Norway has had a new emissary, Andreas Gaarder, for some time now.

Norway has had a new emissary, Andreas Gaarder, for some time now. His priorities appear to be focusing on cooperating with the host country on earth’s climate change and promotion of a green economy, gossip observed. He has a tough call to make though, according to gossip.

In a political landscape where society is ever polarised, opposition voices are pushed to despair in their bid to obtain an outlet to vent their frustrations, and the regime is growing increasingly apprehensive and edgy in its reaction, bringing up topics of human rights will no doubt be thorny issues for him, claims gossip. After all, he symbolizes a country and people who have brought the concept of “human security” to the world.

Gossip sees that daring to raise such concerns will likely put Gaarder as a lone voice in Addis Abeba, where his fellows in the diplomatic corps appear to love their “diplomatic freedom” in substitution for “diplomatic silence.” Hardly has there been a time over the past two decades when the diplomatic community was as subdued and intimidated as it appears to be now, gossip observed.

The call would be even tougher to Gaarder for he has historical baggage, claims gossip.

He runs an embassy which had found itself at odds with the establishment, in the aftermath of the 2005 election, for its alleged cosiness with the main opposition back then, gossip recalls. Flirting with the opposition had nearly cost Norway its embassy in Addis Abeba. Only three diplomats were left behind after double that number was kicked out of the country, according to gossip.

One such opposition leader close to diplomats from Norway at the time was Hailu Shawel, then chairman of the main opposition, the Coalition for Unity & Democracy (CUD), gossip recalls. The cosiness might have come from their “tenant-landlord” relationship: Hailu rented a villa out to the Norwegians for 7,000 dollars, which they had been using as a chancery up until a few weeks ago, gossip says.

To the surprise of those conducting surveillance on the CUD leaders who were put under brief house arrest following the political turmoil of national elections in May 2005, Hailu was seen having a meeting in the EU Commission office on Cape Verde Street, in front of Desalegn Hotel, gossip recalls. They found out later that Norwegian diplomats had sneaked him through a doorway from his residence adjacent to the chancery into the back seat of a vehicle with diplomatic plates, claims gossip.

A few years on, the two found themselves tussling over the transfer of the ranch type house built on a 3,200sqm plot, to a would-be-buyer, China Civil Engineering & Construction Corporation. Concluding a deal for over three million dollars, Hailu’s family had wanted to nullify a lease contract signed and valid until 2019. However, the family had invoked a letter written by Norway’s Ambassador in 2008, with the intention to vacate the property in two years, as rational to dismiss the contract.

The case was cited to a panel for arbitration, while the Norwegian Embassy had been on the look out for another property to lease. They found one in an area not far from the Vatican Embassy, where the new Ambassador moved into a new office two weeks ago, gossip disclosed. Built and owned by Salvatore De Vita, a major shareholder of a family firm known for its Ethiopian inspired modern furniture manufacturing, the property is leased out to Norway for close to 20,000 dollars, gossip reveals.

Good news also arrived to the Ambassador last week, claims gossip. The arbitration panel has ruled in his Embassy’s favour that Hailu’s family erred in terminating the lease contract way ahead of its term, gossip disclosed. A panel comprising lawyers selected by both parties finally dismissed all the five points of claims for compensation, gossip disclosed.

Published on December 14, 2014 [ Vol 15 ,No 763]



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