Podcast Section

Oops: Trump Pulls Out of Big Summit With Kim After N. Korea Called US VP “Dummy”

A day after a high-ranking North Korean official called US Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” for comparing North Korea with Libya and threatened that it was up to the U.S. whether they will “meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown," the White House announced that President Donald Trump is calling off the much talked about meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un next month, citing the recent statement by the North. (Photo: Reuters)

Reuters

Trump scraps Kim summit, cites North Korea’s ‘open hostility’

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday called off a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un scheduled for next month, even after North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its nuclear test site.

Trump announced his abrupt withdrawal from what would have been a first-ever meeting between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12 in a letter to Kim.

A White House official said a North Korean official’s condemnation of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy” was “the last straw” that led to cancelling the summit.

“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote to Kim. “Please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.”

Trump called it “a missed opportunity” and said he still hoped to meet Kim someday. However, the chances for a quick rescheduling appear remote and cancellation of the summit will renew fears of a return to conflict on the Korean peninsula.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s cancellation of the summit.


North & South Korea Agree to End the Korean War in Historic Accord

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Barack & Michelle Obama Partner With Netflix to Produce Media Content

(Getty Images)

Reuters

LOS ANGELES – Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, have struck a deal to produce films and series for Netflix Inc, the streaming service said on Monday, giving the former first couple a powerful and unprecedented platform to shape their post-White House legacy.

Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas have the option to produce scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and feature films, Netflix said in a statement.

The Obamas will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others, said a person familiar with the deal.

Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed and the first of the programming is not expected to reach viewers until about May 2019, the person said.

The agreement between the Obamas and Netflix, which boasts some 125 million subscribers worldwide, is a first for any occupant of the White House…

The Obamas gave no details of the topics they planned to cover but the content is not expected to be directly political.

Barack Obama in a statement recalled the “fascinating people” from all walks of life that he had met during his eight years in office, ending in January 2017.


Netflix Forming Storytelling Partnership With Barack and Michelle Obama

Press Release

Hollywood, Calif., May 21, 2018 — President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series with Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service.

The Obamas will produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features. These projects will be available to the 125 million member Netflix households in 190 countries.

The Obamas have established Higher Ground Productions as the entity under which they will produce content for Netflix.

“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” said President Obama. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix – we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” said Mrs. Obama. “Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”

“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”

About Netflix:

Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with 125 million memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.


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Al-Amoudi Will Be Released Soon, PM Says

Al Amoudi has been detained in Saudi Arabia since November 2017 as part of a high profile anti-corruption probe. The billionaire businessman will return to Ethiopia "soon," announced Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who recently traveled to the oil kingdom and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “One of the reasons we went to Saudi Arabia was to ask the Saudi government to release Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi,” Abiy said. “We have made the request – we are sure that he will be released very soon.” (Photo: I-ARB Africa)

Middle East Monitor

Saudi Arabia will soon release Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, an Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire arrested in November during a crackdown on corruption, Ethiopia’s prime minister said.

Abiy Ahmed made the remarks late on Saturday after arriving from the Gulf kingdom, where he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a two-day visit.

Al Amoudi, a son of a Saudi father and an Ethiopian mother who has invested heavily in construction, agriculture and mining in the Horn of Africa country, was among 11 princes, four current ministers and top businessmen detained during the swoop by a new anti-corruption body.

“The incarceration of one Ethiopian is the incarceration of all Ethiopians. Sheikh Al Amoudi’s arrest is top in the agenda for all Ethiopians,” Abiy said in the capital Addis Ababa.

“We have made the request – we are sure that he will be released very soon,” he added in a townhall-style gathering.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia Lobbies for Release of Billionaire in Saudi Arabia (Bloomberg)

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Ethiopia Probes Killing of Dangote Cement Country Manager (Bloomberg)

Deep Kamra, the Ethiopia country manager of Dangote Cement Plc, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Wednesday along with his secretary and his driver near the factory north of Addis Ababa. The Company has faced opposition to its sourcing of raw materials. Kamra was an Indian national. The Indian Embassy in Addis Ababa said its providing all necessary assistance to return his body back home. (Photo: Reporter)

Bloomberg

Ethiopian authorities are investigating the murder of the country manager of Dangote Cement Plc, the manufacturer owned by Africa’s richest man, and two other staff.

Unidentified gunmen shot dead Deep Kamra, his secretary and his driver on Wednesday, Tariku Alemayehu, deputy manager for sales and marketing in Ethiopia, said by phone from the capital, Addis Ababa. The killings took place in broad daylight near Dangote’s factory in Mugher, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Addis Ababa, Group Executive Director Edwin Devakumar said by email from Lagos, Nigeria, where Dangote’s head office is based.

The assailants forced the driver to lose control by throwing a concrete block at the vehicle the three people were traveling in, before opening fire on the occupants, Devakumar said.

“Mr. Kamra tried to get out and escape,” he said. “They shot him in the leg. When he slumped into the jeep, they went near and shot him multiple times. Then they shot the driver and the secretary — also, each of them, multiple times. It was simply a massacre.”

Security forces are working to apprehend the suspects, according to a statement read on state-owned ETV.

Read more »


Related:
Gunmen kill Ethiopia country manager of Nigeria’s Dangote (Reuters)

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Reunited: Graduate From Ethiopia Relishes Mom’s Presence at Commencement

Roza Azene ‘18 graduated magna cum laude with honors after adjusting to life at Brandeis Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. (brandeis.edu)

Brandeis

Roza Muluken Azene ’18 was keenly aware of Commencement’s concurrence with Mother’s Day this year.

For Azene, a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, graduation marked just the third time in four years that she’s seen her mother, Muchit Reta, who made a 27-hour journey to Waltham last week to see her daughter receive a bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics.

“The distance and time apart has been very hard and challenging for both of us. Getting my diploma this Sunday definitely feels more significant given that it’s also Mother’s Day. It’s such a great coincidence,” Azene said.

Muchit, who works as a math teacher in Ethiopia, encouraged her daughter to pursue educational opportunities in the United States after a family friend recommended Brandeis.

Azene heeded her mother’s encouragement and applied to Brandeis. She was subsequently accepted into the Class of 2018 and was named a Lawrence A. Wien International Scholar. The Wien Scholarship Program provides four years of free tuition to a select group of international students. Since its inception in 1958, the program has brought over 860 scholars from 112 countries to Brandeis.

Even so, Azene was hesitant to leave home and face a new country, language and culture on her own. Today, she remembers the moment her plane took off from Addis Ababa en route to a new adventure.

“I remember sitting on the plane, waiting on the tarmac to takeoff,” Azene said. “And I remember saying to myself ‘What are you doing? What have you done?’”

Azene credits Brandeis’ community for welcoming her on campus in the fall of 2014 and making her transition easier. She made friends and enjoyed new student orientation. That said, she also experienced homesickness and culture shock.

Read more »


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Land and Corruption in Ethiopia

Villagers, lured by new jobs and rich rewards for selling their land, now face poverty and heartbreak as claims of corruption engulf £25bn transport project. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

They promised us we would get jobs there,” says Tadele, nodding at the grand, almost baroque edifice at the bottom of the hill. Adama’s new railway station, yellow bricks golden in the afternoon sun, is still a symbol of hope for the 43-year-old who lives in a village overlooking it. But its promise is dimmer than it was.

A stint on the payroll of the Chinese firm that built Ethiopia’s new railway ended sourly. After six months he was fired, for reasons he disputes. Now, like many in his village and in small towns all along the railway from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to Djibouti, the tiny nation and synonymous Red Sea port that borders Ethiopia, he is frustrated, impatient – and unemployed.

Ethiopia’s new £2.5bn, 750km (466-mile) line began commercial operations at the start of the year, making it Africa’s first fully electrified cross-border railway. Built and financed by Chinese investors and contractors, and shadowing the route of an earlier French-built track, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway lies at the heart of Ethiopia’s development aspirations. By linking the landlocked country to the sea and lowering transport costs for imports and exports, the government hopes to kickstart industrialisation and transform a poor, agricultural nation of nearly 100 million people into a middle-income one by as early as 2025.

And it is much more than that. “The railway project is a transport project,” explains Dr Getachew Betru, former chief executive of the state-owned Ethiopia Railways Corporation (ERC). “But it is also a hinterland development project.” The plan is for eight railways to eventually crisscross this vast, diverse land, knitting together the relatively fertile highlands with the historically neglected lowlands that are mostly inhabited by nomadic people. New stations, some of which rise incongruously from seemingly empty expanses of barren bushland, are visualised as “transport-oriented development zones”: future temples of commerce boasting malls, hotels, and golf courses…

The railway embodies these contradictions. “It’s the physical manifestation of the country’s politics,” says Biruk Terrefe, a graduate researcher at Oxford University who has studied the project.

Read the full story at theguardian.com »


Related:
Dr. Abiy Making Ethiopia Optimistic Again — Media Round Up

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UN IOM Conducting a Study of the Ethiopian Diaspora

(IOM Logo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

May 9th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is conducting a study of the Ethiopian Diaspora.

According to IOM the goal of the study is “to identify potential opportunities to partner with the Ethiopian Diaspora to promote development in Ethiopia.”

The United Nations organization states that “to do this most effectively, IOM needs feedback from the Ethiopian community. This survey is part of a study designed to collect input and feedback from the Ethiopian Diaspora to shape future IOM diaspora engagement strategies” adding that “future successful IOM engagement with the Ethiopian diaspora relies on collecting as many diverse opinions from as many voices as possible.”


Please complete this survey by May 14th and encourage others that you know in the Ethiopian Diaspora to do so as well. All responses will remain anonymous and will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

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Captain Alemayehu Abebe, First African Pilot to Command Commercial Aircraft

In 1957, Captain Alemayehu Abebe (center) became the first African pilot to command commercial aircraft making his solo flight as captain of an Ethiopian Airlines DC‑3/C-47 aircraft. This week, Captain Alemayehu who passed away in January 2018 is featured by the Pan-African website Face2Face Africa for his trailblazing role in African aviation. Below is excerpt from the story. (Photo: Ethiopian Airlines)

Face2Face Africa

This determined Ethiopian became Africa’s first commercial aircraft captain

Perseverance was his hallmark. At a time when management and flight operations at Ethiopian Airlines were dominated by Americans, who felt black people had no business flying, Alemayehu Abebe was determined to prove them wrong. Through hard work, he became the first Ethiopian captain in 1957, making his solo flight on DC-3/c-47 at the age of 32.

Ethiopian Airlines had in 1946 began commercial operation with an all-American aircrew.

In 1951, the airline trained four Ethiopian pilots, and Abebe was one of them.

He and the others did tremendously well. He was further set apart from the rest by becoming the first African to fly the Atlantic solo in 1962, with Boeing 720Bs.

Read more »


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D.C.-based Nonprofit Supports Young Female Ethiopian Runners

(Photo: GGRF)

Runwashington

The Girls Gotta Run Foundation started out with an effort to get running shoes to girls in Ethiopia.

Now, more than a decade later, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit is working with 100 girls and 40 mothers in the African country.

And the Girls Gotta Run Foundation provides more than just shoes. Three-year scholarship programs in Sodo and Bekoji, Ethiopia, allow girls to stay in school while also running, receiving coaching and running gear, and learning life skills, according to the nonprofit’s website.

In a place where child marriage is not uncommon, running provides an opportunity for Ethiopian girls to have more control over their futures — even if they don’t become professional runners. Education is key in the scholarship programs.

“After working closely with the communities we collaborate with, we shaped our program around the challenges and opportunities facing girls and women in these unique environments,” Executive Director Kayla Nolan wrote in an email from Bekoji, Ethiopia. “This led to a focus on education, early marriage prevention and recreational running.”

The Girls Gotta Run Foundation has worked with 210 people in total, she wrote.

Founder Pat Ortman, a retired women’s studies professor at Mount Vernon College, said the organization has grown much more than she imagined.

“I’m awestruck,” Ortman said.

In late 2005, Ortman read a Washington Post article titled “Facing Servitude, Ethiopian Girls Run for a Better Life.” She said she was impressed by the determination of the Ethiopian girls despite their tough circumstances. One runner featured in the story spoke of how she had to either run barefoot or in her brothers’ shoes because she didn’t have her own.

“They were just so optimistic,” she said.

Read more »


Related:
In Sodo & Bekoji, New GGRF Athletic Scholarship Keeps Girls in School

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Can Ethiopia and Eritrea Make Peace?

Twenty years after a pointless war over a town no one had heard of, Ethiopia ponders rapprochement. (AFP)

The Economist

New premier, new hope: Can Ethiopia and Eritrea make peace?

“LIKE Sarajevo, 1914,” said the late Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, of the first gunshots fired on May 6th 1998. “An accident waiting to happen.” Neither he nor his counterpart in neighbouring Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, imagined that a light skirmish at Badme, a border village of which few had heard, could spiral into full-scale war. But two years later about 80,000 lives had been lost and more than half a million people forced from their homes.

No land changed hands. Two decades on, Ethiopia still occupies the disputed territories, including Badme, having refused to accept the findings of a UN boundary commission. But the conflict’s miserable legacy persists. Thousands of troops still patrol the frontier. Centuries of trade and intermarriage abruptly ceased. Ethiopia lost access to Eritrea’s ports. Eritrea lost its biggest trading partner and retreated into isolationism. It has been on a war footing ever since.

But it is not so lonely these days. On April 22nd Donald Yamamoto, America’s most senior diplomat in Africa, visited Asmara, the capital—the first such visit in over a decade. Eritrea has been sanctioned by the UN since 2009, in part for allegedly arming jihadists in neighbouring Somalia. But a panel of experts appointed by the UN Security Council found no evidence of arms transfers and advocates lifting the embargo. America sounds open to the idea. Some reckon sanctions could be removed this year.

Many in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, are also mulling a change of course. With the appointment last month of a new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, there is an opportunity for fresh thinking. Abiy, who was an intelligence officer during the war, promised in his inaugural speech to make peace with Eritrea.

Read more at Economist.com »


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Comedian Defends Controversial Jokes

At this year's White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night comedian Michelle Wolf ripped into Washington’s media and government establishment with hard-hitting jokes garnering international attention. But, as the Washington Post's Molly Roberts points out the city's "tuxedo-clad intelligentsia" was not so pleased. We guess they prefer being called "very, very dishonest people" and "fake news" by The Dear Leader while at the same time being used as an echo chamber for official lies and propaganda. What a time in America. Below are excerpts from Molly Roberts' great piece. (Reuters photo)

The Washington Post

“Thank you!”

That’s how comedian Michelle Wolf answered Sean Spicer’s declaration that her headlining stand-up set at the the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner was “a disgrace.” Her response is instructive: To Wolf, an insult from Spicer is an accolade – and accolades, surely, would be an insult. She’s right.

Wolf managed Saturday night to scandalize the majority of Washington’s tuxedo-clad intelligentsia with a barrage of bon mots that, in the eyes of much of the press and political establishment, weren’t really so bon at all. The speech, these pundits have argued, wasn’t amusing; it was lewd, and worse than that, it was mean…

That Wolf’s performance was not “normal” for the correspondents’ dinner is a testament to its timeliness and necessity — nothing is “normal” right now, and pretending otherwise out of a false sense of the fourth estate’s friendship with the executive would have been the real disgrace. Wolf called the Trump administration out for tearing down democracy. Then, the people who are supposed to care most about holding autocrats to account called her out in turn for, essentially, not being chummy enough.

Read more »


Related:
How Michelle Wolf Blasted Open the Fictions of Journalism in the Age of Trump
Wath: WHCD comedian defends her controversial jokes (CNN)

Shut up about Michelle Wolf if you’ve been silent on Trump’s offenses (By Jonathan Capehart)

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Reflections on Tana Forum 2018 and Ethiopia’s New PM Abiy Ahmed

Dr. Abiy Ahmed delivering the keynote address at the Tana High Level Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, an annual event held in the resort city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia [Tana Forum/Twitter]

Aljazeera

“This new guy – he’s a good guy. Very good brain. Now everything in Ethiopia is going to be OK”.

My taxi driver Daniel offers up this unprompted insight as we zip through the streets of Addis Ababa, letting me in on the sentiment around the unprecedented year Ethiopia had.

The “new guy” is Dr Abiy Ahmed, the recently selected chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPDRF), the coalition that has been ruling Africa’s second-most populous country for 27 years. At 42 years old, Dr Ahmed is not just the youngest Ethiopian prime minster ever, but also the first from the Oromo community, the largest ethnic group in the country. For Daniel and others who offered their unprompted opinions, Dr Ahmed not only offers respite from nearly two years of political and social upheaval that threatened to undo Ethiopia altogether, but the hope of a more inclusive and democratic Ethiopia.

Earlier in the week, Dr Ahmed offered the keynote address at the Tana High Level Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, an annual event held in the resort city of Bahir Dar, the State Capital of the Amhara region. Similar to the Davos World Economic Forum, the event brings together current and former political and academic leaders on the continent for an informal dialogue on enhancing peace and security on the continent. At the margins of the summit, hundreds of bilateral meetings between regional politicians, Addis Ababa’s vast diplomatic corps and numerous international organisations make this one of the more significant networking events at the continent.

Bahir Dar was a stopover for Dr Ahmed in the midst of a whirlwind tour of Ethiopia, uneasily calm after years of intensifying unrest that implicated three of the country’s largest regions – Amhara, Oromia and the Somali region. The prime minister arrived at the forum after visiting Gondar, a historical town known for its 15th and 16th century churches and distinct orthodox Christian crosses that was the epicentre of many protests in the previous two years. By the time Ahmed arrived in Bahir Dar, internet access in the town had only just been restored after a nearly two year shut down.

The air in Bahir Dar was electric with anticipation of Ahmed’s arrival, with everyone waiting to hear what he has to say. “He’s very young,” said one driver, “but he’s very clever. He is [a] doctor, you know?”

At the summit and beyond, expectations on Ahmed’s shoulders are high…

In contrast to earlier speeches in parliament and at various stops on his tour, at the summit Dr Ahmed’s speech did not touch on Ethiopia’s political flux, but the symbolism of his visit is unmissable for Ethiopian watchers.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Shows Knack for Balancing Reform and Continuity
In Defense of Ethiopia: New PM is Fixing the Broken System
PM Abiy Visits Gondar & Bahir Dar as Part of National Tour
PM Abiy Names Cabinet (Reuters)
Ethiopia: Prime Minister Sidelines Military On Development Project (Stratfor)
No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM
Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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Ethiopia is Now Africa’s Fastest Growing Economy (CNN)

A view of the capital Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has experienced fast economic growth in the past decade, averaging around 10% a year. Economists cite the country's manufacturing industry as the key element in the country's success. (CNN)

CNN

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populated country, is forecast to be the fastest growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, according to new data from the IMF.

Ethiopia’s economy is predicted to grow by 8.5% this year. The figures signal continued economic expansion following a long period of impressive growth. In the last decade, Ethiopia has averaged around 10% economic growth, according to the IMF.

To boost the economy, the country is pursuing a number of large-scale infrastructure projects, including the Grand Renaissance Dam and a railway network.

“(Ethiopia) has had a very high growth rate and I think that’s a result in large part of a very concentrated effort by the government to boost industrial production and manufacturing,” said Vijaya Ramachandran, an economist at the American think tank Center for Global Development (CGD).

Ramachandran, along with three academics, released a report suggesting Ethiopia can follow in China’s footsteps, and become a destination for low-wage manufacturing jobs.

Read more »


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Obama to Speak at Mandela’s 100th Birthday Anniversary in South Africa

Former President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote speech at the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth this coming July in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP photo)

The New York Times

Obama Will Speak in South Africa on Tolerance

WASHINGTON — He’s been photographed kite-surfing with Richard Branson off Necker Island, relaxing on David Geffen’s yacht in French Polynesia with Bruce Springsteen and Oprah Winfrey, river-rafting with his family in Bali and posing with a celebrity chef in Tuscany.

To those who have paid only casual attention to former President Barack Obama’s foreign travels since he left the White House in January 2017, it can seem as if Mr. Obama has been on an extended vacation of the kind only the very rich can afford.

But the former president has also met quietly with groups of young people in New Zealand, Brazil, Indonesia and Singapore, as well as paying calls on foreign leaders, including Xi Jinping of China, Emmanuel Macron of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Malcolm Turnbull of Australia.

Now, Mr. Obama is inaugurating his most significant international project as an ex-president, with an announcement on Monday that the Obama Foundation plans to convene 200 young people this July in Johannesburg for five days of meetings, workshops and technical training.

At the same time, Mr. Obama will deliver a lecture to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, whom he eulogized after his death five years ago by saying he “makes me want to be a better man.”

“It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a former speechwriter for Mr. Obama who still advises him.

