MELDUNGEN VOM OKTOBER 2017
13.10.2017 Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Management System Appreciated. ENA
As the world marked the International Day for Disaster Reduction, Ethiopia appreciated for efforts in minimizing impacts of disasters through its disaster risk management system. Amira El Fzil, Commissioner for Social Affair at the Africa Union Commission, appreciated Ethiopia’s effort towards reducing the number of people affected by natural and manmade disasters. “It is a positive step for the country to handle disaster related problems”, she explained.
Mitiku Kassa, National Disaster Risk Management Commissioner said disaster risk management activities are underway along with economic development and technological advancement in Ethiopia. Mitiku said Ethiopia is working to build resilience of communities through integrated disaster risk management system, since disasters related to climate change remain to be the major challenge facing the country. “Ethiopia has been working towards attaining the vision of building the capacity of communities and national authorities to withstand the impact of hazards through a comprehensive and coordinated Disaster Risk Management System in the context of sustainable development”, he said. (…)
10.10.2017 Ethiopia Lifts 5.3m People out of Poverty over 5 years. ENA
Ethiopia has managed to lift about 5.3 million people out of the poverty over the past five years, according to an Interim Report on 2015/16 Poverty Analysis Study. The report which was launched today indicated that the East African nation has made tremendous progress towards eradicating poverty between 2010/11and 2015/16. It also indicated that the national poverty incidence has declined markedly over the recent years, in which the national headcount poverty rate fell to 23.5 percent in 2015/16 from 29.6 percent in 2010/11. The number of poor people has also declined to 21.8 million from 25.1 million, while the population has increased from 84 million to 93 million during the reported period.
Deputy Commissioner of Plan Commission, Getachew Adem said both rural and urban areas witnessed a decline in food poverty in the stated period. In spite of the recent El-Nino driven drought that drastically hit many parts of the country, regional food poverty declined in all regional states except in Harari, which remains almost unchanged. Wide-ranging and multifaceted pro-poor programs that have been implemented in rural and urban areas like intensification of agriculture, infrastructure development, and food security, among others have contributed in poverty reduction, he said. Modernizing agriculture and expanding industrial development that could create more job and diversification of exports is critical in poverty reduction, he added. The efforts that have been exerted in agriculture towards ensuring food security coupled with those in other socio-economic sectors have helped Ethiopia meet most of MDGs, Getachew noted.
According to the report, efforts of the government to create favorable environment for private sector investment, job creations, and distribution of subsidized food items to urban poor also contributed to poverty reduction. Representative of the Development Assistance Group (DAG), Andrea Ghione said Ethiopia has taken significant steps in ensuring strong economic growth and robust progress in the provision of social services. He said a report such as the poverty analysis report being launched today stands out among the factors that are helping to drive these advancements.
“The report will be an important anchor for programs that are targeting funding for poverty reduction where it is needed most - to the poorest and the most vulnerable. More importantly it will allow for appropriate policy alignment at all levels,” he indicated. Furthermore he stated that development partners remain committed to partnering with Ethiopia to build on the achievements of GTP-II. The report has prepared by the National Plan Commission with the financial and technical support from DAG and the UNDP.
4.10.2017 Displacement continues in Eastern Ethiopia. Durame.com
Displacement of Oromos and Somalis in Eastern Ethiopia continued despite statement by authorities that they had put an end to the crises that was sparked by land dispute between the two ethnic groups. The number of Oromos displaced from the Somali region and Somaliland has reached 70,000. But the numbers of Somalis displaced from the Oromo region remains unknown. The national defense forces were seen accompanying Somalis leaving the Oromo region, according to reports by local media. (…)
Politics, Justice, Human Rights
31.10.2017 Unemployed youth behind Ethiopia's anti-govt protests - Info Minister. africanews.com
The anti-government protests that swept through parts of Ethiopia in late 2015 through the better part of 2016 were as a result of youth unemployment, Information Minister Negeri Lencho has said. In an interview with the BBC, the former academician insisted that lack of jobs for the teeming youth that the universities produced year in and year out was the cause of the protests.
He first sought to separate the incidents of last year with the renewed tensions the country is experiencing. “Actually the demonstrations that we witnessed before a year or so and the current one are not one and the same because in the last maybe two decades, Ethiopia invested heavily on education and our youth – the majority now have ample opportunity to get (an) education. “… and thousands of them graduate every year from our universities, now we have about 40 universities now functioning. The government decided to respond to their needs for example by allocating a special budget for the youth employment.”
According to him, the government was undertaking efforts to not just provide jobs but to also empower the young people when they come out of school. “Not simply employment but to start their own businesses, for example entrepreneurship, investing, manufacturing and whatever. The government is working … “Thousands of the youth who took to the streets before a year are now engaged in production, engaged in manufacturing, engaged in agriculture. That means they are employed but we graduate thousands of students and they still need (jobs).
He expressly rejected talk of the protests being hinged on issues of marginalization and perception of discrimination by people belonging to particular regions. “There is no basis for discrimination because all the regions are autonomous and the federal government is made up of contributions of the regions,’ he said. (…)
31.10.2017 Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church declared 14 days of prayer for peace in Ethiopia. borkena, Ethiopian News
Starting Monday, November 6, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church will have 14 days of prayer for peace in Ethiopia.
What Ethnic politics politicians introduced as means to address perceived historical grievances is rathercausing havoc to Ethiopia. Unfortunately, the victims are innocent citizens who benefit much from living in peace and unity and who are relentlessly toiling in the countryside as subsistence farmers or those in cities who try hard to win bread for families and relatives. Often times those Ethiopians who lived for generations in regions like what is now called Oromia, Benshangul and Somali region are facing threat as they are seen as aliens and invaders who are exploiting the resources. In the last two weeks alone, more than fifty Ethiopians have lost their lives due to conflict which manifested omens of ethnic cleanings.
Yet, intransigence about ethnic politics, the champions of it endear it as the best form of “self government”, as ” the only solutions for Ethiopia” still runs high among the disciples of the late Meles Zenawi, an architect of ethnic politics in Ethiopia and in the quarter of Oromo Liberation Front organization ideological slaves.
The Ethiopian church has itself been a victim of ethnic politics. Observing that the situation of Ethiopia has become unprecedentedly fragile, the Holy Synod Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo church decided two weeks of prayers and sermons to be held across monasteries and churches for peace in Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Church is also to donate six million Ethiopian birr, through Ethiopian Orthodox Church structures, for those who are affected by recent ethnic violence in South West and South Eastern parts of the country. The Holly Synod issued a seventeen point statement on matters related to the Church and Ethiopia. The decision was past at the conclusion of Holy Synod meeting this week.
No other initiates yet from Catholic and Protestant churches in the country. Faith leaders in the country have been criticized for not adding voice against repression and violence in the ensuing disaster following an ethnic conflict as it is feared that the worst is yet to come if something that could reverse the situation is done.
31.10.2017 Cassation court suspends Bekele’s bail. Tamiru Tsige, The Reporter
The Federal Supreme Court, Cassation Bench passed an order today to suspend the decision of the Appellant Court to grant bail to Bekele Gerba, deputy chairperson of the Oromo Federalist congress (OFC). The suspension came just one day after the appellant court which has been reviewing Bekele’s appeal for bail decided that the plaintiff deserves to be released on bail.
Bekele’s appeal was based on the decision of the lower court which denied him bail in spite of the amendment of the charges that Bekele faces from terrorism to ordinary criminal charges. He argued at a lower instance court that the amendment of charges that he faces to criminal charges would qualify to be released on bail. Nevertheless, the lower court denied Bekele’s appeal and decided that he should be remanded under custody through the duration of his trail. That was when Bekele decided to take the case to the Supreme Court and appeal the decision of the lower court. Although, the decision of appellant court went his way, it was suspended one day after by the cassation bench.
According to sources, the decision of the cassation bench came after federal prosecutors petitioned the former claiming that basic error of law was committed when the appellant court decided to reverse lower instance court’s decision to grant bail to Bekele. On the other hand, sources also indicate that prosecutors’ petition also includes a procedural issue where they pointed out that appellant court’s decision to entertain Bekele’s appeal for bail was not right while prosecutors own appeal regarding the very amendment of charges from terrorism to criminal charges was still pending.
30.10.2017 Prominent Ethiopian opposition leader granted bail. Arefayné Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
Prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Bekele Gerba has been granted bail by the Federal Supreme Court on Monday. Call for the release of the 56-year-old foreign language professor has been a repeated theme of the protesters in the Oromia region for the past two years. Bekele’s lawyer, Abduljebar Hussien said that the opposition leader has been granted bail for 30,000 Ethiopian Birr this morning. Bekele faces jail if he is found guilty of the charges which he says are baseless. On August 10, Bekele’s request for bail has been denied by a panel of three judges at the Federal High Court 4th Criminal bench, following the court’s July 13 decision to reduce the terrorism charges to criminal charges. Bekele, a senior leader of the Oromo Federalist congress (OFC), was detained along with other officials of the party, on December 23, 2015 and later charged under Ethiopia’s terrorism law for allegedly belonging to the banned Oromo Liberation Front. Both his party and Bekele have dismissed the arrest and trial as politically motivated. He was no stranger to the notorious high security prison. In 2011, Bekele was arrested and detained for three years after meeting with Amnesty International researchers and sent to prison on what he calls trumped-up terrorism charges.
30.10.2017 Apprehending Alleged People for Instigating Conflicts to Continue: EPRDF. ENA
The Executive Committee of the EPRDF has put a direction that would strengthen the ongoing efforts of the government to make individuals who allegedly instigate conflicts accountable. The Committee set the direction during its ordinary session that evaluated the progress in the ongoing process of the in-depth reform and overall situation of the country, over the past two days. Noting that some of the individuals who contributed for the unrest, loss of lives, and property damage are already apprehended, the Committee said the effort to bring all responsible people before court should be consolidated.
The Committee has also underlined the need to enhance the fight against rent-seeking tendencies, corruption, maladministration, and illegal networks, as they are the major drivers of the conflicts. It affirmed that such kinds of illegal practices are not allowed to continue further and underscored the need to ensure the rule of law. Noting that the conflicts occurred in some areas led to the loss of lives, displacement of people and damage of properties, it lauded religious and tribal leader as well as communities for their efforts in stabilizing the situation.
