von Redakteur

Politics, Justice, Human Rights

29.06.2018      Ethiopian parliament ratified amnesty law as reform to the justice system deepens.

The 32nd regular session of Ethiopian parliament ratified yesterday draft bill on amnesty. It was Law and Justice standing committee in the parliament that proposed the bill. The parliament approved with a majority vote and only one abstain vote was recorded. The amnesty legislation is in effect since the day it was approved, i. e since yesterady. he legislation regulates amnesty process for convicts related to cases of treason, violence, inciting violence against the government and “political crimes” – among others.

The new law, however, seems to make exceptions. Criminals convicted of genocide, extrajudicial killings, forced abduction/kidnapping and committing inhuman torture and beating will not benefit from the legislation. According to Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation(EBC), the Federal government amnesty law will also weigh the impact of the crime on the sovereignty of Ethiopia upon considering a criminal for an amnesty.

In a related development, prime minister Abiy’s administration formed Law and Justice Council – apparnetly as part of the effort to undertake reform measures to the justice system in the country. State media cited the Federal Attorney General, Berhanu Tsegaye, to report that the council is responsible to identify challenges/problems and gaps within the justice system and advise the government. The council will exist for three years. Reforming the legal system is informed by the need to promote good governance and rule of law in the country.

Lack of independence of the justice system and egregious human rights violations have been the hallmarks of the administration which Ethiopians resisted relentlessly for well over two decades. Remarkable improvements are observed in that direction since Abiy Ahmed became president some three months ago which explains why Ethiopians even with a different political conviction are supporting Abiy Ahmed’s government.


29.06.2018      Forum for reform leaders, scholars vital to exchange knowledge: Deputy PM. Walta

Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen said that organizing a forum for reform leaders and scholars is vital for them to exchange knowledge. The Deputy PM made this remark on a forum attended by leaders of political parties, members of the House of Peoples Representative and House of Federation at Economic Commission of Africa (ECA). The forum is attended by government officials and leaders of political parties, among others.


26.06.2018      Joint Council of Political Parties Condemn Grenade Attack. ENA

Members of the Joint Council of Political Parties have condemned the attack committed during a rally last Saturday in Addis Ababa. Saying the attack is an act of terrorism committed against all Ethiopians, members of the Council in their statement ‘strongly’ condemned the act. They also extended their condolence to the families of the deceased and those who suffered from enjuries.

They also denounced conflicts that took place in south Ethiopia and other parts of the country saying they were orchestrated by forces that wish to undermine the stability of the country and ongoing reform.

They urged the government to quickly investigate the situation and announce the identity of persons who are behind the attack. Saying that the ongoing reforms are commendable, members of council asserted that they will work together to sustain the change.


25.06.2018      New beginning, new hope. Capital

Ethiopians massively rallied in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) on Saturday June 23. During the rally a bomb blast rocked the rally injuring many people. Fitsum Arega Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister Offices said in his twitter account that ‘based on reports from Police and Hospitals, 83 people are injured. Of the 83 injured, 6 are in critical conditions. No death so far has been reported.’

Two people were caught red handed when they were trying to throw grenades. A woman and a man who brought the grenades inside their lunchboxes were captured by the public when they try to throw them. After the blast the Prime Minister furiously denounced the blast and said that no one who has a ‘plan to set us back will succeed.’ He said that those who did this are ‘cheap and will be identified and will be dealt with.’ Right after the rally where he was rushed to safety by his security officers, he said that the perpetrators will get the proper punishment.

Ethiopia in its recent history has never experienced such kind of attack. “Even during the recent volatile unrests, public places have never experienced such a thing. This is outrageous,” said one of the supporters of PM Abiy, who came with his children. “How can someone with proper mind do this? This is a rally for unity, love and hope, why would someone be against that?” the supporter asks.

PM Abiy showed up at the march wearing a t-shirt with a map of Africa and Mandela’s famous “power” salute. During his speech he said that he “has no doubt Ethiopia will return to its former glory. Our quest requires all of us to be active participants and not passive bystanders. Regardless our roles, we all need to engage whether it is in the government, in politics, in business, in sciences or arts.”

“Building an independent nation is not the same as building a free society. What good is a free country, if we don’t enjoy freedom? If we are not free from fear? If we don’t have freedom of speech and expression? If we build walls that divide us rather than bridges? What good will come out?” he added. The crowed continued to cheer and chant when the program was suddenly halted after the blast that happened around 9:30 am.

On the rally several slogans and flags including the Ethiopian unsigned flag, the flag of Eritrea, and flags like Oromo Liberation Front has been observed. Capital learnt the several people were arriving from different corner of the country when the blast occurs. Some of them even started to walk two days before the event from Adama. Some also came from as far as Gambella. While people started gathering early in the morning around 5:30 am at Meskel square, the flood of the crowd continued until 10:00 am. Police also stated that the public was highly supportive to calm the crowd after the explosive incident that could have created massive damage by stampede. It has been also reported that most of the victims were transported to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital and other nearby hospitals. The explosive occurred at the right side of the stage where the officials were sitting. Some also claimed that the attack is an assassination attempt on the new prime minister.

Eritrea’s Ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki in his twitter message strongly condemns the attack. “Eritrea strongly condemns the attempt to incite violence in today’s demonstration for peace.” The US Embassy in Addis, Patriot Ginbot 7 and others immediately condemned the attack. Seyoum Teshome one of the organizers of the rally told Capital that the organizers are visiting those that are injured and will give a press conference about the incident today Sunday June 24. The rally is one of the biggest ever staged in the country’s history where over a million people attended. See pics of the event on page 22.


25.06.2018      SEPDM Elects 1st Female Chairperson. ENA

The Southern Ethiopia Peoples Democratic Movement (SEPDM), elected Muferiat Kemal as new chairperson. Muferiat has become the first female chairperson of SEPDM, one of the four parties that make up the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The extraordinary session of the Central Committee of SEPDM elected Muferiat today following the resignation of its former chairperson, Shiferaw Shigute. In his presser he gave earlier today, Shiferaw mainly attributed to the ethnic based conflicts that occurred in parts of SNNP state, for his resignation. The need among the leadership, members of the party and the public for new faces that properly manage the reform is also a reason for Shiferaw to resign from his post.

SEPDM is the organization that rules the South Ethiopia Nations, nationalities and Peoples’ state.


24.06.2018      National council formed to amend legislation that tamper with political rights.

Ethiopian government formed a national council to amend legislation that impair political rights, says a report published today by The Ethiopian Reporter, which cited sources it described as “close to the matter.” The council which was formed last week is is named “Justice and Legal System Amendment Council.” It is organized in a way to have eight sub-groups. The entire membership of the council is 12 which means that a person could me be a member of more than one sub-group. The source also added that expatriate legal experts are included in the council. From within the country, the council draws its membership from academic institutions and from private legal firms.

It is tasked to identify legislation that compromises political rights of Ethiopians and amend them in light of international law, in the context of existing conditions in Ethiopia and in a way that does not make the national security of Ethiopia vulnerable. From the report by Ethiopian Reporter, the overarching objective seem to be reforming the legal system to ensure the rule of law and make the justice system efficient. The “anti-terrorism” legislation and laws governing charitable and civic organizations are among the focus areas for the council. It is to be remembered that the “anti-terrorism” legislation had been serving as a “legal” tool to repress dissent and curtail freedom of expression in Ethiopia which weakened the press freedom for nearly a decade.

Politicians in the opposition quarter and journalists had been thrown to jail with the pretext of “terrorism charges.” It was after the coming of prime minister Abiy Ahmed that many journalists and political prisoners were released as part of commitment to broaden democratic space in the country. In the last two months, some political organization which were based abroad have entered the country for “dialogue” after the prime minister introduced some reform. This week, Eritrea based rebel movement, Ginbot 7, announced that it is resorting to peaceful struggle.

The new administration has also a plan to rethink the federal regional administration arrangement due to ever increasing ethnic based violence in different parts of Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed promised that no Ethiopian citizen should be a target of ethnic-based violence in the ethnically instituted regions of the country which was not a reality at least in the last six or so months. The government, however, did not disclose details of the plan.


23.06.2018      83 people injured in today’s explosion, 15 seriously. Fana BC

The Addis Ababa police commission said 83 people were injured in today’s explosion at a rally organized to show support to reforms undertaken by Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed. The explosion occurred shortly after the Premier finished addressing the crowd gathered at the Meskel square. Deputy Commissioner of Addis Ababa Police Commission, Girma Kassa, said 15 people injured seriously. According to him, police were investigating the cause of the incidents. No death has so far been reported.,-15-seriously


23.06.2018      Attentat auf Reformer in Äthiopiens Hauptstadt. dw

Der neue Regierungschef spricht zu seinen Anhängern - da wird eine Granate geworfen. Die Reformpolitik, für die Abiy Ahmed steht, hat offensichtlich gefährliche Gegner im Land. Bei einer Explosion während einer Kundgebung des äthiopischen Regierungschefs Abiy Ahmed sind zahlreiche Menschen verletzt worden. Unklar ist, ob es auch Tote gab, wie Ahmed kurz nach dem Vorfall im staatlichen Fernsehen erklärt hatte. Der Ministerpräsident sprach von einem "gut orchestrierten Anschlag". Der Sprengsatz war detoniert, als der 41-Jährige gerade seine Rede in Addis Abeba beendet hatte. Er selbst blieb unversehrt. Die Tat sei ein erfolgloser Versuch jener Kräfte, die nicht wollten, dass Äthiopien vereint sei, sagte Ahmed.

"Hass im Herzen"

Stabschef Fitsum Arega schrieb im Kurznachrichtendienst Twitter, Attentäter mit "Hass im Herzen" hätten einen Anschlag mit einer Granate verübt. Wer sie waren, sagte er nicht. Später ergänzte er, entgegen ersten Meldungen seien bislang keine Todesopfer zu beklagen. Die Zahl der Veletzten gab er mit mehr als 80 an. In der Hauptstadt hatten sich - wie in anderen Teilen des Landes - Zehntausende Menschen versammelt, um den Ministerpräsidenten zu unterstützen. Nach der Explosion stürmten zahlreiche Gegendemonstranten den Ort der Kundgebung und skandierten regierungsfeindliche Parolen. Journalisten wurden mit Steinen beworfen.

Seit seinem Amtsantritt im April hat Ahmed mehrere Reformen eingeleitet. So verkündete er die Freilassung Hunderter Gefangener, die aus politischen Gründen in Haft sitzen, er suchte den Dialog mit der Opposition und stieß Friedensgespräche mit dem Langzeit-Rivalen Eritrea an.

Offensive für die Pressefreiheit

Erst am Freitag hatte die Regierung nach eigenen Angaben die Sperrung von mehr als 260 Webseiten, Blogs und Fernsehsendern aufgehoben. Ahmed hatte bei seinem Amtsantritt versprochen, die Pressefreiheit zu garantierten. Zudem hatte der Ministerpräsident angekündigt, das im Jahr 2000 mit Eritrea unterzeichnete Friedensabkommen voll umzusetzen. Die damals vereinbarte Grenzziehung zwischen beiden Nachbarn war immer wieder umstritten. Auch nach dem Ende des Krieges standen sich an der Trennlinie hochgerüstete Armeen gegenüber.

Parlament ohne Opposition

Beobachter gehen davon aus, dass der Anschlag mit Ahmeds Reformpolitik zusammenhängt. Es wird spekuliert, in die Tat könnten Kreise aus Militär und Sicherheitskräften verwickelt sein, die durch die neue Linie ihre Interessen gefährdet sehen. Bisher gibt es hierfür jedoch keine Belege. Äthiopien, das rund 100 Millionen Einwohner hat, wurde lange mit harter Hand regiert. Die Opposition ist im Parlament nicht vertreten. Trotz raschen Wirtschaftswachstums gehört der Staat am Horn von Afrika laut UN-Statistiken immer noch zu den ärmsten Ländern der Welt.


23.06.2018      Blast at rally for new Ethiopian prime minister sparks panic. dw

Scores of people have been injured in an explosion at a rally for Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The blast, in the capital Addis Ababa, caused panic among the tens of thousands of people in attendance.

