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Ethiopia Releases More Prisoners (Reuters)

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

REUTERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Economist on Ethiopia’s Current Political Climate

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

The Economist

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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 to Boost Trump

    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)

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

    (Photo: Pixabay)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 12th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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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)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    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.

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

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

    The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia: Bekele Gerba Jailed for Singing Protest Song in Court

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

    Associated Press

    Ethiopia top opposition figure gets prison time for contempt

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

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

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

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


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    WB 2018 Economy Forecast for Ethiopia

    (Photo via africanews.com)

    Africa News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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    Ethiopia Bans Foreign Adoptions (BBC)

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

    BBC News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

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

    AP

    January 9th, 2018

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

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

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


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    The Untimely Death of an Exiled Ethiopian Journalist

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

    Global Voices

    By Endalk Chala

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

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    Watch: Why America is Talking About Oprah for President

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

    The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

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    DC Abuzz About the 25th Amendment

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

    Politico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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    Time to Update Africa’s Green Revolution

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

    Pacific Standard Magazine

    AFRICA NEEDS A NEW APPROACH IN ITS BATTLE AGAINST HUNGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    An Africa Update From U.S. Rep. Bass

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

    Press Release

    Karen Bass, Member of Congress

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Africa: Trump for Human Rights? Really?

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

    Business Daily Africa

    Trump shifts US Africa policy away from human rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Obama’s BBC Interview With Prince Harry

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

    The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

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

    Associated Press

    By Elias Meseret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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    A Rare Victory for Ethiopia’s Victims (HRW)

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

    Human Rights Watch

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    AllAfrica

    PRESS CONFERENCE

    The current U.S. administration’s top diplomat on African affairs, Acting Assistant Secretary Don Yamamoto, recently completed a 10-day trip to Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda which included talks on a wide range of issues with the African Union. Upon his return to Washington, D.C., he was questioned by African journalists in a telephone news conference. Excerpts:

    [Questions on Ethiopia]

    First of all is going back to the question on the IGAD process. Ethiopia really is a critical partner and leader. As you know, Ethiopia is in the chair for IGAD, leading the high-level discussions in South Sudan. But more importantly is that Ethiopia contributes troops to peacekeeping operations in Southern Sudan as well as Sudan. And Ethiopia is one of our largest troop-contributing countries for peacekeeping operations in Africa, and that is really a very important point to highlight.

    The second point is, yes, we did note and we did discuss with the government about a lot of the challenges, not only the efforts of Ethiopian troops to stabilize Somalia, prevent terrorism and elements from Shabab and ISIS coming into Ethiopia, but also the internal domestic challenges that you face in Ethiopia and the Somalia area, based not only on ethnic divides, land tenure problems, obviously procedures, government procedures, local practices, etc. but it’s an issue that the government is fully focused on, but it’s an issue also that we as very close partners with the government and the people of Ethiopia will work cooperatively to address and resolve.

    The reason why Ethiopia is so critical, if you look again, just like Kenya, Ethiopia has one of our largest missions. Ethiopia is a pillar country for Africa. It has an 8% economic growth rate, it is addressing really fundamental challenges of food and security and shortage, and over the years through partnerships with USAID and what we know as the Fuse Net Network, which is the early warning system, we’ve been able to mitigate and address a lot of the food security in Ethiopia, which has now become really a model for how you address food and security in other parts of not only Africa but the world.

    So we will continue to work with Ethiopia on a wide range of issues, and it’s a close partnership. We’re gonna have differences. We’re gonna be arguing on issues. But at the end of the day it’s a very close partnership. What we discussed with the Prime Minister and the government, you know, I defer to them because those are very private, secure conversations, but let me just say that those discussions were very warm, cooperative, but what’s more important is we share a lot of issues and that we really do need Ethiopia as we do Kenya, as we look toward the 22nd century, because we’re gonna have high population growth rates and we’re gonna really need to address how you address those issues of job creation, economic development.

    Ethiopia has some good ideas; Ethiopia has some great practices. And so we’re going to take those lessons learned and join them with other countries, and then hopefully have a strategy that will benefit all of Africa. And then correct issues that are not helping and not working, and that’s a very good relationship if everyone’s very open to discussion and if they’re willing to continue to bolster that….”

    Read the full excerpt from the press conference with Ambassador Yamamoto at AllAfrica.com »


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    EU Urges Probe in Ethiopia Clashes (AFP)

    There have been a string of recent clashes over the border between the two ethnically demarcated Somali and Oromia federal regions in Ethiopia. (Photo by Zacharias Abubeker/AFP)

    AFP

    The European Union called Wednesday for an independent probe into clashes between two of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, which officials say left at least 61 dead last week alone.

    There have been a string of recent clashes over the border between the two ethnically demarcated Somali and Oromia federal regions, “causing many casualties and the destruction of properties”, said the EU.

    The cause of the latest violence is not clear but it has raised concerns of growing ethnic divisions in Africa’s second most-populous country.

    In a statement the EU called for “independent investigations (into) all acts of violence.”

    On Thursday and Friday last week, scores lost their lives in the West Hararghe region near the border between the Somali and Oromia states — with both sides giving different death tolls.

    On Sunday, the spokesman for the Oromia state government Addisu Arega Kitessa said armed men had attacked Oromos on Thursday, killing 29 people and burning down hundreds of homes.

    A day later 32 Somalis living nearby were killed in retaliation, he wrote on his personal Facebook account.

    An open letter from Somali elders to the government and international rights groups mentioned “200 killed” on Friday in an “ethnic cleansing campaign” which they say has been under way since 2004, but has intensified in the past three years.

    The letter recalled that the “Ethiopian Somali community… traditionally lived in western Hararghe of Ethiopia for many centuries. Because of this, more than 90 percent of us speak Oromia and not the Somali language.”

