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PM Abiy: No Power and Cranes in Eritrea’s Port

On September 5, 2018, Dr. Abiy Ahmed visited Assab, Eritrea. It was one of several visits he made to Eritrea since he assumed power in the spring of 2018.

Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki have met, in Eritrea and Ethiopia, at least ten-times during the last seven-months.

A website affiliated to the ruling party of Eritrea reported that the Ethiopian prime minister and Isaias Afwerki  “travelled 71 kilometers southeast to observe the highway … linking the port of Assab to Ethiopia.” The website added, “The highway and the port of Assab are expected to become fully operational in three months following the required renovations.

According to a source who accompanied the officials on the road inspection trip,  “the ministry of information edited out most of the scenes of the eroded highway and left only a small stretch of the road that still had an asphalt layer to be shown on television.”

The website reported that, “Despite externally instigated challenges, the Government and People of Eritrea have continued investing on the port city.”

A Visit to Massawa

After spending the morning in the Assab region, the two leaders traveled to Massawa which is the second largest Eritrean port city.

The port of Assab and the road to Ethiopia have been neglected since the 1998-2000 border war between the two countries.

Last September, Ethiopian and Eritrean government media reported that the port of Assab and the road linking it to Ethiopia will be rehabilitated and be operational in three-months. Six-months after the announcement, the road and ports are yet to be repaired. And once the task begins, it could take many months more to accomplish.

Recently, PM Abiy disclosed that Eritrea doesn’t have the necessary funds to rehabilitate the port facilities and the highway to the Ethiopian border. He said the Eritrean government confirms that the “road is damaged, it hasn’t been operation for twenty years.’ And the officials say’, “the road needs design, … funds to repair it, …. [and] there is no power and no cranes [in the port].”

Last week, in a meeting at the ‘Sheraton Addis Hotel’, Dr Abiy Ahmed responded to different questions one of which was about the “Eritrean-Ethiopian peace agreement” that he concluded with Isaias Afwerki. Many Ethiopians and Eritreans have made charges that the peace agreement has not been institutionalized and there has not been much progress since it was signed.

For the first time in his response, PM Abiy acknowledged that he is dealing with a partner in the projects, whereas in the past his statements seemed as if “he spoke on behalf of both countries.”

The following is the English translation of part of Dr Abiy Ahmed’s explanation related to the use of the Red Sea port and the status of the road that links it to Ethiopia:

Translation of Abiy’s Amharic Explanation

“…We want to use Eritrean ports, for reasons you know. When we request from the Eritrean government to use the ports, they say, the road is damaged it hasn’t been operation for twenty-years, we need to repair it, And to repair the road we need design, and we need funds to repair the road, the port wasn’t functional for twenty-years, there is no power and no cranes, we have to accomplish this and that, And that requires financing. We need to prepare.

When they say that, we have to prepare by repairing our [side of road] and we should not tell them to start with the available roads [they have]. There is no such diplomacy. If we can we help, we will provide financing, but commissions, on security, on economy, on diplomacy–a ministerial team has been set-up and they are working together. Numerous papers have been prepared–in case there is anyone who might be worried. Why is it that the issue of Eritrea and Ethiopia [is not dealt with] in a simpler way, [maybe] in six-months, in a quicker manner… I don’t know. Anyway, even if I don’t know to what extent it has advanced, the thinking might be…

Sudan [compared] to the past, for the last 20 years, the [kind of] relation it has with Ethiopia, it didn’t have for the last 100 years. It’s very strong [relation], consider it a family type [relation], There is a strong relation. But we have not solved our border problems [with Sudan]. It’s not solved, So, it is not that it’s solved with one [side] and not with the other. Regional power, regional relations, are strengthened, by… first, it’s internal peace, military power, economic growth, and also, not what we do out of excessive ego, but when we add to it our readiness to talk with respect . But with regards to our policy, as you heard me in my talks with the diplomats, it needs revision. It needs revision. It’s not neighbor-focused, but studied through forming a team, by organizing scholars. The government has ideas, it will make it participatory, and after we discuss the policies, it will be known as foreign policy.”

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  • Mokie Berhe

    Salam All. Congratulations to Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who has been named as laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for his actions in the region and, in particular, for having been the instigator of a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

  • bmi1
  • Bahri

    Hi everyone,
    Awate team should have given credit to Haile Menkerios by asking Abiy that the Isaias agreement with Ethiopia/Abiy is not sustainable as the Eritrean people were not consented and there is no institutional mechanism on the Eritrean side to be valid; rather than whitewash it by “Many Ethiopians and Eritreans have made charges that the peace agreement has not been institutionalized and there has not been much progress since it was signed.” Whatever you think about Haile’s role in Eritrea as a former official of the Eritrean government, credit should have been acknowledged in your piece as it should. Because of his former status as UN official he was bold enough to tell Abiy: the emperor has no clothes i.e. Isaias. I presume Isaias has goons in Ethiopia and Haile was bold enough and not afraid for his safety. We need more like him. Abiy’s answers were sycophantic by saying don’t evaluate partially (Tchelf Gemgema) and other asinine diatribe.

