MELDUNGEN VOM FEBRUAR 2018
26.2.2018 Ethiopia reaffirms open-door refugee policy amid continuing refugee influx. Xinhua
Ethiopia on Monday reaffirmed its open-door policy for refugees that are flocking into the East African country mainly from its unsettled neighboring countries. The Ethiopian refugee agency (ARRA) said on Monday that even though the country presently shelters more than 900,000 refugees, it will maintain its open door policy towards refugees and "continue to receive new arrivals from several of its neighbors, notably from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Yemen."
Ethiopia, which is home to the second largest refugee population in Africa next to Uganda, further affirmed its commitment to improving refugee lives through the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Nine Significant Pledges it has made in September 2016. "As a country proud for its long-standing history of hosting refugees and home to the second largest refugee population in Africa, our commitment to improving refugee lives will continue unabated in light of the CRRF and the Nine Significant Pledges we made in September 2016," Zeynu Jemal, Deputy Director of Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), told journalists on Monday.
Jemal also revealed Ethiopia's plan to formulate a strategic plan that envisaged to help refugees both through support packages and prevention of challenges towards bringing lasting solution. "We are now in the process of formulating a Ten-Year Strategic Plan to comprehensively respond to the multifaceted needs of refugees that is creating strong linkages between humanitarian assistance, development and of course peace-building," Jemal said.
The Ethiopian government, through ARRA and other governmental institutions, is currently implementing a program of protection and hospitality of refugees in several refugee camps across the country. The protection program guarantees, among other things, education for children and youth, health services and the distribution of basic needs, food and security.
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in his recent visit to Ethiopia's Gameblla regional state, which is housing most of the South Sudanese refugees, had praised efforts made by the Ethiopian government in handling the regional refugee crisis. "Ethiopia is a very good model of how a country with a limited resources and a great challenge of its own keeps its doors open, its arms open to people from neighboring countries that are in trouble and seek protection here," Grandi said during his visit.
26.2.2018 More than 110 Refugees Depart for Italy through Humanitarian Corridor Program. ENA
Some 113 refugees of Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan left for Italy today to start a permanent new life. A total of 500 refugees living in Ethiopia will benefit from the Italian Humanitarian Corridor Program by the end of November 2018, representatives of the program said. At a joint press briefing the representatives of the Humanitarian Corridor Program said promoting global community-based migration intervention is important to minimize the impacts of illegal migration. According to the representatives, policies and projects aimed at fighting poverty and supporting refugees are important for sustainable and peaceful coexistence. The refugees who left for Italy will join the 25 sent by the program in that country earlier.
Deputy Director for Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), Zeynu Jemal said the global community-based approach is among solutions in preventing illegal migration and human trafficking. He also said Ethiopia and Italy have been implementing various programs to improve the lives of refugees and to protect migration, adding that the Humanitarian Corridor Program is one of the examples showing the commitment of the Italian government in supporting Ethiopia’s migration management activities. Zeynu noted that the Ethiopian government welcomes similar initiatives as sign of increased commitment and burden sharing to alleviate the plight of refugees.
25.2.2018 Ethiopia Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 47 | 12 – 25 February 2018. UNOCHA
- The Government of Ethiopia allocated some $182 million to support and rehabilitate people affected by natural and manmade disasters in 2018.
- If the predicted erratic and underperforming spring rains materialize, in the current drought belt, it will be the 4 th successive year of underperforming rains in some of these areas.
Government allocates US$182 million for 2018 Humanitarian response
The Government of Ethiopia allocated some $182 million to support and rehabilitate people affected by natural and manmade disasters in 2018. This includes the $36 million that was allocated earlier to Oromia and Somali regions for IDP recovery and rehabilitation programmes. The $10 million Central Emergency Response Fund announced in January will complement the Government plan and enable humanitarian partners to provide lifesaving assistance including shelter, clean water and sanitation services and solutions for those most in need amongst the conflict-displaced and host communities.
Meanwhile, the January nutrition hotspot classification has identified 463 districts nationwide as priority areas for humanitarian response in 2018, of which 216 are Priority 1 (P1), 161 Priority 2 (P2) and 86 Priority 3 (P3). The Geographic footprint remains the same as in 2017, with few additional P1 districts identified in northern and north eastern Amhara and in Afar regions.
2018 Spring (mid-February–May) rains could underperform in current drought belt
According to the National Meteorological Agency (NMA), the 2018 spring rains in the current drought belt (south and southeastern Ethiopia) could potentially be erratic and could underperform. If this materializes, it will be the 4th successive year of underperforming rains in some of these areas. Global weather forecasting systems have also identified Ethiopia as one of the four countries at highest risk of being impacted by La Niña during this period. The humanitarian situation will likely deteriorate further if the projected La Niña affects the spring rains in the lowland pastoralist and agro-pastoralist areas, extending the dry season.
Early warning information will be availed to pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in these areas for timely and informed decision making. The Government and partners are taking preventive and preparedness measures. To this end, frontloading of pipelines and of funding to partners on the ground is urgently required.
8.2.2018 Conflict Displacement Situation Report #2. ReliefWeb (GoE, UNOCHA)
Round 8 of the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), a joint displacement data collection exercise by IOM and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), was conducted between 3 November and 8 December 2017. The teams collected displacement data at the zonal, woreda/district and site level. Data collected at the zones informed the targeting of key woredas, while data collected at the woreda level informed the targeting of key displacement hotspots. DTM Round 8 piloted the use of mobile data collection tools to streamline and accelerate data collection/entry/cleaning processes. Regional and sub-regional findings were reviewed and endorsed by Government authorities at woreda, zonal and regional levels. Following a national review by the NDRMC, DTM Round 8 data and analysis was officially endorsed on 31 January 2018.
Since mid-December 2017, new displacements were reported in Oromia region. In West Hararge zone, local authorities reported around 44,000 new IDPs (Oromos and Somalis), displaced by localized clashes in Hawi Gudina and Daro Lebu woredas. IDPs are dispersed in around 20 different locations in these two woredas. Some of the new Somali IDPs have reportedly started moving out of Oromia and reached existing IDP sites in Dire Dawa and Qoloji. Similarly, ethnic Somalis are reported to currently be moving out of Negele town in Guji zone and its surroundings, having sold their assets and livestock. Displacements from this area are low-key and were not provoked by specific incidents. Around 400 Somali families have reportedly moved from Negele area to Hudet woreda in January 2018 and some others to other parts of Somali region.
In late January, new access between Liban and Dawa zones was provided through the finalization of construction of the Gaaluun bridge. Movement of humanitarian supplies has begun – UNICEF and WFP in Jijiga have already transported relief food and ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) supplies via the bridge. The physical structure of the bridge, however, can only allow trucks with a carrying capacity of up to 40 metric tonnes. The bridge is still a major improvement allowing for access and movement of humanitarian supplies to Dawa zone, which has been a challenge over the past few months, while also reducing transport time.
On 28 January, the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) and Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock announced that US$10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) would be allocated to complement ongoing Government efforts to help the most vulnerable people displaced due to conflict along the border of the two regions. The announcement was made following the ERC’s three-day mission to Ethiopia where he visited conflict and climate induced IDP sites and collection centers as well as two planned re-settlement sites/ areas for IDPs. The CERF allocation will fund life-saving interventions for IDPs and where feasible, will include activities that also contribute to long-term solutions for displaced people to reestablish their lives. The CERF funds will support emergency shelter, non-food items, and clean water and sanitation services for the IDPs and hosting communities. In the last two years, CERF allocated $49 million to aid operations in Ethiopia.
8.2.2018 UNDP and OCHA Chiefs renew call for new way of working. ReliefWeb, Report of 31.1.2018
Breaking down the silos between humanitarian aHumanitarian nd development actors to address recurrent crises
The Administrator of the United Nations Developcherverment Programme (UNDP) Achim Steiner and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock concluded a three-day joint mission to Ethiopia by urging all stakeholders to increase cooperation to withstand humanitarian and climate-related crises. The goal of the visit was to assess impact of recent droughts and highlight Ethiopia’s efforts to strengthen its national systems and the relevance of the UN’s new approach to crises or ‘New Way of Working’ (NWOW).
The two senior UN officials began their visit on Saturday 27 January with a field visit to Gode, in the Somali region, which is home to more than 400,000 conflict-affected internally displaced persons and where current relief activities are targeting more than 3.3 million beneficiaries. Another highlight of the trip was a high–level event held in Addis Ababa on Monday 29 January, on the margins of the 30th African Union Summit under the theme “New Way of Working — From Vision to Action. National, Regional and Global Experience”. Co-hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the event was meant to galvanize stakeholders’ support for ongoing work on the NWOW in Africa in general and in Ethiopia in particular.
Underscoring the UN’s commitment to this new paradigm, SG Guterres said: “We have a moral obligation to do better and we have the tools and knowledge to deliver on that obligation. We must break down the silos that have existed for too long between humanitarian and development actors.” “The new way of working is very relevant to Ethiopia, as it will reinforce the systems and institutions the country has been building and strengthening over the past several years, with a focus to build resilience through development work while addressing the humanitarian agenda in an integrated and sustainable way,” said the Prime Minister Desalegn as he pledged his Government support.
Outlined at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the NWOW approach which calls for bridging the divide between humanitarian and development practitioners is also designed for contexts where short-term humanitarian response and medium to long-term development programming are required simultaneously. “While the humanitarian system is very effective in saving millions of lives every year, we could generate greater value for money, better results and solve problems faster if we join up better with development actors.” indicated Mr. Mark Lowcock.
Ethiopia has been leading the way in operationalizing the NWoW to build the resilience of its people and reduce the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance. The government is scheduled to call a high level partners meeting to develop concrete actions around NWOW commitments. In an overall assessment of his visit UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner indicated that he is “particularly excited by the latest policy directions we are witnessing in Ethiopia. Many of the systems and policies that have been put in place over the years allow us to look at a situation where the emergency support system is functioning. There is no catastrophe and the economy of Ethiopia is able to continue to develop.” Mr Steiner also added: “As Ethiopia moves into a middle income country it can break many new boundaries and barriers. We want to work together to ensure that all citizens of Ethiopia are able to be part of that future vision of Ethiopia and also the Sustainable Development Goals.”
2.2.2018 Norway, Canada to Strengthen, Boost Cooperation with Ethiopia. Reliefweb
Norway and Canada have expressed interest to strengthen and boost their multi-faceted cooperation with Ethiopia.
Norway is keen to strengthen cooperation in agriculture, education, health, migration, peace and security; and Canada in food security, agro-business, and peace and security. n an exclusive interview with ENA, Norway’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Andreas Gaarder said, “We are already engaged in areas of agriculture which I always consider as the backbone of our engagement and we are also working in partnership in crucial areas such as education, migration and strengthening good governance and democracy as well as regional stability.” According to him, health is also the major area where his country will broadly engage since global health coverage is still a challenge. There will be no new area of cooperation this year “but a matter of deepening and strengthening the already existing cooperation which is broad all in itself”, he said.
Ambassador Gaarder pointed out the recent visit of Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and Foreign Minister Marie Eriksen Søreide signifies the breadth and depth of the cooperation between the two countries. peaking about investment in Ethiopia, the Ambassador said “… there is a lot of interest in other areas (besides the potash mining underway in the country), and I sense investors from the region are looking at the Ethiopian market.” Commenting about development in the country, Gaarder said “I am very happy to see the changes that Ethiopia has traveled so far and expect more economic activities between the two countries.” Ethiopia is one of the 12 focus countries for Norwegian development cooperation worldwide and a pilot country for Norway's global education assistance. In 2017 the first direct flight between Oslo and Addis Ababa took place as the first African airline ever to land in Norway, further strengthen the Ethio-Norwegian relationship.
Canada’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Philip Baker on his part has expressed his country’s interest in advancing the "excellent" bilateral cooperation with Ethiopia. Empowering women, food security as well as peace and security are few of the many areas that will strengthen our cooperation, he stated, adding that “this is something huge for Canada coming in Ethiopia this year.”
“We are looking for more agro-business whereby we can look for Canadian firms to work with Ethiopian firms to add more value to the raw product, be it tomatoes or teff,” the Ambassador said. Baker stated that Canada wants to see more value added products before any product leaves the country and creating massive job opportunities for many young Ethiopians is very important. “The deep-rooted relationship between the two countries is not just built on development, which is strong, but also on trade, policy and partnering,” he emphasized. The flow of Canadian investors and the Ethiopian Airlines flights to Canada have increased over the years and this certainly is a sign of interest to unleash the potential here, Baker said. He noted “Ethiopia is effectively implementing an excellent program on safety net in bringing eight million people out of poverty, half of whom are women.” According to Baker, Ethiopia has a number of comparative advantages and the government is engaged in huge infrastructural investments like roads which will provide access for small communities to get their products to the market. He suggested that the government keep up working on the reform to show the international community that Ethiopia is open for business and safe and stable. Ethiopia is a country of focus for Canada’s international development assistance, and Canada is the third largest bilateral country donor to Ethiopia. Canada’s bilateral development cooperation program is focused on food security, agricultural growth and sustainable economic growth. Interventions also recognize the importance of advancing democracy and human rights to ensure that Ethiopia’s development progress is inclusive and sustainable
Politics, Justice, Human Rights
17.2.2018 Directive for State of Emergency to be Issued Following Parliament’s Approval. ENA
Directive for the implementation of the state of emergency will be introduced after parliament approved the declaration, Siraj Fegesa Minister of Defense said. The State of emergency that Ethiopia has declared yesterday will be presented to the House of peoples representatives within 15 days for approval. According to the Ethiopian constitution the parliament should endorse a declaration providing for state of emergency within 15 days if it is in recess.
17.2.2018 Ethiopia bans protests, publications that incite violence during emergency rule. Reuters
Ethiopia’s state of emergency imposed on Friday includes a ban on protests and publications that incite violence, Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa said on Saturday. The move was made a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his surprise resignation in a televised speech on Thursday, saying he wanted to smooth the way for further reforms.
17.2.2018 State of Emergency remains in effect for six months, says Defense Minister. Fana Broadcasting Corporation
The State of Emergency declared yesterday will remain in effect for six months, said Ethiopia’s Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa. In his press briefing today, the Minister said the the decree will be tabled to the House of People’s Representatives with 15 days. According to the Minister, the State of Emergency was needed to protect the constitution and constitutional order.
Siraj also dismissed as false rumors of military takeover of the government. According to the Minister, a command post has already been set up following the declaration of the State of Emergency by the Council of Ministers yesterday.
The decree prohibits preparing, printing and circulating via media writings that could cause disturbance and suspicion among people as well as displaying or publicizing signs which could stir up violence. The decree allows law enforcement bodies to detain without court warrant any individual who orchestrated, led and organized as well as took part and suspected of taking part in criminal acts against the constitution and constitutional order. The individual will face justice after necessary investigation. In order to seize materials which were utilized and could be used to commit crimes, law enforcement bodies could search any houses, areas and vehicles as well as stop, ask and search a person without a court warrant
17.2.2018 No Ethiopia military takeover, minister says amid emergency. Elias Meseret, AP
Ethiopia’s defense minister has ruled out a military takeover a day after the East African nation declared a new state of emergency amid the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century. Siraj Fegessa on Saturday also ruled out a transitional government. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn remains in the post for now after making the surprise announcement Thursday that he had submitted a resignation letter to help planned political reforms in one of Africa’s best-performing economies succeed.
The state of emergency will last for six months with a possible four-month extension, similar to one lifted in August, the defense minister said. The new state of emergency, which effectively bans protests, will be presented for lawmakers’ approval within 15 days. Siraj said security forces have been instructed to take “measures” against those disturbing the country’s functioning, with a new special court established to try them.
Ethiopia’s cabinet on Friday cited deaths, ethnic attacks and mass displacement as reasons for the latest state of emergency. The announcement followed crippling protests in towns across the restive Oromia region on Monday and Tuesday that called for the release of political prisoners and urged the government to carry out rapid reforms.
Similar protests have taken place across Ethiopia since late 2015, leading the government to declare a state of emergency in October 2016 after hundreds of people reportedly had been killed. A stampede at a religious event southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, that month claimed the lives of several dozen people. That state of emergency led to the arrest of more than 22,000 people and severely affected business. Rights groups alleged that people were beaten and subjected to arbitrary detentions. The government said those arrested by mistake were released and those who unwillingly took part in the unrest were released after what it described as “trainings.”