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addressed the nation on state television on Sunday, offering his condolences for what he referred to as a “mass killing”.

    Read more »


    Related:
    UPDATE: Dozens Die in Clash Between Ethiopian Somalis and Oromos (BBC)

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    Bloomberg: Ethiopia Eyes US Rose Market

    Workers collect roses at Roshanara Roses flower farm in Debre Zeit, Oromia, Ethiopia. (Photographer: Jose Cendon/Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg

    Ethiopia’s burgeoning flower-growing industry is setting its sights on the U.S. in a bid to break the dominance of Latin American producers in supplying roses and other blooms to the world’s largest economy.

    State-owned Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise is evaluating freighter flights through Miami — the main entry point for U.S. flower imports — Los Angeles or New York, regional manager Girum Abebe said in an interview. The company currently transports stems there only in the bellies of passenger jets.

    Ethiopia has become a major force in global floriculture in the past two decades, exploiting a tropical high-altitude climate that provides year-round natural light combined with hot days and cold nights perfect for bringing plants into bloom. The conditions mirror those found in the Andes, where growers in Ecuador and Colombia currently dominate flower exports to the U.S.

    “Ten or 15 years ago Ethiopia was not exporting a single rose, but now we have earned our position in the world market,” Girum said. “North America has been the major importer of horticulture products from other parts of the world, so we want to have part of that.”

    Ethiopian flower exports are currently focused on Europe, and have made the country Africa’s second-biggest producer after Kenya and fourth-equal worldwide, according to Rabobank research based on 2015 figures. About 80 percent of Ethiopian production is flown to the Netherlands, the center of the global flower trade, and re-exported from there.

    Read more »


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    Kudos to US: Young African Leaders Initiative Camp Successful in Ethiopia

    With all due respect to our self-quoting "scholars" and civil war mongering "human rights advocates" in the Diaspora below is an update from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia about the recently held Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Connect Camp, a legacy of former President Barack Obama. (Photo: U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor with Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni at the closing event in Addis last week)

    Press Release

    By U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

    The 15th YALI Connect Camp in Ethiopia Workshop Successfully Concluded

    The 15th Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Connect Camp successfully concluded in Addis Ababa. The regional workshop was held December 10-15, 2017 for Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni and their mentees to learn about facilitating innovation for social change.

    The seventeen participants from East and Central Africa developed their leadership and mentoring skills, facilitated collaborative projects, and learned how to design community-oriented enterprises.. This is the first YALI Connect Camp to be held in Ethiopia, and the participants were from Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Sudan.

    At the closing ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor said, “It is impossible to overstate the important role that you and other African youth need to play in building a better future. From job creation, to good governance, to building inclusive societies, there are many challenges to be overcome. We have confidence in your ability to achieve those goals.”

    YALI Connect Camps are funded by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in the U.S. Department of State, administered by Ohio University’s Institute for International Journalism (IIJ), and assisted by the U.S. Embassy to Ethiopia.

    The purpose of YALI is to invest in the next generation of African leaders through training in facilitative leadership, mentorship, networking, and professional development opportunities for social change.”


    Related:
    2017 Mandela Washington Fellows Tell Their Stories
    Meet the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
    Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
    Meet the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia

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    UPDATE: Dozens Die in Clash Between Ethiopian Somalis and Oromos (BBC)

    (A map of Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions via VOA)

    BBC

    Updated: 18 December 2017

    At least 61 people have been killed in clashes between different ethnic groups in Ethiopia’s Oromia region since Thursday, officials said.

    It is not clear what caused the latest violence between ethnic Somalis and Oromos.
    But it comes after soldiers shot dead 16 ethnic Oromos at a protest on Tuesday, reports Reuters news agency.

    Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions share a long internal border and in the past have fought over grazing land.

    Oromia government’s spokesperson, Adisu Arega, announced the deaths on his Facebook page.

    He said 29 ethnic Oromos were killed between 14 and 17 December and 32 ethnic Somali Ethiopians were killed in revenge attacks.

    He added that the clashes happened in the region’s Hawi Gudina and Daro Lebu districts.

    What is behind the long-running conflict?

    Read more »


    Related:
    Hundreds of thousands of displaced Ethiopians are caught between ethnic violence and shadowy politics (PRI)
    Ethiopia’s Contradiction: Ethnofederalism or Federalism?

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

    Eshetu Alemu is accused of ordering the execution of 75 people during Ethiopia's "Red Terror"

    BBC News

    Ethiopia ‘Red Terror’ aide Alemu jailed for war crimes

    A Dutch court has sentenced an aide to Ethiopia’s former communist ruler to life imprisonment for war crimes.

    Eshetu Alemu, 63, was found guilty of crimes including the execution of 75 people during Ethiopia’s “Red Terror” purges in the late 1970s.

    The dual Ethiopian-Dutch national and former aide to then-ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam denied all the charges against him.

    More than 300 victims were named in four war crimes charges.

    Ethiopia has already sentenced him to death in absentia.

    Prosecutors said that Alemu was a henchman for Mengistu in the north-west Gojjam province.

    The case was tried under Dutch universal jurisdiction laws at the district court in The Hague.

    Presiding judge Mariette Renckens told the court that Alemu was “guilty of war crimes and treated his fellow citizens in a cold and calculating manner… including robbing them of their right to life”.

    Families of victims applauded the sentence, but neither Alemu nor his lawyers were present in court.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Dutch court convicts 63-year-old of war crimes in Ethiopia (AP)

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    As Violence Flares in Ethiopia, Internet Goes Dark — VOA

    A woman walks past an Ethio Telecom office in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Nov. 9, 2015. (Photo Reuters)

    VOA News

    ​Ethiopians have been unable to reliably reach Twitter and Facebook since Tuesday, and other services may also be affected. Restricting internet access is a common tactic for the government when protests break out and security forces crack down.

