December 8, 2019 News

Source: NRK

BERGEN (NRK): Norwegian Eritreans who do not want to support the dictator in their home country are being ejected by the Eritrean Association. On Saturday, several of them demonstrated at a closed meeting for supporters of the Bergen regime.

This week NRK wrote about the Eritrean Association in Oslo, which according to the Eritrean opposition environment is controlled by the regime in Eritrea.

According to NRK sources, the association is a front organization for what is one of the world’s most repressive regimes. The association itself has rejected this.

On Saturday afternoon Norwegian Eritreans who do not support the regime met outside the premises of Bergen International Cultural Center. Inside a meeting was taking place organised by the Eritrean association Hordaland.

Behind closed doors

At the closed meeting, supporters and representatives from the regime gathered. Also present at the gathering was Abraham Woldu, who for several years has been an informal representative of Eritrea in Norway.

NRK has also been informed that a representative from the Eritrean embassy in Stockholm was among the participants.

The protesters believe the meeting was designed to promote the totalitarian regime in the country.

According to promoter Hirity Isaksen, the meeting was first announced as being open, and later closed.

In an SMS to NRK, the association also confirms that today’s meeting was internal and open to members only.

“We react that the meeting is suddenly closed to Eritrean refugees who want to ask questions. This is an ideal association that receives support from the public. They invite openly, but when we come they say that it is closed and that we must be members,” says Isaksen.

Distances from the regime

About twenty protesters met outside the premises at Kong Oscars gate in the center of Bergen.

“They are holding these meetings to get financial support for the regime to help prop it up,” demonstrator Bashir Abulkader said.

He says that all the protesters want to say a clear no to the dictatorship and the country’s long-standing dictator Isaias Afwerki.

They also wanted to make it clear that the Eritrean Association does not represent all Eritreans in Norway.

A closed association

Leader of the regime-critical organization Eritrean Committee, Finn Våge, told NRK that the Eritrean association in Norway has gradually been taken over by politically active people who are loyal to the dictator.

“They have almost closed this association, so that real Eritrean refugees to Norway cannot participate in it. Those who oppose the board of Eritrea are thrown out and have to form their own associations,” says Våge.

This is confirmed by Professor Kjetil Tronvoll at Bjørknes University College in Oslo.

“Several Eritreans in my network say that this is an association that clearly supports the regime in Eritrea, and which the regime also uses informally as its ‘representatives’ in Norway,” says Tronvoll.

Sunday December 1 2019

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The UN has accused Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of fanning instability in Somalia and South Sudan. PHOTO | MONIRUL BHUIYAN | AFP 

In Summary

  • Ethiopia, which chaired Igad until last Friday, and Kenya have only given piecemeal support, with occasional visits or bilateral meetings, the report by the UN Panel of Experts says.
  • Kenya on the other hand accused the UN team of passing the buck, arguing that Kenya suffers whenever South Sudan is at war as its businesses close and it hosts refugees.


More by this Author

Just months after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is fighting accusations of his interfering with the affairs of neighbouring countries.

In November, two United Nations reports accused him of being lukewarm in South Sudan peace process and fuelling fires of instability in Somalia; two of the countries he has been closely involved in as the chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

In South Sudan, where Igad midwifed a revitalised peace agreement in September last year, Abiy’s government, Uganda and Kenya were accused of being inconsistent in ensuring the deal is implemented.


“Over the past year, the Igad and member states neighbouring South Sudan – specifically Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda – have not demonstrated full and consistent engagement in the peace process,” a UN report said.

“The government of Salva Kiir, in particular, has benefited from the inconsistent approach of the region.”


The anatomy of Ethiopia’s mismanaged transition

Friday, 06 December 2019 11:02 Written by

December 6, 2019 Ethiopia, News

Source: Addis Standard

Addis Abeba, December 05/2019– In hisSelections from Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramsci famously wrote in 1930: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”1 He was writing about the late 1920s, an era epitomized since by economic recession, the rise of fascism and an imminent world war. In his concept of “interregnum”, the old order had lost authority, and its successor had yet to re-engender a properly functioning society. During such an interregnum, society could experience myriad problems, even chaos, and, in some cases, political violence.