The United States has responded to the latest unrest by warning its embassy personnel to suspend all travel outside of the capital. And Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting corporate reported that the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, met and discussed current political issues with Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu in New York.
Befekadu Hailu, a prominent blogger who has been jailed for his writings, urged Ethiopia’s government to “carry out genuine reforms, negotiate with legitimate opposition groups and prepare the country for a free and fair election” to solve the unrest. The new state of emergency will create a group of people with conflicting interests, Befekadu said. “The state of emergency was tested a year ago. It brings temporary silence but not normalcy.”
17.2.2018 Breaking: Ethiopia rules out transitional government as trail of chaotic events prior to State of emergency announcement leaves many anxious. Liyat Fekade, Addis Standard
A senior government official told Addis Standard that there will be no need for a transitional government, an idea widely entertained by many to steam growing fears of rupture within the ruling EPRDF. This comes as a trail of chaotic events preceded the announcement last night of the reinstatement of another state of emergency, leaving many Ethiopians suspect a deliberate tactic to pave ways for a military takeover in the wake of the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Ethiopians also suspect the move to declare a state of emergency as a deliberate move by the TPLF apparatchik to replace the outgoing PM with another weak “puppet.”
But a senior government official who wants to remain anonymous disputed the claims in an interview with Addis Standard this morning and said that it was nothing more than a “disorganized” trail of events due to the unexpected suggestion by the executive committee of the EPRDF to re-instate the emergency rule. He also ruled out the idea of a transitional government saying the government in power is still a “constitutionally mandated government.”
The re-reinstatement of the state of emergency was first suggested during an emergency meeting by the EPRDF executive committee on Thursday, the same meeting PM Hailemariam used to announce his resignation. The council of ministers was then called to convene on Friday afternoon to discuss and announce the re-reinstatement of the state of emergency, as per article 93 of the constitution, which mandates the council the right to declare a state of emergency in extreme cases such as invasion by a foreign enemy and breakdown of law and order, among others.
However, the eventual announcement was followed by a trail of confusing events, including a statement by Ethiopia’s minister of communication, Dr. Negeri Lencho, on the VOA Afaan Oromo denying reports of another state of emergency; a presser called at the office of the Prime Minister for early afternoon and was called off again late in the evening on Friday (local journalists were told to convene at 9 am on Saturday to attend another presser to be given by Siraj Fegessa, the minister of defense); and an unexpected announcement of the state of emergency by the state broadcaster EBC barely 40 minutes after the presser at the PM office was called off. The announcement on the state TV appeared to be incomplete as it did not specify a crucial detail on the time frame for the state of emergency. Within a span of half an hour, the official Facebook pages of EPRDF, and ANDM, issued a statement saying the state of emergency was declared for six months.
These events have made many Ethiopians take to their social media to express their fears and speculations of a government trick, a deliberate tactic of a possible military takeover or a tactic to intimidate the OPDO leadership, which is vying, and is widely speculated to replace the outgoing PM.
“Govt playing tricks. After waiting for 7 hours at the palace for an announcement, journos were told to leave & not to expect anything tonight. 40 mins later, govt announces emergency rule,” wrote Aaron Masho, Reuter’s correspondent based in Addis Abeba, on his twitter page.
“The state of emergency just declared via the state broadcaster is quite bizarre. The declaration stated that the SOE will take effect as of today, and yet it said nothing about the conditions of the SOE, its restrictions, and how long it will last. The ministers convened today to discuss the SOE reportedly couldn’t agree on a final decision. Although they were expected to make announcements to journalists later today, they failed to do so as they haven’t yet made a decision. Meanwhile, a certain group has decided to declare state of emergency unilaterally and announce it via the state broadcaster,” wrote Dr. Wondwossen Teklu, who is known for providing critical comments reflecting on various political events in Ethiopia. “TPLF is quietly assuming absolute power via its military proxy in ways that excluded ANDM and OPDO.”
Hassen Hussein, Assistant Professor at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Undergraduate College, on his part reflected in his twitter post suggesting the events indicate TPLF’s tactic to “intimidate” the OPDO leadership. “PM resigns & it’s sign of deepening democracy? Declare state of emergency & it’s to aid reform? All these to intimidate OPDO to settle for a puppet PM? The follies of TPLF’s top brass & security apparatus & oligarchy! Fortunately this is 2018; not 2006 nor 1992. God save Ethiopia.”
However, the senior government official who gave the interview to Addis Standard this morning insisted that the statement by Dr. Negeri Lencho denying the re-reinstatement of the state of emergency was a mere coincidence of “information gap” because Dr. Negeri, along with Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, the foreign minister, (both from the OPDO), are currently on a working tour to the US.
Nevertheless, confusion continues. The presser by Siraj Fegess, which was scheduled for today at 9:00 AM local time was postponed to 12:00 PM. According to the official, this is due to delays on the details of the State of emergency to be explained by Siraj Fegessa. He also said that yesterday’s meeting by the minister of council lasted until 7:30 PM and the work to write the details of the decree were ongoing “pretty much the whole night.” But he hinted that the state of emergency would be less imposing than the previous one.
Siraj Fegessa is expected to provide information that a command post, similar to the previous one, is set up to enforce the state of emergency. He is also expected to explain more details including the tabling to the national parliament of the decree within 15 days, corroborating Addis Standard’s breaking news and to dismiss fears of a military takeover. Addis Standard could not verify if Siraj will be providing the entire details on the scoop of the emergency rule, but the state media will be announcing the details during the evening bulletin.
But some have already expressed skepticism on whether the national parliament would give the decree a blanket pass like the previous one. It is expected that MPs from the OPDO and ANDM will resist endorsing the decree.
The fast unfolding events in the last three days have drawn several international media headlines, as well as comments from diplomats expressing concerns. “Rush of events. Release of many prisoners, resignation of the Prime Minister. Now State of Emergency. We hope the situation remains peaceful,” said Georg Schmidt, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa & Sahel at the German Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Meanwhile, Ethiopians are nervously waiting for the details of the emergency decree and sections of their constitutional civil liberties that are to be suspended by the emergency decree for at least six months.
16.2.2018 Nach dem Rücktritt des Premierministers: Äthiopien sortiert sich neu. Deutsche Welle
Premierminister Hailemariam Desalegn galt als Spielball der verschiedenen politischen Lager Äthiopiens. Proteste gegen die Regierung bekam er nicht in den Griff. Sein Weggang kann beides bedeuten: Neuanfang oder Chaos.
Es ist ein Schritt, der nicht völlig überrascht - und dennoch einige Fragen aufwirft: Nach monatelangen Spekulationen hat Äthiopiens Premierminister Hailemariam Desalegn am Donnerstag seinen Rücktritt erklärt. Die Probleme des Landes seien zu groß geworden, sagte er: "Weil es in unserem Land viel Unruhe gibt und viele Menschen gestorben sind und es zu hohen Sachschäden gekommen ist, befindet sich die Regierungskoalition EPRDF in einer Phase der Reform", sagte er. "Weil auch ich Teil dieser Reform bin und eine Lösung für die Probleme finden möchte, werde ich aus eigenem Willen als EPRDF-Vorsitzender und Ministerpräsident zurücktreten".
Schlechtes Krisenmanagement eines politisch isolierten Premiers
Einen Tag zuvor war Südafrikas Präsident Jacob Zuma nach zahlreichen Korruptionsvorwürfen zurückgetreten. Doch während Zumas Rücktritt durchweg Erleichterung auslöste, stimmt Hailemariams Entschluss viele Äthiopier nachdenklich. Der Journalist Merga Yonas Bula aus der Amharisch-Redaktion der DW glaubt noch nicht, dass der Abtritt des Premiers einen grundlegenden Wandel bedeutet. "Es gibt deutliche Zeichen, dass er in den letzten Jahren keine wirkliche Macht hatte", sagt er. "Hailermarian hat selbst einmal gesagt, dass er Entscheidungen treffen musste, ohne die dafür notwendigen Informationen bekommen zu haben."
Das liegt an der ambivalenten Rolle, die der Premier von Anfang an innehatte. Im Gegensatz zu seinem VorgängerMeles Zenawigehört Hailermarim nicht der Machtelite aus der Tigray-Ethnie an, die seit Mitte der neunziger Jahre die Regierung, die Armee und den Geheimdienst dominiert. Auch die Parteien, die Äthiopiens größte Ethnien Oromo und Amhara in der Regierungskoalition EPRDF vertraten, ließen ihn links liegen.
Auf dem Weg ins Chaos - oder zu weiteren Reformen
Oppositionsvertreter begrüßten gegenüber DW den Rücktritt. Wenn Menschenrechte nicht respektiert würden und wenn es über Jahre nicht gelinge, Rechtsstaatlichkeit und gute Regierungsführung zu sichern, sei es an der Zeit, den Rücktritt einzuleiten, sagte Mulatu Gemechu vom "Föderalistischen Kongress der Oromo" (OFC). Er reiche aber nicht aus, sagte Beyene Petros vom "Forum für eine föderale Demokratie in Äthiopien", kurz Medrek: "Die Ankündigung ist noch keine Garantie, dass die gesamte Regierung zurückgetreten ist. Deswegen ist die Lage weiter unklar."
Die Chefs der Regierungsparteien und der Ministerrat haben sich am Freitag zu geheimen Beratungen zurückgezogen. Nach dem Rücktritt des Außenseiters Hailemariam werde das Gleichgewicht neu ausgehandelt, schätzen Beobachter. Seit 2 Jahren kommt es immer wieder zu Massenprotesten gegen die autoritäre Regierung, die teils blutig endeten. Beobachter glauben, dass die Regierung Zugeständnisse machen muss, um die Lage zu beruhigen. Bisherigen Schritte wie die Freilassung einiger tausend politischer Häftlinge seien nur Makulatur, schätzt DW-Journalist Merga Bula: Man habe nur die bekannten Köpfe der Protestbewegung entlassen, zahllose weitere blieben in Haft.
Nach den ersten Machteinbußen des Tigray-Lagers ist offen, ob es zu einer Einigung zwischen den Amhara- und Oromo-Parteien kommt. Beide könnten in den jeweiligen Bevölkerungsgruppen für Unterstützung werben - und so eine Eskalation herbeiführen. Der scheidende Premierminister hatte verkündet, für eine Übergangslösung bereitzustehen. Er appellierte besonders an die Jugendlichen, die Ruhe zu bewahren: "Alle sollten einander gemäß unserer äthiopischen Tradition Respekt entgegenbringen", sagte er in seiner Rücktrittserklärung.
Reformkurs im Ausnahmezustand?
Noch ist kein Nachfolger für Hailemariam bekannt. Doch der Druck sei groß, nun einen Kandidaten der Oromo-Partei OPDO zu benennen, sagt DW-Journalist Bula. Äthiopiens größte Bevölkerungsgruppe fühlt sich schon lange abgehängt, hier waren die Proteste zuletzt am größten. "Dabei haben sich einige junge Menschen verdient gemacht, die Hoffnung auf eine Verbesserung der Situation versprachen", so Bula.
Politikwissenschaftler Mehari Yohannes von der Mekelle-Universität im Bundesstaat Tigray spricht sich klar für einen Oromo als Nachfolger Hailemariams aus. Und das nicht nur deshalb, weil Äthiopiens größte Ethnie - im Gegensatz zu den Amhara - noch nie an der Macht war. "Viele politische Argumente der Amhara-Opposition sind mit der föderalen Verfassung nicht vereinbar", so Mehari im DW-Gespräch. "Sie wollen einen Staat, der ganz anders strukturiert ist. Bei den Oromo hingegen gibt es eine deutliche Tendenz, das föderale System mit einigen Zusätzen und Behelfslösungen anzuerkennen."
So könne eine Oromo-geführte Regierung zum Kitt für das Land und für die Konflikte innerhalb der Regierungskoalition EPRDF werden, sagt Mehari. Doch zunächst beschloss die Regierung am Freitagabend, einen neuen Ausnahmezustand zu verhängen.
16.2.2018 Äthiopien verhängt wegen Unruhen erneut Ausnahmezustand. Die Presse
Um die verfassungsmäßige Ordnung zu schützen, ruft die Regierung erneut den Ausnahmezustand aus. Seit zwei Jahren gibt es in Unruhen in Teilen des Landes.
Wegen Unruhen ist in Äthiopien erneut ein Ausnahmezustand verhängt worden. Die Lage im Land könne nicht mehr mit einfachen Mitteln bewältigt werden, erklärte das Kabinett am späten Freitagabend in einer Mitteilung, über das staatliche Fernsehen. Der Ausnahmezustand sei nötig, um die verfassungsmäßige Ordnung zu schützen.
Seit mehr als zwei Jahren herrschen in Teilen Äthiopiens Unruhen. Immer wieder kam es zu regierungskritischen Demonstrationen, bei denen Hunderte Menschen getötet und Tausende festgenommen wurden. Bereits 2016 hatte die Regierung für zehn Monate einen Ausnahmezustand verhängt. Am Donnerstag hatte Regierungschef Hailemariam Desalegn überraschend seinen Rücktritt erklärt. Er wolle somit dazu beitragen, die Probleme im Land zu lösen, hatte er gesagt.
16.2.2018 Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency. ENA
The Council of Ministers has declared a state of emergency effective from Friday, 16 February 2018 by adopting the decree providing for the emergency ruling. The Council of Ministers said the emergency rule is aimed at protecting the constitution and constitutional order, as well as ensuring security and stability of the country. Protecting freedom of movement and the rights of citizens to live wherever they choose as well as build assets, are also among the motives for the ruling.
The Council in its press briefing noted that the violence that have been going on in some areas are undermining the security and stability of the country as well as the value of the people that promote peaceful coexistence. The violent activities have also led to ethnic based attacks which led to the displacement, death and injury of people, damage on property, and hindered investment. These violent activities are hurting the economy and put the peaceful and free movement of citizens under question. The Council said it is important to adopt the decree, as the public has requested the government for protection and the dangerous activities have continued to expand and extend in time.
The Ethiopian constitution under article 93 provides the power for the Council of Ministers to decree a state of emergency in case of external invasion, a breakdown of law and order which endangers constitutional order, natural disaster or an epidemic occur.
16.2.2018 Breaking – Ethiopia to declare three month state of emergency as of today. Addis Standard
The Council of ministers is set to declare a state of emergency for three months as of this morning, a source close to the government told Addis Standard. The military will be in charge via a command post, which will be “reporting to the Prime Minister,” according to our source. The move follows yesterday’s resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn both as Prime Minister, Chairman of EPRDF and his own party, the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM).
Initially, there there was a “strong push” against the decision from members of two of the parties that make up the EPRDF: the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the two parties that govern Oromia and Amhara regional states, according to our source. However, “the state of emergency will be declared this morning as the security situation in the country is getting volatile,” said the source.
Details of parts of the civilian constitution to be suspended will be announced at the end of the ministerial council’s meeting, but it is likely to be not much different than the October 2016 nine month state of emergency, which was extended by additional four months. The “government will submit the decision to national parliament within the next 15 days,” our source said, adding the delay to table the decision to the parliament was because the parliament is currently in mid-term recess. The state of emergency is to be declared amidst increasing power struggle, especially between the OPDO and ANDM, to replace the outgoing Prime Minister.
16.2.2018 PM's resignation expected from responsible leader: Government. Waltainfo
The decision of Hailemariam Desalegn to resign as Prime Minister of Ethiopia is expected from a responsible leader, Government Communication Affairs Office head, Dr. Negeri Lencho said. The ruling party has been carrying out deep reforms taking into consideration the problems facing the country over the last two years. Accordingly, members of the ruling coalition- Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) are directed to evaluate themselves in which some are done with the evaluation and some others are yet to finalize the evaluation. Dr. Negeri said that efforts are made to tackle people from displacement, losing life and avoid the damage of property.
According to him, the PM decided to resign wanting to be part of solutions for these problems. He said that the new prime minster will be elected to succeed Hailemariam Desalgn as per the country’s constitution; and until then he will remain on duty. The succeeding Prime Minister will decide on the coming members of cabinets.
