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Obama Speaks to Cheering Crowd on Mandela’s 100th Birthday in South Africa

Obama’s speech in South Africa is his highest-profile address since leaving office. He is marking the 100th anniversary of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela’s birth and giving an impassioned defense of the values held by the Nobel Peace Prize winner. (Photo: Former U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his speech at the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 17, 2018/AP)

AP

Obama decries ‘utter loss of shame among political leaders’ in high-profile Mandela address

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — In his highest profile speech since leaving office, former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced the policies of President Donald Trump without mentioning his name, taking aim at the “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment,” and decrying leaders who are caught lying and “just double down and lie some more.”

Obama was cheered by thousands in Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium as he marked the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth by urging respect for human rights, the free press and other values he said were under threat.

He rallied people to keep alive the ideals that the anti-apartheid activist worked for as the first black president of South Africa, including democracy, diversity, gender equality and tolerance.

Obama opened by calling today’s times “strange and uncertain,” adding that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.”

“We see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” he said.

A day after Trump met in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama criticized “strongman politics.”

The “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment” are on the move “at a pace unimaginable just a few years ago,” Obama added.

“Those in power seek to undermine every institution … that gives democracy meaning,” he said.

The first African-American president of the United States spoke up for equality in all forms, adding: “I would have thought we had figured that out by now.”

Obama praised the diversity of the World Cup champion French team, and he said that those countries engaging in xenophobia “eventually … find themselves consumed by civil war.”

He noted the “utter loss of shame among political leaders when they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more,” warning that the denial of facts could be the undoing of democracy.

But Obama reminded the crowd that “we’ve been through darker times. We’ve been through lower valleys.”

He closed with a call to action: “I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”

The crowd gave him a standing ovation in the chilly South African winter.

“Just by standing on the stage honoring Nelson Mandela, Obama is delivering an eloquent rebuke to Trump,” said John Stremlau, professor of international relations at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg.

He called the timing of Obama’s speech auspicious — one day after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — and said the commitments that defined Mandela’s life are “under assault.”

“Yesterday, we had Trump and Putin standing together; now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela.”

This was Obama’s first trip to Africa since leaving office in 2017. Earlier this week, he stopped in Kenya, where he visited the rural birthplace of his late father.

Obama’s speech noted how Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, kept up his campaign against what appeared to be insurmountable odds to end apartheid, South Africa’s harsh system of white minority rule.

Mandela, who was released from prison in 1990 and became president four years later, died in 2013 at the age of 95. He left a powerful legacy of reconciliation and diversity along with a resistance to inequality — economic and otherwise.

Since leaving the White House, Obama has shied away from public comment on the Trump administration, which has reversed or attacked his notable achievements. The U.S. under Trump has withdrawn from the 2015 Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal while trying to undercut the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare.”

Obama’s speech drew on his great admiration for Mandela, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner whom America’s first black president saw as a mentor.

When Obama was a U.S. senator, he had his picture taken with Mandela. After Obama became president he sent a copy of the photo to Mandela, who kept it in his office. Obama also made a point of visiting Mandela’s prison cell and gave a moving eulogy at Mandela’s memorial service in 2013, saying the South African had inspired him.

Many South Africans view Obama as a successor to Mandela because of his groundbreaking role and his support for racial equality in the U.S. and around the world.

Stremlau, who attended the speech, called it “a tough, strong condemnation of Trump and all that he stands for.”

“Obama hit out at lying, insecurity and putting down others. Obama said he can’t believe it is necessary to once again speak up for equality and human rights,” Stremlau said. “He pulled it together in a carefully worded, measured speech, which urged all to live up to Mandela’s standards and values.”

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Ethiopian Shelves Plane Deals, Maps Out Privatization Plan – Bloomberg

(Photo: Ethiopian Airlines Facebook)

Bloomberg

Ethiopian Airlines Group has shelved plans to establish a fleet of smaller jetliners as gains in demand suggest that the routes where they’d be deployed would be better served using larger planes.

Africa’s biggest airline had been looking at Bombardier Inc.’s C Series aircraft — since taken over by Airbus SE and renamed the A220 — together with Embraer SA’s E195. An order, which had been mooted as likely at this week’s Farnborough air show, is now off the agenda, Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam said in an interview.

“We have decided to suspend the evaluation of the 100-seater regional aircraft acquisition project, since the market size of the selected regional routes is growing faster than we expected,” he said. Boeing Co. 737 jets from the current fleet will instead be used while the airline studies passenger trends.

Tewolde also said there’s no prospect of an order for the Airbus A350-1000 wide-body or Boeing’s rival 777X at the Farnborough expo, with Ethiopian still evaluating the two planes for its latest long-haul requirements. A purchase of more of the U.S. company’s current-generation 777s or the 787 Dreamliner remains an alternative, he said.

The CEO said that privatization plans, sanctioned by Ethiopia’s ruling politburo last month, are more likely to see foreign involvement in various operating units than an outright stake sale, given that Ethiopian Air already makes a significant economic contribution to the nation while being efficient, competitive internationally and able to raise capital for growth.

Of the group’s seven or eight business units, some will be “very attractive” to investors and could also benefit from outside involvement, he said. He cited the airline’s hotel business, airports and aerospace manufacturing division where negotiations are underway with companies including Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier. The carrier’s logistics arm, which has a venture with Deutsche Post AG’s DHL brand, could be transformed into a joint holding giving the German company a 49 percent stake “within weeks.”

