MELDUNGEN VOM AUGUST 2017
23.8.2017 Bessere Lebensbedingungen: Äthiopien gewinnt internationalen Preis für erfolgreiche Maßnahmen gegen Landverödung. World Future Council, entwicklungspolitik online
Hamburg / Bonn / Ordos, 22. August 2017: Erosion verringern, Lebensqualität verbessern: die äthiopische Tigray-Region zeigt, dass dies möglich ist. Darum wird sie vom World Future Council mit dem Future Policy Award (FPA) in Gold ausgezeichnet, der dieses Jahr die besten Maßnahmen und Politiken ehrt, die erfolgreich Desertifikation und Landverödung bekämpfen. Die Tigray-Region setzte sich gegen 26 andere Nominierungen aus aller Welt durch. Mit dem Gesetz werden auf einzigartige Weise gemeinschaftliches Handeln, Freiwilligenarbeit und Einbindung der Jugend kombiniert. Durch die Einführung des Gesetzes wird verödetes Land wieder bewohnbar gemacht. (…)
Der Future Policy Award (FPA) zeichnet als einziger internationaler Preis effektive Gesetze aus, die die Lebensbedingungen für Menschen weltweit verbessern. Ziel des Preises ist es, die öffentliche Aufmerksamkeit auf nachhaltige Gesetze und Maßnahmen zu lenken. Die Evaluation der Gesetze findet anhand der "Sieben Prinzipien für zukunftsgerechte Gesetzgebung" statt. Daher werden Gesetze besonders positiv bewertet, die nicht nur die nachhaltige Nutzung von Ressourcen fördern, sondern darüber hinaus Gleichberechtigung, Armutsbekämpfung, Teilhabe und friedliche Konfliktlösung in Angriff nehmen.
Die Gewinner des Future Policy Awards werden im Rahmen der 13. Vertragsstaaten-Konferenz (Conference of the Parties, COP) der UNCCD in Ordos (Innere Monogolei, China) im September 2017 geehrt.
16.8.2017 People in need of food aid surges to 8.5 million. Tesfa-Alem Tekle, Sudan Tibune
The number of people who require humanitarian assistance in the second half of 2017 has increased to 8.5 million from 5.6 million estimates in January, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission disclosed. The commission has released a newly revised Humanitarian Document (HRD) based on the food security assessment conducted between May 23 and June 22 by the Ethiopian Government along with other partners. The UN has revised its aid appeal to $487.7 million to address identified food and non-food needs for the remainder of the year. The National Disaster Risk Management Commission report in January indicated a decline in the number of people affected by the drought – a drop to 5.6 million from the 10.2 million last year.
The southern and eastern regions of Ethiopia are the ones that will continue to be severely affected by the drought, while the number of refugees fleeing from South Sudan is putting pressure on the already saturated service provision on North West regions, the HRD states.
Oxfam last week said Food shortages and funding gap push extra 700,000 people to verge of starvation in Ethiopia. ‘’Yet another poor rainy season, the third in a row, has plunged 700,000 more people into crippling hunger and on the verge of starvation in the Somali region of southern Ethiopia” said Manish Kumar, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Program Manager in Ethiopia. According to Oxfam, now in the midst of the lean season, people are fast running out of food as some areas have not had any food distributions since May. A deadly mix of severe acute malnutrition coupled with acute watery diarrhoea could put thousands of lives at risk, particularly the elderly and children. Aid workers say there is a need to act now to prevent this crisis from turning into a catastrophe. They further point that the scale of need is overwhelming and rising. "Of the US$ 1.25 billion needed to provide food, water and other life-saving assistance, 39% of the new response plan is yet to be funded," said Oxfam.
Oxfam is providing life-saving aid in the most remote locations in seven zones of the Somali region, south of the country. "As of 07 August, we have delivered clean safe water and cash assistance for over 653,000 people as well as provided treatment and vaccinations for 212,000 livestock," said Kumar. "Our response has various integrated WASH and livelihood actions that involve constructions of strategic bore-holes, latrines and sanitation and hygiene awareness," he added.
11.8.2016 Drought-stricken herders in Ethiopia need urgent support. FAO
Pastoralist communities are facing huge losses of livestock
Supporting herders to get back on their feet and preventing further livestock losses and suffering are crucial in drought-hit Ethiopia where hunger has been on the rise this year, warned today the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Drought has devastated herders’ livelihoods as it exhausted pastures and water sources, leading to a significant number of animals dying or falling ill, particularly in the southern and southeastern regions of the country as other areas recover from previous seasons’ El Niño-induced drought.
Drought-hit pastoralists face reduced milk production, rising malnutrition, and have limited income-earning capacity and severely constrained access to food.
Some 8.5 million people – one in 12 people – are now suffering from hunger; of these, 3.3 million people live in Somali Region.
The current food and nutrition crisis is significantly aggravated by the severe blow to pastoral livelihoods. For livestock-dependent families, the animals can literally mean the difference between life and death, especially for children, pregnant and nursing women for whom milk is a crucial source of nutrition.
With up to 2 million animals lost so far, FAO is focusing on providing emergency livestock support to the most vulnerable pastoralist communities through animal vaccination and treatment, supplementary feed and water, rehabilitating water points, and supporting fodder and feed production.
“It is crucial to provide this support between now and October – when rains are due – to begin the recovery process and prevent further losses of animals. If we don’t act now, hunger and malnutrition will only get worse among pastoral communities,” said Abdoul Karim Bah, FAO Deputy Representative in Ethiopia.
By providing supplementary feed and water for livestock, while at the same time supporting fodder production, FAO seeks to protect core breeding animals and enable drought-hit families to rebuild their livelihoods. Animal health campaigns will be reinforced to protect animals, particularly before the rains set in, when they are at their weakest and more susceptible to parasites or infectious diseases. FAO-supported destocking and cash-for-work programmes will also provide a crucial source of cash for families.
FAO urgently requires US$ 20 million between August and December to come to the aid of Ethiopia’s farmers and herders.
FAO has already assisted almost 500,000 drought-hit people in 2017 through a mix of livestock feed provision, destocking and animal health interventions, thanks to the support of the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden through FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund, as well as FAO’s own Early Warning Early Action fund and Technical Cooperation Programme.
7.8.2017 Ethiopia Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin, 7 August 2017. Report from UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- Some 8.5 million people require immediate relief food assistance in the second half of 2017.
- 4 million ‘public works’ clients of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) will require sustained assistance to the end of 2017, the financial requirements are estimated at $300m
- S. announces US$137 million in humanitarian funding to Ethiopia’s drought response
- Tigray region continues to report increasing cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD)
While Ethiopia continues its recovery from the devastating 2016 El Niño induced drought, poor performance of the spring rains this year in the southern and eastern parts of the country, compounded by disease outbreaks, large scale loss of livelihood assets and displacement, has exacerbated drought conditions. At least 8.5 million people will require relief food assistance in the second half of 2017, up from 5.6 million in January. The revised net requirements to address identified food and non-food needs for the remainder of the year is US$487.7 million.
29.8.2017 Top ONLF leader handed down to Ethiopia. Arefayné Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
A top leader of the banned Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has been handed down to Ethiopia by Somalia government, sources said. Abdikarim Sheikh Muse, known by his nickname “Qalbi dagah” was captured in the northern town of Adado town, 500km north of the Somali capital last Friday, according to reliable sources. Some Somali websites described him as ONLF’s main man and an Eritrean trained leader of the military wing of ONLF. The same sources indicated that Abdikarim was flown from Adado to Mogadishu in military aircraft, escorted by government security forces on Sunday and arrived in Bishoftu on Monday. No official confirmation had come from Ethiopian government nor from ONLF. The ONLF has been fighting since 1984 for autonomy of the Ogaden region, which borders Somalia. The rebel group was among five organizations outlawed as terrorists by the Ethiopian government on 2011.
28.8.2017 EPRDF, CPC Vow to Forge Relations, Strengthen Experience Sharing. ENA
Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) have vowed to forge relations and strengthen experience sharing. Officials of the parties exchanged views today on how to scale up their relations and enhance experience sharing. After the discussion, EPRDF Office Head Shiferaw Shigute told reporters that the parties have strong relationship especially in capacity building and experience sharing. Many Ethiopian officials drawn from regional states and federal institutions have visited China to share best experiences in various areas crucial for Ethiopia's development, he said. Experience sharing with China has proved pivotal in capacity building, the head said, adding that “we are implementing the experiences based on the objective reality of our country.” According to Shiferaw, EPRDF can learn a lot from the Government of China and CPC on ways of fighting corruption and administrative system, among others.
CPC International Department Vice Minister, Xu Lyuping recalled the MoU the two sides signed, adding that “we have seen very sound implementation of this agreement.” She stated that EPRDF leaders and officials have visited China and participated in various workshops. Furthermore, the Chinese government has invited EPRDF officials to visit China to learn about the best practices of the country in urban and rural development. “The two parties are satisfied with the outcome of our cooperation and we have come to express our desire to bring the relationship closer”, Lyuping explained. Speaking on the fight against corruption and promoting good governance, she said “we have shared with the Ethiopian side our experiences in promoting good governance and fighting corruption.”
28.8.2017 Tensions high as businesses continue to protest. Capital
A strike has been taking place in parts of Oromia region starting from Wednesday August 23. Contradictory reports are coming from activists from social media and the Oromia Region Communication Bureau showing pictures of various places around the region to substantiate their claims. The protests are reportedly against a recent hike in tax for businesses and the imprisonment of opposition politicians.
The Canadian government on Wednesday issued a safety and security alert for Ethiopia, citing clashes in parts of the country. They subsequently urged citizens to exercise caution. “There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Ethiopia. However, you [Canadians] should exercise a high degree of caution due to the volatile security situation,” reads the alert citing incidents on the road between Harar and Dire Dawa, and between Holeta and Ambo, on August 23.
In related news, a bomb explosion in the town of Jimma, located in Ethiopia’s Oromia region has injured about 13 people, local media portals have reported. The town’s police commander, Inspector Fadil Mohammed, also confirmed the incident. The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported that the injured people were receiving treatment at a specialized referral hospital. Among them were a 10-year-old boy and two women. The attack comes on the second day of a so named ‘five-day stay-at-home strike’ called by opposition activists. The incident is said to have occurred in a busy part of the town. The strike, which is largely being observed, is to demand the release of political prisoners detained during the state-of-emergency rule. Ethiopia imposed the rule in the wake of spreading anti-government protests, particularly in the Amhara and Oromia regions.
People in the region have previously staged a shutdown to protest tax hikes by the government. Police confirmed that they are on a manhunt for the attacker. Aside from closed businesses, the BBC reports that road blocks have been mounted in parts of the region, affecting public transport.
26.8.2017 Blue, AEUP brief diplomatic community on planned merger. Neamin Ashenafi, The Reporter
The All Ethiopian Union Party (AEUP) and Blue Party (Blue) briefed members of the diplomatic community on various political issues, including their alliance and proposed merger, the impacts of the state of emergency (SoE) on the country’s political landscape, the upcoming Addis Ababa City Administration elections as well as their future plans, last week. The briefing, which took place on the 18th of August, 2017, held at the headquarters of AEUP located in the vicinity of Tewodros Square, was attended by some 21 representatives drawn from the American, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Australian embassies and the Delegation of the European Union (EU).