An explosion disrupted a huge rally for Ethiopia's reformist prime minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday shortly after he gave a speech. Abiy, who took office in April, said on TV later that there had been several fatalities at the rally in Meskel Square, in the capital, Addis Ababa. "A few Ethiopians were injured. There are a few people who lost their lives," he said. He described the incident, which was attended by tens of thousands of supporters, as "an unsuccessful attempt by forces who do not want to see Ethiopia united." Abiy said it was as "well-orchestrated attack," but one that failed.

'Grenade thrown at stage'

An Associated Press reporter saw more than a dozen injured people, while one rally organizer said the blast was caused by a grenade.  "An individual tried to hurl the grenade towards a stage where the prime minister was sat but was held back by the crowd," Seyoum Teshome, a member of the organizing committee, told the German news agency dpa. He said three suspects, two men and a woman, were immediately arrested. Abiy has announced several radical policy shifts since taking office that will reshape the country's relations with neighbors, including plans to fully implement a 18-year-old peace deal with Eritrea to end a two-year war, that turned into a stalemate resulting in huge military buildup by both countries.


23.06.2018       Reconciliation, Love, Togetherness Way to Ethiopia’s Glory. ENA

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said reconciliation, love and togetherness are the only way for Ethiopia to regain its glory again. While addressing the rally that millions of Ethiopians attended today in Addis Ababa, Abiy said that “hate has ruined, disabled us”. The Premier asserted that through love, reconciliation and togetherness, “Ethiopia will be glorious again”. The primer, who thanked his people for their support, said a journey that started with ‘love and unity’ will be completed. “Today’s love and appreciation day shows the first millstones set to take us to a place where we want to reach” he said. “We have to thank Martyrs who sacrificed themselves to let us live, who didn’t see this day, those who disgraced themselves to let us respected, and those who got chained to let us free, those who sacrificed their lives for us.”

Abiy said “a leader without the public’s support, love and unity is nothing” asserting the need for the people to stand by the leader to sustain the changes. He said “Ethiopia needs a leader that can address the root causes and leads it to glory. The rally was attended by different groups of societies from Addis Ababa and its environs and major towns.


22.06.2018      Admitting guilt in Ethiopia: Towards a truth and reconciliation commission? Kjetil Tronvoll, Ethiopia Observer

Kjetil Tronvoll is a Professor of peace and conflict studies at Bjørknes University College in Norway, and a former professor of human rights. He has researched politics and conflicts in the Horn of Africa since the late 1980s.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed admits there have been widespread human rights violations by the government during the EPRDF’s tenure. What will be the consequences of this admission of guilt? And, will this lead to a historic change of the culture of impunity in the country?

In a House of People’s Representatives session in Addis Ababa on June 18, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave a seminal speech where he outlined his intention to heal the political, historical and ethnic divisions in the Ethiopian populace, and beyond.

The speech represented yet another milestone in his young premiership, as he phrased his vision of a new Ethiopia in language that respects the long-held grievances of the people, stresses the need for individual as well as collective reconciliation, and points towards a future of unprecedented political accountability.

Ethiopians of all walks of life were touched by Abiy’s openness, honesty, and reconciliatory manner. Through his speech and actions, Abiy is establishing a new social contract with the Ethiopian people; a social contract where the government will serve the people, and is accountable to the people.

In the follow-up session, a member of parliament asked Abiy about the constitutionality of pardoning those who had been convicted of terrorist acts; therefore implicitly criticising the direction of his reforms. With an unprecedented manner of rectitude and reflection, Abiy responded:

“What is terrorism, and who is a terrorist? By going this way, what have we profited? It is necessary to look at it thoroughly. Terrorism includes using forces in anti-constitutional manner to stay in power. Terrorism includes using inappropriate ways to grab power. We have to bear in mind that everyone should respect the constitution…..Does the constitution say anyone who was sentenced by a court can be tortured, put in a dark room? It doesn’t. Torturing, putting people in dark rooms, mutilation of prisoners’ body parts is our act of terrorism. These unconstitutional acts have been done in every kebele, woreda and zone. Not only at federal levels, but at every lower level.”

The EPRDF government has over the years been routinely accused by domestic and international observers of gross human rights violations, but has rejected most claims as baseless. When violations were admitted, they were explained away by a lack of knowledge of particular individuals, or as perpetrated by overzealous local administrators.

Despite such excuses, it is now a long time ago that it dawned upon the old cadres of the Tigrayan resistance that the struggle’s core objectives of human rights and democracy have gone astray. However, democratic centralism and the discipline of the Front inhibited a process of accountability from within, and a genuine change of guard was needed to open up this issue.

With his remarks, Abiy not only admits to the violation of human rights by his government, but the way it is described, as being perpetrated at all levels of government throughout Ethiopia, it alludes to a description of ‘widespread and systematic’ human rights violations. If so, Abiy discloses that the EPRDF government may have committed crimes against humanity on their own people.

In a democracy with the rule of law firmly established, such confessions by the head of government would lead to a range of consequences. First of all, criminal investigations against officials believed to have committed human rights violations and against their superiors for issuing orders or knowing about abuses without taking appropriate action. Furthermore, parliament would have held such a government accountable for such violations. However, following up on his ‘full disclosure’ rhetoric, Abiy explained:

“EPRDF has clearly apologised to the public. Saying we have made mistakes, blunders. Including me, thanks to you, when you named me Prime Minister, I have apologized and asked for forgiveness, standing just here. What does that mean?  There were serious mistakes. The compassionate people have forgiven us. We need to seize this opportunity.  As if we have not been doing unconstitutional things ourselves. We as party members undertook self-evaluation and admitted our own failures, as you know. The people also showed their mercy not in words but in act. Not that the people did not have the choice of putting us all into prison. There were reasons enough, the robbery, murder, theft were there. If we go to jail, that would not bring change for Ethiopia.”

Abiy is a strong believer in forgiveness: politically, religiously and scholarly. In the fragile political transition Ethiopia is currently experiencing, it seems impossible for the prime minister to conduct a mass arrest of suspected perpetrators of human rights violations from his own cabinet down to each village and hamlet throughout the country.

Instead he looks set to chart a new course; a forward-looking path for a new Ethiopia where all individuals have the same rights, and no one is above the law. In these parliamentary comments, Abiy has begun redefining the hitherto excluding and exclusive political space monopolised by the EPRDF, thereby setting about establishing an open, just and equal public domain.

History has shown us that individuals may turn around the most entrenched political systems. Abiy follows the best of this tradition by admitting guilt, asking for forgiveness, and promising to rectify mistakes. These were the principles the post-apartheid South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) based their work on. Abiy therefore has big shoes to fill; and so far his approach to transforming the political culture of Ethiopia resembles the language used by Nelson Mandela.

But Mandela also knew that for reconciliation to reach down to the grassroots and out to each village and hamlet throughout the country, not only the top-level government had to change. A bottom-up process of truth seeking, confession and forgiveness was instrumental in a national process of healing and reconciliation; to create a new political culture and a definite breach with the past.

The Ethiopian Red Terror trials established after 1991 never managed to heal the Ethiopian people and abolish impunity for human rights violations. Maybe this is the time to establish an Ethiopian truth and reconciliation commission to reconcile public grievances and finally put an end to the culture of official impunity.


22.06.2018      Ethiopia’s Ginbot 7 opposition movement suspends armed resistance. ECDAF

An Ethiopian rebel group has suspended its armed resistance against the government.

Ginbot 7 said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reforms had given it hope that “genuine democracy” may be “a real possibility”.

Earlier, the government said it had unblocked 264 websites and TV channels. This is the latest of numerous changes made since Mr Abiy came to office in April, relaxing the state’s previously tight grip on power.

Ginbot 7, which is based in neighbouring Eritrea, had been designated a terrorist organisation by previous governments. Its secretary-general, Andargachew Tsege, was seized in Yemen in 2014, and then sent to Ethiopia where he had been sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 for allegedly plotting a coup. The Ethiopian government pardoned Mr Tsege on 29 May and he has since returned to the UK, where his family lives. Mr Tsege recently told the BBC that his release came after Prime Minister Abiy had threatened to resign.

In recent years, Ethiopia has been riven by protests by members of the country’s two largest ethnic groups – the Oromo and the Amhara. Demonstrations first spread across the country in 2015 amid calls for political and economic reform and an end to state corruption. The government was accused of human rights violations in that time – including torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.


20.6.2018        PM calls on leaders of Sidama, Wolayita zones to resign. The Reporter

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has urged the leaders of Sidama, Wolayita, Kebena and Gurage zonal and woreda administrators to resign immediately and take personal responsibility for the bloody conflict in these areas. The PM said so on his recent tour to the conflict-ridden areas of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region. Wolikite, Hawassa, and Wolayita Sodo towns were hot spots of the recent ethnic conflict in what used to be relatively calmer area of the country over the past three years, a time where the country was hit by widespread political unrest. His statement was disclosed on the official twitter page of the Fitsum Arega, Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister.


19.6.2018        Rally in Support of PM Abiy to be Held in Addis. ENA

A peaceful demonstration is said to be held in Addis Ababa next Saturday in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Organizers of the rally told the media that the rally that intended to show solidarity to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will take place at Meskel square. The rally is aimed at appreciating the changes that have brought so far by the prime minister since he took office in April and show solidarity to the PM in his efforts to realize reform in the country. Ethiopians without any political, religious and ethnic difference will attend the rally to show their solidarity with the Prime Minister, they said.

The organizers claimed that the new Premier, who shows strong passion and commitment in restoring peace, stability and bringing change, needs to get support from the public in order to sustain the ongoing change. The organizers, who requested for permission, expressed hope that they will get the permission to hold the rally.


19.6.2018        Neuer Regierungschef verurteilt Folter. Deutschlandfunk

Der äthiopische Ministerpräsident Ahmed hat die Folter in seinem Land verurteilt. Menschen zu foltern oder in dunkle Zellen zu stecken seien Formen von Staatsterrorismus, erklärte Ahmed im Parlament. Er verteidigte zudem seine Ankündigung, den Grenzstreit mit Eritrea zu beenden. Dieser Schritt sei überfällig und im Interesse beider Staaten. Trotz eines Schiedsspruchs vor 16 Jahren hatte sich Äthiopien bislang geweigert, eine Grenzstadt und weitere Gebiete an das Nachbarland abzutreten.  Ahmed wurde im März in sein Amt gewählt. Seitdem hat er zahlreiche Maßnahmen für eine Öffnung des Landes in die Wege geleitet. Zuletzt tauschte er die Spitzen von Armee- und Geheimdienst aus, denen zahlreiche Menschenrechtsverletzungen zur Last gelegt werden.


18.6.2018        House Members, Contending Party Head Satisfied with Briefings of PM. ENA

Members of the House of People’s Representatives and contending political parties have expressed their satisfaction with the briefings of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed today about the decisions passed on Ethio-Eritrea conflict and the economic reform.

House of People’s Representatives Member Temesegen Burka told ENA that the explanations given by the Premier on the situation of the country is timely and filled with in-depth analysis. He said that the explanations and responses to questions play a big role in clearing the confusions created among some people and strengthen unity of the people. Temesegen noted that the briefings have created common understanding on important issues and the confusions were fully cleared. “I think many people will support his ideas because those have been in their minds,” he added.

All Ethiopia Democratic Party General-Secretary, Zemenu Molla said the briefings have clearly shown the objective reality of the country and the current situation as well as the steps that must be taken to fully make peace and democratic culture prevail in the nation. “The briefings have made clear the backgrounds of the decisions and fully cleared our confusion and suspicions,” he noted. He added, “Our party fully accepts the Premier’s stand and we are ready to stand by him because we believe that the country deserves peace and conflict must stop.”

House Member Mohamed Nur said the people need to work with the Prime Minister and stabilize peace in the whole country. “As a member of the House we have been working with him and will continue our cooperation in maintaining peace and harmony, one of our heritages.”