16.2.2018 Ethiopian PM departure brings no change, opposition says. Mail Online, AFP
Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina says the country needs real change after the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
Ethiopia's opposition reacted cautiously on Friday a day after the surprise resignation of the prime minister, warning it did not herald real change since the ruling party remains in power. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on Thursday after weeks of anti-government demonstrations and growing splits within the country's ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.
With the EPRDF and its allies controlling every seat in parliament, it is unclear what difference Hailemariam's departure will make, said prominent opposition leader Merera Gudina, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). "What the people are demanding is fundamental change," Merera told AFP, saying that Hailemariam's departure was a matter of internal party politics. "So the change of an individual is really the homework for the EPRDF, not the people of Ethiopia." However, Merera said he was "cautiously optimistic," that Hailemariam's departure could offer an opening for them. "There are, after all, possibilities... to move forward," Merera said. "The EPRDF as an organisation has a serious problem and really blocked the democratisation of the Ethiopian state and society -- and is really responsible for many of its crisis," he added.
Hailemariam will remain in office until parliament and the EPRDF coalition confirm his resignation from the most powerful post in Africa's second most-populous nation. It remains unclear if his successor will be sympathetic to the protesters' grievances, or return Ethiopia to the authoritarian governing style of Hailemariam's predecessor Meles Zenawi, who led the rebels that ousted dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. Merera was released from jail in January, when the government began pardoning and dropping charges against hundreds of prisoners including many high-profile dissidents. Hailemariam said it was a way "to improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform".
The OFC chairman's release was a key demand of dissidents from the Oromo people, whose campaign of anti-government protests that began in December 2015 are seen as a key reason why Hailemariam resigned. The protests were quelled after Ethiopia imposed a 10-month state of emergency in October 2016, but hundreds of people died in the uprisings, and violence continues to occur sporadically, particularly in the two protest hotbeds, Oromia and Amhara regions. Earlier this week, young men wielding sticks and stones blocked roads leading out of the capital Addis Ababa and businesses shut in Oromia.
16.2.2018 All parties need a stake in Ethiopia's future, says opposition leader. Reuters
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition has lost its authority and all parties should be involved in mapping the country’s future, an opposition leader said on Friday, a day after the Prime Minister resigned.
Mulatu Gemechu, deputy secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said the Horn of Africa country needed a completely new political system. “Ethiopians now need a government that respects their rights, not one that keeps beating and killing them,” he told Reuters.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned on Thursday in what he described as a bid to smooth reforms. Africa’s second most populous nation has been plagued by years of unrest. A wave of strikes and demonstrations hit towns near the capital this week as protesters successfully pressed demands for jailed opposition leaders to be released. More than 6,000 political prisoners have been freed since January as the government has struggled to placate simmering anger among the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amharic, who complain they are under-represented in the country’s corridors of power.
The Oromo Federalist Congress is one of seven parties that make up the biggest opposition coalition, MEDREK. Mulatu’s views were echoed in the Oromo heartlands of central Ethiopia, the site of a series of violent protests against Hailemariam’s government in 2015 and 2016. “Our land can’t continue being taken from us. Oromos should not be jailed for exercising their rights,” said Dinkissa, a university student in Ambo, a town in the region. “Oromos have been always mistreated. His (the prime minister‘s) resignation will not mean anything unless our rights are respected. Whoever comes to power should know that. Otherwise, we will not stop protesting.”
15.2.2018 Analysis: Amid a revolutionary stupor, Ethiopia’s ruling party dumps its leader. Hassen Hussein, Addis Standard
After six years of power struggle within the ruling party since the death of the only leader the party had known; three years of relentless protests by the Oromo, later joined by the Amhara; and mounting turmoil in the country, the Chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the country’s embattled Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, resigned today in a televised speech to the nation.
His resignation wasn’t totally unexpected. Still, it led to some wild and impromptu jubilations on the streets and a collective sigh of relief. His end is partly his own making, the new circumstances, and the oldest rule of politics—that a leader without a solid base of support from which to govern is no leader at all.
Prime Minister Hailemariam had literally no political base—hailing from a small ethnic group in the south—in a country where political loyalty is defined along ethnic lines. When he assumed the reigns in 2012, many presumed that he would gradually grow out of the shadow of his predecessor, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and become his own man. He stayed in Meles’s cocoon till the bitter end. To make matters worse, while holding onto the formal trappings of the office, he relinquished actual power to the head of the country’s powerful security chief, Getachew Asseffa, and the equally powerful Chief of Staff, General Samora Yunus. And he watched helplessly, at times as a clueless clown, as the two deployed the full might of the state and all instruments of oppression to suppress unprecedented protests by the Oromo and the Amhara, the country’s largest and second largest ethnic groups, as well as different groups from his own home turf, the southern region. However, no amount of repression would restore control of the streets to the ruling party.
Hailemariam offered a slew of apologies and promises of reform but his generals and security operatives, no longer accountable to him or to anyone else for that matter, continued to kill, detain, and displace—nullifying his apologies and promises. The country suffered its biggest crisis in its history when over a million Oromo were displaced from their homes by the Ethiopian Somali state militia, the notorious Liyu Police, with the tacit acquiesce and support of the federal army and security establishment. That is when he formally broke with the new leaders of OPDO, who until then deferred to him out of respect for the oppressed peoples of the Southern regional state, who, like the Oromo, faced decade after decade of marginalization and exploitation by the domineering center.
Hailemariam’s fate was sealed in the recent meeting of the powerful Executive Committee (EC) of the ruling party, the real power in Ethiopia since 1991. EPRDF is a coalition of four member organizations— the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM), and the Tigrean Liberation Front (TPLF). Hailemariam has been chairman of SEPDM since 2001—making him the longest-serving head of the constituent members of the ruling party, after his mentor and benefactor, the late Meles Zenawi. As a response to the popular rejection, the ruling party promised a “deep renewal” but this remained a lip service until the relentless protests led to the abrupt and unceremonious downfall of Muktar Kedir, Chairman, and Aster Mamo, Deputy Chairman on the OPDO in October 2016—a month before the country imposed a nine-month long state of emergency. However, the effects of Oromo protests didn’t end in Oromia and with the state of emergency. In December, TPLF, the dominant group in the four-party coalition, dumped its long-time chairman, crisis needs a strong leader and a unified leadership with a cross-section of support from the populace as well as the oAbay Waldu, and elevated technocrat Debretsion Gebremichael. That left SEPDM and ANDM with the same leaders who oversaw the disaster that was Ethiopia since 2014. Hailemariam’s resignation signals that change has finally arrived in the South and it is expected that ANDM would do likewise.
Contrary to suggestions, the resignation doesn’t leave a power vacuum nor cause a constitutional crisis because Hailemariam has always been a nominal figure. The constitution stipulates that the Prime Minister would be elected from among members of the federal parliament. Since the latter is made up exclusively of members of the ruling party, it is the ruling party – hence the EPRDF Council of Ministers – that would render the final decision on the matter and parliament would simply rubber-stamp it. Accordingly, it is presumed that the 180-member EPRDF Council would hold an emergency meeting within days and perhaps weeks to choose Hailemariam’s successor.
Whoever the council elects will be leading a country in the grip of revolutionary fervor, which is a herculean task for anyone, let alone a ruling party in power single-handedly for over a quarter century. Few doubt that the incoming chairman of the ruling party and consequently the Prime Minister would be Oromo—and thus from OPDO. Since the election of Lemma Megersa as President of the Oromia National Regional State and Chairman of OPDO, not only has he built quite a reputation for himself as a credible and capable reformist leader that can transcend the country’s ethnic and religious divides, he has also surrounded himself with many other capable individuals including Dr. Abiy Ahmed, head of OPDO’s secretariat. To complicate matters, Lemma is currently not a member of the federal parliament and his party has to either hold a snap election to fulfill constitutional muster, name a temporary figure, or split the position of party chairman and Prime Minister. Neither option is desirable given the extraordinary situation. A country in such a position. Few fit that bill better than Lemma Megersa.
However, even for Lemma implementing the reforms promised and steering the country towards a soft landing – ending years of dictatorship and ushering in democracy – requires a rare caliber short of miraculous. The country urgently needs a whole host of reforms—from security sector reform to the subordination of the military under a neutral civilian leadership and making it representative of the country’s diverse population; from judicial reform and clamping down on corruption and abuse of power to rescinding of the draconian laws that made high crime and treason out of a routine exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights; and from equitable distribution of economic opportunities to opening up the political space for the opposition, the press, and civil society. These, while the requirement of stabilizing the country. Given the heady circumstances, the future Prime Minister cannot rely on the support of the ruling party alone. He needs to reach out to the opposition – say by going as far as including prominent leaders of the opposition in his cabinet – and calming frayed nerves in all quarters, from the public to the aging aristocracy that dominated the country’s political and economic life since 1991.
EPRDF made its most lethal error in 2012 by failing to elect a credible figure as Prime Minister. It could still commit the same error. Luckily however, it would be the last error it would make as a ruling party as it would be swept away by people power in a matter of months if not sooner. Should it learn from its errors and desire to make history, its best bet lies with OPDO’s Lemma Megersa. If Lemma does indeed ascend to assume the reins, I would wish him well. May the force be with him! He needs it.
15.2.2018 PM Hailemariam Submits Letter of Resignation. ENA
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn today announced that he has submitted his letter of resignation as prime minister and chairman of the ruling party EPRDF. He said that he decided to resign from both posts so as to contribute to the ongoing efforts towards bringing solution to the current situation in the country. The Premier noted in his speech that people have been displaced and injured, as well as investment and properties are damaged due to the recent unrest. Hailemariam believes that his resignation is important to carry out reforms that lead to sustainable peace and democracy.
Hailemariam said he would stay as prime minister until the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the country's parliament accepted his resignation. “I will stay in power as Prime Minister of the country and chairperson of the party till the parliament accepted the letter of resignation officially,” he affirmed.
Hailemariam, who served as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, sworn in as Prime Minister in September 2012, following the death of Meles Zenawi.
15.2.2018 Ministerpräsident Hailemariam Desalegn zurückgetreten. ZEIT Online
Auch die jüngste Freilassung politischer Gefangener wendete die Stimmung gegen ihn nicht: Nach Protesten mit Toten und Verletzten ist Äthiopiens Premier zurückgetreten.
Der äthiopische Ministerpräsident Hailemariam Desalegn hat nach landesweites Protesten gegen die Regierung seinen Rücktritt eingereicht. Er hoffe, dass der Schritt geplanten Reformen zum Erfolg verhelfen und einen "andauernden Frieden" schaffen werde, sagte Hailemariam.
Er wolle Teil der Lösung sein, sagte er im äthiopischen Rundfunk. "Ich glaube, dass die Forderungen und Fragen der Öffentlichkeit erfüllt und beantwortet werden sollten", sagte er. Ob die Abgeordneten den Rücktritt annahmen, war zunächst nicht bekannt. Zugleich will Desalegn auch den Vorsitz der Regierungskoalition niederlegen. Beide Ämter wolle er kommissarisch ausüben, bis das Parlament und die Koalition einen Nachfolger gefunden hätten, sagte der 53-Jährige.
Als möglicher Nachfolger gilt der Chef der Verwaltungsregion Oromia, Lemma Megerssa. Auch dem Vizeministerpräsidenten werden Chancen eingeräumt. Eine vorgezogene Neuwahl gilt als unwahrscheinlich.
Hailemariam übernahm das Amt 2012 nach dem Tod des damaligen Regierungschefs Meles Zenawi. Zuvor war er Vizeministerpräsident und Außenminister, 2013 wurde er zum Vorsitzenden der Afrikanischen Union gewählt.
Landesweite Proteste gegen die Regierung
In Äthiopien gab es 2015 und 2016 die größten Proteste gegen die Regierung seit 25 Jahren. Unmut herrscht vor allem bei den beiden größten Volksgruppen des Landes, den Oromo im Süden und Westen sowie den Amhara im Norden. Sie sehen die Minderheit der Tigray in der Regierungskoalition überrepräsentiert.
Laut der offiziellen äthiopischen Menschenrechtskommission wurden bei der Niederschlagung der Proteste mindestens 940 Menschen getötet. Durch die Verhängung eines zehnmonatigen Ausnahmezustands von Oktober 2016 bis August 2017 wurden die Proteste weitgehend unterdrückt, es gab nur vereinzelte Demonstrationen. Kürzlich ließ die Regierung mehr als 6.500 Oppositionelle, Journalisten und andere Gefangene frei und kündigte an, sie wolle den "demokratischen Raum" für alle ausweiten.
Der äthiopischen Regierung wurde seit langem vorgeworfen, kritische Journalisten und Oppositionsführer festzunehmen. Menschenrechtsorganisationen forderten ihre Freilassung.
Politische Grabenkämpfe unter Mitgliedern der Regierungspartei hätten zu einem Riss im politischen Establishment geführt, sagte der Oppositionspolitiker Yilikal Getnet. Dass Hailemariam aus einer ethnischen Minderheit stammt, habe möglicherweise bei seinem Rücktritt eine Rolle gespielt. "Es gibt keine Einigkeit innerhalb der Regierung. Dazu kommt die Massenbewegung der Menschen, die die Partei machtlos gemacht hat", sagte der Oppositionspolitiker.
15.2.2019 Äthiopiens Regierungschef Desalegn tritt zurück. Deutsche Welle
Er habe sein Bestes gegeben, die Krise zu bewältigen, schrieb Hailemariam Desalegn in seinem Rücktrittsgesuch. Jetzt wolle er nach den Massenunruhen den Weg zu Reformen freimachen.
Es war der staatliche Sender Fana, der den überraschenden Rücktritt von Äthiopiens Regierungschef Hailemariam Desalegn meldete. Er habe sein Bestes gegeben, die derzeitige Krise zu bewältigen und wolle mit seinem Rücktritt zu einer Lösung beitragen, zitierte der Sender den 53-jährigen.
"Die Unruhen und eine politische Krise haben zum Verlust von Menschenleben und zur Vertreibung viele Menschen geführt", sagte Hailemariam Desalegn anschließend in einer Fernsehansprache an die Nation. "Ich betrachte meinen Rücktritt als unerlässlichim Bemühen um Reformen, die zu einem nachhaltigen Frieden und zu Demokratie führen", sagte er. Er werde geschäftsführend im Amt bleiben, bis die regierende Revolutionäre Volksdemokratische Front Äthiopiens (EPRDF) und das Parlament seinen Rücktritt annähmen und einen neuen Regierungschef bestimmten.
Unruhen und Massenfestnahmen
Hailemariam Desalegn ist seit 2012 an der Macht. Seit mehr als zwei Jahren kommt es immer wieder zu regierungskritischen Demonstrationen, die oftmals gewaltsam unterdrückt werden. Mehrere tausend Menschen wurden nach Angaben von Menschenrechtsgruppen zeitweise festgenommen, darunter auch prominente Oppositionspolitiker und Journalisten. Seit Anfang des Jahres hat die Regierung mehr als 6400 aus politischen Gründen inhaftierte Gefangene freigelassen. Trotzdem kam es auch in der jüngeren Vergangenheit immer wieder zu Protesten.
Unmut herrscht vor allem bei den beiden größten Volksgruppen des Landes, den Oromo im Süden und Westen sowie den Amhara im Norden. Sie sehen die Minderheit der Tigray in der Regierungskoalition überrepräsentiert.
Es ist das erste Mal, dass ein Regierungschef in dem ostafrikanischen Land zurücktritt. Hailemariam Desalegn hatte das Amt 2012 vom früheren marxistischen Rebellenführer Meles Zenawi übernommen.
15.2.2018 The relentless protests that forced the Prime Minister to resign. Gonje de Wadla. African Arguments
The stepping down of Hailemariam Desalegn will not satisfy Ethiopia’s protesters. But it is a start.
Hailemariam Desalegn has announced his resignation as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and chair of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
According to some analysts, the prime minister since 2012 was expected to step down at the EPRDF congress scheduled for later this year, but today’s move came as a surprise.
Desalegn said he would formally step down once a successor is chosen and claimed his departure was part of the government’s attempts to change how it operates. “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” he said in a televised address.