Regarding the in-depth reform that has been conducted over the past year to rectify wrong practices, the Committee noted that the reform is well in progress. It evaluated that the activities that has been conducted to realize the reform have shown progress and underlined the need to consolidate efforts to fully realize the rectifying process.
28.10.2017 Benshangul Gumuz ethnic violence left several dead. Arefayné Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
Several people, including women and children, were killed in ethnic violence in Kamashi woreda of the Benshangul Gumuz region, the western part of the country on Friday and Thursday, according to multiple reports. Exact numbers of those killed and injured are hard to establish. Yilkal Getnet of the Blue party oppostion party said that between 30-40 Amhara people have been massacred in the violence, in which the region’s security forces were involved, citing people on the spot that he managed to talk over the phone. Yilkal said that more than 200 houses were burned and a three year-old girl and a four-year-old girl who are among the injured, who are now in a local clinic, he said. However, the regions communication head Mengistu Tesso told the Amharic Reporter that only three people died and eight wounded people were admitted to Nekemte hospital. Nine houses were burned, according to the communication head. The killings started with a personal feud between two persons and it was not ethnically motivated, Mengistu said.
Muluken Tesfaw, the Oslo-based activist, who published the story this first said that the Amhara living in the region have increasingly been targeted for looting and attack, which provoked the latest incident. The village had been attacked by men who came from village, by the order of the woreda’s administrator, Mitiku Nono. Troops have now been deployed in the area but have not been able to contain it, according to Yilkal.
Benishangul–Gumuz region, one of nine regional states of the Ethiopian federation, is home to the ethnic groups Berta (25.41%), Amhara (21.69%), Gumuz (20.88%), Oromo (13.55%), Shinasha (7.73%) and Agaw-Awi (4.22). Sporadic conflict erupts from time to time between the various population groups, indigenous Berta, Gumuz and descendants of later immigrant groups like the Oromo, the Amhara.
27.10.2017 Parties agree on major technical areas of mixed electoral system. ENA
National political parties participating in the ongoing negotiation have agreed on major technical areas of the mixed electoral system. The ruling party, EPRDF, first proposed 1.5 percent threshold or minimum share of the primary vote required for a candidate or a political party to take seats while the opposition proposed 0.05 percent which enables individual candidates or parties with least constituency vote to take seats from the proportional representation of the mixed electoral system. The ruling party rejected the proposed percentage of the opposition political parties explaining that it will pave the way for parties and individuals to attain seats without constituency. Yet it lowered its proportion to 1 percent which was accepted by all negotiating parties. The political parties have also agreed on one paper vote instead of two paper vote as it minimizes complications for the voters.
Moreover, the parties have reached agreement on a closed party list in which the order of preferred candidates is fixed during registration to be submitted to the National Electoral Board. Dual candidacy will be allowed in implementing the mixed electoral system. Similarly, the political parties reached agreement to utilize the Hare quota, where the total valid number votes cast divided by the total number of seats to be allocated for political parties through proportional representation.
Among the points that the parties failed to agree, that the mixed electoral system be used in woredas and kebeles. EPRDF, All Ethiopian National Movement, and All Oromo People's Democratic Party opted for the mixed electoral system to be applicable only to the HPR, regional councils and the two city administrations while the prevailing first-past-the-post applies to woredas and kebeles. The remaining 11 political parties negotiating under one umbrella and the Gadaa System Advancement Party preferred the application of the mixed electoral system to all.
The negotiating parties agreed to meet on November 1, 2017 to conduct further discussions on closing the gaps on issues on which they differed.
26.10.2017 PM Hailemariam says talks underway with Abadula; Bereket’s resignation accepted;defends Liyu Police. Etenesh Abera, Addis Standard
Responding to questions raised by members of the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that the ruling party EPRDF was having talks with Abadula Gemda, who resigned from his post as the speaker of the HPR citing “disrespect” to his party and people.The Prime Minister hopes the discussions will materialize in good results on how Abadula could continue his contributions to the federal government. “We will be happy if he reconsiders his decision. [However] the main point is the process is democratic and followed a clear path.”
On the other hand, the Prime Minister told law makers that the government has accepted the resignation latter of Bereket Simon, his policy study and research advisor and ANDM’s veteran party stalwart.
However, although Abadula’s resignation was “unprecedented” in the history of the ruling party, PM Hailemariam said it should not be taken “out of proportion” and should not also be considered as related with the resignation nine days later of Bereket Simon, adding that the public should not be confused of these two unrelated events. “Bereket [Simon] has been asking to resign on several occasions in the past but the party had always talked him out of it” considering his immense contributions. “but just because he resigned doesn’t mean he is leaving the struggle.” The Prime minister has played down the implications of the two resignations saying it should be taken as “normal” acts in a country that governs itself with “democratic values.”
Black market, contraband, monopoly of Khat trading and conflict
Commenting on the recent conflict that led to the death of dozens of Ethio-Somalis and Oromos in areas bordering both regions in eastern, southern and south eastern Ethiopia, as well as the displacement of more than 150, 000 Oromos from the Somali regional state and more than 300 from Ethio-Somalis from Oromia regional state, the Prime Minister attributed the prevalence of “black market in foreign currency”, “rampant contraband” and “the rush to monopolize Khat trading” in eastern Ethiopia as playing a major role in giving the conflict an “ethnic and national dimension.” The PM mentioned as example that in the last few months, the Oromia regional state police and federal customs officials have apprehended “about two million dollars” on its way out of the country via the Somali regional state border in eastern Ethiopia.
However, the Prime Minister defended the role or lack thereof by the federal army in preventing the conflict as well as the role played by the Somali regional state’s special paramilitary force known as “Liyu Police” (Special Force). With the exception of few rogue agents, the PM said, both have played a significant role in preventing large scale atrocities. Some of these few agents who are implicated in the killings have left the country, he said, and the government was working to bring those in the country to justice. The Prime Minister also defended the “Liyu Police,” and brushed aside a question from an MP asking for the dissolution of the “Liyu Force” which is often accused of severe human rights abuses since its establishment in April 2007. “Regions do have the right to maintain their own special forces.” “The big problem is whether these forces have participated in the violence, and not whether they are called “special or regular” police.” Following the recent violence in Eastern Ethiopia, the BBC Amharic has reported a story of a woman who was displaced from her house and was kept in a jungle and repeatedly raped by members of the “Liyu Police.”
Regarding police forces structure and standard, the Prime Minister said the law makers were working on a new draft bill presented to them this past summer and that he expects the bill to be approved soon.
The Prime Minister also touched on recent fresh protests in Oromia regional state that are increasingly turning violent. After admitting that the professional level of the media industry in Ethiopia as having been crippled by several factors, lack of capacity and professionalism among others, he also called on pro-government media houses recently accused of fueling ethnic tensions in the wake the recent violence in Buno Bedelle zone of the Orioma regional state in South West Ethiopia to exercise caution. At least 14 people were killed and more than 1, 500 displaced following the violence, according to officials from the Oromia and Amhara regional states. But other accounts, especially on social media, claim both the number of dead and displaced higher than what is admitted by officials.
26.10.2017 Ethiopia PM speaks on high level resignations, says Gemeda talks ongoing. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, Africanews.com
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, has finally spoken on top level resignations that have hit the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The Premier in response to questions from Members of Parliament on Thursday, said the exit of Abadula Gameda; the immediate past speaker of the House of Federation and Bereket Simon; a top policy analyst, had to be taken in context. The state-affiliated Fana broadcasting corporate reported that the Premier said “this is common in a democratic party and government and should be habituated.” He disclosed further that the party was in talks with Gemeda following his decision, a move he described as ‘unprecedented’ in the EPRDF. In the case of Bereket, he said the former information minister had severally asked to quit in the past but had been talked out of it. He was, however, quick to add that the two cases had to be taken within a context. Stressing that there was no coincidence in the timing of the respective resignations despite being 10 days apart, Addis Standard news portal reported.
Gemeda has not presided over the parliament since submitting his resignation early this month, he cited disrespect to his party and people as his reason. Bereket on the other hand has yet to give a reason for quitting. Desalegn was in parliament to respond to questions surrounding the address delivered by President Teshome Mulatu on October 8 during the official reopening of the parliament.
Other issues the premier responded to included the security situation in the Somali – Oromia region, security in the general Horn of Africa region, resurgence of HIV/Aids, response to drought and the South Sudan crisis.
26.10.2017 PM Laudes Efforts of Abagedas, Youth in Controlling Confilicts. ENA
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has addressed today various issues ranging from conflicts in parts of the country to youth employment and media activities. While speaking and responding to members of parliament today, Hailemariam lauded the role of Abagedas (Oromo traditional leaders) and youth in managing the border area conflicts of Oromia and Somali regional states. According to him, the federal government is working with the regional governments to solve the problem and rehabilitate the victims and continue to make the area safe. Appreciating the role of elders and religious fathers in controlling the conflict, the Prime Minister added that a national conference on peace and security will be held soon. In relation to this, he warned some media outlets that fuel the conflict and noted that the government will take strong legal actions.
The premier said the country expects high yield from agriculture, especially in coffee, sesame and cereals that can support the export sector. Hailemariam explained that the reason behind the devaluation of Ethiopian currency is to increase agricultural export and growth of the manufacturing sector. The government has created jobs to 2 million citizens and this is an impressive achievement for a developing country, he said, adding that more jobs would be created to provide as many jobs as possible to the remaining 6 million unemployed people.
Members of the Parliament in their part told ENA that they will do their level best to improve peace and security and realize the democratic process in the country.
26.10.2017 10 killed as Ethiopia forces clash with protesters in Oromia. Africanews.com
About ten people have been killed in the town of Ambo in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, German broadcaster DW’s Amharic Service has reported. DW cited Gadisa Desalegn, Ambo city communication head, as confirming the deaths of anti-government protesters, following the deployment of ‘Agazi’ – a special elite unit of the Ethiopian security forces.