18.6.2018        PM Dr Abiy briefs MPs on current affairs. Fana Broadcasting Corporation

Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed today briefed members of the parliament (MP) on current affairs.

The economic, social, and political crisis occurred during the past two and three years adversely affected the economy of the country, said the Premier. As a result, the economic growth slowed to a single digit, he noted. However, a reduced agricultural output caused by El Nino in the past revived in 2009 and 2010 E.C, the Premier indicated. Broad efforts were made to improve the manufacturing sector; however, there is a lot of work ahead to achieve the target of making the industrial sector driver of the economy, PM Dr Abiy said.

The Premier stated that various measures will be taken to address foreign currency shortage in addition to boosting export performance. According to the Premier, current foreign currency shortage is resulted from lower performance in export sector, which has grown by 0.02% this Ethiopian fiscal year compared to the preceding year. He said efforts will be carried out to improve investment projects and control contraband trade to boost the sector.

The Premier further noted that works were underway to amend the justice system, widen the political space, and allow individuals and media enjoy freedom of speech. He also called on media institutions to work responsibly.

Foreign countries-based Ethiopia political parties are coming to home by taking advantage of the favorable political space prevailed in the country, he said, further calling more to come and operate peacefully.

Regarding government’s recent decision to privatize state-owned enterprises, he said, the move is aimed to sustain economic growth, create more jobs, and reduce international debt, which currently stands at 24.7 billion US dollars. Ethiopia paid 688.6 million US dollars debt in the first half of this fiscal year, he said.

Privatizing the telecom sector will also help improve quality of service by encouraging competition, he said, pledging to make necessary precautions during the privatization process.

Commenting on recent government’s decision to accept and implement the Algiers Agreement, the Premier said the decision is part of the government’s plan to avoid the standoff between Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as bring about development in the area. The Premier also underscored the need for a new way out of the boundary-related problems being encountered in various parts of the country.


18.6.2018        Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed defends his reform plan, calls for genuine democratization.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday appeared before parliament to give an update on recent political developments and answer questions from members of parliament. In unprecedented and daringly honest exchange, televised live and streamed online, the PM called for national reconciliation, defended decision to partially privatize state-owned enterprises and the release of political prisoners, and emphasized the need for opening the political space and genuine democratization.

Since taking over the reins of power in April, Abiy has vowed reform his own party and open up the political space. The flurry of executive actions saw the dismissal of key security officials as well as a cabinet reshuffle.

Tens of thousands of political prisoners have been released this year. The Prime Minister has been crisscrossing around the country to appeal for national unity and help ease ethnic tensions.

He has vowed to end the “bloodless war” with neighboring Eritrea by fully complying with the 2000 Algiers agreement that ended a bloody war between the two nations.

Less than three months into his term in office, he has visited several countries in the region – Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Somalia. In nearly all the countries he’s visited, the PM has sought and secured the release of Ethiopians held at various prisons. In Egypt, some 32 prisoners were released and returned to Ethiopia on the same plane.

Here is a selection of his comments via Twitter: #Ethiopia PM Abiy defends reform plan and calls for democratization

Prime Minister Abiy conceded political volatility over the past three years has caused challenges to macroeconomic stability.

Parallel currency market and contraband trade coupled with supply side constraints attributed to crisis in the balance of payments, with external debt reaching at 27 billion dollars.

Although beefing up revenues from exports would be given a priority, privatization of state enterprises is an integral part of broadening forex source.

While broadening the political space for free speech and media, Prime Minister Abiy called for media practitioners to behave responsibly.

Abiy described a series of tours to neighbouring and Middle Eastern countries as "an overwhelming success." He credited the release of Ethiopians in other countries and the deal with UAE last week as evidence of diplomatic accomplishments.

Abiy blames "groups" for their intent to reverse the reforms since the leadership change at the helm of the ruling EPRDF.

"A public in despair for having no one to listen has moved to hope for the better".

"More than 50% of state enterprises privatized fall in the hands of few and proven to be no better efficient than they were under the state's hold."

"Close to five percent of shares of state enterprises will go to Ethiopians here and abroad while significant shares will be sold to buyers with a track-record in the specific industries."

"Privatization of mines and state farms are demonstrations of privatized failures in Ethiopia."

Lack of competition within the telecom industry is the reason for resource wastage and poor services to the public.

An average of 1000 to 1,500 people applied to be issued SIM cards a day, Prime Minister Abiy disclosed: "There should come a disruptive telecom expansion in Ethiopia."

"Concerns on the share transfer to private capital is understandable."

Inefficient operations by state enterprises attributed as justification for an invitation of private capital by Ethiopia's government: "It isn't about ideological issues."

Ethiopia's federal system may have achieved monumental gains, but it is not perfect: "Federalism is created to address major contradiction, not localised conflicts."

Prime Minister Abiy wants a commission to study state boundaries within the federation.

An MP, Meseret Jemaneh, opposed the resolution by the EPRDF Executive Committee over resolving border stalemate with Eritrea. "There is no border among countries in the Horn of Africa," Prime Minister Abiy responded to an MP. "There is only artificial colonial borders." Prime Minister Abiy had expected parliament to demand an explanation as to why Ethiopia never implemented the Algiers Agreement.

The culture of kitchen politics is over, according to Prime Minister Abiy.

"EPRDF's Executive Committee meetings every-hour should be disclosed to the public."

"Militarisation and mobilisation have diverted national resources from investments in growth."

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed disclosed to parliament the reason for his visit to Saudi Arabia is to ask for access to the port due to congestion at the ports in Djibouti.

Mulu Gebre-Egziabher, an MP, challenged the Prime Minister for breach of laws by the administration over anti-terrorism, corruption and audit findings. "Terror incorporates the act of terrorising the public to stay in power as much as it is to capture a state power through the use of violence," Abiy responded.

The Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed squarely placed blame on the ruling EPRDF over the unconstitutional conduct of the state sanctioning torture.

"Forgiveness has no boundaries," Prime Minister Abiy said. "No law was breached in the process of forgiveness and pardon."

"Your way is old-fashioned," Prime Minister Abiy's message to insurgent groups based in Eritrea. "Come home and practice a peaceful political discourse."

Attributing the practice of corruption to only certain groups or regions is dangerous, warns Prime Minister Abiy.

"It is not possible to hold public office and advance a private business at the same time."

Prime Minister Abiy offered leaders of opposition parties to pay a visit to the military and security institutions. "They are public institutions," Abiy told MPs. "There should be no taboo."

Prime Minister Abiy pleas for broader, inclusive and tolerant legislative body in parliament, including extremist views.

"TPLF is not the entirety of the population in Tigray."

"Disagreements over budget allocation and self-administration should not be reasons for conflicts."

"When we tolerate each other, the world respects us; when we cannot the world disrespects us."

Better to release a 100 guilty people that hold one person wrongfully accused. In Ethiopia's judicial system, wrongful accusations can occur.

"We do not have enough evidence on some of the persons released after being detained on corruption charges."

"The judicial and law enforcement bodies have significant flaws."


9.6.2018          Defense, Security shakeup. Dawit Endeshaw, the Reporter

In a leaked cable that intercepted communication between US Embassies across the world, released by an organization called WikiLeaks, it was once indicated that Donald Yamamoto, former US Ambassador to Ethiopia, described Getachew Assefa, the then head of the National Intelligence & Security Agency, as an “elusive” personality noting his rare appearances in the public and diplomatic platforms.

Getachew, who headed the most secretive institution in the country for more than 15 years, following the controversial assassination of his predecessor, Kinfe Gebremedhin in 2001, was relived from his post this week. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) replaced Getachew with Adem Mohammed (Gen.), who was the chief of Air Force. Days, before his appointment as a chief of intelligence, Adem was seen with US military officials, accompanied by Ambassador Michael Raynor. Adem received C-130 Hercules military aircraft from the US government, which few state media reported, to be used for humanitarian purposes. In fact, the aircraft equipped with the state of the art technology, has a range of purposes form scientific researches to espionage. 

Another big turn of events this week was the retirement of Samoura Yinus (Gen.) as Chief of Staff of the Army, also after a long and decorated military career. Samoura who has already passed his retirement age according to sources has extended his retirement period twice. Samoura, a former TPLF fighter, was replaced by Seare Mekonnen (Gen.), who was his deputy Chief of Staff and next inline in seniority.

According to experts, who are close to the security establishments of Ethiopia, the departure of senior military and intelligence chiefs is timely phenomenon. An expert whose name withheld upon request gave three reasons for why the PM made such a move. “The fact that the PM is putting a general into the position of an intelligence chief is suggestive of the lack of confidence in the civilian establishment,” argues the anonymous security expert. The expert further speculates that Adem is the best candidate who will be loyal to Abiy’s chain of command.

In the same turn of events, Abadulla Gemeda, security advisor to the PM and Girma Biru, former ambassador of Ethiopia to the US, both from PM’s home party OPDO, went into retirement. According to the same expert, the retirement of Abadulla was not a surprise saying in the first place his appointment as an advisor to the PM was just “a temporary olive branch.”

Abiy has also restored the full ranks and honor of Assamnew Tisge (B. Gen.) and Alemshet Digfe (Maj. Gen) who were accused and convicted of conspiring to overthrow the constitutional order and have been serving the terms of their sentence until PM Abiy released from prison. The two individuals were freed a few weeks ago after serving years behind bars and were stripped of their military ranks.

According to yesterday decision, the two ex-military men will receive full pension benefits and retire with their ranks intact.


8.6.2018          Auswärtiges Amt zur Lage in Äthiopien

Am Dienstag hat nicht nur das äthiopische Parlament den Ausnahmezustand aufgehoben. Das Führungsgremium der äthiopischen Regierungspartei unter Premierminister Dr. Abiy Ahmed hat zudem beschlossen, die Grenzstreitigkeiten mit Eritrea zu beenden und das Abkommen von Algier aus dem Jahr 2000 anerkennen und umsetzen zu wollen. Die Bundesregierung begrüßt diese Schritte, die einen wichtigen Beitrag zu mehr Frieden und Stabilität in Äthiopien und in der Region leisten können.

Wir ermutigen die äthiopische Führung, den Reformkurs entschlossen fortzuführen und weiter darauf hinzuwirken, dass alle äthiopischen Bürger in Frieden leben, sich am politischen Leben beteiligen und  ihre Interessen im politischen Prozess angemessen vertreten können. Deutschland ist weiterhin bereit, zu Äthiopiens politischer und wirtschaftlicher Entwicklung beizutragen und Friedensbemühungen zu unterstützen, auf der Basis von demokratischen Prinzipien und Menschenrechten.


5.6.2018          House lifts SoE. Yohannes Anberbir, The Reporter

The House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) lifted the state of emergency effective today June 5, 2018 with eight abstention votes. Speaker of the House, Muferiyat Kemil, on the other hand, ordered a full scale investigation into alleged human rights violations during the state of emergency. In its regular session today the House also discussed a draft proclamation that provides for the establishment of amnesty board which will be accountable to the Prime Minister.


5.6.2018          Statement by the Spokesperson on the lifting of the State of Emergency in Ethiopia. EU External Action

The political transition in Ethiopia in the past few weeks has led to concrete reform efforts by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and his Government, which should create a more inclusive society. Today's lifting of the State of Emergency by the Parliament is another positive step that will contribute to an environment where all relevant stakeholders can take part in that process. The EU remains ready to assist the Government in its reform endeavours in view of the next local elections, which includes political dialogue and political reforms meeting the expectations of the Ethiopian people as well as economic reforms to facilitate the work of businesses as well as job creation.


2.6.2018          Council of Ministers Decides to Lift State of Emergency. Engida, ENA

The Council of Ministers has decided to lift the state of emergency in place at its regular session held today. Head of the Office of the Prime Minister, Fitsum Arega tweeted, the decision was reached after a detailed analysis of the security situation in the country. Fitsum stated that the Ministers decided to annul Proclamation for the State of Emergency pursuant to Article 93 as relative stability and calm has prevailed all over the country.

The resolution passed by the Council of Ministers for the lifting of the state of emergency is referred to the House of People’s Representatives for approval, it was learned. The resolution shall enter into effect upon approval of the House of People’s Representatives.