Attendees appreciated the briefing and spoke in favor of the alliance that the two parties forged and raised some questions regarding the upcoming election, the president of Blue Party, Yeshiwas Assefa, told The Reporter. In this regard, they raised their concern and asked, “How will you become ready for the upcoming elections while the country was in a state of emergency for the past ten months and any political activity was halted,” Yeshiwas added. “Though the landscape was challenging in the past ten months, we are preparing to use any possibility to voice our problems since we don’t have any possible means to challenge the government other than election,” Yeshiwas responded to the concern by the diplomatic community.
Similarly, the two parties stated that they are aiming to garner substantial vote in the upcoming Addis Ababa City Administration elections. Hence, the parties affirmed their commitment to the diplomatic community that they are working hard so as to change the trend of the country from bullet to that of ballot box. “Though we are committed to bring change through peaceful means, it’s obvious that the path is thorny. Due to the regime’s narrowing down of the political space, we have failed to provide our alternatives on human rights, federal system, land tenure system, foreign policy and free market to the public at large,” Yehiwas said. (…)
26.8.2016 State Department Warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Ethiopia. Nazret.com, Source: U.S. Department of State
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest and arbitrary detention. There continue to be reports of unrest, particularly in the Gondar region and Bahir Dar in Amhara State, and parts of Oromia State. This replaces the Travel Warning of June 13, 2017.
The Government of Ethiopia has demonstrated its ability and willingness to restrict or shut down internet, cellular data, and phone services, impeding the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia and limiting the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services. Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions or arrests of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia.
Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, continuously assess your surroundings, and evaluate your personal level of safety. Be aware that the government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations, and that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can be met with a violent response or turn violent without warning. U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should monitor their security situation and have contingency plans in place in case you need to depart suddenly. Given the unpredictable security situation, U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should have alternate communication plans in place, and let family and friends know that communication may be limited while you are in Ethiopia. The Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to register your mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
26.8.2017 OPDO acknowledges ‘legitimate demands’ as protests continue. Arefayné Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
The Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) issued a statement Friday that the Oromia regional government plans to respond to what it called the legitimate demands of peaceful protesters, after a third day protests severely handicap the region.
OPDO offered to address the demands through talks and political settlements, though saying it has no jurisdiction to set free the leaders of the Oromo Federalist Congress leaders, Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba. “We want to emphasize that there can no longer be any doubt about the region’s sincerity to respond to the demands and it is also our wish to see prisoners released. That is why in the past six months, we have freed more than 22,000 prisoners. Since the leaders of OFC are under the federal government and accused of terrorism, the region has no jurisdiction. However, in a meeting with the Prime Minister Hailemariam in Nekemt town on July 12, religious leaders and elders drawn from east Wellega and Horo Guduru Welega zones presented their demands for their release, for which the prime Minister responded in positive and the region is also waiting for that.”
OPDO is one of the four parties that make up the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front, though it is often criticised for being rubber stamp of Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF)’s agenda that controls the army and security apparatus.
In another news, a stay-at-home strike in Oromia region have continued for a third day. Activists tweeted photos of empty streets and shops in several towns such as Ambo, Guder, Ginchi, Nekemte, Miesso, Aweday, Haromaya.
26.8.2017 Oromia gripped by another round of strike. US, Canada issue travel warning. Yonas Abiye, The Reporter
Not long after the 10-month state of emergency (SoE) was lifted by the House of People’s Representatives (HPR), stay home strike and isolated incidents of unrest has flared up in several parts of Oromia this week, resulting in business boycotting, road blockage and attacks on vehicles that refused to cease operation.
Addisu Arega, head of communications with the regional government, confirmed to The Reporter that several vehicles have been damaged by the unrest in various localities of the regional state. According to Addisu, the protest covered 29 woredas in six zones of the Oromia Regional State. He further noted that, in addition to the youth, businesspeople have joined the protest, and an undisclosed number of people have been detained. The protest first began on Tuesday in some parts of Oromia, and has since spread, affecting places such as West Hararghe, West Shoa and zones in West Arsi, among others. The zonal administration of East Hararghe in Oromia also confirmed the protest that flared up has since been contained, “and business is going on as usual”. (…)
The latest protest is said to have been incited by the Oromo diaspora who called a five-day strike and business boycott. It is to be recalled that the previous deadly protest was said to have been caused by mal-administration, unemployment as well as the introduction of a controversial integrated master plan that had proposed integrating the capital with the surrounding Finfine Special Zone of Oromia (which was scrapped later).
But now, the recently conducted income assessment and tax estimation as well as demands for the release of political prisoners (including renowned politicians Merara Gudina (PhD), his Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) co-chair Bekele Gerba, who are defending various charges, along with other politicians and activists from the region) are presented as the main reasons for the latest protest. Another pressing issue raised by the protesters is failure by the regional government to resolve border disputes. Opposition groups, on their part, link the latest protest to the government’s failure to address public demand despite the ending of the SoE.
Meanwhile, Yeshewas Assefa, the president of Blue Party, who The Reporter approached, said that “the protests were indeed predicted and attest to the fact that the government has not yet addressed public grievances first aired before the SoE”. Citing the case of the Youth Revolving Fund, he further said, “EPRDF is trying to address some of the questions; yet the public demanded something entirely different”.
One of the highlights of the latest protest is the disruption of khat transportation from Awoday to Harar, as witnessed by The Reporter. Similarly, business activities have been totally shut down in Awoday, including, banks, public offices as well as other institutions. Transport was also halted until late afternoon Friday. Similarly, no transport service was available from Dire Dawa to Harar and Addis Ababa. The Reporter also observed that three vehicles belonging to Haromaya University have been damaged. In the western part of the country, business has been at a standstill in Ambo and Ginchi since Tuesday and transit services have been halted from Addis Ababa to Nekemt and beyond in Oromia.
In a related development, the Canadian government did not take long to issue a security alert for Ethiopia, citing clashes in parts of the country. It also subsequently advised its citizens to exercise caution. The US is the latest country to issue a travel advisory, updating an earlier notice that its citizens refrain from travelling to Harar.
25.8.2017 Residents of Ethiopia's Oromia Region Strike to Demand Release of Political Prisoners. Endalk, Global Voices
The Oromos, Ethiopia’s single largest ethnic group, collectively rallied against Ethiopia's ruling regime on Wednesday, August 23, this time by staying at home, skipping work and refusing to open their businesses.
The towns and cities of Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest administrative region where the Oromo people are concentrated, are normally bustling. But photos shared on Facebook showed shopping centers and open markets were largely quiet on Wednesday and Thursday. Roads were nearly empty, and public transportation services providers such as buses stopped, forcing government workers who had no other way of reaching their post to take part in the protest.
#Breaking: Harar and its surroundings under strike; no trade and transport activities observed. Some damaged vehicles were also spotted. pic.twitter.com/YmyOSIt2Tk — The Reporter (@TheReporterET) August 24, 2017
The strike, which is set to last for five days, was called by a mysterious Oromo youth movement calling themselves “Qeerroo,” referring to their youthfulness in the Oromo language. The secretive activist group’s main demand is the release of political prisoners and jailed activists, in particular prominent opposition figures such as Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba who were arrested over the last two years of protests and charged with crimes such as terrorism and promoting “regime change using illegal forceful means and threats”.
Two years ago, thousands across Ethiopia mainly in the Oromia and Amhara regions rose up, demanding more political freedoms and social equality and a stop to government land grabs. In terms of representation, Oromos make up 35 percent of the country’s 100 million people and Amharas account for about 30 percent of the population. The Tigrayans, on the other hand, represent only 6 percent of the population, yet Tigrayan elites are among the most high-ranking military officers who control the nation's security. The government's response to that uprising was brutal; hundreds were killed and thousands arrested. In October 2016, authorities declared a nationwide, nine-month state of emergency that was lifted on August 4, 2017.
With this recent strike, the Qeerroo also want an end to what diaspora-based activists say an unjust tax hike. In July 2017, the government introduced a new tax scheme for small business operators across the country that prompted a similar protest both in the Oromia and Amhara regions. That protest in July quelled without any demonstrable political results, but the demand has resurfaced here.
Also, in the middle of all of this, the Oromos have a border dispute with the neighboring Ethiopian Somali. In April 2017, during the state of emergency, the Ethiopian government told the two regions to come to an agreement redistricting their boundaries per the outcome of a referendum that was conducted 10 years ago, in which Oromia lost some land. The government recruited “Liyou Police” or special police of the Somali region as an armed force to enforce the outcome. The Oromos saw this as a plot of the Tigryan elite to weaken them, and they accuse Liyou Police of human rights violations. Ending the alleged human rights violations is contained within demands of the ongoing peaceful protest.
‘It should be waged at a national scale’
The Qeerroo reach to their audience entirely through Facebook, a website, and diaspora-based satellite television networks. Jawar Mohammed, executive director of Oromo Media Network, appears to be a major source of information. His Facebook page has more than one million followers, most of them gathered over the last three years.
The ongoing protest underscores the rise of a potentially treacherous challenge to the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) monopoly of power: widespread public outrage and a growing willingness of the public to participate in a strike when they are called.
But there are concerns about the absence of a single compelling protest message, coming even from supporters of the cause. The protest message is fairly written in Oromo language, primarily focused on mobilizing people who dwell in the region. Urging his compatriots to expand the protest into other parts of the country, Abebe Gellaw wrote on Facebook:
We cannot wage effective and sustained civil resistance at a regional level as the cost would be too high on the people without the desired outcome. The cost should rather be unbearable to the regime, not the people. It should be waged at a national scale in a manner that can overwhelm and stress out the controlling power of the regime.
Furthermore, on August 22, as the protest was set to begin, activists put out communications directed at a range of demographic groups in Oromia who are not willing to participate that came off as a threat of violence, particularly against the Guraghe ethnic minority who live intermingled in towns and cities across Oromia.
Though activists insist that their message is nonviolent and that they harbor no hatred for other peoples, this may prove a test for the Qeerroo to figure out how to address their anger against the ruling EPRDF without inciting violence. Diaspora-based activists have declared the action so far a success and urged participants to continue. It remains to be seen what political impact the protest has.
25.8.2017 Rights group urges Saudi Arabia to halt deportation of half a million Ethiopians. Middle East Monitor
Human Rights Watch has urged Saudi Arabia to halt the deportation of nearly half a million Ethiopians after the government in Riyadh announced plans to expel migrants working or living illegally in the kingdom by yesterday. According to the rights group, only 45,000 Ethiopians had registered with the Saudi government and returned home voluntarily as of June. The rest did not do so for several reasons, including a fear of the Ethiopian authorities.
The HRW statement stressed that while many Ethiopians go to Saudi Arabia for economic reasons, a large number of them flee from serious abuses at the hands of their government, especially in the Oromia region. The group warned that Ethiopian migrants may be at serious risk should they be forced to return home to face the persecution from which they fled. However, Saudi Arabia has no refugee law and no asylum system and is not a party to the UN Refugee Convention.