    The government has justified such action in the past as a response to unverified reports and rumors, noting that social media become flooded with unconfirmed claims and misinformation when violence erupts. But blocking internet access also makes it more difficult for citizens to assemble peacefully or monitor what’s happening on the ground.

    Full control

    Unlike most nations, which have multiple internet service providers (ISPs), Ethiopia’s sole ISP, Ethio Telecom, has almost full control over internet access in the country. To block traffic to and from certain websites, or even shut down access altogether, the government needs only to coordinate with Ethio Telecom, a state-owned company. In contrast, it would require the cooperation of more than 2,600 ISPs to shut down internet access in the United States.

    Ethiopia is one of 61 countries with only one or two ISPs, according to a 2012 report by Dyn, a company focused on internet traffic and data management. Countries with few ISPs face the severe risk of an internet disconnection, according to Dyn, because these providers often are state-owned, making it easy for repressive governments to control and monitor access.

    But even when a government shuts down the internet, information can trickle in and out of a country via dial-up connections on international phone lines and satellite links.

    ​In the case of a partial shutdown in which a government blocks access to certain websites and services, citizens can still gain access to blocked content via proxies and virtual private networks (VPNs).

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia faces social media blackout after new ethnic unrest (AP)

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    Ethiopia’s Living Churches – in Pictures

    Debre Damo, a flat-topped mountain in northern Ethiopia, is one of the country’s most important centres of Christianity. This small, modern church is built in front of the grotto where Aragawi – one of the nine saints, or missionaries, who brought Christianity to Ethiopia – is said to have vanished. (All photographs: Ethiopia – The Living Churches of an Ancient Kingdom published by The American University in Cairo Press)

    The Guardian

    As one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, Ethiopia has a legacy of churches and monasteries, built on hilltops or hewn out of cliff faces, as well as vibrant traditions of worship. These are celebrated in a lavish book, Ethiopia: The Living Churches of an Ancient Kingdom.


    The festival of Timqat (Epiphany) celebration in Lalibela.

    Ethiopia adopted Christianity in the early fourth century. Today, the Timqat festival is the most important of Ethiopia’s nine major Christian feasts, taking place on 19 January to commemorate Christ’s baptism. In this celebration in the northern town of Lalibela, the tabots, or tablets of law, are seen being taken from various churches – wrapped in rich cloth and carried on the heads of priests – to a place of blessing.

    Read more and see photos at theguardian.com »


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    US Condemns Deadly Ethiopia Clashes

    Wollega University Shambu campus 2012 photo. According to Addis Standard "the number of civilians killed by security forces in Chelenko town, Meta woreda in east Haraghe zone of the oromia regional state has risen to 15; more than a dozen were also wounded, many of whom are in critical condition." In addition at least "two students were also killed last night at Shambu campus of Wolega university as student protests continued in several universities." (Photograph: Wikimedia)

    AFP

    Updated: December 13th, 2017

    The United States on Wednesday said it was “troubled and saddened” by clashes in Ethiopia that local reports said has left at least 18 people dead.

    The violence was reported to be most intense in the eastern town of Chelenko, near the volatile border between the Somali and Oromia regions, home to two of the country’s largest ethnic groups.

    There have been a string of recent clashes over the border between the two ethnically demarcated federal regions.

    The cause of the latest violence is not clear, nor if they are linked, but they have raised concerns of growing ethnic divisions in Africa’s second most-populous country.

    “We are troubled and saddened by reports of violence that has resulted in deaths and injuries in the town of Chelenko and at several universities over the past two days,” the US embassy in Ethiopia said in a statement.

    Security forces reportedly killed 15 people on Sunday after protesters accused the police of killing a man, Oromia regional spokesman Addisu Arega said.

    Two students were also reported killed on Sunday in separate clashes at the Wollega University campus in Oromia, while another person was reported killed at Adigrat University in Ethiopia’s north.

    “We encourage the people of Ethiopia to uphold their admirable and longstanding tradition of respect for their country’s ethnic diversity and its tradition of peaceful co-existence,” the embassy added. It did not give a death toll or provide further details.


    Related:
    Ethiopia Faces Social Media Blackout After New Ethnic Unrest (Associated Press)

    Associated Press

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia faces a social media blackout as clashes intensify between ethnic groups in various parts of the country.

    Facebook and Twitter are down Tuesday after reports emerged of killings on Monday by security forces in the Oromia region.

    Oromia regional spokesman Addisu Arega said the violence in Chelenqo town killed six people and was being investigated. On Facebook he called the victims “innocent civilians.”

    The Addis Standard news site reported 15 killed, including women and children. The Associated Press was not able to independently verify the reports.

    Oromia regional officials have long accused special police from the neighboring Somali region of committing atrocities against ethnic Oromos. The regions also have had bitter border disputes.

    The United States has pledged to help resolve the conflict and support 660,000 displaced ethnic Oromos.


    Related:
    NEWS: NUMBER OF CIVILIANS KILLED BY SECURITY FORCES IN CHELENKO CLIMBS TO FIFTEEN, SEVERAL WOUNDED; TWO STUDENTS KILLED IN WOLEGA UNV. (Addis Standard)

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    Nigeria Back to Bole: Ethiopian Flight Makes Safe U-turn After Landing Issues

    Ethiopian Airline unable to land in Enugu, Nigeria makes u-turn to Ethiopia. (Daily Trust)

    Daily Trust Nigeria

    An Ethiopian international flight which could not land at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu on Sunday due to bad weather was forced to make a quick u-turn and flew back to Ethiopia.

