Monthly Archives: August 2015
United States Senator Al Franken is among a delegation of bi-partisan US senators and congregational members visiting five African countries in a bid to bolster and foster bilateral trade ties, a statement from the senator’s office in Washington stated. The trip starts this weekend.
Countries to be visited by the delegation include Senegal, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Gabon, with a brief stop in Cape Verde.
Franken’s state is home to the largest concentration of Somalis outside of Africa and he plans to meet with Somali refugees while in Ethiopia which hosts a large contingent of them, second only to Kenya.
The state of Minnesota also boasts the largest concentration of Ethiopian immigrants after Washington, DC with the most dynamic of the Minnesota Ethiopians belonging to the Oromo community.
The Oromos have had longstanding grievances against the Ethiopian government regarding marginalization of their community. While in Ethiopia, Senator Franken is scheduled to discuss their plight with Ethiopian government officials, according the senator’s spokesman, Michael Dale-Stein.
During the trip, Sen. Franken will be visiting renewable energy projects, agriculture projects, and health care facilities. Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware is the organizer of the trip.
The other Minnesotan in the delegation is Rep. Betty McCollum. Others on the delegation include Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), and several other members of Congress.
“With Minnesota being home to so many vibrant African immigrant communities, collaborating with these countries could help support many Minnesota industries—including our agricultural and energy sectors—and would help us build bilateral trade relations,” said Sen.
Franken. “Beyond that, this bipartisan trip is particularly important to me because I’m planning to meet with Somali refugees and also discuss the crisis facing the Oromo people, which are both things that many families in our state deeply care about.”
The PPLF, which is headed by President Salva Kiir, was formed in 2010 after a national dialogue to unite leaders of all the political parties.
The PPLF says Ethiopia and Sudan should be removed from the mediation process.
It says the Compromise Agreement proposed by IGAD Plus is subjected to personal and national commercial interests from these two countries.
In statement, the group says it doubts that mediators from these countries can contribute to a genuine peace in South Sudan because their own countries are in conflicts.
The Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr Martin Elia Lomoro, spoke on behalf of the PPLF chairman.
“It is now our conclusion therefore that for peace to return to South Sudan, the entire IGAD Mediation team must be reconstituted,” Dr Lomoro said.
“While General Lazarus Sumbweyio may be acceptable, definitely Seyoum Mesfin and Mohammed Ahmed Mustaffa El-Daby must be replaced.”
The statement comes days after negotiators returned to Addis Ababa for the fourth round of peace talks.
Dr Martin Elia said the venue of the talks should also be relocated to Tanzania, Rwanda or South Africa.
“Not only that, but the venue of the peace talks be equally relocated to a country that has a rudimentary democracy and no rebellion,” he added.
He argued that these countries have a history of successful emersion from conflicts and would be good examples for South Sudan.
Other parties that are also members of the PPLF include the SPLM-DC, headed by Dr Lam Akol, the United Democratic Front, among others.
This group, now under the umbrella group known as the National Alliance, has disagreed with the government on key issues in the peace process, including the proposed Compromise Agreement.
Members of the national alliance were not at the press conference where the PPLF called for change of the IGAD mediators.
The Oromo Nation is the community concerned with the nominated element. The Gadaa System has been practiced for centuries and remains functional into the present among all of the major Oromo clans such as Borana, Guji, Gabra, Karrayu, Arsi, Afran Qallo, Ituu, Humbana, Tulama and Macha clans in Oromia, East Africa.