Read more »


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In Defense of Ethiopia: New PM is Fixing the Broken System

In the following article published on Sunday by the Lawfare blog, Yale PhD student Hilary Matfess argues that "fixing Ethiopia requires more than a new prime minister." Perhaps. But, in our opinion, electing Dr. Abiy was the first step in the right direction for Ethiopia. Since the charismatic young leader was inaugurated on April 2nd, he has already made a rare outreach to the opposition, has visited towns that were center of anti-government protests, sidelined the military from a civilian development project and ended the internet blackout. In addition, and most importantly, Abiy has embarked on a national peace tour across the country to foster unity and calm ethnic tensions. And we hope PM Abiy will also push to lift the draconian State of Emergency sooner than later. As the proverb goes: "Rome wasn't built in a day." In any case, you may read below Hilary Matfess' foreign policy essay and follow the link for it serves as a reminder of the herculean task that awaits Ethiopia's new leadership with respect to improving the country's dismal human rights record and global standing. (Photo via firstpost.com)

Lawfare

Fixing Ethiopia Requires More Than a New Prime Minister

Ethiopia’s current State of Emergency, implemented on February 16 after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalign stepped down from power, is the second time since October 2016 that the government has declared martial law. According to Human Rights Watch, “some of Ethiopia’s staunch Western allies, fearful of what a destabilized Ethiopia would mean for their interests, have spoken openly of their concerns and urged a change in tactics.” What these allies fail to appreciate is that these tactics are not a bug in the system of governance in Ethiopia—they are a feature. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the hegemonic party that’s been in power since 1991, has tightly controlled the country’s political system, stifling civil society and criminalizing dissent. The selection of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister—marking the first time in 27 years that the EPRDF has had an Oromo has occupied the office, despite the fact that the Oromo is the country’s largest ethnic group—is insufficient to stabilize the country.

Michael O’Hanlon, the co-director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, has described the country as “one of the most important countries on the continent by almost any measure.” The measure most pressing for U.S. interests, however, is the country’s role as a strategic regional counterterrorism partner. Ethiopia’s contributions to AMISOM, in particular, have endeared it to the U.S. national security community. Terrence Lyons, a professor at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, considers the country an “irreplaceable center of gravity” for the Horn of Africa. As a long-standing U.S. partner in counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, the effects of Ethiopia’s stability extends well beyond the country’s borders. Without legislative overhauls that promote democratic accountability, the country will continue to be beset by instability. Unfortunately, the country’s history suggests that the party will respond to the current crisis with more repression…

Read more »


Related:
PM Abiy Visits Gondar & Bahir Dar as Part of National Tour
PM Abiy Names Cabinet (Reuters)
Ethiopia: Prime Minister Sidelines Military On Development Project (Stratfor)
No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM
Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM

Abiy’s remarks on Monday were his first substantive public comments on the economy since taking office. According to the latest IMF World Economic Outlook data Ethiopia now has surpassed Ghana as the fastest-growing economy in Africa. But as Reuters reports "foreign investors and local businesses complain that the severe hard currency shortages are stifling the private sector." (Reuters photo)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopian foreign exchange shortage will last years: new premier

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s new prime minister said on Monday that a foreign exchange shortage will last for years and more cooperation with the private sector is essential to solve it, state television reported.

Abiy Ahmed, who was sworn in on April 2, addressed the local business community at a session of more than two hours in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital. His paraphrased remarks were later broadcast by state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The crisis with hard currency will not be solved today, nor will it in the next 15 or 20 years. There is an urgent need for more cooperation with the private sector to find a solution,” Abiy was reported as saying, adding that remittances from Ethiopia’s diaspora communities had also fallen for political reasons.

Ethiopia has recorded average annual economic growth of about 10 percent for the past decade, the fastest in Africa. But foreign investors and local businesses complain that the severe hard currency shortages are stifling the private sector.

The International Monetary Fund said in January that Ethiopia’s foreign reserves at the end of the 2016/17 fiscal year stood at $3.2 billion, less than what it spends on imports in two months. The government does not regularly release foreign reserves figures.

The IMF flagged inadequate reserves as a downside risk to economic growth for 2017/18, which it forecast at 8.5 percent.

Despite high economic growth, the landlocked country of 100 million people is heavily dependent on imports. The IMF said export revenues last year were largely unchanged despite volume growth as global agricultural commodity prices remained low and exports from manufacturing, following the start of an industrialization push, are just beginning.

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Related:
Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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Ethiopians Urge Britain to Return Remains of Prince Alemayehu After 150 Years

Poet Lemn Sissay has joined the campaign to repatriate Prince Alemayehu’s remains. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

For 150 years, Ethiopians have been asking when Prince Alemayehu will come home. The orphan prince, a descendant of Solomon, was taken to England – some say “stolen” – after British soldiers looted his father’s imperial citadel following the Battle of [Meqdela] in 1868.

He died at the age of 18, after an unhappy childhood, and was buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle at the request of Queen Victoria. Now, as discussions take place with the Victoria & Albert Museum about the return of royal treasures taken by British forces during the battle, the Ethiopian government told the Observer it is “redoubling” its efforts to finally bring back the prince’s remains. Last week there were celebrations in Addis Ababa to commemorate the life of the prince’s father, Tewodros II, on the 150th anniversary of his death in the battle. A selection of the objects in the V&A’s possession went on display last week.

Lemn Sissay, the poet and author, has joined the campaign to repatriate the young prince’s remains. Sissay, whose birth mother was Ethiopian, has been invited to speak about Alemayehu by the Ethiopian goverment in June.

“It’s my goal, my sincere hope that in my lifetime [Alemayehu] will go back to Ethiopia,” Sissay told the Observer. “This isn’t going away because I’m not going away.”

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Related:
150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II
UK Museum Wants to Loan Ethiopia Looted Ethiopian Treasures. Why Not Return It?
A Photo Journal Retracing the Last March of Emperor Tewodros to Meqdela

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Spotlight: The Last Greeks of Addis Ababa

Ethiopia and Greece's relationship dates back to ancient times, and a small community is keeping both cultures alive. (Photo: The Greek Club in Addis Ababa/Al Jazeera)

Aljazeera.com

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – “Did you know that Ethiopia gets its name from the Greek word Aethiopia, first used by Homer?” Greek Ambassador to Ethiopia Nikolaos Patakias says proudly.

Sitting in his office in the capital Addis Ababa, Patakias shows an ancient Greek romantic novel, The Aethiopica. It’s a love story about the relationship between the daughter of the queen of Ethiopia and a Greek descendant of Achilles.

Also in his possession are photographs of relics from the ancient Ethiopian Kingdom of Axum. These include the famous Ezana Stone and some gold coins, both of which have ancient Greek scripture written on them.

“Tradition counts for a lot in Ethiopia and Greece, we follow it by the book,” says businessman Odysseas Parris, 57, sitting in a Greek restaurant close to the ambassador’s residence.

“We’re very lucky because we get to enjoy festivities from both cultures.”

As he sips his frappe – Greek iced coffee – and his wife Anastasia Mitsopoulou smokes and talks expressively with friends, they are unmistakably Mediterranean.

Yet Parris and Mitsopoulou are two of Addis Ababa’s second generation Ethio-Greeks. Both of Parris’ grandfathers were Greek and grandmothers Ethiopian. He, and his parents before him, were born in Ethiopia.

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Miss Ethiopia Becomes Miss Africa

Miss Ethiopia won the maiden Africa Beauty Pageant held in Lagos, Nigeria last week. (Photo: LNN)

Leadership Nigeria Newspaper

Against all odds, tall and gorgeous Miss Ethiopia won the maiden Africa Beauty Pageant defeating Miss Mali, Miss Ghana and Miss Somalia in the Top 5 finalist contest.

The beauty queens are drawn from Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Cape Verde, Burundi, Cameroun, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Gambia and Mali. These 15 contestants are the finalists who emerged from the original 54, representing each of the African countries. Alas, Miss Nigeria did not even make it to the top 5.

The soft spoken queen, Zika (her abbreviated name), stated that she was overwhelmed on hearing her name at the event held at the Grand Ball Room of Oriental Hotel last Friday, March 30.

She noted that her greatest rivals were Miss Ghana and Miss Somalia. Speaking at media parley midweek, “Winning this crown has been the most defining moment for me. Winning the Africa Beauty Pageant is my greatest achievement coming from Ethiopia, a country not so known for pageants. It is not about me, it was about my country. I really enjoyed every moment of the two weeks we stayed in Nigeria including the jollof rice. Africa Beauty Pageant is not just about beauty but brains, intelligence as we were groomed on different things,” said the queen. She added that she would use the platform to voice out the plight of the girl child and speak against child abuse and violence against women.

According to the organisers, the winner takes home a brand new Kia Sportage, Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), a fully furnished apartment in Nigeria, because Nigeria is the operating base for this year’s event and cash prize of $5,000. Creative Director of the pageant, Mr. Chike Mordi, noted that the pageant was themed ‘Beauty, Peace and Unity’.

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In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission

Mobile internet service has been restored in Ethiopia, adding to the list of positive news coming out of the country since the inauguration of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali on Monday, April 2nd. In addition The Associated Press reports that Ethiopia has now officially closed the notorious Maekelawi prison. And Reuters notes that on Saturday, Abiy arrived in Jijiga - the capital of the Somali region - in a bid to tackle the problems [that displaced nearly a million people]. Below are links to these and other related stories. (Photo: Reuters)

Xinhua

Joyous mood as mobile internet restored in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, April 6 (Xinhua) — Ethiopians residing outside the capital Addis Ababa woke up to find mobile internet back working as the service restored on Friday after five months of blackout.

The East African country on Friday restored mobile internet service after it was terminated across the country for the past five months, leaving majority of the country’s population to search rare wi-fi and broadband internet services.

Ashenafi Yenew, a young Ethiopian in Bahir Dar city, told Xinhua that the reopening of mobile internet service on Friday morning “was a great surprise” for him and residents of the city…

The block on mobile internet service was a major concern since the majority of Ethiopians use their mobile handsets to access the internet.

Ethiopia’s state-owned EthioTelecom recently announced that it has more than 57 million mobile subscribers, accounting to more than half of the country’s total population.

Maereg Sahlu, a tourist guide in Lalibe town, also told Xinhua that the block on mobile internet was a major inconvenience for many tourists.

“Tourists need mobile internet for various purposes mainly to check maps and also communicate with their relatives back home,” Sahlu said.

“Most of the time they were not happy when we tell them to use other options instead of mobile internet service,” Sahlu added.

According to Sahlu, the restoration of mobile internet service is “a great news for us and also tourists who come from different parts of the world.”

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Related:
Ethiopia closes notorious prison as internet service returns (AP)
Ethiopia’s PM seeks end to violence that displaced nearly a million (Reuters)
Ethiopia Closes Infamous Prison, But Activists Await Deeper Reforms (VOA)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia (The Economist)
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists

Jounalist Eskinder Nega is among those released once again. (Photo: By Yonas Tadesse/Getty Images)

Associated Press

By Elias Meseret

April 5

Ethiopia Releases 11 Journalists, Politicians Once Again

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Eleven journalists, politicians and bloggers in Ethiopia who were detained last month for allegedly displaying an outlawed flag and gathering in violation of a state of emergency have been released, a lawyer said Thursday.

Amha Mekonnen, who represented most of the detained journalists, told The Associated Press that no charges were filed.

Most of the 11 had been released from prison earlier this year with dozens of others as the former prime minister tried to open up political space after months of the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century. They were detained again late last month as they gathered for a social event outside the capital, Addis Ababa, with family and friends.

Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, was sworn in on Monday, vowing to solve “lots of problems,” amid hopes that he will be able to quell the sustained unrest that has rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.

Among those now freed again are journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, politician Andualem Aragie and prominent blogger Befekadu Hailu.

Under Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency declared earlier this year, people are prohibited from such gatherings without authorities’ prior knowledge. And a proclamation regarding the use of the Ethiopian flag prohibits the display of the flag without the emblem at its center. Those contravening the law could face up to a year and a half in prison.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most prominent economies and a key security ally of the West but is often accused by rights groups and opposition groups of stifling dissent and arresting opposition party members, journalists, activists and bloggers.


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The Day Martin Luther King Jr. Died (Video)

Fifty years ago today, the civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis. Riots broke out across the country, but in Indianapolis, there was peace. (WASHINGTONPOST.COM)

The Washington Post

After King’s assassination, RFK calmed an angry crowd with an unforgettable speech

As darkness took hold on April 4, 1968, newly declared presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy stepped in front of a microphone atop a flatbed truck in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood in Indianapolis.

Looking out onto the crowd, Kennedy turned and quietly asked a city official, “Do they know about Martin Luther King?”

The civil rights leader had been shot a few hours earlier, though the news that he was dead hadn’t reached everyone yet.

Robert F. Kennedy gave what turned out to be an iconic speech following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.

Listen: The day Martin Luther King Jr. died (Washington Post Audio)

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Related:
MLK’s final speech — delivered 50 years ago — was full of timely and timeless teachings.


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MLK’s Final Speech 50 Years Ago: Analysis

MLK’s final speech — delivered 50 years ago [this week] — was full of timely and timeless teachings. (WASHINGTONPOST.COM)

The Washington Post

Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech, delivered 50 years ago tonight [April 3rd] in Memphis, is well remembered for its prophetic musings on mortality. “I’ve seen the Promised Land,” he said on a stormy night at the Mason Temple. “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

The reverend’s declaration that he was not worried about anything and did not fear any man followed more than 40 minutes of reflection on the cause that brought him to Memphis — and martyrdom.

Slain at just 39, the extemporaneous oratory on the eve of his assassination ensured that King would be remembered as a sort of American Moses. But the meat of his larger message is also worth revisiting on this dreadful half-century anniversary. His case for the virtue of nonviolent protest, boycotts and pushing the country to live up to our shared ideals is timely. His paeans to unity, economic justice and the moral obligation to look out for the least among us are timeless.

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


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Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)

Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed delivered a well-received and hopeful speech after taking the oath of office on Monday appealing for unity, pledging democracy and improved relations with Eritrea. Abiy said: "Democracy cannot be realized in the absence of rights, be it civil or economic rights. We all need to have a platform to voice our concerns." (Getty Images)

Africa News

By Daniel Mumbere

Ethiopia PM appeals for unity, pledges democracy and improved relations with Eritrea

Ethiopia’s parliament swore in Abiy Ahmed as prime minister on Monday with a mandate to implement democratic reforms aimed partly at defusing ethnic tensions in the Oromiya province from which the former army lieutenant general hails.

The ruling coalition picked Abiy last week to replace Hailemariam Desalegn who quit to clear the way for reforms.

Abiy, 42, took the oath of office in a ceremony at the House of People’s Representatives in Addis Ababa.

Addressing a parliament session attended by 478 members of parliament, the new prime minister gave an impassioned speech on the need for unity and reform in the Eastern Africa nation.

“Today is a historic day. We bear witness to a peaceful transfer of power. Today our situation presents us with opportunities and threats. Today we are in the midst of uncertain times,” Abiy said in a speech to parliament.

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Related:
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)
Ethiopia chooses new leader from protest-hit region (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia faces new prime minister in bid to calm protests (AP)
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition approves Abiye Ahmed as prime minister (Reuters)

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Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia

Ethopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali with the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn after taking his oath of office on Monday, April 2, 2018. (Photo: Twitter @povonewsafrica)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: APRIL 2nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia is welcoming a new Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, this week to fill the vacated position by the former PM Hailemariam Desalegn. This month, Ethiopia is also facing an unprecedented vote in the United States Congress denouncing its human rights record.

Resolution H. RES. 128, which is scheduled for a vote next week, calls on the U.S. State Department in coordination with the Department of the Treasury “to apply appropriate sanctions on foreign persons or entities responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against any nationals in Ethiopia as provided for in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.”

Whether the measure passes or not, the fact that such a proposal is being debated on the floor of the U.S. Congress should give pause to current Ethiopian government officials of all ranks who may be otherwise inclined to ignore their citizens’ constitutional rights.

According to Human Rights Watch the Global Magnitsky Act allows the U.S. “to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world responsible for committing human rights violations or acts of significant corruption. The act received widespread bipartisan support. Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, introduced a version of the bill, and five Republican senators and five Democratic senators signed on as co-sponsors. President Barack Obama signed the law on December 23, 2016.”

“I’m happy to announce that after months of hard work (by all involved) #HRes128 is scheduled for a vote the week of April 9,” announced Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, one of the main backers of the bill via Twitter on March 21st. “The fight for respect of human rights & inclusive governance in #Ethiopia continues.”

Most importantly, we hope Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister shares the vision of the vast majority of Ethiopians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds to finally set Ethiopia on a peaceful road to genuinely free and fair elections as well as create the much needed democratic political space for all opposing views, including those who want to organize on the basis of common ideas and not necessarily based on ethnic politics and tribal affiliations.

As the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia stressed in a strongly worded press release in February: “The challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions…We strongly urge the government to rethink this approach and identify other means to protect lives and property while preserving, and indeed expanding, the space for meaningful dialogue and political participation that can pave the way to a lasting democracy.”

We hope that Ethiopia’s new PM will have the courage to act swiftly to lift the draconian State of Emergency proclamation and bring an end to this vicious cycle of arrests, pardons and re-arrests of journalists, academics and opposition activists.


Related:
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)

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Ethiopia Arrests a Dozen Opposition Activists Over Flag Display (Bloomberg)

Jounalist Eskinder Nega. (Photographer: Yonas Tadesse/AFP via Getty Images)

Bloomberg

Ethiopian police arrested 12 opposition activists, including previously freed detainees, after they displayed a flag that differs from the official national banner.

Those arrested include four members of the opposition Blue Party, two journalists including Eskinder Nega, the former vice chairman of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party Andualem Aragie, and three members of the Zone 9 blogging collective, according to the chairmen of the two opposition parties.

The arrests took place Sunday at a private house in Lebu on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, Blue Party Chairman Yeshawas Assefa said by phone. About 70 activists had met separately earlier Sunday at a Blue Party lunch in the city to celebrate the recent release of prisoners from across Ethiopia, Yeshawas and UDJP Chairman Tigistu Awelu said.

“The only thing they tell the prisoners, the comrades, is why are you using this flag?” Yeshawas said. “They said nobody can enter into the police station, and we will tell you after we investigate them.”

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Solution to Ethiopia’s Population Explosion

Ethiopia's population has tripled over the past few decades [from 30 million to over 100 million since the 1970s]. Millions of farmers are leaving the fields only to end up living in the slums of huge cities. City planners believe they have found a solution -- in the remote countryside. (Photo: Spiegel Online)

Spiegel Online

The Plan to Bridge the Urban-Rural Divide

Stories about people embarking on their future usually start with a departure. But the story of farmer Birhan Abegaz is different. He plans to stay put right where he is in his quest for happiness — a treeless wasteland in northern Ethiopia.

The crooked huts of his village, Bura, are surrounded by solitary thorn bushes and acacias. Birhan is cultivating rice on a patch of leased land behind his hut, at least during the rainy season. A few months have passed since the harvest. The dry season is here, and the earth is dusty. The Shine River, Bura’s lifeblood, is nothing but a trickle.

Married with three children, Birhan is only 28 years old, but the hardness of rural life has taken its toll on him and he looks much older. He fetches the family’s water for drinking, cooking and washing from about a kilometer away. The nearest well is on the other side of the highway leading to the provincial capital of Bahir Dar, a two-hour drive away. In the past, many people from Bura and the nearby villages took this road, turning their backs on the countryside in search of a better life in the city.

What Can Keep the Farmers in the Countryside?

Since the 1970s, Ethiopia’s population has more than tripled, going from 30 million to over 100 million. In the countryside, overpopulation is leading to the overuse and overgrazing of fields and deforestation. More and more people are moving to the big cities, which are growing faster than the rest of the country. The provincial capital of Bahir Dar had about 60,000 inhabitants 30 years ago, but today it has 350,000. “Apartment buildings, streets, the drinking-water supply and the entire infrastructure can’t keep up with this tempo,” says Ethiopian city planner and architect Zegeye Cherenet.

As a result, new arrivals end up living on the streets or in slums. In the early mornings in Bahir Dar, dozens of ragged young men stand at the intersections in the hope of picking up work as day laborers. In the evenings, their sisters and mothers go to the square and wait for johns.

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Children Of Immigrants Are Top U.S. High School Science Performers (Forbes)

An impressive 83 percent (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the leading science competition for U.S. high school students, were the children of immigrants, according to a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy. (Photo: Society for Science & the Public)

Forbes

What would we lose if immigrants could no longer come to America? Surprisingly, one of the most important things America would lose is the contributions made by their children.

A new study from the National Foundation for American Policy found a remarkable 83% (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search were the children of immigrants. The competition organized each year by the Society for Science & the Public is the leading science competition for U.S. high school students. In 2017, the talent search competition was renamed the Regeneron Science Talent Search, after its new sponsor Regeneron Pharmaceuticals,and a new group of 40 finalists – America’s next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians – are competing in Washington, D.C., from March 9 to 15, 2017.

Both family-based and employment-based immigrants were parents of finalists in 2016. In fact, 75% – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas and later became green card holders and U.S. citizens. That compares to seven children who had both parents born in the United States.

To put that in perspective, even though former H-1B visa holders represent less than 1% of the U.S. population, they were four times more likely to have a child as a finalist in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search than were parents who were both born in the United States.

Parents who were international students were more likely to have a child as a finalist than native-born parents. A total of 27 of the 40 children – 68% – had a parent who came to America as an international student. That means if international students cannot remain in America after graduation (through Optional Practical Training and improved visa policies) it will also deprive America of the potentially substantial contributions of their children.

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NYT Update on Al Amoudi’s Imprisonment

Al Amoudi’s vast business empire employs some 70,000 people and includes an agriculture venture, a fuel company and a chain of gas stations. (NYT)

The New York Times

He Owns Much of Ethiopia. The Saudis Won’t Say Where They’re Keeping Him.

He supplies coffee to Starbucks. He owns much of Ethiopia. And he is known as “Sheikh Mo” in the Clintons’ circle.

But the gilded life of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi took a sharp turn in November. Mr. Amoudi, the gregarious 71-year-old son of a Yemeni businessman and his Ethiopian wife, was swept up with hundreds of billionaires, princes and other well-connected figures in what the Saudi government says is an anti-corruption campaign that has seized more than $100 billion in assets.