    The bad weather was occasioned by the harmattan season.

    Daily Trust gathered that the passengers who expressed anxiety and concerns were said to have protested the development, although their protest could not change the situation, an official of the Akanu Ibiam airport who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent.

    It was gathered that the Ethiopian international flight was scheduled to land at the Akanu Ibiam airport by 3pm but when it got there it was not safe and proper for landing, hence it made quick ‘u-turn’ and flew back to Ethiopia.

    The passengers were said to have protested, but their safety and life meant more to the Airport authority and the Ethiopian Airline who later checked all the passengers into a hotel in Ethiopia, according to the airport official.

    “There was protest but it was not much. The Airline checked them into a hotel in Ethiopia, and explained to them the risky condition, and I think they appreciated it,” the source said.

    The source could not recall the exact number of the passengers on board the Ethiopian airline nor could he remember the registration number. “I know it’s a big Boeing aircraft. You know that international aircraft are usually big. The offices have closed now and the staff are gone, especially today being Sunday. But I know it’s a very big aircraft,” he said.

    Read more »


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    New Study on Trump Administration’s Impact on U.S.-Africa Relations

    The report highlighted by Council on Foreign Relations “contains in one place a great deal of information [including] cataloguing public statements about Africa made by the president (almost none), the secretary of state (also almost none), and Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. (a significant number). Photo: Reuters.

    Council on Foreign Relations

    Africa in Transition

    The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) has released a serious study by John Stremlau of the African response thus far to the presidency of Donald Trump. Stremlau, an American, is a SAIIA fellow and a visiting professor at the prestigious University of the Witswatersrand (“Wits”) in Johannesburg. He served for years as the vice president for peace programs at the Carter Center in Atlanta (a non-governmental organization established by former President Jimmy Carter). Though he now lives in Johannesburg, Stremlau is looking at the Trump presidency from the perspective of a ‘Democrat’ in the United States and of a ‘democrat’ in Africa, working for democracy and the rule of law. He is well placed to understand the political dynamics both in the United States and in Africa. That he has a clear perspective does not invalidate what he is saying. The study, more than forty pages in length, is as much about the U.S. president and his administration as it is about Africa. It is a thoughtful and devastating critique.

    The report contains in one place a great deal of information, ranging from the impact of proposed budget cuts at the State Department on Africa to cataloguing public statements about Africa made by the president (almost none), the secretary of state (also almost none), and Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN (a significant number). He also shows how remarkably little interaction there has been between the president and the secretary of state and African leaders.

    Drawing on polling data from the Pew Research Center, Stremlau charts the dramatic decline in African confidence in the U.S. president “doing the right thing,” country by country. For Africans, the president’s economic nationalism, hostility to multilateralism, rejection of the Paris accords on climate change, and what many Africans see as discomfort with democratic values, make him an unattractive, even hostile, figure. Stremlau also identifies characteristics of the Trump administration as seen by its critics that will give aid and comfort to the dwindling number of African “big men,” including “the political art of lying,” “opinion over fact,” and “crony capitalism.”

    Stremlau also talks about the elephant in the living room: the racism of many of the president’s supporters, and the views of many Africans that the president himself is racist. The latter point is longstanding: it dates from the negative African reaction to the president’s view that former President Obama was born in Africa and therefore not qualified to be president of the United States. (Stremlau notes the enduring popularity of President George W. Bush and Barack Obama in Africa.) The study sees the Trump administration as having silver linings for African countries, including incentive to greater self-reliance and to building stronger relationships with non-African countries. He also considers that assaults can often strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law.

    For those Americans concerned with advancing the U.S. relationship with Africa, Stremlau’s study shows where we are now and provides a benchmark for going forward. SAIIR has done a service by making the study available to a wide audience.

    Click here to read the report: AN EARLY DIAGNOSIS OF TRUMP’S IMPACT ON US–AFRICA RELATIONS
    AND ON SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY IN THE US AND AFRICA


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    Ethiopia: The Economist Claims Mengistu Growing in Popularity Among the Youth

    Ethnic politics is driving young people in Ethiopia to wish for Mengistu's pan-Ethiopian nationalism, The Economist reports. "Especially in towns and among those too young to remember the misery of his rule." (Photo: Alamy)

    The Economist

    Why Ethiopians are nostalgic for a murderous Marxist regime

    IN AMBO, a town in central Ethiopia, a teenage boy pulls a tatty photo from his wallet. “I love him,” he says of the soldier glaring menacingly at the camera. “And I love socialism,” he adds. In the picture is a young Mengistu Haile Mariam, the dictator whose Marxist regime, the Derg, oversaw the “Red Terror” of the 1970s and the famine-inducing collapse of Ethiopia’s economy in the 1980s. Mr Mengistu was toppled by rebels in 1991 before fleeing to Zimbabwe, where he still lives. He was later sentenced to death, in absentia, for genocide.

    But the octogenarian war criminal seems to be growing in popularity back home, especially in towns and among those too young to remember the misery of his rule. When Meles Zenawi, then prime minister, died in 2012, a social-media campaign called for Mr Mengistu to return. In the protests that have swept through towns like Ambo since 2014, chants of “Come, come Mengistu!” have been heard among the demonstrators.

    Asked by Afrobarometer, a pollster, how democratic their country is, Ethiopians give it 7.4 out of 10. They give the Derg regime a 1. Yet even some of those old enough to remember life under Marxism are giving in to nostalgia, admits a middle-aged professor at Addis Ababa University. The coalition that ousted the Derg, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), introduced a system of ethnically based federalism in 1995 that critics say favours the Tigrayan minority. After bouts of ethnic violence, most alarmingly this year, many now look back fondly on Mr Mengistu’s pan-Ethiopian nationalism.