Read more »


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Eritrea’s President Arrives in Ethiopia for First Visit in More Than Two decades

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki is welcomed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon arriving for a three-day visit, at the Bole international airport in Addis Ababa, July 14, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki said on Saturday history was being made as he started his first visit to Ethiopia in more than two decades, days after the two neighbors declared an end to their “state of war”.

Arriving for three days of meetings, Isaias was greeted warmly at the airport by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and thousands lined Addis Ababa’s main thoroughfare Bole Road, sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the pictures of both leaders.

The visit comes just days after Abiy visited Eritrea and signed a pact with Isaias on resuming ties, a move that ended a near 20-year military standoff after a border war.

“Words cannot express the joy we are feeling now. History is being made as we speak,” Isaias said during a lunch hosted by Abiy.

“Lives have perished but we are lucky to observe today … We are one people – whoever forgets that does not understand our situation.”

Abiy introduced Isaias to guests attending the lunch as an “esteemed and missed guest”.

Eritrea formally seceded from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long battle for independence, but the two went to war in 1998 over a border dispute. Though a peace deal was signed two years later, Ethiopia refused to implement it, saying it wanted more talks.

Reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea could change politics and security in the volatile Horn of Africa region, which hundreds of thousands of young people have fled in search of safety and opportunities in Europe.

During the lunch, Abiy presented Isaias with a gold ring, while a painter handed Isaias a giant portrait of the Eritrean leader.

Ethiopia’s government spokesman said Isaias and his delegation would visit an industrial park in the southern Ethiopian town of Hawassa later on Saturday. Isaias was also due to give a speech in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Eritrea and Ethiopia have so far agreed to open embassies, develop ports and restart flights.

Eritrea is due to reopen its embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday for the first time since 1998.

Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter Isaias was accompanied by several ministers and other senior government officials.

Abiy, who is also trying to bring stability to a country that has been torn by protests since 2015, survived a grenade attack last month.


Related:
PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Is This the Ethiopian Spring? An Interview With Eskinder Nega (Washington Post)

Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was released on February 14, 2018, after serving nearly seven years in prison. (Photo: Befekadu Hailu)

The Washington Post

Just a few months ago, Ethiopia — a vast country of 100 million people — was still mired in dictatorship and war. But dramatic shifts are taking hold and they appear to be moving the country in the right direction: toward freedom.

This week, Ethiopia’s democratically elected prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, signed a peace treaty with Eritrea, its long-standing enemy. The news was one more sign that the change promised by the new government is real.

Ethiopia still has a long way to go. But Eskinder Nega, a leading Ethiopian journalist and former political prisoner, recently told me that he sees democracy as the inevitable destiny of his homeland. Now, he said, it’s “Ethiopia’s turn.”

He doesn’t make such claims lightly. Nega has spent a total of nine years in prison, most recently serving a 6½-year stint on a terrorism conviction for supposedly inciting violence against the government and having ties with the West. In reality, of course, the government targeted him because he was a vocal advocate for democracy, demanding an end to years of one-party rule.

Amid growing protests, he and several other political prisoners were released in April in a bid to “foster national reconciliation,” authorities said at the time.

In the months since, Ethiopia has been undergoing rapid reform, with Ahmed promising greater freedoms. For Nega, though, the only acceptable outcome is a representative democracy respecting the rights of all people.

Read the interview at washingtonpost.com »


Related:
Eskinder Nega Makes Surprise Appearance at 2018 PEN America Literary Gala in NYC

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People in Ethiopia Are Calling Strangers in Eritrea as Phone Lines are Opened After 20 Years — CNN

In this grab taken from video provided by ERITV, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is welcomed by Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki as he disembarks the plane in Asmara, Eritrea, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (CNN)

CNN

Frehiwot Negash picked up the phone and called a random number.

The Ethiopian finance manager was trying to test if indeed she could now place a call to Eritrea after 20 long years of being cut off from the neighboring country in the aftermath of a bloody border war.

The person on the other line answered. It was a hotel.

Negash, 33, told CNN: “The receptionist picked up. So I said ‘I’m calling from Ethiopia.’ Then I passed the congratulations message to her, and I told her that I am very happy and she also said ‘I am happy too.”

Negash says she now plans to visit Eritrea later this year.

After it was announced on Monday that phone lines would be restored between both countries, Ethiopia’s telecoms company, Ethios, sent text messages to its 57 million subscribers, saying they could now call Eritrea.

Negash was one of the people who quickly picked their phones to check if it was true. She and others in Ethiopia spent the day placing calls to friends and long-lost family members in Eritrea.

And the occasional stranger too.

“Oh gosh, I am so excited over this EthioEritrea thingy, I just called on a random number in Asmara and had a nice chat with a lady named Frtuna and she speaks Amharic,” Twitter user Henok Karvonen posted.

It has been 20 years since a war led to a shutdown of communication between the two countries.

But a diplomatic breakthrough was reached this week following a two-day summit between Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, 41, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, 71, in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara.

The two leaders delighted their citizens after declaring an end to the war between both nations on Monday.

Read more »


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PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29

Ethiopia's new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is traveling to meet the Ethiopian Diaspora in the U.S. this month (Photo Courtesy: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 5th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The government affiliated media organization Fana Broadcasting Corporation has announced on July 4th that Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, will be traveling to Washington D.C. on July 28th and Los Angeles, California on July 29th, 2018 to meet the Ethiopian Diaspora in the United States.

