Seven Days Update, Vol. 22 No. 52

von Redakteur

Ethiopia's sole opposition member of parliament said he would not run in the May elections and that his party would not field candidates because of state meddling in the party's leadership, casting a new shadow over the vote. Rights groups have criticized the government for stifling dissent in the media and detaining opponents in the run-up to the elections.  The government has denied all the charges.

The government has stopped issuing entry visas to visitors from its immigration office at Bole  International Airport. The government said the visas will from now on be given by the Ethiopian consular offices in the countries from where tourists are coming. The announcement said this arrangement is intended to check on people coming into the country in the next two months to observe the elections. It is suspected that a number of human rights activists as well as international media agents are planning to come to Ethiopia disguised as tourists, and planning to produce negative documentary films and reportage (Ethio-Mihidar, March 10).

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will sign a document on March 23 on an Ethiopian dam being built on the Nile, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti said Saturday. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn have accepted an invitation from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to sign the document in Khartoum, he added upon arrival from Cairo. No information is yet available about the terms of the agreement. Karti had earlier said that it was an agreement on the principles of cooperation in the Nile Basin and the dam, now being constructed by Ethiopia. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, meanwhile, had said the document would open the door for more cooperation between the three states at the political and technical levels (World Bulletin, March 14).

The announcement of the name of the international consultancy firm which will conduct studies on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is delayed, state news agency. The announcement was due on March 9 but the delay comes at the request of the tripartite committee of experts from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, in order to "collect important data" on the firms over the next few days. A total of four consultancy firms presented bids to the three countries, which evaluated the bids separately (MENA, March 9).

Inflation in Ethiopia accelerated to 8.2% in Feb. from a year earlier due to higher prices for food items such as vegetables, fruit and meat, the statistics office said. Annual inflation in January was 7.7%. The CSA said food price inflation increased to 9.6% in Feb-, up from 7.1% the previous month. The non-food inflation rate dropped to 6.8% last month from 8.2% in Jan..

President Mulatu Teshome held discussions with the US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia M. Haslach, and Global Electric Transportation Ltd. Chief Executive Officer, Ken Monter, at the national palace. Ken Monter said the company would start building an assembly plant in Ethiopia in Sep., 2015. The assembly plant will have 4m USD starting capital. The exact location where the plant will be built is under study, the CEO said. The plant will produce 10,000 electric cars within three months. Ambassador Patricia M. Haslach said the cars will contribute to reduce car accidents in the country. President Mulatu said Ethiopia is working on expanding green economic development. The new plant should therefore be encouraged as it is going to produce carbon free cars, he added. He urged the company owners to implement the project quickly (WIC, March 10).

Ethiopia’s state-owned Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC) has, under its locomotive industry, started producing railcars to substitute them locally. METEC started manufacturing the railcars after finalizing the design and prototype, Major Nigusu Solomon, head of locomotive industry, explained. He added the trial prototype lasted four years. He said the plan is to substitute imported railcars to operate the railways it is constructing to connect with neighboring countries. The locally manufactured railcars will create links between small and medium industries. They will also create more jobs. The railcars will be designed to travel 160 km/hr and transport up to 1,300 persons. To meet the growing railcars demand, METEC will build another locomotive manufacturing industry in Dire Dawa city. According to Nigusu, constructing the plant will start in two months on 70 ha of land (WIC, March 10).

Ethiopia’s black-maned lions once represented a former emperor, "Lion of Judah" Haile Selassie, and were immortalized in a song by reggae legend Bob Marley. Today, they struggle for survival. A booming human population, widespread habitat destruction and growing livestock numbers mean the animal that once graced Ethiopia's flag - and is still a potent

symbol for Rastafarians through the song Iron Lion Zion - is on the wane. They live on in only small pockets of the Horn of Africa nation, and conservationists warn that without action, all that will remain of the powerful creatures are the stone sculptures and statues dotted in the flourishing capital, Addis Ababa (AFP, March 10).