Many other detainees, who were initially kept at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, have been released, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the well-known international investor. Mr. Amoudi’s cousin, Mohammed Aboud Al Amoudi, a property developer, was also let go.

But Mr. Amoudi, once called the world’s richest black person by Forbes, has not been freed, leaving a vast empire that employs more than 70,000 people in limbo. He controls businesses from Ethiopia, where he is the largest private employer and the most prominent backer of the authoritarian government, to Sweden, where he owns a large fuel company, to London, which he has used as a base to set up a number of companies.

“He was in the Ritz-Carlton but we have been told by his family members that he was moved, along with others, to another hotel,” Mr. Amoudi’s press office said in an email responding to questions. “Unfortunately we do not know where. He is in regular contact with his family and is being treated well.”

While Mr. Amoudi lacks a princely pedigree, he is in other ways an archetype of those entangled in the kingdom’s power play: a billionaire with assets stretching across the world who had close ties to previous governments.

The late King Abdullah was a supporter of Mr. Amoudi’s Saudi Star Agricultural Development, a sprawling farming venture in Ethiopia established to supply rice to Saudi Arabia. Such ventures are seen as strategic assets in a desert kingdom keenly aware of its agricultural limitations. While Saudi Star has had a tough time getting going, it is said to be a particular focus of the new government’s interest.

Saudi officials have declined to comment on the charges against individual detainees as well as their status, citing privacy laws.

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FT on Chicken Business in Rural Ethiopia

Rearing chickens with high yields of eggs and meat is giving many Ethiopians the chance to tap into a market with growth potential — the country’s meat consumption is about a quarter of the average for sub-Saharan Africa. (Financial Times)

Financial Times

EthioChicken: Ethiopia’s well-hatched idea

Six months ago Abdurazak Tariku hadn’t heard of EthioChicken. The 24-year-old civil engineering student had expected his career path to involve bridges and roads rather than poultry vaccines and animal feed.

“I’d never really thought about chickens before,” he says. “But a friend explained how [he was] making decent money from rearing and selling chickens, and I could see the birds in my neighbourhood. They were bigger and looked healthier than ordinary chickens.”

Abdurazak convinced his parents to let him take over a shed they owned in Fikadu, a village 160km south-west of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and become an EthioChicken agent. He is rearing his first batch of 1,500 chicks bought from EthioChicken and is busy looking for customers while continuing his studies at the nearby Wolkite University.

“I’m planning to go full-time after I graduate,” he says. “I shall employ some people when I get busier. Three or four friends are already saying they want to do it too.”

Abdurazak’s story sounds like suspiciously positive corporate public relations — the poster boy with well-rehearsed lines brought out to impress foreign visitors. But after random stops at homesteads where EthioChicken poultry can be seen pecking at the dusty ground, his tale and the seven-year story of the company’s evolution from aid worker’s dream to multinational enterprise becomes completely credible. rural

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UPDATE: Women & Children Make Up 80% of Displaced People From Moyale, Ethiopia

The Kenya Red Cross says 80 percent of those displaced persons from Ethiopia are women and children. Ethiopia admits that the unrest in the Moyale area following a bungled government military operation last week that killed several civilians has rendered nearly 40,000 people homeless. So far about 9, 000 have crossed the border into neighboring Kenya seeking asylum. The Red Cross warns the number of refugees from Ethiopia is likely to rise in the coming days. The Ethiopian authorities blame "rumors of war" for the displacement. (Photos: Twitter @KenyaRedCross)

Number of Ethiopian refugees in Kenya rises to over 9,000

Humanitarian agencies are warning of refugee crisis in Moyale following an influx of refugees from Ethiopia.

The number which stood at only 8,500 has now almost hit the 10-thousand mark as members of the Oromo community from the neighboring country flee what they claim is a crackdown by the Ethiopian military.

Makeshift camps have been established at Dambala and in Sololo to provide temporary shelter for the displaced.

The influx of refugees from Ethiopia now has area leaders concerned.

The number said to be increasing by the day with average of over 500 people crossing the border to the Kenyan side every day in the last three days.

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The Associated Press

The Kenya Red Cross says more than 8,500 Ethiopians have crossed the border into Kenyan territory seeking asylum from conflict after government troops mistakenly killed civilians.

The Red Cross said in a statement Wednesday that the number may keep increasing in the coming days.

The civilians fled after Ethiopian security forces mistakenly killed nine civilians in Moyale, located on the country’s southern border with Kenya, according to a command post established to oversee Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Ethiopia imposed the state of emergency following months of unrest in some parts of the country that tarnished the country’s image as one of Africa’s best performing economies.


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Ethiopia Bus Crash Kills 38 Students (AP)

Road accident in south Wollo zone claims 38 lives. (Photo: Twitter @fanatelevision)

The Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s state-affiliated broadcaster says that a bus plunged into a ditch, killing 38 people in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region.

Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported on Tuesday that the bus veered off the road and went into the trench. It said an additional 10 people were injured.

The broadcaster reported that most of the victims were university students. It said the accident happened in the south Wollo area.

Ethiopia is upgrading its road system but dilapidated roads, inadequate driving skills and poor conditions of vehicles contribute to road traffic deaths. According to a report in Ethiopia last year, traffic accidents claimed the lives of more than 16,000 people in the country between 2014 and 2017.


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Diaspora’s Role in Helping to Shape Better U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Ethiopia

Tadias Magazine is announcing an upcoming opinion series on the role of the Ethiopian Diaspora in helping to shape a better U.S. foreign policy towards Ethiopia. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — There has never been a better time to start a more constructive dialogue in the Diaspora regarding our role in helping to shape a better informed U.S. policy towards Ethiopia that is based on real data, research and facts.

Tadias Magazine is announcing an upcoming opinion series on the subject and extending invitations to our readers and the general public to help us elevate the discourse to bring about meaningful change by participating in the discussion through a series of Op-ED articles that we plan to publish later this year.

We especially encourage foreign affairs experts, former Ethiopian American government officials, diplomats, academics, journalists as well as students, community leaders and other professionals to contribute to the discourse.

We warmly welcome your submissions and note that articles need not solely be concerned with politics. We are sure that there is a wide range of untapped aspects of Diaspora engagement that is waiting to be explored including people-to-people, business-to-business, investment, education, health, science, technology, arts, culture and historical topics.


You can send your article to info@tadias.com.

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A Look Back at Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia

U.S. President Barack Obama gets tour of Lucy's 3.2 million-year-old bones from Ethiopian American paleoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged in Addis Ababa on Monday, July 27th, 2015. (Getty Images)

In pictures: Obama in Ethiopia July 2015


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Ethiopia Pictures: Yirgacheffe Coffee for Tillerson, Ethiopic Script Tie for Lavrov

Last week Ethiopia attracted global media attention when it simultaneously hosted some of the world's top diplomats including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (pictured right sipping Yirgacheffe Coffee) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (pictured left sporting an Ethiopic script tie). They both stayed at the posh Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa, but officials are quick to note that they neither met nor run into each other in Ethiopia's capital. (Photo: Twitter via Africa News)

Africa News

Ethiopia over the past week hosted three top diplomats to Addis Ababa. Foreign Affairs chiefs of the United States, Russia and the United Arab Emirates were all in town for meetings.

The visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Serge Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Affairs chief, however, did get some traction on social media for different reasons.

Tillerson who started an African tour in Ethiopia must have heard of Ethiopian coffee and was bent on having his share whiles there. The U.S. Embassy shared a series of photos showing him in “active contact” with coffee.


In Ethiopia Secretary Tillerson met the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, started with USAID assistance 16 years ago. The U.S. assisted 120,000+ smallholders coffee growers in Ethiopia to increase production, sales, & exports worth nearly $28 million @USAIDEthiopia. (@USEmbassyAddis)

In the case of Lavrov, his choice of dressing on arrival at the Bole International airport got Ethiopia’s social media space buzzing, as he chose a more casual outlook. He arrived from Zimbabwe wearing blue jeans.

Long before that could subside, he got into official groove for meetings throughout Friday. His tie apparently was decorated with the ge’ez alphabets unique to Ethiopia, the Addis Standard portal observed.

Lavrov wore the tie during meetings with the African Union Commission chair through his meetings with Ethiopian President and Prime Minister and for a press conference with Foreign Affairs Minister, Workneh Ghebeyehu.

Read more »


Related:
Tillerson in Ethiopia Media Round Up
A Look Back at Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia

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Ethiopia Update: Ethiothinktank Editor Arrested, Guardian Journalist Expelled

Publisher of the Ethiothinktank website Seyoum Teshome. (Photo: VOA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 10th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian authorities have arrested the publisher of the Ethiothinktank website Seyoum Teshome. According to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia the reason for Seyoum’s arrest and his whereabouts are not known. The Ethiopian blogger was reportedly taken into custody on March 8th by security forces at his home near the Woliso campus of Ambo University, where he lectures, people with knowledge of the incident told Voice of America and Deutsche Welle.

“Seyoum has been critical in his blog of a six-month state of emergency Ethiopia declared in February,” the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement. “Under the state of emergency, authorities can carry out arrests and searches without warrant and close down media stations, according to a report by the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency.” CPJ’S Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney added: “Ethiopia cannot again use the cloak of a national emergency to round up journalists and stifle critical voices. This is the second time that authorities ignored due process to detain Seyoum Teshome. He should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

In a related news, Ethiopia has deported Guardian journalist William Davison because of media accreditation problems. Davison who is a British citizen was a former Bloomberg reporter based in Ethiopia.

The Associated Press reports: “Davison said he was expelled from Ethiopia on Wednesday after being detained at a police station for a day. “Officials from Ethiopia’s Immigration department deported me and I am now back in the U.K,” Davison posted on Facebook, saying the Ethiopian government failed to grant him accreditation to report for The Guardian after he stopped working for Bloomberg. “What my treatment demonstrates once again is a lack of appreciation of professional journalism and a failure of various government institutions and officials to follow established procedure in anything like a transparent manner.”

Per AP: “The journalist, who was chairman of the Ethiopian Foreign Correspondents Association, said he was not given a specific reason for his deportation but an official at the Ethiopian spokesman office said the journalist was deported because had no foreign media affiliation. “We have been treating him like all the other reporters when he was a Bloomberg reporter but now he has no accreditation with any other media outlet or whatsoever so he can’t produce reports from within Ethiopia now,” said Mohammed Seid, an official at the Ethiopian spokesman’s office. “I’m not aware that he has submitted a new accreditation with The Guardian.”


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Tillerson: Ethiopia is ‘A Young Democracy’

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pictured above with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018, described Ethiopia as "a young democracy" during a press conference on Thursday in Ethiopia's capital. Tillerson explained: "We recognize the transition that is underway in Ethiopia, the first-ever voluntary transfer of power. And I view this as a very positive symbol of the strength of this very young democracy in Ethiopia, a peaceful transition of power." He added: "As I indicated, democracies are challenging. It’s not easy to take a country forward as a democracy. And so we’re here also to support Ethiopia’s journey towards a democratic society and institutions. (Reuters photo)

U.S. Department of State

Press Availability
Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
March 8, 2018

MODERATOR: Would you join me to welcome the two foreign ministers. May we rise, please? I thank you very much. Ameseginalehu. Your Excellency Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, foreign minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Your Excellency Rex Wayne Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State; ambassadors, ministers, all protocol observed, welcome to Addis Ababa, the political and diplomatic hub of Africa.

As His Excellency Minister Tillerson said during his speech at George Mason University, Africa is part of the future. It’s a continent in which 70 percent of its population is youth. This population, Your Excellency, is an opportunity and, again, a challenge. Ethiopia, as a UN-U.S. partner and longer in the continent, I believe this extraordinary visit will further deepen the ties of Ethiopia and the United States, one of the oldest diplomatic ties.

According to our program, His Excellency Dr. Workneh and His Excellency Rex Tillerson will highlight the gist of their discussions to the media, and that will be followed by questions from media houses. Media houses, make sure that you have one questions. If it is more than one, the two principals will ask – will respond to one question only.

I thank you very much. Excellency Dr. Workneh.

FOREIGN MINISTER WORKNEH: Thank you very much. Thank you. Good afternoon. The house is full. Your Excellency Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State of the United States of America, we are delighted to have you here in your visit to Africa as a first stop here in Addis Ababa. United States and Ethiopia have a century-old relationship, a relationship which, time-tested, always a relationship.

So Your Excellency, your coming here is a testament for this strong relationship. I and Excellency Secretary discussed extensive issues bilaterally. We discussed about our regional issues – the regional security, international issues, international politics – at the same time, how to boost our economic ties and investment between the United States of America and Ethiopia.

We touched about the issue of South Sudan and Somalia, which we are working very closely together. And also, we discussed other very important security concerns that we have in common. And also, I explained to Excellency about our situation, the country’s situation, the transition that we are in the process, and we are very thankful that the United States of America is a close friend, which – working with us in all aspects, especially in economic areas. So it was very cordial, candid, and very fruitful discussion. And thank you so much, Your Excellency.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, thank you as well, Excellency, for the warm welcome and hospitality. And we just had a very enjoyable lunch where we were able to continue our discussion with a number of members of both of our delegations, which is always useful to gain a greater understanding of each other. I also want to welcome both the local press and the foreign media as well to this event. And we do appreciate our partnership, and particularly at such a critical time for Ethiopia. I also look forward to my meeting later today with the prime minister.

And I’m quite excited to be in Ethiopia. This is my first visit, and certainly this was an important place to start my trip as Secretary of State to the continent, in large measure because of the more than 100-year diplomatic relationship between Ethiopia and the United States. And it’s been an enduring relationship; as the foreign minister described it, an all-weather relationship, that even when storm clouds gather we remain friends and have always worked through challenges together.

I also want to acknowledge again today this being International Women’s Day and an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world, and note the role of women in Ethiopia in promoting economic growth as well. It’s quite evident the prominence that women already occupy in government, but in economics as well, strengthening the rule of law, the important role they play in human rights and building and strengthening a civil society that will thrive.

As I indicated, the United States and Ethiopia are longstanding partners. I was glad to have the opportunity to exchange views with the foreign minister on many areas of mutual interest that we share. We recognize and share concerns expressed by the government about incidents of violence and loss of life. We do firmly believe the answer is greater freedom for people, not less. We recognize the transition that is underway in Ethiopia, the first-ever voluntary transfer of power. And I view this as a very positive symbol of the strength of this very young democracy in Ethiopia, a peaceful transition of power.

Given recent events, the United States has expressed our concerns with the government’s decision to impose another state of emergency, because it does put restrictions on fundamental rights like assembly and expression. We also discussed in our exchange the importance of ensuring that security forces remain disciplined in maintaining law and order, preventing violence. They have a very difficult challenge on their hand. This is – this tests their own discipline as well.

We firmly believe that democratic reform, economic growth, and lasting stability are best addressed through an inclusive political process, rather than through the imposition of restrictions. And we encourage the Ethiopian people as well to maintain patience, maintain support for your government through this change, through this transition, but also in pursuing this journey of democracy, which takes time and effort. Democracy is not easy. It takes a lot of work. But staying with it, lasting change will come about, and to not resort to violence. Violence is simply never a solution.

I was able to raise these concerns because of this very, very strong relationship that exists between Ethiopia and the United States, and we share so many values as partners. We want Ethiopia as a country to succeed and prosper, and we’re confident that they will succeed and prosper, providing many, many economic benefits not just for the Ethiopian people, but for the neighboring countries in Africa, and ultimately for U.S. business interest as well.

We welcome the proactive steps that have already been taken with the release of thousands of prisoners, including journalists and political leaders, and we encourage additional concrete measures to allow greater political freedom of expression. As the seat of the African Union, Ethiopia plays a critical and significant role in leadership in the region throughout the continent and the world, and we appreciate its efforts for – to further our mutual goals of peace and prosperity on the continent. This is especially true of our shared security interests. As the largest contributor – Ethiopia is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations – they play a vital role in AMISOM in Somalia, as well as peacekeeping efforts in Sudan and South Sudan. We have shared treasure together in trying to advance the cause of peace, and we have shared blood together in this advance for the cause of peace, and we acknowledge that.

Ethiopia’s influence in supporting the security of Somalia and Djibouti are particularly important at this time to keep global commerce routes open. These routes through the Red Sea affect billions of people around the world in terms of their economic stability. And we discussed the United States is eager to help Ethiopia liberalize its economy. We think it’s going to bring great opportunity and attract many business interests as they continue the process of reform and liberalization, strengthen its judicial and commercial institutions, and assist in humanitarian emergencies here and throughout the region, including the almost one million refugees that currently reside in Ethiopia. And we need to reside – recognize Ethiopia’s generosity in hosting those refugees.

The United States is a long-term friend and partner of Ethiopia. We look forward to working with you as the people of Ethiopia seek greater peace, democracy and prosperity, all of which we know you will succeed at achieving. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much, excellencies. Now, back to the media. Tibebu Yared from EBC.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I am Tibebu from EBC. My question goes to Your Excellency Mr. Tillerson. What is the purpose and, of course, the implication of your visit to Ethiopia at this particular time? Thank you.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, as I indicated, this is a very, very longstanding relationship, more than 100 years. Ethiopia is a large-population country, they are an important security partner in areas that I’ve already touched upon, and we also see Ethiopia’s journey towards democracy – I think 27 years now, which is a long time, but it’s a young democracy, and as I indicated, democracies are challenging. It’s not easy to take a country forward as a democracy. And so we’re here also to support Ethiopia’s journey towards a democratic society and institutions.

But importantly, also, to have an exchange on additional steps that could be taken, what else can the U.S. do to be supportive and helpful of Ethiopia’s economic development. Ethiopia has a vibrant economy, but there’s a lot of potential that has yet to be realized in Ethiopia’s economy, and we think there are great opportunities for U.S. private sector engagement in supporting economic growth, creating jobs for these many, many millions of young people who are working hard at getting an education in school; now they want to have their opportunity for a future themselves. And so we would like – we want to be a part of that and hope to be a part of that.

So there are so many touch points where we share a common interest of security, stability for the region, which affects our security but also affects global security, and then opportunities for economic prosperity. And that’s the purpose of the trip, is to – for us to better understand how do we work together as partners to achieve what are really common aspirations.

MODERATOR: Next question, Sisay Woubeshet, Afro FM. I am trying to meet gender parity. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you very much. My question also goes to Secretary Tillerson. You came during the time of the second state of emergency here in Ethiopia, and what is your opinion towards the state of emergency, as many nations are opining on that? And how is the U.S. following the current political situation in Ethiopia and what role does it want to play? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, as I indicated, first and foremost, I want to acknowledge this voluntary transfer of power. We think that’s a very powerful symbol to the strength of the democratic process here in Ethiopia, and we think it’s important that the parliament, which has been elected by the Ethiopian people, decide who the next leadership be. That’s the way democracies should perform.

So I want to first acknowledge the very positive aspects of what is happening. I know it’s challenging for the country. It creates uncertainty. And that is the hard part of democracy. But we support this peaceful transfer of power.

As to the state of emergency, as I indicated, we believe ultimately giving people greater freedom gives them a greater investment in this democracy as well. And so while we appreciate the government’s responsibility to maintain control and not allow violence to break out and harm innocent people as well who may become victims of violence, it is important that that – that the country move on past the state of emergency as quickly as possible. We hope that that can occur. As I said, we’re encouraged that a number of steps have been taken to release large numbers of people who have been detained. That’s an important step. But the citizens of Ethiopia have a responsibility as well to behave in a nonviolent way, and we hope the government allows that nonviolent expression to take place. This is all part of understanding how to best serve the citizens of Ethiopia.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Girum Chala from CGTN, international correspondent based in Addis.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I’m from CGTN. Mr. Minister, thank you very much, as well as Mr. Secretary. Ethiopian Airlines over the past few years has spent about $20 billion – that’s Ethiopian money – invested in the United States, in Boeing Company, to be particularly straightforward. Now, when it comes to those – the money spent, 100,000-plus jobs were created in the United States. When it comes to the investments of the United States to Africa, Ethiopia particularly, we don’t see much. Policy-wise, what’s the next move in this country and particularly also in the African continent to expedite investment? And how do you view, Mr. Minister, the expectation from Ethiopia’s side, the U.S. involvement in helping the country industrialize and even more trade internationally? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, we had a very robust discussion of economic opportunities and the potential economic opportunities that we see within Ethiopia. And because you mentioned the aviation connection, Ethiopia is becoming a critical hub for intercontinental traffic for people traveling from the United States, with more and more nonstop connections for Americans to travel to Addis Ababa and then make connections to other parts of the continent. I think this is going to promote a great deal of interest in Africa and in Ethiopia. There are still economic reform measures that are necessary, not just in Ethiopia, but in other parts of Africa as well, to lower some of the barriers to investment, create greater certainty to outside business investors, strong rule of law, good regulatory processes. The more privatization of holdings as possible creates opportunities. But we understand this is all part of governments in transitions, economies in transitions, but that’s what we encourage, is what are the areas of opportunity where we believe there will be strong interest in U.S. companies to participate.

I commented on, in our discussions, the what we understand soon-to-be-completed continental free trade agreement, and we believe stimulating intra-continental economic activity and trade from countries on the continent is actually going to create even more opportunity for inbound foreign investment, and certainly U.S. business interest, in wanting to be a part of the intra-continental trading system as well. Similarly, with the civil aviation agreement that’s being negotiated through the African Union. That once again is going to just tie the continent more closely together, more efficiently.

