MELDUNGEN VON MÄRZ 2017
18.3.2017 Qoshe garbage dump collapse: A trail of corruption, criminal negligence and countless victims, Mahlet Fasil, Addis Standard
For the second time in less than six months, the Ethiopian ruling party EPRDF-dominated parliament has declared a three-day nationwide mourning. This time it is for the victims of a devastating collapse of a mountain of solid waste located 13 km southwest of the capital Addis Abeba on Saturday, March 9.
(…) Established 54 years ago, and occupying 37ha surface area, Qoshe is not your ideal landfill. For starters, its surroundings on all four sides is home to both plastic makeshift shelters and poorly constructed mud & wood houses that shelter hundreds of people, a figure by far bigger than what the government admits as ‘houses’ with registered title deeds; and unlike repeated media reports that followed the tragic incident, the residents of the plastic makeshift and mud & wood houses are not all rubbish scavengers. “I work at the Ethiopian electric power corporation,” said Alemayehu Teklu, a father of four who, as of this writing, is still looking for his three children and his wife. (…) Alemayehu and his family resettled in the area ten years ago when several shanty towns were demolished in many parts of Addis Abeba city to give way to new high rising buildings. “We had a two bedroom old house near Kazanchis that belonged to the families of my wife. The Kebele administrators had told us we should evacuate in two months but our house was demolished within three weeks after we were served with the notice,” Alemayehu said, “we were paid 70,000 birr [roughly $2, 500 in today’s exchange rate] as value for our house and were told we would be given a plot in one of the outskirts of the city. No one ever responded to our repeated pleas afterward and I settled my family here after buying the plot for 10, 000 birr.” (…)
The massive scale of decades-old evictions of the poor from the center of the city, which is, by all measures, a corruption-infested practice by city administration officials, means there are countless stories similar to Alemayehu’s. None of the dozen interviewees approached by Addis Standard say they become residents of an area surrounding a mountain of waste by choice. (…) (Some) have come to Qoshe as recently as June 2016, when more than 200 special police task force units have started demolishing houses in Nefas Silk Lafto Kifle Ketema in western Addis Abeba, which city authorities claimed were built illegally since 2005.
(…) city authorities have long been haunted by the black mountain of dumpsite they have created half a century ago and have subsequently failed to manage properly. Nor have they been short of policy recommendations from think-tank organizations funded by foreign governments. “Adequate planning of waste management is essential if communities and regions are to successfully address the challenge of a sustainable development, including resource conservation, climate protection, and pollution prevention,” reads one such action brief written in 2010 and was partially funded by the German government’s ministry of education. The Addis Abeba City Government Cleaning Management Agency, an agency accountable to the city administration, began taking the ensuing disaster at Qoshe a little more seriously around 2009, according to an official in the agency who spoke to Addis Standard but wants to remain anonymous because “now is a sensitive time.” (…)
As the spree of talks and workshops began to take shape, in a process the details of which is shrouded in backdoor negotiations, in 2012 the Addis Abeba city administration decided to obtain 136ha land in Sendafa, some 30km northeast of Addis Abeba, and is home to hundreds of farmers. (…) with a US$337 million grant secured from the French government, and a project office assigned to do the job – Addis Abeba Waste Recycling & Disposal Project Office – the city administration looked poised to turn Sendafa Sanitary Landfill become everything Qoshe was not in more than 50 years of its history.
Sendafa Sanitary Landfill had a US$27.6 million initial budget; it is supposedly guided by an elaborated Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report; it had a 40 million birr [roughly US$1.8 million] compensation scheme for the farmers to be displaced by the project; it was benefiting from the rich experience of VINCI Grands Projets, a French construction company (coincidence?); it was to be assisted by four separate waste transfer stations for preliminary treatment of waste; and city officials determined to change the city’s face defiled by the solid waste its residents keep on producing and dumping carelessly. Sendafa Sanitary Landfill had everything to become a modern-day landfill.
Simultaneously, city administration officials have assigned a US$158 million for a project to turn Qoshe into a 50mw waste-to-energy plant and have awarded the contract to the UK-based Cambridge Industries; this was to be followed by yet another ambitious work to turn Qoshe into a green public park. (…) the Qoshe waste-to-energy project has already missed its opening deadline several times. (…)
What really went wrong?
Delayed as it may, Sendafa Sanitary Landfill opened in February 2016; Qoshe took its first break in 53 years. But six months into its service, Sendafa Sanitary Landfill imploded, leaving Addis Abeba to explode with its waste. In July 2016, farmers living in and around the new landfill have forced garbage trucks to stop dumping the city’s unsorted, crude waste in the landfill. At the heart of the matter is the US$27.6 worth landfill which looked nowhere close to its plans on paper. “VINCI Grands Projets was paid may be half of the initial amount it won the contract for and even that, it was done in bits and pieces with several delays. The company was also not able to receive the hard currency it needed to import some of the equipment it badly needed” said a project team member at the Addis Abeba Waste Recycling & Disposal Project Office, who also spoke to Addis Standard on conditions that he remains anonymous. “And yet authorities from the city administration have rushed the opening of the landfill before it was fully completed.” (…) Addis Standard is unable to hear from VINCI Grands Projets representatives because its office is nowhere to be found in the addresses it listed was its location (…). Sendafa Sanitary Landfill was not only incomplete when it started receiving the city’s solid waste, but also none of the four waste transfer stations incorporated in the plan were built. These were sites designed to serve as preliminary waste treatment sites and were planned to be built simultaneously in four separate sites including Akaki sub city and Reppi itself. (…) Having consumed millions of dollars, but being not much of use in a city that never knew how to sort its garbage, Sendafa was quickly becoming just another Qoshe and the farmers were a storm in wait. Under-compensated (of the 40 million birr originally assigned as compensations package, an official from the Solid Waste Recycling and Disposal project Office admitted having disbursed only 25 million – but the actual payment is even less than five million birr); dispossessed of their land; lied to as they were told their land was needed for future construction of an airport; and forced to live near a landfill that already started to stink, the Sendafa farmers have refused to accept nothing less than the total closure of the landfill.
And as the yearlong anti-government protests that started in Nov. 2015 continued to gather momentum, questions also began popping up; questions that probe the tumultuous power the city of Addis Abeba exercises over its surrounding villages administratively belonging to the Oromia regional state. Authorities both from the city administration and the Oromia regional state were locked in last minute discussions to avoid the fallout, and find ways to re-open a US$27 million worth new landfill, to no avail.
But in the six months since Qoshe was going through its eventual closure, Reppi as an area has completely changed. The real estate market in its surroundings, hyper inflated by the promise of a future public park and the ever increasing land value in Addis Abeba, has boomed. Construction sites near Qoshe have mushroomed, and bulldozing excavators have begun working aggressively for several projects the poor residents of the area know nothing about. “One day before the collapse of the trash, several bulldozers were ploughing the earth for what one of the operators carelessly told us was an ‘important government project’,” said Gebresselasie Mekuria, a resident at the western end of Qoshe landfill. “The smell was getting worse and we have filled our complaints to the Kebele officials asking them to relocate us; they responded to us as if we were mad people; as if living in this hell on earth is our preordained destiny.”
Meanwhile, while the planned constriction of the 50mw waste-to-energy plant is still ongoing, the plan for earlier promises to turn Qoshe into a green public park has stalled. With the collapse of the black mountain, its residents are now left with nothing but unknown numbers of victims. (…)
Qoshe is not new to life-devouring accidents. In 2015, a flashflood had displaced more than 70 households, many of which are plastic makeshift; in 2014, shortly before the closure of the dumpsite, a small collapse triggered by waste pickers had killed about 13 of them. But on Saturday March 9, the black mountain of dirt finally decided to end sheltering the people who have taken refuge in it from a city that loathes them but loves their labor. Sadly, their story is not only a story of a waste mountain that collapsed on them, but has a trail of corruption and criminal negligence that left survivors with nothing but counting the bodies of their loved ones.
16.3.2017 Death toll in Ethiopian trash landslide rises to 113, Eric DuVall, UPI
The death toll has risen to 113 after a massive landslide at a landfill near the Ethiopian capital buried a slum's ramshackle housing, local officials said. Ethiopian Communications Minister Negeri Lencho said workers are still digging through the massive pile of decaying garbage days after the landslide in an effort to recover more victims. He said the effort would continue overnight and for at least another day. "The amount (that) collapsed, it is deep, it takes time," he told CNN. The landslide happened Sunday.
Hundreds of Ethiopians had built shacks atop the mountain of refuse, which unexpectedly gave way Wednesday for reasons officials have yet to explain. The landfill, known as Koshe, the Ethiopian word for "dust," has been around for more than 50 years and services the capital Addis Ababa and the surrounding area, home to 5 million people. The government has been trying to resettle the people living atop it for some time. Impoverished residents there scour the rubbish for items they can sell. Some 350 permanent residents at the landfill have been relocated since the incident, officials told the BBC.
The government declared three official days of mourning in the wake of the incident.
13.3.2017 Death toll from rubbish dump landslide in Ethiopia rises to 65, The Guardian
Rescue workers search 74-acre site for survivors, with residents blaming construction of biogas plant for disaster
At least 65 people were killed in a giant landslide at Ethiopia’s largest rubbish dump this weekend, officials said on Monday, with entire families including children buried alive in the tragedy. “The rescue operation is still ongoing. Security personnel and rescuers are trying their level best to locate any possible survivors, while searching for the dead,” said communication minister Negeri Lencho. Police and firefighters combing a “vast area” at the dump outside Addis Ababa found bodies throughout the day, Lencho said.
The disaster on Saturday at the dump flattened dozens of the homes of people living in the Koshe dump when part of the largest pile of rubbish collapsed. “The number of dead has reached 65,” said Dagmawit Moges, head of the city communications bureau. Many of the victims were squatters who scavenged for a living in the 30-hectare (74-acre) dump. “Those at the top [of the dump] were taken by this pile, because it split and people could not make [their] way out of this debris,” Lencho said, adding that most of the dead recovered were women and children.
The landfill is the country’s largest and home to perhaps hundreds of people who collected recyclables that were trucked in from neighbourhoods around the city of about 4 million people. The government tried last year to close the dump and shift it to a new location, but opposition from residents at the new site scuttled the plan.
Residents blamed a biogas plant being constructed on top of the rubbish for causing the collapse. They said work by bulldozers to flatten the area around the plant contributed to it. Lencho said the cause was still being investigated, but denied that the plant’s construction had anything to do with the collapse. He blamed the squatters for digging into the hillside, destabilising it and causing it to fall. All the shacks built on the landfill would be demolished and the residents resettled elsewhere, he said.