HRW added that Saudi Arabia has already deported 160,000 Ethiopians, many of whom were subjected to torture in their country after being held in detention camps.
19.8.2017 China, Ethiopia vow to promote military ties. Xinhua
Senior Chinese and Ethiopian military officials spoke highly of military ties between the two countries when they met in Beijing Friday. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, met with Samora Yenus, chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, to discuss relations between the two militaries.
China and Ethiopia have continually enhanced their political mutual trust and made fruitful exchanges and cooperation in recent years, Fan said. He added that Chinese military aims to work with its Ethiopian counterpart in deepening practical cooperation, contributing to China's comprehensive strategic partnership with Ethiopia. Samora said that Ethiopia is willing to push forward the continuous development of bilateral relations.
19.8.2017 Fighting for Breathing Room. Neamin Ashenafi, The Reportrer
Following a lengthy and tiresome discussion to set the agenda, the ruling party EPRDF and some 16 opposition parties has started the formal session of so called political parties’ negotiation forum few weeks ago. And first up on the agenda was reforming the Revised Political Parties’ Registration Proclamation No. 573/2008. The agreed up on amendments, however, are criticized for placing stringent barrier to enter into the Ethiopian political system.
(…) the ruling party never claimed that it has given up on the multiparty alternative; nor has it admitted to the fact that the dominant party system in the making is its preference. Rather it blamed the opposition for failure to offer a viable political alternative to the public, and forcing its hand to govern in a dominant party system. Nevertheless, the party was confident that it could make it work; perhaps until a later time when viable political entities would enter the political space.
The opposition on their part argued that instituting a dominant party system has always been the grand design that the ruling EPRDF has been working to achieve. This pretty much sums up the major political debates of the last decade.
And then comes another dynamics; the deadly political unrest that swept across the Oromia and Amhara Regional States in 2016. The unrest resulted in the loss of life and destruction of private and public property, and subsided only after the declaration of the State of Emergency in October of that year. Surely, this was the longest and most damaging political unrest that the ruling party faced since it took power two and half decades ago. (…)
In the back drop of that, the government expressed its commitment to reform some legislations, electoral laws and pertinent proclamations to make sure that more opposition voices are incorporated in the nation’s law making body. In this regard, both Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and president of the republic, MulatuTeshome (PhD), announced their government’s unwavering commitment to such reforms and that revitalizing electoral laws and proclamations are top priorities. And this is to be done in consultation with opposition groups through a grand opposition-ruling (parties) negotiation forum.
Following up on the promises, some 23 political parties and the ruling party started the pre-negotiation discussion to set the agenda for the negotiation. Since Blue Party (Blue), the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek) and others have decided to walk out of the negotiation early on due to differences in the agenda setting process and the issue of assign an independent mediator, which was rejected by the EPRDF, the number of parties which has taken a seat at the final negotiation tabled has dwindled to 17.
After the withdrawal of some of the parties the remaining group continued with the pre-negotiation process and managed to agree on some 12 issues to deliberate on. Regarding the issue of independent negotiator, the remaining parties agreed that the parties themselves would chair the negotiation taking rounds.
Following this, lengthy and tiresome discussion to set the agenda, the ruling EPRDF and the remaining opposition parties started the formal negotiations rounds few weeks ago. And first up on the agenda was reforming the Revised Political Parties’ Registration Proclamation No. 573/2008. The parties have covered the 63 articles of the existing proclamation, and agreed to incorporate new articles and sub-articles and also to amend some.
Among the new articles to be incorporated is the one that raises to 3,000 (from the current 1,500) the minimum number of founding members of a countrywide political party. Apart from that, they have also agreed that for a party to be considered a countrywide political party, it should maintain offices in at least four regional states and two city administrations. (…)
In nutshell, the amendment made to the Revised Political Parties’ Registration Proclamation No. 573/2008 amounts to fortifying entry to the Ethiopian political system, commentators say. Doubling the minimum number of founding members and requiring functional office facilities in at least four regions and two city administrations would considerably raise the initial cost, they assert, and that it could have a deterrent effect. (…)
According to commentators, let alone new entrants, opposition parties currently taking part in Ethiopian political system doesn’t have 3000 followers. Obstacles to stage peaceful demonstrations, obtain conference rooms to undertake political assemblies, other type of intimidations are some of the challenges opposition parties are daily facing in Ethiopia. Let alone opening more than five offices, getting access to hotel conference rooms is a challenging task for an opposition party, a political researcher who want to be anonymous argued.
According to him, when there is political tension in the country the ruling party usually picks the political party registration card. Following the 2005 election the ruling EPRDF has tightened grip on the formation of political parties. Since then it has introduced some moderate transformations that, under normal circumstance, will help it to continue as a dominant party, he contends.
“Before the 2005 Election, the EPRDF was a ‘cadre’ type political party, in which party members were secretly recruited based on strict political and ideological grounds. After, the 2005 election, however, EPRDF transformed itself into ‘mass party’ in which membership has become open to everyone,” he said. The number of EPRDF members that was close to two million has dramatically jumped to 6.16 million members in 2013; he said referring official data. Furthermore, the party has introduced EPRDF women and youth league,which are instrumental in mobilizing support. Currently, there are 1,600,000 EPRDF Women League and 1,250,445 EPRDF-Youth League members, according to same sources. The ruling party has also been training top and middle level leaders of the government (not the party) on policy matters. For example, as of 2013, 28,823 mid-level and 2,118 high rank leaders were trained on matters of development and good governance, the sources said.
The aggregate of all these shows a patron-client network that is also a systemic exclusion of all political opponents he argued, adding a characteristic of a de facto one party state.
18.8.2017 The dust seems to finally settle down. Bereket Gebru, Walta Information Center
It has just been months since opposition political parties and the ruling party started a positive engagement. Although their dialogue and consultation was more of a session for bickering and name calling, things seem to have cooled down a bit as there are some positive steps being taken.
The parties have recently come up with a list of issues to negotiate over. These include: the registration of political parties, the election proclamation, code of conduct proclamation for political parties, anti-terrorism proclamation, mass media proclamation, charities and societies proclamation, organization and function of democratic and human rights institutions, organization and function of justice bodies, freedom of movement, living and rights of proprietorship of citizens, issues of lease proclamation and eviction, tax law, and national consensus.
Both sides have decided to complete their negotiations in the coming three months. Considering the ever improving engagement of the parties, that goal might be achievable. (…) The party’s engagement with various sections of the society in the aftermath of the unrest in parts of Oromia and Amhara seems to have opened the eyes of the ruling party to the change needed in its relations with opposition political parties. Although not clearly stated, the deep renewal process that the ruling party is pushing forth might have something to do with the change of heart.
The fact that the parties did not directly engage in discussions regarding sensitive national issues might just be a good thing as they get to know each other on a more personal note, design procedures for future use and see that they can share their ideas peacefully. The long held assumptions on each side about those in the other camp can be put to question with a little bit of positive engagement with each other. The fact that they got together and designed a potentially working system reflects a lot on what they can achieve if they set their minds together on bigger challenges. (…)
For some Ethiopians with no affiliation to political parties, the lack of engagement between the ruling party and opposition parties has been a mystery. They both claim to represent and guard the interest of the Ethiopian people after all. The changes we have witnessed recently, however, seem to suggest that the dust might have settled down this time.
16.8.2017 Ethiopia human rights group puts spotlight on abuses in prisons [Video]. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban with EHRP
The Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP) has shone light on instances of rights abuses in the country’s prisons. EHRP used the story of a young woman, Nigist Yirga, who has been held by authorities since 2015 for participating in anti-government protests that hit the East African country.
Nigist – born and raised in the northern Gonder region said her only crime was for participating in peaceful demonstrations of July 2015. ‘I was arrested due to my participation in the protest. ‘I expressed my objections to the mass arrest and killings that was happening all over the country, which was why I took part in the protest. That led to my imprisonment,’ she added. She discloses further that after arrest, she was sent to a detention center in the capital Addis Ababa – over 730km from Gondar. She was held in the Meakelawi facility which is notorious for widespread torture. She chronicled how she was held incommunicado in Addis Ababa – an extremely cold cell with late night interrogations were some of the horrors she faced. She told how her hair and toe nails were pulled whiles she stood naked in front of male officers.
The 3 minutes 44 seconds cartooned video clip posted on Youtube said she was currently being held at the Kality prison where a certain degree of abuses continue among others: highly restricted visits which last 30 minutes. ‘I should not have suffered all these because I exercised my right,’ she concluded.
It is not known when and how the story of Yirga was documented. The EHRP is a non-governmental organization whose vision is ‘the amplification of Ethiopian Human Rights Voices,’ its website says. ‘Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP) understands the challenges that local civil societies in Ethiopia face and their limitations to engage on rights advocacy because of the restrictive environment in which they operate in,’ they added.
Video: Rights Violation in Custody – A story of Activist Nigist Yirga
12.8.2017 Germany Lifts Travel Advisory for Ethiopia. Ezega.com
Germany lifted its travel advisory for Ethiopia citing the lift of emergency by the Ethiopian parliament on August 4, 2017. (…) ‘‘Holiday trips off the main routes, into the Oromia and Amhara regions should be carefully weighed. On the main routes (Axum, Mekele, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Dire Dawa, Arba Minch, Konso, Jinka) travel is possible without problems’‘, the statement regarding Ethiopia read.
The German foreign ministry’s message issued, however, asked citizens to carefully weigh trips off routes into the two states in question. They further cautioned citizens to review their personal security and to stay away from places of conflict and to avoid crowds while they are in Ethiopia.
It also warned of ‘‘increasingly violent and partial fatal collisions between the two ethnic groups’‘in the border area of the Oromo- and Somali regions. The two groups have reportedly being clashing since early 2017, despite the Ethiopian government denies the report. ‘‘The areas concerned are Guji, Bale, Borena, Hararghe and West Guji. Travelers are advised to avoid these areas’‘, the statement cautioned.
The United States in its latest travel advisory on Ethiopia reported of intense fighting in the country’s east. They said the fighting had made a key road linking the east to Addis Ababa umpassable. In its response, the government said there were only sporadic clashes in the region between the Oromos and Somalis but not ‘intense fighting’ as the US sought to portray.
11.8.2017 Ethiopia forms new task force to fight corruption. Xinhua
Ethiopia has formed a new task force to fight corruption consisting of key government institutions as the East African nations engages in a massive anti-corruption crackdown. The statement was made to Ethiopia state media on Friday by Akiliu Mulugeta, corruption prevention director at Ethiopian Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), explaining that the new task force will have members from FEACC itself, Federal Attorney General, Ethiopian Federal Police Commission, Addis Ababa Police Commission and Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA).
The announcement coincided with the arrest of dozens of business people, brokers and senior government officials in an anti-corruption crackdown that is the biggest in Ethiopia for years. Assets of hundreds of individuals and several businesses have also been frozen in the anti-corruption crackdown. Sugar development, road and building construction, housing, financial institutions and officials from Addis Ababa city administration in particular have consisted the bulk of the arrested individuals.