    “The general perception is that whatever the Derg did was out of love for the country,” explains Befekadu Hailu, a human-rights activist, who is himself no fan. Mr Mengistu fought a victorious war against Somalia in the 1970s, and waged a homicidal campaign against secessionists in Eritrea, then a region of Ethiopia, for more than a decade. The EPRDF, in contrast, oversaw the loss of Eritrea and with it access to the sea when it allowed an independence referendum in 1993.

    The Derg’s policies were ruinous: nationalising almost every firm; forcing peasants at gunpoint onto collective farms, where they starved. Mr Mengistu was also more brutal than any Ethiopian ruler before or after. But the EPRDF is struggling to win the hearts of ordinary Ethiopians. Its heavy-handed propaganda—which includes ideological “training” for students and civil servants, and an annual celebration of its victory over the Derg—are widely met with contempt.

    “When you have no hope for the future you go back and try to find some light in the past,” says Hassen Hussein, an activist who now lives abroad. The country’s most popular musician is Teddy Afro, a 41-year-old whose songs celebrate Ethiopia’s former emperors and its feudal past. The ruling party has yet to come up with such a catchy tune.

    Read more »


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    HRW on Ethiopia’s Out of Control Spyware

    Human Rights Watch calls out Ethiopia's new spate of abusive surveillance directed at critics overseas and the need for regulation of the commercial spyware industry. (Stock image)

    HRW

    Ethiopian authorities have carried out a renewed campaign of malware attacks, abusing commercial spyware to monitor government critics abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should immediately cease digital attacks on activists and independent voices, while spyware companies should be far more closely regulated.

    On December 6, 2017, independent researchers at the Toronto-based research center Citizen Lab published a technical analysis showing the renewed government malware campaign aimed at Ethiopian activists and political opponents. These attacks follow a long, documented history of similar government efforts to monitor critics, inside and outside of Ethiopia.

    “The Ethiopian government has doubled down on its efforts to spy on its critics, no matter where they are in the world,” said Cynthia Wong, senior internet researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These attacks threaten freedom of expression and the privacy and the digital security of the people targeted.”

    Read more »


    Related:
    Evidence That Ethiopia Is Spying on Journalists Shows Commercial Spyware Is Out of Control (Wired)
    Ethiopian Dissidents Targeted with New Commercial Spyware (The Citizen Lab)

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    In Ethiopia Workers Struggle to Make Ends Meet at $250m Industrial Zone

    The government hopes its investment will lure foreign firms and boost the economy – but low wages and poor infrastructure may see it falter. (Photograph: William Davison)

    The Guardian

    Park life: workers struggle to make ends meet at Ethiopia’s $250m industrial zone

    Concentrating intensely, Haimanot Ayele picks up three pins from a pile and places them into a hole on a wooden board. He repeats the exercise for 90 seconds – a test of his dexterity.

    The 23-year-old has travelled 56 miles to the city of Hawassa, in southern Ethiopia, to try out for a job in the textile business at the Chinese-built industrial park – a facility that should eventually cover 300 hectares (741 acres) – which was opened by the government in July 2016 to boost the economy and help it break free from aid.

    The site in Hawassa is one of a number of similar facilities the authorities are building across Ethiopia. Manufacturers at Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP), situated on the outskirts of a city flanked by a picturesque Rift Valley lake, are supported with cheap electricity, free water and on-site administration services. Tax breaks are generous and rents are low, set at about $25 (£18.50) per square metre a year by the government, which compares with an average of $245 per square metre at auctions in Hawassa in 2015.

    ‘We fear for our lives’: how rumours over sugar saw Ethiopian troops kill 10 people

    As wages in Asia rise, the strategy is to lure manufacturers seeking lower costs to one of the world’s least developed countries, which is still dominated by subsistence agriculture. Ethiopia’s government wants to create jobs for a growing population and generate hard currency from exports to invest in upgrading the economy. The schemes are also part of European migration policy: donors have pledged to mobilise $500m for two other industrial parks, as long as Ethiopia ensures that a third of the 90,000 jobs expected to be created go to refugees.

    So far, the approach seems to be working in Hawassa, at least in terms of job creation. Since opening, HIP’s 52 units have already been leased out by 18 firms, including PVH, the US owner of brands such as Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. PVH suppliers occupy about a third of the other sheds at HIP. As well as profiting from cheap overheads and labour costs, PVH – whose $8.2bn turnover last year was close to Ethiopia’s projected 2017-18 tax revenue ($8.5bn) – will also benefit from duty-free access to US and European markets under deals for poorer nations…

    But there are challenges. Of most concern are wages.

    Read more »


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    German Tourist Killed in Ethiopia (AP)

    The German citizen was killed in an attack in northern Ethiopia in vicinity of the Erta Ale volcano in the Afar region. The continuously active volcano site, pictured above, is a favorite destination for tourists in Ethiopia. (Photo: Wikimedia)

    The Associated Press

    German Tourist Killed in Attack in Northern Ethiopia

    By Elias Meseret 

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The German Foreign Ministry confirms that a German national has been killed in an attack in northeastern Ethiopia.

    Ethiopia’s state-run news agency says Sunday’s attack occurred near a volcanic lake at Erta Ale in the Afar region. The tourist’s local guide was wounded.

    “The two got separated from a group of tourists and were taking photos around when they were shot at by unknown armed men,” the news agency quotes a local official as saying. “We are trying to arrest the perpetrators.”

    The German national was not identified.

    Ethiopia’s government has blamed attacks on foreign tourists in the area in 2012 and 2007 on neighboring Eritrea, which denied the accusations. The 2012 attack killed two Germans, two Hungarians and an Austrian. The 2007 attack saw five Europeans and 13 Ethiopians kidnapped but released.