The government has faced a crisis of legitimacy in recent years amidst huge protests across much of the country, particularly by members of the populous Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups. Hundreds of people have been killed in resulting clashes with security forces.
Desalegn’s resignation can be seen as a response to the fact these protests have continued despite brutal crackdowns and gestures of reform. As analyst Mohammed Ademo says: “Make no mistake. This momentous transformation isn’t a favor from a benevolent vanguard party. It’s the cumulative outcome of years of relentless struggle by democracy activists and opposition. Many died fighting to see this day.”
Oromo and Amhara protests
Ademo says Desalegn’s replacement is widely expected to come from the Oromo party in the ruling coalition. Protests in the Oromiya have been particularly sustained and this week saw a concerted three-day strike across the region. Enormous numbers blockaded roads and marches on the streets of towns and cities. An Oromo prime minister would not necessarily mean the regime would change it how it governs, but it would be a symbolic victory for the protests in that region.
However, as speculation grows about what happens next, protests in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region – although generally lesser covered – should not be forgotten. Just last month, demonstrations flared up in Amhara too, resulting in bloody clashes and several deaths.
These weeklong events were triggered in the town of Woldiya when people taking part in a popular religious festival chanted anti-government slogans. Security forces responded violently, leading to the deaths of at least six civilians and one security agent. Angry at this bloodshed, protests then spread to the nearby cities of Kobo and Mersa where government offices and private property were attacked, leading to millions of dollars of damage. At least eight more people were killed in the resulting crackdown.
Grievances and triggers
These recent anti-government demonstrations are the continuation of those that emerged in late-2015. At that time, members of the Oromo and then Amhara – Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups, who together make up about two-thirds of the population – began protesting in huge numbers.
The grievances that triggered those protests were not resolved, but temporarily suppressed through force and the imposition of a state of emergency from October 2016 to August 2017.
The Oromo protests have deep roots and encompass widespread disaffection with the government regarding human rights abuses and lack of freedoms, but they were initially triggered by an urban development plan in the capital. Addis Ababa is located within the Oromiya region and activists complained that the proposed expansion would have seen it swallow up Oromia land and towns.
The Amhara’s reasons for protesting have been similarly manifold. They have demanded greater respect for human rights and democracy. They have called for more economic investment in the Amhara region to create employment and spur development. And they have expressed anger at an unfair political economy that disproportionately benefits supporters of the regime.
However, one of key triggers of the Amhara’s protests has been the disputed territory of Wolqaite. Activists claim that this large agricultural district was annexed by neighbouring Tigray regional state despite the fact its residents largely identify as Amhara, and a committee was established to campaign for its return. The government’s decision in 2016 to detain this group’s leaders using Ethiopia’s notorious anti-terrorism law was one of the main triggers of the widespread protests that followed.
It remains to be seen how many of these protesters demands will, and can, be met by a new EPRDF prime minister.
Infighting in government
As well as on the streets, growing discontent with the ruling class has also manifested in the corridors of power. In office since 1991, the ruling coalition known as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is composed of four ethno-nationalist parties. This includes the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organisation (OPDO), and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM).
However, by far the most senior and strongest party within the coalition is the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Representing an estimated 6% of the population, the TPLF oversaw the formation of the other three parties in government and handpicked their leaders.
Over the years, the TPLF has taken advantage of its dominance to favour its political base. Today, Tigreans dominate key political and economic positions, including in the army, security establishment, key federal ministries, and state-owned corporations such as Ethiopian Airlines and Ethio Telecom.
The government’s junior parties have typically been acquiescent. But with growing pressure from their constituencies, the OPDO, and to a lesser extent ANDM, have become more assertive. They have demanded less interference from the TPLF in their regional affairs and expanded political and economic roles at the federal level. At times, decisions and policy directions provided by federal authorities have been over turned by regional authorities, and vice versa.
Some are now suggesting the new prime minister will be from the OPDO. While this would be symbolically meaningful, it is too early to say how significant it would be in terms of governance. TPLF loyalists would still hold key positions and it is notable that outgoing Desalegn is not from the TPFL either, but the SEPDM. He was chosen by the former PM Meles Zenawi to be his successor and was viewed by many as a puppet of the TPLF.
Ethiopia after Desalegn
Years of unaccountability, the collapse of rule of law, and the ethnicisation of the country’s politics have pushed Ethiopia to tipping point. Injustice, repression and lack of democracy have instilled a sense of despondency, particularly among Ethiopia’s youth. This has driven many to view protests as the only viable means of bringing about meaningful political change.
As these sustained mobilisations have continued, the government has been forced to offer ever greater signs that it is willing to reform, most notably through Desalegn’s resignation as well as the recent release hundreds of political prisoners. But unless this leads to real steps to institute rule of law, redefine the political economy, and promote a fairer distribution of resources, discontent will only be staved off momentarily.
Protesters in Oromiya, Amhara and beyond may see the PM’s resignation as a victory, but they will crucially be watching closely for what happens next.
14.2.2018 Ethiopia: End Game? Bronwyn Bruton, Atlantic Council
Update: On February 15, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned following months of sustained protests and pressure from the country’s aggrieved and marginalized ethnic groups. The country’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), now faces a crisis of leadership as it determines Ethiopia’s next prime minister. This author predicted the imminent ouster of Hailemariam and offered speculation as to the next person to hold that post—including the momentous challenges any new prime minister will face. Above all, Ethiopia’s new leader faces an increasingly emboldened population who demands real political reforms—which will require a painful, and potentially fraught, distribution of economic resources and power away from the TPLF ruling elite.
The protest movement playing out in Ethiopia is one of the most consequential conflicts on the African continent – more than any other, it has the potential to upend US policy in the Horn of Africa. It could disrupt counterterrorism efforts in Somalia and reduce the number of peacekeeping troops in South Sudan. But alarmingly, it has barely registered in Washington policy discussions or in the American press.
Ethiopia’s Oromo population is celebrating a victory today that is probably unprecedented in African history. Without extensive violence or bloodshed, and while almost all of its leading voices languished in jail, a grassroots protest movement has managed to force one of the most powerful regimes in Africa to surrender to its demands. As an organized strike involving tens of thousands of Oromo youths drew closer to the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopian authorities agreed to release a host of important political prisoners, including Bekele Gerba, a compelling activist whose release from prison the government has fiercely resisted. (Just the week before, Bekele had been sentenced to an additional half-year behind bars, for the crime of singing a protest song in front a judge.)
In honor of Bekele Gerba’s release, the Oromo strikes were suspended, and the crowds in the street turned jubilant. Then, on February 14, authorities stunned and delighted the protestors further by releasing other extremely prominent dissidents (including among others the blogger Eskindir Nega, opposition leader Andualem Aragie, former Gambella Governor Okello Akway, and the Muslim religious freedom activist Ahmedin Jebel), some of whom had been imprisoned on “terrorism” charges for years.
Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalagn had promised the release of a large number of political prisoners in early January, and did later release a number of political activists, including opposition leader Merera Gudina. Government officials claimed at the time that the move was intended to widen the political space and foster a genuine dialogue with the political opposition and with the ethnic-based protest movements. But skeptics (including the majority of protestors) saw the move as largely symbolic, and perhaps even calculated to sow discord within the opposition, as some individuals were released and not others, and particularly as the most influential figures remained behind bars.
After the events of February 13 and 14, however, there can be little doubt about the seriousness of the Ethiopian authorities. The severity and persistence of the protest movements have clearly become an existential threat to the regime, and the need to diffuse the protests’ momentum is imperative enough, apparently, to overcome differences of opinion between the so-called “moderate” and “hardliner” factions with the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is the most powerful faction with the ruling party.
The TPLF’s alarm is well-founded; the only question is whether its belated concessions to the protestors, after years of growing unrest, may be too little, too late. Anger at the perceived economic and political dominance of the small Tigrean ethnic faction is a moving force behind the protests, and the threat of a genocide or other targeted ethnic violence against Tigrean individuals appears to be escalating. Fearful Tigrean citizens have reportedly relocated in large numbers from the Amhara and Oromo regions of the country, and attacks on Tigreans (a rarity in the past) are reported. At the same time, violent clashes between other ethnic groups, particularly the Oromo and Somalis, have dramatically increased. Tensions are high across the board; the protestors are flush with victory; and the newly-released scores of political dissidents may vie for prominence. Is there any chance of the protests subsiding?
Probably not, though it is surely the TPLF’s hope that Bekele Gerba, Ahmedin Jebel, Eskindir Nega and their colleagues will prove to be wise and moderating voices in the coming dialogue. They have in the past not only been decisively less radical, but have been firmly committed to non-violence – unlike the radio and social media personalities, some of the based in the diaspora, that have risen to prominence in their absence and are now driving the opposition discourse in real time.
Having achieved so much through protest, it is unlikely that the Ethiopian people will accept half-hearted reforms. Speculation is rampant, for example, that Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalagn – who is not Tigrean but is widely regarded as an instrument of the TPLF elite – will be replaced with an Oromo at the ruling party’s upcoming conference in three weeks’ time. (Lema Megersa, president of the Oromia Regional State, is a prime focus of this speculation.) These rumors are mere speculation, but have taken on the force of expectation, and disappointment could easily lead to another round of protests. Another round of civilian deaths at the hands of Ethiopian security forces, or the declaration of another state of emergency, could have the same effect. Next time, the Ethiopian government’s concessions may not be enough to halt the protests. If dialogue fails, and the security forces are unleashed, the resulting conflict will be bloody and awful – and will certainly not succeed in ending the uprising.
Implications for US Policy
Washington, of course, has every incentive to avoid such a scenario.
The United States has much at stake in Ethiopia, whose troops and cooperation have been essential to Washington’s efforts to stabilize Somalia and South Sudan. American strategy in the Horn of Africa is deeply flawed and is demonstrably failing to achieve its objectives (as the situation in both countries continues to deteriorate). But no alternative policy proposals are on table, and a sudden collapse of Ethiopian capacity to support American policies with African boots on the ground would be catastrophic. The African Union mission in Somalia, already on its last legs, would probably not survive a sudden and wholesale withdrawal of Ethiopian forces – and countless civilian lives in Southern Sudan would be endangered. A disordered Ethiopia is of course more vulnerable to incursions by the al Qaeda-linked Somali terror group, al Shabaab, which has already managed to establish a vibrant offshoot in Kenya amid similar social conditions (a large population of unemployed youths, a disenfranchised and villified Muslim population, and rampant police brutality).
Unfortunately, few countries are more poorly positioned than the United States to play a constructive role in Ethiopia’s future. This stems from Washington’s long history of providing budgetary support to the Ethiopia’s ruling party, the close cooperation between the two countries’ military and intelligence services, and the long-standing refusal of American officials to criticize the human rights record of the regime or to challenge the imprisonment of thousands of civilians.
Washington’s silence on Ethiopia’s deteriorating human rights and security situation is a result of many factors. First and foremost, of course, the Ethiopian regime has served as Washington’s indispensable partner in the “war on terrorism” since the early 2000s. Second, the former prime minister and architect of the ruling party, Meles Zenawi, cultivated warm personal friendships with senior American policymakers who subsequently championed the regime and shield it from public criticism. Third, as is the case in Rwanda, Western policymakers paraded Ethiopia as an “African success story” as a means of facilitating continued aid and investment to the continent, and drawing attention to the human rights narrative was inconvenient. Fourth – and not least important – public criticism of the Ethiopian regime was found by American diplomats not to work very well: over the years it has resulted in numerous journalists, diplomats and American non-governmental organizations being expelled from Ethiopia over the years, without causing a whiff of improvement in the regime’s conduct. And Ethiopia’s ability to restrict access to the African Union (AU headquarters are located in Addis) has led many otherwise reputable analysts and journalists to practice self-censorship. Ethiopia has also proved very willing to retaliate against diplomatic pressure by holding American security interests hostage: in September 2017, for example, when the House Subcommittee on African Affairs attempted to pass a resolution drawing attention to Ethiopia’s human rights abuses, Ethiopia’s then-ambassador to the United States, Girma Birru, visited the Subcommittee members and threatened to withhold counterterror cooperation in Somalia. Faced with this threat, the Subcommittee immediately abandoned the resolution. (The Subcommittee threatened yesterday to bring the resolution to the floor for a vote on February 28, unless the Ethiopian government gives UN investigatory teams access to the country.)
The most credible voices among the protest movement have already condemned US inaction, and would not consent to a dialogue with US officials – indeed, they argue that engaging with Washington would erode their credibility, and they are probably right. Washington can of course attempt to pressure or persuade the TPLF to undertake credible and meaningful reforms – but Washington’s chequered diplomatic history with Addis suggests that such efforts are unlikely to bear fruit. It is also unclear what reforms would appease the public: while there have been calls for Ethiopian security forces to leave the Oromo and Amhara and other regions (including the Somali or “Ogaden” zone), absolutely no one is demanding fresh elections (which have historically been heavily rigged) or other staple democratic measures to restore the peace.
The next month, and days, will be decisive. The Ethiopian regime will either commit to its current course and expand on its commitment to reform, signaling this commitment perhaps by offering the prime ministership to an Oromo leader. Or it will double down on its previous course, and declare a state of emergency. But this would be a deadly decision, as a new state of emergency would surely be regarded by opposition leaders and the protestors as a declaration of war.
Ethiopia’s only hope for peace is a series of rapid and sincere concessions by the TPLF elite, which must certainly involve a meaningful redistribution of political and economic power. The Ethiopian public has tasted its power, and one way or another, the status quo will not survive.
14.2.2018 Relatives rejoice release of prominent prisoners. Samuel Getachew and Nahom Tesfaye, The Reporter
A jubilant crowd of thousands celebrated as Kaliti prison released some of its noted prisoners earlier today. Even an anti-riot police couldn’t curb the enthusiasm as many stood for hours, including diplomats from the Norwegian embassy to welcome the release of one of its citizen Okello Akway Ochalla. Akway joined others, including journalist Eskinder Nega, Andualmem Aragie, Olaana Lelisa, Woubshet Taye, Emawayish Alemu, Chaltu Takele, Ahmedin Jebel, Kinfe michael Debebe and Berhanu Tekleyared. “I feel like I was reborn today”, said the mother in law of Eskinder (the mother of journalist Serkalem Fasil). “I may not be his biological mother, but he is my son. I am overjoyed that he is able to come out and live a normal life, including being reintroduced to his son that he had not seen for a long time”.
The Reporter also witnessed a large crowed in Adama Stadium's welcoming ceremomy celebrating the release of Bekele Gerba, a prominent opposition leader who is the chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress.
Bekele, speaking to The Reporter, stated that rejoicing of his release is unfulfilled as his colleagues who are struggling for democracy and justice in the country still remain in jail. He also expressed his discontent over the number of released prisoners since the government promised to release within two months. Hence, he called up on the government to open the political space and participate more people that say they are concerned of the country’s political fate.
14.2.2018 Zone 9 bloggers’ charges dropped. Tamiru Tsige, The Reporter
The charges on the remaining members of the Zone 9 bloggers group have been dropped by the Federal Attorney General today. The bloggers whose charges have been dropped are Natnael Feleke, Befekadu Hailu and Atnaf Berhane who were charged by the infamous anti-terrorism proclamation. Upon arriving in court today for their appointment, the three defendants were told that their charges have been dropped and that they are free to go home. Some of the defendants from Zone 9 bloggers group have been acquitted of their charges earlier.
In related news, the 746 defendants including Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage are scheduled for release from prison today, The Reporter has learnt.
14.2.2018 Eskinder’s release must herald a new dawn of respect for human rights. Amensty International. ecadforum
Commenting after Ethiopian journalist and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Eskinder Nega walked out of prison a free man today, as part of a government pardon of 746 prisoners, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said: “We are delighted that Eskinder Nega is finally free after close to seven years in jail on trumped up terrorism charges. We hope the release of this courageous journalist, along with hundreds of other prisoners, heralds a new dawn in the Ethiopian government’s handling of political dissent, a dawn of tolerance and respect for human rights. The Ethiopian government must show good faith and free hundreds of other prisoners of conscience who remain behind bars simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The authorities must also take steps to reform the legal system under which arbitrary detentions and torture of dissidents have been allowed to flourish. A good place to start would be a review of the sweeping and draconian anti-terrorism law which has been used to unjustly and ruthlessly deprive many dissidents of their freedom. If the Ethiopian government is serious about turning over a new leaf, it must order an impartial and independent investigation into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners, and the swift prosecution in fair trials of those found responsible for it.”