Ethiopian government has identified corruption and rent seeking activities as part of the reason Ethiopia was rocked by sweeping unrest in 2016. The Ethiopian government has since then promised to crack down on grand scale corruption which has afflicted one of the world's fastest growing economies.
10.8.2017 Ethiopia Denies Reports about Fighting in Areas in Eastern part. ENA
The government of Ethiopia has denied reports by the U.S. Embassy regarding fighting between cities of Babile and Harar, Eastern part Ethiopia. The Minister Negeri Lencho told ENA that there is no fighting and closed road in the area. The Minister noted that there were sporadic clashes between residents in areas bordering Oromia and Ethiopian Somali regional states, but not now.
To peacefully resolve clashes in the bordering areas, the regional governments of the states had signed an agreement to demarcate the border between the states, Negeri recalled. Demarcating the border between the two states is being undertaken by experts drawn from the regional states and the federal government, pursuant to the agreement, Negeri said. Saying that there was a misunderstanding between the experts who were engaged in the process and local residents, the group has stopped the work.
In its travel warning message, the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia said that it is aware of reports that “the main road from Addis Ababa to Jijiga has been blocked by security forces between the cities of Babile and Harar due to intense fighting including gunfire. Ethiopian Defense Force troops are arriving in the area, and the road is not passable.” The Embassy has also recommended that U.S. citizens to avoid travel between Babile and Harar at this time.
10.8.2017 Intense fighting in Ethiopia as key road is blocked, U.S. warns citizens. africanews.com
The United States embassy in Ethiopia has reported of intense gunfire between two cities leaving a main road linking the capital and another town blocked. A statement released by the embassy read: “The U.S. Embassy is aware of reports that the main road from Addis Ababa to Jijiga has been blocked by security forces between the cities of Babile and Harar due to intense fighting including gunfire.” They added that even though Ethiopian Defense Force troops were arriving in the area, the road in question was not passable. The cause of the clashes is not yet known. They further cautioned citizens on travel to the above mentioned areas. “Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”
The US remains one of the few countries that have maintained their travel advisory for Ethiopia despite the lifting of a 10-month state of emergency imposed last October. The U.S. State Department on December 6, 2016 warned its citizens “of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest related to sporadic and unpredictable anti-government protests that began in November 2015.” It also spoke about how curfew rules had hampered its activities. (…)
10.8.2017 Court Freezes Properties of Companies, Individuals Suspected of Corruption. ENA
The Federal Attorney General announced today that a court has frozen the properties of 15 companies and 210 individuals suspected of corruption. Attorney General Getachew Ambaye told ENA that the companies and individuals whose properties have been frozen are owned by the suspects and their relations.
The companies whose properties are frozen include Aser Construction, Gemshu Construction, TINA Construction, DMC Construction, Yemane Girmay General Contractor, TCT (Trans National Computer Technology), Haisem Engineering PLC, Temanik Trading PLC, and Jing Ling International Trading. Meanwhile, the number of individuals detained for alleged corrupt practices has reached 54, according to Getachew.
The government has launched crackdown on alleged corrupt officials, businesspersons and brokers since last month. Since then, 54 individuals including one Member of Parliament are apprehended and facing justice. Forty-three of the detainees have appeared before court and the court has granted police 14 days to collect additional evidences on the cases.
10.8.2017 Political parties agree to add 7 new articles on electoral law. Berihu Shiferaw, Walt Information Center
The 16 political parties that met today have agreed to add 7 new articles on the proclamation for the registration of political parties, in addition to making amendments on 13 of the 31 existing articles.
Among the new articles which they agreed to add includes that a party should have an office at least in four regional states and two city administrations if it is to be labeled as a national political party. If a party is to be called a regional, it should have a regional program as well as offices in at least 25 percent of the areas (zones, woredas) where it was established. The parties also agreed to include an article which allows a political party to rent an office based on the agreement it concludes with the owner and to evade any hindrance in renting an office.
They also added a new article which forces the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to carry out the necessary works to build capacity of political parties. They also agreed a political party to clearly state in its manual the general assembly, number of its members, decisions, schedule for regular conference, including the preparations made for it. Moreover, the parties agreed to add a new article which authorizes the NEBE to manage if the manual was designed in such a manner that will improve democracy and the participation of members of the party. They also agreed to include a new article which forces political parties to notify to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia 30 days ahead of their general assembly.
The parties further agreed to amend 13 of the 31 articles stated on the proclamation and raise the founding members of a political party to 3,000 from 1,500 now (FBC).
7.8.2017 Ethiopia urges the US and western nation to lift travel advisories. Arefayné Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
The Ethiopian government has asked the United States and other western countries to lift their travel advisory warning, arguing the warnings have hurt the tourism industry. The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has rebuked US claims that it is unsafe to visit Ethiopia, due to the potential for civil unrest and arbitrary detention since a state of emergency was imposed in October 2016. Ethiopia’s government last Friday lifted a state of emergency imposed in October and on Monday briefed the diplomatic community on its decision to lift the state of emergency. State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hirut Zemene on Monday said the government had demonstrated its commitment to solving the impasse and ending the state of emergency, and the US and its Western allies have no excuse to maintain their travel warnings.
In June, the US State Department warned Americans about the risk of traveling to Ethiopia as a result of the potential for civil unrest and arbitrary detention, replacing the travel Warning of December 6, 2016. Other European countries followed suit. As result, the country’s tourism sector is suffering, due to a decline of European and American tourists visiting the country.
However, the country is still the site of sporadic but unnerving unrest, according to various reports. Even today five people were arrested in the capital of the Amhara region, Bahir Dar after a bomb exploded in the city yesterday, according to Radio Fana. The city’s police chief, Walelegn Dagnew, accused of social media activists and anti-peace elements for the explosion, and the subsequent closing of businesses. In western towns of Ambo and Wolisso, business facilities staged a stay away protest today, according to various reports.
7.8.2017 Dozens Arrested After Bomb Blast in Ethiopia. The bomb exploded in the north-western city of Bahir Dar, which is the capital of the Amhara region, on Sunday. No fatalities were reported. Allafrica.com
Bahir Dar city police say dozens of people are being held after a bomb exploded there yesterday, according to Addis Standard. No casualties were reported. The city's police chief, Commander Walelegn Dagnew, blamed both the explosion, and the subsequent closing of businesses, on "anti-peace elements". Other sources say business and transport facilities are staging a stayaway today, and had done the same yesterday, to commemorate 2016's Amhara and Oromia protests which saw several people killed.
4.8.2017 House lifts state of emergency. Berihu Shiferaw, Walta Information Center
The House of People’s Representatives (HPR), in its extraordinary meeting held today, has lifted the state of emergency that was declared since the last ten months. The House lifted the declaration after hearing a report by the command post secretariat established to look after its implementation and about the current state of peace and stability in the country. Secretary of the Command Post, Siraj Fegessa, said the peace and stability in the country during the last few months has shown tangible improvements and any challenge at present could not be beyond the controlling capacity of the respective regions in the country.
Meanwhile the House also has endorsed the appointment of Kebede Chane as Minister of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Pastoralist Development, Dr. Tilaye Gete as Minister of the Ministry of Education and Moges Balcha as Director of the Revenue and Customs Authority with the status of a Minister.
4.8.2017 Parliament Ends State of Emergency, Allafrica.com
Ethiopia lifted the state of emergency first imposed in October 2016, according to Addis Standard. An emergency session by members of parliament was called to make the decision on Friday. The House of Representatives had previously voted unanimously to extend the state of emergency by four months in March 2017. The emergency was first declared in October 2016.
More details to follow...
4.8.2017 Emergency Session By MPs Lifts State of Emergency. Mahlet Fasil, Addis Standard
Ethiopian members of parliament who are conducting an emergency session after having being called off summer recess have lifted the ten month old State of Emergency.
A ministerial cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has declared a six month State of emergency on Oct. 08/2016. It followed intense weeklong anti-government protests in Oromia regional state triggered as an immediate aftermath of a mass death of civilians at the annual Irreecha festival on Sunday, Oct. 2nd. However, upon the completion of the first six month, a regular meeting by the House of People's Representative, dominated by the ruling EPRDF, unanimously approved an extension by four more months of the emergency decree with a few changes.
On March 26, an inquiry board tasked to look into the implementation of the SoE told the national parliament that 26,130 Ethiopians were detained under the SoE. Of these 475 were released after receiving 'counseling', while 4,996 will be brought to a court. The remaining 20,659 were released after detention in various military camps for different periods of time, according to the inquiry board. However, the lifting of the decree will change nothing for the more than 5,000 detainees who were held under the SoE but are currently facing trials charged mostly under violence against the constitution.
Members of parliament are conducting an emergency session after having been called off the summer recess. In addition to their decision to lift the emergency decree, the MPs are expected to approve Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's new picks for two ministerial positions at the Ministry of Federal and Pastoralist Affairs and Ministry of Education, as well as a new head at the national electoral board. The three positions, held by Kassa Teklebirhan, Shiferaw Teklemariam and Prof. Merga Bekana respectively are being replaced because they were among the 12 newly appointed ambassadors for overseas posts.
Unconfirmed reporters indicate that Kebede Chane, Director of Customs and Revenue Authority, will be moved to fill the ministerial position at the Ministry of Federal and Pastoralist Affairs. But it is not clear why this is happening in the midst of controversy over newly introduced presumptive tax rule by the revenue authority that saw small businesses in various parts of the country, including the capital Addis Abeba, shut down their shops in protest. Further unconfirmed reports also indicate that the Members of Parliament will revoke immunity from member/s of parliament and a senior official at the rank of state minister at the ministry of finance and economic development implicated in recent corruption crackdown.
4.8.2017 Ethiopia arrests state minister for finance on suspicion of corruption. Aaron Maasho,Reuters
Ethiopia has arrested its state minister for finance on suspicion of corruption, state-run television said on Friday, part of an anti-graft drive that the government says has led to dozens of arrests in the last two weeks.
Alemayehu Gujo is the highest-ranking official to have been detained so far in the sweep that has also involved business owners. Zayed Woldegabriel, Director General of the Ethiopian Roads Authority, was also detained on Friday, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) said. In an emergency session, Ethiopia's House of People's Representatives lifted Gujo's immunity from prosecution, the EBC said in a breaking news announcement. "A warrant was then issued and led to his arrest," the broadcaster said, citing the Attorney General's Office.
Friday's arrest followed the detention of more than 40 officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, the capital's housing development agency, the state-run Ethiopian Sugar Corporation, and the Ethiopian Roads Authority. Charges brought so far include embezzlement and the siphoning off of billions of birr.
The anti-corruption drive is partly a response to unrest that wrecked the Horn of Africa country in 2015 and 2016 and which was sparked by a scheme to development and expand the capital, Addis Ababa. The protests turned into broader anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses. The violence included attacks on businesses, many of them foreign-owned, including farms growing flowers for export. The government subsequently acknowledged that maladministration and abuse of power was rife and that it needed to broaden political participation.
On Friday, it lifted a 10-month state of emergency that was imposed in the wake of the unrest.