All of these are very positive conditions for outside businesses to want to participate and be a part of. So I think a number of very positive steps are being taken, and I think it’s really ensuring that American businessmen and investors understand what are the opportunities here. And we had discussions about how to do that as well. Recently creating an American Chamber of Commerce-Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce partnership is going to be very important to exposing American businesses to the opportunities here.

So I think there’s a lot of it in front of us yet to come, and as the conditions are created and some of these pieces come into place, I think American business and private sector interest is going to grow in Ethiopia.

FOREIGN MINISTER WORKNEH: Yeah. As Secretary has said, the issue of investment and trade is also one of the agendas that we have discussed with Secretary Tillerson. Africa is a future continent, as Secretary said, and Africa is a population who have more than 70 percent of users and skilled labor. So coming to Africa is, by all measurements, will benefit the business, the investment of America. So we are expecting more investors to come to Ethiopia and Africa; we are expecting more business from here to United States of America and from America to Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines is one of the largest airline who have the largest passengers from here, from Africa to United States of America and vice versa. This trade relationship will continue, and we hope that this visit also assists a lot to this – boosting this investment in trade.

MODERATOR: Last question. Kylie Atwood, CBS.

QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Tillerson, I want to pivot to North Korea for a minute with you. South Korea now says that Kim Jong-un is willing to negotiate with the U.S. on abandoning his nuclear program. You’ve said that you are listening to North Korea, and you said that the message from them will come very explicitly. Is this the message that you needed to hear? And are you worried that the South Koreans are overeager? Can the U.S. now commit to negotiations with North Korea? And I have to ask you one more question about Russia.

MODERATOR: Only one question.

QUESTION: I got cut off last time. Can I ask one more? Thank you. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is said to be here in Ethiopia at the same time as you, and the Russian embassy says he’s actually staying at this same hotel. He says there have been talks of you and he meeting. Do you plan to meet with him while you’re here? And if not, what does that say about U.S. diplomacy, that you refuse an opportunity to meet face to face to express U.S. frustrations over Russia’s continued military campaign in Syria? Thank you.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: I think there’s five or six questions in there. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m sorry, but we had to do it.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: First, with respect to North Korea, I think, as President Trump has indicated, potentially positive signals coming from North Korea by way of their intra-Korean dialogue with South Korea. We maintain very, very close communication with President Moon of the Republic of Korea. They are keeping us well informed of their meetings, the content of those meetings and the nature of those meetings, and we’re providing them input as well.

In terms of direct talks with the United States – and you asked negotiations, and we’re a long ways from negotiations. I think it’s – we just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it. I think the first step – and I’ve said this before – is to have talks, have some kind of talks about talks, because I don’t know yet, until we are able to meet ourselves face to face with representatives of North Korea, whether the conditions are right to even begin thinking about negotiations. And that’s kind of the current state of play.

With respect to my meeting Foreign Minister Lavrov, I’ve lost track of how many meetings he and I had last year. So any notion of us rejecting diplomatic engagement is really silly. That’s just silly. We have had extensive negotiations, contact, dialogue. We have strategic dialogues. We have a number of mechanisms by which we talk to one another. I was unaware Foreign Minister Lavrov was going to be here at the same time I was until a couple of days ago, and I’m unaware of any outreach to want to meet until I was on my way over here. My schedule’s largely set, so if it doesn’t work out here, he and I see each other often around the world, and we have each other’s telephone numbers, and we do use them.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I thank you, excellencies. Thank you, media houses. Your Excellency Tillerson said that this is his first visit, but I hope this will not be his last visit to Ethiopia. Thank you very much. Thank you.


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Tillerson in Ethiopia: China, Security, Peace Media Round Up
Tillerson, in Africa, Dodges Questions on Vulgarity and Trolling (NYT)
Tillerson and Lavrov Book Same Ethiopian Hotel—and Can’t Agree on a Meeting (Bloomberg)
Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson (Reuters)
Trump’s comments on Africa cast pall over Tillerson’s long-awaited trip (The Washington Post)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
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Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up
Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson (Reuters)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
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Ethiopia Beset by Long-Running Divisions

Cradle of Mankind: Ethiopia. (Photo: Travcoa)

AFP

Ethiopia: Ancient land beset by long-running divisions

Paris – A cradle of mankind, modern-day Ethiopia is riven by ethnic tensions, gripped by anti-government rebellions and now under a state of emergency.

Here are some key facts about Africa’s second most populous nation:

Ancient history

Ethiopia is the oldest independent African state and one of the oldest in the world, dating back more than 2 000 years.

It also has a claim on being the birthplace of mankind. Its Awash Valley has yielded some of the earliest hominid remains, including the fossil of a partial skeleton, dubbed Lucy, which has been dated around 3.2 million years old.

With a population of around 102 million people in 2016, according to the World Bank, Ethiopia counts more than 80 ethnicities.

Around 60% are Christian and more than 30% Muslim.

Ethiopia is a federal state with considerable autonomy granted to regions and most power held by the prime minister.

It hosts the African Union’s headquarters.

Famines and wars

Except for a brief period under Italian occupation between 1935 and 1941, Ethiopia was never subjected to European colonisation – a rarity in Africa.

Emperor Haile Selassie dominated between 1916 and 1974, save for a period of exile during the Italian occupation.

After 1974, when he was overthrown in a coup and later executed, Ethiopia underwent a series of military dictatorships, notably under Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam who waged a series of bloody purges dubbed the “Red Terror”. He was ousted in 1991.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a series of devastating famines which caused widespread starvation.

The UN said 1.2 million people died in 1984-85 alone and the tragedy shot to global attention when Band Aid recorded a single to raise money for famine relief.

When Eritrea gained de-facto independence in 1991, Ethiopia was deprived of access to the Red Sea.

War broke out between the neighbours between 1998 to 2000 over a border dispute, which remains a source of tension despite an accord.

Resistance, repression

The regime was confronted in 2015 by anti-government protests originating in the Oromia region, home to the largest ethnic group, that spread in 2016.

The repression left about 940 people dead, according to the government-linked Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Relative calm only returned with the imposition of a state of emergency from 2016 to 2017, resulting in thousands of arrests.

The protests by the Oromo and Amhara people, around 60% of the population combined, were sparked by what they saw as the over-representation of the Tigrayan minority within the ruling regime.

Protesters also denounced constraints on individual freedoms and an imbalance in the sharing of the country’s riches.

In 2018 the authorities released thousands of prisoners, including political opponents.

Mid-February the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned unexpectedly after protracted anti-government protests.

This led to the imposition of a six-month state of emergency and the banning of protests.

Read more »


Related:
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Girl Band Yegna Shake Off Spice Girls Tag

A group that supports women’s rights using music influenced by Ethiopian heritage is thriving – despite losing UK aid funding. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

‘By Ethiopians, for Ethiopians’: Girl Band Yegna Shake Off Spice Girls Tag

In the grounds of a school in Bahir Dar, a city in north-west Ethiopia, thousands of young fans have gathered to catch a glimpse of the country’s hottest girl band.

Behind billowing white sheets in a makeshift green room, the four women collectively known as Yegna prepare to take the stage. As the harsh lunchtime sunshine beats down, curious schoolchildren press up against the material to get a glimpse of their idols, who have been dubbed Ethiopia’s Spice Girls by the British press.

More than just a band, Yegna, which means “ours” in Amharic, use music and drama to raise awareness of child marriage, sexual harassment, violence and the importance of education. And it’s making a difference. An estimated 8.5 million people have heard the band’s messages.

Bilen, 14, is at the concert with her sister. “Yegna taught us the motto ‘Yes we can,’” she says. “As we grow up, I think people think less of girls, and that’s what we used to think too. But our perspective has been changed by Yegna.”

But last year, Yegna’s work came under threat when the UK’s Department for International Development, which helped create the band in 2012, abruptly announced it was cutting funding following media criticism. DfID said it took the decision to end its partnership with Girl Effect, which oversees Yegna, after a review of the programme.

A spokesperson said: “There are more effective ways to invest UK aid and to deliver even better results for the world’s poorest and value for taxpayers’ money.”

Girl Effect had received an initial DfID grant of £4m for Yegna, covering the period from 2011 to 2015. They were later given a further £5.2m for 2015-18, although the premature conclusion to the partnership meant not all these funds were drawn down.

The Daily Mail hailed DfID’s decision, but the announcement drew criticism from women’s rights campaigners.

Ripples from the decision ran from Ethiopia to the UK. Yegna drew support from Lemn Sissay, the British poet and broadcaster of Ethiopian heritage, who has performed with the band and chose one of their tracks, Taitu, when he appeared on Desert Island Discs.

Read more »

Watch: Aster Aweke ft Yegna, TAITU Ethiopian Music Video


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Russia Suggests Tillerson-Lavrov Meeting in Ethiopia This Week

Sergei Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia briefs the media at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 28, 2018. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that Russia had suggested a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Ethiopia this week, the RIA news agency reported.

Both men are expected to make Africa trips this week and Ryabkov was cited as saying that Moscow had proposed they hold talks in Ethiopia at the end of the week.

Ryabkov also commented on the situation in Syria’s eastern Ghouta rebel-held enclave.

The Interfax news agency cited him as saying that the U.S. assessment of the situation there“did not correspond to reality.”


Related:
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

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Dispute Over Ethiopia Emergency Vote

Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the Parliament, during the state of emergency vote on March 2, 2018. Abadula was captured on camera announcing that there were 346 yes votes cast for the state of emergency, which is below the required two-thirds number. But Ethiopian TV reported that 395 MPs had supported the proposal. Now the ruling party claims Abadula made a mistake, while the opposition allege vote fraud. Below is an update from Reuters. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

Dispute Over Ethiopia Emergency Rule Vote After Footage Posted Online

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Footage of an Ethiopian parliamentary session posted online on Saturday appeared to contradict official reports of the number of votes cast to validate the state of emergency, though government officials dismissed the discrepancy as a mistake.

On Friday, the House of People’s Representatives held an emergency session on state of emergency legislation imposed on Feb. 16, a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprise resignation.

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said on Friday that 395 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill, putting the government comfortably within the two-thirds majority needed to validate the state of emergency, which bans demonstrations and restricts publications that could incite violence.

But footage made public by the privately-owned Addis Standard news website showed parliamentary speaker Abadula Gemeda stating at the end of the session that 346 parliamentarians had voted in favour.

Abadula also appeared to have made a mathematical mistake, saying 339 was the required two-thirds of 539 seats.

In fact, a vote of 346 would be below the threshold needed if the two-thirds rule applied to the total number of seats, rather than the number of parliamentarians present. It was not clear from the constitution how the two-thirds rule was meant to be applied.

The discrepancies sparked claims of vote fraud from the opposition.

Read more »


Related:
Watch: Did Ethiopian Parliament rig state of emergency vote? (Addis Standard)

Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up
Under a new state of emergency, Ethiopia is on the brink of crisis, again (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia: Social Media, Diaspora & State of Emergency Press Roundup

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Reuters photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 3rd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be heading to Addis Ababa next week as part of his first trip to Africa as America’s top diplomat.

Tillerson’s trip to Ethiopia comes as the country’s parliament, which is entirely controlled by the ruling coalition party, approved — in a disputed vote — a controversial state of emergency on Friday and suspending the constitutional rights of all Ethiopians.

Last month the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa released a press statement that strongly disagreed with Ethiopia’s state of emergency declaration, and urged its close African ally to focus instead on encouraging “greater freedom, not less.” The press release added that: “the challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions.”

However, given that the U.S. has other interests and partnerships with Ethiopia regarding regional security and other matters it is highly unlikely that Tillerson’s agenda will be limited to Ethiopia’s domestic political crisis.

The U.S. State Department announced that Tillerson will also travel to Chad, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.

The State Department’s press release says that “during his March 6-13 trip, Tillerson plans to discuss ways we can work with our partners to counter terrorism, advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment,” and noting that the U.S. Secretary of State is likewise scheduled to meet with officials of the African Union Commission headquartered in Addis Ababa.

This U.S. diplomatic excursion follows the global firestorm sparked in January by President Trump’s reported “shithole” remarks in reference to the African continent and its people. Trump denies making the comment.

—-
Related:
Under a new state of emergency, Ethiopia is on the brink of crisis, again (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia: Social Media, Diaspora & State of Emergency Press Roundup

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In Historic Move, Israel’s Ethiopian Religious Leaders Gain Official Status

Leaders of the Ethiopian-Israeli community officiating at the Sig'd holiday ceremony in Jerusalem on Nov 16, 2017. (Photo TPS)

The Jewish Voice

The Ministerial Committee for the Integration of Israeli Citizens of Ethiopian Descent approved a proposal Monday to grant kessim, Ethiopian religious leaders, official status as part of a move to expand religious services and improve infrastructure in the Ethiopian community.

The Committee said in a statement that the decision also includes an orderly outline for the integration of rabbis of Ethiopian origin into state-sponsored religious councils, in order “to bring about their optimal integration in the network of religious services and to improve religious services available to Israeli citizens of Ethiopian origin” as well as to the general public.

Leaders of the Ethiopian-Israeli community called the decision “historic” and said the move was the culmination of a process that has lasted more than 30 years, since the first wave of Ethiopian Jews came to Israel in 1984, during Operation Moses.

“Justice has been done,” said Kes Shimon Samai Elias, who immigrated to Rishon Lezion in 1989. “Justice for Ethiopian tradition in general, and for Kessim in particular. It is a recognition that we are a community with values, with traditions, with leaders, with religious ceremonies.

Kes Elias said the decision reverses a long-standing affront to the Ethiopian-Israeli community. He said that granting official standing to kessim would allow them to perform a range of religious functions including marriage and divorce.

Michal Avera Samuel, the executive director of the Fidel Association for Education and Social Integration of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, said the decision was especially meaningful because of its symbolic recognition of Ethiopian Jewry’s place in the Israeli mosaic.

“(The decision) integrates the traditions of Ethiopian Jewry into the Israeli narrative and will contribute a great deal to young people in this community as they solidify their identity. We are hopeful that the government decision will be fully implemented,” Samuel said

Read more »

—-
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Ethiopian Jews Threaten Mass Hunger Strike Over Israel Move

Members of Ethiopia's Jewish community hold pictures of their relatives in Israel, during a solidarity event at the synagogue in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews gathered at the synagogue to express concern that Israel's proposed budget removes the funding to help them immigrate to reunite with relatives in that country, as representatives said they will stage a mass hunger strike if Israel eliminates the funding. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By Elias Meseret 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Representatives for thousands of Ethiopian Jews announced Wednesday they will stage a mass hunger strike if Israel eliminates funding to allow them to join their families in that country.

Hundreds gathered at a synagogue in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to express concern that Israel’s proposed budget removes the funding to help them immigrate to reunite with relatives.

Most of the nearly 8,000 Ethiopian Jews in the East African nation are said to have family members already in Israel. Some told The Associated Press they have been separated for well over a decade.

Activists say Israel’s government in 2015 pledged to bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel. In 1991 with Ethiopia in civil war, Israel carried out the dramatic Operation Solomon, successfully airlifting out some 14,500 Ethiopian Jews in less than two days.

Read more »


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America: Time to Step Up and Avoid Water War Over Ethiopia Nile Dam

"The United States does not have a dog in the fight, except that it has relatively decent relations with both Egypt and Ethiopia," wrote the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday in an editorial urging the U.S. to help resolve the differences between the two African nations over Ethiopia's almost completed multibillion-dollar hydroelectric power plant. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is regarded in Ethiopia as a flagship infrastructure and economic project even as the country has descended into political turmoil in recent days. In the meantime Egypt is stepping-up its public relations campaign arguing that the dam could reduce its water flow. Below is an excerpt from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial published on February 26th, 2018. (AP Photo)

THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Water wars: Tensions build over a Nile dam in Ethiopia

A major drama is building in northeast Africa, among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, as Ethiopia nears completion of work on a large new dam on the Nile River…

Ethiopia has been building for years the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam at its border with Sudan. It’s on what is called the Blue Nile, the river’s other major tributary. The Blue Nile accounts for some 85 percent of the water flowing into the main Nile. Ethiopia is at the point of filling the huge reservoir behind the dam, already, in Egypt’s eyes, putting Egypt’s Nile waters at risk. Egypt’s complaint is that the Ethiopians have built the dam without, or with insufficient, consultation with it, as to its impact on Egypt. Egypt itself built the massive Aswan Dam, with financing help from the Soviet Union, completing it in 1970.

Sudan, a very dry country, is happy enough with the new Ethiopian dam, which will make irrigation and thus cultivation in it much more feasible than before, attracting investment, increasing food supplies and bringing other benefits.

The United States does not have a dog in the fight, except that it has relatively decent relations with both Egypt and Ethiopia, would not like to see them descend into warfare with each other, and hopes that trouble over the dam will not generate one more war in northeast Africa. There already continues in that region, with American military involvement, the long war between different elements in Somalia, bordering on Ethiopia. The trouble in Somalia started in 1991, and matters there are no better now than they were when the United States first put troops into the conflict in 1992. That war also serves as the justification for the United States maintaining 4,000 troops, jet fighter-bombers and drones in neighboring Djibouti, the former French Somaliland, an expensive U.S. overseas presence…With the Ethiopian dam issue heating up, it could be a good moment for America to step up to the plate to help resolve a serious problem over water, increasingly the basis for major problems in the world.

Click here to read the full article at post-gazette.com »


Related:
The Nile Belongs to Ethiopia Too (The Guardian)
Egypt Should Welcome Ethiopia’s Nile Dam (Bloomberg Editorial)
Tom Campbell: America Would Be Wrong to Favor Egypt in Water Rift (OC Register)
Visualizing Nile Data – Access to Electricity vs Fresh Water (TADIAS)
Hydropolitics Between Ethiopia and Egypt: A Historical Timeline (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Releases More Prisoners (Reuters)

A crowd welcoming the release of Bekele Gerba in Adama on Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

REUTERS

NAIROBI – Ethiopia has released more than 1,500 prisoners in its eastern Somali region, government officials said on social media, days after the government declared a state of emergency to try to tamp down unrest in Africa’s second most populous nation.

“On Wednesday, over 1,500 prisoners were released following a pardon by President Abdi Mohammed Omer,” the Somali Region’s communications bureau said on Facebook late on Wednesday, referring to the regional president.

“The inmates had been jailed on charges that include anti-peace activities,” it added, without giving details.

Ethiopia has already released more than 6,000 prisoners since January, including some high-profile journalists and opposition leaders. They were charged with a variety of offences, including terrorism.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the releases were designed to increase “political space” in Ethiopia following anti-government protests that began in 2015.

Hundreds of people were killed during two years of protests that convulsed the country’s two most populous provinces, whose ethnic Oromo and Amharic communities complain they are under-represented in the country’s corridors of power.

Friday’s declaration of a six-month-long state of emergency followed Hailemariam’s surprise resignation on Thursday. He remains in office, overseeing the region’s biggest economy, until a new prime minister is appointed.

The government previously imposed a state of emergency in October 2016, which was lifted in August 2017. During that time, curfews were in place, movement was restricted and about 29,000 people were detained. It’s unclear how many remain in prison.


Related:
The Economist on Ethiopia’s Current Political Climate
Diaspora: Why Should U.S. Solve Ethiopia’s Domestic Problem?
Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast! (Open Democracy)
Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Economist on Ethiopia’s Current Political Climate

Adama, Ethiopia, Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

The Economist

Protest, repress, reform, repeat: With nobody in charge, Ethiopia declares a state of emergency

THE well-heeled residents of Legetafo are not used to demonstrations. The town on the eastern edge of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is home to politicians and businessfolk. Although nearby towns in the region of Oromia, which surrounds the capital, have been hit by anti-government protests since late 2014, these streets have remained mostly quiet.

Yet this month demonstrations broke out there too, as people joined a strike to force the ruling coalition to release more political prisoners (in addition to the thousands it has already freed since the start of the year). “Almost everyone” took to the streets, says Zenebe, a local restaurant-owner. Things quickly turned ugly. People set up roadblocks and burned tyres. The army responded with tear gas and bullets. Faced with spreading protests and ethnic attacks on Tigrayans (who are about 6% of the population but dominate politics), the government announced a state of emergency, giving itself wide powers to ban protests and arrest people.

The declaration appears at odds with recent signs that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was willing to allow more democracy. In August it lifted a ten-month-long state of emergency, imposed after protests in 2016. But rather than signalling a retreat from reform, the new state of emergency appears to have been triggered by the resignation the day before of Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister.

Hailemariam said he was bowing out to allow for “reforms”, but his departure has opened up a succession struggle within the EPRDF, which has governed Ethiopia since it first seized power as a band of rebels in 1991.

Read more »


Related:
Another 1,500 Prisoners Released in Ethiopia (VOA)
Diaspora: Why Should U.S. Solve Ethiopia’s Domestic Problem?
Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast! (Open Democracy)
Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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Diaspora: Why Should U.S. Solve Ethiopia’s Domestic Problem?