“The objective of his trip is to hold face-to-face meetings with Ethiopian Diaspora in the U.S., according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia,” reports Fana Broadcasting Corp. “It is also aimed at boosting the involvement of all Ethiopian Diaspora living in the U.S. in the ongoing reforms, development, and democratization in their country of birth.”

According to the announcement all Ethiopians are “invited to participate in the meeting, regardless of their political ideology, religion, and ethnic background.”

Read more »


Related:
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopia Fires Prison Officials Over Human Rights Abuses Amid Torture Report

Human Rights Watch has released a report on torture in prisons in Ethiopia's Ogaden region (photo courtesy: HRW)

The Washington Post

ADDIS ABABA (The Washington Post) — Ethiopia’s attorney general announced the dismissal of five top prison officials for alleged human rights violations, hours before the Thursday release of a Human Rights Watch report on torture in one regional prison.

Berhanu Tsegaye said the top prison officials “were relieved of their post for failing to discharge the responsibilities and respect prisoners’ human rights,” according to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting late Wednesday.

The announcement came hours before the release of a harrowing report by Human Rights Watch describing systematic torture in Jail Ogaden, a prison in Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region.

Report author Felix Horne said federal and regional authorities never responded to letters in April and May conveying the group’s findings. The report calls for a probe into the alleged abuses as well as criminal charges against those responsible.

Read more »


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3-Year-Old Girl From Ethiopia Killed at Her Birthday Party in Idaho Mass Stabbing

Photo of girl identified by International Rescue Committee as Ruya Kadir, 3, is seen at July 2, 2018 vigil in Boise, Idaho for 9 victims of stabbing at her birthday party two days before; Ruya succumbed to her wounds. Ruya and her mother are Ethiopian refugees. They arrived in the U.S. in December 2015 and settled in Boise. (KBOI-TV)

CBS News

Girl slain in Boise stabbing “loved pink and Disney princesses”

BOISE, Idaho — The three-year-old Idaho girl who died from her wounds two days after a mass stabbing at her birthday party Saturday has been identified as an Ethiopian refugee “who loved pink and Disney princesses.” CBS Boise affiliate KBOI-TV reports Ruya Kadir is the victim who lost her battle to survive.

The station cites The International Rescue Committee, an organization providing support for the families involved in the stabbing.

IRC President and CEO David Hillbrand said in a statement, “Our caseworkers describe Ruya as a child who always sparkled when she walked into a room. She was her mother’s princess, always the center of attention, and loved pink and Disney princesses. She had just turned three years old Saturday, and according to our IRC colleagues in Boise, was the epitome of sweetness.

“Ruya and her mother are Ethiopian refugees. They arrived in the U.S. in December 2015 and settled in Boise. Her father is in Turkey. Ruya’s parents are enduring every parent’s worst nightmare, which is made doubly cruel by the fact that they fled to America to escape conflict in Ethiopia. IRC had resettled the Kadir family in Boise. Our local team is doing everything possible to support the family – and the other refugees injured on Saturday – in this moment of extreme distress and fear.”

Authorities say a man invaded the birthday celebration and attacked nine people with a knife.

Timmy Kinner is accused of stabbing a group of children and the adults who tried to protect them at the party at an apartment complex that is home to many refugee families.

Word of the child’s death came at Kinner’s first court appearance, where Ada County Magistrate Judge Russell Comstock told him that he was charged with first-degree murder and other felonies in connection with the attack.

Comstock told Kinner he was “an extreme danger to the community” and ordered him held without bond.

Kinner is American, and the victims are members of refugee families from Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia. Boise Police Chief William Bones said the evidence doesn’t suggest the attack was a hate crime.

The suspect had recently stayed at the apartment complex but was asked to leave Friday over bad behavior, Bones said.

Three of the stabbing victims were adults, the others children: the 3-year-old girl who died, two 4-year-olds, a 6-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old…

Monday evening roughly 1,500 people turned out at a vigil honoring members of refugee families targeted in the stabbing.

People wept, sang and shouted their support for the refugee community, and many brought bouquets of white flowers intended to symbolize peace. By the end of the rally, hundreds of bouquets filled dozens of baskets on the steps of Boise’s City Hall.

But community leaders told the crowd that what the survivors really need is money to cover rapidly growing medical bills and space at home to try to overcome the constant sense of unease they’ve experienced since the attack. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and others urged community members to do what they can to help.

Signs were dotted throughout the crowd, some reading “love wins” and “we are all immigrants.”

Younis Kamel, a 16-year-old who moved to Boise from Iraq, and his 23-year-old sister Zuzu Kamel held up a more poignant sign:

“I will never forget seeing my friend getting stabbed in front of me,” the sign read. Younis Kamel was at the apartment complex the night of the attack.

Another woman held a sign reading “Justice for Teeba,” with a photo of a young child in a hospital bed, a breathing tube obscuring part of his face with half a dozen other tubes and medical devices connected to his body.


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Dutchman Claims He Owns Teff Since 2003, But Ethiopians Have Been Eating Injera for Millennia

The European Patent Office lists a Dutch national as the “inventor” of teff flour and associated food products since 2003. Now Ethiopia wants its intellectual property back. Earlier this year, the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office announced that it would do everything in its power to reclaim the teff patents, including legal and diplomatic action. (Mail & Guardian Online)

Mail & Guardian

Whose injera is it anyway?

Injera, Ethiopia’s staple food, was invented by a Dutchman in 2003.

That’s according to the European Patent Office, which lists the Netherlands’ Jans Roosjen as the “inventor” of teff flour and associated food products. Teff is a plant endemic to Ethiopia, and the grain is used to make [injera] that Ethiopians eat with their meals.