Opposition politicians and Amnesty International Prisoners of Conscience Andualem Arage and Bekele Gerba were also released today and yesterday respectively.
At the time of his arrest, Eskinder was editor of the Satanaw newspaper. He was arrested after publishing an article about the Arab Spring in which he asked whether a similar grassroots movement for democracy could take hold in Ethiopia. He was charged under the draconian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation with providing support for terrorists and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
14.2.2018 Public urged to give time for Oromia state to implement directions set by OPDO Central Committee. Fana Broadcasting Corporation
The Oromia regional state should be given time to implement the directions set by the Central Committee of the Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO), the state’s communication affairs bureau said. Umi Abajemal, deputy head of the bureau yesterday issued a press conference regarding the damages caused by blocking of roads and ceasing of commercial activities staged in some parts of the regional state.
The blocking of roads and ceasing of commercial activities held since Monday under the banner ‘Free remaining prisoners!” and demanding development benefits, have been turned into violence in some areas such as Batu, Legetafo, and Jimma, she said. About eight people were injured as well as public and private properties were damaged as a result of the violence that occurred in these areas, according to the deputy head. She further said a total of seven people, four in Amaresa camp and 3 in Bale zone, were killed because of the recent conflicts in the areas.
The government will take the necessary measures against those responsible for the conflict, she said, further urging the public to refrain from any destructive activities. The deputy head also called on religious leaders, Aba Gedas, and elders to scale up the ongoing efforts to stabilize the areas and prevent the occurrence of additional damages. The regional state expressed its heartfelt condolences for the loss of life caused by the conflict.
13.2.2018 Ethiopia frees Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba. OPride.com
Ethiopia on Tuesday released prominent Oromo opposition leader Bekele Gerba and six of his Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) colleagues from prison. Authorities dropped all charges against the freed leaders, a day after a #OromiaStrikes blocked roads and staged rallies bringing the restive Oromia state to a standstill. The news of Bekele’s release was welcomed with warm and spontaneous celebrations across the country.
Bekele, secretary-general of OFC, was arrested in December 2015 at the height of the three-year long Oromo protests. He was initially charged terrorism but his charges were later reduced to criminal offenses for allegedly inciting violence. “He just walked out of prison. We have confirmed that all charges against him have been dropped,” Mulatu Gemechu, a member of the OFC’s leadership told Reuters.The other six OFC leaders released today are Gurmessa Ayano, Addisu Bulala, Dajane Xafa, Getu Garuma, Tesfaye Liban and Beyene Ruda.
The move is a response to deepening protests demanding Bekele’s release and part of a promise Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn made last month to build national consensus and widen the democratic space.
13.2.2018 Ambassador calls for restraint in use of lethal force, constructive political engagement. Ethiopia Observer
The U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Michael Raynor appealed for calm in light of events over the past several weeks in Ethiopia by drawing attention to the US’s support for increasing the pace of democratic reform, respect for human rights, and creating space for inclusive dialogue in the past.“One thing I’ve observed during my four-plus months here is that matters are rarely as clear-cut as anyone would like them to be. My goal is for our Embassy to play a constructive role in Ethiopia, one that supports the aspirations of those who seek a better future, without dictating what that future should be or how Ethiopia should get there,” the Ambassador said.
While lauding some promising steps in releasing political detainees in recent weeks, Ambassador Mikael called on the Ethiopian government to let people “express themselves peacefully, and to be confident that they can do so. Lethal force to protect the safety of the public, even in the face of violent protests, must always be a last resort.”
The Ambassador also urged the Ethiopian people “to demonstrate their commitment to peaceful expression and dialogue. Political engagement needs to be done constructively – through strengthening institutions rather than destroying them, and never through the destruction of property, livelihoods, and lives.”
The Ambassador said he was upset by the reports of deaths and violence, “even as I am hopeful about what Ethiopia can accomplish if stated goals of reform are followed through with quick and comprehensive action. As we seek to partner with all Ethiopians toward that better future, everyone must do their part. The United States will stay the course in Ethiopia, and I hope I can count on each of you to do the same.”
13.2.2018 Tony Blair cancels his visit to industry zone as strike erupts. Birhanu Fikade, The Reporter
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to the Eastern Industry Zone, a Chinese built manufacturing zone, has been canceled following the ongoing strike around Oromia and the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Leading his team from Tony Blair Institute for Global Change to Ethiopia, Blair was scheduled to visit the industry zone erected at Dukem, some 30 kilometers from Addis Ababa. However, the former Prime Minister was forced to cancel his visit as unrest and stay-home strike engulf the region on Monday. The Reporter could not find out what his next task will be after the cancellation of his visit. Monday morning Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn met Blair and discussed issues of manufacturing industries housed in the industrial parks.
The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change is behind the technical support and introduction of the deliverology phylosophy across government bodies in Ethiopia. Since 2013, the former premier was engaged in assisting African governments via Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, a for profit entity and currently, the Tony Blair Institute is tasked in providing governance and other leadership supports. Tony Blair Institute, trading as Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, is a company registered in England and Wales.
13.2.2018 German Chancellor tasks Ethiopian PM to widen democratic space. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, africanews
The German government has urged Ethiopia to widen the democratic space in the country whiles noting some level of implementation of recently announced political reforms. Germany, an ally of the East African economic giant, also tasked Addis Ababa to do more in the area of releasing other prisoners, spokesperson for the German government, Stephan Seibert said on Monday.
Seibert said Germany made its views known in a phone call between Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Ethiopian counterpart Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. “During the conversation, they discussed political developments in the country, among others. The Chancellor welcomed that the Ethiopian government released a larger number of people, who were arrested for political reasons, since the beginning of this year. “She encouraged the Premier to take further steps in widening the democratic space in the country, including further releases of prisoners,” the German Embassy in Addis Ababa wrote on its Facebook wall.
Its ambassador, Madam Wagener, in January 2018 had met with top opposition leader Merera Gudina during which time the embassy said both parties had fruitful discussions over political developments in Ethiopia. Gudina had just been released after over 400 days in detention. The government dropped a multiple criminal charge against him. He was arrested in December 2016 after returning from an European tour.
Several of Ethiopia’s allies and the United Nations have stressed the need for Addis Ababa to open up the political space and to also improve its human rights record. Rights groups have repeatedly slammed the government for stifling dissent and muzzling opponents.
12.2.2018 Bundeskanzlerin Merkel telefoniert mit dem Premierminister von Äthiopien, Hailemariam Desalegn. Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung
Der Sprecher der Bundesregierung, Steffen Seibert, teilt mit: Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel hat heute ein Telefonat mit dem Premierminister von Äthiopien, Hailemariam Desalegn, geführt. Hierbei kam auch die innenpolitische Entwicklung Äthiopiens zur Sprache. Die Bundeskanzlerin begrüßte es, dass die äthiopische Regierung seit Anfang des Jahres eine größere Zahl aus politischen Gründen inhaftierter Personen freigelassen hat. Sie ermutigte den äthiopischen Premierminister zu weiteren Schritten der demokratischen Öffnung des Landes einschließlich weiterer Freilassungen.
12.2.2018 Three day stay-at-home protest begins as prosecutors “suspend” charges against Bekele Gerba et al. ESAT News
Towns across the Oromo region today saw the beginning of a three day stay-at-home protest to pressure the regime to release political prisoners. Residents of several towns took part in the strike to also demand that Agazi forces leave their villages. Shashemene, Bale, Woliso, Metu, Bishoftu, Alemgena, Harar and 20 districts in Eastern Hararghe have taken part in the stay-at-home protest. Administrative offices, schools, businesses and transportations were shutdown. Reports also show that two major highways leading to the south of the country from the capital were closed today. The highway to Arbaminch via Shashemene was also closed.
Meanwhile, regime prosecutors announced that charges against prominent Oromo opposition figure, Bekele Gerba and all other defendants who are leading members of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) have been “suspended.” The office of the General Prosecutor announced that the case involving Bekele Gerba, Gurmesa Ayana, Addisu Bulala, Dejene Taffa, Getu Garuma, Tesfaye Liben, and Beyene Ruda has been sent to the Pardon Board and the defendants would be released when the President approves their pardon, according to the broadcaster controlled by the regime.
12.2.2018 Hamaressa killings Update. ESAT News
Victims killed on Sunday by TPLF/Agazi forces were trying to stop a truck carrying contraband goods. Jemal Amede, administrator for East Hararghe Zone told BBC Amharic that local police and some of the youth at the IDP had stopped a truck heading to the Somali region. He said Agazi soldiers came out of nowhere and opened fire. The truck had originated from the Capital Addis Ababa.
Ahmedin Temam, who is sheltered at the camp says the truck was stopped by the police and the community at the camp for carrying contraband goods. The people in the truck phoned the Agazi soldiers who opened fire at the local police and IDPs on arrival. The TPLF/Agazi soldiers have now took control of the IDP camp in Hamaressa town, Eastern Ethiopia, according to the report. The BBC report put the number of dead at six, including a local police officer. Critics have been blaming contraband trading by TPLF operatives and Agazi soldiers for the recent crises in Eastern Ethiopia.
12.2.2018 At least four killed in IDP camp in Eastern Ethiopia. Engidu Woldie, ESAT News
Four people, including a local police officer, were killed on Sunday when TPLF Agazi soldiers opened fire at a camp sheltering Internally Displaced People in Hamaressa town in Eastern Ethiopia. Media controlled by the TPLF regime confirmed the death. A dozen people were also injured.
The IDP camp holds some of the nearly one million people displaced as a result of recent deadly attacks against the Oromos in the Somali region by Agazi forces and the notorious Somali Region Special police, also known as the Liyou Police in the local language. Although exact figures are not known, hundreds were killed in the last two years in Eastern Ethiopia. The displaced were protesting on Sunday the lack of basic services at the camp and were demanding that they be repatriated to their villages when the Agazi forces opened fire. Photos of the victims shared on social media platforms show gunshot wounds to the head and torso.
Over a dozen people were shot and killed in December in Chellenko, another town in Hararghe, Eastern Ethiopia. Agazi forces had mistaken a large family working on a farm for protesters and opened fire. No one has so far been brought to justice for the killings of civilians in a country where the regime sends its killing squads to people exercising basic rights.
12.2.2018 Charges on Bekele Gerba and Others Dropped. ENA
Charges on seven detainees suspected of trespassing against the laws of the country by taking part in conflicts including Bekele Gerba have already dropped, the Federal Attorney General unveiled. The detainees whose charges are dropped include Bekele Gerba, Gurmesa Ayana, Addisu Bulala, Dejene Tafa, Getu Garuma, Tesfaye Liben and Beyene Ruda. Since the individuals are sentenced to six months in jail for contempt of court, the Office has to present a proposal for the President of the country in order for them to be pardoned.
The charges were dropped after the Office of Attorney General applied for the Federal High Court to drop the charges as per its authority bestowed upon it through the proclamation providing for its establishment. The decision to drop cases of detainees suspected of trespassing the law came following the direction by the Executive Committee of the EPRDF to widen the political space.
12.2.2018 Ethiopia wants political prisoners to sign “confession” forms before release. EthioReference
When Ethiopia announced last month that it would release political prisoners and close a controversial detention facility, many viewed it as a promising sign that the Horn of Africa nation was shifting toward real democracy. Since then, nearly 6,000 political prisoners and journalists have been released, according to Reuters. These included Merera Gudina, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress and journalists Darsema Sori and Khalid Mohammed, who were both held on anti-state charges. The attorney general’s office said it would pardon 746 others, including the prominent journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition politician Andualem Arage.
Yet disturbing details continue to emerge over the conditions under which some of those jailed are being released. On Friday (Feb. 9), the Committee to Protect Journalists said Nega was asked to sign a “false confession” stating that he was a member of Ginbot 7, an organization the government deems a terrorist group. After he refused, he was returned to his cell. CPJ also told Quartz that Nega was asked to sign the form a second time during the weekend.
Arage and opposition leader Abebe Kesto were also asked to sign—both refused to endorse the allegations against them, according to family members. “The government believes that signing a document saying he was a member will exculpate its behavior in jailing an innocent man.”
The directive to sign pardon letters jeopardizes the steps taken to calm lingering tensions, observers say. Ethiopia has struggled for the last two years with ongoing protests by the country’s two largest communities, the Oromo and Amhara, which are calling for an end to decades of systemic exclusion. The government reacted to those protests with force, drawing criticism from both the United Nations and its allies in the West. Facing mounting unrest, the government announced it would drop the cases against some of those arrested and on trial in a bid to foster reconciliation. Angela Quintal, the Africa program director for CPJ, said the government looks like it’s still “trying to justify” Eskinder’s unlawful detention and prosecution. “It’s as though the government believes that signing a document saying he was a member will exculpate its behavior in jailing an innocent man.”
For those who have been pardoned, officials have also said they will be freed only after undergoing “rehabilitation training.” That program has been under fire in the past, with the camps holding the accused described as having conditions akin to those of the Roots, the American saga about slavery.
11.2.2018 Defense Forces, Police Hold Peace Marches Across the Nation. ENA
A peace march was held today in Addis Ababa by the National Defense forces, Addis Ababa and Federal Police commissions. Participants of the peace march travelled from Tewodros Square to Meskel Square on foot. Speaking at the opening of the event, Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa said the security forces, in addition to their contribution towards ensuring peace and security, will further strengthen their contribution to the realization of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. “As our security force is an army of peace and development, it has been making monthly contribution to GERD, besides creating favorable situation for development and peace in the country in general. It is also playing a leading role to in contributing financial support for the dam by purchasing the seventh round bond”, Siraj added.
According to the Minister, the nation has managed to implement integrated development projects, including GERD, over the last two decades since it has succeeded in building a security force that is capable of protecting the sovereignty, and national interest of the country. The march is one of the indicators of the contribution of the Defense forces, Addis Ababa and Federal Police commissions to development endeavors, including the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that will be realized peacefully.
The event in Addis Ababa was organized by the Defense forces, Addis Ababa and Federal Police commissions, in collaboration with Office of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Meanwhile, peace marches were similarly held across the country, ENA correspondents reported.
The events were observed across the nation with the view of developing the contributions of the Defense forces and the police in the development of the nation. The Defense forces and police have expressed their strong commitment to discharge their responsibilities not only in keeping peace but also in playing active role in the ongoing development endeavors in the country.
11.2.2018 Ethiopia Opens Three-Day Talks With Somali Rebels. Harun Maruf, VoA News
The first round of three-day talks between Ethiopian officials and representatives from the Ethiopian rebel group of ethnic Somalis, Ogden National Liberation Front (ONLF), began Sunday at a secret location in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Delegates from the two sides arrived Saturday for the talks that are being facilitated by Kenyan officials. Abdulkadir Hassan Hirmoge, a spokesman for the ONLF, confirmed to VOA Somali that the talks have begun.
Hirmoge said each side has sent a delegation of four members. The ONLF delegation is led by Foreign Secretary Abdirahman Mahdi. It is unclear who is leading the Ethiopian delegation, but photos released by the Kenyan facilitators show the president of the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia, Abdi Mohamud Omar, sitting on the opposite side of the table, along with other officials.
A source close to the talks told VOA Somali that "Day One of the talks covered considerable ground and ended on a high note." Hirmoge cautioned that it was too soon to say how the talks might end because "there are big issues at stake." "We can't talk prematurely, but these talks are about principles, on compensation, on self-determination, on freedom, referendum, on the economy and centuries-old aggression," he said.
ONLF and the Ethiopian government fell out in 1994 after a dispute over self-determination. The dispute drove ONLF to war and turned the ethnic Somali state, rich with gas and oil, into a deadly battleground that claimed many lives. In April 2007, ONLF rebels attacked an oil field in an Obolleh village near the regional capital of Jigjiga, killing 67 Ethiopian soldiers and nine Chinese oil workers. In response, Ethiopia heavily militarized the region and carried out a brutal operation, according to human rights organizations.