3.8.2017 Parties Negotiating on Proclamation on Registration of Political Parties. ENA
The 17 national political parties, including the ruling party EPRDF have continued negotiations on the Proclamation for the Registration of Political Parties today. Media Committee Chairperson of the Negotiation and Deputy Chairperson of Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU), Gebru Berhe told ENA that the parties have discussed Articles 1-31 of Proclamation No 573/2008.
According to Gebru, the political parties in the closed door meeting they held have agreed to raise the minimum number of founding members for the formation of a country-wide political party from 1,500 in the proclamation to between 2,500 and 5000. Similarly, the parties have agreed to raise the minimum number of founding members for the formation of a regional political party to 1,500 from 750 the proclamation provides. However, the parties have yet to fix the exact minimum numbers for the formation of both country-wide and regional political parties, he added. The parties have discussed about including an Article on strengthening political parties through financial support with appropriate guidelines to be prepared through further discussions.
The proclamation on the establishment and registration of political parties which was under discussion for the past two days is one of the 12 agenda items agreed upon for negotiations. It is to be recalled that the national political parties had agreed to conclude their negotiation within three months. The parties will meet on the 8th of August, 2017.
31.8.2017 Ethiopia to Join World Trade Organization in 2018. Ezega.com
Ethiopia is scheduled to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in November next year after Ethiopia agreed to open up its economy. Ethiopia has accepted to liberalize its economy in phases according to the agreement. (…) For close to 20 years now, Ethiopia has been working in order to meet the strict requirements set by the world trade organization. So far 11 African countries have applied to join the global trade body, with four of them expected to be admitted in the next one year. Source: The Star (Kenya)
29.8.2017 'I can't pay': taxing times for small traders in Ethiopia hit by 300% rate hike. William Davison in Addis Ababa, The Guardian
Strikes and protests in volatile Oromia state reflect widespread anger over business tax rises as the government tries to reduce its reliance on aid
(…) The (tax) hikes on grocers, barbers and cafes were met with widespread anger and protests in parts of the volatile state, which has endured unrest and fatal clashes during the last two years. The situation creates a dilemma for a government that is desperate to increase income tax and reduce its reliance on aid, but is also wary of further instability. (…)
Enterprises with an annual turnover of less than 500,000 birr are not required to produce audited accounts. Instead, officials visit each premise to make an income assessment. That has set up a game of cat-and-mouse with many vendors running down stock in anticipation of the visits. The result has been a large discrepancy between what traders say they earn and what their assessments are based on, even if they made an accurate verbal declaration. “What most people tell the government is too low, so the officials don’t believe anybody. Honesty does not work”, says one Burayu business owner, who also requested anonymity.
Oromia revenue officers take the estimation and multiply it either by 300 days for goods retailers or 360 days for services to produce a turnover estimate. Profits are calculated by applying a standard margin for each type of business, which is then taxed at marginal rates from 0% for profits of less than 7,200 birr to 35% for those earning more than 130,800 birr.
“The assessment has basic technical problems. From the selection of people to assess, to the criteria used for assessment, it does not fit into any objective presumptive tax assessment methodology. It’s just an ad hoc categorisation of taxpayers,” says business consultant Getachew Teklemariam.
At Burayu town revenue department, deputy head Samuel Tadesse explains that business owners were shocked at the new evaluations because the government hadn’t carried out an assessment for seven years. Annual inflation shot up to 40% in 2011, but has been hovering near 10% recently. Also, last year, the tax thresholds increased. For example, the tax-exempt portion rose from 1,800 birr to 7,000, while the upper margin was previously 60,000. “They are confused because for six years they paid a similar amount,” Tadesse says.
By Lake Hora in Bishoftu town, about 50km south-east of Addis Ababa, a man in a bright yellow T-shirt and matching sunglasses repairs a door with a soldering iron and angle grinder amid a shower of sparks. He’s given up on his business after a 13,000-birr tax bill that he believes was four times what it should have been, and is using a friend’s workshop. “It’s better to be mobile, going here and there. That is better than being licensed,” he says.
Others in the area say the levies on small businesses are another example that the system only works for the rich, who receive favours and tax breaks. Another small business owner believes access to jobs, land and controlled commodities such as sugar requires loyalty to the ruling party. The welder thinks the government wants the extra revenue to buy weapons – one of a number of conspiracy theories about the tax policy, testament to the extent of Oromo discontent, and the difficulty the authorities will have implementing unpopular policies. Protests over the tax, which closed businesses in July, have merged with other grievances and led to widespread strikes in Oromia last week. (…)
26.8.2017 Tourist Zone. Dawit Taye, The Reporter
The Chinese giant Maxtor International Financial Services Group on Wednesday inked a memorandum of understanding with the Amhara Regional State that would enable the former to build a Special Economic Zone in Bahr Dar. (…) Officials of Maxtor also revealed that it chose its investment in Ethiopia after conducting comprehensive business and economic feasibility studies among various African countries.
It was also noted that the new project is expected to lie by the side of LakeTana, Africa’s second largest lake. Similarly, the project requires at least 10 hectares of land but the regional administration has not yet allocated the requested land. The project focuses on tourism business, and it is expected to attract up to 20,000 tourists to Ethiopia upon completion. The project will also undertake the purchasing of planes as well as vehicles exclusively to ferry tourists to and from the area. The project, which is expected to have unique design, will first secure land to construct its office facilities while the main investment land deed will be considered by the regional administration in due course, according to the company’s officials.
24.8.2017 Automotive Industry on Spotlight Requiring Hard Push. Precise Ethiopia Consultancy (Source: Ethiopian Herald)
Following the stimulated economy and the improving purchasing capacity of citizens the automotive industry has become spotlight in the country looking hard push for better performance, said the Metal Industry Development Institute. Institute Corporate Communication Director Fite Bekele told The Ethiopian Herald that since the first Growth and Transformation Plan the industry has shown progress after long sluggish move for close to half century.
He said currently, some 16 industries engaged in vehicle assembly and vehicle body parts production are operating in the country with an aggregate capacity of producing 45,900 vehicles annually estimated at 31 billion Birr. Besides, the current capacity has also enabled the industries to produce 30,000 Bajaj worth 3.3 billion Birr. However, the director said the industries have produced vehicles and vehicles body parts amounting to close to five billion Birr out of the target 8.8 billion Birr in the just ended fiscal year.
Along with its labor and capital intensive nature, low customers’ interest to buy local products, the limited finance, management and technological capacity, market and input, power and land supply as well as shortage of foreign currency, are the major challenges the industry faces, according to the director. In fact, over the last five years the tendency to buy local products has been improving. These days, public offices are buying local products mentioning a case in point the increasing public transport buses and office cars in the country.
Fite said some 43,723 vehicles have been imported with 30.2 billion Birr in the just ended Ethiopian fiscal year, in which he said an indication for increased demand in the country. Despite many challenges, the industry is attracting investors, creating job opportunity and decreasing the spent for importation, he said. (…)
19.10.2017 Ethiopia secures land for port facility in Sudan. Birhanu Fikade, The Reporter
Following his official visit to the Sudan this week, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has inked an agreement that would enable Ethiopia to develop a port facility at the Port Sudan through which the government contemplates to handle half its foreign trade volume.
Asked about government’s plans to invest in a neighboring country to secure access to sea, Dessalegn Ambaw, state Minister of Transport (MoT) told The Reporter that the premier, who spent three days in Khartoum since Tuesday has forged economic, political and other bilateral ties with his Sudanese counterpart and part of that economic deal has to do with acquiring a plot of land at the Port Sudan.
According to the state minister, the idea of securing land has to do with constructing a port facility that would handle Ethiopia’s foreign trade, mostly imports of goods. Port Sudan is the latest in the list of alternative port outlets that the Ethiopian government is looking to use in the region. Dessalegn declined to name the country opting it is too early to make it official, but he mentioned of another neighboring country currently in talks with Ethiopia for a possible deal to sell its port services to the country. The state minister also declined to verify the size of the land Ethiopia has secured in Sudan.
However, it is clearly known that Ethiopia has recently secured a stake at the Port of Berbera in Somaliland. (…) Furthermore, the government of Djibouti has been investing on a massive scale to construct additional port facilities which primarily targets Ethiopia’s imports. Apart from the long-serving Port of Djibouti, four additional ports are being constructed and up on completion all will be targeting the Ethiopian market. The expanding Ethiopian economy remains unquenched when it comes to port outlets and the government has been busy looking for more alternatives looking as far as Mombasa in Kenya. (…). There are trials shipments via Port Sudan where bulk of chemical fertilizers are among the commodities shipped through Port of Sudan.
10.08.2017 Der Bau des geplanten Konventionszentrums ist angelaufen. Afrikaverein der deutschen Wirtschaft
Die erste Phase für den Bau des Addis-Africa International Convention and Exhibition Centre (AAICEC) ist eingeleitet worden. Nach einer Bauzeit von drei Jahren und seiner vollständigen Errichtung wird dem Convention Centre eine Fläche von 11 ha zur Verfügung stehen. Das Institut wird für seine Veranstaltungen bis zu 5.000 Delegierte unterbringen können. Die Finanzierung erfordert anfangs US-$ 120 Mio. und wird von den Teilhabern der AAICEC getragen. Dazu gehören u.a. die Bank of Abyssinia sowie eine Gruppe von privaten äthiopischen Expats aus Süd-Africa.
Im Rahmen der ersten Projektphase wird das Centre selbst zusammen mit zwei Ausstellungshallen, einem Amphitheater, Büros und mehreren Restaurants entstehen. In der zweiten Phase werden dem Projekt vier weitere Ausstellungshallen beigefügt und in der dritten Phase werden u.a. ein Vier-Sterne-Hotel sowie eine Shopping Mall dazukommen.
Aus einer Liste von zehn Anbietern aus China und aus Dubai wurde die CGCOC (vormals CGC Overseas Group) als ausführendes Bauunternehmen ausgewählt, die mit den beiden äthiopischen Firmen von Teklebirhan Construction sowie von Afro-Tsion zusammenarbeiten sollen. (EBCAM 130/2017 – 01.08.2017 – mei)
28.08.2017 Landwirtschaft: Investitionen in den Gartenbau werden finanziell gefördert. Afrikaverein der deutschen Wirtschaft
Investoren, die sich im Gartenbaubereich engagieren, können auf verbesserte Bedingungen hoffen. Die Regierung plant diesen Geschäftsleuten dieselben Investitionsanreize zukommen zu lassen, die den Investoren in die Errichtung von Industrieparks zugestanden wurden. Das bedeutet, dass bis zu 85% des Investitionsvolumens über ein Darlehen der Development Bank of Ethiopia finanziert werden können unter der Voraussetzung, dass die Investoren den Anteil von 15% selbst aufbringen.
Am 2. August hat das Investment Board für die Landwirtschaft wichtige Anreize beschlossen: Es wurden sechs Regionen in vier „Regional States“, i.e. Amhara, Tigray, Somali und Oromia, genannt, in denen Investitionen in den Gartenbau gefördert werden. Zu den Ortschaften, die davon profitieren sollen, gehören u.a. Bahir Dar, Arba Minch, Raya, Shinele, Alagea und Shalo. Darüber hinaus will die EIC in Zukunft mit der Ethiopian Horticulture Development & Agricultural Investment Agency kooperieren und weitere, für den Gartenbau geeignete Regionen benennen. Auch diese Investoren werden von der Abgabe von Zoll befreit und erhalten einen Tax-Holiday von drei bis zu acht Jahren.