Roosjen also has a patent for the “invention” in the United States — though he is patently not the inventor of a product that has been around for millennia.

Ethiopians are nonplussed.

“For someone from Europe, from across the ocean, in a different continent, to come and say we patented teff and the copyright is ours …” Kassahun Gebrehana, owner of the Little Addis Café in Maboneng, Johannesburg, shakes his head…

Superfood

The story of how Ethiopia lost the intellectual property for teff and its associated products in Europe began in the early 2000s, with a bright idea: If Ethiopians love teff so much, why wouldn’t the rest of the world? The tiny grain — the world’s smallest grain, in fact — is gluten-free and rich in nutrients, beloved by hipsters and dieticians alike. It was, and remains, perfectly poised to take advantage of the global health food trend. Teff could be the next kale or quinoa.

Dutch researchers formed a company, which eventually became Health and Performance Food International, to explore options to market teff in Europe. Roosjen was a director. After many negotiations with different government entities, the company reached a deal with Ethiopia to plant and distribute teff in Europe. In return, it would send a hefty slice of the profits back to Addis Ababa.

These details are all courtesy of researchers Regine Andersen and Tone Winge, who in 2012 published a comprehensive paper on the subject for the Fridtjof Nansen Institute.

At the time, the deal was hailed as ground-breaking: for once, an African country was actually going to benefit from its precious natural resources. But not everyone was impressed: in 2004 the Coalition Against Biopiracy gave the Dutch company its award for the “most outrageous” deal: “The company appears to be oblivious to the fact that they are seeking to monopolise teff varieties that were developed over millennia by Ethiopian farmers and community plant breeders,” reads the citation.

In 2003, Ethiopian officials boxed up 1 440kg of teff seeds and shipped them off to the Netherlands. From there, it was supposed to find its way into kitchens all over Europe. Ninety-one Dutch agrarian entrepreneurs started growing teff, and that year 620 hectares were harvested.

But things did not go according to plan. The demand for teff never materialised, and the much-lauded deal earned the Ethiopian government a mere pittance: just €4 000 in total. In 2009 the Dutch company went bankrupt, meaning in effect that the contract was terminated.

But Health and Performance Food International had already applied for and been granted patents for the production and distribution of teff in Europe, and these did not lapse when the company went bankrupt. These patents are incredibly broad, covering most forms of teff flour, as well as all products that result from mixing teff flour with liquids. These include bread, pancakes, shortcake, cookies, cakes and, of course, injera.

Read the full article at Mail & Guardian »


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Dr. Getachew Metaferia: Morgan Professor Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Dr. Getachew Metaferia is a professor of political science at Morgan State University in Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Morgan State University

Adding to Morgan’s growing number of Fulbright Scholarship recipients representing the University, Getachew Metaferia, Ph.D., a professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts, will be next to engage in learning abroad. Dr. Metaferia will serve as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University in Israel. His research will focus on the Bete Israel community of Ethiopian Jews. During his time in the country, Metaferia will examine the community’s fast-growing population and its contributions to Israel’s social, economic, and political spheres.

This will not be Dr. Metaferia’s first visit to Israel. In 2017, he traveled to the country as a member of Academic Partner for Peace: Conflict, Peacemaking, and Peacebuilding in the Context of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Dr. Metaferia will be taking a sabbatical leave for the Fall 2018 semester and during his upcoming teaching stint in Israel, he will look to establish collaboration between Morgan and Tel Aviv University.

Morgan is among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars and the leader among HBCUs. To-date, 140 students and 70 faculty/administrators have received scholarships to study and teach abroad in more than 41 countries, including India, China, Brazil, and Jordan. Recently, Dr. Omar J. Khan, an associate professor of Marketing and International Business in the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management was awarded the Fulbright to teach and perform research at the University of Jordan.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. government, is the nation’s flagship international educational exchange program designed to increase mutual understanding between American scholars and people of other countries. The program operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. The Fulbright Program at Morgan was instituted when Dr. Sandye Jean McIntyre, II (Distinguished Professor of Foreign Languages and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Senegal) was appointed campus Fulbright Program Director in 1951. Dr. McIntyre was the longest serving Fulbright advisor in history. In 1968, Dr. Carleen S. Leggett, who would go on to become Morgan’s Fulbright program director, joined him in his efforts to aid student applicants.


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Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed in Washington DC on Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 (Photo Courtesy: Matt Andrea/Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 28th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Following the historic, large rally in Ethiopia in support of PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed this past weekend, the Ethiopian Diaspora in Washington DC and metropolitan area held a support rally on Tuesday, June 26th in front of the State Department.

Shortly after becoming Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed had told the nation in his inaugural address that “Democracy is unthinkable without freedom. Freedom is not a gift doled out to people by a government. Rather a gift of nature to everyone that emanates from our human dignity.”

Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s message of peace, love, forgiveness and unity has resonated with Ethiopians both at home and abroad, and in a televised address on Saturday the prime minister vowed to continue his agenda for democracy in Ethiopia.

Below are photos and videos shared on Facebook from the Washington DC support rally:


At Washington DC Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday, June 26th, 2018. (Photo: Matt Andrea/Facebook. Artwork by Solomon Asfaw).


Event poster for Washington DC Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday, June 26th, 2018. (Photo: Matt Andrea/Facebook).