Talks were held in 2012 and 2013 in Kenya without concessions from either side. Rashid Abdi, Horn of Africa project director for the International Crisis Group, said there were a number of issues that made the previous talks difficult. "They (talks) have been characterized by a lot of mutual suspicion and a lack of confidence. But I think there was also the death of (former Ethiopian prime minister) Meles Zenawi, and the transition had an impact on how the talks should proceed," he said. "I think clearly all parties seemed to lack a bit of focus. On the part of the ONLF, I think they came to the table without having a clear vision on how they wanted to proceed, while the Ethiopians were basically seeking very minimal tactical advantages."
Even with the talks having resumed, Abdi said it won't be easy for the two sides to reach an agreement without significant compromises. The main sticking points are the Ethiopian constitution and referendum. "Ethiopians want ONLF to concede on the issue of the constitution," Abdi said. "ONLF previously said they were not going to recognize the federal constitution, and that was one of the sticking points. So, I suspect this issue will not be quickly resolved. "Then there is the issue of what exactly ONLF wants? Does it want greater autonomy in the Somali region? Does it simply want power sharing, so that it can be part of the federal system? Does it want to monopolize power in the region? Does it want full independence? Those are the key issues."
History of unrest
Ethiopia has seen political upheavals since 2016 following waves of protests in the Oromo region. There was also deadly ethnic violence in 2017 between Ethiopian Somalis in Oromo, which claimed dozens of lives and displaced tens of thousands of people. ONLF's Hirmoge said conditions on the ground in Ethiopia have something to do with the resumption of these talks. "Now, we believe there have been big changes in Ethiopia. The conditions are changing. People cannot be silenced now. The talks coincide at a time when things are changing in Ethiopia on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. These have their own ripple effects," Hirmoge says. "I believe the conditions around the talks are better," he added. "The prediction is different compared to previous ones (talks), but I don't want to prejudge the result." .
Abdi agrees that the timing of the talks is interesting and could work in favor of the stressed Ethiopian government. "It comes at a time when Ethiopia feels under pressure from many multiple forms," he said. "It has serious unrest, so they desperately need a good story. So, the resumption of the peace talks plays well internationally. Ethiopia can say 'We are engaging the opposition.' It's good publicity, but one has to also consider whether there is really a strategic shift and interest to find a peaceful settlement, or are we simply back to the old games of simply playing tactical games?"
VOA Somali could not reach Ethiopian officials for comment.
10.2.2018 Former army chief calls for establishment of independent commission. Yohannes Anberbir, The Reporter
Former Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces, Tsadkan Gebretensae (Let. Gen.), called for the establishment of an independent commission, to prepare a level political playing field for the upcoming elections, if Ethiopia is to shrug off its current challenges and become a stable country. In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, Tsadkan indicated that, the current situation in the country is beyond the control and management capabilities of the current system and only an independent commission, which is free from the dominance of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) can save the country from any unforeseen fate that awaits it.
Tsadkan’s proposal came at a time when every kind of discontent, public distaste and grievance are dragging the people out of their homes and swarm the streets chanting anti-government slogans and songs. Nothing more demonstrates this than the fatal protests in Northern Wollo Zone, in towns of Woldia, Kobo and Mersa, just a few weeks ago. Other factors, which claimed the lives of many and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, are indicators that the country is in a state of difficulty in managing the chaos. The conflicts in the country and the “illegal demonstrations”, as the government describes them, have for long been externalized until the government took all the responsibility, blaming its leadership and the failure to deliver its promises as a government. Although, taken as a good start, the government’s inclination towards minimizing the political discontent of the public to infrastructural demands was heavily criticized and it seems to have shaken the government to its spine.
Hence, after a grueling 17-day meeting, undertaken by the central committee members of the coalition, the government came to admit that the state of the federation is at risk and the majority of the public’s demands are of political discontent. The most internationally acclaimed decision made by the Government, was the releasing of “prisoners who were political party members”. (…)
However, Tsadkan seems unsatisfied by these measures. The independent commission he recommended is to be under the Office of the President of the Federation and no member of the commission should be drawn from the EPRDF to maintain neutrality. The commission will be in place for two years until the next national elections, in which all national political parties will run for representation in offices at the federal and regional levels. For the two years – during which the independent council is tasked with leveling the political landscape – the government will have the role of running public offices and the party will be treated as any other political party and prepare itself to run for the election that follows.
In addition to this, he recommended that the political parties both in the country and abroad will be given the opportunity to come into the country and join the political process in a peaceful manner.
10.2.2018 Former Blue Party president to from a new party. Tamiru Tsige, The Reporter
Following elders’ mediation efforts to find solutions to the predicament Blue Party finds itself in, former president, Yelekal Getnet (Eng.), and other members who were ousted from the party, due to differences over the issue of audit report, have finally decided to form a new political party. The mediators revealed that the leadership of the party headed by Yeshiwas Assefa, who is recognized as the president of the party by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), is not willing to comply with the decisions of the mediators.
“In order to stop the fragmentations in opposition political parties, we are trying to sort out our problems within the party in an amicable way; hence, we were able come to a consensus. However, the existing leadership of the party blocked all possible ways of working together,” the former president of the party told The Reporter. He went on to say that, the former leadership, in consultation with the members of the party, have decided to establish a new political party that focuses on youth, women, citizenship, nation building, basic human rights and equality. In this regard, the party has established a committee that has seven members to undertake the necessary legal procedures and pertinent requirements to establish a new political party.
The name of the newly established party will be “Ethiopian National Movement (ENM)” and will submit its registration request to the NEBE by Monday, February 12, 2018, Yelekal told The Reporter. He further stated that the established party would strongly work to eradicate the politics of hatred and try to ease the stubborn spirit that is persistent in the political landscape of the country. It also plans to conduct its founding conference very soon, he said.
“According to our agreement based on the recommendations of the mediators, we have agreed with the former president to dissolve his newly established party and rejoin the party again. They have a lot to contribute to the party, we are still waiting on them and the door is always open if they want to comeback” president of Blue, Yeshiwas Assefa, told The Reporter. Meanwhile, mediators Temam Ababulgu, Tadiwos Tantu and others also wrote a warning letter to the current president, Yeshaiwas Assefa. They warned that if the current leadership did not comply with their words, the mediators will reveal the destructive activity of the current leadership through different media outlets.
10.2.2018 Former census chief to run electoral board. Yonas Abiye, The Reporter
The House of People’s representatives (HPR), on Wednesday, endorsed the nomination of Samiya Zekaria, former Director General of the Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency (CSA) for two decades before leaving her post in 2016 on an ambassadorial duty, to chair the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). During the extra ordinary session called by House Speaker Abadulla Gemeda, the House also endorsed the appointments of nine members for the newly-proposed management of NEBE comprising a chairperson, vice chairperson and seven board members.
Being the first woman to chair NEBE, her appointment makes her the third chairperson of the institution, since the incumbent came to power in 1993. Meanwhile, Demoze Mame, was picked as her deputy. Similarly, seven individuals consisting of three women, in addition to Samiya, and five men were appointed as members of the board in a vote that saw two MPs vote against while two showed abstentions. The seven members are: Belay Mekonnen (Rev./Kesis), Yeshihareg Damte, Feteen Abay (Prof.), Tsehay Menker, Tekalegn Gebreselassie, Jemal Mohammed, and Habte Fichala. The House welcomed the gender composition of the board which consisted of four women.
NEBE is one of the key institutions in the country regarded as a democratic institution, structurally accountable to the legislative organ. However, it usually entertains contentious receptions among the public due to the political nature of the nation it is endowed with. It is usually criticized for being biased and loyal to the ruling party instead of its basic foundation to serve in a neutral manner, for all political parties in the country. The government is also repeatedly criticized for influencing the institution to undertake its mandate to enhance the democratization process through free and fair elections. Along with the institutions, its board members have also been widely viewed as controversial among various groups particularly from political organizations, activists and critics.
The notable figures that had run the board in the past five elections since 1993 include, former chairpersons Kemal Bedri and a more recently Merga Bekana (Prof.) .Kemal Bedri, best known for his role during the much disputed and controversial elections of 2005, saw the highest number of parliamentary seats won by the then emerging opposition parties the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) and others before it ended in chaos and violence. His successor, Merga, who has led NEBE after the 2005 election until last year before leaving to Paris for diplomatic role, was also controversial. It was during the latter’s reign that, the ruling party took over 100 percent parliamentary seats after sweeping the entire opposition.
Now, Samiya, who has been serving as Ethiopia's Ambassador to Nigeria since 2016, has officially replaced Merga. She was once a controversial figure following the 2006 national census result. It was the result of the Amhara region’s population that had stirred a heated debate among the-then parliament as well as the public that later prompted the House to vote for a re-count of the population of the region designated as inter-census.
9.2.2018 Regime set precondition on release of Eskinder Nega, Andualem Arage. Engidu Woldie, ESAT News
Prison authorities have demanded that Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage, two prominent prisoners among the hundreds who were “pardoned’ yesterday by the regime, to sign a document saying they were jailed because they were members of Patriotic Ginbot 7, an opposition group based abroad. Sources say the prisoners of conscience have refused to do so.
Eskinder Nega, an award winning journalist and Andualem Arage, a leading member of the now defunct opposition party, Andenet have been jailed for over six years accused of being members of the group outlawed by the dictatorship and of “terrorism”. The duo were among the over 700 other prisoners of conscience who were “pardoned” yesterday and were expected to walk free. The prosecutor general of the regime announced yesterday that 746 political prisoners have been “pardoned” and would be released upon completion of a propaganda “training” and after the President signs off on their “poardon.”
Prison authorities on Thursday brought documents to Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage which demand the two sign off saying they were members of PG7. Authorities presented a similar request several times in the course of the detention of the duo but they have refused to sign saying they were not members of PG7 and that they were innocent of the terrorism charges brought by the regime.
Families, friends and Ethiopians were waiting for the two and the hundreds of political prisoners to walk free. But Thursday’s development have casted a shadow over the duo’s freedom.
8.2.2018 Some 746 Prisoners, Suspects to be Pardoned and Released. ENA
Some 746 prisoners and suspects will be pardoned and released, the Federal Attorney General disclosed today. It is to be recalled that the Executive Committee of EPRDF had passed a decision to drop the cases of suspects under custody and those of prisoners after their cases are examined. The individuals to be pardoned do not include those involved in murder, serious physical injury, destruction of the national economy, and attempt to forcefully undermine the constitution. Accordingly, 417 prisoners sentenced at federal level for involvement in terrorism, chaos and disturbances, religious extremism and other crimes will be pardoned and released.
From among those to be pardoned, 298 are in the Federal Correctional Center and 119 in correctional centers in Amhara Region. Among the prisoners to be pardoned are Eskender Nega and Andualem Arage who were sentenced for involvement in terrorism. Similarly, the cases of 329 suspects were dropped. Of these 278 are at federal level, 33 in Tigray and 18 in Amhara regional states.
The pardoned prisoners and suspects will be released after receiving reform training. The list of the prisoners to be pardoned and released has to be approved by the president before their release.
The Amhara and Oromia regions had released 6,376 prisoners and suspects in line with the decision passed by the Executive Committee of EPRDF.
8.2.2018 Äthiopische Regierung begnadigt weitere 700 politische Gefangene. Deutsche Welle
Äthiopiens Regierung hat angeordnet, zahlreiche politische Gefangene aus der Haft zu entlassen. Dies soll ein erster Schritt zu mehr Demokratie in dem afrikanischen Land sein, heißt es aus Regierungskreisen. Von den Freilassungen sollen nach Angaben staatlicher Medien auch der Journalist und Blogger Eskinder Nega sowie Oppositionsführer Andualem Arage profitieren. Etwa 417 der begnadigten Inhaftierten säßen wegen "Terrorismus, Aufruf zur Gewalt, religiösem Extremismus und anderen verwandten Verurteilungen" im Gefängnis, berichtete der Radiosender Fana. Eskinder Nega wurde in Haft wegen seines Einsatzes für die Menschenrechte vom Schriftstellerverband PEN in den USA mit dem "Freedom to write"-Preis geehrt. Die auf einem Terrorismusgesetz basierende Verurteilung Arages und Negas im Jahr 2012 war international kritisiert worden. Äthiopiens Regierungschef Hailemariam Desalegn hatte bereits im vergangenen Monat angekündigt, dass seine Regierung eine ungenannte Zahl von inhaftierten "Politikern" in die Freiheit entlassen würde.
Präsident muss zustimmen
Nach Angaben des Radiosenders sollen die Gefangenen nach Abschluss eines "Rehabilitationstrainings" und der Zustimmung des äthiopischen Präsidenten Mulatu Teschome freigelassen werden.Zuvor hatte Hailemariam Desalegn angekündigt, demokratische Freiheiten in dem autoritär regierten Land auszuweiten. Nach Angaben des Senders haben die äthiopische Regierung und die Regionalregierungen bislang fast 6.400 Gefangene begnadigt.
Unruhe im Staat
Damit reagiert Äthiopien auf wachsende Unruhen im Vielvölkerstaat. Seit mehr als zwei Jahren gehen vor allem Angehörige der Oromo und Amharen auf die Straße, um für mehr Mitbestimmung zu demonstrieren. Wie weit die politische Öffnung gehen soll, ist scheinbar auch innerhalb der Regierungspartei umstritten. Begnadigungen wechseln deshalb immer wieder mit neuen Verurteilungen von Kritikern der Regierung ab. So hatte ein Gericht erst vor wenigen Tagen Haftstrafen gegen vier Mitglieder der Opposition verhängt, weil sie die Aussage im Gericht verweigert hatten.
Die Lage in Äthiopien ist angespannt, nicht zuletzt wegen der anhaltenden Dürre, die in weiten Teilen des Landes Hungersnöte ausgelöst hat. Das Frühwarnsystem der Vereinten Nationen, FEWS-Net, rechnet damit, dass zwischen Februar und Mai 2018 etwa 5,5 Millionen Menschen dringend auf humanitäre Hilfe angewiesen sind. Besonders betroffen sind Kinder.
8.2.2018 Opposition Party Sees Opening as Ethiopian Government Vows Changes. Nizar Manek, Bloomberg
An Ethiopian opposition party whose chairman was freed after more than a year in prison plans to step up its activity as the Horn of Africa nation’s government pledges greater openness in the wake of mass protests. The Oromo Federalist Congress will open an initial 20 offices in the Oromia region and “start to organize our people,” Chairman Merera Gudina said in an interview in the capital, Addis Ababa. That could make it a competitor to the ruling coalition’s regional sub-party in elections due by 2020 in a central region that’s been roiled by more than two years of often fatal demonstrations. “We have reached a stage where people have refused to be ruled in the old way, and the ruling party cannot rule in the old way,” Merera said. Arrested in Ethiopia after taking part in a 2016 discussion panel in Brussels, he was freed in January as state-linked media reported the pardoning of a first wave of more than 500 detainees.
Unrest that began in Oromia in late 2015 has damaged Ethiopia’s reputation as an investment destination and posed one of the biggest challenges to the ruling coalition since it came to power in the early 1990s. The government has said the release of some political detainees is intended to “widen the political sphere.”
Merera said his party, which was formed from a 2009 merger of two opposition groups, has written to inform Oromia’s regional government of the decision to open offices, but that there’s officially no restriction. The region’s spokesman, Addisu Arega, didn’t respond to two phone calls and two text messages seeking comment.
Merera didn’t rule out working with the ruling coalition’s local branch, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization. “If OPDO leaders have the political will to think outside the box and develop a capacity to think outside the box, we will support them,” he said. The OFC chairman also called for Ethiopia’s National Election Board to be “transformed” into an independent and neutral body, alleging it’s controlled by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which made a clean sweep at the last vote in 2015. The former deputy head of the board, Addisu Gebreziabher, didn’t immediately respond to two calls and two text messages seeking comment.
“The government’s talking about national reconciliation, national dialogue, national consensus, but there are a lot of political prisoners, not only from our party,” Merera said. He estimated the number of OFC supporters jailed at “hundreds or thousands,” including some key party officials. The ruling party-linked Fana Broadcasting Corp. reported Thursday a new round of pardons for 746 detainees, including 400 jailed by federal authorities on charges such as inciting violence and religious extremism. Authorities in Oromia and the northern Amhara region have previously pardoned a combined total of about 5,500 people.