Local media portals have also reported that 20 people have been wounded, some private properties have been affect in the clashes. A local media portal, Addis Gazetta, reported that the latest round of protest was linked to recent shortages of sugar in the country. They shared pictures on Wednesday when protesters blocked trucks belonging to the national sugar company.
Ambo located in the Oromia region – the country’s biggest – was the heartbeat of spreading anti-government protests that started in late 2015 through to the better part of last year. To quell the spreading protests which hit the northern Amhara region, Addis Ababa imposed a state of emergency. The six-month measure eventually run for ten months and was only lifted in August 2017.
The Horn of Africa country – a key ally of the west and a regional economic powerhouse, has severally been charged to undertake political reforms and to respect the rights of political opponents. Ethiopia, despite its internal political issues, is seen as a security leader in the region. It is engaged in the fight against Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab. It is also in the forefront of peacekeeping, humanitarian and political efforts hoping to stabilize neighbouring South Sudan.
25.10.2017 Country is in deepening political turmoil: An opposition figure. Arefayné Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
Ethiopia is succumbing to an unprecedented political turmoil and pervasive graft in the government is undermining its integrity and fuelling insurgency across the country, says the former president of Tigray Regional State and founder of the opposition political party, Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty, Gebru Asrat.
In an interview with the Amharic Reporter newspaper published Sunday, Gebru Asrat, who once served on the executive committee of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) before his falling out with the party said that government projects that were supposed to benefit the poor are only enriching the elite and a failure to stop corruption is damaging the country’s future. “Whether you call it revolutionary democracy, or developmental state, the system is literally built on blatant corruption. The officialdom colludes with businessmen to take over land illegally for self-enrichment. Mega projects are in jeopardy and are facing bankruptcy. Inefficiencies and finance mismanagement are rife, there is no transparency and accountability. Take the sugar and fertilizer projects, they are total failures. In all theses, you have patronage network of businessmen, contractors, higher officials who are placing their private self-interests over wider public goals.”
Gebru said the anti-corruption crusade has proved nothing more than a sham and only done for political gain. “When the public resentment grows, it has become a fashion to take measures against some that have no or little influence. Of course, the regime is not ready to turn against corrupt individuals. It has no any desire to do that. Corruption has eaten deep into its fiber. How could it fight it? Those involved don’t want to see the rule of law, democracy and justice prevailing in the country. It would play against them.”
Gebru said that the country’s economic woe has generated widespread discontent, which is compromising the country’s stability. “The centre is no longer holding. People are not obeying the federal authority and they no longer fear government. For example, any request from opposition party to organise demonstration in Addis Ababa would automatically be refused. But in Oromia region, look at the number of demonstrations that are taking place without authorization. That means the regime’s development army teams and one-to-five networks put in place to control people’s movement have collapsed. People have sent message, they are assuming a leading role in the struggle, they have declared victory in their own struggle,”
Gebru Asrat observed that the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is beset by its own internal divisions and the showdown between member parties is putting its very existence into question. “The competitions among regional lords for more control and power at the expense of the federal state have reached at their final stage. Whether EPRDF likes it or not, it is in a turmoil. There is no doubt about that. EPRDF is not able to respond to the public’s demand. Members are busy trying to protect their own interest than saving the party. As matter of the fact, if the regime is still there, it is thanks to its security apparatus and defence force. It is not there because it is accepted as such by the wider society. Where this will lead is hard to predict. But one thing is sure: the party is alienated because the conflict with the public grew. What is missing is a political force ready to replace the regime. This is concern for all of us. The regime has been working all those years to make the existence of successor impossible,”
For Gebru the collapse of the regime is a matter of time, at the same time expressing concerns about the potential for civil war. But he said he doesn’t subscribe to the doomsday warning that forecasts the country would disintegrate. “Ethiopia has weathered numerous challenges. It has been there before the regime and it will exist after. People want to live together. Some politicians are working to undermine that. The ruling party also does things that destabilise the unity among the public. There could be price to pay for that. But this country is not disintegrating.”
25.10.2017 Ethiopia, Somalia agrees on tightening Alshabab crushing campaign. Walta
Ethiopia and Somali agreed to tighten a military operation against Al-shabab. Primemister Hailemaqriam Desalegn and his Somalian president Mohammed Abdulahi Mohammed held talks in Ethiopia on bilateral and region’s issues. They are agreed to strengthen a campaign of the Alshabab forces. They also agreed that countries which contributed forces to fight Alshabab under the auspices of AMISOM including Ethiopia to continue their efforts by collaborating with Somalian government forces. Two countries urged the international communities to respond to the problems.
President Mohammed Abdullahi thanked the people and government of Ethiopia for the solidarity they showed on Somalia attack. “We are indebted to the people and government of Ethiopia as they stand beside us in this critical time,” said the president. Ethiopia offered medicine and physicians to tackle victims of the attack.
24.10.2017 Gov't Restores Peace in Districts in Oromia. ENA
The Ethiopian Government has announced that the conflict in Chora and Dega districts of Bunno Bedele zone in the Oromia regional state has been under control. Minister of Government Communications Affairs Office, Negerri Lencho (PhD), said the local communities’, community elders' and security forces of the regional government intervention has contributed much in peace restoration endeavors. As peace has restored to the areas, rehabilitating the people who displaced due to the conflict has already begun, he added. According to Negeri, around 43 people allegedly suspected of instigating the conflict are under arrest.
Negeri said the acts of some media houses that broadcasted stories that would aggravate the situation are unethical and unacceptable. He noted that the social media have also used the incident unethically to spread wrong information. Negeri warned those media houses to refrain from such unethical acts. He also expressed government's deep condolences for the families of the deceased.
22.10.2017 Parties Agree on Mixed Electoral System. ENA
All the national political parties that are taking part in the negotiation have agreed on the proposed mixed electoral system except one, YeEthiopia Raie Party.
While accepting the system, the political parties have differences on the percentage of the proportional representation that will be combined with the prevailing first-past-the-post. The ruling part, EPRDF have raised the previously proposed 10 percent of the proportional representation to 15 percent and All Oromo People's Democratic Party accepted the idea. While the eleven political parties that are negotiating as one and Gadaa System Advancement Party has lowered their request of the proportional representation from 50 to 40 percent. All Ethiopia National Movement on the other side proposed 25 percent of the mixed electoral system to be a proportional representation. YeEthiopia Raie Party expressed its stand that the electoral system of the country to be full proportional representation otherwise to continue with the first-past-the-post, whereby 52 percent of seats will be granted to majority vote winner and the rest to other competitor parties.
Apart from that, majority of the political parties have agreed on the idea of adding new seats to the House of Peoples Representative that will be determined on the percentage to be agreed. Having different stands on the figures of the percentage proposed by the political parties and considering it a deadlock, they agreed to meet on 27 October 2017.
Meanwhile, EPRDF has urged for an explanation from the YeEthiopia Raie Party, over its official claim on the need for the government to step down. EPRDF said it will not be able to negotiate with YeEthiopia Raie Party, as it has lately acted undemocratically, unless they have provided a proper explanation. On the meantime, YeEthiopia Raie Party requested for more time to present its explanation for publicly declaring the need for the government to step down and all the parties agreed to see the case in the upcoming session.
22.10.2017 A dozen killed in an inter-ethnic violence in south-western Ethiopia. Selam Kirubel, Ethiopia Observer
More than a dozen people have died in inter-ethnic violence in Buno Bedele and Illu Ababor, two separate woredas of Oromia region in south-western Ethiopia, in an ethnic bloodshed that took place on Friday and Saturday. Mobs of the local Oromo men attacked long-time residents of ethnic Tigrayans and Amhara, burning down houses and coffee farms. Several death were reported, according to some as many as fifteen and at least fifty people have been wounded. Ethiopia Observer’s efforts to independently verify the number of victims since yesterday has been unsuccessful. The Oromia region communication bureau could not be reached for comment.
A source close to Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), speaking on condition of anonymity, did confirm to reports of several households being victims of assault and break and enter and about many residents, mostly women and children, taking shelter in local police stations. The source said that at least two Oromia police officers had been attacked while trying to protect household against the mob. Abera Olana, central committee member of the OPDO, sustained heavy injury after he was attacked by enraged residents while he was talking to the victims on Friday.
The area has been relatively calm during the Oromo protests in the past two years where minority ethnic Amhara and Tigrayan lived for several decades after they were made to resettle there, uprooted from famine affected areas in Wello and Tigray in the 80’s. Though some pockets of clashes are reported from time to time, the relation with the majority Oromo inhabitants have been amical. It was unclear what sparked this round of violence, but witnesses say it might have been related to social tensions and instability in the Oromia region and country. The local Oromo people of the region have been registering their displeasure about the federal government’s extraction of the underground coal mine and the construction of a fertilizer factory, which is located at Yayu wereda, Illu Ababor zone. The fear is that ethnic tensions may erupt across the region.
(Update: Head of the Oromia Government Communication Affairs Bureau, Addisu Arega wrote on his Facebook page this morning, confirming ethnic clashes in Chora and Dega woredas Buno Bedele zone where he said eight Oromo and three Amhara nationals have lost their lives.)
21.10.2017 CSA confident conflict, displacement will not affect census. Dawit Endeshaw, The Reporter
The Central Statistical Agency (CSA) announced this week that the displacement of thousands of Ethiopians, as a result of the recent Somali-Oromia boarder conflict, will not affect the process of the upcoming Fourth National Housing and Population Census. It is to be recalled that, the Census was originally scheduled to be conducted on November 19, 2017, and later postponed to February 2018. During a press briefing given by the Agency’s officials this week, the new timeframe of the census was confirmed to be February 11, 2018.