    The Afar region is popular with researchers and tourists but rebels and bandits also roam the area.


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    ‘Addis Has Run Out of Space’: Ethiopia’s Radical Redesign — The Guardian

    As Addis Ababa creaks under the weight of a mushrooming populace, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest housing project is under way. But who benefits? (by Tom Gardner in Addis Ababa. Photographs by Charlie Rosser)

    The Guardian

    ‘Addis Has Run Out of Space’: Ethiopia’s Radical Redesign

    Wrapped in a white shawl and sporting a wide-brimmed cowboy hat, Haile stares out at his cattle as they graze in a rocky patch of grass. “My family and I have been here since I was a child,” he says, nodding at the small, rickety houses to his right. “But we will have to leave soon.” In the distance loom hulking grey towers, casting long shadows over his pasture. This is Koye Feche, a vast construction site on the edge of Addis Ababa that may soon be sub-Saharan Africa’s largest housing project.

    Koye is the latest in a handful of miniature cities that are gobbling up land all around the Ethiopian capital. Since launching the integrated housing and development plan (IHDP) in 2006, the Ethiopian government has built condominium estates like these at a pace unrivalled anywhere in Africa. To date, more more than 250,000 subsidised flats have been transferred to their new owner-occupiers in Addis Ababa and smaller towns. Situated 25km south-east of the city centre and covering over 700 hectares of land, Koye will house more than 200,000 people in row upon row of muscular concrete high-rises.

    Modelled on the modernist housing estates found across the postwar west, in particular east Germany, Addis Ababa’s condominiums symbolise the vaulting ambition of the Ethiopian government in its efforts to manage the country’s relentless urban growth. But whether they will ever solve its housing problems is uncertain. The population of the capital alone is expected to double to more than 8 million over the next decade. The number of houses needed to meet supply is estimated to be as many as half a million, but nearly a million people languish on the waiting list for a condominium. Nationwide, the urbanisation rate is estimated to be somewhere from 4-6% per year.


    A slum in the old Piassa neighbourhood of Addis Ababa, slated for demolition. (The Guardian)

    Read more »


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    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Garden of Coffee

    Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu (right). Photo by Aron Simeneh. Courtesy of Garden of Coffee.

    Daily Coffee News

    Ethiopia’s Garden of Coffee Blooms Again with New Addis Roastery

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-based Garden of Coffee has relocated into a new headquarters, in what the roasting and retail company founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu describes as, “our love letter to Ethiopia and our amazing coffees and coffee cultures.”

    A celebrated entrepreneur, founder of the soleRebels brand, and passionate advocate for inspiring positive economic change in her home country, Alemu launched the Garden of Coffee company last year. In addition to being a for-profit enterprise that provides dozens of jobs locally, the company aims to celebrate and promote Ethiopian coffee culture from seed to cup.


    Photo by Aron Simeneh. Courtesy of Garden of Coffee.

    “Garden of Coffee is about allowing coffee lovers to live coffee,” Alemu said in an announcement of the grand reopening, which took place this month on the ground floor of the JFK building in the Sar Bet neighborhood of Addis. “In Ethiopia we don’t just grow coffee. We live coffee each and everyday. It’s embedded in the DNA of our daily life. Coffee personifies Ethiopia and we in turn personify it. We want to showcase and share that magic with people everywhere on the planet and our café-roasteries are the perfect format to do this within.”


    Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu at the Nov. 8 grand reopening of Garden of Coffee in Addis. Photo by Aron Simeneh. Courtesy of Garden of Coffee.

    Read more »


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    Reuters: U.S. allies fret as ‘guillotine’ hangs over Tillerson

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participates in a panel discussion after his remarks on U.S.-European Relations at the Wilson Center in Washington, U.S., November 28, 2017. Photo: (Reuters)

    Reuters

    Updated: December 3rd, 2017

    BRUSSELS/BERLIN – On the eve of his trip to Europe, Rex Tillerson gave a speech last week that European allies had waited months to hear: an “ironclad” promise of U.S. support to its oldest allies.

    The relief in European capitals lasted barely a day as reports surfaced of a White House plan to oust the U.S. secretary of state, plunging America’s friends back into confusion over President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

    The uncertainty is particularly acute given Washington’s leading role in crises in North Korea and Syria.

    “Just as Tillerson comes to Brussels to give a public statement of support that the EU and NATO have wanted all along, it seems he has no mandate, that the guillotine is hanging over his head,” said an EU official involved in diplomacy with White House officials.

    “It leaves Europe just as doubtful as before about Trump.”

    U.S. officials said on Thursday the White House had a plan for CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson but Trump said on Friday he was not leaving and the secretary of state said on Saturday the reports were untrue.

    European leaders yearn for stability in U.S. foreign policy. They are troubled by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric and inconsistent statements on NATO and the European Union.

    In addition, Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate change accord and his decision not to certify Iran’s compliance with a nuclear deal undermine European priorities.

    “The chaos in the administration doesn’t help in the current geopolitical climate,” said a senior French diplomat.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Rex Tillerson Brushes Off Reports That He is Being Shown the Door
    White House Plan: Replace Tillerson With C.I.A. Chief (NYT)

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    Saudis Expel More Than 1,300 Ethiopians

    Saudi Arabia has once again started mass deportation of Ethiopian nationals who failed to register their intention to leave with the authorities. According to Human Rights Watch nearly half a million Ethiopian citizens reside in the kingdom. A similar Saudi crackdown in 2013 and 2014 led to the deportation of tens of thousands of Ethiopians, the majority of whom are female domestic workers. (Photo: Arab News)

    AP

    Ethiopia Says Saudi Arabia Expels More Than 1,300 Citizens

    By ELIAS MESERET

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia says more than 1,300 citizens have been expelled from Saudi Arabia in “recent days” after a warning for undocumented migrants to voluntarily leave the Gulf nation expired.