  • kazanchis

    Hello Everyone,

    Abiy Ahmed is self aggrandizing, half baked and extremely concerned about his image or appearance than setting up clearer directions and humble enough to listen other opinions. He has had his honeymoon time and now dissenting voices are resurfacing. His meteoric rise is fast declining, it is a worrying time as Ethiopian.
    As for Eritrea, you guys are safe, don’t be concerned. Since, we are in a far worst precarious situation heading straight into uncharted territory than yours out of his depth, Isu.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Awatistas,

    I am inviting you to read a touchy article posted at Asmarino. com, titled : “Can Eritrea be Eritrea Again” by Tewolde Stephanos.

    Here are my take home quotation from his piece:

    (a) “We are in love with a geography that can’t love us back. In fact, geography is like a prostitute. It doesn’t even care whose flag is planted on it.” Spot on.

    (b) “Our priorities are upside down. Eritreans drown in the Mediterranean and other nations show compassion and hang their flags half-mast. Not Eritrea. Awet nHafash has never (as in never) matched words with deeds (awaj of the day:” We love slogans that doesn’t match to our action.

  • Hope

    Hello All:
    A good summary of the timely Press Conference.
    Am not sure why people are trying to make out something negative from this Press conference.
    The poor PM just stated the facts and the truth.
    :
    “Recently, PM Abiy disclosed that Eritrea doesn’t have the necessary funds to rehabilitate the port facilities and the highway to the Ethiopian border. He said the Eritrean government confirms that the “road is damaged, it hasn’t been operation for twenty years.’ And the officials say’, “the road needs design, … funds to repair it, …. [and] there is no power and no cranes [in the port].”

    That is true though,isn’t it?he asked the EU for help on behalf of Eritrea(hirrir bela ghiddi)and he managed to get more than $25 Million for those damaged roads,which were non-operational ones including the Aseb Port for more than 20 yrs.
    Rather than appreciating his effort Eritrea by doing what he has done thus far,we are looking for some non-existent loopholes to degrade and demonize the Innocent and the good-hearted PM.

    “Last week, in a meeting at the ‘Sheraton Addis Hotel’, Dr Abiy Ahmed responded to different questions one of which was about the “Eritrean-Ethiopian peace agreement” that he concluded with Isaias Afwerki. Many Ethiopians and Eritreans have made charges that the peace agreement has not been institutionalized and there has not been much progress since it was signed:”

    That is true and its our obligation s Eritreans not just of the Ethio Media to enforce and lobby for that noble cause in an organized manner.
    But Dr AAA has done his part and i don ot believe he shoul dbe blamed for the failure of PIA…as he is exactly told us by saying:

    ” ….we should not tell them to start with the available roads [they have]. There is no such diplomacy. If we can we help, we will provide financing, but commissions, on security, on economy, on diplomacy–a ministerial team has been set-up and they are working together…”

    The Gedeb news declared and quoted the GoE:

    “The website reported that, “Despite externally instigated challenges, the Government and People of Eritrea have continued investing on the port city.”

    Isn’t that true that the GoE has been sanctioned,isolated,contained sabotaged in all aspects and fronts from and thru all kinds of War Fronts to near death and yet,survived all these threats and challenges and has STOOD FIRM and TALLER,STRONGER, and of utmost importance,came out the WINNER against all odds?

    “The port of Assab and the road to Ethiopia have been neglected since the 1998-2000 border war between the two countries”.

    True, but why should not we elaborate a bit as to why and as to who the culprit has been behind this devastating sabotage?

    I am just saying out of curiosity.

    “For the first time in his response, PM Abiy acknowledged that he is dealing with a partner in the projects, whereas in the past his statements seemed as if “he spoke on behalf of both countries.”

    I disagree with that statement as it is NOT correct since both Govts have declared jointly and separately about those projects.

    We should NOT conveniently interpret out of context what the Good Doctor says just for the sake of propaganda as we are confusing the ill/un-informed Audience.

    Finally,I hope the latest “propaganda” campaign by the PFDJ officials at home and now here in the USA starting in Houston,will clarify the confusion seemingly propagated and sponsored by the Digital Weyane about Meddemer and selling of Eritrea.

    Ethio-Eritrea Border issue:

    “Sudan [compared] to the past, for the last 20 years, the [kind of] relation it has with Ethiopia, it didn’t have for the last 100 years. It’s very strong [relation], consider it a family type [relation], There is a strong relation. But we have not solved our border problems [with Sudan]. It’s not solved, So, it is not that it’s solved with one [side] and not with the other”.

    I guess he is telling us that we need some time and it will be done within the schedule and as planned..bekedem teketel due to some unforeseen and unexpected hindrance by none but the same hanquelti and Spoilers,who ,in fact ,are publicly advocating for the overthrow of Dr AAA and his govt by conspiring with the OLF as we speak,not to mention that they have been working hard to kick out or keep PIA isolated…thru various means and tactics..

    It is also rumored the the TPLF is preparing for an Independent Tigrai Republic by inviting the EU and Scandinavian countries plus Pakistan,Turkey and Israel thus far.in the name of diplomacy and development.

    Kudos and good luck to them.

