Eritrea Ethiopia border in accordance with the EEBC's final and binding decision. Subsequently, after waiting for Ethiopia's compliance and cooperation for over three years, the EEBC has closed shop and left the area.
  3. There is urgent necessity. There are over 70,000 Eritreans who have been forced to live in makeshift camps since the minority regime's army is militarily occupying their villages. This is twice the number of internally displaced Americans (around 35,000) who took refuge in the Louisiana astrodome during hurricane Katrina's attack on the South. Moreover, the demarcation process, which should have been completed 3 years ago has come to a screeching halt because Ethiopia refuses to unequivocally accept the final and binding decision of the independent Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission and allow the demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border in accordance with that decision and without pre-conditions.

For the 3 reasons mentioned above and more, Eritrea has the right to liberate her sovereign territories and will not seek permission or approval from those who did not fulfill their legal and moral obligations.

Seyoum Mesfin must be suffering from some kind of amnesia. How can he forget regime's propaganda during the 1998-2000 Eritrea Ethiopia war? Why else then would he deliberately lie to the UN General Assembly again? Why would he shamelessly proclaim that:

"...The problem between Ethiopia and Eritrea has never been, and is not, legal. It is rather political..."

Since when do nations resolve their political differences by waging war?

If the problems were just political why then did you launch three successive offensives and cause so much destruction and death?

If the issue was political, was it necessary to sacrifice the lives of over 120,000 Ethiopians who died thinking they were defending Ethiopia's sovereignty?

Since your own Prime Minister in his 19 September 2003 letter to UN Secretary Kofi Annan calls Badme "the casus belli for the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea", how then can you call that a political problem?

Mr. Foreign Minister, after all these years of listening to your doublespeak, lies and distortion, I have to tell you that even for a lay person like myself, you have become very predictable and your language transparent. Renaming the "problem" is not going to make it go away, nor will it absolve you of your legal obligations. The Eritrea Ethiopia border demarcation issue is a legal matter that must be enforced, and not a political one, which would be a bilateral matter and one that is left to the two parties. Nice try Mr. Foreign Minister, but nobody is buying your thinly veiled (newly discovered) deceptive gimmick.

Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, you are fooling yourself. Everybody knows that your regime's incessant and deceptive calls for "dialogue" with Eritrea are nothing more than your regime's attempt to amend, change, revisit and revise the final and binding EEBC decision-to get Badme. No amount of tantrums, "initiatives", "proposals", "announcements", "declarations", "calls" etc. etc. will absolve Meles Zenawi's minority regime of its legal obligations. Sooner or later, the regime will be forced to respect the rule of law.

As for political problems, I'll say the minority regime has its hands full in Ethiopia. The manner with which the lawless, belligerent Meles Zenawi's minority regime is handling Ethiopia's domestic problems, by vilifying, harassing, insulting, threatening and using force against its opponents, is not any different from the manner with which it handles its legal problems. What else can we expect from a backward and irrational bunch of thugs who live by the law of the jungle?

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!