In December 2017, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), impelled by a persistent popular uprising in the Oromia region, embarked on a program it described as “deep renewal.” This ushered in a process exemplifying Gramsci’s “interregnum”. The EPRDF-designed political system, anchored by institutionalization of a dominant party in exchange for rapid economic growth, is dying. A new system remains unborn or even unimagined. Previously banned political forces remain inactive or unable to offer alternative models.  Morbid symptoms have begun to appear.

What diagnosis do these symptoms suggest? Interregnums are dangerous — particularly if accompanied by unwillingness to imagine new power structures. In Ethiopia’s case, leaders of the “reformed” EPRDF have proven unable to manage the difficult process of democratization. Political authority has fragmented; a general feeling of national drift has raised the specter of state collapse. That would be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in the Horn of Africa.

There was indeed an unmistakable reformist shift, and relaxation of political tension; the specter of state collapse faded.

Morbid Symptoms

EPRDF’s embrace of “deep renewal” promised a new political dispensation. In Ethiopia, power-holders would henceforth be accountable to citizens through regular free elections, protecting rather than violating human rights; state institutions would provide good governance rather than function as an arm of the dominant political party. There was indeed an unmistakable reformist shift, and relaxation of political tension; the specter of state collapse faded. 

In March 2018, the ruling EPRDF designated a new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed;he was sworn inin April. He implemented reforms with speed and gusto, gaining a receptive audience among Ethiopians. He visited nearly all regions, and diaspora communities abroad, preaching love, forgiveness and national reconciliation. He won over Western leaders with fashionable reform measures (e.g. appointing women) and occasionally expressing endorsement of liberal economic tenets. There was a deep reservoir of public support for the expressed commitment to reform and effort to ensure a transition to democracy.   

Twenty months later, those glimpses of liberalization and democratic transition have proven a mirage.  Symptoms of dysfunction are multiplying. The ruling party of the last three decades has lost its cohesion.Centrifugal forces and jockeying for powerhave soured relations within the EPDRF coalition, as each member resorts to a separate identity. As a party, the EPRDF is suffering an identity crisis, unsure of the political ideology that once gave it the coherence to govern effectively.

Because the party is essentially moribund, governance has collapsed. The prime minister holds on to power by deploying the military and the politicized state machinery. The regional states are in disarray, each with distinct challenges. Tigray isisolated, Oromia largely ungoverned andexperiencing violence, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) isunsure of its future, and the Amhara Region is the scene (and source) ofpolitical violence

Contrary to the official portrayal of robust growth, the economy is in trouble. Increasing unemployment, runaway inflation, a foreign currency crunch, mounting debt, and credit difficulties characterize the current economic landscape

Contrary to the official portrayal of robust growth, the economy is in trouble. Increasing unemployment, runaway inflation, a foreign currency crunch, mounting debt, and credit difficulties characterize the current economic landscape. The newly unveiledHomegrown Economic Reform, sporting the language of the discredited Washington Consensus, has not addressed existing economic challenges. Will it ever work? Its only purpose seems to be to repudiate the developmental-state model of the prime minister’s predecessors.

The worst features of EPRDF rule, whichprecipitated mass uprisingsin recent years, have now returned with a vengeance. Mass arrests, lengthy detention without charge and other infringement of citizens’ rights, including illegal searches, restrictions on assembly, expression and movement, are commonplace. Security forces use threats, online filtering and other forms of harassment to intimidate opponents. Political party leaders and their supporters are subjected to illegal detention, with allegations of physical beating, and torture. In its 2019 annual report, Freedom House ranked Ethiopia as “not free,” with an abysmal record on political and civil liberties. Ethiopia today looks less like an example of successful political transition than of how democratization fails.  

Inherent Dangers

Transition requires skillful management. Liberalization, the opening up of an authoritarian order, if not managed competently, can quickly foment insecurity, sacrificing the very legitimacy a new regime needs most. In Ethiopia’s case, fateful mistakes were made at the outset.  Inherent dangers were ignored.

Rejection of a Roadmap

There were several reasons for the failure of democratic transition. One was lack of a clear agenda for the post-authoritarian period. The history of successful democratization attests that broad agreement among elites on transitional guidelines and on procedures for popular participation is essential. Without a program that bridges the receding and emerging political orders, there is little chance of successful transition from authoritarian rule to democratic governance.  