But Amnesty International said the government was fully responsible for the disaster. “It was aware that the landfill was full to capacity but continued to use it regardless. It also let hundreds of people continue to live in close proximity to it,” the group’s Muthoni Wanyeki said in a statement. “These people, including many women and children, had no option but to live and work in such a hazardous environment because of the government’s failure to protect their right to adequate housing, and decent work.”
Ibrahim Mohammed, a day labourer living at the landfill whose house narrowly escaped destruction, said on Sunday the disaster happened in three minutes. He estimated that more than 300 people lived on the landfill.
For more than 40 years the Koshe site has been the main garbage dump for the rapidly growing city of Addis Ababa. People had built the houses about two to three years ago, said Berhanu Degefe, a rubbish collector who lives at the dump but whose home was not destroyed. “Their livelihood depends on the trash. They collect from here and they live here,” Degefe said, referring to the victims and other squatters. “This part, all of it went down,” he said, gesturing at a huge chunk of the hill that suddenly slid. Degefe said they were levelling ground for the plant, increasing pressure on the hillside and causing the collapse.
Koshe, whose name means “dirt” in local slang, was closed last year by city authorities who asked people to move to the new dump site outside Addis Ababa. But the community there did not want the landfill, and so the garbage collectors moved back.
6.3.2017 Drought emergency spirals in Ethiopia amid major aid shortages. Katy Migiro, Thomson Reuters Foundation / Relief Web
Almost 13 million people across the Horn of Africa need aid due to drought.
NAIROBI, March 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Millions of drought-stricken Ethiopians needing food, water and emergency medical care are not receiving it due to funding shortages, the United Nations said, warning the crisis will worsen if spring rains fail as predicted. Some 5.6 million people need food aid in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been hit by a series of back-to-back droughts. "The needs relating to the developing emergency exceed resources available to date," the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Monday. "Each day without food assistance exponentially increases human suffering, lengthens the recovery period of affected people, puts increasing pressure on humanitarian and development systems, and the interventions become that much more expensive." It is three times cheaper to treat children who are moderately, rather than severely, malnourished, it said. But it takes at least four months to procure, ship and deliver emergency supplies to Ethiopia, it said. The U.N. appealed for more than $900 million in aid for Ethiopia in January.
Almost 13 million people across the Horn of Africa need aid due to drought, including 2.7 million in Kenya, 2.9 million people in Somalia and 1.6 million people in Uganda, OCHA said. The situation is expected to worsen across the region as the "belg" Spring rains are predicted to fail. "The expected below normal rainfall will negatively impact belg land preparation and planting, as well as water and pasture availability; with a spiral effect on food and nutritional security of affected communities," OCHA said. At least $2.7 million is required each week to provide water via more than 600 trucks to millions of people, mostly livestock herders in southern Ethiopia, but there is only funding for 300-odd trucks, OCHA said.
Humanitarians are already short of cooking oil to distribute to hungry Ethiopians, with pulses and cereals likely to run out in the next few months, OCHA added. There is also no money to deploy emergency medical teams and health supplies to southern areas not covered by health facilities, it said. Eastern and southern Africa were hard hit in 2016 by drought exacerbated by El Nino - a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean - that wilted crops, slowed economic growth and drove food prices higher.
1.3.2017 Horn of Africa – A Call for Action, UNICEF, February 2017
The 2016 Deyr or short rains season (October to December) brought severely low levels of rainfall to the region. The rainfall deficit was particularly acute across Somalia, southern and southeastern Ethiopia, northern and coastal Kenya and – to a lesser extent – southwestern Ethiopia and central and southwestern Uganda and southeastern South Sudan. Analysis of the cumulative regional rainfall from August to December shows severe deficits. Areas such as central and southern Somalia have registered only a third of their usual seasonal levels.
In several ways the situation is worse than in 2010-11 because (i) this is the third consecutive year of drought in the region and multiple years of diminished food production has exhausted people’s capacity to cope with another shock; (ii) the greater region suffers from chronic and intensifying conflicts, continued access constraints in some areas, rising refugee numbers and communicable disease outbreaks; and (iii) the drought is expected to worsen in the coming months, with low rainfall forecast for March to May – which is the main rainy season for pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in the current drought belt.
The drought has had a major impact on water resources, including on river flow levels and the availability of water for human and livestock consumption. In Somalia, the southern part of the Shabelle River has run dry, the Dawa River is drying faster the normal and the Juba River have reached very low levels. Most water points in worst-affected areas of the three countries are in near-dry status. Water supply for irrigated crop production has also been impacted as the drought extends over key river basins.
Widespread crop failures have affected farming and agro-pastoral communities in most of Somalia, southwestern Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya, where poor moisture conditions prevented planting and stifled early crop growth. Areas dependent on the Deyr/Hagaya/short rains are facing significant food shortages and are likely to remain dependent on markets until the next harvest in February 2018. Although global wheat and maize prices continued to fall during the last quarter of 2016, the FAO food price index for East Africa has more than doubled in 2016. This trend accelerated into 2017, including increases of 30 to 40 per cent for maize and sorghum in localized areas of Somalia and a 75 per cent spike in the price of maize in Uganda.
Livestock are becoming increasingly weak, contracting diseases and dying at alarming rates, with catastrophic consequences for pastoral communities. Significant livestock deaths are reported in drought-affected areas of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, mostly affecting sheep and cattle. Livestock losses have serious impact on livelihoods; even if half of a herd survives, it will take a minimum of two to four years for pastoralist and agro pastoralist households to recover. Terms of trade are declining sharply for pastoralists, contributing to rising food insecurity and malnutrition. Livestock prices are collapsing due to poor body conditions and extremely limited demand. Sheep and goats are selling for about one-third the normal price, and cattle and camels are sold at half their usual value. In Marsabit, the price of a sheep has declined by 90 per cent. Herders are being forced to sell their remaining assets for very low prices to afford food for their families – the price of which is increasing.
Household production of milk and meat is low and the price of milk and other dairy products has skyrocketed. This means protein-rich food is increasingly out of reach for vulnerable pastoralists. Food consumption patterns are deteriorating, with many households in cross-border areas reporting that they are skipping meals and eating less when they do eat. In Turkana 42 per cent of households skipped the entire day without eating. Research shows the close link between forage condition and child malnutrition, and highlights the importance of early livelihood interventions, such as livestock offtake and animal feed provision, to reduce malnutrition.
12.8 million people in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia face are severely food insecure and are in need of humanitarian assistance. Following the short-rain assessment in January 2017, the number of food insecure people in Kenya has doubled to 2.7 million compared to 1.3 million in August 2016. Some 5.6 million people in Ethiopia require food assistance this year. Nearly 3 million Somalis are expected to face Crisis and Emergency levels by June 2017, more than double compared to the previous six months. Severe drought, rising prices, continued insecurity, humanitarian access limitations, and depressed rain forecasts suggest famine is possible in Somalia in 2017.
Approximately 600,000 children aged 6 to 59 months in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia will be in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2017 and this number is expected to rise rapidly.In Somalia, 13 out of 27 rural and displaced groups have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates above emergency (15 per cent) levels. In Kenya three sub-counties (Turkana North, North Hor and Mandera) have GAM rates above 30 per cent – double the emergency threshold. Another six sub-counties (Turkana Central, Turkana South, Turkana West, Laisamis, East Pokot and Isiolo) have GAM rates between 15 and 29 per cent.
The drought and the associated reduced access to water and sanitation has the potential to further exacerbate ongoing disease outbreaks and create new ones. About 15 million people will not have access to safe drinking water in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in 2017. In Somalia’s southern regions and Puntland 3,113 cases of cholera have been reported in January 2017, which is significantly higher than the number of cases recorded over the same period in 2016. Although the cholera outbreak affecting 30 out of 47 counties in Kenya since December 2014 has been contained - except in Tana River -, there is a risk of new cases appearing in border areas due to scarcity of water and the movement of people.
Drought, economic shocks and conflict in the region have disrupted the education of approximately 6 million children in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. An increase in school drop-outs and child labour has been observed across the region. In Somalia, more than 110,000 school-aged children enrolled in schools in drought-affected areas are at risk of being forced out of education. In Ethiopia, 578 schools have temporarily closed due to the effects of the drought, affecting nearly 228,000 students. In Kenya, 175,000 pre-primary and primary school children in ten counties are out of school due to drought.
The drought has triggered movements of families in search of grazing land, water and work, increasing the risk of family separation and tensions among communities over scarce resources. In the first three weeks of 2017 alone, more than 33,000 people were displaced due to drought in southern and central Somalia alone, including 3,000 who crossed the border into Ethiopia. In Borama, Somaliland, approximately 8,000 households (40,000 individuals) were newly displaced in January 2017. Children constitute the majority of the displaced population. The high number of people concentrating around water points increases the risk of sexual violence and exploitation. During the previous drought in 2010-11 the number of underage girls sold into child marriage in exchange for livestock increased as families struggled to survive.
Repeated cycles of climatic shocks, coupled with insufficient recovery periods, have limited household and community coping mechanisms. As a result, drought-impacted households have a higher propensity to deploy harmful coping strategies which may deplete their household assets, both material and human, further limiting their ability to mitigate future shocks and make productive investments which can break the cycle of poverty and humanitarian risk. (…)
Ethiopia: (…) some 5.6 million people in Ethiopia require emergency food assistance in 2017. In addition, 2.7 million children and pregnant and lactating mothers require supplementary feeding, 9.2 million people need support to access safe drinking water, 1.9 million households need livestock support, and 300,000 children between 6-59 months old are targeted for the treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2017. (…)
Vollständiger Report mit Karten und Spendenaufruf:
- Politics, Justice, Human Rights -
30.3.2017 House extends state of emergency for four more months, Waltainfo
The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) has extended the state of emergency for more four months. In its 21st ordinary session, the house discussed the draft submitted for it and extended the state of emergency based on the need to sustain peace and security in the country as stated in the draft. As the violence in some areas of the country is yet to be fully abated and the government has not fully controlled the activities of armed groups that are destabilizing such areas, it has become necessary to extend the state of emergency, the house noted. Anti-peace elements are exacerbating the violence in some areas of the country in to chaos and they are distributing pamphlets to further instigate such scenarios and this requires the state of emergency to be extended.
Defense Minister, Siraj Fegesa, told the house that anti-peace elements are throwing hand grenades up on infrastructures and other government institutions currently and this needs the state of emergency to be extended if the country has to effectively prevent such moves. Some anti-peace elements that are periodically closing roads to undertake robbery and conducting gun smuggling are yet to be fully controlled.
The government declared the state of emergency when it became hardly possible to control violent acts in the normal operation of the law four months ago.