Unternehmen, die Blumen exportieren werden als „indirekte Exporteure“ angesehen und werden deshalb von der Mehrwertsteuer befreit. Das „Investment Board“ hat entschieden, dass alle Teile, die für die Verpackung von Blumen benötigt werden, von Steuern und Zoll befreit werden. Diese Investitionen in den Gartenbau sollen im Rahmen eines Clusters geschehen, die dann wie eine spezielle Förderzone behandelt werden.
Im Augenblick sind in Äthiopien mehr als 130 einheimische und ausländische Unternehmen in diesem Sektor tätig. 85 von ihnen kommen aus dem Ausland. 43 Betriebe gehören Äthiopiern. (Quelle: thereporterethiopia.com – 12.08.2017 – mei)
16.8.2017 French Company Relocates Investment Plant Over Land Dispute, Berhane Hailemariam, Addis Fortune
The Oromia Investment Commission (OIC) has faced a challenge in relocating 600 farmers from the 335ha of land out of the total 800ha leased to European Food and Cattle Plc in East Shoa, Liben, Chukana Wereda, near Ziway. The French company, European Food and Cattle, obtained the land a year ago to establish a company which will process animal fodder and dairy products, with a 681 million Br investment capital and working capital of 50 million Br. Having obtained a license in 2014 from the region's Investment Commission, the company leased the land after getting approval from the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) in February 2016. A month after the approval, the regional investment commission assured the company to hand over the land in 30 days, according to Yirgalem Gebre, deputy manager of the project.
Nevertheless, the investment office failed to keep its promise. "Seven months have passed without receiving the land," said Yirgalem. OIC could not live up to its word as it failed to convince the farmers to evict the land, according to Belay Duferra, OIC Support and Follow-up team leader.
"The farmers did't agree with the compensation payment offered to them," said Belay. The land belongs to 643 farmers who resided in the area under Gogeti Goro and Liben Gadula Kebele. The farmers used the land for farming and cattle grazing. Gudeta Senbeto, 27, is one of the farmers who resisted relocating his farm that is growing teff and vegetables, citing a reason of low compensation. "We are offered to get 38Br a square metre as a compensation, which is unfair," said Gudeta. Another farmer, Doba Teko, who lives in the same area, agrees with Gudeta. Doba Teko, a 32-year-old farmer, is optimistic about the investment, hoping it can alleviate the unemployment rate in the area. But he resisted leaving the area for the same reason as Gudeta. "We only ask the government to give us reasonable compensation," said Doba.
But as a temporary solution, the company currently has settled in Alage Agricultural TVET College on a 200ha plot of land, cultivating maize and sorghum to feed the 6,000 milk cows planning to start breeding in a month, according to Yirgalem. European Food has also requested 1,000ha of land for expansion in Alage. The cows, according to Yirgalem, are breeding by using a hormone transfer system, also known as Embryo Transfer, where the hormone will be sourced from France to breed 6,000 cows that can give 32 litres of milk a day. Currently, the company has 77 permanent workers at Alage with a plan of pushing the total number of employees to 801 when it becomes fully operational.
12.8.2017 Building a climate resilient coffee economy for Ethiopia. Kew Royal Botanical Garden and Environment and Coffee Forest Forum
Building a climate-resilient coffee economy for Ethiopia is a two-year SCIP project undertaken by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF), and partners. The aim of the project was to provide a climate-resilient coffee economy strategy for Ethiopia, based on a rigorous assessment of the influence of climate change on coffee-producing areas and wild coffee forests. The climate resilient strategy was developed in close partnership with stakeholders, including government and non-government bodies, coffee producers and industry.
In 2013, Royal Botanical Garden Kew and Ethiopian partner Environment and Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF) embarked on the project Building a climate resilient coffee economy for Ethiopia. The climate change assessments were based on a combination of activities, including high resolution mapping, climate change modelling, extensive ground-truthing, farmer interviews and climate monitoring. After more than 30,000 km of travel across Ethiopia we were able to collect and verify the data needed to map and assess coffee-growing and run the computer modelling necessary to understand what would happen to the country’s coffee growing areas over this century under accelerated climate change. We ran 23 general circulation models (GCMs) under a broad range of scenarios and permutations, and compared these analyses with information gathered from coffee farmers and producers and weather station data, to reconcile modelled future outcomes with observed or assumed climate change trends. The results of the project are presented in a scientific research article, summary report and coffee atlas.
Key messages: (1) The coffee growing landscape of Ethiopia is varied and complex. (2) The climate of Africa and Ethiopia has changed and will continue to change throughout this century. (3) Coffee growing in Ethiopia has been negatively influenced by climate change and deforestation. (4) Climate change will continue to impact and alter coffee growing in Ethiopia over the coming decades. (5) Relocation of coffee farms/areas will be a key component in building resilience for the Ethiopian coffee economy. (6) Appropriate adaptation measures could ensure resilience for many coffee farmers.
Documents and publications of and about the project:
Resilience potential of the Ethiopian coffee sector under climate change - Nature Plants article
Coffee under threat - BBC News (19 June 2017)
10.8.2017 New Directive Breaks Ground to Incentivize Commercial Farmers. Fasika Tadesse, Addis Tribune
The Board of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) has approved a directive that was designed to incentivise commercial farmers by providing lower lease fees and extended contract periods. The directive that was approved last week was drafted by the Ethiopian Horticulture Development & Agriculture Investment Authority (EHDAIA), which was established six months ago after the merger of the Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency and the Ethiopian Agricultural Investment Land Administration Agency (EALAA). The Authority worked on the draft for the past three months before it was sent to the EIC Board for approval two weeks ago. Then, the Board gave notice of the approval of the directive to the Authority last Thursday.
"We sent the approval notice for six institutions in commercial farming," said Belachew Mekuria (PhD), deputy commissioner at EIC. The Authority, the Ministry of Agriculture & Natural Resources (MoANR) and the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers & Exporters Association (EHPEA) are among the institutions which received the approval notice.
"The amendment came to effect mainly to attract more investors in commercial farming by expanding incentive packages," said Adugna Debella (PhD), deputy chief executive officer (CEO) of EHDAIA. The directive focuses on extending lease contract periods, lowering lease contract fees and reducing procedures which the investors go through to get the farms. The amended directive replaces the former one that was issued in 2008 during the establishment of the former Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency.
It works for commercial farms - mainly for cotton farms, dairy farms and cattle ranches. "The directive also aims to formalise the lease agreements entered between commercial farmers and farmers," said Adugna. Previously, commercial farmers were mostly in rural regions with a lease period of 30 years and farms which were in urban areas were leased for 15 years. But the new directive puts all the farms in the federal system and the lease period is three decades all across. It has also reduced the lease payment to almost zero, according to Adugna. The former directive stated that a tenant for horticulture farms had to pay 42 Br a square metre for farms in the rural areas and 69 Br in the urban areas, but this has been lowered to one Birr and two Birr, respectively.
Also, the new directive gives the mandate of processing commercial land only to the Authority in contrast to the previous directive, where investors were getting land from the regional investment offices and the former Agricultural Investment Land Administration Agency. "We already established a dedicated office to manage leasing cases," said Adugna. Yemane Seifu, president of the Commercial Farmers Association in Gambella Regional State with over 200 members, cherishes the amendment of the directive but he has reservation on the centralisation system. "If the Authority does not establish offices in the regional state, the process of getting land may be extended, and this might be a challenge for the investors," said Yemane.
Commercial farms were introduced to Ethiopia four decades ago when the government piloted state and research farms. There is 11.5 million hectares of land covered by commercial farms, of which cotton farms have the lion's share, followed by oil seed and maize.
23.8.2017 Teddy Afro concert cancelled for a third time. Lucy Ilado, Music in Africa
Ethiopian musician Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro) has been denied a permit for his New Year’s Eve concert. The concert, which was to take place on 10 September at the Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall, was expected to draw more than 10 000 people. (…) According to the Mayor’s Office, the decision was taken to give space to a different music event said to be affiliated to the ruling party. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemarim Desalegn is set to attend this replacement concert.
The cancellation is third time unlucky for Teddy Afro who was denied a permit for same event in 2015 and again last year. An interview with the artist on state television was abruptly cancelled earlier this year, after which the interviewer resigned. The streak of cancellations has been attributed to some of his politically vocal songs. These songs, mostly from his third album Yasteseryal, were released in 2005, same year that saw a wave of anti-government protests quashed violently by security forces during election period. Yasteseryal accused the government of failing to deliver on its promise of change, making it an anthem for anti-government protesters.
Nevertheless, the event's organisers are yet to give up. They have announced that Teddy Afro's concert has been postponed. The new date for the concert is yet to be announced.
21.8.2017 The state of Ethiopia through a Demographic and Health Survey. Eskedar Kifle, Capital,
One in every 15 children in Ethiopia will not make it to their fifth birthday, according to the newly released 2016 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS). According to the survey that was conducted by the Central Statistics Agency (CSA), infants that are born less than two years after a previous birth have a higher under 5 mortality rate.
Comparing statistics for different regions, the survey also shows that more children in rural areas are likely to die than in urban areas. For example, Addis Ababa experiences 39 deaths per 1,000 live births while in Afar, it is 125 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Maternal health has also shown slow progress; findings show that only 26 percent of birth occurs in a health facility while 73 percent of birth occurs at home. The pregnancy related mortality ratio for Ethiopia stands at 551 death per 100,000 live births, making it one of the highest rates globally.
The survey also measured children’s nutritional status by comparing heights and weight measurements against international reference standards. Findings show that nearly 4 in 10 or 38 percent of children under five are stunted which is an indication of chronic under-nutrition.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stunting in early life – particularly in the first 1000 days from conception until the age of two – impaired growth has adverse functional consequences on the child.
Some of those consequences include poor cognition and educational performance, low adult wages, lost productivity and, when accompanied by excessive weight gain later in childhood, an increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life.
In rural area, only 57 percent or households have access to improved source of water; improved source refers to piped water, public taps, standpipes, tube wells, boreholes, protected dug wells and springs, and rainwater. Findings also show that only 26 percent of Ethiopian households have electricity.
Looking at education and rate of literacy, the survey shows that nearly half of women; 48 percent and 28 percent of men, both aged 15 to 49 are uneducated. About 1 in 10 women and 7 in 10 men are literate.
Unbelievably, the report further revealed that 63 percent of women and 28 percent of men agree that a husband is justified in beating his wife for at least one of the following ridiculous reasons; if she burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects the children, or refuses to have sex with him.