According to CSA’s director general, Biratu Yigezu, a long overdue logistical procurement process for the census as well as preparation of census map caused the extension. Preparations for the overdue census officially commenced in 2015 with financing secured from both the Ethiopian government and donors. ith these funds, the CSA purchased 180,000 tablets and 126,000 pieces of power banks at a total cost of 665 million birr. The procurement process, which took longer than expected, was surrounded by controversies. Bidding companies during the purchase process were complaining about alleged irregularities along the way. Finally, two global IT equipments suppliers – Lenovo and Huawei – managed to win the bid to supply the equipment. According to the original plan, delivery of the equipment was to be made by May 2017, but this was postponed following a delay in the purchase process. From the total purchase, the first batch of the supply of the digital computer tablets and power banks has already reached Bole Airport. From the total supply, 120,000 tablets and 180,000 power banks had already been delivered by suppliers. The supply, however, needs to pass through all the required custom process before reaching to the hands of CSA. Following this, software applications have to be uploaded in all tablets, testing of the devices has to e conducted and training of personnel who will be involved in the census will be conducted. The trainings are expected to take at least two months. The government has allocated 3.5 billion birr budget for the Census. Close to 190,000 experts, coordinators as well as supervisors will participate.
As far as the movement of people from one place to another is concerned, Biratu said that in principle people has to be counted in their original home places. So when it comes to the Oromia-Somali Regional State border case Biratu hope that the two regions and the federal government will resolve the situation. Our Agency deal with technical issues, he said. He, however, stressed that no one will be left uncounted no matter the case.
19.10.2017 The Decennial Census in Ethiopia is postponed for the Second Time. Yassin Ibrahim, abbay media
The nationwide decennial census in Ethiopia has been postponed for the second time, ESAT reported. The census that is conducted every ten years counts the population, the number of households and homes all over Ethiopia. The decennial census is mandated by the Ethiopian constitution, Article 103 section 5 and was due this October 2017.
It is a violation of the constitution not to execute census unless and until the supreme law of the land is amended. According to ESAT sources, the decision to delay the census was decided by the central committee of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant force in the foursome ruling coalition called Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
The excuse offered to the public is, the current unstable condition is not conducive to allow conducting such a serious task as national census and doing so may bring more crisis than there is now. However, sources tell a different story than that provided by the official media. They say the true reason is the disappearance of the 180 thousand tablet computers and other materials worth more than a billion Birr.
The budget set for the decennial census was 3 billion and it appears most of it is lost through corruption. According to sources familiar with the census budget the government fears that uncovering the source of corruption will add fuel to the current volatile situation in Ethiopia where mass uprisings are once again occurring in towns like Sululta, which are close to the capital, Addis Ababa.
In a country where ethnicity drives the policy decision making, conducting census is a politically charged affair. The interpretation of the census data is often skewed to serve the political agenda of the ruling parties and may have a significant effect on the life of the society who might be purposely targeted to either lose or gain.
In one of the past decennial census for example, two million Amharas were unaccounted for by the very admission of the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia.
19.10.2017 Ethiopia army banned from Oromia-Somali areas amid peace efforts. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, Africanews
The Ethiopian government has disclosed that the army has effectively been banned from playing any role in the search for peace in a boundary crisis between the Oromia and Somali regional states. Information Minister Negeri Lencho at a press briefing said as part of peace efforts in the wake of recent deadly clashes, the government was tackling the source of the tensions but also actively helping displaced persons with much needed assistance.
A high-powered government delegation led by deputy Prime Minister Derneke Mekonnen is said to have visited displaced persons in the town of Dire Dawa, Harar, Hamaresa and Babile, state-affiliated FANA Broadcasting corporate reported. The minister also disclosed that arrests have been made of people believed to be behind the hostilities. He admitted that even though suspects in Oromia have been picked up, the Somali state officials were not showing enough commitment to do same.
The inter-state clashes is said to be ethnic in nature even though political, human rights watchers and Oromo activists insist that it has an element of government complicity. Most residents in Oromia believe that the government continues to arm a paramilitary force, the Liyu Police’ located in the Somali region as part of efforts to clamp down on Oromo protesters. Some residents and activists continue to blame the Liyu Police for recent clashes between Oromo and Somali ethnic groups. Despite long-standing talk of resource control fueling the tensions, some residents and activists say the Liyu police are more to blame for recent incidents.
Meanwhile, a new wave of anti-government protests continue to gain currency in Oromia – the heartland of similar protests between 2015 – 2016. It led to a state of emergency in October 2016, a six-month measure that eventually lasted 10 months, it was lifted in early August 2017.
19.10.2017 Ethiopia PM's ex-top advisor must be prosecuted – E.U. MP. Africanews
Bereket Simon, a former top advisor to Ethiopian Premier Hailemariam Desalegn must be prosecuted for crimes against Ethiopians. This is the view expressed by a Member of the European parliament, Ana Gomes, after news of the Bereket’s resignation was announced on earlier this week.
The Portuguese politician who doubles as a Socialist Member of the European parliament also had hard words for the former advisor to Desalegn in charge of Policy Studies and Research Center. She described him as ‘cynical and a cruel totalitarian,’ during dealings with him. She added, ‘(He) Should be tried for his crimes against Ethiopians.’ It is not known the nature of the dealings both had and what crimes she is referring to. Ana Gomes, currently a member of the political committee of the socialist party, is known to be someone who frequently speaks on Ethiopia’s politics. She was part of efforts calling on the government to disclose charges against Oromo leader Merera Gudina after his arrest last year.
The government communications office on Tuesday confirmed receipt of Bereket’s resignation letter to PM Desalegn. It said his letter gave no reasons for his decision but that his request was being considered. He is leaving a post he has held for the past four years. Local media reports indicate that Simon, a veteran politician with his latest resignation had quit two top positions in just a week. He recently gave up his position as board chairman of the government-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. A member of the ruling Ethiopia Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), he has served the government in different capacities including as Minister of Communication.
The move comes weeks after two major political shifts around the Prime Minister. The Protocol Chief of the PM, Baye Tadesse Teferi, sought asylum in the United States for fear of political persecution. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abadulla Gemeda, also resigned his post following ‘disrespect’ to members of his ethnic group and his party in the ruling party.
18.10.2017 Ethiopian government confirms resignation request of senior official. Xinhua
The Ethiopian government on Tuesday confirmed that Bereket Simon, a stalwart of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) for more than 30 years, has requested to resign from an influential post. Negeri Lencho, minister of Government Communication Affairs Office, said Simon has offered to resign from his position as deputy director general of Ethiopia Policy Study and Research Center, a ministerial post. Lencho said the government is still reviewing the request. Simon is a founding member of Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), one of the parties in the EPRDF coalition. He once served as minister of information.
Simon's resignation request came one week after the resignation of another senior EPRDF official, Abadula Gemeda, as speaker of the Ethiopian parliament. Gemeda is a founding member of another EPRDF coalition member party, Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO).
The resignation of Gemeda and the resignation request of Simon have ignited speculation on possible division between the member parties of EPRDF. Ethiopia was rocked by a series of deadly protests in 2016, particularly in the Amhara and Oromia regional states, with protestors accusing the EPRDF of economic and political marginalization. The government, blaming bad governance and corruption for public discontent, has since launched a large-scale anti-corruption campaign and arrested high-profile individuals as part of its reform agenda.
18.10.2017 Statement by the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia
The United States sees peaceful demonstrations as a legitimate means of expression and political participation. We note with appreciation a number of recent events during which demonstrators expressed themselves peacefully, and during which security forces exercised restraint in allowing them to do so.
We are saddened by reports that several recent protests ended in violence and deaths. All such reports merit transparent investigation that allows those responsible for violence to be held accountable.
We encourage all Ethiopians to continue to express their views peacefully, and encourage Ethiopian authorities to permit peaceful expression of views. More generally, we encourage constructive, peaceful, and inclusive national discourse on matters of importance to Ethiopian citizens.
18.10.2017 Parties negotiate on mixed electoral system. Walta
The ruling party EPRDF has proposed a mixed electoral system in which 10 percent proportional representation and 90 percent first-past-the-post would be combined. In the negotiation on the electoral law national political parties took part today, the representative of EPRDF said the proposed electoral system fits the socio-economic conditions of the country. Furthermore, the ruling party said the mixed electoral system would help represent those parties that do not qualify for the first-past-the-post system.
On the other hand, the 11 opposition parties that negotiate as one group proposed the percentage to be 50/50 and that a government be formed on getting two third of the votes instead of 50 plus one. They rejected the idea of the ruling party by arguing that its proposal might add a few seats but would not contribute to democratization, widening of political space and multi-party system.
As regards the implementation of the proposed mixed electoral system, some of the negotiating political parties requested in-depth training on the issues and EPRDF welcomed it.
Meanwhile, among the parties negotiating separately All Oromo People's Democratic Party accepted the proposed system, while YeEthiopia Raie Party, Gadaa System Advancement Party, and All Ethiopia National Movement totally rejected it. Unable to reach an agreement on the proposed issues, the political parties agreed to thoroughly discuss the matter with their respective bodies and come up with ideas to close the gap. Accordingly, the parties agreed to meet on October 21, 2017.
12.10.2017 Is Ethiopia a Rwandan genocide in the making? Teshome Borago, TRT World
Ethiopia is slowly sleepwalking into ethnic war. Can it be averted?
(…) Over the last several days, dozens of Sidamas have been killed and a further 50,000 have been cleansed out of a region that straddles the Oromia and Somali regions—previously known as Bale—by Oromo extremists, a region the two communities shared for centuries.
And last month, nearly a thousand Oromos and Somalis perished due to another tribal border conflict in the southeast – a region that can never be ethnically demarcated due to the nomadic lifestyle of each side. Many of the dead were women and children, with tens of thousands more becoming refugees in their own country.
This is the ugly face of Ethiopia's ethnic-federalism, an apartheid-style separation of land that divides people based on tribe. It is a dangerous experiment created and institutionalised by former TPLF Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Ethiopia has over 80 different ethnic groups. The Oromo and Amhara comprise over 60 percent of the population. Ethiopia is also divided along religious lines. 43 percent of the population is Ethiopian Orthodox, 33 percent are Muslim and 19 percent Protestant. (TRTWorld)
It will get worse as more ethnic elites rise up and become impatient with the harsh reality that ethnic-federalim on paper is unrealistic and impractical on the ground.
Just like Rwanda's tribal warlords, the Ethiopian "activists" and intellectuals representing various tribes have stirred up the country like never before.