13.3.2017 Don’t Make the State of Emergency Normal. Kebour Ghenna, Capital
(…) It is hard to get a clear picture of what the SOE is for many people. Judging from the streets, it means peace and protected order. Indeed, the SoE brought an apparent calm and security to the country following last year’s unrest. Some initial steps to introduce democratic change and reform the functioning of the public sector have also been made. But any real political reform has not found either a midwife or a patron. This said, what people are conscious of is that the SoE still means that the government, at all levels, could crack down on virtually anyone at any time. It means that the authorities have been given a number of exceptional powers, including the right to limit the movement of people, set curfew, forbid mass gatherings, regulate the freedom of expression, assembly and various other citizen rights. The state of emergency also gives more powers to the security services and police, such as the right to conduct house searches at any time without judicial oversight, enforce house arrest and confiscate weapons, even if people hold them legally. In fact it’s no longer just the act of committing a crime or even the intention of doing so that is prosecuted. Merely belonging to a group that is considered terrorist by the government is sufficient for punishment.
The concept of the SoE is nothing new to Ethiopia. In the late seventies the Derg enshrined it in its charter until its final days in power. The focus then was eliminating terrorists eager to dismember the country. Failed mission! Twenty years later we’re back at it, this time it’s about eradicating terrorists keen to do us, and the country, harm. So, here we are again doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
So, what’s at stake in extending the SoE? You know the answer – people are satisfied with the status-quo. We are not particularly shocked by this, for it has long been apparent that our citizens are indifferent about politics only until something happens that might affect them personally.
And yet, once upon a time in Ethiopia, there lived a nation of young citizens that showed tremendous interest in the state of their country’s well-being. With incredible zeal, these citizens worked tirelessly to correct any local, national or international issue that threatened them either as individuals or collectively, showing no fear and great resolve to march in the streets and demand justice or changes in the way the government functions. Today, that’s gone.
Today Ethiopia is silent. It does not stand for any cause. Students, who were the vanguard of Ethiopia’s revolution in the sixties and seventies, are today replaced by students too busy chasing Birrs. Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms have become irrelevant to them. Citizens quietly observe EPRDF rulers dismantle the already fragile institutions guaranteeing democracy and popular participation using the SoE in the name of protecting these very same institutions. And yet, the SoE is precisely the instrument by means of which totalitarian authorities installed themselves in Europe in the 1920s and in Ethiopia in the seventies. (…)
What to do then?
In truth, we the people should first understand what the SOE is and its long term implication on our lives and country, and then stand against it, because the SoE means unlawfulness and arbitrariness. It means not to be able to exercise and protect rights and freedoms. It means the disablement of parliament and putting aside the judicial protection and principle of rule of law when violations come into question. It means no inclusive participation in the affairs of the people and the state. All told, the state of emergency is rejection of democracy; it is a war policy and practice. That’s why it must be resisted.
We say no to the state of emergency, the state of emergency must not be extended!
28.3.2017 Peace and Stability Restored in Ethiopia - Emergency Board, ezega.com
Ethiopia's State of Emergency Board reported that peace and stability has been restored in the country as a result of the effective implementation of the emergency proclamation, according to ENA report. This was disclosed in a report delivered to the House of People’s Representatives today.
Board Chairman Tadesse Hordoffa told the House that lists of the 26,130 detained persons, mostly men, were posted in each woreda and kebele. He added that from the 174 complaints, suggestions and tip offs submitted to the board, 54 were referred to the Command Post for rectifications. Some of the complaints reportedly included detention of suspects in small rooms and the inability of family members to know where the detainees were located. Although some opposition political parties also filed complaints saying that their members were arrested simply because they were members of the opposition, the chairman noted that the allegations were unfounded. The report indicated that 20,659 suspects were given extensive orientation and released. The case of 4,996 persons was referred to the courts and 475 detainees were released due to old age and illness. (ENA)
28.3.2017 Ethiopia sends 16 to prison for trying to create new state, nazret.com
An Ethiopian court has sentenced 16 people to prison after finding them guilty of trying to create a separate state in the tense Oromia region. All 16 are members of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front. They received sentences of four to 13 years. The Ethiopian Federal High Court said in its ruling Tuesday the members tried to carry out terrorist acts across the country and supported other group members in remote parts of Oromia. (…)
24.3.2017 Letter On Ethiopia to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs/Vice-President of the European Commission Mogherini, Human Rights Watch, allAfrica
Human Rights Watch wishes to express our deep disappointment over the one-sided statement issued by your office during your official visit to Ethiopia last week. In the public statement of March 17, 2017, you focus only on the important European Union partnerships with Ethiopia on humanitarian assistance, migration, refugees, and economic growth, and reiterate your support for the dialogue with the political opposition currently underway.
In our view the statement was a missed opportunity to state publicly and unequivocally that Ethiopia's repressive response to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly - illustrated by the government's brutal crackdown on protests- is not conducive to Ethiopia's long-term stability or the EU's ability to partner with Ethiopia on areas of mutual interest.
As you are aware, Ethiopia's widespread human rights violations against its citizens means that Ethiopia is a country producing refugees and asylum seekers seeking safety. (…)
Harassment through criminal charges, arbitrary detention of political opposition members and supporters, restrictions on financing, and registration problems have decimated opposition parties since the 2010 election. Actual or perceived members of opposition parties have difficulty accessing the benefits of development and humanitarian assistance, including that provided by the EU and its member states. This partisan system ensures that Ethiopians in rural or drought-vulnerable areas of the country are dependent on the government, bolstered by EU support, for their livelihoods, food aid, employment, and health care. This further constricts the space for political expression, dialogue and further undermines the effectiveness of opposition parties.
Dismantling opposition parties, imprisoning critical opposition voices, and then inviting whomever remains to engage in a dialogue is not the "right direction," as your statement said. Nor is having such a dialogue in the shadow of a state of emergency with wide-ranging restrictions on free expression rights. Moderate, yet still critical opposition voices, including Dr. Merera, should be part of any credible dialogue with the opposition, and this should have been stressed privately and publicly to the prime minister as critical for any meaningful dialogue. Your expression of support for political dialogue without acknowledging the systematic destruction of legally registered opposition parties and the suppression of basic human rights is not constructive to the EU's partnership with Ethiopia.
Discussing economic partnerships during the state of emergency that followed 18 months of brutality partly triggered by the government's abusive economic development approach illustrates our concern with your recent statement. The Ethiopian government has ignored the rights of those displaced by investment projects, failing to properly consult and compensate them. It begs the question: what polices or safeguards is the EU insisting are in place to ensure that economic development occurs with professed EU commitments to human rights respected? (…)
The contrast between recent statements by the European parliament and the European Union could not be more stark. Parliament has consistently issued strong statements about the government's brutal crackdown, including a resolution adopted in January 2016 that stated "respect for human rights and the rule of law are crucial to the EU's policies to promote development in Ethiopia." The resolution also stressed that the "EU should measure its financial support according to the country's human rights record and the degree to which the Ethiopian Government promotes reforms towards democratization." Parliamentary subcommittee hearings on Ethiopia followed in October. European Parliament actions signaled to the Ethiopian government and its people that there are repercussions for brutality against their own citizens - brutality that undermines European priorities in the Horn of Africa.
In contrast, the EU's tepid approach, epitomized by your recent statement merely sends the message to the Ethiopian government that its repression and brutality carries no consequences or public condemnation from its most trusted friends, donors, and partners.
As all recognize, Ethiopia is an important partner of the EU in the areas of migration, development and economic growth. But these partnerships are dependent on long-term stability in Ethiopia and, thus, should be dependent on respect for basic human rights.
A further downward spiral in the human rights situation in this country of 100 million people could lead to dramatically increased humanitarian needs and out-migration from Ethiopia, all of which would contravene European and Ethiopian interests. This is where the EU's focus should be.
We strongly urge you to use future meetings with Ethiopia's leadership to publicly and unequivocally call for the release of key opposition leaders such as Dr. Merera and Bekele Gerba, the lifting of abusive provisions of the state of emergency, an international investigation into the crackdown on government protests, and the repeal of longstanding restrictions on media and civil society. And as stated in the European parliament resolution, it would be beneficial to clarify what progress on human rights you expect from Ethiopia to maintain ongoing EU support. The European Union's interests in Ethiopia are best served by taking a principled stance on the importance of human rights protections.
Kind regards, Lotte Leicht, EU Director Human Rights Watch
22.3.2017 Hailemariam’s parliament comment sparks widespread outrage, Arefayne Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is used to rebukes from time to time– but his comment made to lawmakers in the Ethiopian parliament last week about the huge amount of money stolen and embezzled by one regional government has drawn criticism from a wide range of public, including from his supporters. After questions were raised from a parliamentarian about the missing financial compensations allocated for forcibly resettled people, the Prime Minister reacted in business-as-usual manner. “Well, we don’t know what to do about it. There is even one regional government that I don’t want to name, embezzled around 100 million birr given to it by the federal government to compensate the displaced people,” the Premier dropping an affair of blatant dimensions like an ordinary matter.
Not only the Prime Minister failed to mention the name of the region, but also failed to say if any measures were taken and if there is an ongoing investigation. Parliamentarians were conspicuously tight-lipped as the Prime Minster passed to other issues. This comes as a paradox for a regime that is making a vow almost every day to clean up corruption in the country.
Reactions have, belatedly, come roaring back in the social media, one commentator saying this is just once case of the decades of slow rot that have eaten into the country’s political establishment. One surprise reaction came from none other than the US-based web journalist, owner of the Ethiopia First website, and the regime’s ardent supporter, Benyam Kebede who said that he was unbelievably disappointed and embarrassed by the Prime Minister’s response. “Can you imagine? He is addressing the representatives of the people, who is supposed to remain well informed about what is going on in the country. And he said he is not going to tell them. What an effrontery! To make matters worse, those elected members left the hall without uttering a word. What kind of democracy is it, our democracy? The Prime Minister has an obligation to disclose such disgraceful act. This is tax payer’s money and people are entitled to know,” he said that in a recorded message on You Tube. Well, let us see where the uproar over the matter leads but one commentator says any chance of reactions or apology from Hailemarim is remote.
19.3.2017 Ethiopian Political Parties Fail to Reach Agreement - Report, EZEGA
Ethiopia's 22 national political parties concluded their meeting today without reaching agreement on whether to involve third-party intermediaries or not in the upcoming dialogue, according to FBC. During the meeting, all opposition political parties suggested the dialogue to be mediated by neutral bodies. The ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), for its part opposed the idea and said “a third-party negotiator is unnecessary.” After discussing on the issue for six hours, all parties agreed to meet again on March 29, 2017 to pass decision on it.