1.6.2018          The rise of the Barbaarta: Somali protesters demand an end to Abdi Illey’s reign of terror, Zecharias Zelalem, OPride

A budding protest movement is gathering momentum in Ethiopia’s Somali regional state. Demonstrators have taken to the streets in the Southeastern state since late April to denounce the regional government and to air long-suppressed political grievances. (…) the Somali region remained largely unperturbed during the protests, which forced authorities to decree two martial laws in as many years. The Oromo and Amhara protests culminated with the election of Abiy Ahmed on April 2. But the settling of the dust in those regions coincided with a defiant uprising in the Somali region. The state has long been off-limits to reporters and civil society groups.As a result, the still-ongoing protest movement over pent-up frustrations with regional kleptocracy and fury over institutional killings, rape and abuse, has received no media coverage in and outside of Ethiopia. (…) Somali youth are now taking a leaf from the book written by the Oromo protests.

“Somalis are inspired by the gigantic difference made by the “Qeerroo” movement in Oromia,” says Mohammed Ismail, Chairman of the opposition Somali Regional Alliance for Justice (SRAJ) party. “The oppressive rule in the Somali region had [also] worsened in recent months.”  SRAJ is a newly established political party based in Minneapolis, Minnesota —home to the biggest population of Ethiopian Somalis in the diaspora. SRAJ was established abroad because political space remains completely sealed off for domestic opposition by governor of the region, President Abdi Mohamoud Omar, better known as Abdi Illey. He is a loyalist for key military and establishment leaders in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Abdi Illey’s Presidency

In his 10-year-long tenure as President of the Somali region, Abdi Illey has developed a reputation for being a czar of sorts. He has monopolized all aspects of life in the region. The media blockade enforced across the region during the military campaign in 2008 remains in effect until today. Foreign journalists, human rights groups and aid agencies are barred from accessing the region. There have not been any investigation of the endless reports of mass killings, detentions and rapes of his critics, and their relatives. To enforce his will and prolong his grip on power, Abdi Illey established the Liyu Police, a paramilitary force with a membership estimated in the tens of thousands. Critics characterize the notorious force as Abdi’s personal army catering to his every whim. Amnesty International and other rights groups have repeatedly accused the Liyu police of carrying out orders to kill and terrorize those who exhibit even the slightest form of dissent toward Abdi Illey.

Demonstrations were first reported on April 21 in the Somali region’s Shinile or Sitti zone. With domestic uprisings unheard of in the region, initial protests appeared sporadic, one-off demonstrations. Within weeks, they’ve transformed into a full blown movement, according to activists and Somali-based blogs. The protesters demand political changes at the regional level. They accuse Abdi Illey’s government of murder, cronyism and corruption. They are calling on the federal government and Prime Minister Abiy to intervene and oversee the genuine implementation of the constitution and respect for the rule of law. This, they say, would require a removal of the man at the helm of the region’s political power. (…)

In 2007, an Ethiopian military crackdown on the ONLF coincided with Abdi Illey’s rise to power. Abdi, then a low level intelligence officer, was rewarded for his efforts in pacifying  the region and squashing the ONLF threat. (…) London-based Amnesty International on Thursday called for the dissolution of the Liyu Police, citing the unit’s latest rampage across Oromia, in which several people were killed and dozens of homes belonging to Oromo families were torched earlier this week. (…)

In late April it may have appeared to be nothing more than a show of force by hundreds of determined youths in and around the Sitti zone. It has clearly gained ground since and has inspired at least 20 rallies and mass demonstrations across the region. From as far north as the border town of Aysha’a, to the towns bordering southern Somalia such as Kelafo and Mustahil, the Somali region’s streets have been taken over by demonstrators calling themselves “Barbaarta,” a Somali word for youth. As with the Qeerroo of Oromia, Barbaarta is used to collectively refer to the protesters. (…) the arrival of a new Prime Minister — deemed a reformer — has emboldened the Somali youth. (…) The Somali protesters hope their voices and cries for help will now get a fair hearing. If Somalis back home were delighted with the appointment, they most certainly couldn’t express it publicly. However, the Somali community in Minnesota held an event to celebrate the occasion. Somalis see Abiy’s ascension as a new opportunity to press for democratic reforms in the Somali region. (…)

One grievance of the protesters is over a government initiative that deploys public employees in the development sector to work in different parts of the region. It is portrayed as an attempt to mobilize skilled professionals to areas in great need of expertise. Dubbed the “renaissance” program, critics refer to it as a tool to disperse young educated, budding youths into areas far from their birthplaces where they can influence others. (…)

Until May 10, a day before the barbaric killing of Tayasir sparked even more protests, there had been at least five confirmed cases of protester deaths. As the protests intensify, so has the crackdown, according to local reports. The exact number of casualties and arrests are unknown, but activists say hundreds of protesters have been locked up since April. Somali communities in the diaspora have rallied behind the Barbaarta. The protests have only just marked a month since they first erupted, yet numerous solidarity events and gatherings have been held across Europe and North America. (…)

Reconciliatory rhetoric from Prime Minister Abiy, calling on exiled opposition parties to return home and participate in the country’s political process, has seen some, particularly the Oromo Democratic Front, take up his offer. However, in the Somali region, which sometimes seems to operate outside the perimeters of the federal arrangement, it is still unthinkable for Somali groups such SRAJ to return home and pursue peaceful struggle. Unfortunately for the Barbaarta, there are no home-based Somali political organizations that can take up their cause. There are no private newspapers or television networks amplifying their voices. (…)

Amid reports of renewed Oromo-Somali conflict, growing tensions in the Somali region may become prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s first real test. The chorus of calls for removal of Abdi Illey and disbanding of Liyu police is growing. The only question is: Would the new leader heed the protesters demand or continue to relegate their demands to the periphery as many before him did?


Development and Humanitarian Issues

5.6.2018          MISEREOR warnt: Weite Teile Afrikas steuern auf Hunger-Krise zu.

Wetterextreme und zunehmende Unsicherheit in Teilen der Sahel-Zone, anhaltende Regenfälle in Kenia und hohe Lebensmittelpreise durch den Bürgerkrieg im Südsudan drohen Millionen Menschen in Afrika in eine akute Hungerkrise zu stürzen. MISEREOR fordert von der internationalen Gemeinschaft, dem Appell von Entwicklungsminister Gerd Müller zu folgen und umgehend einen UN-Krisenfonds zur Versorgung der notleidenden Bevölkerung einzurichten.

"Die Lage im Südsudan ist dramatisch: Der Großteil der Bevölkerung hungert, weil die Menschen wegen der Kämpfe ihre Felder jahrelang nicht bestellen konnten oder die importierten Lebensmittel extrem teuer sind", berichtete Maria Klatte, Leiterin der Abteilung Afrika und Naher Osten bei MISEREOR. Von zehn Millionen Südsudanesen seien rund sieben Millionen Menschen auf Hilfe angewiesen. Diese werde zum Großteil nur noch von ausländischen Hilfsorganisationen gewährleistet. 

"Die von uns geförderten Schulen der Diözese Rumbek werden überrannt, weil die Kinder dort noch eine Mahlzeit am Tag bekommen. Über 100 Kinder gehen derzeit in eine Klasse“, sagte Klatte. In der Diözese Wau lebten auf dem diözesanen Verwaltungsgelände nach wie vor rund 10.000 Menschen, die vor Gewalt und Terror des Bürgerkriegs geflüchtet sind, unter schwierigsten Bedingungen.

In einigen Regionen Kenias verschlimmern die anhaltenden Regenfälle die Lage der Bevölkerung, die infolge mehrerer Dürrejahre bereits enorm geschwächt ist. "Drei Millionen Menschen hatten schon vor den Überschwemmungen nicht genügend Nahrung. Unsere Partner warnen vor weiteren hunderttausenden Hungernden, da der Regen auch die letzten Ernten und Felder zerstört hat", so Klatte. MISEREOR stellte der Diözese Marsabit im Rahmen einer Soforthilfe rund 80.000 Euro zur Verfügung - für Nahrungsmittel, Moskito-Netze und den Bau von Latrinen, um Malaria und Cholera vorzubeugen. 

Auch in Ländern des Sahel rechnen die Vereinten Nationen aufgrund unzureichender Regenfälle mit einer der schwersten Hungerperioden der letzten Jahre. Raymond Yoro Younoussi, Direktor von Caritas Niger, berichtete, dass die Lage der Bevölkerung alarmierend sei: "Trinkwasser geht aus, ganze Dörfer hungern, das Vieh - eine der wichtigsten Versorgungsquellen der Menschen - verendet. Nigrische Organisationen der Zivilgesellschaft haben bereits Ende vergangenen Jahres vor einer erneuten Hungerkrise gewarnt, doch der Staat hat viel zu spät reagiert", so Younoussi. Mehr als 270 Millionen Euro seien nötig, um Nothilfe leisten zu können. 

"Wir unterstützen Bundesentwicklungsminister Müllers Appell, die internationale Hilfe umgehend aufzustocken, damit nichtstaatliche Organisationen entlastet und hunderttausende Leben gerettet werden können", sagte Maria Klatte. Die Lage zeige jedoch auch, dass deutlich mehr politisches Engagement zugunsten einer langfristigen Stärkung der von Hunger geprägten Regionen Afrikas nötig sei. 

"Das in den nachhaltigen Entwicklungszielen (SDGs) formulierte Ziel, Hunger langfristig zu bekämpfen und wiederkehrende Ernährungskrisen zu vermeiden, kann nur erreicht werden, wenn die internationale Gemeinschaft in betroffenen Ländern wie dem Südsudan, dem Niger oder Kenia auf eine friedliche Lösung von Konflikten drängt und sich für eine Stabilisierung einsetzt. Um die Widerstandsfähigkeit gegenüber Krisen nachhaltig zu verbessern, sollte die internationale Gemeinschaft kleinbäuerliche Produktionssysteme massiv stärken und sich entschieden für eine gerechte Handels- und Agrarpolitik einsetzen", so Klatte.


4.6.2018          Ministry Preparing Ten-year Roadmap to Empower Emerging States. ENA

A ten-year roadmap that empowers emerging regional states and some pastoralist areas to develop their own institutional capacity is under preparation, Ministry of Federal and Pastoral Development Affairs disclosed. The roadmap under preparation covers pastoral areas in Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples states, and Somali, Benishanguel-Gumuz, Gambela and Afar regional states.

Federal and Pastoral Development Affairs State Minister Kaydakey Gezahegn told ENA that the roadmap will build the institutional capacity of the regions with special needs. Kaydakey said it has become necessary to design a ten-year roadmap that helps to enhance the institutional capacity of the four emerging regional states in particular as they have failed to bring change by utilizing the budget subsidy allotted to them. The implementation of the roadmap being prepared with 7.5 million USD fund secured from World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and USAID will start after three months.

Although efforts have been made to build the institutional capacity of the emerging regional states by establishing a comprehensive system as part of the country’s efforts to become a middle income country by 2025, the expected result fell short of expectations justifying the need for putting in place a roadmap to build the institutional capacity of the regions, the State Minister explained. The emerging regional state Gambella has, for instance, failed to tap and use the abundant ground water and fishery resources in the region, while Somali and Benishangul-Gumuz states also failed to make use of the abundant virgin lands for the benefits of the peoples in the region. The cause of the failures is lack of institutional capacity that enables them to effectively utilize their natural resources, Kaydakey stressed. Thus the need for a roadmap that ensures economic, social and political benefits of the emerging regions.

World Bank and IFAD have extended 550 million USD loan for the implementation of the plan over a period of six years, it was learned.


3.6.2018          Addis Launches 2nd Phase of the Food Security Program. editor4, ENA

The second phase of the Food Security Program officially launched in 55 Woredas of Addis Ababa today. The program aims at transferring the livelihood of 200,000 residents of the city living below poverty line.

Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonnen and Mayor of Addis Ababa city Diriba Kuma preside over the launching program. Speaking at the launching, Deputy Premier Demeke reaffirmed the government’s commitment to extend the necessary supports for the effectiveness of the program. The government has been carrying various activities to improve the livelihoods of citizens and ensure sustainable development across the country, Deputy Prime Minister said, adding that it is striving to change the livelihoods of citizens who are living below poverty line.

Mayor of Addis Ababa City Administration, Diriba Kuma said the program is aimed at transferring livelihood of residents, who are living below poverty line through both direct relief support and development activities. He pointed out that the program has been contributing a lot as it is benefiting low income families through providing direct relief support for elders, ill and bed ridden citizens. The Mayor has called on the residents in general and the second phase program beneficiaries in particular to play their role in realizing the implementation of the project in sustained manner through enhancing the achievements so far registered.

To implement the program in 11 cities and towns across the country, 300 million USD loan was secured from international donors and the government earmarked 150 million USD, it was learned.




29.06.2018      Economics Professor Disproves Double Digit Economic Growth Of Ethiopia. ECADFORUM

The narratives of double digit economic growth of Ethiopia for over a decade was wrong and obtained as a result of cooked data, according to a high profile economics professor at the Addis Ababa University.

Ethiopia’s economy has not been growing more than 6% or 7% per year, according to Professor Alemayehu, who proved government’s date wrong with his scientific research.

“In my calculation there is no such exaggerated [double digit] growth rate. The official figure is problematic and structural change became illusive (share of manufacturing in GDP, exports etc), ” he said, presenting his paper on Tuesday in Addis Ababa at a forum organized by the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association.

“Where did that 11% GDP came from? It should be either from capital accumulation, or from labor, or it is coming from efficiency or technology. When we look at the case of Ethiopia the government data says, capital is around 2.2%; labor is also around 2% and around 7% has come from efficiency and technology. But as we all know for the past 3,000 years we are farming using oxen,” Professor Alemayehu said, making the audience laugh and implicating that the government has been cooking those numbers.

“So that figure has problems. If we look the efficiency of other countries OECD countries, their efficacy is around 2.2% when they are rowing fast. When the economic growth in East Asia was growing at fastest rate, the efficiency was around 2.2%. For instance, China when it was growing at the fastest rate, the efficacy was around 4%. Before the Ethiopian economy data was manipulated, the research I have done shows that our efficiency was only 1%,” he said. So when we add up the three [capital, labor and efficiency] the GDP growth we get is half of what the government has been claiming.

The so called double digit economic growth of Ethiopia has manifested itself by its major results – poverty and unemployment, according to the professor. He research shows that some 60% to 70% of the Ethiopian population is currently living below poverty line while the government data indicates that it is only 23%.

“This also confirms that the growth was not inclusive. When we look to the unemployment youth, the government data says it is around 25%. But 40% is under employment. Government says the informal sector is 20% but it is 40%. In addition 60% to 70% of employed are working poor [earning less than 1.95 per day] population, according to my calculation,” he said.

The high profile economists in Ethiopia have reflected at the panel that aims to get independent professionals views on the current challenges the economy of Ethiopia is facing and the potential opportunities.

The panelists reflected their views on how to rescue the economy from collapsing by quickly solving the multiple traps the country has fallen into as a result of loan and aid driven economic growth the country has been bragging about for over a decade.

Currently Ethiopian economy is struggling with foreign currency shortage, widening trade deficit, high unemployment, poverty and inflation, growing inequality, liquidity problem and corruption.

Professor Alemayehu listed top five socio economic challenges of the country:

  1. Non-Inclusive Growth: Unemployment and Poverty
  2. Inequality, and Conflict/Politics
  3. Macroeconomic miss management
  4. Corruption and Conflict/Politics
  5. Education Quality, State Capacity and Lack of Professionalism

When added all together the challenges will lead to conflicts as seen in many fragile states in Africa, according to professor Alemayehu, who advised the need for exercising professionalism to fix the economy and independence of professionals from politicians influence.


18.6.2018        Transportwesen: Äthiopien will den Umfang des Straßennetzes bis 2020 auf 200.000 km verdoppeln. Afrika-Verein der Deutschen Wirtschaft

Die Roads Authority hat ein neues Ziel ausgegeben: das in Äthiopien bestehende Straßennetz soll bis 2020 verdoppelt werden. 2015, nach der ersten Phase des zugrundeliegenden Growth and Transformation Plans (GTP-I) verfügte das Land über ein Straßennetz von 100.000 km und heutzutage, am Beginn der zweiten Phase (GTP-II, 2015 - 2020) steht es bei 121.171 km, von denen 90% asphaltiert sind.

Rund ein Viertel aller Staatsausgaben fließen dem Transportsektor zu. In den vergangenen 20 Jahren wurden in diesen Sektor US-$ 11,0 Mrd. investiert. Besonders hervorzuheben sind u.a.

-   der Hawassa Expressway, Entfernung 200 km im zentralen Süden des Landes. Das Projekt ist nach einer vierjährigen Verzögerung wegen der Beschaffung der finanziellen Mittel angegangen worden.

-    weitere expressway-ähnliche Ringstraßen um Addis Abeba sollen folgen. Die Auftragsvergabe wird über nationale und internationale Ausschreibungen erfolgen. Beteiligungen gingen in der Vergangenheit  von chinesischen, indischen und spanischen Bauunternehmen ein.



18.6.2018        Credit crunch pushing sweeping changes in Ethiopia. dw

In a surprise move, Ethiopia's government announced it would give up ownership of some state-owned companies, respect a decades-old peace deal with Eritrea and free prisoners. But what's the catch?

Sweeping changes that seemed unthinkable in Ethiopia just weeks ago are announced almost daily since new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took control as Africa's youngest head of government. "The people have the full right to criticize its servants, to elect them, and to interrogate them. Government is a servant of the people," Abiy said in his inaugural speech in early April. The 42-year-old is keeping Africa's second most populous country buzzing.

"Prime Minister Bolt"

Parliament kicked off a day by lifting a state of emergency imposed in response to protests. By nightfall there was bigger news: the prospect of peace with neighboring Eritrea after nearly two decades of border skirmishes and a two-year war. Almost as an afterthought came word that Ethiopia, one of the world's fastest-growing economies, was opening state-owned enterprises in aviation, telecommunications and more to part or full privatization.

Ethiopia to accept peace deal with Eritrea

That opens the door for foreign investors to buy stakes in the successful Ethiopian Airlines and Africa's largest telecom company by subscribers, Ethio Telecom. Abiy was dubbed "Prime Minister Bolt" for the sprinter-like pace of reforms. Some Ethiopians say it's hardly possible to comprehend a single day's events. "Now I need to take an umbrella when I get into a shower so that I can grab my phone and follow these rounds of breaking news items," one Ethiopian, Firew Megersa, joked on Facebook. Abiy, a former intelligence officer, took up his position in April after three years of protests that had threatened the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition's hold on power.

Toll on import

But a party in the ruling coalition is calling for an emergency meeting, saying the dramatic reforms were decided on without full consultations. The statement by the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) appears to be the biggest challenge so far for Ahmed. But a shortage of foreign currency in the country is threatening the sustainability of sectors that highly depend on importation. The Ethiopian National Planning Commission said the failure of mega projects to commence production, high demand for imported goods and growing external debt burden worsened the credit crunch. "A number of structural and institutional reforms in the financial sector would be crucial to eliminate the forex shortage that the country is facing," Nora Dihel, a senior economist with the World Bank told DW. The World Bank urged Addis Ababa to make good regulatory frameworks if it is to reap the economic growth from its privatization. "Related to that, an improvement of competitiveness in general will also increase exports which will contribute to an increase of foreign exchange inflows in the country," Dihel said.

The United Arab Emirates pledged a total of $3 billion (€2.58 billion) in aid and investments. The UAE will also deposit $1 billion in Ethiopia's central bank to ease a severe foreign currency shortage, government spokesman Ahmed Shide told Reuters after Abiy met with Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed.

The government says it needs more than $13 billion over the coming two years for oil importation, private investment, upgrading of existing projects and for repayment of external debt. Addis devalued its currency in October 2017 by 15 percent to boost its shrinking exports and increase foreign currency. But it is yet to bear results.

"There are challenges in facilitating logistics, so that may take some time so for export to react to the price incentive," said Zerihun Getachew, research analyst for the World Bank in Ethiopia. "Some of the major export items, for instance coffee and oil seeds, are not expected to quickly react to the price incentive," he added. South Africa's MTN and Vodafone expressed interest to buy into the state owned company. The government says foreign investors will be given priority for faster inflow of foreign currency.


9.6.2018          Liquidity crisis thwarts government budget. Yohannes Anberbir, The Reporter

The Government of Ethiopia is said to be facing a liquidity crisis as the decline in export earnings and tax revenue reaches an alarming level and foreign borrowing comes to a squeaking halt due to the country's external debt stress, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) admitted to the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) on Thursday. 

The country's trade balance continues to exhibit a large gap. Last fiscal year, the trade balance showed a USD 13 billion deficit. The country's external debt excluding the borrowings made by the State-Owned Enterprises (SoEs) has reached USD 24.7 billion as of this Ethiopian fiscal year. The situations led the government to publicly disclose its frustration in sustaining the economy due to the ill-performing export, tax revenue and weakening investment.

This was disclosed during a regular session of the House where the draft budget bill for the upcoming Ethiopian fiscal year of 2011 (2018/19 G.C) was tabled for discussion. The proposed budget stipulates 346.9 billion birr spending for the upcoming fiscal year. The latest budget bill came to the floor a week after it was endorsed by the Council of Ministers offering only 3.6 percent increment from the current fiscal year.

Abraham Tekeste (PhD), the Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC), presented the budget bill to the House and responded to questions raised by MPs. The budget bill usually attracts the attention of MPs and the case was the same on Thursday whereby the Minister had to spend a long day while addressing several questions from more than 20 MPs. However, unlike the previous sessions, MPs raised major questions about Mega projects in the country. Accordingly, the representatives urged the ministry and the government to intervene in some of the mega projects with unquenchable hunger for financial resources due to delay as well as efficiency problems.

Even though they were expected to contribute to the economic growth by boosting export, MPs pointed out further that these mega projects are taking a heavy toll on the nation. According to MPs, like the past several years, these mammoth national projects are still receiving a large amount of the national budget despite their performances. The budget which is allocated to these mega projects is mostly from the financial resources that the country secured from foreign loans, one MP said, while expressing his concern over the country’s current debt stress. (…)


5.6.2018          EPRDF Decision to Loosen Up on Commanding Heights of the Economy Unanimous. Addis Fortune

The Executive Committee of the ruling EPRDF has decided today to open up the commanding heights of the economy, partially privatising state owned giants including the Ethiopian Airlines, Ethio telecom, Ethiopian Eclectic Power and the Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise. The decision was made unanimously, according to members of the committee, showing a significant departure from economic orthodoxy of the EPRDF. If there was any move to the contrary, It was some members from the ANDM who raised issues for clarifications and calls for caution, said these people.

The EPRDF began its two-day top leadership meeting, the first since the rise to power of its chairman, Abiy Ahmed (PhD). The party’s decision to privatise these public companies opens an unexpected opportunities for both local and foreign investors while the government is holding majority shares in them. The meeting was also concluded after deciding to privatise state owned railways, sugar factories, industrial parks, hotels and manufacturing companies, all under constructions.


5.6.2018          Ethiopia to privatise parts of Ethiopian Airlines, telecom. AFP, Mail Online

Ethiopia will sell off parts of its major state-owned industries including Ethiopian Airlines and the country's lone telecom company, the ruling party announced on Tuesday. While the government will continue to hold the largest stake in these companies, "the rest of the shares will be offered to domestic and foreign investors," the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) said in a statement.

The policy is "to enable Ethiopia-born citizens living abroad who´ve long wished to work on the development of their country, and also to enable foreigners who have the knowledge and foreign currency, to play a positive role in our growth," the ruling party wrote on Facebook. The move by newly inaugurated Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed comes amid concerns that foreign exchange shortages will harm the rapid growth of Ethiopia's economy, large parts of which are off-limits to outside investment. The International Monetary Fund predicts Ethiopia will grow by 8.5 percent this year, a drop from 2017 when the economy expanded by 10.9 percent.