Unlike Rwanda, these tribal elites are often western-based and educated: and they use internet and social media; not radio or walkie-talkies. For instance, tribal elites like Tekle Yeshaw, Jawar Mohammed, Tsegaye Ararrsa and others have become outspoken about the failures of TPLF's ethnic based administration.
The big problem is that these tribal elites don't want democracy, and they don't oppose tribalism; they actually want more of it.
For example, Tekle Yeshaw claims towns in northern Gondar, of the Amhara administrative unity, belong only to his Amhara tribe; and Tsegaye Ararssa has spread propaganda that non-Oromos are "alien" and "settlers" in Addis Ababa; while Jawar Mohamed is famous for chanting "Ethiopia out of Oromia."
Oblivious of the fact that Oromos themselves migrated to this area and that the former Gondar province was never synonymous with "Amhara," such misinformed tribal elites have instigated the so-called #Oromoprotests and #Amharaprotests.
All these tribal elites share one thing in common with former Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi: the disastrous and archaic notion that every piece of land in Ethiopia is exclusively owned by one ethnicity.
It is this dangerous concept that motivated some Oromo students to rise up against the natural expansion of a diverse metropolitan city like Addis Ababa. Diversity, globalization, urbanization and multiculturalism are a threat to the narrow ethnocentric worldviews of tribal elites.
A worldview has been imposed nationwide since 1991 by the TPLF Ministry of Education, where ethnic politics is valued more than the math and science. Therefore, many analysts are not surprised that the new drivers of the opposition are actually former students, soldiers and ex-cadres of the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization (OPDO) and Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) branches of the ruling party.
With dreams of rewriting the multiethnic history of Addis Ababa and the larger Shewa region; Tribal nationalists have recently demanded renaming the various districts of Addis Ababa in another language. Now, the only thing stopping genocidal tribalism from repeating what they did in Bale, again in Addis Ababa, is the capital city's status as the political center of Africa and host to international embassies.
Away from the eyes of the international community, ethnic conflicts are heating up in every rural area. Even the US Embassy in Addis Ababa announced its concern with "troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people."
This is a big deal, because it takes a lot for Western governments to admit problems facing their darling ally in Addis Ababa.
A few dozen dead Ethiopians is usually not a big deal for the West. It's not that they don't value human life, but mostly because they don't have very high expectations of Africa. We may call it a soft bigotry of low expectations or a by-product of geopolitics.
Since the end of the Cold War, the West hardly cared about the Horn of Africa, and even well-informed observers admit that the bar is set very low for the TPLF. But how low? A British journalist recently gave me his pessimistic assessment of TPLF's job approval through western eyes. "There hasn't been a resumption of civil war (in Ethiopia)-- which is an achievement," he concluded.
This is a blunt reminder that the world has no plans to end this Rwanda in slow motion. Ethiopians are alone.
Ironically, a big factor that has prevented Ethiopia from collapsing altogether is the primary trademark of TPLF's tyrannical rule: its homogenous Tigrayan federal security.
Unlike the previous DERG regime which had a multiethnic diverse federal army that defected under pressure; the TPLF federal army is immune from desertion and enjoys strong ethnic cohesion. Whether an overstretched single tribal army can contain so many crises in a country of 102 million, remains to be seen. One thing is for sure; once tribal killings starts, they can quickly spiral out of control.
As we saw in Somalia, even warlords became powerless to stop the cycle of war. And Ethiopia's Facebook warriors and instigators will have even less power to stop future conflicts. As in Rwanda and countless other conflicts, the endless cycle of revenge violence has a tendency to take on a life of its own.
12.10.2017 Nine killed in clashes between Afaris and Tigray security forces. Durame.com, ESAT
Nine people were killed in clashes between the Afaris and security forces of the Tigray region in an area called Danti in Megalle district on the border between the two regions. Six people were killed and nine others wounded on the Tigray side while three were killed and three others injured on the Afari side, according to the president of the Afar Human Rights Organization, Gaas Ahmed. Ahmed told ESAT that the fighting was sparked when an Afari father retaliated the killing of his two children by the Tigray side. He said the control of salt extraction in Afar by the Tigrayans was also cause of resentment by the Afars. The Afaris have warned that they would not be responsible for the consequence of the action by the Tigrayans taking control over the resources of Afar, according to Ahmed.
The Afaris also accused that the Somali Special Police have raided a village in Aafar injuring three people and robbing livestock. Two people were killed on the Somali side, according to Ahmed. The conflict between the Afaris and the Issa Somalis in Keroma, Gewalle began when the TPLF regime transferred three Afari villages to the Somalis six years ago. The recent fight was reignited when the Somalis tried to construct a health center in Keroma that met objections by the Afaris.
12.10.2017 6 dead as protests surge again in Ethiopia: Official. AP News
An Ethiopian official says protests in the restive Oromia region left six people dead Wednesday as anti-government demonstrations return to some parts of the East African country. Oromia regional official Abiy Ahmed says more than 30 people were injured in clashes in Shashamane town and an area called Boke. He did not say who was responsible for the killings. Blogger and university lecturer Seyoum Teshome says more than 15,000 people rallied again Thursday in Wolisso town against the country’s ruling elite. He says it was mostly peaceful.
12.10.2017 Government Forces Kill 4 in Ethiopia's Oromia Region. Salem Solomon, VoA
Ethiopian government forces killed four people and wounded 18 others Thursday in the town of Soda in the restive Oromia region. Residents, who asked for anonymity out of fear of retaliation by the Ethiopian government, told VOA’s Horn of Africa service that eight trucks escorted by federal forces were stopped by residents of Soda and surrounding villages, suspecting the trucks were transporting weapons to special “Liyu” police in the neighboring Somali region. The Oromia head of security, Kulutu Fara, said, “The federal forces were angered by the residents’ demand to stop the trucks and opened fire, killing four people.” He said the eight trucks suspected of transporting weapons remain in Soda, and federal government officials are talking with locals in an effort to resolve the conflict.
In the meantime, protests continued Thursday in several Oromia towns. On Wednesday, at least eight people were killed and more than 30 wounded during protests in several Oromia cities and towns, according to Addisu Arega, head of the regional government’s communications affairs bureau. He said that five people were killed during a protest in Shashemene, 250 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, and three more were killed in Bookeeti, in the west Harrage zone of the Oromia. Addisu blames unspecified forces for instigating young people to participate in spontaneous protests, resulting in loss of life. Witnesses in Shashemene told VOA that federal government forces opened fire on demonstrators who marched past their camp. Oromia has experienced periodic, sometimes violent anti-government protests since late 2015. The protesters in Shashemene were calling for the release of detained political leaders, economic justice and ending displacements and expulsions of Oromos from towns and villages of the Somali region. On Wednesday, the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia issued a security message advising Americans not to travel to Shashemene and adjacent areas at this time.
A large but peaceful protest took place Thursday at Ambo University in the town of Wolisso. University lecturer Seyoum Teshome told VOA that thousands of demonstrators chanted, “Down, down, Weyane,” a reference to Ethiopia’s ruling EPRDF coalition, and demanded the release of political prisoners. Teshome said police watched the protest but took no measures to stop it, and the town was calm by midday.
11.10.2017 At least eight killed, dozens wounded in protests across Oromia. Addis Standard
At least eight people were killed and more than 30 wounded during fresh protests that hit several cities and towns across the Oromia regional state today, according to Addisu Arega Kitessa, head of the Oromia government communication affairs bureau. In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Addisu Arega said that five people were killed by during a protest rally in Shashemene town, 250 km south east of Addis Abeba, in west Arsi zone of the Oromia regional state. He also said that three more people were killed in Bookeeti town, west Hararghe zone of the Oromia region in eastern Ethiopia, where more than 30 were also wounded, according to Addisu Arega.
In a security alert issued by the US Embassy in Addis Abeba, the embassy cautioned US citizens of “violent protests and road closures in and around Shashamane.” It also said there were”reports of causalities” and alerted US citizens to “avoid travel to Shashamane at this time.”
Additional protests were also held in Ambo, 125 km west of Addis Abeba and one of the epicenters of the 2014-2016 Oromo protests. A video received by Addis Standard, which we later on verified, show that thousands of young protesters marching through the city chanting “down, down Woyane” in reference to TPLF, the all too powerful member of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, EPRDF. However, the protests, which lasted for more than three hours, went peaceful. Some pictures show the regional state police force in the midst of the protesting youth with no sign of hostilities.
Furthermore, according to DW Amharic, more protests were held in Dodola town, some 70 km east of Shashemene in West Arsi zone. DW reported that members of the police, city administration officials, the youth and ordinary city residents have all taken part in the protest. Protesters were also chanting messages of support, among others, for jailed prominent Oromo opposition party leaders including Dr. Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba, two senior members of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and who are among the more than 25 senior and junior leadership of the party currently in jail. They were also chanting message of resolve regarding the ownership status of Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa cities, according to DW.
11.10.2017 TPLF concludes its seven day-long meeting. Walta
The Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) announced that the deep reform program carried out in Tigray region involving the people has been showing good results. The central committee of the TPLF had held the meeting from Oct. 2nd -Oct 8, 2017. During the meeting, the party evaluated its execution and that of the government.
The Committee urged the people actively participate so that the country’s good governance and democratization could be fully realized. The Tigray-Amhara border issue is resolved in a way that strengthened people of two regions. The people and government of Tigray region expressed sorrow over the death and property damages from the Ethio-Somali and Oromia region border clash.
The committee pledged that it will play a role in resolving the conflict in collaboration sister organizations. The committee also noted that it fight the extremist ideologies, which negates the construction and the federal system.
9.10.2017 Opinion: Protest Resignation: Ramifications of a political act. Ezekiel Gebissa, Addis Standard
Abbadula Gammada, Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced in an unusual Sunday evening appearance on the national TV that he has tendered his resignation to his organization, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, and to the lower chamber of Ethiopia’s parliament. (…) His resignation marks a turning point in a controversial but distinguished career which culminated in high ranking military and civilian offices in the Ethiopia. As a commanding general in the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), he has served as chief of operations, chief of intelligence, commander of the ground force with the rank of major general and eventually as minister of national defense. In 2005, he began a civilian political career as President of the Oromia Region and Chairman of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO). In 2011, he became Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives. (…) the resignation warns deepening crisis if the regime turns deaf ears to his plea. Abbadula is an eyewitness to the consequential decisions the leaders of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) leaders have made at the highest level of power. If he is no longer able to endorse their decisions in good conscience, it is safe to conclude that the incumbent regime has entered the last stage of political decomposition. The malaise is not irreversible. But time is running out.