Below are additional images and artwork by artists made for the rallies:

(By artist Yadesa Bojia)


(By Assegid Gessesse)


(By artist Yadesa Bojia)


(Anonymous from Addis)

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Related:

In Pictures: Despite Attack Huge Ethiopia Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia on the Right Track to a More Democratic Society (TADIAS Editorial)

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US: Obama Returns to Kenya and S. Africa

In this photo taken three years ago, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta stands next to President Barack Obama as he signs a guest book at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, July 24, 2015. (Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Former U.S. President Barack Obama will return to his father’s homeland of Kenya next month on his way to South Africa, where he is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday anniversary.

“Obama will visit Kenya from July 15-16, where he’ll attend the inauguration of a youth sports center founded by his sister, Auma Obama,” CNN reports. “The vocational center in Siaya County aims to provide educational and economic opportunities to help young people serve their communities, and shares a similar mission as President Obama’s foundation.”

“Given that his own mission under the Obama Foundation is to inspire and empower people to change the world, his attendance at this event at our ancestral home, where our father was laid to rest, is of great significance to me,” Auma Obama said.

In Kenya, Obama will also meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Since leaving office America’s ex-President has purposefully kept himself out of the limelight and away from the tumultuous political environment in the United States, which seems to have been further exasperated in recent days due to the fallout from his successor’s tragic family separation policy.

In a much talked about article published this week titled Where Is Barack Obama?, New York Magazine notes that “the most popular American…has, for now, virtually disappeared from public life.” Former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says: “He’s recognizing that the party and our country will benefit from other voices having an opportunity to weigh in, and that opportunity would be all but completely obscured if he were regularly sharing his opinion on these issues.”

Obama, who is also a talented writer, has been working on his upcoming memoir. Per New York Magazine: “No one close to Obama expects the finished product to look anything like other White House memoirs, given his history as a writer. “He is engaged in reflection, and he also cares about writing,” says Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator and an Obama friend. “I would be surprised if it’s just a standard chronological accounting of his last eight years.”

In addition Barack & Michelle Obama have partnered with Netflix to produce media content including films and documentary series for the online streaming service 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 will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others,” a person familiar with the deal told Reuters last month.”


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UPDATE: U.S. to Send FBI Experts to Investigate Ethiopia Blast

Ethiopians react after an explosion during a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. (Reuters Photo)

Reuters

Updated: Monday, JUNE 25, 2018

ADDIS ABABA – The United States will send FBI experts to Ethiopia to help investigate a grenade attack at a rally for new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, state-affiliated media said on Monday.

A grenade exploded on Saturday moments after Abiy had finished addressing the crowds, who had turned out to back his push for radical political and economic reforms, including a peace deal with arch-enemy Eritrea.

Thirty people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack that killed two and wounded 156 in Addis Ababa’s packed Meskel Square. Nine police officers have also been detained over the security lapse, officials said.

“The U.S. government said it is sending FBI experts,” the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported.

U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce Gilbert Kaplan made the offer while talking to Ethiopia’s minister of foreign affairs, Workneh Gebeyehu, on Monday, Fana added.

There was no immediate confirmation from the U.S. embassy in Addis, or from Washington. Ethiopia is one of Washington’s main allies in the region, particularly in the fight against militants in neighboring Somalia.

Security officials have not said publicly who might be responsible for the attack.

Abiy took office in April, pledging to bring more transparency to government and reconciliation to a country that has been wracked by political unrest since 2015.

Ethiopia has released thousands of jailed dissidents since the beginning of the year. Major policy shifts include the partial privatisation of Ethiopia’s state-run telecoms monopoly and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, loosening the government’s grip on the economy.


Related:
In Pictures: Despite Attack Huge Ethiopia Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopia Unblocks 264 Websites and TV Channels, Ginbot 7 Suspends Armed Resistance (BBC)

ESAT was among the banned TV stations. In a related news Ginbot 7 also announced that it has suspended armed resistance against the Ethiopian government. (Photo: YouTube)

BBC

Ethiopia has unblocked 264 websites and TV broadcasters, a senior official has announced.

Fitsum Arega, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff, announced the move on Twitter, saying “freedom of expression is a foundational right”.

Since coming to office in April, Mr Abiy has embarked on sweeping reforms.

The previous administration was accused of restricting access to foreign-based media platforms during the height of anti-government protests.

The government was accused of human rights violations – including torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.

US-based television stations, Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and Oromo Media Network (OMN), were among the outlets barred and charged in absentia for inciting violence and promoting acts of terror by the government, BBC Amharic editor Ashagre Hailu reports.

Many journalists were given prison sentences for stories they had written, while others fled the country.

This environment seems to be changing under Prime Minister Abiy, our correspondent says.

When he took office in April, Mr Abiy pledged to open up the airwaves, even calling on foreign-based opposition TV broadcasters to open offices in Ethiopia.

A few weeks ago, charges were dropped against ESAT and OMN.

Mr Abiy has also announced the part-privatisation of state-owned enterprises, is attempting to stabilise Ethiopia’s rocky relationship with neighbouring Eritrea, and ended a state of emergency put in place by the previous administration.


Related:
Ginbot 7 suspends armed resistance

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Why Ethiopia Wants to Launch a Navy

H H Commodore Prince Alexander Desta was Deputy Commander of the Imperial Ethiopian Navy in 1971. (Photo: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM)

BBC News

When Eritrea gained independence in 1993, Ethiopia suddenly found itself without a coastline and so it took the logical step of disbanding its navy. Now, it is reconsidering its decision and its latest manoeuvres in the region suggest it could be shopping around its neighbourhood to find a naval base it can use.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently said on state TV: “We built one of the strongest ground and air force in Africa… we should build our naval force capacity in the future.”