At the beginning of the Ethiopian transition, the prime minister was implored to convene the major political parties to design a roadmap for the complicated process of change.  His initial response? “I will be the bridge that ensures a successful transition.” When the calls increased, he dismissed them: “the term roadmap has no meaning in political economy.” In the absence of guidelines, every political actor acted to maximize their political fortune. Supporters clashed, with fatalities and destruction of property. Cases in point are the incidents of September 2017, following the return to the capital of the Patriotic Genbot 7 and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Despite these warning signs, the prime minister showed no inclination to offer a program of transition, though he always talked about peace, forgiveness and love as a way forward. These notions have now coalesced into“meddemer”(addition), offered as the ideology of reform and transition. Such as it was, it came too late. The transition had drifted rudderless, producing more conflicts. Neither personal “bridge” nor infantile philosophy could substitute for a roadmap for transition.  

Return of the Old Guard

Another danger the EPDRF leadership ignored has been the old guard’s determination to return to power. Democratization is naturally redistributive of political and economic power; it threatens elite power and dominance. In 2014-18, when a revolutionary protest movement of the disenfranchised threatened EPDRF’s monopoly of power, the political elite joined the movement for change rather than continue to confront it. However, they remained focused on regaining their grip on power.

The new leadership assumed responsibility for leading the transition but did little to guard it against counter-revolution. With decision-making concentrated in the prime minister’s office, the old elite in the capital easily returned to dominance, filling key positions with political loyalists and party apparatchiks admittedly opposed to democratization. The business elite bought a place at the table, and donated millions to the prime minister’s favorite projects in exchange for kickbacks in government contracts. The business and political elites have indeed successfully mounted an internal coup d’etat, hijacking the revolution and dislodging genuine agents of change.2   

Strategic mistakes

Popular protests toppling authoritarian systems do not always succeed in establishing democratic systems. To succeed, the first order of business is assembling forces of change in support of transition. In Ethiopia’s case, either political miscalculation or failure to heed its importance was a strategic mistake, resulting in lack of support from the forces that brought about the transition.

In aspeech at Bahir Dar Universityin April 2018, the prime minister retorted: “Amhara nationalism is growing at an alarming speed. Please study it. Oromo nationalism has taken [Ethiopia’s] largest population and diminished it. Instead of thinking at a national or continental level, it has reduced the Oromo to village level politics.” This failed to endear him to Amhara nationalists, whose objective was to ride the wave of rising Amhara nationalism to regain their long lost power. On the other hand, the supercilious description of Oromo nationalism enraged Oromo nationalists. In effect, the prime minister alienated the Amhara nationalists he sought to restrain and antagonized the Oromo nationalists who had catapulted him into office. The forces of counter-revolution were ushered in to take the reins of power, thus jeopardizing the transition at the outset.

A second strategic mistakewas the failure to recognize that the goal of transition was a state fulfilling longstanding demands for liberty, equality, justice and human dignity. For half a century, political struggle had focused against a centralized political system that excluded, marginalized and oppressed the majority of Ethiopians. But instead of envisioning a reconstructed state, EPRDF’s “reformist” leaders thought in terms of restoring Ethiopia’s “glorious past as a state.” In political terms, the prime minister’s “vision” of return was tantamount to repudiation of the sacrifices of the last five decades. Worse, glorification of the horrid Ethiopian state became an impediment to moving forward to a democratic state.

A third strategic mistakewas the failure to recognize that the mandate is to serve as either a caretaker or a transitional government. Crucial to the caretaker function was rebuilding the state apparatus damaged during the protests. Whatever the reasons, the government proved unable to reconstitute the lower rungs of administration and failed even to gain control over the territory it was meant to govern. Public security, the most important responsibility of any government, broke down. Violence proliferated. For the first time in more than two decades, the regime itself looked vulnerable to implosion.

There are indications that the next national election, ostensibly the end of the transition process, was beset with problems even before the campaign could begin in earnest

As a transitional government, the regime had to prepare for democratic elections. There are indications that the next national election, ostensibly the end of the transition process, was beset with problems even before the campaign could begin in earnest. The new electoral law was issued only eight months before the elections scheduled for May 2020. Complaints from the opposition include difficulties with party registration, opposition to elements of the new electoral law itself, and questions about the impartiality of the electoral commission. Electoral officers are not being recruited and trained. Polling logistics are not being organized. There are, in fact, no visible preparations for elections. A constitutional crisis is in the making.