    • Saleh Johar

      Hope,
      First, why do you write in a vengeful way—hrr bela, etc? Can’t you just put your opinion without confrontation?
      Two, do you know the difference between opinion and news? Learn that, please, for your own good.
      Three, you want the news to read like a propaganda and what you think is missing is your own version of propaganda.
      Four, you are doing enough propaganda here, freely, and you do not realize it. It is so funny.

      • Hope

        Ya Ustazna,SGJ:

        Thanks for your response and advice.

        Apologies for making myself to be read the way you did.

        Let me try to clarify:

        1)”First, why do you write in a vengeful way—hrr bela, etc? Can’t you just put your opinion without confrontation?

        -There is NO revenge here but to remind few people,who are so angry and who politicized the helping hand of the Good Doctor as if he were/was acting the de facto Leader of Eritrea and as if what he has done was implicated as if Eritrea was sold.

        -I tell them again HRRRRR deA bella as they made us to be hrrrr when they repeat the same mistake they made by supporting WeAyne by petitioning against the $250 Million EU Aid for Eritrea’s Development(not for the PFDJ to help the Al Shebab)

        2)Two, do you know the difference between opinion and news? Learn that, please, for your own good’.

        Thanks but am fully aware about the difference,credit to Bro Brhan,who taught me that before.
        But I said what i said purposely to remind you that you or the Editorial,who ever did it,turned the news into an Op-Ed/an opinion style news analysis.

        3)”Three, you want the news to read like a propaganda and what you think is missing is your own version of propaganda”.

        No, I didn’t miss any ,but if expressing an opinion is a propaganda,let it be Uncle SGJ.

        4)”Four, you are doing enough propaganda here, freely, and you do not realize it. It is so funny”.

        See above.
        Tolerate others and their opinions per your Guidelines and Principles.

        It is a Forum…

        if I owe YOU a bill,mail it to me.

        • Saleh Johar

          Hope,
          I am not your uncle by any stretch if you mistook me for one. Deal with me as Saleh and i will deal with you as Hope.

          • Hope

            Selam Saleh:
            It was a sign or gesture of respect when someone calls U uncle !
            U sound to be the Mod on duty.
            If so,since Hope’s comments are a nuisance and generalizations ,please be so kind to delete all of them from the beginning to the end.

          • Hameed Al-Arabi

            Ahlan Hope,

            I think, no wisdom, great values, a man of integrity and lofty principles will disappear. The only thing that will vanish is a plague.

            Al-Arabi

    • Hameed Al-Arabi

      Ahlan Hope,

      You are endeavoring to save a sinking boat. Your regime is done, oramai waraba. Eritreans have learned intensive lessons and bought wisdom. No one will hear the rotten propaganda of Isaias and his puppies.

      All who have clean hands are leaving the regime except those who are implicated in dirty works.

      Al-Arabi

    • Amanuel

      Hi Hope
      You forgot the following
      “Last September, Ethiopian and Eritrean government media reported that the port of Assab and the road linking it to Ethiopia will be rehabilitated and be operational in three-months. Six-months after the announcement, the road and ports are yet to be repaired. And once the task begins, it could take many months more to accomplish.”

      • Hope

        Selam Aman:
        But it is a common sense to assume that such projects take time to be executed and to be operational for various reasons:
        -Technical
        -Logistics
        -Financial one, among others.

  • Hameed Al-Arabi

    Ahlan Gedab News,

    The news is an additional indications of Dr. Abie Ahmed change of temperament. His trip to Qatar, Djibouti visiting to Somali, Eritrea visiting Hargesa, Sultanate of Oman joining of ports race and lastly Dr. Abie Ahmed praising of Ethiopia’s relation with Sudan are strong signs of change on the side of Dr. Abie Ahmed. It seems, Dr. Abie Ahmed woke up from his dreams too late. Now, he is searching for his old friends, a divorce with the evil-axis.

    Al-Arabi

    • Kaddis

      Ahlan Al- Arabii-

      Not only his old regional friends – he is desperate to make up with Tigray. At yesterdays Press conference ( only his 2nd ) pleaded the journalists to write the golden era of the recent past as well. He then challenged a journalist if he went to Tigray and try understand their position etc…

      The Eritrean case – let alone adding the Gulf issues in the mix – it is already complicated.

      • Hameed Al-Arabi

        Ahlan Kaddis,

        You right. Dr. Abie Ahmed entered by himself into a field full of landmines. In Arabic we say, “دخول الشبكات هين ولكن تأمل الخروج” that means, “ُEntering networks is easy, however meditate well about getting out”.

        This is also another additional sign of changing gear, “At yesterdays Press conference ( only his 2nd ) pleaded the journalists to write the golden era of the recent past as well.”

        I think, it is better for him to reverse the course upside down or 180 degrees without going around and expose Isaias publicly.

        Al-Arabi

  • Amanuel

    Hi Gedab News
    Honeymoon is over and gloves are off.

    • Ismail AA

      Selam Hameed and Amanuel,

      በሰሮን ጠባይ ዘይብላ መርዓት ኣብ ምልሳታ ትፍታሕዩ ነገሩ።