    The foreign ministry’s statement late Tuesday came after Saudi officials began a crackdown against undocumented migrants, including tens of thousands of Ethiopians.

    “The government is working with Saudi Arabia to safely return our citizens home,” the ministry’s director general of diaspora affairs, Demeke Atinafu, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

    Ethiopian officials have said more than 70,000 people have returned home since Saudi Arabia in March ordered all undocumented migrants to leave. The order was later extended until June but the majority of migrants remained. Those who don’t leave face forced deportation and a range of fines.

    More than 400,000 Ethiopian migrants are estimated to live in Saudi Arabia, most working as domestic workers and farm workers.

    Most Ethiopian migrant workers enter Saudi Arabia illegally through neighboring Yemen and send home money which, in many cases, is the only means for relatives to get by. Human Rights Watch has estimated that Ethiopian migrants globally sent home more than $4 billion in 2015.

    “In many other countries, these Ethiopians could claim asylum and potentially be entitled to international protection,” the rights group said of the migrants in Saudi Arabia. “The problem is, Saudi has no refugee law and no asylum system.”


    Related:
    Tadias Roundtable on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East at National Press Club (2013)

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    GERD: Ethiopia Not Worried About Egypt

    60 percent construction of Renaissance dam has been completed, says Ethiopian water minister. (Photo: A.A.)

    Anadolu Agency

    By Addis Getachew

    Ethiopia to go ahead with multi-billion dollar Nile dam

    ADDIS ADABA — Ethiopia said on Saturday no amount of misunderstanding would compel it to halt construction of the $4.8 billion mega hydro dam project on River Nile.

    Seleshi Bekele, the Ethiopian minister of water, electricity and irrigation, said the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has completed 63 percent of its construction and soon it will be generating electricity.

    He was speaking at a news conference at his office in the capital Addis Ababa.

    His remarks came amidst heightening tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt.

    Last month, a meeting of water ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Cairo ended, without reaching an agreement on the “inception report” put forth by the international consultants — BRL and Artelia — hired by the three countries to study the impact of the dam.

    It has been six years since Ethiopia launched the GERD project, near the Ethiopia-Sudan border.

    Ever since this latest unsuccessful meeting, there has been strong word coming from the Egyptian side.

    Egypt fears the dam’s construction will negatively affect its historical share of Nile water, which — under a colonial-era water-sharing treaty — stands at 55.5 billion cubic meters of water per year.

    Addis Ababa says electricity generated by the dam — which was initially slated for completion this year — will help eradicate poverty and contribute to the country’s development.

    “Ethiopia cannot be bound by this treaty as it had not been a part of it,” Bekeli said.


    Related:
    Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia tensions over dam flare up again
    Ethiopia says massive dam is ‘a matter of life and death’
    Egypt warns Ethiopia Nile dam dispute ‘life or death’
    Hydropolitics Between Ethiopia and Egypt: A Historical Timeline (TADIAS)
    Maaza Mengiste Says “The Nile Belongs to Ethiopia Too” (The Guardian)
    Tom Campbell: America Would Be Wrong to Favor Egypt in Water Rift (OC Register)
    Egypt Should Welcome Ethiopia’s Nile Dam (Bloomberg Editorial)
    Visualizing Nile Data – Access to Electricity vs Fresh Water (TADIAS)

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    Why Ethiopians Are Freaking Out Over Al-Amoudi Arrest

    Al-Amoudi has dominated the front pages of Ethiopia's top magazines since his arrest. News agencies have covered developments in his detention – including rumours on social media - as breaking news. "They are just freaking out left and right," said Henok Gabisa, a visiting academic fellow at Washington and Lee University in Virginia who researches Ethiopia. (Middle East Eye)

    Middle East Eye

    The Sheikh of Ethiopia: How Saudi purge could disrupt an African country

    As news spread of the detention of Saudi princes and business moguls in Riyadh earlier this month, alarm bells were ringing in another capital more than 1,000km away: one of Ethiopia’s most important investors was under arrest.

    It remains unclear why Saudi authorities arrested Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, an Ethiopian-born dual citizen who is reportedly the second richest Saudi, behind Prince al-Waleed bin Talal.

    Yet while Talal – and his investments in everything from Citigroup to Twitter to the Savoy – may have gained the most media attention worldwide, Amoudi’s arrest is significant for its potential to disrupt the economy of an entire country.

    Amoudi – or “the Sheikh”, as he is known – has invested in nearly every sector of the country’s economy, including hotels, farming and mining – so much so that American diplomats once questioned how “nearly every” privitisation in Ethiopia since 1994 had involved Amoudi’s companies.

    “The Sheikh’s influence in the Ethiopian economy cannot be underestimated,” according to a diplomatic cable from 2008 released by Wikileaks.

    Nearly 10 years later, it’s hard to put a dollar figure on Amoudi’s total investments in Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest countries, yet one of the fastest growing in Africa.

    His PR team does not comment on external figures and cautions against third party figures. One analyst put a $3.4bn value on his investments – or 4.7 percent of Ethiopia’s current GDP.

    Another said his companies employ about 100,000 people which would account for 14 percent of Ethiopia’s small private sector, according to country’s latest Labor Force Survey conducted in 2013. However, World Bank analysts cautioned that these figures will have increased significantly over the past four years as the sector has grown.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Al-Amoudi Detained in Saudi Corruption Probe

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    Mugabe Gone, What’s Next For Zimbabwe?