4.8.2017 Eine Legendäre “Stadt von Riesen” in Äthiopien bei Ausgrabungen gefunden. Epoch Times
Eine alte Stadt aus dem 10. Jahrhundert fasziniert die Archäologie. Auch wenn die Forscher nicht abschließend belegen konnten, dass dort einmal Riesen gelebt haben – wie Einheimische glauben – so dürfte es wenigstens das Zentrum einer blühenden Zivilisation gewesen sein.Die Legenden von Riesen in dieser Gegend Äthiopiens sind weit verbreitet. Die bekannteste ist sicher die von Goliath aus dem Alten Testament. In der griechischen Mythologie sind Riesen als Giganten und in der indischen als Daityas bekannt.
Sind dieses Wesen ein reines Phantasieprodukt unserer Vorfahren oder sollte doch ein Fünkchen Wahrheit an den alten Legenden sein? Diese uralte Frage kam erneut auf, als Archäologen 2015 mit den Ausgrabungen in Harlaa, im Osten Äthiopiens, begannen – dort wo laut der Legenden von Einheimischen einst Riesen gelebt haben sollen.
Seit Jahren schon finden Leute in der Umgebung chinesische Münzen und alte Tonscherben. Bekannt sind auch die großen Steine, die von Menschen ohne maschinelle Hilfe gar nicht hätten bewegt werden können. Dadurch entstand der Glaube, Riesen hätten sie bewegt.
Was suchte das britische Archäologen-Team?
Seit zwei Jahren nun läuft die Suche nach Artefakten an der Ausgrabungsstätte durch das britische Archäologen-Team um Timothy Insoll, einem Professor der University of Éxeter in Großbritannien.
War die hypothetische Existenz von Riesen in der Vergangenheit Teil der Motivation für die archäologischen Arbeiten der Briten? Allein die Funde der Einheimischen waren Grund genug für die Forscher, mit den Grabungsarbeiten zu beginnen.
Einheimische dringen darauf, das Rätsel um die Riesen zu lüften
“Die Einheimischen drangen sehr darauf, dass wir das Geheimnis lüften. Bauern hatten seltsame Dinge bei der Feldarbeit gefunden, darunter chinesische Münzen. So kam die Legende auf, die Gegend sei einmal Heimat von Riesen gewesen”, meinte der Professor Timothy Insoll.
Unglücklicherweise, und sehr zum Bedauern der Einheimischen, konnte das Archäologen-Team keine Beweise für die Existenz von Riesen finden. “Wir haben das offenkundig widerlegt, aber ich bin nicht sicher, ob sie uns das glauben. Manche sagen, die Körper, die wir fanden, seien Kinder von Riesen”, so Insoll.
Jedoch machte die Expedition andere interessante Entdeckungen. Die Archäologen fanden eine Moschee aus dem 12. Jahrhundert, sowie Belege von islamischen Bestattungen und Grabsteine. Auch fanden sie Schmuck, Keramik aus China sowie den Malediven und ägyptische Münzen aus dem 13. Jahrhundert.
Riesiges Handelszentrum in abgelegenem Teil Äthiopiens
“Diese Entdeckung revolutioniert das Verständnis der Archäologen vom Handel in einem vernachlässigten Teil von Äthiopiens. Was wir entdeckt haben, zeigt, dass es hier ein riesiges Handelszentrum gab”, so Insoll, laut BBC.
Da der Nachweis der Existenz von Riesen durch die Wissenschaft offiziell noch nicht erbracht wurde, steht die Frage im Raum, ob die Wissenschaftler “genug gegraben” haben. Sollte die wissenschaftliche Welt zu konservativ sein, um neue umwälzende Konzepte akzeptieren zu können?
Legenden unabhängiger Kulturen sprechen von Riesen
Die Legenden vieler Kulturen, die tausende Kilometer durch Ozeane voneinander getrennt existierten, berichten davon, dass es einst Riesen auf der Erde gab. Megalithbauten, wie es sie weltweit gibt, sprechen ebenfalls von Existenz riesiger Menschen in der Vergangenheit. Was ist wahr und was falsch? Warten in der Zukunft noch größere Enthüllungen auf uns?
Obwohl die Riesen-Legende der Äthiopier nicht belegt werden konnte, ist der Fund einer reichen Weltstadt ebenfalls eine echte Sensation.
4.8.2017 Inside the doping hotspot of Ethiopia: dodgy testing and EPO over the counter. The Guardian, Special report by Martha Kelner in Addis Ababa
Guardian investigation shows how easy it is to obtain doping products, uncovers disorganisation at the Ethiopian anti-doping agency and catches leading athlete admitting to having taken performance-enhancing drugs
Inside Ethiopia’s flagship stadium, the bleachers are painted the green, yellow and red of the flag. The country’s best athletes have converged in Addis Ababa for the national championships while the great and good of Ethiopian sport gather trackside in matching beige suits and white baseball caps.
Haile Gebrselassie is among them, handing out medals in his capacity as the president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation. He receives a louder cheer than anyone when introduced by the stadium announcer. Two Olympic and four world 10,000m titles mark him out as one of the greatest distance runners of all time and the most famous man in Ethiopia, where athletics is the national sport. His reputation has helped build an enviable property and business portfolio, making him a wealthy man.
At one end of the stadium a billboard pictures other distance running greats Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba and Almaz Ayana, whose extraordinary 10,000m world record at the Rio Olympics last summer was greeted with disbelief in some quarters. Beneath them, in bold writing, is the statement: “It is possible to be the best without doping.”
However a joint investigation by the Guardian, the German broadcaster ARD and Holland Media Combination suggests that may not be true in every case. It shows how easy it is to obtain doping products in the country and there emerges a prevailing sense of disorganisation at the Ethiopian anti-doping agency, which is charged with testing athletes. A hugely successful Ethiopian athlete is also caught on undercover film, seeking a new doping programme and admitting to having taken performance-enhancing drugs before claiming one of her biggest titles.
The findings may raise concern for British Athletics, which holds annual high-altitude training camps in Ethiopia for top athletes, including Mo Farah, who is attempting to do the distance double for a third time at the world championships in London, which begin on Friday.
Outside the national stadium, two girls sell cobs of corn and coffee beans from colourful mats on the ground. But during the week of the Ethiopian championships, the blood-boosting drug EPO could be bought freely from a pharmacy just over the road. It is a popular drug, particularly among athletes and cyclists looking to gain an illegal edge by enhancing their endurance levels.
A sign for the Gishen pharmacy is broken at one edge but potted plants decorate the doorway and it is clean inside. First, a reporter from the Guardian asks for something to treat anaemia, suggesting EPO as a possible medicine. A female pharmacist disappears into a back room briefly and delves into a fridge, returning with a cardboard box filled with dozens of phials of EPO stacked one on top of the other. She asks nonchalantly how many are required and three were bought for 810 Ethiopian birr (around £26) in cash.
The same reporter returned a second time only 13 minutes later, buying a further two phials of EPO, a toothbrush and a tube of mosquito repellent from a different pharmacist. A different reporter then entered the pharmacy and bought four phials of EPO from a third person. A male pharmacist admitted he knew of the performance-enhancing benefits of EPO and had sold it to athletes. “Sometimes, yes,” he giggled.
In the space of 26 minutes, nine phials of EPO were purchased at a cost of 2,430 birr (£79). A sticker on the reverse of the glass container states they should be dispensed on the prescription of a physician only. But no questions were asked. No prescriptions were sought.
The director general of the Ethiopian anti-doping agency, Mekonnen Yidersal, promised to investigate. He said: “If somebody is involved with this illegal practice, he or she will be punishable as per the World Anti-Doping Code and other relevant anti-doping laws of Ethiopia.”
The fact EPO is so easily purchased close to the national stadium is a strong contradiction of the suggestion Ethiopia is getting tough on drugs cheats. The country has introduced deterrents of prison sentences of between three to five years for anyone found to be doping. Only this year, Gebrselassie was proudly announcing the first prison sentence had been issued, with Girmay Birahun, a little-known 22-year-old marathon runner, sent to jail for doping.
The IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, has been working with the country’s anti-doping agency and suggestions behind the scenes are that it has been impressed by a commitment to anti-doping education, with one official saying it outstripped many western nations. But when asked to provide testing figures from the national championships, a very confused picture emerged.
The championships took place from 16 to 21 May but the first set of figures supplied were for 21 to 26 May and suggested 111 in-competition urine tests were conducted and 15 pre-event blood passport tests. However a total at the bottom suggested 18 blood tests and 83 urine tests had been carried out. When the figures arrived for the correct dates, they had been altered. The anti-doping room is in the bowels of the stadium, signposted by an A4 sheet of paper taped to the door but it remained locked for several hours during one day of the championships when 16 tests were said to have been conducted.
In a statement, the Ethiopian anti-doping agency said: “Regarding to the testing figures conducted on the 46th Ethiopian Athletics Championship, there was a mistake occurred on the table when we wrote in the tab.
“The final day was Saturday and Sunday. Therefore some of our staff, including me, were in the stadium to facilitate the outreaching programme and sample collection process. On the other hand, since the day was the weekend, some of our staff were out of office.”
For years, it has been Ethiopia’s east African neighbour Kenya in the spotlight for doping offences. Last year another documentary by ARD contained allegations that doping was rife at a high-altitude training camp in Iten including a doctor filmed on a hidden camera claiming he had supplied “more than 50” athletes, including three British runners, with doping products.
Even before that documentary, there was a shift by British athletes – including Farah – from Kenya to Ethiopia. They mostly train in Sululta, a village 2,500m above sea level and about 10 miles north of the capital up a treacherous, windy road, wide enough for only one vehicle in parts. If you reach Sululta early enough in the morning there is a vista over sprawling Addis Ababa before the smog sets in, enveloping a city of four million people. The attractions for athletes, aside from the altitude, are miles of dirt trails and solitude in a place where entertainment options are limited to a cup of coffee at a roadside cafe.
There is one athletics track, with a man selling bamboo from a wheelbarrow at the entrance. On the track the Djiboutian athlete Ayanleh Souleiman, a former world indoor champion over 1,000m, jogs with a training partner. He and Ethiopia’s highest-profile athlete, the 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba, regularly train in Sululta and until last year were coached by Jama Aden. The Somalia-born Aden was also used by British Athletics as an “unofficial facilitator” for Farah at a training camp in Ethiopia in 2015. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the Briton, who has never failed a drugs test.
An Ethiopian-based athlete
Aden was arrested last year after EPO and other medicine was found in his hotel room in Spain, where he was at a training camp with athletes including Dibaba, a favourite for gold in London. There is a warrant for Aden’s arrest in Ethiopia but the Guardian understands he returned to Addis Ababa for 48 hours earlier this year before fleeing. He was also spotted at the Doha Diamond League in Qatar, where he used to be a national team coach. Following Aden’s arrest Dibaba said their relationship was based only around training and that she was “neat and crystal clean”.
Last month Spanish prosecutors said Aden had been indicted on public health charges. The Guardian understands that the Spanish police also have a lot of evidence from mobile phones and laptops seized in the raid last year, including text messages and emails that suggest drug trafficking as well as administering banned substances to athletes.
The IAAF anti-doping department is understood to be confident this additional evidence will be enough to pursue rule violation charges once the criminal case is concluded.