The last time the U.S. brokered a political deal in Ethiopia in 1991 under the guardianship of Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, we ended up with the presently failing system of government. Now there is a new Diaspora idea floating around the internet soliciting the Trump administration to referee Ethiopia's current domestic problems. But in fairness the future of Ethiopia is up to Ethiopians not a foreign power, nor should it be. As we have said before instead of declaring state of emergency, "the Ethiopian government along with the people of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Diaspora can help shape a constructive dialogue -- to facilitate and empower the political space being demanded by a new generation of leaders and pro-Ethiopia opposition voices -- while still maintaining the longstanding friendship and the ongoing partnerships between USA and Ethiopia." In the meantime Bloomberg news reports from Addis Ababa that the next PM might actually hail from the protest-hit regions. (Photo: Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC/AP)

Bloomberg

Ethiopia’s Next Leader Could Come From Protest-Hit Region

Ethiopia’s ruling party could choose the leader of the protest-hit Oromia region as its next chairman, a step toward succeeding Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, a party official said.

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front will probably decide on a new head within the next two weeks, Getachew Reda, a member of the EPRDF’s executive committee, said in an interview on Tuesday. Lemma Megersa, the leader of the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization, has been touted as a potential successor to Hailemariam.

“There is nothing institutional, moral or legal that stands in the way of Lemma becoming chairman,” Getachew said in the capital, Addis Ababa. “This is not in any way an endorsement of anyone. Technically, anyone can come in.”

Hailemariam resigned Feb. 15 after failing to quell more than two years of sporadic and often deadly anti-government protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. The next day, the government declared a state of emergency, the second time since 2016 it’s suspended the constitution to deal with the unrest. The demonstrations occurred amid conflict between the Oromo and Somali regions that has forced more than 900,000 people to flee their homes.

Ethiopia Faces Watershed Moment After Prime Minister Resigns

Ethiopia, Africa’s fastest-growing economy over the past decade, is a key U.S. ally in its battle against al-Qaeda in the Horn of Africa. Home to more than 100 million people, the $72 billion economy has drawn investors including General Electric Co., Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group and hundreds of Chinese companies.

The Oromo and Amhara communities together make up more than half of Ethiopia’s population, Africa’s second-largest after Nigeria…Lemma is a member of the EPRDF Council, but isn’t a member of Ethiopia’s parliament, the House of People’s Representatives. That means the council could elect him chairman, but a new prime minister “will have to become a member of parliament,” possibly through a special by-election, Getachew said.

Read more »


Related:
Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast! (Open Democracy)
Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

LA: The Return of Ayelew Mesfin – Pictures

Ayelew Mesfin with Debo Band at Echoplex in Los Angeles, CA on February 13th, 2018. (Photo Farah Sosa)

Grimy Goods — LA Music Blog

The music of Los Angeles is a reflection of its people. Men and women from all parts of the world reflecting different heritage but coming together in the spirit of music. In this occasion, the Echoplex was packed for Ethiopia to be the center of attention with the return of Ayalew Mesfin.

Ayalew Mesfin is a legendary Ethiopian funk artist from the 70’s. Back then, his music was oppressed by a dictatorship and now, it comes out to light, strong as ever in times of greater freedom. Most of his songs revolve around social issues and political protest. Ayalew is on tour with Debo Band lead by Ethiopian American musicians that blend their traditional scales and vocal styles with American soul and funk rhythms. Although the Ethiopian Funk God could not perform for their entire set due to mourning recent deaths in his country, he shared his political views and performed one song of protest, “Hasabe” (My Worries). This was enough for the very respectful crowd that continued enjoying the night. His music has been released once again by record label Now-Again x Vinyl Me.

The night was strong beginning to end. Los Angeles ethio-jazz bands Wondem and Ethio Cali started up the night with their own magic, exchanging musicians and providing sounds with unique and separate identities. Wondem was joined by the delicately fierce Sudan Archives while Ethio Cali delivered a scorching hot performance, one of the best one of the best ones I have experienced.

Click here to read more and see photos »


Related:
Ayaléw Mèsfin, a lost voice from Ethiopia’s Golden Age (Berkeleyside)
Spotlight: The Revived Ethio-Groove Of Ayalew Mesfin and His U.S. Tour (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: Game Over, Or Not, PM’s Resignation Has Altered the Conversation

For those who follow the ins and outs of Ethiopian politics on a regular basis the recent sudden resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on February 15th might have arrived a bit earlier than they had anticipated, and less as a surprise, but for most of the general public it was a shocker and wake-up call that has refocused the conversation on what may await Ethiopia in the near future. Below is the latest news update about the controversial state of emergency and other related links. (Photo: AFP)

BBC News

Why has Ethiopia imposed a state of emergency?

Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa and one which has seen a booming economy recently, has been shaken up in the past week.

First Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned after five years in power.

Then a national state of emergency was declared the next day.

A statement by the state broadcaster said the move was necessary to stem a wave of anti-government protests.

Hundreds of people have died in three years of unrest, and this is the second time since 2016 that a state of emergency has been declared.

What does the state of emergency prevent?

  • Preparing, printing or circulating any information that could cause disturbance or
    suspicion

  • Displaying or publicising signs that could stir up violence
  • Protests and any form of group assembly
  • The halting of public services by anti-government protesters
  • The closing of businesses by anti-government protesters

    The government also retains the freedom to shut down the media and impose a public curfew, details of which have not been released.

    Under the conditions of the state of emergency, any person shutting down businesses or public services will face court action.

    Why was a state of emergency declared?

    The government gave three key reasons:

  • To ensure peace and political stability
  • To respond to the resignation of the prime minister
  • To facilitate a peaceful transition of power

    However, some analysts say the order lacks legal basis and that claims about instability are not true. Instead they view the state of emergency as a warning to those who might try and cause trouble when a new prime minister is appointed.

    Local activists are worried that another government measure might be aimed at further quelling dissent.

    In January, officials released more than 3,000 political activists and journalists from prison including opposition leaders Bekele Gerba, Merera Gudina and Andualem Arage.

    Opposition leader Merera Gudina is the highest profile prisoner to have been released so far
    Activists say that the government might be releasing prisoners now to make space for others later.

    But the authorities say the pardons are part of a move to create a national consensus and widen democratic participation.

    The state of emergency, opponents say, contradicts that.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Magazine)
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Ethiopia’s Great Rift (Foreign Policy Mag)

    Will a power struggle within the ruling party lead to reform — or more repression? (Photo: Anti-government protesters demonstrate in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on Oct. 1, 2017. (Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

    Foreign Policy

    DDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — On the day that Bekele Gerba, a prominent Ethiopian opposition leader, was released from prison, thousands of people took to the streets in celebration. It was a scene unlike any other in Ethiopia over the last quarter century, during which the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has kept a tight lid on dissent. On Feb. 13, jubilant crowds thronged into the streets and over soccer pitches, waving political flags and chanting Bekele’s name. Two days later, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned. After nearly three years of sporadic anti-government protests, demonstrators in Ethiopia’s disaffected Oromia and Amhara regions finally appeared to have gained the upper hand. Then on Feb. 16, the tide seemed to turn against them once again, as the government announced the imposition of a national state of emergency, the second of its kind in as many years.

    Bekele’s release was the culmination of a three-day standoff between the government, which had previously announced its intention to release some of its many thousands of political prisoners, and the protesters, who had grown impatient with the slow pace of the promised amnesties. For nearly a month, the wind has seemed to be at the protesters’ backs: More than 6,000 political prisoners have been freed since January, meeting one of the demonstrators’ most central demands. “Within a month, the political environment has completely changed,” says Hallelujah Lulie, a political consultant based in Addis Ababa.

    But a newly announced state of emergency, which will mean federal troops patrolling towns across Oromia and a curfew in parts of the country for the next six months, threatens to stall momentum for reform.

    Behind the drama of the last week lies a radical shift in Ethiopia’s political landscape, one that has the potential to lead to genuine reforms.

    Read more »


    Related:
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Global Lessons of Peaceful Change at Crucial Time for Ethiopia

    “Nonviolence is an intensely active force when properly understood and used,” says Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi whose nonviolent civil disobedience inspired many international civil rights movements and leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. Today, as the world watches whether Ethiopians can pull off a major political transformation or not without repeating our tragic history of civil war and the mistakes of the 1970's and 80's, which still reverberate to this day, we share this timely piece from the Global Citizen website highlighting five powerful examples of peaceful protests from around the globe that led to positive social, and political changes. (AP Photo: Students protesting in Addis Ababa, September 1974)

    Global Citizen

    5 Peaceful Protests That Led to Change

    Peaceful stances against unequal civil rights have been successful throughout history and nonviolent movements can lead to meaningful systemic change. Reflecting back on several landmark moments can act as a guide for action in these tumultuous times to gain equality for all lives in society.

    Here are five peaceful protests which led to positive social, and political changes.

    The Salt March

    During the transition between the wet to dry season of 1930 Mahatma (Mohandas) Gandhi led a peaceful protest against Britain’s imposed law dictating no Indian could collect or sell salt in the country. Followed by dozens, Gandhi walked over 240 miles leading protesters to the Arabian Sea to pick up a small handful of salt out of the muddy waters of the sea. Seventeen years later, after this peaceful yet defiant act, India gained independence from Britain.

    Suffrage Parade

    This message, “To ask for freedom is not a crime,” still holds true today. Peaceful protests like the 1913 Suffrage Parade shared the voices of over 5,000 courageous women speaking out for the right to equal political participation. This protest can remind us peaceful acts have the power to change the system. “We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.” – Emmeline Pankhurst

    Singing Revolution

    Music and social activism have long been “partners in [nonviolent] crime.” During the Singing Revolution, Estonia literally sang its way out of the rule under the Soviet Union. In 1988, more than 100,000 Estonians gathered for five nights to protest Soviet rule. This was known as the Singing Revolution. For Estonians, music and singing acted as a way to preserve culture while the small but fierce country held it’s own during invasion from Germany, Sweden, Denmark and others. In 1991, after decades of Soviet rule, a country with just 1.5 million people regained it’s independence.

    Click here to read the full article at globalcitizen.org »


    Related:
    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Vows No Military Takeover Amid Latest Emergency (AP)

    (AP file photo by Mulugeata Ayene)

    The Associated Press

    By Elias Meseret 

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s defense minister on Saturday ruled out a military takeover a day after the East African nation declared a new state of emergency amid the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century.

    The United States said it “strongly disagrees” with the new declaration that effectively bans protests, with a U.S. Embassy statement saying the answer to Ethiopia’s sometimes violent unrest is “greater freedom, not less.”

    The state of emergency will last for six months with a possible four-month extension, similar to one lifted in August, Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa said.

    He also ruled out a transitional government. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn remains in the post for now after making the surprise announcement Thursday that he had submitted a resignation letter to help planned political reforms in one of Africa’s best-performing economies succeed.

    The state of emergency will be presented for lawmakers’ approval within 15 days, Siraj said. Security forces have been instructed to take “measures” against those disturbing the country’s functioning, with a new special court established to try them.

    Ethiopia’s cabinet on Friday cited deaths, ethnic attacks and mass displacement as reasons for the latest state of emergency. The announcement followed crippling protests in towns across the restive Oromia region on Monday and Tuesday that called for the release of political prisoners and urged the government to carry out rapid reforms.

    Similar protests have taken place across Ethiopia since late 2015, leading the government to declare a state of emergency in October 2016 after hundreds of people reportedly had been killed. A stampede at a religious event southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, that month claimed the lives of several dozen people.

    That state of emergency led to the arrest of more than 22,000 people and severely affected business.

    Read more »


    Related:
    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to Reconsider State of Emergency
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Brief History of Latest Twist in Ethiopia’s Current Political Drama

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced Thursday that he has submitted a resignation letter. (AP)

    The Washington post

    In the latest twist in Ethiopia’s current political dramas, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn formally submitted his resignation from his position as the nation’s premier and as chairman of the ruling EPRDF coalition.

    That’s a dramatic development — and no one knows where it will lead. Dessalegn was elected as a compromise candidate who could balance the interests of various factions within the ruling coalition and maintain the status quo. He appeared to manage this well — until recently.

    So how did autocratic Ethiopia, a U.S. ally and Africa’s second most populous country, end up in its current tumult? Here’s what you need to know.

    Read more »


    Related:
    UPDATE: Ethiopia Says State of Emergency Will Last Six Months
    Ethiopia: Seize the Moment (Editorial)
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Ethiopia drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    U.S. Charges 13 Russians With 2016 U.S. Election Tampering

    The office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted more than a dozen Russians for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election campaign with the aim of supporting Donald Trump, the prosecutor charged. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    U.S. charges Russians with 2016 U.S. election tampering to boost Trump

    WASHINGTON – A Russian Internet agency oversaw a criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to support Donald Trump and disparage Hillary Clinton, said an indictment released on Friday that revealed more details than previously known about Moscow’s purported effort to interfere.

    The office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies. The court document said those accused “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

    The indictment said Russians adopted false online personas to push divisive messages; traveled to the United States to collect intelligence; and staged political rallies while posing as Americans. In one case, it said, the Russians paid an unidentified person to build a cage aboard a flatbed truck and another to wear a costume “portraying Clinton in a prison uniform.”

    The surprise 37-page indictment could alter the divisive U.S. domestic debate over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, undercutting some Republicans who, along with Trump, have attacked Mueller’s probe.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Read the Indictment: PDF

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    UPDATE: Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Strike

    Bekele Gerba was released from prison on Tuesday after the authorities dismissed all charges against him. Bekele’s release came amid a three-day strike across Oromiya province as well as a mass pardoning of dissidents by the government aimed at reducing unrest that has simmered since 2015. (Photograph: Bekele Gerba at the NPR office in D.C., August 2015/NPR)

    Reuters

    Ethiopia frees opposition leader amid protests

    By Aaron Maasho

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia released a senior opposition leader from prison on Tuesday and dropped all charges against him, a day after demonstrators blocked roads and staged rallies in several towns to protest against his incarceration.

    Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested in December 2015 after mass protests broke out in the Oromiya region over accusations that farmers were being forced to sell land with scant compensation.

    He had been held initially on terrorism charges, which were later reduced to charges of incitement to violence.

    “He just walked out of prison. We have confirmed that all charges against him have been dropped,” Mulatu Gemechu, a member of the OFC’s leadership told Reuters.

    State-affiliated media confirmed that Bekele had been freed along with seven other opposition figures, and that the charges against him had been dropped. Ethiopia’s information minister was not available for comment.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Andualem Arage Decline to Sign Prison Release Forms
    Ethiopia to Release Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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    Iconic Obama Portraits Unveiled in DC

    This week the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. unveiled the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. President Obama is one of the most important cultural and political icons in U.S. history as America's first and only black president. (National Gallery)

    Slate Magazine

    Why the Obamas’ New Paintings Are a Milestone in Black Portraiture

    At first glance, the recently unveiled portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama appear as their occupancy of the White House did—a dazzling and elegant streak of light and color. President Obama is set against a riot of greenery that, according to the artist, charts “his path on Earth through those plants.” Michelle Obama, famous arms on display, is rendered in grayscale against a backdrop of blue as cool as Obama herself. In aesthetics, if not always in politics, the Obamas presented a bright and lovely contrast to the stately whiteness of the highest office of our country, and the portraits presented Monday by the National Portrait Gallery capture their joint vivacity.

    The portraits are extraordinary for a myriad of reasons, not least of which is both artists the Obamas chose—Kehinde Wiley for the former president and Amy Sherald for the former first lady—are black.

    To place the pieces in their artistic and political context, I spoke to Richard J. Powell, a professor of art and art history at Duke University and an expert in the history of black portraiture.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Two iconic portraits for the iconic Obama presidency

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    US ‘All Hat and No Cattle’ in Ethiopia as Protests Flare Up Again

    As the cowboy saying goes it's "all hat and no cattle" when it comes to the Trump administration's influence on human right in Ethiopia, which seems to be limited to issuing periodic press releases and travel warnings. Below is the most recent travel advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa amid the ongoing strike and deadly protests in Oromia and Amhara regions. (Photo: At least 4 people were killed and 11 others were injured on Sunday February 11, 2018 during fresh demonstrations near the city of Harar/Addis Standard)

    Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Event: A “stay at home” strike is underway throughout the Oromia and Amhara regions and is expected to last through February 15. There have been reports of protestors in both regions engaging public transport buses with rocks and rioting. There are also reports of road blocks along the border between Addis Ababa and Oromia.

    Actions to Take:

  • Postpone travel to these regions until the strike concludes.
  • If you are currently in Oromia or Amhara, you should shelter in place.
  • Employ sound security practices.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings, including local events.
  • Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations; monitor local news stations; and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Remember that the security environment in Ethiopia is fluid and can deteriorate without warning.


    Related:
    AT LEAST FOUR PEOPLE KILLED, SEVERAL INJURED WHEN SECURITY FORCES OPEN FIRE AT IDP CAMP IN EASTERN ETHIOPIA; STAY AT HOME BOYCOTT HAPPENING IN VARIOUS CITIES IN OROMIA (AS)

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  • Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future

    (Photo: Pixabay)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 12th, 2018

    New York (TADIAS) — A timely and healthy debate appears to be finally emerging online both in Ethiopia and abroad as Ethiopians grapple with the political future of their country.

    In a recent article published by the Washington Post U.S.-based Ethiopian academic Yohannes Y. Gedamu, who teaches political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, asked a fitting question: Ethiopia just pardoned political prisoners. Could that signal a shift to real democracy?

    As Yohannes points out: “Some observers were cautiously optimistic after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprising Jan. 3 announcement that the government would release some political prisoners, including opposition leader Merera Gudina [who has since been freed along with many others]. That release, however, was partial. The government is still holding thousands of other opposition figures and protesters, along with journalists who have reported critically on the regime.”

    Yohannes who is also writing a book called Ethnic Federalism and Authoritarian Survival in Ethiopia adds: “Ethiopia adopted a constitution that established ethnic federalism, in which regions’ boundaries were drawn according to ethnic and linguistic classifications. Implemented in 1995, the new constitution was ostensibly designed to promote group’s rights. But the ethnic federal model hasn’t ended ethnic inequality. Rather, it has created winners and losers.”

    In another piece published by the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) James Jeffrey’s article entitled Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia Stoked by Social Media from U.S. may be pushing inaccurate assertions as the percentage of individuals with access to the Internet in Ethiopia is recorded as low as 4.2 percent by Internet Live Stats and as high as only 15% by Internet World Stats. Nonetheless Jeffrey makes the point that “since 1995, Ethiopia has applied a distinct political model of ethnically based federalism to the country’s heterogeneous masses — about 100 million people speaking more than 80 dialects.”

    These articles follow on the heels of an AFP report released this month, which cites UN data showing that approximately one million people have been displaced in Ethiopia due to ethnic violence.


    Related:
    PM Hailemariam Desalegn Resigns (Reuters)
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye Released From Prison
    Bekele Gerba Freed Amid Protests
    Signs of Hopeful Debate Emerge Online as Ethiopia Grapples with Future
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia: Review of Aida Edemariam’s New Book ‘The Wife’s Tale’

    In this indelible memoir that recalls the life of her remarkable ninety-five-year old grandmother, Guardian journalist Aida Edemariam tells the story of modern Ethiopia. (Harper)

    New Statesman

    The Wife’s Tale: Aida Edemariam’s vivid portrait of her 95-year-old Ethiopian grandmother

    When Aida Edemariam was a tiny child in Ethiopia, her grandmother shoved her and a cousin into a cupboard and stood protectively in front of it while the children crouched “among soft white dresses that smelled of incense and wood smoke and limes”. The country was at war, a tornado was roaring outside, and among the sheets of corrugated iron, hurtling “like dark leaves of paper through the tarnished sky”, were volleys of machine-gun bullets. Panicky teenaged soldiers were trying to kill “the devil in the wind”.

    Lethal modern weaponry juxtaposed with ancient superstition, the fragrance of luxuries the first Ethiopian Christians would have enjoyed, harsh weather, a narrative full of sensuous detail and poetic imagery – the vignette, one of scores of comparable ones, encapsulates the character of this remarkable book. It tells the life story of that grandmother, Yetemegnu. The narrative begins in 1916 with her wedding, when she was eight years old. When the groom came to fetch her from her family’s house in the once-imperial city of Gondar, disease was killing people in the marketplace. While she sat silent in the hut where, if she’d been a little older, the marriage would have been consummated, on the other side of the compound the guests feasted on food that had taken months to prepare. There was dancing, and ululations, and a minstrel “tossed rhymes like spears into the crowd”. Only when the festivities ended, days later, did Yetemegnu lift her veil and see the man she’d married, and murmur astonished to the groomsman: “When I have children they’re going to look like that!’

    She had nine children, five of whom predeceased her. That husband, Tsega, was a lowly priest when they married but, although a curse laid upon him by his father prevented him from writing, he was master of the oral art of qinè (sacred poetry). He went to Addis Ababa. After two years, he was invited to one of the empress’s banquets. She noticed he was fasting and, approving, invited him to speak. He declaimed his poem of praise. It found favour. “What can I do for you?” said the empress. He asked for Gondar’s venerable church of Ba’ata (destroyed by Islamists in the 1880s) and the wherewithal to rebuild it. “Of course,” said the empress. She awarded him an embroidered tunic, a gold-trimmed cape, mules loaded with Maria Theresa silver, and the title of aléqa (leader of the church). With the suddenness of magical transformation, Yetemegnu, still barely in her teens, found herself the wife of a “big man”.

    Read more »


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    9 Short Stories on Migrants in Canada by Ethiopian Author Djamila Ibrahim

    Djamila Ibrahim, author of 'Things Are Good Now,' has lived the migrant experience herself. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she moved to Canada in 1990. (The Toronto Star)

    The Toronto Star

    Djamila Ibrahim’s Things Are Good Now explores the hidden struggles for migrants

    Those of us who have never fled a war-torn homeland may assume that for those who have, moving to a peaceable country like Canada marks the end of their troubles.