He knew when to confront the system and when to lay low, an adroit and dexterous politician who, to put in Machiavellian terms, knew “when to deploy the fox and when to deploy the lion.” The Ethiopian political space is going to miss the voice of reason and reflection that it so desperately needs at this particular juncture. More than anything else, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) will miss the only man of stature and credibility who knows the TPLF and who has grown to understand contemporary Oromo politics. By precipitating his resignation, the TPLF has burned the one bridge they had left to the Oromo people.
Vollständiger Artikel: http://addisstandard.com/opinion-protest-resignation-ramifications-political-act/
7.10.2017 Government accepts Abadula’s resignation letter. Ethiopia Observer
Speaker of the house of people’s representative, Abadula Gemeda, has submitted his resignation in an abrupt manner, according to the Reporter.The Reporter wrote that Abadula submitted his resignation letter to the ruling party’s executive committee fifteen days ago, and the committee accepted. Abadula was coming to his office up until yesterday and he would be chairing the opening of the parliament on Monday, the paper reported. The paper did not provide reason for his resignation but Addis Standard quoted a source saying that it was “in protest over recent political developments including the federal security handling of the ongoing violence in eastern Ethiopia”, which has displaced about 150, 000 Oromos from the country’s Somali regional state.
A loyal member of the regime and with military title that has reached the post of Major General, Abadula took up the speaker post in 2010. Previously, he served as the president of the Oromia region, where he had been very popular, according to some reports to the extent of threatening the power of the then Prime minister. Abadula’s critics say he has gained large shares in the country’s banking, hotel and other industries over the years. Since from his days as president of the Oromia region, Aba Dula was often accused of selling and distributing land illegally and controlling minimum five luxury homes. (…)
7.10.2017 Somali-Oromia conflict persists despite federal intervention. PM disappointed by Somali Region’s statement, Dawit Endeshaw, The Reporter
As Prime Minister Hailemaraim Dessalegn is trying to sort out the confrontation between the Somali and Oromia Regional States, the Somali Region Communications Bureau over the week issued a statement accusing the Oromia Regional State of proceeding forcibly with land expansion in view of finding access to neighboring sea ports such as those in Somaliland and Somalia for alleged subversive reason against the federation.
The statement was made the same week high-level officials of the two regions were said to be holding discussions under the auspices of the federal government headed by the Prime Minister. According to an October 4, 2017 (Wednesday) posting on the official Facebook account of the Office of the Prime Minister, the PM pressed the two regional administrations to work towards stabilizing the situation. This was made during a meeting between officials of the two regions along with high-level federal officials, including the premier and his deputy, Demeke Mekonnen. During the meeting, the PM also gave directions on the rehabilitation of those displaced.
On Tuesday, the Somali Regional State issued a statement following a consultation meeting held between local officials and traditional leaders. “Even though the people of Somali paid in blood and treasure during the struggle that ultimately ousted the Derg regime while not changing their name, language, religion and their culture now a new version of Derg has emerged,” the statement said. The statement also pointed out alleged reasons behind the confrontation between the two regional states accusing Oromia of serious crimes.
“The first reason behind this conflict is that the Oromia Region is proceeding forcibly with land expansion and finding access to neighboring sea ports such as those in Somaliland and Somalia for allegedly importing heavy weapons for the purpose of attacking federal government forces, and in that effort of theirs, the Somali region has become the only existing barrier they have faced,” reads the statement. Moreover, the region has also alleged that because the Somali region had managed to fight and win terrorist groups like Al-Etihad, OLF has led the attack against the Somali Region. In the same statement issued in three languages—Somali, Amharic and English—the region demanded that the federal government intervene and take appropriate action.
As far as this controversial statement is concerned, Negeri Lencho (PhD), head of government communication affairs office, told The Reporter that the statement was condemned by Prime Minister Hailemariam during the meeting that was held this week. According to Negeri, the meeting also heard reports from the two regions as well as the Federal Police regarding the conflict and the causalities suffered by the two sides. Negeri, also confirmed that 75,000 Oromos and around 392 Somalis were displaced due to the bloody conflict.
Negeri also explained that those who are displaced from the Ethiopian Somali region were not displaced by the Somali people but by “some organized groups” in the region. Meanwhile, many Oromos also reported that they decided to leave the region simply because they could not be assured by the regional administration officials and security apparatus as to their safety and security. As far as the loss of lives is concerned, Negeri said that the actual number of people who were killed during the conflict was also part of report; he, however, refrained from disclosing the figures. The Human Right Commission, which has the mandate to investigate the conflict, has already started its work and it is expected to present its findings to the parliament in the near future, Negeri told The Reporter.
On the other hand, the report presented in the meeting by the Federal Police reveals that still the conflict is raging in certain areas along the disputed Oromia-Somali Border. Although it is trying to control the situation, the report noted that Federal Police has not been fully successful in stopping the clashes altogether, Negeri said.
Negeri also noted, following the mediation, the two regions were instructed to stop obstructing the country’s foreign trade sector and to stop tampering with export products at the various checkpoints set by the regions. This is purely within the federal mandate, Negeri said, warning that no regional authority has such powers. He also cited attempts by Somali Region security forces, where they established a checkpoint around Babille, to stop products destined for the export market.
With regard to the displaced people, a direction was given to let the displaced people return back to their homes and a compensation to be offered for those who lost their properties, he added.
In addition to the effort to find a longstanding solution to the conflict, Negeri also stated that there will be peace conferences ahead that would bring together the two regions, once again.
7.10.2017 Ethiopian General seeks Asylum in U.S., Durame.com, ESAT
An Ethiopian General has sought asylum in the U.S. after attending an international conference in Washington, DC last month. Brigadier General Melaku Shiferaw has served with the military intelligence of the regime’s defense force and as a military attache in a number of African countries. The General came to the United States last month with a delegation led by Foreign Minister Wokineh Gebeyehu to attend the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, a coalition of 72 countries for a security partnership spearheaded by the U.S. Shiferaw was promoted to Brigadier General in September 2016 and was a member of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), one of four parties forming the ruling EPRDF.
Brigadier General Shiferaw is the third General to leave the regime. Brigadier General Kemal Gelchu and Brigadier General Hailu Gonfa had also left the regime and sought asylum in Germany and Uganda respectively. Over 20 Generals have left the regime, fired or forced into early retirement in the last 10 years. Two Generals, Brigadier General Asamnew Tsige and Brigadier general Tefera Momo were thrown into jail accused of plotting a coup d’etat nine years ago. Ninety per cent of the brass in the Ethiopian defense forces are from the Tigrayan ethnic group, which the oligarchy in power hails from. Those in jail or forced into retirement are Amhara and Oromo.
In a related news, the head of protocol for the Ethiopian Prime Minister has stayed behind after attending the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York. Baye Tadesse Teferi told the VOA Amharic service that he made a decision to seek asylum in U.S. because on several occasions he had been threatened by members the security of the regime who wish to get access to the Prime Minister’s office without the proper security procedure. He said he feared for his life cause Tigrayan intelligence and security who had on a number of occasions tried to get access to the office of the Prime Minister, but were stopped by him, hurled threats at him. He also said he was targeted because of his ethnic background as an Amhara. Divisions and strained relations between people in official government position on one side and Tigrayan intelligence and security on the other has also been the reason for his decision to stay in the U.S., Teferi told the VOA.
4.10.2017 Prime Minister Hailemariam’s protocol head defected. Ethiopia Observer, VOA
A senior Ethiopian palace officer defected while attending the general assembly of the United Nations in New York last month. Baye Tadesse Teferi, who has served as Prime Minister’s Hailemariam Desalegn’s protocol head, told the Amharic Service of the Voice of America that has has resigned from his post and has taken up asylum there.
Baye said some members of security officials tried to discredit him and associate him with events in the restive Amhara region, pointing to his Amahra origin, when he refused to give them access to the Prime Minister’s office and documents. Saying that he is not member of the party, the defector said he has served in the palace for more than twenty years. He talked about the deep rift between security officers and government officials, and he felt that his life was under threat. He said members of his family are still in Ethiopia and he hopes they would not be in danger because of his defection. Baye promised the VOA’s senior journalist, Solomon Kifle to provide more information in an extensive interview in the near future.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry contacted by the VOA refused to make statement on the official’s defection.
Baye’s interview in translation with VOA reporter Solomon Kifle:
Solomon Kifle:… Why did you decide not to return to Ethiopia?
Baye: The reason I decided not to return is because of the problem created in the government and threats made against me personally.
Solomon Kifle: What were the problems?
Baye: For instance, the problems that have arisen in the Amhara region and certain situations. I have received personal threats [from TPLF bosses] that you [TPLF bosses enjoying life in the capital] while we are waging war over there. I am afraid this situation could result in life-threatening danger to me. As is known in the country and the rest of the world knows, there are some problems in the Amhara and Oromo regions. Because of the extreme division that has been created in the government [which has now passed a critical point] and the danger it poses for the country and myself, I have decided to remain [seek asylum] in the U.S.
Solomon Kifle: Why are you facing such personal threats?
Baye: There are restricted areas in the prime minister’s office where people are not allowed to go in. My room [office] is a restricted area [not generally accessible]. When they [TPLF bosses] want to barge in, I refuse them admission. Because of that, they have personal hate against me and have made personal threats. We have restricted areas because that is the area where we prepare special documents for the prime minister. At the time they want to enter, I don’t let them in. So they cannot enter into that room. They also want to go into other [restricted] areas. That when they turn it into personal hate and personal threats. They don’t take documents out but the [aim] is to prevent them from entering the restricted area. These are high level officials.
Solomon Kifle: As an aid to the prime minister, you have the responsibility to tell the prime minister that his office is being rummaged [by TPLF bosses]? Why didn’t you tell the prime minister?