Back in Addis Ababa there is more evidence Ethiopia’s phenomenal track and field success is not purely down to the popularity of the sport and a genetic edge African-born runners possess. A high-profile female athlete is caught on a hidden camera asking another athlete about sourcing a new “doping programme”. She talks casually about her running schedule, admitting to having taken Eprex, a brand name for EPO, before one of her biggest victories, in Europe several years ago.
After much discussion she settles on a 45-day programme, taking EPO and human growth hormone on alternating days. It is agreed she will tell the fictitious doctor who has devised the programme about her progress and she will stop taking both substances a week before she is due to compete in order to evade the testers.
Many Ethiopian coaches blame the prevalence of doping in the country on increasing numbers of foreign coaches and agents, particularly from eastern Europe. Yirefu Birhanu, an Ethiopian Olympic team coach who led Feyisa Lilesa to silver in the marathon in Rio, believes the relative poverty in Ethiopia and lack of education can mean athletes are tricked into taking drugs.
“I had two athletes test positive,” he says. “When I asked them they said they were told it was not a banned substance, that it was vitamins and many famous athletes are using this. But the athletes have already killed their life because it was a banned substance.
“There are a lot of managers,” he adds. “Some are doing their business from their heart. Some are doing it for money only, they care when the athletes are participating in races, after that they throw them away.
“I am advising to those managers, they must show all the information to their athletes. Because they are human beings, they are not a cow or something like this, they have their own right to know what they are doing.”
Another athlete who has trained in Ethiopia since 2003 has noticed the availability of drugs increase with an influx of coaches from eastern Europe. “I believe it is foreign coaches bringing doping into Ethiopia. I think a lot of people have moved from Kenya, because it is more in the spotlight, to Ethiopia, because they are less likely to get caught. But I think it is more of an individual issue than a state-run thing. Ethiopian runners, most of them, don’t have money to buy their own doping products so I think it is agents and managers getting them.”
British Athletics declined to comment but said it was satisfied all athletes on training camps in the country were subject to rigorous anti-doping procedures. The UK Anti-Doping chief executive, Nicole Sapstead, said: “Under the World Anti-Doping Code, UK Anti-Doping has the jurisdiction to test any athlete from the UK, anywhere in the world. We do test athletes internationally, including Ethiopia and from April 2016 to March 2017, we conducted 558 tests across 17 different sports in 22 countries.
“Sadly, it is not uncommon for substances such as EPO to be available to purchase in a number of countries, and we are concerned about the increase in the number of people buying such substances over the internet. We would appeal to anyone with information about these substances being bought or used to contact us in confidence via reportdoping.com.”
Horn of Africa and Foreign Affairs
11.8.2017 Wenn das Transitland Endstation ist. Dominic Johnson, tageszeitung
Jährlich brechen rund 100.000 Menschen vom Horn von Afrika in Richtung Golfstaaten auf. Oft bleiben sie im Jemen stecken – mitten im Kriegsgebiet.
Einen krasseren Kontrast zwischen Arm und Reich gibt es nirgends auf der Welt. Im Norden: die Arabische Halbinsel mit den unermesslichen Ölmilliarden und Glitzerpalästen Saudi-Arabiens und der Golfstaaten. Im Süden: das Horn von Afrika mit dem unvorstellbaren Kriegselend in Somalia und tiefster Armut in weiten Teilen Äthiopiens. Dazwischen: Jemen, wo sich kriegsbedingt eine schwere humanitäre Katastrophe entwickelt – und wo niemand Schmugglern Einhalt gebieten kann oder will.
Kein Wunder, dass jährlich rund 100.000 Menschen aus dem Horn von Afrika über Jemen in die Arabische Halbinsel aufbrechen, auf der Suche nach einem besseren Leben. Die Völker auf beiden Seiten des Landes sind ohnehin eng miteinander verwandt und kulturell verbunden. Das Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) des Dänischen Flüchtlingsrats, seit elf Jahren die genaueste Beobachtungsstelle für Bevölkerungsbewegungen in dieser Region, zählte im Jahr 2016 117.107 afrikanische Ankömmlinge in Jemen, 83 Prozent davon aus Äthiopien und der Rest aus Somalia – ein Rekord. Zwischen 2007 und 2016 sind nach UN-Angaben über 750.000 Äthiopier und Somalier nach Jemen gezogen. Viele haben die Weiterreise in die Golfstaaten gesucht, aber mehrere Hunderttausend hängen in Jemen fest.
Als Gründe für den Rekordandrang 2016 nannte der RMMS-Jahresbericht „den kompletten Zusammenbruch der Zentralregierung und Grenzüberwachungssysteme Jemens, was es Migranten leichter machen könnte, sich unbemerkt durch das Land zu bewegen, und daher eine größere Zahl ermutigt, ihr Glück zu versuchen“, sowie „die aktuelle politische Krise und die Serie von Protesten gegen die Regierung in Äthiopien“ – die schweren Unruhen des Sommers 2016 mit über 600 Toten und 11.000 Festnahmen.
Fast alle in Jemen von der IOM befragten äthiopischen Ankömmlinge der letzten Monate geben an, zur größten äthiopischen Volksgruppe der Oromo zu gehören, Ziel der schärfsten Repression des vergangenen Jahres. Vor hundert Jahren noch zogen Wanderarbeiter aus dem bitterarmen Arabien nach Afrika, um im äthiopischen Kaiserreich Arbeit zu finden. Heute ist es umgekehrt.
Billiger als das Mittelmeer
Es gibt zwei Migrationsrouten aus dem Horn von Afrika Richtung Norden. Die eine, über Sudan und Libyen ans Mittelmeer und nach Europa, hat den Vorteil, dass die Chance hoch ist, aus dem Wasser gerettet zu werden und in Europa zu landen. Allerdings ist diese Route neuerdings praktisch dicht, auch dank der EU-geförderten Grenzabschottungspolitik von Transitländern wie Sudan. Die andere Route, über Jemen nach Saudi-Arabien, ist riskanter, aber billiger. Nur wenige hundert US-Dollar kostet die Reise aus den südsomalischen Dürregebieten über den nordostsomalischen Hafen Bosasso, der gegenüber von Jemen liegt. Eine andere Route führt aus Äthiopien über den Hafen Obock im Kleinstaat Dschibuti ans Rote Meer und an Jemens Westküste.
Der Nachteil der Arabien-Route: Auf der anderen Seite wartet anders als in Europa komplette Rechtlosigkeit, Willkür und zuweilen lange Inhaftierung oder faktische Versklavung. Eine IOM-Studie aus dem Jahr 2014 wies nach, dass Tausende Äthiopier in Jemen als faktische Leibeigene auf Qat-Farmen arbeiten – Qat, eine weiche Droge aus gekauten Blättern, wird sowohl in Jemen als auch im gesamten Horn von Afrika gern konsumiert und ist eine Säule der regionalen Wirtschaft.
Inzwischen versinkt Jemen im Krieg, und Saudi-Arabien will seine Migranten loswerden, um der eigenen Jugend Perspektiven zu bieten. Allein in den Jahren 2013 und 2014 wurden 200.000 Äthiopier und Somalis sowie eine halbe Million Jemeniten aus Saudi-Arabien hinausgeworfen.
Aber angesichts der sich verschlechternden Lebensumstände am Horn von Afrika wagen dennoch viele Migranten die Überfahrt. Die Dürre dieses Jahres in der Region gilt als die schwerste seit einem Vierteljahrhundert. Für viele Dörfer ist es die einzige Rettung, wenn wenigstens einer ihrer Bewohner in die Fremde zieht, um Geld zu verdienen.
Der wichtigste Abreisehafen aus Afrika nach Jemen ist Bosasso, die Hafenstadt an Somalias Nordostküste gegenüber von Jemen unter Kontrolle der autonomen somalischen Region Puntland. Seit jeher ein Umschlagplatz für afrikanisch-arabischen Fernhandel, blüht in Bosasso in der Staatenlosigkeit Somalias auch das Geschäft mit der illegalen Migration. Die Region ist auch eine Bastion der somalischen Piraterie, gegen die in den letzten Jahren mehrere internationale Kriegsflotten in den somalischen Gewässern unterwegs gewesen sind – zuweilen waren Piraten und Migrantenschleuser identisch.
Inzwischen verkompliziert der Krieg in Jemen die Lage. Mindestens drei Kriegsparteien sind aktiv: die international anerkannte Regierung von Präsident Hadi in der südjemenitischen Hafenstadt Aden; die nicht anerkannte Koalition des früheren Präsidenten Saleh zusammen mit der Huthi-Rebellenbewegung in der eigentlichen Hauptstadt Sanaa im Norden; und die jemenitische Al-Qaida auf der Arabischen Halbinsel, die weite Teile Südjemens kontrolliert. Einer internationalen Militärallianz unter Führung Saudi-Arabiens unterstützt die Hadi-Regierung, weil die Huthi-Rebellen mutmaßlich vom Iran aufgerüstet werden.
Zur saudischen Allianz gehören auch die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate, die unter anderem Puntlands Küstenwache trainieren. Die „International Crisis Group“ analysiert, dass Saudi-Arabien und die Golfstaaten Schikanen gegen Migranten aus Äthiopien und Somalia als Druckmittel einsetzen, um die afrikanischen Nachbarn auf Linie im Jemen-Konflikt zu bringen. Im März starben Dutzende afrikanische Migranten auf dem Weg nach Jemen bei einem saudischen Luftangriff, der ihr Boot im Roten Meer traf.
Waffen gegen Migranten
Die aktuelle Sorge ist, dass die Al-Qaida-Milizen im Jemen und die islamistischen Shabaab-Milizen in Somalia über die maritimen Schmuggelrouten zusammenfinden. Nach Recherchen der in Kenia basierten „Conflict Armament Research“ sind die in Puntland basierten Piraten inzwischen in den Jemen-Waffenschmuggel eingestiegen: Boote voller afrikanischer Migranten aus Bosasso landen und kommen mit Waffen aus Jemen zurück.
Letztes Jahr tauchte zum ersten Mal in Puntland sogar ein selbsternannter Ableger des „Islamischen Staats“ (IS) auf und besetzte die Hafenstadt Qandala östlich von Bosasso – ein weiterer bekannter Schmuggelort Richtung Jemen. Ihr Anführer Scheich Abdulkadir Mumin war ein Verwandter des historischen Piratenführers Isse Yulux. Sie wurden vertrieben, aber bleiben ein Machtfaktor.
Sollten sich islamistische Gruppen zwischen Arabien und Afrika weiter vernetzen, die Migranten könnten auf eben jenen Routen unter die Räder kommen. Die jemenitische Provinz Shabwa, wo sich das aktuelle Flüchtlingsdrama abgespielt hat, war jahrelang eine Hochburg der jemenitischen al-Qaida. Seit 3. August läuft in Shabwa eine Großoffensive: Sondereinheiten aus den Arabischen Emiraten, Spezialkräfte aus den USA und sogar Soldaten aus Sudan helfen der Armee der jemenitischen Hadi-Regierung, die Al-Qaida-Kämpfer zu verdrängen.
Kein Wunder, dass die Migrantenschleuser lieber schon vor der jemenitischen Küste kehrtmachen.