    What we might not realize is new, personal battles may just be beginning. That’s the territory Toronto author Djamila Ibrahim explores in Things Are Good Now, a collection of nine fictional short stories of East African migrants.

    Ibrahim has lived the migrant experience herself. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she moved to Canada with her family in 1990; she has also worked as an adviser for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    The opener, “Little Copper Bullets,” follows the intense Aisha, a former Eritrean soldier who for years led troops on the battlefield, an AK-47 slung over her shoulder. After the war, demobilized and seeing new jobs go to the men, she moves to Canada but can only find work cleaning public toilets and doing hospital laundry. To complicate matters, her boyfriend, Adam, is from Ethiopia, Eritrea’s longtime enemy. When war breaks out there again, Aisha must decide where her loyalties lie.

    In “Not a Small Thing,” intellectual activist Selam chooses to don the hijab and is then assaulted because of it. Her best friend, who had tried to talk her out of wearing it, must process a complex array of emotions.

    The titular story, “You Made Me Do This” focuses on grieving mother Mariam, who almost died to bring her family to Ottawa, only to have her son Ismail fall in with the wrong crowd and get killed. Dazed, Mariam struggles to make sense of the tragedy, even confronting her own role. “At least, where she grew up, people clearly knew they were at war,” Ibrahim writes.

    Read more »


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    Is Ethiopia Opening — Ever So Slightly — to Democracy? By Yohannes Gedamu

    "The ethnic federal model hasn’t ended ethnic inequality. Rather, it has created winners and losers," writes Yohannes Gedamu in today's issue of The Washington Post. Yohannes, who is a lecturer in political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, is working on a book titled “Ethnic Federalism and Authoritarian Survival in Ethiopia."

    The Washington Post

    By Yohannes Y. Gedamu

    Ethiopia just pardoned political prisoners. Could that signal a shift to real democracy?

    Is Ethiopia opening — ever so slightly — to democracy?

    Some observers were cautiously optimistic after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprising Jan. 3 announcement that the government would release some political prisoners, including opposition leader Merera Gudina. Starting in mid-January, Gudina and hundreds of Ethiopians detained during a 2016 wave of anti-government protests were released from a federal prison.

    That release, however, was partial. The government is still holding thousands of other opposition figures and protesters, along with journalists who have reported critically on the regime.

    On Thursday the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corp. reported that 417 people serving sentences for terrorism, inciting violence and similar offenses to be freed.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    The ruling party installed and promotes ethnic federalism — which has stoked interethnic competition and violence

    In 1991, the previous communist dictatorship fell after years of civil war. Since then, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), an ethno-nationalist militia movement, has dominated Ethiopian politics, despite the fact that the Tigrayan ethnic group makes up less than 7 percent of the country’s population. Four parties make up the ruling political coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), but its elites essentially function as members of one political party. As the strongest of the four, the TPLF has controlled party agendas and dominated coalition’s policy, along with the security apparatus of the state.

    Under TPLF/ERPDF rule, Ethiopia adopted a constitution that established ethnic federalism, in which regions’ boundaries were drawn according to ethnic and linguistic classifications. Implemented in 1995, the new constitution was ostensibly designed to promote groups’ rights. But the ethnic federal model hasn’t ended ethnic inequality. Rather, it has created winners and losers.

    Read more »


    Related:
    UPDATE: Eskinder Nega & Andualem Arage Decline to Sign Prison Release Forms
    Ethiopia to Release Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage
    Ethiopia’s Crisis of Ethnic Politics Taking Toll on Poor People
    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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    10 Best Things To Do in Addis Ababa (CNN)

    Addis Ababa's arts scene is thriving. Makush Art Gallery is a popular draw. (Photo by James Jeffrey)

    CNN

    Rambunctious, manic, beguiling, exciting — it’s hard to accurately describe Addis Ababa.

    Ethiopia’s capital, which translates as “New Flower” in the country’s Amharic language, shows little sign of losing its youthful, lusty edge and is the pulsing heart of this eclectic nation’s resurgence as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

    “Addis,” as it’s often simply known, is the world’s third-highest capital city at 2,400 meters, and has worn its heart on its sleeve since it was founded by Ethiopian Emperor Menelik about 1892.

    Life is lived very much outdoors on its bustling streets thanks to comfortable temperate weather boosted by months of nonstop sunshine.

    “Perhaps the highest praise one can direct at this chaotic, contradictory and compelling city is this: Addis Ababa does feel exactly as the Ethiopia capital should feel — singularly and unmistakably Ethiopian,” says travel writer Philip Briggs.

    Here’s 10 of the best things to check out when you travel to Addis.

    Read more and see photos at CNN.com »


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    AU Says China Hacking Its Headquarters

    The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, which was built by China as a $200 million gift was opened nearly six years ago. But now AU says Beijing has been hacking the complex ever since it was inaugurated in 2012. China denies the allegation. (Getty Images)

    Financial Times

    African Union accuses China of hacking headquarters

    African Union officials have accused China of hacking its headquarters’ computer systems every night for five years and downloading confidential data. Beijing funded the AU’s $200m building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while a Chinese state-owned company built it.

    Analysts said the fact that the hack remained secret for a year after being discovered and that the AU was not commenting publicly demonstrated China’s dominant relationships with African states.

    The data theft was exposed by French newspaper Le Monde Afrique and confirmed to the Financial Times on Monday. China denied the accusation.

    The hack underscores the risk African nations take in allowing Chinese technology companies such prominent roles in developing their telecoms backbones, despite the US placing restrictions on investment by Huawei and ZTE.

    The two companies have “built most of Africa’s telecoms infrastructure”, according to a McKinsey report on Chinese investment in Africa published last year.

    Le Monde reported that data transfer activity was at a peak every night between midnight and 2am from January 2012, when the building was inaugurated, to January 2017.

    AU technicians discovered the organisation’s secrets were being copied on to servers in Shanghai, according to the article.

    The AU has now acquired its own servers and all electronic communication is now encrypted and no longer passes through Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s state-run operator. Other enhanced security features have also been installed.

    Read more »


    Related:
    China denies bugging African Union headquarters it built in Ethiopia (CNN)
    China rejects claim it bugged headquarters it built for African Union (The Guardian)

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    Spotlight: New Film Reflects on Obama-era U.S. International Relations (Video)

    America's former UN Ambassador Samantha Power (center), a former journalist, is one of the fascinating U.S. diplomats highlighted in the new documentary "The Final Year" released this month by Magnolia Pictures. (Illustration by Adam Maida/The New Yorker)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    January 29th, 2018

    New York (TADIAS) — The last time we featured news on our website about Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Barack Obama, she was expressing “grave concerns” on behalf of her country about “excessive use of force against protesters in Ethiopia.”

    Ambassador Power, who is a former journalist, is one of the main characters in the new documentary The Final Year, reflecting on President Obama’s last year in the White House through the eyes of his top international diplomats. As the Associated Press notes the film, which is produced by Magnolia Pictures, is “a behind-the-scenes look at President Barack Obama’s globe-trotting foreign policy team…[including] Secretary of State John Kerry and longtime Obama aide Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. Obama himself speaks occasionally to the cameras, as does National Security Adviser Susan Rice.”

    In his director’s statement the filmmaker Greg Barker says looking back he was indeed witnessing a fast-disappearing moment in history. “In retrospect, what our cameras captured was more than just high-ranking government officials at work, as fascinating and informative as that may be,” Barker writes. “We captured a worldview, an attitude, an approach to international affairs that—we now know — was fleeting, unique to a particular moment.”

    At the end, as the New Yorker reminds us “it’s impossible, in 2018, to view “The Final Year” except through the crazy prism of what happened next.”


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    Ethiopia: 2,300 More Prisoners Pardoned

    An additional 2,300 political prisoners were pardoned this week in Ethiopia following the release of prominent opposition leader Merera Gudina on January 17th, 2018. (Photo via Africa News)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia region pardons more than 2,300 prisoners

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — A restive region in Ethiopia says it has pardoned 2,345 prisoners as part of the government’s recent pledge to release jailed politicians and others after the most serious anti-government protests in a quarter-century.

    Oromia region spokesman Addisu Arega says in a Facebook post that more than 1,500 of the prisoners had been convicted, while the rest had been under investigation. They were accused of taking part in violent protests.

    The government says those pardoned are expected to be released in “a few days” after taking rehabilitation courses.

    The East African nation this month released a leading opposition figure and 115 others. The government has said it wants to “widen the democratic space for all,” but some critics have expressed concern it could be a ruling party tactic to buy time.


    Related:
    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (The Economist)
    At Least 7 Killed by Police at Timket Celebrations in Woldiya, Ethiopia (AP)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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    Ethiopia: U.S. Embassy Announces “Solve IT!” – A Nationwide Innovation Competition

    (Image: Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa)

    Press Release

    The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is sponsoring a nationwide innovation competition, “Solve IT!” for Ethiopian youth. “Solve IT!” promotes STEAM, entrepreneurship and encourages a new generation of young Ethiopians to solve problems in their communities using technology, software and hardware. The competition is implemented by the U.S. Embassy in collaboration with partners iCog Labs and Humanity plus.

    Solve IT! will involve nine city hubs in seven regional states and two city administrations: Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Jimma, Bahir Dar, Mekelle, Gambela, Semera, Hawassa and Jigjiga are the selected cities.

    Ethiopians, between the ages of 18 and 28, will work for nine months to develop products that they believe will tackle key problems faced by their communities through developing mobile phone applications to hardware solutions. Training will be given in nine cities, including product development, technical support, marketing and business planning. Winners at the regional level will advance to the National Round, a week-long competition with elimination rounds and presentations before a jury of industry experts.


    Solve IT! is currently accepting registrations from individuals and teams. More information about the competition and registration can be found at http://www.icog-labs.com/solveit/.

    Related:
    Spotlight: ‘Our Ethiopia’ Video Contest Promoting Tolerance Through Dialogue

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    The Conversation on the Asosa Gold Mine

    Residents of Asosa in Ethiopia pan for gold in local streams. (Photo by Owen Morgan)

    The Conversation

    Ethiopia could be sitting on one of world’s great untapped gold deposits

    To the west of Ethiopia near the Sudanese border lies a place called the Asosa zone. This may be the location of the oldest gold mine in the world. Dating back some 6,000 years, it provided a key source of gold to the ancient Egyptian empire, whose great wealth was famous throughout the known world. It may even have supplied the Queen of Sheba with her lavish gifts of gold when she visited King Solomon of Israel almost 3,000 years ago.

    The excitement in this part of the world is more about the future, however. Some local inhabitants already make a living from prospecting, and several mining companies have been active in the area in recent years, too.

    But what comes next could be on a much bigger scale: I have just co-published with my colleague, Owen Morgan, new geological research that suggests that much more treasure might be buried under the surface of this east African country than was previously thought.

    Treasure trail

    The Asosa zone is made up of flatlands, rugged valleys, mountainous ridges, streams and rivers. It is densely vegetated by bamboo and incense trees, with remnants of tropical rainforests along the river valleys. The zone, which is part of Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region, is spotted with archaeological sites containing clues to how people lived here thousands of years ago, together with ancient mining pits and trenches.

    Local inhabitants have long taken advantage of these riches. They pan for gold in Asosa’s streams and also extract the precious metal directly from outcropping rocks.

    More substantial exploitation of the region’s riches dates back to the Italian invasion of the 1930s. The Italians explored the Welega gold district in West Welega, south-east of Asosa.

    Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, believed the country had the potential to become a global leader in gold. But when the revolutionary Derg government deposed him and the country plunged into civil war, gold mining disappeared off the agenda for a decade and a half. It took until the early 2000s before the government started awarding exploration licences.

    Several mines are up and running, neither of them in Asosa. One is at Lega Dembi slightly to the east, owned by Saudi interests. The other, at Tigray in the north of the country, is owned by American mining giant Newmont, and just started production late last year.

    More is already on the way: the beneficiary of the Italian efforts from the 1930s in Welega is the Tulu Kapi gold prospect, containing 48 tonnes of gold. This was most recently acquired in 2013 by Cyprus-based mining group KEFI Minerals (market value: roughly US$2.3 billion (£1.7 billion)).

    As for Asosa, the Egyptian company ASCOM made a significant gold discovery in the zone in 2016. It published a maiden resource statement that claimed the presence of – curiously the same number – 48 tonnes of gold. Yet this only looks like the beginning.

    Read more »


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    Interview: Merera Gudina Calls for Dialogue

    The recently released opposition leader Merera Gudina says "real national dialogue" is the only way forward for Ethiopia. (Photo: Merera Gudina poses for a photo after an interview with AFP at his home in Burayu/AFP)

    AFP

    Burayu – Ethiopia’s government needs to hold negotiations with the country’s most-popular opposition parties or risk the return of destabilising protests, veteran dissident Merera Gudina said in an interview, days after leaving prison.

    A cause celebre for opponents of Ethiopia’s government during his time behind bars, Merera is the only prominent opposition politician to be freed since Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced earlier this month that his administration would release an unspecified number of the many dissidents jailed in the country.

    The announcement came amid continuing anti-government unrest in Ethiopia despite authorities ending a 10-month state of emergency last year and ongoing dialogue between the government and some opposition groups.

    In an interview with AFP on Tuesday, Merera said the dialogue holds little promise because the opposition parties involved are unpopular, while the prime minister’s goal for the prisoner amnesty to “improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform” will not be met if more prisoners are not released.

    “I think [for] the ruling party, it is time to rethink, and stop these piecemeal things and lead this country to a real national dialogue and a national consensus. That’s the only way out,” Merera, 61, who chairs the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said at his home in the town of Burayu west of the capital Addis Ababa.

    Merera was detained in December 2016 shortly after the state of emergency declaration, which followed months of anti-government protests. Hundreds died and tens of thousands were arrested.

    Those protests started the previous year when the country’s largest ethnic group the Oromos denounced a plan to expand the capital Addis Ababa into their federal region Oromia.

    The unrest later spread to another region populated by Ethiopia’s second-largest ethnic group, the Amharas.

    The demonstrations represented one of the biggest challenges ever to the unchecked power of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has led the country since 1991 and currently controls with its allies every single seat in parliament.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Dissent in Addis (The Economist)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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    Ethiopia: Is This the Start of Reforms or Just a Pause in Repression? (Economist)

    “If the government means what it says, then it has a chance to write a new chapter in Ethiopian history,” says Merera Gudina [who was freed last week along with hundreds of other prisoners]. Since his release thousands have come to see him, some bringing oxen to slaughter in the festivities. (AP photo)

    The Economist

    Dissent in Addis: Ethiopia’s regime flirts with letting dissidents speak without locking them up

    LIFE in Maekelawi, a prison in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, had a predictable rhythm. Three times a day, Atnaf Berhane and Befekadu Hailu were hauled from the dank, dark cell they nicknamed “Siberia” for three hours of interrogation and beating. Mr Hailu was flogged across his bare feet with an electric cable. Mr Berhane escaped this particular cruelty. “I was lucky,” he says.

    The two Ethiopian activists, members of a blogging group known as Zone 9, were arrested in 2014. After three months in Maekelawi they were charged with terrorism. After 18 months behind bars those charges were dropped, though both are still accused of the lesser crime of inciting violence. Ethio Trial Tracker, a website, claims that 923 Ethiopians are in prison on terrorism charges. Human Rights Watch, a pressure group, counts thousands more detained for their political opinions.

    The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has a habit, always denied, of jailing its political opponents. So many observers were surprised when, on January 3rd, the government announced plans to release some political prisoners, turn Maekelawi into a museum and “widen the democratic space”. On January 17th it freed Merera Gudina, the country’s most prominent opposition leader, along with 527 other prisoners. The attorney-general said more prisoners would be released in the coming months, including some of those convicted of terrorist offences. “If the government means what it says, then it has a chance to write a new chapter in Ethiopian history,” says Mr Merera. Since his release thousands have come to see him, some bringing oxen to slaughter in the festivities.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia’s leading opposition figure warns of unrest if dialogue fails (AFP)
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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    In Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains, BBC Features Beekeepers of the Harenna Forest

    In Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains, beehives sit high atop the tree canopies – and reaching them can be a dangerous business. (BBC)

    BBC News

    The last beekeepers of Ethiopia’s Harenna Forest

    The sun was beginning its evening dip as I set off into the Harenna Forest. Strange tubular shapes glowed in the treetops, catching the pale golden light.

    Wedged between branches, they looked like elongated wine barrels or giant cocoons.

    I was en route to witness a unique honey harvest in the forest. Here, on the southern slopes of Bale Mountains National Park in south-east Ethiopia, hand-carved beehives are placed high in the tree canopies. Reaching them to retrieve the sweet, sticky nectar is arduous – and often dangerous.

    Local guide Ziyad and I followed beekeeper Said over a flower-strewn meadow before being swallowed into a tangle of trees.


    Residents of Ethiopia’s Harenna Forest practice an ancient form of beekeeping (Photo: Alamy)


    Using a rope, beekeeper Said scales the trees to harvest honey from hives 20m above the ground (Credit: Ella Buchan)

    Read more and see photos at BBC.com »


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    At Least 7 Killed by Police at Timket Celebrations in Woldiya, Ethiopia (AP)

    Woldiya is a located in the Semien Wollo Zone in northern Ethiopia north of Dessie and southeast of Lalibela in the Amhara Region. (Photo: CC image)

    Associated Press

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopian police in the restive Amhara region in the north confirmed Sunday that seven people were killed when worshippers celebrating the Epiphany holiday clashed with security forces.

    The killings on Saturday in the town of Woldiya, 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of the capital Addis Ababa, happened on the second day of the colorful Epiphany celebrations in this East African nation.

    Amare Goshu, a police official in the region, told the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation that seven people died, including one security officer, during the confrontation. He said that the security forces responded with force when youths in the town tried to attack officers who were patrolling the holiday procession areas. “More than 15 citizens and 2 police officers were also injured and are now receiving treatment,” he said.


    Related:
    UN rights chief “concerned” over Ethiopia killings (AFP)
    Weekend clashes during Ethiopia religious festival leave seven dead (Reuters)

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    Africa: U.S. Congress Passes AGOA

    The following is an update from Congresswoman Karen Bass, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa, about the recent unanimous vote in the U.S. Congress approving the "African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) Modernization Act." (Photo: Rep. Karen Bass of Los Angeles, California advocating for the legislation on the House Floor/C-SPAN)

    Press Release

    Karen Bass, Member of Congress

    In light of recent remarks made by Trump in reference to Haiti and some African countries last week, I wanted to share some positive news coming out of Washington, DC regarding our country’s relationship with Africa.

    This week, Congress passed the “African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) Modernization Act” by a unanimous voice vote on the House Floor.

    The bill, which I introduced with my colleague, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), will make AGOA more effective by directing the President to establish a website with information regarding AGOA and by encouraging embassies in chosen countries to promote export opportunities to the United States.

    The bill also includes a piece of legislation I introduced in 2015, which would enable eligible countries with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compacts to simultaneously enter one additional compact if the country is making considerable and demonstrable progress in implementing the terms of the existing compact. This would promote and develop a stronger economic relationship between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States.

    As you know, for well over a decade, AGOA has served as the key foundation to U.S.-Africa trade and investment. The AGOA and MCA Modernization Act hopes to build on and improve this successful law. AGOA and the MCC have proven track records of spurring economic development. Expanding these programs advances our position as international leaders, strengthens our domestic job market and economy, while protecting our national security interests. It is in our economic and political interest to expand our relationships with the nations of Africa and this legislation strengthens key laws in that effort.


    You can watch the full remarks by Congresswoman Karen Bass advocating for Congress to pass the AGOA legislation here.

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    In Pictures: Ethiopia Celebrates Timket

    Timket celebration at Jan Meda in Addis Ababa, January 19, 2018. ( Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    ADDIS ABABA — Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith on Friday celebrated Timket — also called the Epiphany — a holiday commemorating Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.

    To mark the day, tents called Tabots were pitched to house tablets bearing the Ten Commandments from all churches.

    Hundreds of thousands gathered at Jan Meda, the largest open field in the capital Addis Ababa, where 11 Tabots were placed in tents for the Timket celebration.


    Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Abune Mathias (C) attends the celebrations at Meyazia 27 Square in Addis Ababa on January 18, 2018. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu)


    (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu)

    Read more and see photos »


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    African U.N. Envoys Suggest Trump Meet Leaders in Ethiopia After ‘shithole’ Remark

    The African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa. (Photo by Zhai Jianlan)

    Reuters

    UNITED NATIONS – African U.N. envoys suggested on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump meet with African leaders in Ethiopia this month after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from “shithole” countries.

    African ambassadors met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who told them she regretted the political drama around what was said a week ago at a White House meeting on immigration, according to diplomats at the U.N. meeting.

    The diplomats said that South African U.N. Ambassador Jerry Matjila, who spoke on behalf of the group, told Haley that “it could be useful” for Trump to address African leaders directly when they meet in Addis Ababa at the African Union.

    That meeting is due to take place on Jan. 28-29, according to the African Union website.

    Haley told the ambassadors she did not know what had been said in last week’s White House meeting and promised to convey the African ambassadors’ message to Trump when she meets with him in Washington on Friday, according to the diplomats.

    Trump has denied using such derogatory language.

    The U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the U.N. meeting beyond a tweet it posted, which read: “Thank you to the Africa Group for meeting today. We discussed our long relationship and history of combating HIV, fighting terrorism, and committing to peace throughout the region.”