 At the federal level, the prime minister’s centralizing decision making has undermined institutional autonomy of government agencies and subverted established processes. Federal entities are tasked with acting in the public interest, and while the executive has an administrative supervising function, it has accumulated unchecked ad hoc powers. This has eroded the functional autonomy of government institutions and degraded transparency and accountability. The failure to rebuild lower-level state institutions, and the prime minister’s personal decision-making style have paralyzed the delivery of public services, rendering the government utterly dysfunctional.

Current Challenges

The model of democratic transition adopted in Ethiopia was in any case flawed from the very beginning. The process of designing and implementing a transitional roadmap did not include all political actors. It eschewed broad social and political consensus for a new political system before holding elections. Empowerment of old-regime elites in the transition process, exclusion of nationalist parties, neglect of the protest movement’s demands, and antagonistic political forces have now doomed the democratic transition. 

Eritrean artist attacked in Addis Ababa

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 18:58 Written by

Tekle Negasi was attacked in Addis. Activists working on human rights in Eritrea say the attack was designed to silence him. Currently the artist is bedridden - hardly able to open his mouth.

Source:BBC Tigrinya

Eritrean artist attacked in Addis 1





















 An Eritrean artist by the name of Tekle Negasi was attacked by group of people in Addis Ababa on Sunday afternoon.

 Negasi is vocalist known by ‘Wedi Mamma’, his nickname. He was attacked while strolling near Anbessa Garage. He said that five men suddenly attacked him unprovoked. ‘They said nothing and started punching me’ he told the BBC (Tig).

 Tekle said that the attack was not theft related because the attackers did not steal anything from him.

 Tekle had a car accident back in the Sudan some time ago. He has a metal implant in one of his legs. He said his attackers repeatedly attacked his injured leg. ‘That means those people know me’ he told the BBC.

Tekle said he has been thinking hard about the identity of his attackers and yet nobody came to mind.

 Tekle told the BBC that he has sustained injuries on his right hand, his nose, head and left kidney.

Eritrean artist attacked in Addis 3





















 Tekle is a renowned vocalist who sings in Tigrinya and Tigre, and has produced numerous memorable songs.

 The police are pursuing the matter.


December 2, 2019 Uncategorized

The attack on Amanuel Eyasu, the founder and editor of Assena TV by a supporter of the Eritrean regime has raised the threat against all journalists working on the Horn of Africa.

Fortunately Yacob Gebremedhin – the alleged attacker – was arrested and will appear in court later this month. It is the second time he has been involved in this kind of incident. He attacked the former BBC Africa News Editor, Martin Plaut last year.

Yacob Gebremedhin during attack on Martin Plaut

To ensure that justice is done and an appropriate sentence is handed out it is important that Amanuel Eyasu is represented in court.

Please support his appeal.

Formulärets nederkant

The most difficult period is the interim period – the period between the fall of dictatorship and build democracy

How much are our people are conscious to build a democratic state accommodating all the rights of the diversity.

The struggle for democracy is not only to replace the dictatorship but next stage is how to build a democratic society that can manage its differences with equality and justice.

 Liberty, equality, brethren and justice must be our motto!!!!!!!!!!

The case of interim –constitution and permanent constitution.

What is the difference between interim and permanent constitution.
Interim –constitution is a legal framework providing a basis for the democratic transition.
Interim or provisional or transitional are the various names given to the period from the fall of dictatorship to the permanent constitution.
In this article I will deal with

Why interim constitution is needed in Eritrea after the fall of the dictatorship. 

Why interim constitution is an issue for discussion at this time

The issue of constitution is the first issue that comes immediately after the fall of the dictatorship. The new democratic system will require an interim- constitution that establishes the desired framework of the transition from the fall of the dictatorship to the establishment of the permanent constitution.

Interim –constitution is supposed to govern during the transitional period – from the fall of dictatorship until the permanent constitution established.

It comes into effect when the regime falls and is handed over to a caretaker government composed the sovereignty of all political organizations. The interim –constitution will function as a basic law during the year of transition until an elected Assembly can draw up a permanent constitution inside the fixed time.

Constitutions are the supreme laws of the nation designed to manage the internal conflict of the Eritrean diversity. They must be arranged in a way that provides the people the opportunity to discuss on their fundamental rights and freedoms not granted by those who were in power.

The Eritrean people must  discuss on them freely and democratically.

The 1997 constitution drafted but not implemented/defunct was under the control of dictatorship. It was not people’s constitution but a one mans constitution and later called a worthless paper and was thrown away by the self- appointed president. If it was of the people why didn’t they defend their constitution and fight against the dictatorship?