During the meeting, other parties also opposed Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum’s (MEDREK) proposal to negotiate with EPRDF unilaterally as a chief negotiator. In the next meeting, the political parties are also expected to approve the draft modality prepared for the dialogue. (FBC)
16.3.2017 Is split in Blue Party the regime’s project? Arefayne Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
The Ethiopian Semayawi (Blue Party) once hailed as a young and dynamic party has been in the limelight for the wrong reasons. Dispute over leadership and resources is rocking the party. The party’s secretary general, Yilkal Getnet and other top members were made to leave the party, according to one faction. The decision followed the election of Yeshiwas Assefa as leader of the party by the splinter group which Yilkal said was an unfair challenge to his position as leader. The recent development shows Yilkal is not ceding, saying that he is the genuine leader of the party, only that some splinter members along with the government and National Electoral Board of Ethiopia are trying to oust him, as they did to other parties, he argues. (The Ethiopian regime has long specialized in bribing some members of the party until a split occur or key members defect to the ruling party. Such is the widely believed case of Ayele Chamiso, put by the regime, as leader of Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party, after the true leaders were side-lined).
(…) When few weeks ago Yilkal Getnet showed up representing the party, in negotiation with the ruling party, he was unceremoniously kicked out in the middle of the dialogue, as the government controlled National Electoral Board of Ethiopia decided that it was Yeshiwas Assefa who could represent the party, conforming initial presumption that Yeshiwas was becoming the tool of the regime.
This week Yeshiwas came on the Australia based SBS Amharic service to attack Yilkal, saying that he and his subordinate, Sileshi Feyisa were fired for swindling around three million birr. Hence, the two were fired only for that, not for ideological nor policy differences, he said. Yilkal, who maintains his innocence, said he was victim of political coup d’état, part of an intricate ploy from the government. “This is nothing new. The regime has already done that to other parties, finding sympathizers and forming splintered groups, and awarding them with recognitions,” Yilkal told the SBS radio. Yilkal called the money embezzlement claims utterly ridiculous.
One observer who follows the opposition movement in the country told Ethiopia Observer that there is strong presumption in favour of the puppet character of the Yeshiwas group. “The way they ousted Yilkal and the way they are courting the government are sure signs that they were bought by the regime.” “Yilkal has the courage to say no when it matters. He has shown many young people that the TPLF is something that we can defeat if we fight hard. I give him credit for that,” the same source said.
Though these allegations and counter-allegations obviously would not help for the already existing sentiment of low trust levels in the current opposition politics, it has not stopped another figure, Girma Seifu, former member the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) and the country’s sole opposition MP from 2010 until 2015, from deciding to set up a brand-new political party. Girma is almost finalizing the formation of the party, named as the Progressive Citizens’ Movement, that he says would work to fix the current political impasse of the country. The 50-year-old activist on his final way to gather at least 1500 signatures required to get registered as party and hold founding congress. For the moment, no names of other in the leadership role are given but indicated that movement would comprise some former leaders UDJ and fresh blood with university education.
16.3.2017 Directive for Gradual Transfer to Regular Law Enforcement Prepared, ENA
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said a directive geared for gradual shift from the implementation of the provisions of the State of Emergency to regular process of law enforcement has been prepared. In his bi-annual briefing to the House of Peoples Representatives, the Premier said a preliminary assessment made by the command post of the state of emergency led to the preparation of a directive that would enable gradual transfer to regular process of law enforcement mechanisms.
The measures being taken to the transfer indicates that normalcy has returned to the country, he said. Although relative peace and stability has been restored in the country, incidents that could be threats to peace and stability in some areas have still not been eliminated, he added. He said that incidents of robbery in major streets, smashing vehicles, disrupt the teaching-learning process by creating havoc in some schools, throwing grenades on individuals homesteads and compounds of institutions are some of the illegal activities. Since such incidents have occurred in limited areas, more efforts will be made to ensure sustained peace and stability by conducting additional public consultations and implementation of corrective measures, the Premier added.
Because of the reasons mentioned above, there is a tendency among the public that the extension of the proclamation of the state of emergency for another period will help to cement sustainable peace and stability in the country, he said quoting the survey conducted on the issue. The assessment indicates 82 percent of the public included in the survey is in favor of full or partial extension of the state of emergency, Hailemariam added. He said that a comprehensive study will be conducted in the coming month and the findings will be presented to the House of Peoples Representatives for approval.
16.3.2017 Human Rights Watch Denounces Ethiopian Government’s Human Rights Abuses, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
Human Rights Watch’s Ethiopia and Eritrea Researcher, Mr. Felix Horne, addressed the US Congress on 9 March 2017, shedding light on government abuses and human rights violations in Ethiopia. Mr. Horne reported that Ethiopian government makes use of “arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions” to suppress opposition, censoring and jailing independent journalists and hindering the work of independent civil society organisations and human rights investigators. His speech condemned mistreatment and torture in Ethiopia’s detention centres, and the severe police repression towards anti-government protests (…)
15.3.2017 Ethiopia lifts curfew, some measures from SoE decree, Tesfa Mogessie, Waltainfo
Ethiopia said today it has lifted curfew and some measures taken against alleged suspects of violence from the State of Emergency’s (SoE) Command Post directives declared five months ago following a nationwide political unrest which resulted in the loss of life and property. The command post, which is responsible for security issues, has now introduced a third execution directive which is made by amending the articles of the previous two directives.
Minster of National Defense, Siraj Fegessa told a press conference that the lift of some sections of the directives was made after the nationwide assessment that proved significant improvement of political situations. However, Siraj who is also Command Post’s Secretariat Office head said that SoE could not be automatically lifted as there are still incidents in some parts of the country, which may trigger another round of political instability.
The measures lifted includes, according to him, search and confiscation of property that used to commit a crime any time without arrest warrant issued by the court of law, limitation not access contents from various radio, TV and theatre and films. According to him, restricted access to developmental infrastructures is also ineffective as of Today. He said that any offense could be handled by the regular due process of law- security forces can now resort to take people before the court of law.
The SoE decree enabled the government to fend off anti-peace forces that were agitating their sympathizers from home to advance their cause in harm way and threats posed to people and the constitution, according to him.
13.3.2017 ANDM takes measure on members suspected of rent-seeking, Abraham D., Waltainfo
The Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), which finalized its regular meeting yesterday, disclosed that it has taken measures on dozens of its members who were found to be engaged in rent seeking activities and tendencies. Party Central Committee Office Head, Alemnew Mekonnen, told journalists after the end of the meeting that some of the party’s members who were being suspected of engaging in rent seeking activities were scrutinized and the meeting has decided measures to be taken up on them. The party is still investigating cases of 462 mid-level and 362 low-level leaders and one senior member is already fired from central committee membership and the other faced final warning. The meeting also has decided 16 regional officials to be fired and 11 more others to be demoted.
“Even is the party has registered tangible outcomes in various sectors during the last couple of decades, it is facing gaps in terms of performance capacity and creating the right mindset for development, democratic governance and peaceful coexistence,” he remarked. The deep reform undertaken by the party since recently has filled such gaps and is creating unity for a mutual purpose and the need for further capacity building and make a capable leadership, he underscored. Mobilizing the public for more agricultural productivity and expanding industrial institutions and other social services in the region shall be given due emphasis, he said.
The party also expressed its deep condolences on the death of people after the collapse of heap junk rubbish dump at the outskirts of Addis in an area called quoshe.
13.3.2017 'It's life and death': how the growth of Addis Ababa has sparked ethnic tensions, Jason Burke, The Guardian
Addis Ababa had a plan – to expand, and lead newly prosperous Ethiopia into a brave new century. But after protests led to a violent and harrowing state crackdown, what happens next could reverberate across Africa.
(…) There is nothing remotely exceptional about Weregenu. It is just another cluster of flimsy homes like many others around, and within, Addis Ababa. Nor is there much exceptional about the series of demolitions here over recent months. As the Ethiopian capital expands, it needs housing, rubbish dumps, space for factories. All land is theoretically owned by the government, merely leased by tenants, and when the government says go, you have to go. So Weregenu’s thousand or so inhabitants know they are living on borrowed time. All have been warned that the bulldozers will come back.
“The police came with officials a few weeks ago. We had a day’s warning,” says Haile, a 19-year-old former resident. “Old people, children, pregnant women … It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, your house was smashed to bits.” (…)
The growth of Addis Ababa has been extraordinary. In 1974, when Haile Selassie was deposed in a military coup after 58 years as emperor and regent, its population was estimated to be half a million at most. By 1991, when the brutal “Derg” regime was finally ousted by rebel groups, there may have been double that number, living at around 2,300m in a dusty bowl below the Entoto hills. Today there are somewhere between 3.4 and five million people living in Addis Ababa. Most are without proper sanitation or clean water, many lack steady electricity, there is limited public transport and rubbish collection is grossly inadequate. The World Bank expects the city’s population to double over the next 10 to 15 years.
“This certainly raises some major challenges, as it would for any city,” says a UN official who has worked on urban issues in the city. Some forecast a population of 35 million by the end of the century. So one would imagine that any effort to put in place a strategic plan to manage that expansion would have been welcomed.
Aster lost her house in the demolitions of Werengenu village. She is now living, along with her HIV positive mother and her teenage daughter, on the floor of a neighbour’s two-roomed home.
“What do you think we feel? I had a legal lease to this land,” she says, standing in the rubble of her home. “I built my house here long ago. I have friends, neighbours, relatives here. It’s a community. Where do I go know? These officials, they do not care about ordinary people. The government just work for themselves.”
When anyone is prepared to talk, and has checked over their shoulder to see who is listening, this a common charge in Addis Ababa, and partially explains the violence prompted by the 2014 planning document. (…)
“People will pay a bribe, reluctantly, if that’s what it takes to get services,” says one analyst in Addis Ababa. “They don’t like it but they will do it. But when they have to pay a bribe and still get treated badly, then that’s when they get angry.”
Then there is the inequality. According to the World Bank, the GDP of Ethiopia is $62bn, almost eight times more than in 2001. Tens of millions have been lifted out of poverty, primary school enrolment is approaching 100%, and if there are still millions who depend on aid to eat and an annual threat of hunger in many rural areas, it is almost impossible to envisage the appalling famines of 30 years ago recurring.
But the new wealth generated over recent decades is not being evenly distributed. In 2014 Ethiopia topped a list of African countries creating the most millionaires. “Sales are good, especially of imported champagne,” says the manager of a fine wine shop in an upscale neighbourhood in the south of Addis Ababa. Next door, a dozen luxury cars fill a dealer’s yard. The best-selling vehicle is the Toyota Prado, a vast SUV which costs $200,000. The owner says he sells between five and seven each week. At the same time, poverty levels, even in the capital, remain between 25-30%.