The ruling party statement added that railways, industrial parks and factories could be fully privatised.


5.6.2018          Economic Decisions by EPRDF Aligned with Dev’t State Policies,Strategies: GCAO. ENA

The decisions passed by the Executive Committee of EPRDF today are very much aligned with policies and strategies of developmental government, according to Government Communication Affairs Office. Briefing local journalists today, Government Communication Affairs Minister Ahmed Shide said the decision passed envisions enhancing the involvement and active participation of the private sector while keeping momentum of the fast economic growth.

The “government has been intervening in some areas, including infrastructure and few service sectors, where the private sector avoids for fear of risk,” he said, adding that it has now started involving the private sector. The Minister, who mentioned big public enterprises that have been growing significantly over the years, stated further that partially or fully selling shares of those companies will help in realizing export-led economy, poverty reduction, and creating massive job opportunity. Measures taken by a country to ensure economic development depends on the tangible economic situation of the country, Ahmed said, and noted that “the decision made by the Executive Committee is appropriate and timely.”


2.6.2018          Police Probes Former DBE Heads. Esayas Bahre and Tadesse Hatiya, former president and vice president, on the list. Addis Fortune

Former senior management members of the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) are under investigation for alleged corruption crimes. In conducting the investigation, the Corruption Crime Cases Division of the Federal Police Commission (Commission) has sent a letter to all commercial banks requesting reports, if any of the suspects have accounts with the banks and the amounts held under their names. The list submitted to the banks includes close to 30 people including six from DBE, the state policy bank.

Esayas Bahre, former long-serving president and Tadesse Hatiya, former vice president of the bank for credit services are two former officials included in theCommission’s letter. The letter was sent to the banks two years after Essays’s dismissal and a year after Tadesse was relived from his post. Esayas was dismissed from his position at the end of 2016 after receiving a letter of dismissal from the Public Financial Enterprises Agency that was signed by the Director-General, Sintayehu Woldemichael (PhD). Esayas, who is currently pursuing his education overseas, became president of the DBE in 2008.

Esayas began his career in the banking industry at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) where he worked his way up to VP of Branch Operation & Coordination. During his removal, Esayas was accused of favouring a particular group of developers and commercial farmers in loan grants, who allegedly misused the loans for investments rather than the approved commercial farming purposes.

Tadesse was relieved of his positions on May 2, 2017, after Getahun Nana was appointed the head of the Bank replacing Essayas. Restructuring the management and bringing new blood, were the reasons listed by Getahun for removing Tadesse and his three fellow vice presidents. However, sources form the bank confirm that other controversies over high Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) ratio is what led to their removals. Tadesse was then assigned as an adviser to the director general of the Public Financial Enterprises Agency beginning June 29, 2017.

Tadesse started his career in the banking industry when he joined CBE as a junior marketing officer. He was then promoted as director of Customers’ Account & Transaction Services at CBE. He moved to DBE in 2009 where he served as vice president for credit management, and later he became VP for credit services. Tadesse has a BA degree in Management from Addis Ababa University (AAU) and a Masters degree in Business Administration & International Business from Greenwich University.

During the financial year of the past fiscal year, DBE reported that its NPLs ratio has increased to 25pc from 16pc in the previous year. This is quite a jump from 8.6pc just seven years ago. The rise of the ratio has been a headache to the management of the Bank, which then formed a high-level committee to detect the causes of the surge in NPLs ratio as it relates to any breach of policy and laws at the Bank. The committee reported that no official breach of a policy or law has occurred.

Sources from the bank claim that the former management team has approved numerous loan requests with exceptions, deciding against the bank policy for exceptional reasons.

DBE, founded in 1909 currently has 110 branches across the country.  As of June 30, 2017, the total outstanding loans of DBE have reached 33.8 billion Br, of which foreign investors hold 9.9 billion Br. Among the loans provided to foreign investors, 26pc is given to Turkish investors, while Indians took 18.5pc and Israelis obtained 7.4pc.

Just weeks ago, after serving the bank for a year and a half, Getahun had tendered his resignation letter to the board of the Bank, requesting retirement. The board has not assigned a replacement as of this reporting.


1.6.2018          Bank Governor accused of providing illegal loan guarantee to EFFORT. Engidu Woldie, ESAT News

According to ESAT sources at the National Bank of Ethiopia, the Governor, Teklewold Atnafu, has given several guarantees of upto 100 % of foreign loans taken by EFFORT against his mandate and the proclamation of the NBE. The law says loan guarantees given by commercial banks should not exceed 5% of their capital, but according to ESAT sources, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, on orders of Teklewold Atnafu, has given several foreign loan guarantees of upto 100% to EFFORT.

The sources said eight months ago, Atnafu, against his mandate, has given a guarantee for 100 million USD foreign loan borrowed by Almeda Textile, which is one of dozens of companies under EFFORT. The sources added that the 100 million USD loan was taken from a Chineses bank by the former CEO of EFFORT, Azeb Mesfin, who is also the widow of the late Prime Minister meles Zenawi. The sources added that Atnafu was a trusted confidante of the late Prime Minister. Azeb Mesfin has been removed from the position of the CEO few months ago but re-appointed as a board member of the conglomerate last week by the new Prime Minister.

ESAT reported yesterday quoting its sources at the NBE that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made a decision to fire the Governor of the National Bank, Teklewold Atnafu. The Deputy Governor of the National Bank, Yohannes Ayalew, has been fired on Wednesday.

Ethiopia’s foreign reserve is at an all time low, only enough to cover imports for two weeks. But according to the sources, the Governors of the Bank have been cooking fake money supply statistics to show low level of inflation and a healthy macroeconomic situation.


2.6.2018          Council of Ministers Approve 346.9 bln birr for the Upcoming Budget Year. editor1, ENA

The Council of Ministers, on its 48th regular session today, decided the federal government’s budget for the upcoming Ethiopian year to be 346.9 billion birr. The approved budget has shown 3.6 percent increase compared to previous one, according a press release sent to ENA. Out of the total 346.9 billion birr, 91.63 billion birr is allotted for regular expenditure, 113.63 billion birr for capital expenditure, 135.6 billion birr for regional subside and 6 billion birr for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). After thoroughly discussing on the draft for budget, the Council referred the bill to the House of Peoples’ Representatives for approval.

In related news, the Council of Ministers has discussed on the draft proclamation that states about pardoning and its ways of implantation. Stating the usefulness of pardoning towards sustaining peace and stability of the public as well as upholding the public’s benefit from the economic, political and social, the Council has referred the Draft Proclamation to the House of Peoples’ Representatives for approval.


2.6.2018          House awakens to country’s debt stress. Yohannes Anberbir, The Reporter

Ethiopian authorities are finally feeling the pressure of the mounting external debt stock, whose risk rating has been downgraded from “Moderately stressed” to “Highly stressed,” recently.  Accordingly, the World Bank has shifted its lending policy towards Ethiopia from the previous regular concessional loan modality to a new blended one that involves a market value interest rate commercial loan. In addition, the International Development Association (IDA), a lending arm of the World Bank Group, has placed a ceiling on Ethiopia's non-concessional borrowing capacity in line with the recently downgraded external debt risk rating.  According to the information The Reporter has obtained from the Bank’s website, Ethiopia no longer has access to borrowing in excess of USD 400 million non-concessional loan facility, effective from March 2018. Accordingly, two loan agreements entered into by Ethiopia and the Bank, as per the new lending approach, were tabled before the House of Peoples Representatives (HPR) on Thursday. However, MPs were triggered to voice their concern on the feasibility of the loan agreements as well as on the country's excessive foreign debt build up. The new loans that Ethiopia has secured from the bank will be used for two separate projects; electrification and infrastructure development. The loans aggregately amount to USD 702 million. Of which the USD 325 million has been obtained from IDA's scale up credit facility, which levies market value interest on the borrower.

During Thursday's session, MPs were bold in voicing their concerns and seeking for explanations about the feasibility of paying a market value interest to the loans secured from IDA. The MPs also raised their deep concerns on the country's excessive foreign debt build up. "We should start asking the government about the effectiveness of the loan-financed projects," Ambassador Mesfin Chirnet, an MP representing SNNP, argued. "We might think that we are doing the right thing as an MP, the truth however is different. We might be shouldering a heavy debt burden to the next generation," Mesfin warned the House to be vigilant on the government's loan as well as effectiveness of the projects. The MPs finally endorsed the new loans, however, reached at a consensus to arrange another session to dwell on the country's external debt crisis with the relevant government body.

In related news, another government body also revealed a similar concern on the nation’s external debt buildup while presenting the evaluation report of the implementation of the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), rearlier this week. The Ethiopian Planning Commission has boldly stated its worries regarding the surging foreign debt level of Ethiopia. According to the Commission, the government has started paying its foreign debt obligations in the most challenging situation of poor export performance and chronic foreign currency shortage. According to the report, the government has started paying an average of USD 1.2 billion in the last two years. It has also paid USD 686 million during the last six months of this fiscal year. According to the latest document, Ethiopia's external debt stock as of January 2018 has reached a whopping USD 24.7 billion; however, the amount has excluded the loan guarantees the government provided to its State Owned Enterprises; like Ethiopian Airlines, Ethio Telecom and others.  

In a similar intervention, authorities at the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation have joined their hands with the Budget and Finance Affairs Standing Committee of the Parliament to strictly follow up effective implementation of projects financed by external loans. As of this week, the ministry has submitted a list of 87 government offices to the standing committee, citing the institutions failures in properly managing the projects as well as effectiveness of the loans in achieving the development objectives. In addition, the Budget and Finance Affairs Standing Committee of the House has started intervening to follow up progresses of loan financed projects. So far, the Standing Committee has visited 37 loan financed projects; of which some were found to be not even started while the required loan was secured long ago; others were also found stagnated.


2.6.2018          Oromia hands over coal mine to organized youth. Dawit Endeshaw, The Reporter

A year after it has striped Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) of the rights to extract and market coal minerals from the Yayu Coal deposit, the Oromia Regional State has finally handed over the mining concession to organized youth in the area, The Reporter has learnt. The contested coal mineral site, located in Yayu, Ilu Ababor Zone–previously under METEC–has been operational for the past seven years. Under its ownership, the military industrial complex was using the site to originally use the raw material for Yayu Fertilizer Factory which currently is under construction.

However, so far, the Factory is yet to be operational. In fact, the half year report by the Ministry of Public Enterprises indicates that the construction of the factory is lagging behind schedule. Regarding the performance of ongoing projects, Yayu Fertilizer project is said to be the worst performer among the projects under the ministry. The contractor METEC was expected to complete 17 percent of the project and reach 42 percent completion over the past half year. However, it managed to complete 0.3 percent. Apparently, previous reports to the parliament indicated METEC was extracting the mining site and exporting the raw materials. This has created a problem between the regional state and the Corporation since that was not the intended purpose of operation. Moreover, the regional state accused the Corporation for not paying a land rent for 13,900 hectares it occupied.

Furthermore, the protest in the region is also said to be linked to a controversy where youths across the region have begun to claim ownership over similar projects. In this respect, a year ago, METEC lost the right of ownership to the site. Following the complexity of problem, as of this week, the regional state officially handed over the site to a 171 organized youth to work on the mineral site.


1.6.2018          Ethiopia Begins Issuing Online Visas for Tourists Starting June 1. This Is Africa (Hilversum)

Ethiopia has started issuing visa online for tourists and other visitors across the world effective today (June 1). The Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Fitsum Arega said "A relaxed visa regime will enhance both #Ethiopia's openness and will allow the country to harness the significant stopover transit traffic of @flyethiopian".


Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources

5.6.2018          Climate change forcing Ethiopia's coffee to higher ground. Reuters, IOL

(…) coffee-growing areas in eastern Ethiopia have seen the average temperature climb 1.3°C over the past three decades, according to the Environment, Climate Change and Coffee Forest Forum, an Ethiopian non-governmental organisation. That has caused stronger drought and - given that coffee is a crop sensitive to both moisture and temperature - a worsening of diseases that afflict coffee berries. As a result, thousands of hectares of coffee plants are being lost each year in traditional growing areas, which is raising fears about the future of Ethiopia's coffee production.