Baye: I wanted to protect the prime minister from danger. If he complained about his office being rummaged, they will not spare him or me who told him about it.
31.10.2017 Economy rapidly grows due to strong ties with China - Premier. Walta
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has said the country has boosted economy rapidly thanks to an "excellent relationship" with China. Hailemariam made the remarks during an interview with CCTV last Friday in Addis Ababa, saying that the collaborative leadership of the two countries helped their rapid growth. Ethiopia is among China's comprehensive strategic cooperation partners in several sectors including the "Belt and Road" initiative.
"The relationship between Ethiopia and China is deep and we have very strong excellent relationship. This goes in every aspect of our corporation," said the Prime Minister. “Our relation is focused on major areas like trade and investment.” China and Ethiopia are both leading countries in terms of global economic growth, and Ethiopia has been seeing very fast economic growth, said Hailemariam.
26.10.2017 Ethiopia to prioritize manufacturing, mechanized farming, youth empowerment. Xinhua
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday said his government will give due emphasis to manufacturing, mechanized farming and youth empowerment as major socio-economic targets for the just-commenced new fiscal year. Desalegn, who noted 70 percent of the East African country's population are aged under 30, told the parliament that youth employment and investment would be his government's major target. He also stressed that his government will continue to create conducive conditions for foreign investors to invest in the country's manufacturing sector. The premier also highlighted the promotion of mechanized farming, industrial parks development and infrastructure development.
Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome told the two houses last month that Ethiopia's economy has witnessed a major shift from agriculture-dominated economy, as the industry and service sectors registered a steady increase over the past decade. Ethiopia had registered a 10.9-percent economic growth during the previous Ethiopian fiscal year, which was close to the projected 11 percent growth. The country has also unveiled an 11.1-percent growth target for the just started fiscal year.
10.10.2017 Govt Devalues Currency, Raises Interest Rates. Allafrica.com, Source: Addis fortune
In the midst of a Forex currency crisis, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has devalued Birr by 15pc and raised the interest rate by two percentage points to seven percent. The devaluation pegs the Ethiopian Birr at 26.91 to the dollar, up from 23.40 Br on the official market. It will be effective from tomorrow, October 11, 2017.
The Central Bank justifies the move as an effort to control the inflationary pressure and prop up export earnings. The export proceeds have been stagnant at around three billion dollars for the past three years, whereas inflationary pressure has been in the double-digits for the past two months, having reached 10.8pc in September 2017.
Yohannes Ayalew (PhD), vice governor and chief economist at the Central Bank, announced the adjustment today in a press conference where only the state media was invited to attend. Seven years ago, the government had made a 17pc devaluation resulting in inflation that had reached as high as 40pc. "Since investment return is high in Ethiopia, the devaluation won't cause an inflationary pressure and adversely affect import," said Yohannes. For more than half a year, the official exchange rate stood at around 23 Br to the dollar, while black-market traders sold a dollar for nearly 29 Br.
The current devaluation surfaced almost 11 months after the World Bank (WB), in its fifth economic update, suggested the government devalue the currency to raise the country's competitiveness in the global arena. The recommendation, however, was rejected at the time by Yohannes, although the real effective exchange rate (REER) has appreciated in cumulative terms by 84pc since the nominal devaluation in October 2010.
Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources
23.10.2017 Lake Tana: how an invasive weed is threatening its survival. Yihun D. (PhD) and Wondwossen T. (PhD), for Addis Standard
Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia and the second largest in Africa. In recognition of the lake’s rich biodiversity and significant cultural heritage, UNESCO added the lake to its World Network of Biosphere Reserves in June 2015.
Lake Tana covers an area of 3,000 square kilometers, while its catchment area covers 15,000 square kilometers. Four major rivers feed into the lake, including Gilgel Abbay, which flows from the south, Gumera and Rib from the northeast and Megech from the north. Gilgel Abbay, widely regarded as the source of Abbay (Blue Nile), originates from the Ghion spring, which is considered holy. The Tana basin connects about two million people, the majority of whom subsist on agriculture, while the two largest cities in the Amhara region, Bahir Dar and Gondar, lie within the basin.
Lake Tana harbors dozens of medieval island monasteries. These monasteries represent important religious sanctuaries, centers of traditional learning, and core tourism destinations. The lake is also rich in bio-diversity. It is home to a large species of fish and birds, many of which are endemic to the lake. Moreover, the lake occupies an important place in the country’s plan for economic development. The water from the lake is utilized for hydropower generation and supports large-scale irrigation schemes in the lowland agricultural areas. The lake, thus, is at the nexus of a complex web of political, economic and socio-cultural interests.
Even though Lake Tana is central to the country’s aspiration for socio-economic transformation, its haphazard management by government authorities raises critical questions. A case in point is the Chara Chara wier and the Tana Beles hydropower project. While the Chara Chara wier was constructed around 1995, at the mouth of the lake, to regulate its volume for downstream hydropower generation; the Tana Beles hydropower project was completed in 2010, and relies on water diverted from the lake through underground tunnels. The diverted water, after hitting the power turbines, is discharged to the Beles River basin, which is used to irrigate state owned sugar plantations. It should be noted that the Beles River basin lies outside the Lake Tana basin system.
One shocking consequence of these projects has been the defilement of the majestic Tis Issat Falls (The Blue Nile Falls). Since the natural flow of the water is now tightly regulated at the Chara Chara wier, the Tis Issat Falls, located 30 kilo meters downstream, has lost its natural spectacle, and with it, it’s enormous tourism potential and iconic status as one of the enduring symbols of the country. Locals have suffered dire economic consequences as a result.
According to a report from the International Water Management Institute, the extraction of large volume of water from the lake has caused the water level to drop below the recommended level, thus precipitating extensive environmental and economic disruptions.
The drawdown of the lake led to the desiccation of reed beds and consequent loss of breeding habitat for fishes. It also made transportation on the lake difficult. Several boats have sustained damages, others have sunk, after hitting rocks exposed to the surface of the lake due to the receding waters. The extreme contraction of the lake has also damaged the papyrus beds that grow around the lake, which represent an important source of livelihood to the Negede people. Papyrus reeds are used to make marketable products such as tankua (canoes), baskets and mats. The drawdown diminished the wetlands around the lake, and encouraged recession rice farming, thus contributing to the growing pollution of the lake. These multifaceted crises reached their climax when a large swath of the lake’s shores was invaded by water hyacinth in 2011/2012.
Water hyacinth: What is it, and what are its effects?
Water hyacinth is an aggressive invasive weed that surfaces on water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, and dams. Research conducted on its productivity shows that it can reproduce itself every two to three weeks depending on the nutrient condition of the water body. The weed can grow up to a height of 1 meter. It has no known direct food value to wildlife, and hence is regarded as a pest. If left unchecked, water hyacinth can cover entire water bodies by forming thick floating mats.
Fully developed water hyacinth mats block waterways rendering water transportation and fishing difficult. Water hyacinth also adversely affects freshwater ecology. The mats limit circulation of air and water, thereby diminishing the level of oxygen in the water, which, in turn, threatens the survival of aquatic ecosystems such as fish. The mats also hinder the passage of sunlight beneath the water surface, thus obstructing the photosynthetic activities of underwater plant species and degrading the biological diversity of the lake. Reduction of biological diversity transpires a cascading effect on aquatic animals, which depend on plants for shelter and nesting. In particular, the fish stock, deprived of oxygen and food, could vanish from the lake, thus forcing the fishing industry––a permanent scene of the lake for millennia––to come to an abrupt end.
Because the weed is highly competitive, it easily interferes in the biodiversity of the wetlands beyond the lake, thus disrupting wetland agriculture and livestock rearing. The weed’s high water content means also that it expedites the evaporation of water from the lake’s wetland, thereby contributing to a further contraction of the lake’s areal extent.
What efforts have been made to control water hyacinth?
According to local sources, water hyacinth was first observed on Lake Tana at Chera kebele of Dembya woreda around 2011/2012 (2004 E.C.). By 2015, a significant swath of the lake’s northern and northeastern shores could be seen covered by water hyacinth. Estimates suggest that the weed currently covers 25,000 hectares of the lake. Recent media reports suggest that the weed is spotted on the Abbay River as far as the edges of the Tis Issat Falls, demonstrating the weed’s capacity to expand itself to new areas.
Fragmented efforts to control water hyacinth have been going on since 2012. These efforts were mainly focused on mobilizing affected farming communities to uproot and dispose the weed manually. Needless to say, these efforts were utterly ineffective in terms of controlling the spread of water hyacinth.
The crisis, despite its catastrophic consequences, did not enter public consciousness until very recently. Credit must be given to the Amhara Mass Media Agency for bringing the issue to a wider audience. They have broadcasted a series of news reports, interviews, and documentaries about the invasion of the lake by water hyacinth. These programs have been crucial in informing the public about the scale of the problem.
As awareness grows, people soon start to talk about water hyacinth and Lake Tana. Environmental activists, civic society groups, singers, poets, writers, and ordinary citizens alike have all expressed their concern about the precarious condition of the lake. The issue has garnered substantial coverage both on mainstream and social media. This growing activism seemed to have registered with the government, especially at the regional level, as efforts to remove the weed have gained traction in recent weeks. A series of mass mobilizations was organized, some by government authorities, others by civic society and volunteer groups, to dispose the weed using manual labor.
Besides these mass mobilization campaigns, three state universities located around the lake, namely Bahir Dar University, University of Gondar and Debre Tabor University, have been taking various initiatives to tackle the problem. Bahir Dar University is working in collaboration with a local engineering firm to build a customized mechanical harvester for removing the weed. Researchers at the university are breeding flies and studying the possibility of applying a biological control mechanism against the weed. The Geospatial center at the university is helping the effort by providing essential information about the growth and movement of the weed using reconnaissance survey and remote sensing techniques. University of Gondor, on its part, is building a mechanical harvester in house.
The regional government has recently formed a high-level steering and technical committee to follow up the issue. The Environment, Forest and Wildlife Protection and Development Authority of the Amhara Regional State seems to be the main body tasked with coordinating the ongoing mass mobilization of the public to remove water hyacinth using manual labor.