“Once there was nothing here – and people argued then,” says one leading businessman over a $10 sandwich in the Sheraton hotel. “So imagine what it is like now there is a great big pie, and everyone wants a slice.”
Three further elements are fuelling discontent across Ethiopia, the businessman said: the very large number of graduates in the country, a consequence of the vast expansion of the education system since 1991; social media, which has raised expectations among young people in the country to “stratospheric levels”; and ethnicity. (…)
Diplomats in Addis Ababa talk of how advancing human rights will help stability in security in east Africa but the truth is that countering the increasing influence of China in Ethiopia, and fears over rising Islamic militancy in the region, make any significant pressure unlikely. The EU now see Ethiopia as a key actor in the struggle to slow migrant flows across the Mediterranean. There is little appetite in the chancelleries of Europe or Washington to risk chaos in a country of nearly 100 million in such a sensitive part of the world for the sake of a few thousand incarcerated activists and commentators. (…)
Revolution or evolution?
Analysts in Addis Ababa agree only on two things: they do not want to be quoted by name for fear of attracting the attention of the security services, and that it is very difficult to predict what happens next in Ethiopia.
Some believe the government has won. They say that the promise of reforms, a cabinet reshuffle, the withdrawal of the masterplan, a degree of “protest fatigue”, the repression and the ongoing economic growth together mean that no further unrest can be expected until the next elections, scheduled for 2020 at the earliest. Analysts point out that the political leadership retains the loyalty of the powerful intelligence services, army and federal police and even if there are many malcontents, there are also millions of people, ranging from petty officials and police officers to major business owners, who see their future welfare as dependent on the continued rule of the EPRDF. They point out that recent festival of Epiphany, which some thought might be a flashpoint for further protests in this predominantly Christian and devout country, went off without a problem and say that Ethiopia is not as fragile as some believe.
If these analysts are right, Ethiopia’s course over the coming years will encourage supporters of an authoritarian model of development across Africa and beyond.
Others, however, take an opposite view. They say the unrest has challenged the basic premises that underpin the legitimacy of the government in the country. If Ethiopians can no longer look forward to a steady evolution towards political pluralism and ethnic inclusion, coupled with a degree of material improvement, then the fundamental contract between the government and the population will break down. In this case, if there is no significant reform and particularly if there is no outlet for resentment through protest, an open media, unions or opposition parties, then the centre cannot hold for very long. As they doubt whether there exists leadership and intellectual capacity to execute the necessary changes, massive and disruptive change is inevitable. This view will encourage those who believe democracy is a prerequisite of sustainable development – though all but the most dogmatic will be concerned over the trauma such change implies.
The most likely scenario, as so often is the case, is that some kind of middle way will be found. (…) Addis Ababa, like Ethiopia as a whole, has always charted its own path, confounding predictions and confusing pundits. This is unlikely to change now. There will doubtlessly be further waves of unrest, and detentions, repression and deaths. There will be some minor concessions from the authorities. Economic growth may slow. But it does not feel like the revolution is just around the corner. (…)
12.3.2017 Is There Connection Between Corruption and Democracy? Atifete Jahjaga, goolgule.com
EPRDF has been making deafening noise about its fight against corruption. Does it mean it? We will find out. One thing is clear. That is the government is admitting that its officials and members have plagued the country with corruption. It is also telling us that it is winning the fight. Anyone that has closely observed it is quick to doubt that EPRDF is serious.
Full article here: http://www.goolgule.com/is-there-connection-between-corruption-and-democracy
11.3.2017 Final Preparations for the Bigger Stage, Solomon Goshu, Ethiopian Reporter
The ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and opposition parties have recently put their differences aside and have agreed to come to a roundtable to find ways of redeeming the already tense political environment. The parties have so far been discussing on modalities of negotiation, which would serve them as a bylaw for their future dialogue. Nonetheless, the parties are finding it hard to agree on some points, which would be the legal framework. Read more
7.3.2017 Sources: In a rare move, EPRDF postpones its Congress to 2018, Daniel Berhane, HornAffairs
The ruling party EPRDF (Ethiopian peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front) postponed its Congress to 2018. The respective Congresses of the four member parties will be delayed likewise. According to a senior official of the EPRDF speaking to HornAffairs, there is “a consensus to delay the next Congress” which should have taken place in September 2017. Another senior official confirmed the delay and indicated, the Congress will likely take place in February or March 2018. The two officials spoke to HornAffairs on condition of anonymity since the party have not announced the matter yet.
It is not clear whether the decision to postpone was formally approved by the 180 member EPRDF Council which is primarily responsible for organising the Congress. The bylaw of the party stipulate the Congress shall convene every two and two-and-half years and allows for a one time six months extension. However, the party rarely waited that long to convene the Congress. The EPRDF Congress have been regularly held exactly every two years in the months of August – September for the past two decades. The only time the party skipped that tradition was in 2012, when the chairperson Meles Zenawi suddenly passed away. That Congress eventually took place in March 2013. Yet, the subsequent Congress was held in August 2015. The next Congress will be the second one to be delayed in recent memory.
Party officials told HornAffairs that the delay is needed to exhaustively complete the “deep reform” process without being distracted by pre – Congress works. The EPRDF Congress is attended by about a thousand delegates representing the four member parties of the EPRDF. While the EPRDF Congress is mostly ceremonial, it is preceded by the Congresses of the member parties where the leadership of the respective parties are selected. The EPRDF Council and Excutive Committee are delegated by the corresponding organs of each member parties.
The ruling party is evidently wary of the scale of consensus within the leadership and with the lower level officials. The preparatory works of the party Congresses, including the selection of the attendees, is carefully conducted and most issues are determined in advance. However, even in normal times, surprises are not uncommon. In 2015, the Congress of TPLF/EPRDF took five days and half, as the debate couldn’t be concluded in two days as planned. There is a high likelihood of similar power struggle and display of discontent if the Congresses of the EPRDF and the member parties were to be held today.
7.3.2017 “In-depth reform in progress as per directions set forth,” EPRDF. Waltainfo
The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) Executive Committee evaluated its in-depth reform and ascertained that it is in the right truck as per the directions set forth the council. It has approved the integrated accomplishment of in-depth reform mobilization and good governance tasks emphasizing those coming in-depth reform mobilizations to be conducted in the same way. In a press release the Office of EPRDF Council sent to WIC, the Executive Committee has also evaluated the performances of the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) in the past one and half year.
In its two days sitting from March 6-7/2017, the executive committee also ensured the finalization of the identification and registration of youngsters who seek jobs with full participation of the society and it put direction for its implementation. According to the press release, the Executive Committee has also approved the continuity of the country’s fast, sustainable economic growth. The manufacturing industry has grown by 18.4 percent in 2015/16 due to the emerging of new industrial investments in the country, it stated, adding that the activities to realize economic structure transformation through accelerating the development of manufacturing industries. It also stated that about 13 industrial parks are under efficient performances and efforts are exerted to accomplish many of the mega projects in the second GTP period.
The Executive Committee urged the people to maximizing their participation in strengthening the in-depth reform and performing the second GTP successfully, WIC learnt.
7.3.2017 Oromo-Politiker drohen 10 Jahre Haft. Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, entwicklungspolitik online
Göttingen. - Die Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (GfbV) hat am Dienstag an Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel appelliert, sich bei der äthiopischen Regierung für die Freilassung des inhaftierten Oppositionspolitikers Merera Gudina einzusetzen. Merkel hatte Gudina bei ihrer Äthiopien-Reise im Oktober 2016 getroffen. Später war der Vorsitzende des Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) nach Europa gereist und nach seiner Rückkehr aus Deutschland am 1. Dezember 2016 verhaftet worden. Gegen ihn wurde am vergangenen Freitag in Addis Abeba ein Gerichtsverfahren eröffnet, das am 9. März fortgesetzt wird. Er ist wegen Unterstützung von "Terrorismus" angeklagt. Ihm drohen bis zu zehn Jahre Haft, berichtet die GfbV.
"Wir begrüßen es, wenn die Bundeskanzlerin auf Staatsbesuchen mit Vertretern der Zivilgesellschaft zusammentrifft. Wer diese engagierten Fürsprecher für mehr Demokratisierung wirklich stärken will, muss ihnen dann aber auch beistehen, wenn sie in Not sind", sagte der GfbV-Afrikareferent Ulrich Delius. "Gudina ist eine bedeutende Stimme der verfolgten Oromo und der äthiopischen Zivilgesellschaft. Seine drohende Verurteilung zeigt, wie katastrophal die Menschenrechtslage in Äthiopien noch immer ist."
Die GfbV rief auch die EU-Außenministerin Federica Mogherini dazu auf, sich für die Freilassung Gudinas zu engagieren. Denn dem Oppositionspolitiker wird von den Behörden vorgeworfen, bei einer Konferenz im Europaparlament mit äthiopischen Oppositionellen zusammengetroffen zu sein, die von Äthiopiens Regierung als vermeintliche „Terroristen“ angesehen werden. „Europa sollte ein großes Interesse daran haben, dass Merera Gudinas Stimme nicht verstummt“, erklärte Delius. "Er gilt als einer der engagiertesten Vertreter der unterdrückten Oromo, der größten Bevölkerungsgruppe des Landes, und als bedeutender Garant für mehr Demokratisierung."
Gudina wird außerdem vorgehalten, die Bestimmungen des Ausnahmezustandes verletzt zu haben, der im Oktober 2016 in Äthiopien nach monatelangen Protesten der Oromo gegen Menschenrechtsverletzungen verhängt worden war. Die Staatsanwaltschaft erklärte, er habe die „soziale, wirtschaftliche und politische Ordnung unter Missbrauch einer Partei demontieren“ wollen. Der Angeklagte beteuerte vor Gericht seine Unschuld.
Die meisten Politiker des OFC wurden wegen ihrer Kritik an der Regierungspolitik bereits verhaftet. Gudina galt als eine der letzten freien und noch hörbaren Stimmen der Oromo, die sich seit November 2015 mit öffentlichen Protesten gegen Landraub und die Einschränkung ihrer Menschenrechte wehren. Seither wurden mehr als 50.000 Oromo verhaftet, 1.957 Menschen starben bei der Niederschlagung von Protesten.
6.3.2017 Ethiopia Charges 76 Individuals with Terrorism. Mahlet Fasil, Addis Standard
As fresh terrorism charges against several individuals surge following the yearlong public protests that led to the current state of emergency, prosecutors in Ethiopia have today charged a group of 76 individuals with various articles of Ethiopia's infamous Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP).