The country's government is now encouraging farmers to grow coffee at higher elevations - up to 3200m above sea level, about 1000 metres above the norm. That could help mitigate some of the climate change pressures Ethiopia faces, said Birhanu Tsegaye, who heads extension services for coffee, tea and spices for the Ethiopia Coffee and Tea Development Marketing Authority (ECTDMA), a government body tasked with overseeing the sector.


As temperatures rise, “even areas not (formerly) suitable for coffee growing have become suitable, presenting an opportunity for the country to cope with climate change,” he said. Pressures from warming conditions have been noticed in other parts of the country too.

Aman Adinew, chief executive of Metad Agricultural Development, which manages two large plantations in Oromia and SNNP regional states, said changing weather patterns in the country's south had affected exports. The annual harvest, which normally takes place in November and December at his Hambela and Gedeb coffee farms, was delayed by a month, because the beans had not ripened, he said. “Since the coffee beans were still green by the beginning of 2018 due to a shortage of rain, it led to a delay in coffee processing and export, effectively meaning breach of contract with our North American, Asian and European customers,” he said.

Around 90percent of Ethiopia’s coffee-growers are small-scale farmers, and the industry directly and indirectly employs up to 20percent of Ethiopia’s 100million population, ECTDMA said. Exports in the 2016-2017 production year totalled just over 220000 tons, figures from the trade ministry show. Coffee exports have fluctuated over the last five years, making it difficult to discern any downward trend, Tsegaye said. But with the country adding tens of thousands of coffee hectares in new growing areas each year, that is offsetting many of the losses in traditional areas, he said.

Tsegaye said the government was also working to combat the effects of climate change in traditional coffee growing areas by offering small-scale farmers training on using shade trees to help hold down temperatures, and on irrigation and better crop handling after harvest. He said the authority was also introducing hardier varieties of coffee, resistant to diseases and weather extremes. However, Tsegaye admitted that current levels of assistance to traditional small-scale coffee farmers might not be enough to save the industry in those areas, which is why the coffee marketing authority is looking at growing coffee at higher altitudes.

Tadese Woldemariam, a technical adviser at the Environment, Climate Change and Coffee Forest Forum, said growing coffee in areas previously unfamiliar with the crop could work, but it needed to be done carefully - and could have side-effects. “When traditional coffee-producing areas disappear, thousands of years of coffee-growing culture disappear,” he said. “Highland areas of Ethiopia with little history of coffee production can be an alternative only if there are agricultural extension packages that make growing high-quality coffee sustainable,” he said. He said Ethiopia was racing against time to save its coffee sector.

The areas of the country suitable for coffee production are shifting higher each year, he said, which means “by the end of the century most coffee-growing areas, especially those below 1500m above sea level, will no longer be suitable for coffee production.” In places that has already happened, with some traditional coffee-growing areas, especially in the east, now covered in khat trees. The plant’s leaves, chewed by millions in the Horn of Africa, contain a psychoactive drug that is used as a mild stimulant.


While coffee is usually harvested once a year, khat - which is drought-tolerant - can be harvested three times a year. Woldemariam said 60percent of Ethiopia’s traditional coffee-producing regions might lose the crop in the coming decades if climate change remains unchecked. He urged quick action to save the crop, though warned shifting production to new areas could affect the quality and taste of the coffee.

The government is looking at how to begin selling to new markets as new coffee varieties are planted and begin to fill the gaps created by what may be the gradual disappearance of some Ethiopian varieties, such as "Harar" coffee, which is particularly at risk.


Media, Culture, Religion, Education, Social and Health

23.06.2018      Ethiopia's Government Removes Internet Restrictions on 246 News Sites. VoA

Ethiopia's government says it has removed internet restrictions on 246 websites and TV channels, the latest reform under the country's new prime minister. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, announced the news Friday on Twitter, saying "freedom of expression is a foundational right."

"A free flow of information is essential for engaged and responsible citizenry. Only a free market of ideas will lead to the truth," he added. The unblocked news sites include two prominent pro-opposition sites — the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), based in Amsterdam, and the Oromia Media Network (OMN), based in Minnesota. Many of the unblocked news sites are run from overseas.

The media rights group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, welcomed the decision Friday. "Allowing Ethiopians to access these news outlets is a positive sign that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is committed to delivering his promise to end Ethiopia's censorship of the independent press," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal.

Since Ahmed took office in April, he has made major changes to the country, including releasing almost all jailed journalists, dropping charges against activists critical of the government and moving to liberalize the economy. He has also pledged to work toward reconciliation with rival Eritrea by implementing a long-ignored 2002 border demarcation. Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki this week described the peace overtures from Ethiopia as "positive signals."

The White House said Thursday that it was encouraged by recent progress Ethiopia and Eritrea have made toward resolving their longstanding differences. A statement described the leadership of Ahmed and Afwerki as "courageous."

On Saturday, Ethiopians are expected to hold massive rallies, including in the capital, Addis Ababa, to show support for the Ethiopian government's ongoing reforms.


18.6.2018        Ministry Launches Education Quality Improvement Program. ENA

Ministry of Education has launched today a General Education Quality Improvement Program for Equity (GEQIP-P) that will be implemented from 2018 to 2022. Beefing up internal performance efficiency, equitable access, improved quality, strengthening human resources in general and quality of education in particular are among the priorities of the program. The program will cost 450 million USD, of which 350 million is loan and grant from World Bank as well as 100 million USD from UK, Norway, Finland, USA, and UNICEF.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Deputy PM Demeke Mekonen said this package is different from the previous package because it is result oriented and can improve the quality of education. “We have to work relentlessly to improve the quality of education as we need competent human resources that sustain the Growth and Transformation Plan,” he stated, adding that “the financial support from development partners must be properly utilized.” All education officers at different levels, teachers and parents have responsibilities in undertaking this endeavor to bring about change, he urged.

Education Minister Tilaye Gete said the emphasis made thus far on expansion of education will now be turned to quality. “In the next five and more years, the investment will be on mainly quality rather than expansion both at lower level and higher institutions,” he affirmed. The Minister revealed that preparations are underway to reform the curriculum.

World Bank Human Development Program Vice President, Annette Dixon said on her part “we have every reason to be optimistic for the new program because of the achievements already made here.” She noted that “we have seen teacher quality improvement, teacher training, and access to learning materials. We have seen access to school at all levels is increasing and almost 20 million enrolments in 16 years that is phenomenal outcome.” Dixon pointed out that Ethiopia has much to be proud of when it comes to its track record on education and human capital. She added that “yet we know that many challenges remain and we remain committed to partner with the government and support its targets for transforming the education sector.”


Horn of Africa and Foreign Affairs

23.062018       Eritrea condemns attack at Ethiopia rally: Eritrean envoy to Japan. Reuters

Eritrea condemned a grenade attack at a rally in Addis Ababa attended by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Eritrea’s ambassador to Japan wrote on Twitter. “#Eritrea strongly condemns the attempt to incite violence, in today’s AA demonstration for peace, 1st of its kind in history of #Ethiopia.” Ambassador Estifanos Afeworki said on Twitter. Ethiopia and Eritrea have long been at loggerheads over a border dispute. But Abiy stunned Ethiopians this month by saying he was ready to fully implement a peace deal with Eritrea that was signed in 2000 after a two-year war and which Addis Ababa had previously refused to implement without further talks.


20.6.2018        PM Lauds Eritrea’s Response to His Peace Call. ENA

Prime Minister Abiy said that the constructive response made by President Isaias Afwerki of Eretria is essential for the mutual benefit of both countries. Along with his public discussion with the residents of Wolkite Town, the Prime Minister dwelt upon national and issues of significance. The Premier lauded the response made by the Eretrian president on his speech on the commomeration of the martyrs day marked in Asmara and noted that finding a viable solution to the issue would be beneficial for both Ethiopia and Eretria. He hopes that the upcoming face to face discussion between the South Sudanese President and Rich Maher will conclude with far better results. The Premier expressed his optimism that the coming years will offer the spirit of unity and respect among the East African countries.

In a televised message aired on the Eritrean Television, President Isaias announced that his country will dispatch a delegation to Addis Ababa for the first time in decades. Appearing on national television, President Isaias Afwerki said “We will send a delegation to Addis Ababa to gauge current developments directly and in depth and to chart out a plan for continuous future action.” He said “The events and developments that have unfolded in our region in general and in Ethiopia in particular in the recent period warrant appropriate attention,” according to country’s Ministry of Information.


16.6.2018       Leaders Agree to Open New Chapter in Ethio-Somali Relationship. ENA

Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed and President Mohamed Abdullahi Muhammad of Somalia have conferred on bilateral and regional issues today. At a press conference the leaders held after their discussion in Mogadishu, Prime Minister Abiy said the countries need to adopt and implement a broader and joint strategy to promote regional stability in the Horn of Africa. “Our goal is a comprehensive strategy to promote regional stability in the Horn of Africa. We must look ahead with the spirit of new leadership and new frontier,” he added.

“The new frontier for our region should be closer and full regional integration where minds are open to ideas, and markets are open to trade,” Abiy pointed out; adding “We don’t want to hinder ideas to flow from each corner; we don’t want to hinder markets to flow from each corner which helps both nations and both people.” The PM stressed that the two countries need to remain vigilant in counterterrorist efforts and give equal attention to address the underlying causes of violent extremism, namely regional conflict, lack of trade, investment, and poverty. Abiy noted his belief that Somalis will establish a strong and purposeful state, adding that Ethiopian brothers and sisters will stand by them shoulder to shoulder.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Muhammad said on his part the visit of Prime Minister Abiy will deepen the already strong political and social relationships, stating that he is committed to take the relationship to the next level. “Nothing can divide our two brotherly nations; it is our obligation to ensure peace and prosperity of our two great nations through economic integrations in order to lead our people to prosperous future,” the President added. President Mohamed also paid tribute to the tremendous sacrifices made by Ethiopian troops who serve in AMISOM in the fight against terrorist organizations who pose an existential threat not only to Somalia but also the region. The President also expressed his commitment to the implementation of full economic integration between the two countries in order to bring economic growth and promote investment through development of infrastructure, including transportation, highway, energy and train, among other areas. Upon arrival at Aden Adde International Airport, President Mohamed warmly welcomed the Premier.


6.6.2018          Tauwetter zwischen Äthiopien und Eritrea. Deutsche Welle

Äthiopiens Premierminister Abiy Ahmed versprach zu seinem Amtsantritt Reformen und einen politischen Neuanfang. Nun soll der lang schwelende Grenzkonflikt mit Eritrea beigelegt werden. Doch macht der Nachbar mit?

"Aus tiefstem Herzen" wünsche er sich ein Ende des Konflikts mit Eritrea, sagte Äthiopiens Premierminister Abiy Ahmed bereits bei seiner Antrittsrede im April. Dennoch kam die Ankündigung am Dienstag (05.06.2018) für die meisten Beobachter überraschend: Die Regierungspartei EPRDF will den Friedensvertrag mit Eritrea anerkennen. Beide Länder hatten den sogenannten "Vertrag von Algier" bereits im Jahr 2000 unterschrieben. Zuvor waren zehntausende Menschen in einem zweijährigen Krieg zwischen den beiden Staaten umgekommen. 2002 legte ein internationales Schiedsgericht den künftigen Grenzverlauf fest und sprach dabei die Grenzstadt Badme mit rund 1500 Einwohnern Eritrea zu. Bis heute hält Äthiopien die Stadt und weitere Gebiete, die Eritrea zugesprochen worden waren, besetzt.