    African U.N. ambassadors issued a statement last Friday that said they were “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemned the outrageous, racist, xenophobic remarks attributed to the president of the United States.”

    They demanded Trump retract his remarks and apologize.

    According to diplomats at the U.N. meeting on Thursday, Haley also spoke about the billions of dollars that the United States had invested in the fight against HIV/Aids and terrorism in Africa and in humanitarian aid for South Sudan.

    Haley traveled to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo in late October.


    Related:
    Obama Staffer’s Tweet Sets Social Media Ablaze After Trump’s Africa Debacle
    African immigrants are more educated than most — including people born in U.S. (LA Times)
    ‘Visit Shithole Zambia’: Trump’s Comments Inspire Tourism AD (Newsweek)
    The President of Ghana Responds to Trump’s ‘shithole’ Comment (Washington Post)
    President Trump: I am no racist (Ghana News – Citi FM)
    Africa calls Trump racist after ‘shithole’ remark (Reuters)
    African countries and Haiti react to Trump’s remark (Washington Post)
    South Africa, Ghana summon US diplomats after Trump remark (CNN)

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    Obama Staffer’s Tweet Sets Social Media Ablaze After Trump’s Africa Debacle

    In the aftermath of President Trump's reportedly profane outburst about Africa and its people last week during a heated White House meeting on immigration, a tweet by former Obama staffer Gary Lee (seen above) has gone viral creating a comparison between Trump and his more globally admired predecessor who was famous for his calm, cool, collected and generous presidential manners. Below is a CNN interview with Gary Lee. (Photo by Former White House photographer Pete Souza)

    CNN

    Former Obama staffer’s viral tweet a message to Trump on immigration

    Former White House staffer Gary Lee’s very first tweet went viral amid the fallout over President Donald Trump making disparaging comments about immigration from African countries and Haiti.

    Over the weekend, the son of Korean immigrants tweeted a picture with his then boss, President Barack Obama, welcoming him into the Oval Office with his arms outstretched. Former White House photographer Pete Souza captured the moment.

    Lee spoke to Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight” on Monday about the contrast between Trump and Obama. Lee said that while he found Trump’s comments around immigration upsetting, he believed Obama taught his staff “we could celebrate our diversities and that made us so much stronger.”

    Lee left the Obama White House as a staffer in 2011 for a Fulbright Scholarship in Korea where he would study his parent’s language and culture. The viral photo with Obama was taken on Lee’s last day at the White House. The former President greeted Lee in Korean.


    Watch the interview on CNN.com »


    Related:
    African immigrants are more educated than most — including people born in U.S. (LA Times)
    ‘Visit Shithole Zambia’: Trump’s Comments Inspire Tourism AD (Newsweek)
    The President of Ghana Responds to Trump’s ‘shithole’ Comment (Washington Post)
    President Trump: I am no racist (Ghana News – Citi FM)
    Africa calls Trump racist after ‘shithole’ remark (Reuters)
    African countries and Haiti react to Trump’s remark (Washington Post)
    South Africa, Ghana summon US diplomats after Trump remark (CNN)

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    ETHIOPIA UPDATE: Merera Gudina Freed

    Opposition leader Merara Gudina, center, walks with his supporters after his release, in Burayu, Ethiopia, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP photo)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: January 17th, 2018

    BURAYU, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s top opposition figure and hundreds of others were released from prison on Wednesday as part of the government’s recent pledge to free detained politicians and “widen the democratic space for all” after the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century.

    Merara Gudina led the Oromo Federalist Congress party and was arrested a year ago under the country’s state of emergency after he returned from Europe, where he had briefed lawmakers on widespread and sometimes deadly anti-government protests in the East African nation.

    Merara was released along with 115 others from a federal prison on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa. He was met by thousands of youths in his adopted hometown of Burayu outside the capital, with some chanting anti-government slogans.

    “If the government is genuine about dialogue, then we will consider it,” Merara told The Associated Press.

    Another 361 detainees were freed Wednesday across southern Ethiopia, and several hundred others across the country are expected to be released in the coming months.

    The releases come after Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprise announcement earlier this month that the government planned to release imprisoned politicians and close the notorious Maekelawi prison camp.

    His comments came after the most serious anti-government protests since the current government came to power in 1991. The demonstrations demanding wider freedoms began in late 2015 and engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions before spreading into other parts of the country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.

    Tens of thousands of people were arrested, and reportedly hundreds were killed, while one of Africa’s fastest growing economies was disrupted.

    The U.S. Embassy said in a statement it was “encouraged” by the new releases. “We are aware that reviews of additional cases are underway and hope they will be conducted in the same spirit. We understand these efforts as part of the government’s decision to accelerate democratic progress.”

    “The release of opposition politician Merara Gudina and hundreds of other detainees in Ethiopia today must only be a first step toward freedom for all prisoners of conscience in the East African country,” Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for Africa, said in a statement. “Hundreds of prisoners of conscience continue to languish in jail, accused or prosecuted for legitimate exercise of their freedom of expression or simply for standing up for human rights.”

    Ethiopia’s government has long been accused of arresting critical journalists and opposition leaders. Rights organizations and opposition groups have called for their release, saying they were arrested on trumped-up charges and punished for their points of view.


    Related:
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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    African Immigrants are More Educated Than Most — Including People Born in U.S.

    Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the majority [of immigrants from Africa] come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa [and] many are highly skilled professionals. (Photo: Somali immigrant Khadar Ducaale, left, helps Ahmed Omar look for a job in Fort Morgan, Colorado. Ducaale runs a small business that caters to new immigrant arrivals/Denver Post)

    Los Angeles Times

    Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate.

    That’s the impression that President Trump left with his comments to members of Congress opposing admission of immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere.

    But research tells another story.

    While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated that people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole.

    “It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and coauthor of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.”

    Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. The U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by New American Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, they make up just half a percent of the U.S. population.

    Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the report found that the majority come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.

    The Pew Research Center reported that African immigrants are most likely to settle in the South or Northeast, and that the largest numbers — at least 100,000 — are found in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Many African refugees have also relocated to or have been resettled in states such as Minnesota and South Dakota.

    The Refugee Act of 1980 made it easier for people fleeing war zones to resettle in the U.S., and today there are tens of thousand of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Congo. About 22% of African immigrants are refugees, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.

    At the same time, the diversity visa program — also known as the visa lottery — has opened the door to immigrants from more peaceful places. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17% came through the program, compared with 5% of the total U.S. immigrant population, according to Batalova.

    Applicants to the program must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have at least two years of recent experience in any number of occupations, including accountant, computer support specialist, orthodontist and dancer.

    As a result, the influx includes many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are highly skilled professionals.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Obama Staffer’s Tweet Sets Social Media Ablaze After Trump’s Africa Debacle
    ‘Visit Shithole Zambia’: Trump’s Comments Inspire Tourism AD (Newsweek)
    The President of Ghana Responds to Trump’s ‘shithole’ Comment (Washington Post)
    President Trump: I am no racist (Ghana News – Citi FM)
    Africa calls Trump racist after ‘shithole’ remark (Reuters)
    African countries and Haiti react to Trump’s remark (Washington Post)
    South Africa, Ghana summon US diplomats after Trump remark (CNN)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    On Twitter, Ethiopians Roast Trump as ‘Gegema’ President for ‘Shithole’ Comment

    'Gegema' is one of the many colorful Amharic words Ethiopians are using to roast Donald Trump on social media about his recent “shithole" comment in reference to African countries. Meanwhile, below is a roundup of how TV comedians in the U.S. are handling the unfortunate matter as well as a link to a story from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by The Washington Post, titled 'Here is what my #shithole looks like,' documenting reactions from the continent. (Photo: US-based South African late-night host Trevor Noah/ COMEDY CENTRAL)

    The Washington Post

    In comments that seemed ripped right from a late-night comedy sketch, President Trump ignited the news cycle Thursday when The Washington Post reported he had referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries” and expressed a preference for immigrants from Norway in talks with lawmakers.

    On Thursday night, late-night comedy hosts were eager to weigh in.

    “Guys,” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah said. “I don’t know how to break this to you, but I think the president might be racist. Hear me out, I know I sound crazy.”

    Noah, who is from South Africa, used his own nationality as a springboard. “Personally, as someone from South Shithole, I’m offended, Mr. President,” the host said. “Because not only does he think brown countries are shitholes, he thinks, what, we’re never going to know what he said? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it might take a few weeks, but once the news donkey reaches our village, we’ll be so mad.”

    Read more »


    Related:
    ‘Here is what my #shithole looks like’: African countries and Haiti react to Trump’s remark
    Watch: Why America is Talking About Oprah for President
    New Study on Trump Administration’s Impact on U.S.-Africa Relations

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    Ethiopia: Bekele Gerba Jailed for Singing Protest Song in Court

    Opposition leader Bekele Gerba and other political prisoners are said to have broken into a protest song during a court proceeding after the judge rejected an earlier court order calling on PM Hailemariam Desalegn to appear as a defense witness. (Photo: Bekele Gerba pictured at the NPR office in D.C., August 2015/NPR)

    Associated Press

    Ethiopia top opposition figure gets prison time for contempt

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — One of Ethiopia’s most prominent opposition politicians has been sentenced to six months in prison for contempt of court along with three others after they sang a protest song during proceedings.

    Bekele Gerba, former deputy head of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, protested after the court withdrew a previous ruling requiring Ethiopia’s prime minister to appear as a defense witness. The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate says Bekele and the other defendants “wreaked havoc.”

    Bekele had been arrested in December 2015 after anti-government protests erupted in parts of the East African country. He was charged with terrorism offenses that later were changed to criminal charges.

    He was among the opposition figures expected to be released as part of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s recent announcement to free some imprisoned politicians.


    Related:
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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    WB 2018 Economy Forecast for Ethiopia

    (Photo via africanews.com)

    Africa News

    Ethiopia to remain East Africa’s fastest growing economy – 2018 World Bank forecast

    The Ethiopian economy will maintain its growth lead for the East African region according to the latest World Bank report.

    The economy, however, dropped a step in growth forecast in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region, falling behind Ghana. In June 2017, the WB forecast Ethiopia as the most expansive in SSA pegging growth at 8.3%.

    The latest forecast puts Ethiopia at a percentage point behind Ghana. The West African nation is forecast to grow at 8.3% as against Ethiopia’s 8.2%.

    Among East African countries, Ethiopia is likely to remain the fastest growing economy, but growth is expected to soften as it takes measures to stabilize government debt.

    The report said: “Among East African countries, Ethiopia is likely to remain the fastest growing economy, but growth is expected to soften as it takes measures to stabilize government debt. Growth is expected to recover in Kenya, as inflation eases, and to firm in Tanzania on strengthening investment growth.”

    Other 2018 forecasts for the East African region’s economic giants are: Kenya (5.5%), Tanzania (6.8%), Uganda (5.1%) and Rwanda (5.9%). Ethiopia beat Kenya last year to become economic giant of the region according to the IMF.

    The WB’s Global Economic Prospects report released on January 10, 2018 said there was a modest recovery underway in Sub-Saharan Africa buoyed by an improvement in commodity prices.

    “Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is estimated to have rebounded to 2.4 percent in 2017, after slowing sharply to 1.3 percent in 2016, as commodity prices recovered, global financing conditions remained favorable, and slowing inflation lifted household demand,” the WB said.

    Read more »


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    Ethiopia Bans Foreign Adoptions (BBC)

    Angelina Jolie adopted her daughter from Ethiopia in 2005. (Getty Images)

    BBC News

    Ethiopia has banned the adoption of children by foreigners amid concerns they face abuse and neglect abroad.

    Ethiopia is one of the biggest source countries for international adoptions by US citizens, accounting for about 20% of the total.

    Celebrities Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are among those who have adopted children from Ethiopia.

    However, in 2013, a US couple were convicted of killing an adopted Ethiopian girl.

    That case triggered a debate about foreign adoption, the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa says.

    The adoption process in Ethiopia has also faced serious questions with rights groups saying that it was prone to abuse by human traffickers who saw it as lucrative market.

    Two years ago, Denmark stopped the adoption of children from Ethiopia.

    Lawmakers now say orphans and other vulnerable children should be cared for under locally available support mechanisms in order to protect them.

    But some MPs said that the country has insufficient local services to cater for vulnerable children.

    Read more »


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    Ethiopia: Ancient Churches, Mysterious Towers and Lucy (AP)

    Gonder, which was founded by Emperor Fasilides (Fasil) around 1635, was the capital of Ethiopia in the 17th and 18th centuries. (Photo: Crowds gather at the Fasilides' Bath in Gonder to celebrate Timket. (Photo: Wikimedia)

    AP

    January 9th, 2018

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The bones of humankind’s most famous ancestor, Lucy, were discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. At more than 3 million years old, she is perhaps Ethiopia’s oldest claim on human history.

    But there are many other connections here that go back mere centuries, from the 17th and 18th century palaces of Gondar to the magical 12th century churches of Lalibela, carved from soft volcanic rock.

    The country’s mythology also includes claiming ownership of the Ark of the Covenant, along with remnants of the mysterious, long-vanished kingdom of Axum (or Aksum) in northern Ethiopia, a junction of early Christian, Muslim and Jewish civilization in the Horn of Africa.


    Related:
    Harar: Ethiopia’s City of Saints the Best Place in the World to Visit in 2018

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    The Untimely Death of an Exiled Ethiopian Journalist

    The late Ethiopian journalist Ibrahim Shafi. (Photo: Facebook)

    Global Voices

    By Endalk Chala

    In one of his last public comments, Ethiopian journalist Ibrahim Shafi wrote on his Facebook page: “Wake me up when I have a state.”

    Not two weeks later, Shafi died in Nairobi, Kenya. His comment shed light on the deep personal toll of Ethiopia’s enduring political crisis that has swept the country over the last three years that sent Ibrahim into exile.

    Ibrahim had worked as journalist covering sports and politics for nearly a decade, until he he no choice but to flee in 2014. Ibrahim, who was 40 at the time of his death, was not alone. He left for Nairobi, Kenya in June 2014, on a path taken by hundreds of Ethiopian journalists over the last twenty years.

    According to data from Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopia’s government has driven more journalists out of the country than any other nation in Africa.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia: Media Roundup of Reactions to Announced Release of Political Prisoners

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    Watch: Why America is Talking About Oprah for President

    Oprah Winfrey delivered an inspiring speech that captivated Americans this week after receiving the Cecile B. DeMille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes on Sunday, January 7th in Beverly Hills, California. (Getty images)

    The Washington Post

    From Hollywood to Iowa, a sudden wave of enthusiasm for Oprah Winfrey as a potential presidential candidate swept through the Democratic Party on Monday, beginning as a social-media sensation after her rousing remarks at Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony and escalating nationally as party officials and activists earnestly considered the possibility.

    The calls for Winfrey, a cultural icon and friend of former president Barack Obama’s, to look hard at entering the 2020 race against President Trump revealed a longing among Democrats for a global celebrity of their own who could emerge as their standard-bearer and his foil.

    The clamor also exposed how the crowded class of Democrats mulling over bids for the White House so far lacks a front-runner or someone who could easily unite the party’s key coalitions of women, minorities and working-class voters.

    “Lord, we need passion and excitement,” said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a prominent Demo­crat in South Carolina, one of the early-voting states in the race for the nomination. “I know it’s conjecture right now, but I’d ask her to give it serious consideration. If anybody could bring us together, it’s her.”

    Winfrey’s inner circle did little Monday to tamp down the frenzy. Her spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment, but several people close to Winfrey said she was keeping tabs on the news coverage and appreciated the response.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Oprah for President? Why Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes Stump Speech Just Changed Everything

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    DC Abuzz About the 25th Amendment

    A public debate was ignited last week on the topic following the publication of the controversial book “Fire and Fury,” by New York media journalist Michael Wolff. Below is a recent article explaining the 25th Amendment of the U.S. constitution. (Photo: Wikimedia)

    Politico

    25th Amendment unlikely to be invoked over Trump’s mental health

    Donald Trump’s description of himself as a “very stable genius” sparked new debate this weekend about the 25th Amendment, but invoking the provision to remove a president from office is so difficult that it’s highly unlikely to come into play over concerns about Trump’s mental health, a half-dozen lawyers with expertise on the measure said.

    The amendment’s language on what could lead a president to be involuntarily removed from office is spare, saying simply that the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could take such a step when “the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

    “I think it’s both its strength and its weakness,” said Jay Berman, a former chief of staff to Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), who helped craft the amendment in the 1960s. “The answer is not provided in the 25th Amendment…It just does not provide that certainty or specificity. That might be easier in the context of physical incapacity, but it would be a lot harder in the case of mental incapacity.”

    The galvanizing event behind the 25th Amendment has always been clear: President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the ensuing realization that the nation had no obvious recourse if Kennedy had survived but been unable to fully function. The amendment has drawn attention only occasionally in the intervening years, and no one has ever made a serious attempt to use it to remove a president.

    But the 25th Amendment became a subject of intensified speculation in Washington after author Michael Wolff reported in his new book that White House aides had expressed concerns about Trump’s mental health. POLITICO also reported that more than a dozen lawmakers — all Democrats but one — spoke on Capitol Hill last month with a Yale psychiatrist who has delivered grave warnings that the president was unraveling.

    Lawyers and scholars of the amendment say the bar for invoking it is meant to be high. While impeachment requires only a majority of the House to set in motion, followed by a two-thirds Senate vote to convict, the 25th Amendment says two-thirds of both houses must agree to remove a president against his or her will. Any involuntary attempt to oust the president through the 25th Amendment also needs the vice president’s assent.

    Read more »


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    Time to Update Africa’s Green Revolution

    The initiatives of the Green Revolution served a purpose, but it's past time to update them for a new era. (Getty Images)

    Pacific Standard Magazine

    AFRICA NEEDS A NEW APPROACH IN ITS BATTLE AGAINST HUNGER

    A quarter of the world’s hungry people are in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers are growing. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of hungry—those in distress and unable to access enough calories for a healthy and productive life—grew from 20.8 percent to 22.7 percent. The number of undernourished rose from 200 million to 224 million out of a total population of 1.2 billion.

    Conflict, poverty, environmental disruptions, and a growing population all contribute to the region’s inability to feed itself.

    To tackle hunger, the continent needs to find new, integrated approaches. These approaches—discussed at a recent Harvard University conference—must increase crop yield, enhance the nutritional content of people’s diets, improve people’s health, and promote sustainability.

    This may sound like a mammoth, perhaps insurmountable task. But Africa can learn from the experiences of the Green Revolution, set into motion by the United States in the 1960s. The initiative was launched in response to major famines and food crises in the 1940s and ’50s. It was a complex exercise that demonstrates the power of science, technology, and entrepreneurship in solving global challenges.

    The Green Revolution is estimated to have saved up to one billion people from starvation. Africa needs to stage its own version if its to help save its people from hunger. Its lessons are instructive because of the need to approach the hunger crisis as a complex problem—and not just to raise crop yields or aggregate food production.

    Geopolitics was the biggest impetus for the Green Revolution. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were locked in the Cold War. The Soviets championed a model of collectivized agriculture; the U.S. dreamed up and implemented the Green Revolution.

    Read more »


    Related:
    An Africa Update From U.S. Rep. Bass
    Africa: Trump for Human Rights? Really?
    Meet Trump’s Top Africa Official, Former Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto
    New Study on Trump Administration’s Impact on U.S.-Africa Relations

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    An Africa Update From U.S. Rep. Bass

    U.S. Representative Karen Bass of Los Angeles, California is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa. Below is her latest update on the resolution that she recently introduced condemning the ongoing auction of migrants and refugees in Libya. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Karen Bass, Member of Congress

    I wanted to provide you with an update regarding my work in reaction to the video of a slave auction in Libya, which was released by CNN in November.

    Put simply, slavery is a crime against humanity. Congress cannot sit idly by as this travesty occurs. In order to combat this, I have introduced House Resolution 644, which would strongly condemn the slave auctions of migrants and refugees in Libya. This resolution calls for a comprehensive response, both domestically and internationally, to this report, which is what we’ll need going forward to take an effective stand against this tragedy. You can read more about the resolution here. To follow up on the introduction of the resolution, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and I called a meeting with Libyan Ambassador Wafa Bughaighis. You can read more about the meeting here. We agreed that the country must end the slave auctions and forced labor immediately and the CBC will continue to monitor the situation regularly.

    Late last month, I hosted my last Africa policy forum of the year, which focused on the Sahel region of Africa. The current social, political, and economic situation has placed security concerns at the front and center of policy however it is essential to address the root causes of contemporary security challenges. Now, we are faced with the pressing evaluation of policy. In the absence of clear direction from the current administration, it’s incredibly important for us listen to the ideas expressed in forums like these. You can watch the forum here.

    To follow up on both the introduction of the resolution and the forum, the Congressional Black Caucus and I called a meeting with Libyan Ambassador Wafa Bughaighis out of the profound concern that in this day and age, people are being sold as property. You can read more about the meeting here. The international community must operate on the assumption that we don’t need further proof of the slave trade, what we need to do is stop it.

    This year, we plan to continue to expand our work on Africa.


    You can stay in contact with my office and up to date on this initiative on my website .

    Related:
    Africa: Time to Update the Green Revolution
    Africa: Trump for Human Rights? Really?
    Meet Trump’s Top Africa Official, Former Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto
    New Study on Trump Administration’s Impact on U.S.-Africa Relations

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Africa: Trump for Human Rights? Really?