An interim constitution is the transitional basic law of the transitional caretaker government until the permanent constitution is drafted and processed. The reason why this issue is crucial and conflict issue is because there is no common understanding what kind of constitution unitary or federal constitution will be suitable to manage conflicts in Eritrea? Eritrea has never ruled under the law since independence and the road map of transition must focus also on the period from the fall of dictatorship up to the building of constitutional government guaranteeing security and safety for all its citizens.

Here , I would like to quote Gene Sharps arguments. Gene Sharp in his book, “ From Dictatorship to Democracy” says that,

“In the interest of preserving the democratic system an impending dictatorial trends and measures, the constitution should preferably be one that establishes a federal system with significant prerogatives reserved for the regional, state, and local levels of government”

In Eritrea there are no functioning constitutions either unitary or federal. Therefore the need for interim constitution is of crucial importance. Those who ignore interim arrangements their aim is to establish themselves as new dictators under the 1997 constitution that was drafted under dictatorship without no freedoms.

Our struggle is not only to remove the dictatorship but looking forward how to arrange the period of transition from dictatorship to permanent constitution.

The Key features of the interim constitution:

  • • Directive principles of the state/ State structure
  • • Citizenship
  • • Fundamental Rights & Duties
  • • Fundamental freedoms
  • • Interim Legislature
  • • Interim- Government
  • • Interim Court
  • • Interim security provisions
  • • Constitutional bodies
  • • Autonomous and local administrations
  • • Constituent Assembly
  • • Transitional Justice and reconciliation
  • • Other miscellaneous provisions

Transition from dictatorship to democracy is both fighting the dictatorship and at the same time laying the foundations for democratic transition.

For most of Eritreans in the opposition or those who support the dictatorship constitution means for them like a bible that comes from the heavens. Why do we need interim legal framework from the fall of the dictatorship to permanent constitution must be one of our agendas and prepare for it while struggling to topple the tyranny.

Constitution Building and its role in conflict management

Constitutional arrangements provide us an important opportunity to manage our internal and external conflicts. When designing a legal framework citizens identify the fundamental values they believe in and the sort of institutions by which they want to be governed. This may involve inclusive and participatory national deliberation resulting in agreements that establish the country’s basic law. Does the 1997 constitution provide us the opportunity to manage our internal and external conflicts? Let us our constitution law makers discuss on it.


SIDA- Swedish International Development Agency, Democratization and armed conflicts

Gene Sharp, From Dictatorship to Democracy

IDEA- Constitution building and Electoral Assitance

29 Nov 2019 - 11:09

Qatar rejects false accusations by Eritrean Information Ministry


The State of Qatar has totally rejected false accusations contained in a statement by the Eritrean Ministry of Information, stressing that Qatar has nothing to do with any factions or groups in Eritrea, a matter which the Eritrean government knows very well.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was surprised by the sudden issuance of the Eritrean statement by the Ministry of Information, instead of resorting to the diplomatic and legal channels that are recognised in the international community. This raises suspicion about the real intentions and the parties behind this unrealistic statement”, the Ministry’s statement noted.

The statement said that the State of Qatar had delivered a protest note in April to the Ambassador of the Republic of Eritrea to Qatar, expressing its disapproval and surprise at a similar statement issued by the Eritrean Ministry of Information.

The statement said that the Ambassador of the Republic of Eritrea to the African Union had called on the State of Qatar to mediate between his country and Djibouti in their border dispute in 2017, considering the State of Qatar was the main negotiator of the peace agreement signed between the two countries in 2010, if the Eritrean government had any doubt about the truth of these ridiculous allegations issued by the Ministry of Information,it would not have made this request.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the Eritrean Ministry of Information to consider the facts and the roots of the problems, rather than accusations and falsification of the facts of a country where the friendly Eritrean people only have full respect and appreciation.


Under construction: Lamu port will have 32 terminals, one of which will be owned by Ethiopia, which has stakes in several other ports in the region, including Doraleh, Djibouti and Berbera.
23 November 2019

Ethiopia will own one of the berths in Kenya's Lamu port, and the two countries are working to speed up the issue of the title deed.

"When President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Ethiopia in March, Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy discussed with him the issue of a title deed for the land we've been allocated in Lamu where the berth will sit, and he undertook to have it speeded up," Ethiopia's ambassador to Kenya Meles Alem, told The EastAfrican in Nairobi.