According to the charges in the file name of Miftah Sheikh Surur, and was given to the 76 suspects this morning at the Federal High Court 19th Criminal Bench, the accused, who the charges allege were members of the "Eritrean based rebel group Patriotic G7," have participated and/or attempted to participate in several acts of terrorism in western Tigray zone of northern Ethiopia in places including, but not limited to, Metama, and Quwara; as well as in Woredas such as Wolkayit, Tsegede, & upper & lower Armachiho.
The charge, which was given to all the accused this morning, also states that the 76 were apprehended in Kafta Humara Woreda of western Tigray zone along with arms including 37 machine guns and hundreds of ammunitions, bombs and various types of military equipment. It further accuses the suspects of killing two security forces; attempt to violently overthrow the constitution; attempt to disrupt the import of oil from neighboring Sudan; attempt to establish a military base in Quwara woreda of western Tigray; and inciting civil servants to participate in recent anti-government protests in northern Ethiopia.
Protests in Amhara regional state in northern Ethiopia began in July 2016 when a confrontation between members of the "Wolkayit committee" and the police flared up as the later attempted to arrest leaders of the committee.
In what several members of the 'Wolkayit community' in north western Ethiopia say was a forced decision by the federal government, the Wolkayit people were made to join the Humera administrative zone in Tigray regional state following the ethnic based federal arrangements of the early 1990s. However, community members continued protesting saying the decision was not only an administrative decision but also one that affects their question of identity.
The incident turned into subsequent deadly protests in several parts of major cities in the Amhara regional state including Gonder and Bahir Dar, a popular tourist destination and the region's capital respectively, which in turn led to sustained armed movements that are still ongoing in various parts of the region.
In January 2017 prosecutors have brought terrorism charges against activist Nigist Yirga, who was seen wearing a T-shirt reading "the People of Amhara are not terrorists," during the protests. Nigist is charged with five others and is appearing at the Federal
The Federal High Court 19th Criminal Bench adjourned the next hearing for Miftah Sheikh Surur et.al on March 08, during which the court will read the charges to the accused. The court also ordered the police to hand over the accused to the federal prison administration. AS
4.3.2017 EPRDF Executive Committee Meeting This Week. ezega.com
The Executive Committee of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has begun its regular meeting today, according to FBC. In its meeting, the Committee will put directions after evaluating progress of the ongoing deep-reform program and first half performance of this fiscal year, which is the second year of the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II) period. The Committee will see in detail the progress of the directions set by the government to continue the deep-reform program down at the civil servants and the public levels.
The Executive Committee will further put directions on how to continue the dialogue launched with legally organized political parties. It will also evaluate progress of activities started to create jobs for the youth. The Committee will further evaluate socio-economic, development, good governance, democracy and macroeconomic performances, including the participations and benefits of women and the youth. The meeting will continue tomorrow, according to office of the EPRDF. (FBC)
4.3.2017 Twenty-two national political parties including the ruling party, EPRDF reached agreement on the basic agendas of the negotiation. ENA
Having set their primary goals of the final objectives of the negotiation, the parties have come to a consensus yesterday. EPRDF has invited national parties for dialogue so as to improve their contribution to the national development, following the in-depth reform it has made. Accepting the invitation, 21 political parties have registered for the dialogue and have been discussing on the modality of the negotiation.
Shiferaw Shigute, executive member of the EPRDF who led the meeting due to agreement reached among the parties earlier, said that all the parties have agreed on five objectives of the negotiation, including on the principle of addressing barriers to multi-party system. Accordingly, the parties have agreed to use the various issues that will be raised during the negotiation as an input in amending and improving some of the rules that exhibit a short coming. Shiferaw said that rectifying weaknesses; strengthening the relationship between political parties and their role in peace and democratization; enable the public make knowledgeable discussion, knowing the alternatives proposed by the parties; and contribute to national consensus, are mentioned as agendas agreed by the parties.
The parties set to meet on 9 March, 2017 to discuss and approve on the draft document for the negotiation.
4.3.2017 Political parties haggle over modalities, Yonas Abiye, Ethiopian Reporter
The ruling party and 21 opposition political parties have continued thrashing out pre-negotiation modalities. Putting their differences aside, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and opposition parties have recently agreed to come to a roundtable to find ways of nurturing the political environment. The parties met on Friday at the Defense Hall of the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) to discuss modalities of negotiation, which would serve them as a bylaw for their future dialogue.
However, at their earlier discussion, the parties could not agree on the rules while they were able to come to consensus on the objectives of the bylaw, which would be the legal framework. Participant parties have been debating on the nature of the rule, with some arguing the rule should address exclusively negotiation while others, including the ruling party, demanded it should also include debate and discussion. Shiferaw Shigutie, a member of the EPRDF Central Committee, as well as Asmelash Woldesilassie and Abdulaziz Mohamed, chaired the meeting. Opposition parties were represented by senior officials. Some, including Beyene Petros of Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum a.k.a. Medrek and Chanie Kebede (PhD) of Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP), opposed the inclusion of debate and dialogue on the rule while others, including the ruling party, argued that the inclusion of the two terms will not affect future negotiations. After a heated debate, the parties agreed to continue their dialogue, and hold the next session on Thursday, March 9, 2017. Meanwhile, after a long debate the parties agreed on four specific objectives of the rule.
A week ago, of the 22 political parties that took part on Friday’s meeting, 20 of them were able to present their specific agendas. But the majority of these parties were unable to come up with details of the dialogue, except EPRDF, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek) and Gadda System Advancement Party. The majority of the parties, except Medrek, reflected similar views with EPRDF regarding the parties that will participate in the dialogue.
EPRDF proposed all peaceful and legal political parties registered by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia to take part at the dialogue, including regional parties that have seats at regional state councils. Medrek, however, insisted only six parties participate at the dialogue as leading negotiators, namely Medrek, Ethiopian Social Democratic Party, Southern Coalition Unity Party, Oromo Federalist Congress, All Ethiopia Unity Party (AEUP) and Blue Party.
As far as the number of representatives of the parties is concerned, the ruling party suggested each party to have four representatives. Other parties recommended each political party send three representatives. Regarding the quorum, EPRDF said a dialogue can go ahead if more than half of members of the negotiating parties are present. But six other parties, including AEUP, argued that three and more of their 11 negotiators should be present to make the proceedings of that dialogue valid.
As far as agendas of the dialogue are concerned, EPRDF said that each party can present its own agenda. But Mederk suggested agendas for the dialogue to be presented by the six leading negotiating parties.
3.3.2017 Ethiopia Honors Individuals, Security Officers for Preventing Planned Attacks. ezega.com
Ethiopia says some 118 individuals and security officers were awarded in recognition to their outstanding acts of bravery in thwarting planned terror attacks allegedly attempted by 1,071 anti-peace forces against Ethiopia after infiltrating via western Tigray zone from Eritrea, according to FBC. Tekyou Meteko, deputy commander and head of security sector of zone, told FBC today that they were given the awards in recognitions for their contribution in exposing anti-peace forces and maintaining peace in the zone. As a result of the joint efforts with the community, these members of anti-peace forces were arrested while they were trying to enter into the central part of the country. Meanwhile, 1,085 anti-peace elements engaged in leaking information for the Eritrean government and criminal activities were also brought to justices in partnership with the residents, he said. The 118 individuals and security officers were given money prizes and recognition yesterday. (FBC)
3.3.2017 Despite nationwide state of emergency, several border incursions leave more than 100 dead in east and south east Ethiopia. Addis Standard
Despite a six month nationwide state of emergency declared in Oct. 2016 and hoped to restore a military style law and order throughout the country, weeks-long cross border incursions by armed militiamen into many localities in eastern and southern part of Oromia, (bordering the Ethiopian Somali regional state, in east and south east Ethiopia) have left more than 100 people dead and the destruction of unknown amount of properties, a local resident said in a phone interview with Addis Standard.
According to Abdurrahman Dubaa, a resident of Chinaksan town in east Hararghe, some 630km east of the capital Addis Abeba, many of the militiamen conducting cross border raids in various localities, including Chinaksan, Babile, Gursum and several other villages, are members of the Liyu Police, a special paramilitary force set up by the Somali regional state with the help of the federal government to counter rebel groups operating in the restive Ogaden region in eastern Ethiopia, and are stationed in and around Ethiopia’s Somali regional state.
The border incursions have also affected areas in West Hararghe especially Bordede woreda, “where more than 30 civilians were killed overnight on Wed. Feb 22,” according to Abdurrahman. In south east of Ethiopia, some 450 km off the capital Addis Abeba, similar incidents have occurred in Bale zone in Swena, Meda Wolabu and Dawe Serer woredas, among others; as well as in Liben and Gumii Edelo woredas in Guji Zone of the Oromia regional state in southern Ethiopia. Abdurrahman further said that the number of people killed so far in various places in the last two weeks only was well “over 100.”
Admitting the incursions, Addisu Arega Kitessa, bureau head of the Oromia government communication affairs office, wrote on his Facebook page that armed militiamen “coming from the Somali regional state have engaged in military raids inside these woredas on several occasions.” Addisu further stated that the reason for these incursions by the armed militiamen was twofold. “The first is border expansion,” he wrote, “There are incidents that after crossing over to these areas, the armed militiamen engage in acts of hoisting the Ethiopian Somali regional state flag claiming the areas to be part of the Somali regional state,” he said.
The second reason is economic, according to Addisu. “After attacking the areas, these armed militiamen engage in looting of properties.” He further admitted that “lives were lost” in the last two months, but fail short of mentioning the exact number. He also fail short of identifying who exactly these armed militiaman were. However, he cautioned that the incidents have nothing to do with the people of both regions and the regional governments, adding, both the Oromia and the Ethiopian Somali regional governments were trying to “solve the matter peacefully”. Members of the command post tasked to implement the state of emergency were called to intervene in some areas, according to Addisu.
When asked by Addis Standard if the presence of members of the command post was helping to contain these deadly border incursions, Abdurrahman simply said, “[they are] becoming part of the problem than the solution.” Abdurrahman claimed there were several incidents where members of the command post have fired at civilians, a claim Addis Standard could not corroborate due to lack of sources willing to come forth.
In a statement sent to Addis Standard, an organization called Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, said, in the past six months “hundreds of Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police…have entered into Oromia villages, attacked and killed and abducted hundreds of Oromos and looted properties; over 750 goats, sheep, and camels were taken.” The organization claims the number of people killed in recent skirmishes is more than 200.
On Thursday March 02, during a televised meeting of Caffee Oromia, the region’s parliament, which was chaired by Lemma Megerssa, president of the region, several members of the parliament were seen voicing their frustrations in what they indisputably asserted were the “violence and killings perpetrated” by the Liyu Police, but also by members of the federal police force, on several villages bordering the two regions. “
In addition to being one of food insecurity prone areas, the boundary between the two neighboring regional states has been a hotly contested affair both before and after the Oct. 2004 border referendum, which was held to determine the residents’ choice for administrative status of border kebeles.