    US President Donald Trump’s newly-unveiled National Security Strategy makes only a single reference to human rights in its 55 pages. This was an exceptionally low figure compared to Barack Obama’s mention of human rights 16 times in a 29-page strategy document his administration issued in 2015 [the year Ethiopia released several journalists and bloggers due to U.S. diplomacy.] (Business Daily Africa)

    Business Daily Africa

    Trump shifts US Africa policy away from human rights

    US President Donald Trump’s newly-unveiled National Security Strategy has shifted America’s engagement with Africa away from human rights, good governance, trade and development to one that merely sees the continent as a market for US goods and services.

    Mr Trump also depicts Africa as a competitive arena in which US interests are pitted against those of China.

    “Africa contains many of the world’s fastest growing economies, which represent potential new markets for US goods and services,” the Trump plan states in the slightly more than one page it devotes to Africa.

    “The demand for quality American exports is high and will likely grow as Africa’s population and prosperity increase,” the paper adds.

    The Trump team’s global strategy outline, which can be viewed as a roadmap for US foreign policy in the coming years, makes only a single reference to human rights in its 55 pages.

    This was an exceptionally low figure compared to Barack Obama’s mention of human rights 16 times in a 29-page strategy document his administration issued in 2015.

    Mr Trump’s America-first approach to global trade involves an explicit determination to outpace China, which the president regards as the US’ top economic rival.

    This worldview comes into focus in the Africa chapter of the national security strategy, which sees China as expanding its economic and military presence in Africa, “growing from a small investor in the continent two decades ago into Africa’s largest trading partner today.”

    “Some Chinese practices undermine Africa’s long-term development by corrupting elites, dominating extractive industries, and locking countries into unsustainable and opaque debts and commitments,” the strategy document says.

    It also frames an envisioned US shift from “assistance to partnerships” in Africa as an altruistic alternative to what it sees as China’s self-serving aims.

    “We will offer American goods and services, both because it is profitable for us and because it serves as an alternative to China’s often extractive economic footprint on the continent,” the Trump strategy declares.

    This newly formulated Africa policy blueprint paraphrases the business-centred comments Mr Trump made in an address in September to a group of African heads of state [including Ethiopia] attending the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

    Citing Africa’s “tremendous business potential,” Mr Trump told that audience that he had “so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you, they’re spending a lot of money.”

    Terrorism and migration are also cited as key US concerns in the strategy document’s Africa section. “Improved governance in these states supports economic development and opportunities, diminishes the attraction of illegal migration, and reduces vulnerability to extremists, thereby reducing instability,” the outline states.


    Related:
    Meet Trump’s Top Africa Official, Former Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto
    New Study on Trump Administration’s Impact on U.S.-Africa Relations
    What Key 19-Year Timeline of U.S. Human Rights Reports on Ethiopia Show

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    Obama’s BBC Interview With Prince Harry

    The interview with Prince Harry, which was broadcasted this week on BBC Radio 4’s popular “Today” program, was the first media appearance that former President Barack Obama has granted since leaving the White House nearly a year ago. The interview was taped in September in Toronto, Canada. (Photo: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Prince Harry share a joke as they watch wheelchair basketball on Day 7 of the Invictus Games 2017, in Toronto, Ontario, on September 29/ Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    In Interview With Prince Harry, Obama Says Leaders Shouldn’t Use Social Media to Divide

    LONDON — In his first interview since leaving office, former president Barack Obama didn’t mention President Trump by name, but he really didn’t have to: He told his host, Prince Harry, that leaders shouldn’t use social media to stoke division.

    “All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet,” Obama said.

    The interview took the form of a warm chat between the 44th U.S. president and Prince Harry, who was serving as guest host on BBC Radio 4’s popular “Today” program.

    “One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases,” Obama said. “It is harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the Internet.”

    He continued, “The question is, how do we harness this technology that allows a multiplicity of voices, a diversity of views but does not lead to a Balkanization of our society but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground?”

    The interview was recorded in September in Toronto, when Obama was in Canada to attend the Invictus Games, a charity and sporting event created by Harry to honor wounded soldiers.

    As a radio host, Harry provided a sympathetic ear for a back-and-forth between two global celebrities. The royal didn’t really grill, and mostly he kept his opinions to himself, but he did ask questions that might be on a listener’s mind.

    Read more »


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    In Ethiopia S. Sudan Cease-fire Signed (AP)

    South Sudan’s warring factions have signed a new agreement to cease hostilities and protect civilians in the latest effort to calm a devastating civil war. The cease-fire is set to begin first thing Sunday morning, or Christmas Eve. (AP file photo)

    Associated Press

    By Elias Meseret

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — South Sudan’s warring factions on Thursday signed a new agreement to cease hostilities and protect civilians in the latest effort to calm a devastating civil war, as diplomatic observers issued sharp warnings against allowing yet another peace deal to fail.

    The cease-fire is set to begin first thing Sunday morning, or Christmas Eve.

    The warring sides also agreed to grant badly needed humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas after days of talks in neighboring Ethiopia brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development regional bloc.

    South Sudan is entering its fifth year of civil war, and no one knows how many tens of thousands of people have been killed in the world’s youngest nation. Parts of the East African country are on the brink of famine, and well over a million people have fled abroad, creating the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

    The U.S. called the deal “the last chance for the implementation of the peace process.” Past attempts at peace deals have stumbled amid renewed violence. The new deal is an effort to salvage a 2015 peace agreement.

    South Sudan’s government is under growing pressure to find an end to the civil war as the U.S. and others threaten further sanctions.

    “This is a gift to South Sudanese people to celebrate their Christmas and New Year. This is the most precious gift of all time,” Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Workineh Gebeyehu, said during the signing ceremony. “But as past experience has showed, implementation is the longer and more difficult aspect many critical issues lie ahead.”

    A spokesman for South Sudan’s opposition, Lam Paul Gabriel, told The Associated Press that they will respect the agreement but said the rebels were ready to defend themselves of the government did not.

    “I doubt if it will hold but we will abide by it as we have always done,” he said.

    The agreement also calls on the warring sides to release prisoners of war, political prisoners and abducted women and children, who have been victims of widespread sexual violence and recruitment as child soldiers.

    “Everyone is tired of the war in South Sudan,” the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, told the gathering.

    Ethiopia’s leader called the deal a “final alternative” and said failing to adhere to it will bring consequences and the rest of Africa and the world “will not sit idly by.” Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council warned of “costs or consequences” for South Sudan’s government and opposition if they undermine efforts to implement the 2015 peace deal.

    South Sudan President Salva Kiir was not present at the signing. The government’s lead delegate to the talks, cabinet affairs minister Martin Elias Lomoro, told the AP that rebel leader Riek Machar didn’t take part because he wasn’t deemed helpful.

    The country plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013, just two years after a long-fought-for independence from Sudan, when forces loyal to Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to his former vice president, Machar, a Nuer.

    The U.N. and others have warned against ethnic violence and other abuses.


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    A Rare Victory for Ethiopia’s Victims (HRW)

    A court sketch shows Dutch citizen and former Ethiopian government official Eshetu Alemu attending his trial for war crimes in The Hague, The Netherlands on October 31, 2017. © 2017 Getty Image

    Human Rights Watch

    The many victims of the brutal communist military dictatorship that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991, known as the Derg, had a rare victory this week. On December 15, former Ethiopian government official Eshetu Alemu was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life in prison by a Dutch court for his role in ordering the executions of 75 people, including children under 18, in the 1970s.

    Over 150,000 students, academics, and political opponents were killed during the Derg’s “Red Terror” campaign. Countless others were disappeared, arrested, or tortured. Senior Derg officials, including Chairman Mengistu Haile Mariam, were convicted of genocide in absentia in 2006 after a 12-year trial in Ethiopia’s courts. They were sentenced to life in prison. Eshetu, the Derg’s senior representative in Gojam province at the time of his crimes, had been sentenced to death in absentia by an earlier Ethiopian court. In 1991 when the Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) overthrew the dictatorship, Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe where he was afforded protection by then-president Robert Mugabe. Eshetu fled to the Netherlands.

    Eshetu’s conviction should send a powerful message that officials can and will be held to account for atrocities, and that the passage of time is no guarantee of impunity. This message is especially important in Ethiopia, where the TPLF, who has been in power since the Derg’s overthrow, has also committed serious abuses with impunity. These include its military’s murder, rape, and torture of Anuak civilians in Gambella in 2003 and 2004, and war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Somali Region in 2007. Additionally, a brutal crackdown by government security forces against protesters beginning in 2015 left over a thousand dead. The government has not permitted independent investigations into any of these events and Ethiopia has strongly resisted calls for an international investigation. Justice and accountability for Ethiopia’s many victims in the last 50 years, has been all too rare.

    For families of Ethiopia’s many victims of torture, killings, and other serious abuses, Eshetu’s conviction should give them hope that those responsible will one day be held to account.


    Related:
    Dutch Court Jails Ethiopia ‘Red Terror’ Aide Eshetu Alemu for War Crimes (BBC)

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    Meet the Top US Africa Diplomat, Former Amb. to Ethiopia Yamamoto

    Donald Yamamoto, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia from 2006 to 2009, is the top Trump Administration diplomat in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of African Affairs. Ambassador Yamamoto assumed his current post as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Africa on Sept. 5, 2017. He previously served in the same position under the Obama Administration in 2013 and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2009-2013. (Photo: U.S. Embassy, Ethiopia)

    AllAfrica

    PRESS CONFERENCE

    The current U.S. administration’s top diplomat on African affairs, Acting Assistant Secretary Don Yamamoto, recently completed a 10-day trip to Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda which included talks on a wide range of issues with the African Union. Upon his return to Washington, D.C., he was questioned by African journalists in a telephone news conference. Excerpts:

    [Questions on Ethiopia]

    First of all is going back to the question on the IGAD process. Ethiopia really is a critical partner and leader. As you know, Ethiopia is in the chair for IGAD, leading the high-level discussions in South Sudan. But more importantly is that Ethiopia contributes troops to peacekeeping operations in Southern Sudan as well as Sudan. And Ethiopia is one of our largest troop-contributing countries for peacekeeping operations in Africa, and that is really a very important point to highlight.

    The second point is, yes, we did note and we did discuss with the government about a lot of the challenges, not only the efforts of Ethiopian troops to stabilize Somalia, prevent terrorism and elements from Shabab and ISIS coming into Ethiopia, but also the internal domestic challenges that you face in Ethiopia and the Somalia area, based not only on ethnic divides, land tenure problems, obviously procedures, government procedures, local practices, etc. but it’s an issue that the government is fully focused on, but it’s an issue also that we as very close partners with the government and the people of Ethiopia will work cooperatively to address and resolve.

    The reason why Ethiopia is so critical, if you look again, just like Kenya, Ethiopia has one of our largest missions. Ethiopia is a pillar country for Africa. It has an 8% economic growth rate, it is addressing really fundamental challenges of food and security and shortage, and over the years through partnerships with USAID and what we know as the Fuse Net Network, which is the early warning system, we’ve been able to mitigate and address a lot of the food security in Ethiopia, which has now become really a model for how you address food and security in other parts of not only Africa but the world.

    So we will continue to work with Ethiopia on a wide range of issues, and it’s a close partnership. We’re gonna have differences. We’re gonna be arguing on issues. But at the end of the day it’s a very close partnership. What we discussed with the Prime Minister and the government, you know, I defer to them because those are very private, secure conversations, but let me just say that those discussions were very warm, cooperative, but what’s more important is we share a lot of issues and that we really do need Ethiopia as we do Kenya, as we look toward the 22nd century, because we’re gonna have high population growth rates and we’re gonna really need to address how you address those issues of job creation, economic development.

    Ethiopia has some good ideas; Ethiopia has some great practices. And so we’re going to take those lessons learned and join them with other countries, and then hopefully have a strategy that will benefit all of Africa. And then correct issues that are not helping and not working, and that’s a very good relationship if everyone’s very open to discussion and if they’re willing to continue to bolster that….”

    Read the full excerpt from the press conference with Ambassador Yamamoto at AllAfrica.com »


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    EU Urges Probe in Ethiopia Clashes (AFP)

    There have been a string of recent clashes over the border between the two ethnically demarcated Somali and Oromia federal regions in Ethiopia. (Photo by Zacharias Abubeker/AFP)

    AFP

    The European Union called Wednesday for an independent probe into clashes between two of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, which officials say left at least 61 dead last week alone.

    There have been a string of recent clashes over the border between the two ethnically demarcated Somali and Oromia federal regions, “causing many casualties and the destruction of properties”, said the EU.

    The cause of the latest violence is not clear but it has raised concerns of growing ethnic divisions in Africa’s second most-populous country.

    In a statement the EU called for “independent investigations (into) all acts of violence.”

    On Thursday and Friday last week, scores lost their lives in the West Hararghe region near the border between the Somali and Oromia states — with both sides giving different death tolls.

    On Sunday, the spokesman for the Oromia state government Addisu Arega Kitessa said armed men had attacked Oromos on Thursday, killing 29 people and burning down hundreds of homes.

    A day later 32 Somalis living nearby were killed in retaliation, he wrote on his personal Facebook account.

    An open letter from Somali elders to the government and international rights groups mentioned “200 killed” on Friday in an “ethnic cleansing campaign” which they say has been under way since 2004, but has intensified in the past three years.

    The letter recalled that the “Ethiopian Somali community… traditionally lived in western Hararghe of Ethiopia for many centuries. Because of this, more than 90 percent of us speak Oromia and not the Somali language.”

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addressed the nation on state television on Sunday, offering his condolences for what he referred to as a “mass killing”.

    Read more »


    Related:
    UPDATE: Dozens Die in Clash Between Ethiopian Somalis and Oromos (BBC)

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    Bloomberg: Ethiopia Eyes US Rose Market

    Workers collect roses at Roshanara Roses flower farm in Debre Zeit, Oromia, Ethiopia. (Photographer: Jose Cendon/Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg

    Ethiopia’s burgeoning flower-growing industry is setting its sights on the U.S. in a bid to break the dominance of Latin American producers in supplying roses and other blooms to the world’s largest economy.

    State-owned Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise is evaluating freighter flights through Miami — the main entry point for U.S. flower imports — Los Angeles or New York, regional manager Girum Abebe said in an interview. The company currently transports stems there only in the bellies of passenger jets.

    Ethiopia has become a major force in global floriculture in the past two decades, exploiting a tropical high-altitude climate that provides year-round natural light combined with hot days and cold nights perfect for bringing plants into bloom. The conditions mirror those found in the Andes, where growers in Ecuador and Colombia currently dominate flower exports to the U.S.

    “Ten or 15 years ago Ethiopia was not exporting a single rose, but now we have earned our position in the world market,” Girum said. “North America has been the major importer of horticulture products from other parts of the world, so we want to have part of that.”

    Ethiopian flower exports are currently focused on Europe, and have made the country Africa’s second-biggest producer after Kenya and fourth-equal worldwide, according to Rabobank research based on 2015 figures. About 80 percent of Ethiopian production is flown to the Netherlands, the center of the global flower trade, and re-exported from there.

    Read more »


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    Kudos to US: Young African Leaders Initiative Camp Successful in Ethiopia

    With all due respect to our self-quoting "scholars" and civil war mongering "human rights advocates" in the Diaspora below is an update from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia about the recently held Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Connect Camp, a legacy of former President Barack Obama. (Photo: U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor with Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni at the closing event in Addis last week)

    Press Release

    By U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

    The 15th YALI Connect Camp in Ethiopia Workshop Successfully Concluded

    The 15th Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Connect Camp successfully concluded in Addis Ababa. The regional workshop was held December 10-15, 2017 for Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni and their mentees to learn about facilitating innovation for social change.

    The seventeen participants from East and Central Africa developed their leadership and mentoring skills, facilitated collaborative projects, and learned how to design community-oriented enterprises.. This is the first YALI Connect Camp to be held in Ethiopia, and the participants were from Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Sudan.

    At the closing ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor said, “It is impossible to overstate the important role that you and other African youth need to play in building a better future. From job creation, to good governance, to building inclusive societies, there are many challenges to be overcome. We have confidence in your ability to achieve those goals.”

    YALI Connect Camps are funded by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in the U.S. Department of State, administered by Ohio University’s Institute for International Journalism (IIJ), and assisted by the U.S. Embassy to Ethiopia.

    The purpose of YALI is to invest in the next generation of African leaders through training in facilitative leadership, mentorship, networking, and professional development opportunities for social change.”


    Related:
    2017 Mandela Washington Fellows Tell Their Stories
    Meet the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
    Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
    Meet the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia

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    UPDATE: Dozens Die in Clash Between Ethiopian Somalis and Oromos (BBC)

    (A map of Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions via VOA)

    BBC

    Updated: 18 December 2017

    At least 61 people have been killed in clashes between different ethnic groups in Ethiopia’s Oromia region since Thursday, officials said.

    It is not clear what caused the latest violence between ethnic Somalis and Oromos.
    But it comes after soldiers shot dead 16 ethnic Oromos at a protest on Tuesday, reports Reuters news agency.

    Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions share a long internal border and in the past have fought over grazing land.

    Oromia government’s spokesperson, Adisu Arega, announced the deaths on his Facebook page.

    He said 29 ethnic Oromos were killed between 14 and 17 December and 32 ethnic Somali Ethiopians were killed in revenge attacks.

    He added that the clashes happened in the region’s Hawi Gudina and Daro Lebu districts.

    What is behind the long-running conflict?

    Read more »


    Related:
    Hundreds of thousands of displaced Ethiopians are caught between ethnic violence and shadowy politics (PRI)
    Ethiopia’s Contradiction: Ethnofederalism or Federalism?

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    Dutch Court Jails Ethiopia ‘Red Terror’ Aide Eshetu Alemu for War Crimes (BBC)

    Eshetu Alemu is accused of ordering the execution of 75 people during Ethiopia's "Red Terror"

    BBC News

    Ethiopia ‘Red Terror’ aide Alemu jailed for war crimes

    A Dutch court has sentenced an aide to Ethiopia’s former communist ruler to life imprisonment for war crimes.

    Eshetu Alemu, 63, was found guilty of crimes including the execution of 75 people during Ethiopia’s “Red Terror” purges in the late 1970s.

    The dual Ethiopian-Dutch national and former aide to then-ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam denied all the charges against him.

    More than 300 victims were named in four war crimes charges.

    Ethiopia has already sentenced him to death in absentia.

    Prosecutors said that Alemu was a henchman for Mengistu in the north-west Gojjam province.

    The case was tried under Dutch universal jurisdiction laws at the district court in The Hague.

    Presiding judge Mariette Renckens told the court that Alemu was “guilty of war crimes and treated his fellow citizens in a cold and calculating manner… including robbing them of their right to life”.

    Families of victims applauded the sentence, but neither Alemu nor his lawyers were present in court.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Dutch court convicts 63-year-old of war crimes in Ethiopia (AP)

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    As Violence Flares in Ethiopia, Internet Goes Dark — VOA

    A woman walks past an Ethio Telecom office in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Nov. 9, 2015. (Photo Reuters)

    VOA News

    ​Ethiopians have been unable to reliably reach Twitter and Facebook since Tuesday, and other services may also be affected. Restricting internet access is a common tactic for the government when protests break out and security forces crack down.

    The government has justified such action in the past as a response to unverified reports and rumors, noting that social media become flooded with unconfirmed claims and misinformation when violence erupts. But blocking internet access also makes it more difficult for citizens to assemble peacefully or monitor what’s happening on the ground.

    Full control

    Unlike most nations, which have multiple internet service providers (ISPs), Ethiopia’s sole ISP, Ethio Telecom, has almost full control over internet access in the country. To block traffic to and from certain websites, or even shut down access altogether, the government needs only to coordinate with Ethio Telecom, a state-owned company. In contrast, it would require the cooperation of more than 2,600 ISPs to shut down internet access in the United States.

    Ethiopia is one of 61 countries with only one or two ISPs, according to a 2012 report by Dyn, a company focused on internet traffic and data management. Countries with few ISPs face the severe risk of an internet disconnection, according to Dyn, because these providers often are state-owned, making it easy for repressive governments to control and monitor access.

    But even when a government shuts down the internet, information can trickle in and out of a country via dial-up connections on international phone lines and satellite links.

    ​In the case of a partial shutdown in which a government blocks access to certain websites and services, citizens can still gain access to blocked content via proxies and virtual private networks (VPNs).

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia faces social media blackout after new ethnic unrest (AP)

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    Ethiopia’s Living Churches – in Pictures

    Debre Damo, a flat-topped mountain in northern Ethiopia, is one of the country’s most important centres of Christianity. This small, modern church is built in front of the grotto where Aragawi – one of the nine saints, or missionaries, who brought Christianity to Ethiopia – is said to have vanished. (All photographs: Ethiopia – The Living Churches of an Ancient Kingdom published by The American University in Cairo Press)

    The Guardian

    As one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, Ethiopia has a legacy of churches and monasteries, built on hilltops or hewn out of cliff faces, as well as vibrant traditions of worship. These are celebrated in a lavish book, Ethiopia: The Living Churches of an Ancient Kingdom.


    The festival of Timqat (Epiphany) celebration in Lalibela.

    Ethiopia adopted Christianity in the early fourth century. Today, the Timqat festival is the most important of Ethiopia’s nine major Christian feasts, taking place on 19 January to commemorate Christ’s baptism. In this celebration in the northern town of Lalibela, the tabots, or tablets of law, are seen being taken from various churches – wrapped in rich cloth and carried on the heads of priests – to a place of blessing.

    Read more and see photos at theguardian.com »


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