Immer wieder kam es seitdem zu Scharmützeln zwischen Soldaten aus beiden Ländern. Am heutigen Mittwoch ist der Konflikt in beiden Ländern Gesprächsthema. Auf der amharischen Facebook-Seite der DW kritisieren viele Nutzer das Einlenken der äthiopischen Regierung: "Es ist eine falsche Entscheidung", schreibt einer. "Die Sache sollte von allen Äthiopiern entschieden werden. Es wird einen neuen Krieg oder Spannungen geben, wenn die Eritreer ihren Teil der Abmachung nicht erfüllen." Ein anderer Nutzer sieht die Entscheidung dagegen positiv: "Badme und die anderen Gebiete sollen ruhig an Eritrea gehen. Wir brauchen kein größeres Territorium. Selbst die Ländereien, die unumstritten uns gehören, sind nicht richtig entwickelt worden. Was wir jetzt brauchen, ist Frieden, Liebe und Gemeinsamkeit."

Frieden und wirtschaftliche Liberalisierung

Die Friedensinitiative ist Teil eines ambitionierten Reformprogramms von Äthiopiens Premierminister Abiy. Ebenfalls am Dienstag bestätigte das äthiopische Parlament die vorzeitige Aufhebung des Ausnahmezustands, der im Februar ausgerufen worden war. Wenige Stunden später gab die Regierungspartei bekannt, die staatlichen Monopole im Elektrizitäts-Sektor, im Bereich der Telekommunikation und in der Logistik aufzuheben. Der Staat solle zwar weiterhin die Mehrheit an Staatsunternehmen wie der Fluggesellschaft Ethiopian Airlines halten, aber erstmals Anteile an Investoren verkaufen, um das Wirtschaftswachstum und die Exportwirtschaft zu stärken, hieß es in der Bekanntmachung.

Seit dem Amtsantritt Abiys gebe es gerade unter den jungen Äthiopiern eine große Erleichterung, sagt Ludger Schadomsky, Leiter des amharischen Programms der Deutschen Welle. Die Aufhebung der Internetblockade sei ein "ganz großes Signal" gewesen. Auch die Kurzwellensendungen der DW, die in der Vergangenheit immer wieder aktiv gestört wurden, seien wieder frei empfangbar. Dennoch mache der Premierminister mit seinen Reformen möglicherweise zu viele Baustellen auf einmal auf, meint Schadomsky. "Das ist ein wahnsinniges Reformtempo für einen sehr jungen Premier, der seinen Platz erst noch finden muss." Der Premier müsse starken Gegenwind aus dem mächtigen Sicherheitsapparat Äthiopiens befürchten. "Insofern werden wir jetzt sehr kritisch schauen müssen, wie viele der Reformpläne auch tatsächlich umgesetzt werden können."

Warten auf Asmara

Eine offizielle Reaktion Eritreas auf die Friedensgeste aus Äthiopien steht noch aus. Die Anerkennung des Friedensvertrags durch Äthiopien sei jedoch ein Durchbruch, weil es eine Perspektive für mehr Frieden und Sicherheit am Horn von Afrika gebe, sagt der Direktor der Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, Ulrich Delius, im DW-Gespräch. Zugleich könne es jedoch für den eritreischen Diktator Isaias Afwerki zum "trojanischen Pferd" werden. Zwar könne er nun einen diplomatischen Erfolg verbuchen, doch ohne die Bedrohung von außen fehle Afwerki die Rechtfertigung für die Beibehaltung der großen und teuren Armee, mit der er das Land kontrolliert. Mittelfristig werde sich Abiys Friedensgeste möglicherweise als "extrem geschickter Schachzug" herausstellen, "um seinen Nachbar Eritrea eher zu destabilisieren als zu stabilisieren."

Für Stabilisierung könnte eine Mission der Vereinten Nationen sorgen - so sieht es der 18 Jahre alte Friedensvertrag von Algier vor. Von 2000 bis 2008 waren bereits Blauhelmsoldaten im Grenzgebiet zwischen Äthiopien und Eritrea stationiert, um die Einhaltung des Vertrags zu überwachen. Doch zur Umsetzung fehlte beiden Parteien der politische Wille zur Beendigung der Feindseligkeiten. Dieser Wille müsse von beiden Regierungen formalisiert werden, sagt Äthiopien-Experte Martin Plaut. Danach könne die UN vermitteln. Am 20. Juni feiert Eritrea wie jedes Jahr den Tag der "Märtyrer", die im Konflikt mit Äthiopien ums Leben gekommen sind. Doch diesmal wollen Aktivisten den Feiertag für Friedenskundgebungen nutzen. "Sowohl die eritreische als auch die äthiopische Öffentlichkeit sehnen sich nach Frieden", sagt Martin Plaut. "Dieser Konflikt hat dauert schon viel zu lange gedauert."


6.6.2018          Opinion: Ethiopia's peace offer comes with strings attached. Ludger Schadomsky, Deutsche Welle

Ethiopia's new prime minister Abiy Ahmed wants to recognize a longstanding peace deal with Eritrea. That's good news after 20 years of hostility but it's too early to celebrate.

The speed with which new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is getting things done is making Ethiopians dizzy. In office for just two months, the 41-year-old is demonstrating a keenness for reform that is thoroughly shaking up the country's encrusted political landscape. Thousands of political prisoners have been freed, reconciliation talks with the opposition are underway and the state of emergency has been lifted earlier than expected. After years of being frozen in a political ice age, Ethiopia is now ready to recognise the 2002 ruling by the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague which confirmed the course of the border to the advantage of Eritrea, Ethiopia's arch enemy for many years. Rubbing their eyes in amazement, Ethiopians are now wondering what will come next. Perhaps even a peaceful agreement with neighboring Egypt over the use of water from the Nile?

In his first speech on taking office, Ethiopia's new strongman had already announced a peace initiative with Eritrea. But the speed with which he is forging ahead still comes as a surprise.

Ethiopia's sudden concession is, at first sight, a political victory for Eritrea. Ethiopia must now withdraw from the territory accorded to Eritrea by the arbitration commission, including the disputed border town of Badme. That is already an ambitious goal.   

Will Eritrea accept the olive branch?

But there's a catch to the good news. Eritrea's regime cannot be pleased with Ethiopia's political about turn. Since the 2002 decision, the authoritarian regime of Isaias Afwerki has upheld the "No peace, no war" status. The latent state of war with Ethiopia allowed the regime in Asmara to maintain its apparatus of repression and spies, which has turned hundreds of thousands of young Eritreans into refugees trying to cross the sea to Europe.

With its neighbor's new sunshine policy, there is no longer any need for the forced militarisation in Eritrea which for two decades has characterised the everyday life of its citizens, defining their right to exist and possibly the legitimacy of Afwerki as head of state.

Much will now depend on how Eritrea reacts to Ethiopia's outstretched hand. As yet, there has been no official reaction. According to reports, Afwerki has rejected an offer of diplomatic mediation by the Saudis.

An Eritrean president fighting to survive could destroy the hope that peace could come to the Horn of Africa, ending years of unrest. Strategically positioned on the Red Sea, the small country is a stage for numerous proxy wars. It is a powder keg that could explode at any time. Especially when pressure from the street grows — and Eritrea's youth are calling for their voices to be heard; they want jobs and overdue political reforms.

In Ethiopia, reactions to the move by the new young prime minister have initially been cautious, even negative. On social media platforms there is even talk of a sellout. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a member of the Oromo ethnic group, has a host of powerful opponents, especially within the security and military apparatus. They are just waiting for him to make a mistake.

And so it is too early to rejoice.


5.6.2018          Ethiopia Decides to Fully Implement Border Ruling with Eritrea 16 Years Later. Tesfanews

Ethiopia has announced on Tuesday to fully implement the Algiers Agreement and the “Final and Binding” decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) ruling that gave the town of Badme, which was the flashpoint of the war, and surrounding territory to Eritrea.

This decision was made in a communique issued by the Executive Committee of the ruling EPRDF during its first meeting today since the new PM Abiy Ahmed took office.

The Algiers accord was signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea on December 12, 2000, to put an end to the bloody two-year conflict of 1998-2000 that claimed the lives of 19,000 Eritrean and over 98,000 Ethiopian soldiers.

Eritrea and Ethiopia have remained on a war footing as Ethiopia had, until now, refused to accept the ruling of the border commission.

As a result, Ethiopia had refused to withdraw its troops out of the disputed territories, leading Eritrea to accuse Ethiopia of forcefully occupying its territory.

For the last 16 years, Eritrea has pressed the UN security council, who has the power to exercise its legal authority of enforcing the delimitation and demarcation determinations of the EEBC, to honor its obligations as a guarantor to the Algiers Agreement, however to no avail, courtesy of the United States.

Eritrea had, therefore, refused to any kind of talks without the prior acceptance by Ethiopia of the commission’s decision and withdrawing its occupying force from all Eritrean territories, leading to a sixteen-year long no-war, no-peace stalemate.

“The Eritrean government should take the same stand without any preconditions and accept our call to bring back the long-lost peace of the two brother nations as it was before,” the EPRDF communique posted on Facebook reads.

Eritrea had accepted the EEBC’s decision as it was announced on 13 April 2002. Rather it took 16 years for Ethiopia to realize the boundary commission’s decision is the only viable road to peace between the two countries.

>> ALSO READ : Analysis: The Algiers Peace Agreement

Eritrea will certainly dismiss this latest Ethiopian pronouncement unless it was followed by the unconditional withdrawal of its forces from Eritrean territories.

Eritrean Information Minister, Mr. Yemane G/Meskel, once told the BBC that relations with Ethiopia can be mended but it largely depends on Ethiopia’s commitment to Algiers and EEBC accords.

“The ball has stayed for too long in Ethiopia’s court. There is no dispute as the litigation process ended 16 years ago. Ethiopia needs to honour its treaty obligations and respect Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by withdrawing from occupied territories – including Badme.”

Ultimately, although today’s decision came 16 years later, it is still an important and encouraging step to end the 20-year conflict once and for all.

There is little doubt that the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia would greatly benefit from peace and normalization of relations. However, the horse should come before the cart. Peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea can only be possible and sustainable with respect for and observance of the Algiers Agreement to the letter.

So, let Ethiopia walk the talk.


5.6.2018          Ethiopia to Fully Implement Algiers Agreement: EPRDF Executive Committee. ENA

The Executive Committee of EPRDF announced that it will strive to restore peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea by ending hostilities. The Committee which began its regular meeting today to discuss various issues said it has decided to fully implement the Algiers agreement and decisions of the Eritrea–Ethiopia Boundary Commission to restore peace and stability. The Committee passed the decision in order to ensure the benefits of the peoples of the two countries, Communique of the Executive Committee sent to ENA said. It also reiterated its commitment to consolidate the country’s foreign policy which promotes mutual benefits. The Committee has called on the government of Eritrea to take similar action without any precondition so as to reinstate peace and good neighborliness among the peoples of the two countries.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have been in ‘no war, no peace’ situation since December 2000, where a peace agreement was signed by the two governments following the war that broke out between the two countries in 1998. In June 2000, the parties agreed to a comprehensive peace agreement and binding arbitration of their disputes under the Algiers Agreement. A 25-kilometer-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) was established within Eritrea, patrolled by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) from over 60 countries. The Eritrea–Ethiopia Boundary Commission that was established under the Algiers Agreement, in collaboration with Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, agreed upon a “final and binding” verdict in April 2002.


5.6.2018          Ethiopia to end boundary row with Eritrea: ruling party. AFP, Daily Mail

Ethiopia's ruling party announced on Tuesday it would end its dispute over its shared border with Eritrea after decades of fighting and tension. The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) said in a statement it would "fully implement" a 2002 decision by a UN-backed boundary commission that divided up contested territory between the two countries after a 1998-2000 border conflict. "The Eritrean government should take the same stand without any prerequisite and accept our call to bring back the long-lost peace of the two brother nations as it was before," the EPRDF wrote on Facebook.

The move represents a major policy change by new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who promised in his April inaugural address to seek peace with Eritrea. A one-time province of Ethiopia enjoying its entire Red Sea coastline, Eritrea voted for independence in a 1993 referendum but was soon at war with its southern neighbour over the demarcation of the two countries' borders. Around 80,000 people died in that conflict, which degenerated into a stalemate after the impasse over the boundary. Periodic clashes between the two countries after the war's formal end killed hundreds.