His comments revealed the country’s naval ambitions but his plans for how to achieve this goal have not been made public. However, Ethiopia’s latest push to enter into deals with its coastal neighbours signals something is afoot.

What is behind the move?

State-linked Fana Broadcasting Corporate quoted Mr Abiy as saying the military reforms should “take into account current fast changing world, socio-economic and political situation in Ethiopia”.

After Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter border war from 1998-2000, there was little chance that Ethiopia could carry on using Eritrea’s ports as it had done previously. So it had to find alternatives.

Ethiopia recently signed a deal to take a stake in the port of Djibouti, which now handles roughly 95% of all its exports and imports.

It is also connected to its small neighbour by a new 472 mile (759 km) railway line – opened last year – which links the capital Addis Ababa to the port of Doraleh, an extension of the port of Djibouti.

The railway line has increased the movement of cargo volumes to and from the port to such an extent that at least 70% of all its activity is now Ethiopian trade.

Roba Megerssa Akawak, head of the state-owned Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE), told Bloomberg that Ethiopia was concerned that Djibouti was controlled by foreign naval forces. US, China, Japan and France all have military bases there.

“We are afraid perhaps in the future that even Djibouti may not have its own say to really decide on its own fate. This is quite a threat to Ethiopia,” Mr Roba said.

He added that a navy would also help protect the 11 Ethiopia commercial ships in a “very volatile” Red Sea area where Ethiopia has other economic interests “and there are conflicting political interests”.

Read more »


Related
Ethiopia Offers Eritrea Chance to End Africa’s Longest War

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Futurists in Ethiopia Betting on AI

Young Ethiopians are increasingly seeing artificial intelligence as a promising profession. Some stakeholders think Ethiopia should skip the manufacturing stage of development and invest instead in a high-tech workforce. (Photo by Thomas Lewton for Undark)

Quartz Africa

Futurists in Ethiopia are betting on artificial intelligence to drive development

“I don’t think Homo sapiens-type people will exist in 10 or 20 years’ time,” Getnet Assefa, 31, speculates as he gazes into the reconstructed eye sockets of Lucy, one of the oldest and most famous hominid skeletons known, at the National Museum of Ethiopia. “Slowly the biological species will disappear and then we will become a fully synthetic species,” Assefa says.

“Perception, memory, emotion, intelligence, dreams—everything that we value now—will not be there,” he adds.

Assefa is a computer scientist, a futurist, and a utopian—but a pragmatic one at that. He is founder and chief executive of iCog, the first artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Ethiopia, and a stone’s throw from the home of Lucy. iCog Labs launched in 2013 with $50,000 and just four programmers. Today, halfway up an unassuming tower block, dozens of software developers type in silence. Their desks are cluttered with electronic components and dismembered robot body parts, from a soccer-playing bot called Abebe to a miniature robo-Einstein. An earlier prototype of Sophia, a widely recognized humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics (she appeared with late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon last year) is here too. Arguably the world’s most famous robot of her kind, Sophia’s software was partly developed here in Ethiopia’s capital.

In stark contrast to the famine-stricken images that linger in the minds of many Westerners, Addis Ababa has, in recent years, become a hub for international business and diplomacy. Glitzy new office blocks and hotels continue to rise across the sprawling capital, and while Ethiopia is still ranked among the world’s poorest countries in terms of GDP per capita, it is also among the fastest growing.

Assefa hopes to place artificial intelligence at the heart of Ethiopia’s rapid development, but he receives little backing from the government, which has been encouraging investment in the manufacturing sector. “They think that advanced technologies are a luxury,” he sighs, as we sit in the Lucy-themed restaurant next door to the museum. “It’s not a luxury, it is crucial.”

Read more »


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Ethiopia on the Right Track to a More Democratic Society

(Image via YouTube: Faces of Ethiopia)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

June 8th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This week, Ethiopia’s parliament voted to lift a six-month state of emergency two months in advance than scheduled.

We were not surprised. It is a continuation of a series of positive major policy changes that have taken place in Ethiopia in the past few weeks fueling optimism both at home and abroad since the new PM Abiy Ahmed took office in early April.

The lifting of the State of Emergency follows the government’s recent announcement that it has dropped charges against two Ethiopian media associations based in the United States, ESAT and OMN, as well as granting pardons to several high-profile opposition leaders, journalists and political activists – some whom are set to speak in New York today (June 8th) at an Amnesty International USA conference focusing on the state of human rights in Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia is undergoing remarkable political transformation never seen in the country’s recent history,” says Awol K. Allo, a lecturer at Keele University School of Law in England, writing in a recent opinion article featured on CNN. “Since coming to power just over two months ago, the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has taken a series of radical steps that are transforming the political map and restoring trust in public authority.”

Awol adds: “On Tuesday (June 5), the government made three major and politically consequential announcements. It lifted the state of emergency imposed shortly after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, announced plans to liberalize the economy and declared it was ready to fully comply with and implement the Algiers Agreement that ended Africa’s most deadly conflict [with neighboring Eritrea].” Awol then asks: “Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister has had a stellar two months, can he keep it up?”

The Economist, which has dubbed Abiy ‘the Reformer-in-Chief,’ notes : “The exiled opponents have been invited home. Representatives of dissident media outlets based abroad have been encouraged to set up shop in Addis Ababa, the capital. Terrorism charges against dozens of activists have been dropped, including against a British citizen, Andargachew Tsige, who had been on death row.”