Attorney General Getachew Ambaye didn’t respond to calls and text messages seeking comment on the detainees.
7.2.2018 TPLF faction to depose Chief of Staff Samora Yunis. Engidu Woldie, ESAT News
A faction of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a regime ruling Ethiopia with an iron fist, has decided to depose Chief of Staff Samora Yunis, according to ESAT sources. The faction led by Sebehat Nega that came out triumphant after a marathon of meetings and infighting within the TPLF has reportedly wanted Samora out and be replaced by one the four star generals recently promoted by the regime.
Sixty-one officers were promoted to the various ranks of general last week in an unprecedented move within the army. The rank and file is also expected to get promotions soon. Critics call it an attempt to quell the growing resentment within the army in which all major positions were controlled by Tigrayans holding over 90% of the top brass. There has been growing tensions within the higher echelons of the army following recent divisions and power struggle within the TPLF, with officers showing allegiance to either factions.
Sebehat Nega, the founding member of the TPLF, has reportedly gained the upper hand and has been instrumental in removing Azeb Mesfin, the widow of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, from the Front and her position as the CEO of EFFORT, a party conglomerate that controls all aspects of business in the country. Abay Woldu, presumed to be the leader in the opposing faction has lost to Nega and has been removed from his position as Chairman of the TPLF and administrator of the Tigray region. Nega and co have now moved to reshuffle the army in favor of their people. Younis and few other generals are expected to retire. The commander of the Ethiopian Air Force, Adem Ahmed (an Amhara) is expected to be replaced by Molla Hailemariam (Tigray).
7.2.2018 Amb Samia appointed Chairman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. Fana Broadcastin Corporation
The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) has appointed Ambassador Samia Zekaria as Chairman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). Samia’s appointment, including her deputy and other seven members of the Board, were proposed by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Demoze Mame was appointed as Deputy Chairman of NEBE. The House also approved the appointments of seven members of the Board. Ambassador Samia has served as Director General of the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA). She has also been serving as Ambassador of Ethiopia to Nigeria since last Ethiopian fiscal year.
7.2.2018 OPDO Central Committee Replaces 14 MembersCouncil. ENA
The Central Committee of the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO) has decided to replace 14 members of the Council of the OPDO/EPRDF. The Organization that has been engaged in a thorough discussion for ten days has also decided to suspend four members of the central committee until the next assembly. The Committee has also provided a warning to a member of the Central Committee, the Organization told ENA in a press statement. The Organization has passed the decision to ensure accountability, and sustaining the strength of the organization.
In its ten days deliberations, OPDO has emphasized the need to work in an integrated manner to sustain the ongoing development and maintain peaceful coexistence among the people. It has discussed and put direction on the need to listen to the queries of the public and take rectifying measures. The Organization has given emphasis during the discussions on the need to take measures on problems that challenge the federal system; ensure fair wealth distribution, participatory political system, and benefit of the public. The Committee has also emphasized the need to strengthen the relationship with other national parties of the EPRDF thereby strive together to realize the common goal. It emphasized THE need to fight practices that could endanger the federal system including corruption and corrupt practices, as well as maladministration, and abuse of power together with the public. Noting the loss of lives and property damage due to conflicts, the Committee emphasized the need to take the responsibility for the problems and appropriate rectifying measures.
Rehabilitating Ethnic Oromos who displaced from the Somali regional state due to conflicts, reducing youth unemployment and improving livelihoods, ensuring good governance and rule of law are among the priorities of the Organization.
7.2.2018 OPDO takes measure on 19 EPRDF Council, Central Committee members. Waltainfo
The Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) has indicated through a ststement it released yesterday that it has taken measure on 19 members of the EPRDF Council and the Central Committee. The party central committee indicated that it has successfully finalized the 10-day long detailed reform, the statement said. The party has set future directions after deeply evaluating the current political, economic and social situations in the country, the statement noted. The party indicated that it has deeply discussed the need for sustaining the peace and unity of the people in the country at large and the regional state through cooperation between the people and the regional government. The party noted on the need to properly listen to the woes of the public, requesting heartfelt forgiveness from the public, and taking the necessary corrective measures by all the sister parties of EPRDF.
As part of its measure to make timely reform, the party has replaced 14 of its members representing it in EPRDF Council, suspended 4 central committee members till the coming meeting and warned one central committee member.
Rehabilitation of people displaced from the Ethiopian Somali Region, minimizing unemployment, taking corrective measures against mal-administrative deeds, modernizing service provision systems, restructuring the judiciary, prosecutors, police, woreda and kebelle administrations, ensuring peace and security and the rule of law, are among the tasks scheduled to be undertaken by the party.
The party noted also that it has planned the economic and political reasons that could potentially hurdle the federal system in a scientific way and address public woes in a timely manner. Equitable economic distribution, participatory political system, working with strict discipline to induce peace and justice and attaining public satisfaction is important, the statement noted. The relation between member parties of the EPRDF should be strengthened in a democratic manner and in a way that enables to attain mutual goals and prevent possible dangers that the country could face, the party added.
The party also reminded that many lives were lost, properties ruined and peace and tranquility in the region compromised due to the recent violent incidents in the region. It also stressed on the need to take responsibility for such scenarios and take corrective measures. Directions are set for the effort to make those who tried to attain personal and group gains at the expense of federal system and who did immoral deeds not witnessed in our history accountable to justice, to prevent such mistakes from happening again, and enable the rule of law prevail throughout the country and strengthen the struggle reach a higher level through the participation of the public at large.
6.2.2018 TPLF takes measure against six central committee members. Waltainfo
The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) announced that it has taken measure against its six central committee members following the meeting held in Mekelle city, capital of Tigray region. In the three days-long meeting, the committee reviewed its deep reform moves and passed decisions including firing of Birhane Kidanemariam and Aregash Beyene from central committee membership. The committee also issued warning for four committee members.
TPLF has put direction to keep the momentum of deep reform movements as higher officials continue to hold discussions at zones of the region. The committee also directed a holistic discussion in the coming weeks in a way to answer questions of good governance, and democracy and hold leaders responsible.
6.2.2018 TPLF activists test water overtly showing penchant for secession as the party struggles to restore dominance. borkena.com
(…) The resistance to TPLF across Ethiopia is having a spillover effect on its supporters. What appears to be problematic is that its support base entirely constitutes ethnic Tigray and a significant portion of Tigrean speakers, which is about seven percent of Ethiopia’s population, live outside of Tigray region. They seem to be, from what information shared across social media and Ethiopian media outlets, increasingly coming under attack from angry and disenchanted Ethiopians. TPLF response to the situation in most cases is military which is further complicating the political crisis and aggravating anti-TPLF sentiment. (…) Some analysts tend to think that TPLFites cadres may just be testing the water when they brought up secession agenda. But a considerable number of politicized Ethiopians in social media seem to take the agenda-setting effort seriously and the reaction is unexpected “please go ahead and do it.” (…) What many seem to ask is whether Tigray will be at peace should it take secession path in view of so many controversial issues including land in the west, south and east of Tigray.
6.2.2018 Former Ethiopian president to receive partial retirement benefits. Ethiopia Observer
Dr. Negaso Gidada, Ethiopia’s first president after the fall of the Derg regime, is set to receive partial retirement benefits that were suspended when he parted ways with the current regime. Negasso, in power from 1995 to 2001, will have access to a private car and healthcare coverage as part of a retirement package. This is a constitutional right that was taken away from him when he decided to join the opposition party.
The announcement came from the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), the party that he once led but later dismissed him unceremoniously when he clashed with the former powerful Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in a central committee meeting on June 2001. Negasso continued his political activism, even when the regime came up with a bill that stipulated former presidents who engaged in political activities would lose their pension and all other retirement benefits. Negaso won a seat in Dembi Dolo as an independent in the 2005 elections for the House of People’s Representatives. In 2011, he was elected head of the country’s largest opposition party, Unity for Democracy and Justice and served for four years. He eventually left the party and retired from politics. In a 2016 interview with the Amharic daily Addis Zemen, Negaso pleaded for the reinstatement of his rights since he was no longer involved in any partisan political activity. He said he was facing financial constraints, practically living on the income of his wife.
Speaking to the BBC Amharic after the latest decision, Negaso said he is grateful that the OPDO leaders made the gesture even thirteen years later but insisted that his case is not a party one, rather a federal state affair. “As a former president, my full rights and benefits have to be reinstated,” he said.
The OPDO leaders, who are trying to rally dissatisfied group in the Oromia region behind them, have been in talks with the popular politician for the past two years to lure him into their party politics, according to sources. There was a plausible satisfaction when he agreed to show up at their meeting on November 2017. Even though Negasso was the type of candidate the party sought to recruit, it is unlikely that the 75-year-old politician would pledge allegiance, observers said.
5.2.2018 Ethiopia releases Islamic school teachers. BBC News
More than 60 Islamic school teachers have been released from prison in Ethiopia where they had been accused of being a security threat. The teachers in Jijiga in Ethiopia's Somali region had been serving sentences of between three and 20 years. They were released after Islamic scholars met regional government officials. The Ethiopian authorities have in the past accused Islamic schools, known as madrasas, of teaching extremist views.
5.2.2018 Ethiopia among lowest performers in Rule of Law Index. Eskedar Kifle, Capital
According to the WJP Rule of Law Index, released by the World Justice Project (WJP), Ethiopia places 16th from 18 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region and 10th out of 12 low income countries. The Index puts Ethiopia’s world raking at 107 from 113 countries. (…) The Index measures adherence to the rule of law in 113 countries worldwide based on more than 110,000 households and 3,000 expert surveys. Featuring primary data, the WJP Rule of Law Index measures countries’ rule of law performance across eight factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice; Ethiopia’s ranking in all eight factors is low. (…)
5.2.2018 PM appoints 3 new Deputy Defense Chief of Staffs. Waltainfo
Prime Minister Hailemariam Deselegn has officially appointed three Defense Generals with the status of Deputy Chief of Staff. Accordingly, General Se’are Mekonnen Yimer, General Birhanu Jula Gelelcha and General Adem Mohammed Muahmed are appointed to be Deputy Chief of Staffs, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office indicated. President Dr. Mulatu Teshome also has granted senior appointments to members of the defense force. He appointed 40 Brigadier Generals, 14 Major Generals, 3 Lieutenant Generals and 4 Generals yesterday.
4.2.2018 Hailemariam promotes army generals amid tension in the country. Ethiopia Observer
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn promoted military commanders on Friday in show of support for the army amid political tension in the country. The promotion comes amid accusations of heavy-handed approaches by the army to subdue public protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. Hailemarim has promoted 40 senior officers to the rank of generals, 14 brigadier generals to major-generals, three major generals to lieutenant-generals, and four lieutenant generals to generals, Radio Fana reported. Three of the latter, Seare Mekonnen Yimer, Adem Mohammed and Berhanu Jula Gelelcha would double as deputies to General Samora Muhammad Yunis, the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), who is rumoured to be stepping down from his position soon. The appointment of three deputy Chief of Staff from three ethnic groups, Oromo, Amhara and Tigre is widely seen an effort to bring about a proportional representation of ethnic groups in the army brass. Abraham Woldemariam Genzebu, a Tigrayan close to Samora Yunis, is left out from the deputy role, some suspecting that he might be the one to replace the Chief of Staff. Abraham’s promotion is seen as controversial because his name is often associated in the displacements of half million people along the borders of the Oromia and Ethiopian Somali regional states in his role as head of the Eastern Defence Command of the ENDF. Geresu Tufa, an Amsterdam based Oromo activist said that Abraham is responsible for the atrocities committed by troops under his command, and that of president of Somali Regional State Abdi Mohamud Omar. Geresu said he should be charged for genocide, not given promotion.
Hundreds have died in the protests and successive waves of repression in the last three years in the Oromia and Amhara regions. Analysts say the continuing disorder indicates a deep-rooted discontent with decades of rule by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. A month ago, Prime Minister Hailemariam promised to free political prisoners and shut a prison infamous for torture, a promise yet to be fully realised. However, security forces continued shooting, killing more than twenty in the past two weeks.
3.2.2018 15 dead in Woldia, surrounding clashes: Regional Gov’t. The Reporter
The Amhara Regional State has disclosed today that the total number of people killed in clashes between the security forces and protesters in Northern Wollo towns has reached 15. This was announced in a statement released by the regional administration’s cabinet, today. The clash began following an allegation of politically charged songs sang by protesters to which the security forces replied and demonstration turning violent. Thirteen of the deceased are civilian residents of Woldia, Kobo and Mersa while the remaining two are members of the security.
Convening its condolences for the lives lost, the regional administration stated that the cause of the conflict were the piled up democratic and constitutional demands of the people as well as associated grievances which were not properly addressed in the past years. The regional government also said that it is committed to carry out the needed work to redress the grievances. Restoration of peace and order to the mentioned areas is underway after discussing the issues with the residents and those suspected of causing damages to property are being brought before the court of law, the statement adds.Also denouncing the alleged disproportionate use of force by the security apparatus and the killing of protesters, the region vowed to undertake a high level investigation and they all will be hold those responsible to account, the statement read.
2.2.2018 U.S. gave 28 day ultimatum to Ethiopia regime to allow UN rapporteurs. Engidu Woldie, ESAT News
The United States on Wednesday gave a 28 day ultimatum to the Ethiopian regime to announce its consent to allow rapporteurs for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights investigate human rights violations in the country. House majority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) said he communicated to the Ethiopian regime that they need to announce by February 28, 2018 that they will allow rapporteurs appointed by the United Nations to independently investigate the state of human rights in Ethiopia. According to the majority leader, if the regime fails to do so, House Resolution 128, a resolution supporting human rights in Ethiopia, will be put to the floor of the House for vote in March.
“Should the government not announce by Feb. 28 that it will allow the UNHCHR to independently examine the state of human rights in Ethiopia, then we will bring the resolution to the floor during the month of of March. Furthermore, should the government announce it will allow access by the deadline but then not actually follow through and give the UN access, we will bring the resolution to the floor,” McCarthy said in a letter to Ethiopian civic and political groups whom he met on Monday. “There is no question this resolution has had and continues to have an impact. We are committed to the shared goal that the human rights of every Ethiopian should be respected, honored, and protested,” McCarthy added.
The Ethiopian regime had repeatedly refused demands by the High Commissioner and other rights watchdogs for an independent investigation into the killings of hundreds of anti government protesters since November 2015 when protests began in the Oromo region of Ethiopia. By the regime’s own admission, over 900 people were killed in 2015 through 2017. There has been more deaths of protesters in 2018 and hundreds of others lost their lives in Eastern Ethiopia in a shoot to kill operation by the Special police force of the Somali region. The regime blames ethnic clashes between the Oromo and Somali communities for the deaths.
On Monday, a meeting was held between representatives of Ethiopian civic and political groups with majority leader McCarthy, Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Mike Coffman that deliberated on ways of moving forward House Resolution 128, a resolution supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia. Introduced in the House in February 2017 the resolution was scheduled to be on the House floor for a vote on October 2, 2017, but has been indefinitely postponed. Res. 128, among others, calls for sanctions against Ethiopian officials responsible for committing gross human rights violations. It also called for the regime to allow a United Nations rapporteur to conduct an independent examination of the state of human rights in Ethiopia.
1.2.2018 Prisoners from Amhara region used as laborers in salt fields in Afar. ESAT News
According ESAT sourcers, it was not clear if the company, Yara International was aware that the laborers provided to it were prisoners. The source also said the prisoners, who work under the watchful eyes of security personnel, might have not received the meager payments payments regularly. The prisoners are said to come from North Wollo Zone and it was not clear if the regional administration had a hand in sending them to Afar, a region known for its unforgiving hot temperatures.
Ninety percent of businessmen in the salt and brine salt business in Afar hail from Tigray, according to Afari Rights Watchdogs, while those local businessmen from Afar were made to dissipate. Yara International began its operation in November 2017 in Afar and is building a plant for processing potash and brine salt.