The referendum was conducted in 420 Kebeles located in 12 different Woredas across five zones of the Somali Regional state. Official results of the referendum say residents in close to 80% of the disputed areas have voted to be under the administration of the Oromia regional state. Addisu Arega Kitessa asserts the result of the referendum are “final” and will not be altered. But claims alleging voting irregularities persist. And subsequent ethnic conflicts have led to the displacement in late 2004 and early 2005 of more than 80,000 people on both sides.
Although to a lesser extent, clashes between the two communities triggered by meager resources have remained the hallmark in many Kebeles located in border areas between the two regions.
It is in the backdrop of this that the Somali regional state special force, known in Amharic as Liyu Police, was formed in 2007. The presence of this special force, established to counter threats from the secessionist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) is often associated with several accounts of abuse against both ethnic Somalis thought to support ONLF and the Oromos by holding cross border raids for the purpose of territorial expansion and resource looting.
A report in May 2012 by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the special force of “summarily” executing 10 men “during a March 2012 operation in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region.” “The Liyu police have been implicated in numerous serious abuses against civilians throughout the Somali region in the context of counterinsurgency operations,” it says.
“The purpose of Liyu Police is double edged,” says a professor of political science at the Addis Abeba University (AAU) who wants to remain anonymous. “It serves both as the savior of the regional state from ONLF’s encroachment and the safeguard of territorial expansion of the Somali regional state into the Oromia regional state across the border between the two regions. The Liyu police serves both these purposes with an extreme sense of impunity,” the professor said.
Although officials of the Somali regional state claim that the Liyu Police was established in “accordance [with] police proclamation that emanate from the national constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE),” the exact legal and constitutional status of the force remains a perplexing enigma.
Commenting on his Facebook page on Sunday Feb 26, a pro-government blogger and editor at Horn Affairs, Daniel Berhane, said, “The Somali regional state should be told in clear language that it should refrain from its irresponsible acts. To this end, the federal government should discharge its responsibilities.” According to Daniel, although several factors determine the recent clashes, “it is clear that there were disproportional use of force by the Liyu Police in several areas.”
Shedding light on the highly contested status of the Liyu Police, Daniel said, “There should be a check on the discipline, organizational structure and political imperative of the Liyu Police.”
Back in Chinaksan, residents have once again took to the streets last week and have blocked roads “to prevent the Liyu police from coming in,” Abdurrahman Dubaa said. As of Monday this week, federal forces enforcing the current state of emergency have taken control of the city’s security and are “searching homes of residents, detaining young people and taking them to unknown locations,” he said.
What triggered the latest incursions is not clear, and so far, there has been no statement both from the federal government and the Somali regional state. AS
3.3.2017 Ethiopia's Oromo leader requests separate trial, bail hearing set for March 9, Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, africanews.com
Dr Merera Gudina, leader of Ethiopia’s main opposition, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), appeared in court for the first time since charges of terrorism were brought against him on February 23, 2017. According to the Addis Standard news portal, the case was adjourned to March 9 after his charges were read to him. At the next date, the court is expected to decide on a bail request filed by his lawyers. He was twice denied bail by the courts in the lead up to the terrorism charges that were levelled against him. At the time, prosecutors maintained that they needed time to gather evidence for charges.
The news portal further reports that the OFC leader also requested for a seperate trial aside from the two other persons charged with him. He was charged with Jawar Mohammed, a popular Oromo activist and Executive Director of the Oromia Media network and opposition member Berhanu Nega. The two others were sentenced in absentia.
3.3.2017 Ethiopians thwart the attack attempts on GERD, Waltainfo
Ethiopians thwarted the attack attempts of armed groups against the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project located on the Blue Nile River in the Benishangul Regional State. Twenty of the members of the groups were “completely annihilated,” State Minister Zadig Abraha told Bloomberg. A total of 13 members from the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement were killed by Ethiopian security, while seven members fled to Sudan before authorities caught up to them. The report indicated that the Sudanese Government returned them to Ethiopian. The individuals had traveled from Eritrea to the dam in order to act out their attack, Zadig told.
The dam’s construction began in April 2011, costing about $5 billion for the entire project fully funded by Ethiopian people and government. (waterpowermagazine.com)
2.3.2017 Ethiopia and Eritrea Trade Accusations Over Grand Dam ‘Attack’. Conor Gaffey, Newsweek
Eritrea has denied any involvement in an alleged plan to attack an under-construction Ethiopian dam, which is set to become the biggest hydropower dam in Africa.
Ethiopia’s deputy government spokesman, Zadig Abrha, told the state-run Fana Broadcasting Corporation that 20 members of an Eritrean rebel movement—known as the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement—had been apprehended while attempting to attack the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Abrha said that Ethiopian security forces killed 13 of the rebels, while seven fled into neighboring Sudan. But the Ethiopian government spokesman said that Sudan had handed the rebels over and they were now in Ethiopian custody. Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel told Bloomberg News that the accusation that his country sponsored the group “is preposterous and peddled for some sinister reason.” Gebremeskel added that he had “never heard of this group.” (…)
Construction began on the GERD project, which is being built in the Benishangul Gumuz region close to the border with Sudan, in 2011. The project is set to cost $6.4 billion and is due for completion in 2018, according to Bloomberg. The project has been a source of tension between Ethiopia and Egypt, with the latter saying that the dam could reduce the amount of Nile water flowing into Egypt. The presidents of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed an initial agreement in 2015 to end the dispute and allow Ethiopia to continue with construction, but Egypt has continued to express its concerns. Ethiopia has received backing for the project from five other Nile Basin countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The Horn of Africa country wants to do away with a 1929 treaty, orchestrated by the British, that gives Egypt a veto on any projects relating to the Nile by upstream countries.
- Economics -
22.3.2017 Addis Ababa City Introduces Ration Coupons at ECA Stores, Ezega news
Addis Ababa City Administration said today that it has introduced a coupon retailing method at Ethiopian Consumers Association branch shops to ensure a fair distribution of basic goods among the city residents, according to Walta. Following the government salary adjustment made to public servants recently, the private shops across the city have exponentially raised the price tags of consumer goods such as edible oil, sugar and fruits. The Bureau’s intent to introduce a coupon transaction to make sure that subsidized consumer goods reached to the residents and to avoid ways that these goods channeled to private business, which could in turn bring back price burden on the residents.
Addis Ababa City Administration Spokesperson, Tilahun Gbere-egzabir, told Walta Information Center that coupons distributed among the residents and they can be able to buy from Association shops with reasonable price. He said that the coupon system would possibly avoid the transfer of goods from associations' shops to private ones. He said that the price hike has nothing to do the salary adjustment. According to him, the Bureau shall take measures on greed-motivated business people who unfairly raise the price tag of most frequented goods, if they failed to normalize the price. (Walta)
- Sport -
7.3.2017 The Ethiopia protesters’ struggle moves to the athletics track. Kalkidan Yibeltal, nazret.com
As she crossed the finish line in Sabadell, Spain, on 7 February, Ethiopian star athlete Genzebe Dibaba had attained her sixth world record. After a disappointing silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics, running the fastest 2,000 metres ever for a woman marked a good start to the year.
However, Genzebe’s triumph caught the attention of many of her compatriots for political rather than sporting reasons.
As she celebrated her victory, someone from the cheering crowd threw a flag at her. Genzebe picked it up, but immediately realised that the horizontal tricolour of green, yellow and red lacked something in the middle: the flaring yellow star on a blue disc. She quickly dropped the flag and waved to her fans instead.
A similar incident had occurred in the January Dubai marathon in which Ethiopian athletes won a clean-sweep. In the glow of that victory, the women’s race winner Worknesh Degefa was handed a non-starred flag, which she also swiftly discarded.
These incidents stirred some controversy, but they would have stirred much more if the athletes hadn’t acted so promptly – not least because a 2009 Ethiopian law bans citizens from displaying the unstarred flag.
The current Ethiopian flag was introduced by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF) in 1996 as it ushered the country towards a federal system of government organised along ethno-linguistic lines. The star – added onto the plain tricolour – was meant to symbolise the ethnic and religious diversity embraced by the new structure. But some nationalists renounced this modified version, claiming the EPRDF’s system undermines Ethiopian unity.
Some have thus come to see the older non-starred flag as an emblem of a bygone era and symbol of protest. In 2014, US-based activists tried to lower the official flag at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. Two years later, activists succeeded in changing the official banner with a non-starred one at the Embassy in London. And the old flag became a clear sign of resistance when the Amhara, the country’s second largest sub-nation, joined the Oromo, the largest, in protesting against the government in 2016.
Global sporting events have also provided a strategic site for these symbolic struggles. As sports journalist Elshadai Negash points out, the convergence of sport and politics in Ethiopia goes back decades, with the country boycotting the Olympics in 1976, 1984 and 1988. But while these previous actions were led by the government of the time, sporting events today are more likely to be used for political purposes by activists to oppose the government.
After winning the 10km race in the UK in 2013, for instance, Guddina Dabale defiantly flew a flag often associated with the Oromo Liberation Front, an outlawed secessionist group. And as protest intensified in Ethiopia from late-2015, big international sporting events became a useful space to increase the visibility of dissent against the government.
The apex in this intersection between Ethiopian athletics and politics so far has been the marathon event at the Rio Olympics. At the finish line of that race, silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa crossed his wrists over his head, a gesture widely used by the Oromo protesters. His lead was followed by others, including Tamiru Demisse who made the signal, which symbolises being handcuffed, as he competed in the 1,500 meters event at the Rio Paralympics.
For Feyisa, who is now resident in the US claiming his life would be in jeopardy if he returned home, global sporting stages provide an invaluable opportunity to draw widespread attention to injustices. “Athletes like me, who have the chance to go abroad for competition, when they get such an international stage like this and win, they need to speak out,” he told the German broadcaster DW.
Indeed, Feyisa’s actions made international headlines as activists in the diaspora capitalised on the moment to highlight their cause, generating plenty of coverage. Feyisa “opened so many doors that we’ve been knocking on for years”, noted Mohammed Ademo, an Oromo activist and US-based founder of Opride.
Politics meets sport
With the actions of certain athletes providing a public relations nightmare for the Ethiopian government, several prominent athletes back home have spoken out against the politicisation of sport.
Three-time Olympic gold medallist Kenenisa Bekele, for example, appeared on the state broadcaster to denounce athletes who made political statements, saying “politics and athletics do not go together”. Meanwhile, double Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie, who now heads the country’s athletics federation, has warned that he will take harsh measures against any erring athletes.