The question still remains, will Ethiopia likewise pull off its first ever truly multi-party election in 2020? The answer might as well be PM Abiy’s long lasting legacy.

In the last questionable election, which was held in 2015, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia declared a 100% vote victory for the ruling party. The unrealistic results certainly contributed to the resentment that ignited the three-year popular unrest leading to the abrupt resignation of the former prime minister.

The next election season in 2020 is not that far away, but given what has already been accomplished in a mere 8 weeks under PM Abiy who knows how Ethiopia may yet again surprise the world. In the end, however, what is not in doubt today is that this generation has answered the call of our time and has seized the moment to assure the continuity of Ethiopia’s long history and culture, while at the same time placing the country on the right path to a more peaceful and democratic society.


Related:
Abiy Ahmed pulls off an astonishing turnaround for Ethiopia (Washington Post Editorial)
Momentous days in Ethiopia as new PM pledges major reforms (The Associated Press)

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The Future is African — and the United States is not Prepared

Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier Jr., the chief of staff for U.S. Africa Command, at the Pentagon on May 10. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Beginning in 2035, the number of young people reaching working age in Africa will exceed that of the rest of the world combined, and will continue every year for the rest of the century. By 2050, one in every four humans will be African. At the end of the century, nearly 40 percent of the world’s population will be African. Yet, instead of preparing to build a relationship that can grow with the continent, based upon diplomatic cooperation, the United States is doubling down on more than a decade of reliance on its military as the primary vehicle of engaging with Africa. The consequences, as one might expect, are overwhelmingly negative.

The impending demographic dividend will only add to Africa’s economic importance. Since 2000, at least half of the countries in the world with the highest annual growth rate have been in Africa. By 2030, 43 percent of all Africans are projected to join the ranks of the global middle and upper classes. By that same year, household consumption in Africa is expected to reach $2.5 trillion, more than double the $1.1 trillion of 2015, and combined consumer and business spending will total $6.7 trillion.

Africa’s rapid change also presents challenges that will not be contained within the continent. Indeed, the persistently high absolute number of people in poverty, the underdevelopment of infrastructure, ongoing conflicts, and continuing problems with democratic governance are already combining to make Africa the world’s largest source of emigrants.

Many other countries have taken note of both the potential and the challenges in Africa’s anticipated transformation, and have mostly decided to increase their engagement. Plenty has been written about China’s growing presence, and the European Union has also been deepening its links to the continent. But there is also a growing list of other countries pursuing stronger ties — including India, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, and the Gulf states.

In contrast, the United States’ relationship with the continent has, since 9/11, been increasingly defined by the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. In 2003, the George W. Bush administration established the first permanent U.S. base on the continent in Djibouti. In 2007, the U.S. Africa Command was created.

The Barack Obama administration solidified this policy approach by increasing military spending and deploying more troops. President Trump is following the lead of his predecessors; over the past year, the number of U.S. forces in Africa has increased by nearly 1,500, bringing the total to around 7,500, not including Special Operations forces. The United States now has 34 status of forces agreements (or similar treaties) with African countries — 14 of which were signed or upgraded in the last decade. U.S. Special Operations forces are also often deployed in countries without such agreements. In 2017 alone, U.S. troops were deployed to 50 out of Africa’s 54 countries, many on clandestine missions.

Read more »


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Andy Tsege ‘Overjoyed’ to Return to UK

Andy Tsege was warmly greeted at Heathrow Airport. (Sky News)

Sky News

British national Andy Tsege ‘overjoyed’ to return to UK after years on death row in Ethiopia

A British national who spent four years on death row in Ethiopia has arrived back in the UK after being pardoned last month.

Supporters surrounded Andargachew Tsege, known as Andy, as he walked through arrivals at Heathrow Airport.

He told Sky News he was “overjoyed” to be home and “overwhelmed” by the reception he received.

Mr Tsege said he did not think the campaign to free him and the welcome he got would be “as large, as emotional, as effective as this”.


Andy Tsege’s family were waiting for him at Heathrow (Sky News)

Being away had been “terrible”, he added, and very hard on his family.

Missing four years of his children growing up had been the “most painful thing”.

“The price they paid, the kids, that’s very painful,” he said.

Were he not a father, Mr Tsege said he would not have minded dying in prison for a “cause I believed in”.

While in detention, he said he was “completely sealed off” from any information.


Mr Tsege said being away from his children was the ‘most painful thing’ (Sky News)

Mr Tsege was kidnapped in Yemen in 2014 and taken to Ethiopia, which he left in the 1970s after criticising the country’s ruling party.

The father-of-three sought asylum in the UK in 1979.

In 2009, he was accused by the Ethiopian authorities of being a terrorist, tried with others in his absence and sentenced to death.

After being taken back to Ethiopia, he was held in secret detention and solitary confinement for a year.

Theresa May has thanked her Ethiopian counterpart, Abiy Ahmed, for the release of Mr Tsege and other prisoners.


Related:
Ethiopia Drops Charges Against ESAT, OMN, Berhanu Nega and Jawar Mohammed (AP)

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Did Obama Come Too Early for America?

Former president Barack Obama walks by his presidential portrait at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in February. (The Washington Post)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Did Obama Come Too Early for America? New Book Reveals He Wondered So

May 31st, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election President Barack Obama was said to have wondered aloud if he had come a bit too early for America.

In response his advisors sought to uplift his spirits emphasizing that the vast majority of young people understood him better than the older generation; this was according to a new book by Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes.

“His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump,” the New York Times notes citing Rhodes’ book. “Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, did not seem convinced. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said.”