President Kenyatta was in Addis Ababa in early March as a head of a large business delegation, and Prime Minister Abiy presided over a two-day Kenya-Ethiopia Trade and Investment Forum in the Ethiopian capital.

Over 400 business leaders from Kenya and Ethiopia attended the investment forum.

The two leaders said at the forum that the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset), was central to the unlocking of the economic potential not just of their two countries, but of the entire East African region.

Progress on the Lapsset Corridor project, a vast undertaking of ports, pipelines, roads, and railways serving Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan in the first phase, had been halting until the uptick in recent months.

In October, Kenya completed the first berth of the Ksh32 billion ($320 million) Lamu Port, and construction of a second berth is underway.

When completed, Lamu port will have 32 berths, with Kenya betting that would give it the edge in the intense port race along the Bab el-Mandab (which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden), and the Indian Ocean lane from Mogadishu to Maputo.

Mr Meles however denied suggestions reported in The EastAfrican that Ethiopia's recent rapprochement with erstwhile foe Eritrea, and stake and investment in several Horn of Africa ports, meant it was turning its back on Lamu and Lapsset.

Ethiopia has stakes in Doraleh, Port of Djibouti, Khartoum's largest seaport, Port Sudan, and has invested $80 million for a 19 per cent stake in Somaliland's port of Berbera, and is also seeking a holding in Eritrea's Assab port.

"Ethiopia is a country of 110 million people, and the Lamu port will be particularly critical for us in serving the southern part of our country," Mr Meles said.

"Kenya and Ethiopia have the longest standing mutual defence pact between two African countries, so our strategic interests have a long history and endure", he said. "With a title deed, we should be able not just to invest in Lamu, but more widely in Lapsset," Meles added.

The Kenya-Ethiopia Defence Pact was signed in 1964 between Kenya's founding president Jomo Kenyatta, and Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie.

Kenyatta and Selassie were very close, with the former enabling the latter to get a large piece of land a spitting distance from State House Nairobi to build the Ethiopian embassy.

The Kenyan Embassy in Addis Ababa is closer to the National Palace, located next to the major bigger Embassies such as Russia and Belgium.

Security angle

Meles couldn't be drawn to comment on the wider state of geopolitics in the Horn of Africa, but analysts say the 55-year-old defence pact, and the proliferation of foreign military bases in the Horn of Africa, mean that in the long-term, Lamu will present to Ethiopia a level of security other ports don't.

Ethiopia is the largest landlocked country by population in the world. Within the country's national security establishment, there is unease about the proliferation of foreign military bases in the Horn.

There are 10 military bases in the Horn of Africa, with six in Djibouti by the US, France, Italy, Japan, China and Saudi Arabia.

Eritrea hosts the United Arab Emirates base, and a Russian logistics base is also forming there. Somalia hosts a Turkish military training base, while the semi-autonomous territory of Somaliland hosts UAE's second base.

A berth at Lamu sitting on land that it owns, would give Ethiopia tremendous ability to hedge against strategic risk, in ways other Horn of Africa don't.

Indeed the ongoing new foreign policy debate in Addis calls for a stake over the Red Sea and, and diplomatic sources say Ethiopia also wants to launch a naval force. Such a force could, foreseeably, be based in Lamu.

Domestic demands

Ethiopia is currently one of Africa's fastest growing economies and, though landlocked, also has the continent's largest state-owned shipping line.

Prime Minister Abiy's reforms, have also opened the doors for long-pent up grievances and local nationalist demands to explode.

There are several new demands for regional autonomy, and more protests than can be counted on the finger tips. The country needs dramatic economic growth and creation of opportunities to soak up many of those demands.

Ethiopians with a sense of history will also be mindful that the domestic price for disruption in the Bab el-Mandab, and further north, can be high.

Scholars have noted that the 1967-75 Suez Canal closure, during the Egypt-Israel conflict had far reaching impact on world trade with a major increase in shipping costs from the Middle East, Asia and East Africa to Europe, and hit Ethiopia hard.

The resulting economic downturn contributed to unrest and the 1974 revolution that ousted Emperor Selassie. And that was at a time when Eritrea was still part of Ethiopia and it had a port. Now it doesn't.

Owning a small slice of terminal in Lamu port, even in a foreign land, would likely be a better deal for Ethiopia in the long term, than being a paying tenant at the mercy of a landlord in a vast port anywhere else.