Haile had previously invited criticism for commenting that “democracy is a luxury”. But Sileshi Sehen, an Olympic silver medallist and chair of the Ethiopian athletes association, argues that Haile is ultimately guided by what is best for the competitors. “He was an athlete for many years; he understands all the pressure that comes from different sides,” he says.
According to Girma Gutema, an Oromo activist based in Norway, there is a divide between many of today’s athletes and previous cohorts. “The new generation of Ethiopian athletes are relatively more educated, vibrant and visible on social media [than many] politicians in the ruling party”, he says.
But as the examples of Genzebe and Worknesh quickly dropping the unstarred flag demonstrate, not all of Ethiopia’s current athletes want to use their profile to protest. While athletics is proving useful for politics, politics is proving awkward for many sportspeople.
“Athletics is evolving into being a divisive rather than a unifying affair,” says an Ethiopian sports journalist who asked to remain anonymous. “And I am not sure if the athletes are enjoying this. From what I know, many of them would very much like to avoid any form of controversy, political or otherwise.”
Nevertheless, as discontent continues to simmer in Ethiopia, the global stage and attention provided by athletics events may remain an irresistible opportunity for activists to express political messages. As the state of emergency remains in place, it is one of the few avenues for protesters to still be seen and heard, says Girma, “so long as the government continues to muzzle the political space for the expression of dissent”.
- Horn of Africa and Foreign Affairs -
16.3.2017 Ethiopia reports deadly raid by gunmen from South Sudan, Aljazeera
Murle bandits allegedly crossed into Ethiopia's Gambella region and killed 28 people before fleeing with 43 children.
More than 1,000 gunmen from South Sudan have killed 28 people and kidnapped 43 children in neighbouring Ethiopia, according to a government official. Chol Chany, a regional government spokesman, said on Wednesday the raids occurred on Sunday and Monday in Gambella region's Gog and Jor areas, which border South Sudan's Boma region. "Murle bandits carried out the attack. They fled along with 43 children," Chany told Reuters news agency, using a term for a local ethnic group. "The [Ethiopian military] is pursuing them. The assailants haven't crossed over to South Sudan yet."
According to AP news agency, Mawien Makol Arik, spokesman for South Sudan's foreign ministry, was aware of fighting in Gambella. He said Ethiopian troops have not crossed the border into South Sudan in pursuit of the accused attackers.
Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi, reporting from Kenya's Nairobi, said it was a challenge to get information from Gambella because it was a very remote area and telephone network was "very patchy". "It is not really a surprise that we are hearing about the incident days later," she said. She also said that such cross-border attacks were common, but the magnitude of the latest raids were raising concerns in Ethiopia.
The latest raids took place almost a year after similar attacks in the province's Jikawo and Lare areas, which border South Sudan's Upper Nile State. Then, more than 200 people died and about 160 children were kidnapped. About 100 children have managed to return to Ethiopia, but the rest remain in the kidnappers' hands, Chany said.
Oil-rich South Sudan has been mired in a civil war since President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, in December 2013. The resulting conflict has split the country along largely ethnic lines and forced more than three million people to flee their homes. More than one million of them have found refuge in neighbouring countries, especially Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. Gambella alone is currently hosting up to 300,000 South Sudanese refugees.
15.3.2017 Ethiopia’s GERD dam will make Egypt’s Nile delta sink under the Med, study says, Global Construction Review
It may be Ethiopia’s symbol of national pride, but the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built for hydroelectric power on the Blue Nile will have grave and unexpected consequences for its downstream neighbour, Egypt, according to a report published in the US.
The multi-year study of Egypt’s Nile Delta estimates that GERD could reduce the flow of water to Egypt by as much as 25%, restricting its fresh water supply and diminishing its ability to generate power. These are already matters of contention between the two countries, but the study published by the Geological Society of America (GSA) flags up another, unexpected risk – that of the eventual submerging of parts of the low-lying Nile Delta region under the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
In their paper published in the journal, GSA Today, Jean-Daniel Stanley and Pablo L. Clemente argue that GERD’s restriction of Nile-born silt onto the delta, combined with sinking of the delta due to natural seismic compaction, could mean that parts of delta surface now above sea level will be underwater by the end of this century. The scientists call for some form of arbitration by regional or global bodies to be applied to the “delicate situation”. They worry, too, about the wider region, where some 400 million people live in the 10 countries along the Nile, with some now already experiencing severe droughts and unmet energy needs and “a multitude of economic, political, and demographic problems”.
The soil-rich delta evolved as the result of natural conditions involving the Nile’s fresh water flow and transport of sediment northward from Ethiopia, across Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean. About 70% of water flow reaching Egypt is derived from the Blue Nile and Atbara rivers, both sourced in Ethiopia.
Over the past 200 years, rapidly increasing human activity has seriously altered flow conditions of the Nile. Emplacement in Egypt of barrages in the 1800s, construction of the Aswan Low Dam in 1902, and the Aswan High Dam in 1965 have since altered water flow and distribution of nourishing organic-rich soil in the delta.
Egypt’s population has rapidly swelled to about 90 million, with most living in the soil-rich Lower Nile Valley and Delta. These two areas comprise only about 3.5% of Egypt’s total area, the remainder being mostly desert.
Due to much-intensified human impact, the delta no longer functions as a naturally expanding fluvial-coastal centre.
Less than 10% of Nile water now reaches the sea, and most of the nutrient-rich sediment is trapped in the delta by a dense canal and irrigation system.
The low-lying delta plain is only about 1m above present sea level. The northern third of the delta is lowering at the rate of about 4-to-8mm per year due to compaction of strata underlying the plain, seismic motion, and the lack of sufficient new sediment to re-nourish the delta margin being eroded by Mediterranean coastal currents. While the coastal delta margin is being lowered, sea level is also rising at a rate of about 3mm per year. Delta lowering and sea-level rise thus accounts for submergence of about 1cm per year. At present rates, saline intrusion is now reaching agricultural terrains in central delta sectors, and the scientists say parts of delta surface will be underwater by the year 2100.
Ethiopia, itself energy-poor and undergoing drought conditions, is nearing completion of GERD, the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa. The large reservoir behind the dam is to be filled over a period lasting up to seven years, during which it is expected that the amount of Nile flow to the delta will be reduced by as much as 25%, the scientists say. This down-river decrease of Nile fresh water will produce “grave conditions”, they add.
Water and food shortages
Without GERD, the Nile supplies around 97% of Egypt’s present water needs, with only 660 cubic meters per person, one of the world’s lowest annual per capita water shares. With a population expected to continue surging, Egypt is projected to experience critical fresh water and food shortages. “It is hoped that rather than resorting to threats and military action, some form of arbitration by regional or global bodies be applied to the delicate situation,” the authors write.
“Increased Land Subsidence and Sea-Level Rise are Submerging Egypt’s Nile Delta Coastal Margin”, was written by Jean-Daniel Stanley, Senior Scientist Emeritus, and Pablo L. Clemente, Research Fellow, Mediterranean Basin (MEDIBA) Project, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. It is available to view here.
1.3.2017 U.S. Wary of Its New Neighbor in Djibouti: A Chinese Naval Base, GEESKA AFRICA online
DJIBOUTI. (…) China is constructing its first overseas military base here — just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, one of the Pentagon’s largest and most important foreign installations. (…) Established after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Camp Lemonnier is home to 4,000 personnel. Some are involved in highly secretive missions, including targeted drone killings in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, and the raid last month in Yemen that left a member of the Navy SEALs dead. The base, which is run by the Navy and abuts Djibouti’s international airport, is the only permanent American military installation in Africa. Beyond surveillance concerns, United States officials, citing the billions of dollars in Chinese loans to Djibouti’s heavily indebted government, wonder about the long-term durability of an alliance that has served Washington well in its global fight against Islamic extremism. Just as important, experts say, the base’s construction is a milestone marking Beijing’s expanding global ambitions — with potential implications for America’s longstanding military dominance.
“It’s a huge strategic development,” said Peter Dutton, professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, who has studied satellite imagery of the construction. “It’s naval power expansion for protecting commerce and China’s regional interests in the Horn of Africa,” Professor Dutton said. “This is what expansionary powers do. China has learned lessons from Britain of 200 years ago.” Chinese officials play down the significance of the base, saying it will largely support antipiracy operations that have helped quell the threat to international shipping once posed by marauding Somalis. “The support facility will be mainly used to provide rest and rehabilitation for the Chinese troops taking part in escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, U.N. peacekeeping and humanitarian rescue,” the Defense Ministry in Beijing said in a written reply to questions. (…)
A low-rise encampment built adjacent to a new Chinese-owned commercial port, the 90-acre base is designed to house up to several thousand troops and will include storage structures for weapons, repair facilities for ships and helicopters, and five berths for commercial ships and one for military vessels. (…)
American officials say they were blindsided by Djibouti’s decision, announced last year, to give China a 10-year lease for the land. Just two years earlier, Susan Rice, the national security adviser under President Barack Obama, had flown here to head off a similar arrangement with Russia. Shortly afterward, the White House announced a 20-year lease renewal that doubled its annual payments for Camp Lemonnier, to $63 million, and a plan to invest more than $1 billion to upgrade the installation. (…)
In interviews, Djiboutian officials expressed little concern that two strategic adversaries would be sharing space in a country the size of New Jersey. It helps that the Chinese are paying $20 million a year in rent on top of the billions they are spending to finance critical infrastructure, including ports and airports, a new rail line and a pipeline that will bring desperately needed drinking water from neighboring Ethiopia. Critics say the surge of loans, which amount to 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, raises concerns about China’s leverage over the Djibouti government should it fall behind on debt payments. “Such generous credit is itself a form of control,” said Mohamed Daoud Chehem, a prominent government critic. “We don’t know what China’s intentions really are.” (…)
The plethora of foreign troops, some say, also served as a bulwark against the jihadist violence that has destabilized other countries in the region. Djibouti, whose population of 900,000 embraces a moderate form of Sunni Islam, has not been entirely spared: In 2014, a double suicide bombing at a downtown restaurant popular with foreigners killed a Turkish national and wounded 11 people. The Shabab, the Somali-based militant group, later claimed responsibility, saying the attack was motivated by the presence of so many Western troops in Djibouti. (…)
Source: New York Times
Zahlreiche weitere Informationen zur Konkurrenz internationaler Mächte und regionaler Akteure am Horn von Afrika sowie zu möglichen Konflikteskalationen gibt es bei Andrew Korybko, Oriental Review: Hybrid Wars 8: In The Horn Of Africa (IIB), 2 December 2016