As the Washington Post’s Eugene Scott reminds us “Obama’s vision of America was rooted in uniting those who often process politics and policy differently because of their different identities.” Obama famously articulated this during his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech in Boston that catapulted him to international stardom.

However, Scott also points out: “More than a decade later, as the first black president was ending his historic time in the White House, Obama was faced with acknowledging something that perhaps he had not previously — America was far more divided than many people realized. It’s fair to say, more than a year after President Trump entered the White House, Obama was wrong about one thing: just how many people bought into his vision of an inclusive America where diversity is fundamental to the country’s — and the world’s — success. Very often after a racist, sexist or other discriminatory comment or incident captures national headlines, some politicians and other cultural influencers head to Twitter to say: “This is not who we are.” The frequency with which these episodes happen is proof that that’s not true.”

Scott adds:

Obama often called on Americans “to appeal … to our better angels.” This is a line he borrowed from Abraham Lincoln, who had to challenge Americans to do the same thing more than a century and a half ago. While Obama may have underestimated just how tribalistic the country had become during his presidency, and the role he may have played in it, the idea that most people bought into the vision of America that Trump promoted is also unsupported by the data. A majority of the electorate voted against Trump.”

Indeed per the officially-certified votes from the 2016 presidential race Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes, but lost the Electoral College.

Below are links to both articles:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/trumps-election-made-obama-wonder-if-america-was-ready-to-move-forward-from-its-past/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/us/politics/obama-reaction-trump-election-benjamin-rhodes.html


Related:
Millennials Take on Trump in 2018 Midterm Elections
Barack & Michelle Obama Partner With Netflix to Produce Media Content

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How Ethiopia’s Social Safety-net Program is Setting an Example — The Economist

Extending the safety-net in Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s scheme to help the poor is setting an example.

The Economist

May 31st 2018 | ADDIS ABABA

TSIDE ZEWIDE has lived in the shadow of the national palace in Addis Ababa for more than 50 years. Since her husband died four years ago the 73-year-old has cared for three orphans, the grandchildren of her late sister, alone in a rundown government-owned shack. She has no pension and, until recently, had no income. “I relied on the kindness of my neighbours,” she sighs.

Last year Mrs Zewide’s fortunes changed. She and some 80 of her neighbours rise at dawn to sweep the streets of the Ethiopian capital for three hours a day. For this she is paid 1,200 Ethiopian birr ($44) a month, a fifth of which she is required to save. “It’s good for me psychologically,” she says. “It keeps me busy, and now at least I can tell people I have a job.” Her teammates nod in agreement.

They are participants in Ethiopia’s Urban Productive Safety Net Project, which was launched in 2017 and is among the largest social programmes in sub-Saharan Africa (outside South Africa) designed specifically for urban areas. About 400,000 poor Ethiopians in 11 cities are already enrolled. The government hopes it will eventually help 4.7m people in almost 1,000 towns. Beneficiaries are selected by a neighbourhood committee based on how poor and vulnerable they are. In addition to the paid work, they also receive training. Those who want to start their own businesses are given grants…

Ethiopia’s programme is a step towards building a national social-security system that will, in time, replace a hotch-potch of small ones. It builds on Ethiopia’s flagship rural safety-net, which is the largest of its kind on the continent and covers some 10m poor people in the countryside (out of a total population of about 102m). The government has committed $150m to fund the new scheme and the World Bank has stumped up the remaining $300m needed for the first five years. Ethiopia hopes that within ten years it will no longer need help financing the programme.

Read more »


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Ethiopia Drops Charges Against ESAT, OMN, Berhanu Nega and Jawar Mohammed

Berhanu Nega, who leads the opposition Patriotic Ginbot 7 group, was previously sentenced to death. (Photo: NYT)

The Associated Press

An Ethiopian court has dropped charges against two U.S.-based media outlets once accused of coordinating anti-government protests, as well as a high-profile politician and opposition activist.

The developments reported by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate are the latest under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who since his installation in April has secured the release of several thousands of prisoners.

Charges were dropped against broadcasters ESAT and OMN and activist Jawar Mohammed.

Charges also were dropped against politician Berhanu Nega, who leads the opposition Patriotic Ginbot 7 group and was previously sentenced to death.

Also Tuesday, Ethiopia-born British national Andgargachew Tsige walked free after being pardoned Saturday on “special circumstances.” He was secretary-general of Ginbot 7 and had been detained in Yemen in 2014 under Ethiopia’s infamous anti-terror law.


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Andargachew Tsige to Be Released (AP)

Andargachew Tsege is a father of three from London. A prominent figure in Ethiopian politics, kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia in 2014. (Family photo via Twitter)

AP

Ethiopia releasing British national detained in 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia says it is releasing an Ethiopia-born British national detained in Yemen in 2014 under the country’s infamous anti-terror law.

Andargachew Tsige was secretary-general of the opposition group Ginbot 7 based mainly in Ethiopia’s arch- foe Eritrea.

The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reports that Andargachew was pardoned under “special circumstances” with the intervention of the attorney general. The report says close to 600 people are being released in all.

Britain had been trying to secure Andargachew’s release since his arrest.

Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was installed in April and has since secured the release of several thousands of prisoners, including high-profile politicians and journalists.


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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.

Read more »


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.”

Read more »


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.

Read more »


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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’.

Read more »


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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.”

Read more »


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.

Read more »


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.”

Read more »


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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.

Read more »


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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.

Read more »


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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.

Read more »

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.


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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    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)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • 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

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    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 »


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    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)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    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.

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