5.2.2018 Bergbau/Gold: Äthiopien könnte auf einer der weltweit größten Goldreserven sitzen. Afrika-Verein
In der Region von Asosa an der Grenze zum Sudan liegt die vermutlich älteste Goldmine der Welt. Sie wurde in einer Zeit von vor 6.000 Jahren betrieben und hatte damals das ägyptische „Weltreich“ mit dem begehrten Edelmetall versorgt. Im Augenblick wird in diesem Gebiet Gold von Anwohnern nach handwerklichen Methoden gewaschen. In Asosa war das ägyptische Unternehmen ASCOM bei Untersuchungen in 2016 auf „erhebliche“ Goldfunde gestoßen und gab seiner Zeit an, dass die Ausbeute an die 48 t Gold betragen könnte. Es nähren sich die Vermutungen, dass die eigentliche Goldablage dort bedeutend umfangreichen sein könnte. In dieser Beziehung wird Äthiopien gar mit Südafrika verglichen und wird in die Gruppe der fünf größten Goldproduzenten gezählt. (Quelle: kalitipost.com)
1.1.2018 163M USD overdue in loan payments to creditors, leaked document reveals. ESAT News
The Ethiopian regime is behind its loan payments of about 163M USD to China and other creditors that was due in January and beginning February. It was also learnt that the loans for electric power projects were taken at exorbitant interest rates of upto 35.3%. According to a leaked document obtained by the Oromia Media Network (OMN), the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation was behind loan payments of about 35.4M USD that was due in January and beginning February. The letter by the chief Executive of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, Azeb Asnake, sent to the Ministry of Finance and to Debretsion Gebremichael, Board Chairman of the Corporation, and obtained by OMN revealed that the country was behind payments of about 60M USD and 83M Euros (~ 163.5M USD). (…)
Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources
27.2.2018 UN Environment Programme, Ministry Sing MoU that Helps Reach Zero Level CO2 Emission. ENA
United Nations Environment Programme and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) have signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will help minimize the impacts of climate change by cutting CO2 emissions to zero level by 2030.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Dr. Gemedo Dalle said during the signing ceremony the Memorandum of Understanding will create additional capacity to implement the agreements the country has made with different international organizations for the prevention of climate change. The MoU that lasts five years will support to strengthen and coordinate the nation’s action on the ground in minimizing the impact of climate change. Dr. Gemedo called on UNEP to strengthen the efforts of guiding the country to move forward as a group with the aim of reaching zero net CO2 emission by 2030.
United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director, Erik Solheim said the MoU will support to work closely on climate change issues. UNEP has been working in partnership with Ethiopia on green development. Solheim added that United Nations Environment Programme will provide technical and capacity building support for Ethiopia. The Executive Director pointed out that Ethiopia is among the African nations that have made great socio-economic and political progress over the last 25 years.
Media, Culture, Religion, Education, Social and Health
12.2.2018 Party loyalist named university president. Ethiopia Observer
A former vice President for Research and Technology Transfer of the Addis Ababa University has been named president of the Addis Ababa University. Tassew Weldehanna, with close ties to Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), was selected as the university’s 11th president and he will lead the university for the coming six years. Tassew was one of three finalists announced by a search committee weeks ago along with Bekele Gutema and Jeylu Umer. He succeeds Admassu Tsegaye, president since 2011, who stepped down to assume ambassadorial position. (…)
2.2.2018 World Interfaith Harmony Week Participants Praise Ethiopia for Practicing Religious and Cultural harmony. ENA
Ethiopia has to share its longtime experience in religious and cultural harmony to the rest of the world, some participants of the World Interfaith Harmony Week said today. More that 75 delegates attended the World Interfaith Harmony Week marked for the first time outside the UN Headquarters.
Some delegates told ENA that Ethiopia is an inspiration for the world in practicing interreligious peace and harmony in a country with people who have diverse religions and cultural practices. Unity Earth in USA delegate, Yani Maniates said Ethiopia has a strong root in practicing Christianity and Islam religions in a peaceful and harmonious way. “We are gathered here in Ethiopia to mark the World Interfaith Harmony Week because Ethiopia is a mother country of interfaith harmony”, he added. According to Maniates, the world is not much aware that Ethiopia is unique in interfaith harmony and religious heritage that should be promoted continuously.
Ben Reisman, a delegate from Holland, said Ethiopia is the right place to get experience on religious and cultural harmony. Ethiopia is a beautiful country and you see how religions can work together, Reisman said, adding that, “I think Ethiopia is the right place to start giving attention to this idea. But after Ethiopia it should also go to other places in the world.”
U-Day delegate Alludin Offinger said that Ethiopia has a very strong tradition of practicing inter-religious harmony in a diverse community. He stated that “Ethiopia is really at the top of the point that the religious and cultural harmony in supporting leaders to promote peace, harmony and diversity can inspire the rest of world.”
Inter- Religious Council of Ethiopia was awarded a prize for promoting tolerance, peace and co-existence among the people by United Religious Initiative-Africa. The golden rule “treat others as you want to be treated” was the central idea of this year’s World Interfaith Harmony Day.
Horn of Africa and Foreign Affairs
10.2.2018 Streit am Nil: Genug Wasser für alle? Deutsche Welle
Äthiopien baut am Nil einen gigantischen Staudamm, der das Land zum mächtigsten Stromerzeuger des Kontinents machen soll. Das schürt Ängste in der Nachbarschaft: Ägypten und Sudan fürchten um ihr Trinkwasser.
Es soll der größte Staudamm in Afrika werden: 1800 Meter lang, 155 Meter breit und mit einem Fassungsvermögen von 74.000 Milliarden Kubikmetern. So beschreibt es die beauftragte Baufirma. Wenn einmal alle 16 Turbinen der angeschlossenen Wasserkraftwerke in Betrieb sind, sollen sie im Jahr 15.000 Gigawattstunden Strom erzeugen. Das Werk wäre dann so stark wie die drei bisher größten Wasserkraftwerke Afrikas zusammen: Assuan am Nil in Ägypten, Cahora Bassa am Sambesi in Mosambik und Inga am Kongo-Fluss in der Demokratischen Republik Kongo.
Die Grand-Ethiopian-Renaissance-Talsperre am Oberlauf des Nils ist das Vorzeigeprojekt Äthiopiens und soll das arme Land zum Entwicklungsmotor für die Region machen. Doch bei den Nil-Anliegerstaaten Ägypten und Sudan schürt das Mega-Projekt Ängste. Der Streit ist zur Krise angewachsen, und vor allem Ägypten fürchtet, dass durch den Staudamm nicht genug Wasser für die eigene Landwirtschaft bleibt. Der Nil ist die Lebensader des Landes, ernährt die Menschen und dient als Schifffahrtsweg.
Äthiopien im Alleingang
Der Blaue Nil entspringt im äthiopischen Hochland. Er erstreckt sich über mehrere tausend Kilometer, fließt im Sudan mit dem weißen Nil zusammen und mündet in Ägypten schließlich ins Mittelmeer. An seinen Ufern entstanden schon früh Hochkulturen. Heute fließt der Nil vor allem durch Krisen-Staaten.
Die äthiopische Bevölkerung - derzeit 100 Millionen Menschen - wächst rasant. Die Ambitionen des Landes zeigen sich darin, dass es die Finanzierung des vier Milliarden US-Dollar teuren Damms allein tragen will. "Das Projekt spielt für die Regierung eine herausragende Rolle", so Ahmed Soliman, Mitarbeiter der britischen Denkfabrik Chatham House im DW-Interview. "Die meisten Menschen waren aufgefordert, ein Monatsgehalt pro Jahr dazu beizutragen." Die Talsperre ist bereits zu 60 Prozent fertiggestellt. Eigentlich sollte sie im vergangenen Jahr fertig sein, doch wirtschaftliche Probleme haben zu Verzögerungen geführt.
Strom für die Nachbarländer?
Der Staudamm soll nicht nur im eigenen Land mehr Strom erzeugen, sondern Äthiopien will auch Elektrizität in die Nachbarländer verkaufen. "Sie hoffen Afrikas größter Stromexporteur zu werden", sagt Experte Soliman. Damit wachse auch die geostrategische Bedeutung Äthiopiens in der Region - ein Grund mehr zur Sorge für die Nachbarn.
Ägypten mit seinen ebenfalls fast 100 Millionen Menschen ist fast vollständig vom Nil abhängig. Es beharrt auf früheren Verträge, die dem Land große Mengen Wasser garantieren. Die anstehende Präsidentenwahl im März erhöhen den politischen Druck: So könnten Kandidaten den Streit ums Wasser für den Wahlkampf nutzen, vermutet Ahmed Soliman. Diplomatische Verhandlungen über das Nilwasser liefen seit Jahren, aber es fehle an Vertrauen zueinander, sagt der Experte von Chatham House.
Auf dem Gipfel der Afrikanischen Union Ende Januar war der Streit ums Nilwasser Thema. Der ägyptische Präsident Abdel Fatah El-Sisi demonstrierte Einigkeit: "Machen Sie sich keine Sorgen! Wir sind uns einig, dass keines der drei Länder Schaden nehmen wird. Die Interessen von Äthiopien und vom Sudan sind auch die Interessen meines Landes. Wir sprechen als ein Staat. Mit einer Stimme."
Doch die Beziehungen Ägyptens zum Sudan und zu Äthiopien hatten sich in den vergangenen Jahren deutlich verschlechtert. Der Sudan zog sogar seinen Botschafter aus Kairo ab. Eine klare Vorgabe für die Nutzung des lebensnotwendigen Wassers ist noch nicht in Sicht - Gespräche zwischen den drei Regierungen gehen seit Monaten nicht voran.
Immerhin: Experte Soliman bewertet als positiv, dass nach dem Gipfeltreffen der Afrikanischen Union ein Fonds geschaffen werden soll, um Infrastrukturprojekte aller drei Länder zu verbinden. Auch ein neu zu bildendes Komitee soll Fragen um das Mega-Projekt diskutieren. "Dadurch könnte mehr politisches Verständnis geschaffen werden", sagt Soliman.
Gemeinsam vom Nil profitieren
Dafür setzt sich seit Jahren auch die Nilbeckeninitiative (NBI) ein. Sie wurde 1999 zur regionalen Zusammenarbeit der Länder im Einzugsgebiet des Nils ins Leben gerufen, auch Ägypten, Ethiopien und Sudan gehören der Initiative an. Ihr Ziel ist, eine gemeinschaftliche Nutzung der Wasserressourcen des Flusses zu erreichen.
"Unsere Vision ist eine nachhaltige, sozialwirtschaftliche Entwicklung durch gleichwertige Nutzung des Wassers und des Profits", so Innocent Ntabana von der NBI im DW-Interview. "Wir reden nicht darüber, das Flusswasser zu teilen, aber den gemeinsamen Profit, den die Wassernutzung liefert. Das ist der Weg, um die Konflikte zu lösen." Die NBI sei allerdings eine technische Organisation, gibt er zu bedenken. "Der Mechanismus, der die drei Länder zusammenbringt, liegt ausserhalb unseres Arbeitsbereiches. Wir hoffen, dass alle Konflikte so gelöst werden, dass wir Frieden in der Region behalten."
Die Zeit drängt: Äthiopien will bald damit beginnen, das Wasser zu stauen. Das versetzt die Menschen am Unterlauf in Sorge. Denn noch ist nicht klar, wie schnell das passieren soll. Je mehr gestaut wird, desto tiefer der Wasserstand in Ägypten.
2.2.2018 Egypt to establish $120m industrial zone in Addis Ababa. Berihu Shiferaw, Waltainfo
Egyptian Ambassador to Addis Ababa Abu Bakr Hefny said on Tuesday that Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia are furthering collaboration, especially at an economic level, given the Cairo-Cape Town road crossing that will soon be established through the three states. In a statement, Hefny stressed Sisi’s vision to connect Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.
He also noted that a fund will be established to finance infrastructure projects between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia as discussed at the Sharm El Sheikh tripartite summit in 2015, adding that it will be activated within the upcoming period. The navigational line connecting Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea through the Nile River will be constructed alongside the road, in reference to strategic Egyptian-Ethiopian relations. He stated that the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has agreed with a Belgian expert to supervise the project.
Egyptian company Elsewedy has proposed establishing an Egyptian industrial zone in Addis Ababa worth $120 million in investments, along with a wind-powered electric station. The project is very important, Hefny stressed, as it will attract many Egyptian businessmen in different fields, including medicine, agricultural manufacturing and construction of animal farms, during the upcoming period. In this regard, he said that an Egyptian delegation will visit Ethiopia during the upcoming period to discuss many investments in medicine in light of the good reputation Egyptian medicine hold in Addis Ababa, explaining that consultations are ongoing to construct an Egyptian hospital in Ethiopia.
Hefny pointed out that Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn met with Egyptian businessmen during his last visit to Cairo and adopted the project to establish an industrial zone, stressing that he will work on this project in the upcoming period. He explained that Egypt and Ethiopia signed an agreement in 2014 to establish an Egyptian farm in Ethiopia. The agreement was agreed to be activated in 2018, as the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture will pay a visit to Ethiopia in February to implement the project. In this regard, he said that Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn called Egyptian businessmen to activate the common business council during the coming period. “In the coming period, Egyptian fertilizers will be exported to Ethiopia, as the proportion of intraregional trade currently does not exceed $170 million and Egyptian investments in Ethiopia reach $750 million,” said Hefny, noting that most of these investments belong to Elsewedy Electric Company. As for the inception report, he explained that the dispute on this report is on some technical issues, which he confirmed the leaders of the three states will resolve within a month.
Hefny noted that Egyptian-Ethiopian relations have faced some misunderstandings, especially after Ethiopia accused Egypt of its attempt to destabilize Ethiopia, and he praised the efforts by Sisi and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to resolve the misunderstanding. “Ethiopia has the right to achieve development for its people but without causing harm to other countries,” he said. He praised the role of the Coptic Church and the Egyptian Agency of Partnership of Development to promote Egyptian-Ethiopian relations.
Regarding Egypt’s vision for structural reform of the African Union, Hefny referenced Sisi’s statement during the opening session of the African Union summit that AU countries should bear the burdens together. A tripartite summit between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on a presidential level convened on Monday on the sidelines of the African Union’s 30th summit in Addis Ababa.
President Sisi, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn discussed the controversial issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) at Sisi's presidential residence in Addis Ababa. The tripartite summit convened to discuss means of furthering cooperation between the three countries, continuing intensive consultation and coordination on various subjects of common interest. The three parties also agreed to activate the joint investment fund between the three countries to finance infrastructure projects, according to a statement from presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady.
Additionally, the tripartite summit reviewed the latest developments to the current negotiations of the National Tripartite Commission on GERD with transparency and discussed means of overcoming its hurdles. The three countries affirmed an agreement on a single vision based on the Declaration of Principles signed in Khartoum, raising the no-harm principle of the three countries’ interests. They agreed to hold a joint meeting between the ministers of irrigation and foreign affairs of the three countries and the National Tripartite Commission, then raise final reports within a month that include a solution to all pending technical issues. They also agreed to exchange technical information and studies between the three countries.(Africa Business communities)
1.2.2018 Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia agree to establish railways, roads linking countries. Berihu Shiferaw, Waltainfo
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ghandour announced that an agreement has been reached with Egypt and Ethiopia to establish railways and roads linking the three countries, reported the Sudan Tribune. The three leaders agreed on establishing a joint-fund to finance integrated projects, he added.
Monday’s tripartite summit held on the sidelines of the African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia’s leaders has yielded positive results and overcome the crisis regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to Ghandour. The foreign minister reported on the mutual view shared by Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, saying both leaders spoke of the “eternal [and] sacred” relations between the two countries. Ghandour emphasized that they were determined to maintain the relations and put them in their “proper framework,” in order that they can survive the shocks – such as those weighing on the countries before the Addis Ababa summit.
A joint political, security, and technical committee is currently being established. It will incorporate ministers of foreign affairs, irrigation, as well as senior security and intelligence officials from the Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The committee will meet in Cairo within two weeks to discuss the mechanism of operating the dam in a way which doesn’t affect the shares accessed by the Nile basin countries, especially Sudan and Egypt, Ghandour mentioned. (…)