Conspicuously absent from the picture are the various federal level agencies working on water and environment related issues, such as Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, and Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resource Development. Although these government institutions are, in one way or another, involved in the sustainable management and utilization of the country’s natural resources, their silence while the largest lake in the country is mired in a grave environmental crisis raises questions. Their inaction casts doubt on the commitment of the federal government to rescue the lake.
Generally, ongoing efforts to control water hyacinth are incommensurate with the scale of the problem. They are marked by poor mobilization of resources and lack of coordination and decisive leadership. The inaction of federal agencies, which are better placed to deal with the problem both financially and technically, has exacerbated the problem.
What can be done to control the weed permanently?
There are three established methods of dealing with water hyacinth: biological, chemical and mechanical. The biological control is based on introducing specialized insects to the weed infested area. The insects selectively consume water hyacinth and are believed to die subsequently. The chemical option involves applying herbicides that can kill the weed, whereas the mechanical option involves deploying specialized machines to chop, harvest and dispose the weed.
The chemical option is the least desirable as the chemicals used to kill the weed could pollute the freshwater of the lake and adversely affect its ecology. The chemicals could also enter humans via the food chain, and precipitate health problems.
Likewise, the biological option might produce unforeseen consequences. Because insects behave unpredictably, one cannot be certain that they will not compete with or even kill other native insects that serve as a source of food for fishes. In the worst-case scenario, the biological mechanism could pose direct health risks to humans and livestock. Moreover, it is a slow process, and might take decades before it could sufficiently remove water hyacinth from the lake.
Therefore, the least costly and the safest control mechanism seem to be the deployment of weed harvesting machines. This is a relatively straightforward approach, in which specialized mechanical harvesters are deployed on the lake to remove the weed and dispose it safely. Yet, the authorities have made little progress in this regard. The motive for not buying and deploying mechanical harvesters so far is not clear.
A simple Google search returns a large number of suppliers with price tags ranging from $30,000 to $100000. These machines cost far less than the V8 Toyota Land Cruisers that most senior government officials use for daily commute. The delay in deploying the machines is impeding the ability to control the weed at an early stage. Each day that passes without taking meaningful action against the weed is potentially fatal for Lake Tana. Although efforts by domestic engineering firms to create local capabilities for building harvesting machines is commendable, the idea of leaving the fate of the lake in the hands of these tentative experimentations seems naïve at best and irresponsible at worst.
How should Lake Tana be managed in the long run?
We believe the invasion of Lake Tana by water hyacinth is the culmination of a plethora of environmental crises that have been afflicting the lake for years. Projects have been implemented on the lake haphazardly, without fully assessing their environmental and social consequences. When negative impacts transpire due to poor project planning or implementation, appropriate mitigation measures are rarely taken.
In recent years, the lake has come under increased strain from population growth, intensive agriculture, rapid urbanization and growing infrastructure development schemes. These challenges suggest the need to adapt a sustainable and integrated way of managing the lake’s resources.
Most critically, the government must consider the competing interests of the various stakeholders of the lake during project planning. Decisions should not be finalized at the top and forced down to local communities through political coercion. Instead, affected stakeholders should be given meaningful space to articulate their interests at the earliest stages of project planning. Government bodies have the responsibility to protect the interests of vulnerable groups, such as farmers, fishermen and inhabitants of the island monasteries whose livelihood depend on the survival of the lake.
Likewise, environmental conservation efforts need to be scaled up in the Tana Basin. Adequate resources must be allocated, and conservation works should be implemented in an integrated and sustainable fashion. There are established environmental conservation and water management practices from which the government can draw lessons, such as Best Management Practices (BMP).
The government continues to receive huge sums of money from donors for environmental and natural resource management projects. Part of this money should be earmarked to sustainably manage Lake Tana and its vast resource base. It is also worth considering establishing a separate government body, preferably at the regional level, that regulates, coordinates, and integrates conservation, infrastructural development, and investment activities around the lake. By managing the lake’s resources responsibly and sustainably, it could be possible to meet the pressing demands of economic development while also safeguarding the lake’s long-term survival. AS
21.10.2017 Ethiopian Billionaire Mohammed Al-‘Amoudi pledges Water hyacinth removal machine for Tana. Borkena Ethiopian News
With the federal government ignoring the challenge, activists have been questioning as to why Mohammed Alamoudi, who is known to donate for individuals and causes including support for the regime in power, is not stepping in to buy much needed machine to remove the water weed. Today, Tadias Addis – local radio station – reported that Alamoudi pledged total commitment to remove water hyacinth from Lake Tana. The source added that the billionaire is ready to import machines. But no timeline is reported for the pledge. Water hyacinth removal machine manufactures are available in Canada, United States and United Kingdom.
In a related news, Momammed Alamoudi donated 40 million Ethiopian Birr (about US$ 1.7 million) for Ethiopians displaced from South Eastern parts of the country due to ethnic conflict along the Somali-Oromo regions. He handed the Cheque to Lema Megeresa, president of Oromo region of Ethiopia. The Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire created his own business empire in Ethiopia and is active in the construction, energy, agriculture, mining, hotels, healthcare and manufacturing sectors. Despite he has his own fans in Ethiopia, too many people criticize him for working with the regime in power while others consider that as a necessity for his business.
Media, Culture, Education, Social and Health
12.10.2017 Ethiopia to scrap foreign adoption from its Family Law. Yohannes Anberbir, The Reporter
Because of the widespread case of identity crisis that children adopted by foreign families face and based on the premise that foreign families could not offer relatable family environment to Ethiopian children, Ethiopian government decided to scrap foreign adoption from its Family law. Accordingly, a draft that seeks to amend the provisions regarding adoption in the revised Ethiopian Family Law was submitted to the parliament for review, today. But, the new law does not prohibit the continuation of adoption cases which are already underway. (…)
HIV / AIDS
6.10.2017 Analysis: HIV/AIDS is surging in Ethiopia, again. Samuel Bogale, Addis Standard
Data from FHAPCO indicates that there are over 718,550 people living with HIV in Ethiopia alone, a little over 1.18% of the population. According the globally accepted consensus, if the total number of HIV infected people in a given country exceeds the one per cent threshold of the population, that country is considered to be under category of ‘outbreak of the virus.’
The 2016 Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey (DHS) reveals that around 56% of the women and 55% of the men among the surveyed household have never been tested for HIV, an indication the the current number of HIV positives in the country could be a lot more had all the population been tested. And, despite the existence of the large number of people living with HIV/AIDS, only 72% of them are thought to be aware that they are living with the virus; the remaining 28% think they are not infected.
Dr. Achamyeleh Alebachew, Acting Director of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating Directorate of FHAPCO, told Addis Standard that during the 90s and 2000s the number of HIV infected people was so high that among all the patients admitted to hospitals 1/3 to half tested positive for the virus.
Although the spread of the virus has seen a significant decrease Ethiopia could not able to join the top five African countries to approach to control the HIV epidemic until 2020. According to a recent statement from PEPFAR, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are the top 5 African countries where HIV epidemic is coming under control. And as of late, optimism was replaced by talk of the resurgence of the virus, especially among urban population and among university students, throughout the country.
Tough on women
When measuring the prevalence of HIV women tend to be more vulnerable than men. Of all the HIV positives in Ethiopia, 39% are men while women account for the remaining 61%, of which 25% of are commercial sex workers.
According to the FHAPCO, 27,288 people were known to have been infected by HIV during the 2009 Ethiopian calendar; 16,021 (59%) were women whereas 11,267 (41%) were men. Among the three million pregnant women who are receiving medical follow up currently, around 27,000 of them are HIV positives.
According to Abdu Ibrahim, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at DKT Ethiopia, some of the reasons for that include, but not limited to, men’s domination of the economy, less participation of women in awareness program, and the sexual behaviors that render women more submissive than men. “Polygamy is common in some part of the country that it is common to see men having around three to four wives and can have sexual intercourse with many more,” Abdu told Addis Standard. “We usually don’t see women having sexual intercourse with multiple men but the men have multiple sexual partners.” And according to the U.S. Embassy PEPFAR Coordination Office in Addis Abeba, “gender norms and female physiology” contribute to the fact that women do “have disproportionately higher rates of HIV infection compared to men.” Women are negatively impacted by gender norms on access to HIV services as most of them are dependent on their male partners. For fear of rejection and violence by their partners, women are also unable to discuss their sexual activity and may not make use of health services.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is another major factor contributing to increased numbers among women at risk of contracting HIV. The 2016 Ethiopian DHS report shows that among all the gender based violence in 2016, 7% of them were sexual, and one in 10 women among the surveyed experienced sexual violence. The report also mentions divorced, separated and widowed women as the most affected by sexual violence, compared to married women.
Addis Abeba is the hardest hit
Among the estimated four million residents thought to live in Addis Abeba HIV prevalence stads at a staggering 5% according to the FHAPCO data, which places the city on top of all regions in the country followed by Gambela (4%), Harar and Dire Dawa (2.9% each).
Although most of the residents in the capital are considered to have access to awareness programs, knowledge of the disease, better access to health care and opportunity to obtain preventive mechanisms such as Condoms, currently Addis Abeba is reeling from unprecedented spread of the virus. (…) A report published on July 25, 2017 on the local weekly Capital newspaper reveals a staggering increase in the numbers of bars and pensions in Addis Abeba. According to the report, 777 new pensions and guest houses were opened in the city the four months preceding the report. These Pensions are mostly used for sexual activities both by young couples and commercial sex workers. (…)
12.10.2017 Great Ethiopian Run has record 48,000 participants. Xinhua
Africa's largest road race, the Great Ethiopian Run (GER), will have 6,000 more runners for a record of 48,000 participants, an Ethiopian official said on Thursday. Race Director Ermias Ayele said the 10km race, which will be held on November 26, will be a part of GER's efforts to promote healthy lifestyle and running among the Ethiopian public. "The GER 2017 edition will have 44,000 adult runners and 4,000 child runners and feature a 10 day exhibition preceding the actual road race," he said.
The 10 kms Great Ethiopian Run was started in 2001 by Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebreselassie as part of his efforts to turn running from an elite sport stars sports into a hobby of the masses.