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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ethiopia's Western Boundary ??

Tedla Asfaw

I still remember Gaston a South Sudanese who went with me in 1970s, a high school in Addis, Asfaw Wossen. He spoke better English than me. We used to go to piaza where he introduced me to his favorite meal, "Lazagna". He was well dressed and smart guy. However, I did not talk to him about his birth place or how he came to Addis for schooling. We just were happen to go to same class and we got along very well.

More than three decades later I do not know where Gaston is, if he is still alive. But his people are now voting to become the youngest nation in Africa and I wish them all the best. Both North and South Sudan have long border with Ethiopia and the border delineation like old African colonial borders brought unnecessary conflicts and tensions. Both Haile Selassie and Mengistu  worked closely with Khartoum regimes with no result.

Beshir,  Meles Zenawi's ally reached a secret deal few years ago, and was awarded huge land from North Metema to Gambella, 1200 km long x 50 km,  parts of that deal covered  South Sudan. This secret deal is not only illegal but also criminal. Any deal which is not transparent and that does not include the local people is not accepted by the Ethiopian people.

When the secret deal was uncovered, Ethiopians in the Diaspora organized and set up a Border Committee to expose all the activities carried out behind the peoples back. This committee prepared petition to be signed and sent to international organizations. Meles Zenawi finally admitted in his rubber stamp parliament that there was a deal and  no land was given to Sudan.

In fact he said that he gave what was Sudan to Sudan. There were Ethiopians who were displaced and kidnapped by Khartoum militias. Some were interviewed in VOA from their prison in Khartoum. Since then the tension has been high in border areas in the North West and the coming of independent South Sudan I am afraid will encourage North Sudan to take fertile land of Western Ethiopia to compensate the land it lost in South.

South Sudan has to be careful not to be trapped by TPLF dominated regime of Ethiopia and start animosity to the people who are living in border area. In Ethiopia there is no accountability and transparency. Huge land in Gambella and BninShanguel is now transferred under long lease to foreign land owners.

The people of Gambella and Benishanguel are protesting and conflict is certain which  will affect directly South Sudan. South Sudan  should not side with the Ethiopian regime who is terrorizing its people to submit to foreign landlords and be enslaved on their soil. Reports are coming that many are killed in Gambella and those who exposed the regime on media like BBC and VOA are running for their lives.

The friendship of Ethiopians in individual as well as neighborly basis  is beyond regimes. Regimes can come and go but our people have to overcome conflicts that are designed to divide us while our masters are profiting from the natural resources of our land. I would like South Sudan to be prosperous,democratic and transparent nation which will be an example for its neighbors that are currently run by warlord mafia types. The young nation should not  be part of any war with the Ethiopian people.