    Jubilant celebrations broke out on the streets of downtown Harare, Zimbabwe on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 following the announcement of Mugabe’s resignation as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years. (AP)

    NPR

    Heard on Morning Edition

    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe resigned on Tuesday. Rachel Martin talks with journalist Peter Godwin, who was born and raised in the country, about where the country is headed.

    Listen· 5:04

    RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

    Zimbabweans were on the streets of Harare yesterday celebrating the resignation of 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

    (CHEERING)

    MARTIN: Mugabe’s fall from power all started last week, when the military took him into custody. Lawmakers from his own party expelled him over the weekend. And Mugabe stepped down yesterday in the midst of impeachment proceedings. The tumult of the past few days, though, is unlikely to stop with Mugabe’s resignation. The country faces the prospect of an extended military rule or the rise of an even more violent leader than Mugabe. Peter Godwin is a journalist and an author who grew up in Zimbabwe, and he joins us now from New York. Peter, thanks for being with us again.

    PETER GODWIN: Thanks.

    MARTIN: Take us back to yesterday. This has been a slow burn in a lot of ways getting to this point when Mugabe actually resigned. What was going through your head when the news actually came down?

    GODWIN: Well, it’s been a slow burn. It’s been an even slower burn insofar as it’s taken 37 years. That’s how long he’s been in power. And then, you know, a full week for this slow-motion military coup to play out. And I was, you know, I was on air at the time, you know, talking about Zimbabwe and trying to be sort of very kind of rational and analytical. And when he actually resigned – and I suddenly kind of – it kind of welled up inside me, and I broke down. And I realized that like a lot of Zimbabweans, we’ve waited so long for this and this.

    And this man, Robert Mugabe, has cast this enormous shadow over so many of our lives for so long, that he’s had this kind of dead hand that’s been, you know, sitting on this country that prevented it from finding its full potential. Our initial reaction’s just one of enormous relief, just huge relief that whatever else follows, at least he is gone.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Mugabe Resigns After 37 Years in Power

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    In Colorado, Aurora’s Ethiopian Community May Be the Key to Mike Coffman’s Success

    Ethiopian Americans in the Denver area currently make up a sizable portion of the crossover votes for U.S. congressman Mike Coffman who has been a friend of the community. "Ethiopians, now Colorado's second-largest minority group, constitute a significant (and growing) proportion of the vote in CO-6, which includes Aurora, where most of the state's Ethiopian community resides," reports Denver newspaper Westword. (Photo: Mike Coffman/Facebook)

    Westword

    NOVEMBER 20, 2017

    In today’s highly partisan political landscape, crossover votes are becoming less and less common. But one Colorado congressman has successfully navigated political polarization and redistricting to successive victories, despite representing a district that typically favors a party different from his own at the presidential level.

    Colorado is home to one of the only 35 congressional districts (out of 435) that voted for a congressman or woman of one party and voted for a different party at the presidential level in the 2016 election. That Colorado district is the 6th, where Republican Mike Coffman is serving his fifth term. He’s won re-election there three times since CO-6 shifted into a much more favorable environment for Democrats in 2011 after redistricting.

    In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by almost 9 percentage points, but Coffman turned around and defeated Democrat Morgan Carroll here by over 31,000 votes, or by almost 8 percent. That means somewhere around 17 percent of the district’s voters, or nearly one in five, voted for both Clinton and Coffman.

    Where are these voters coming from?

    That question is hard to answer in a district with more than half a million registered voters, but Coffman’s outreach to immigrant communities has likely contributed greatly to his electoral success. Coffman is a regular at events from a variety of different cultures, frequently spending time with the local Korean and Vietnamese communities. His Latino community efforts include regular appearances on local Spanish television (speaking Spanish) and radio and owning a Spanish-only Twitter account.

    But perhaps one group more than any other can offer a glimpse into CO-6′s high crossover votes for Coffman. Ethiopians, now Colorado’s second-largest minority group, constitute a significant (and growing) proportion of the vote in CO-6, which includes Aurora, where most of the state’s Ethiopian community resides. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but most estimates place the state’s Ethiopian community at around 30,000 to 40,000 strong, with the majority living in Aurora. Well-educated, entrepreneurial, diverse and increasingly politically active, Ethiopia’s Colorado community includes Christians, Muslims and Jews.


    Courtesy of Rep. Mike Coffman

    Coffman’s efforts since the 2011 redistricting have concentrated on the Ethiopian community, efforts that have been well received.

    “On the issues that matter to us, Mike Coffman is standing with the Oromo people and the people of Ethiopia in general. He stands against injustice,” says Jamal Said, president of Ethiopia’s Oromo Community of Denver. “[Coffman] is very popular not just here, but wherever the Oromo community is in the United States. He is a household name.”

    By all accounts, Coffman’s efforts in the Ethiopian community extend far beyond glad-handing for cameras. From offering citizenship-test classes at campaign offices to speaking out against the current Ethiopian government to even learning a few words of Amharic (“He butchers it,” laughs Coffman campaign spokesman Tyler Sandberg), Coffman has developed a strong bond with the Ethiopian community.

    “Mike is the only person showing up, and the leaders are very appreciative,” Sandberg says. “He is so accessible out there in the community. For the Ethiopian and the Latin American community, he’s there. He’s showing up to Senegalese Independence Day [celebrations], he’s helping swear in new American citizens each month. Half the battle is just showing up, and he shows up.”

    The first waves of Colorado’s Ethiopian community came to the States in the 1970s during the so-called Red Terror, when a Marxist military group known as the Derg killed an estimated 500,000 people in Ethiopia. The military group is widely blamed for exacerbating the effects of the Ethiopian famine of the mid-1980s that killed hundreds of thousands more.

    As a result, Ethiopians are by and large averse to voting left of center because of their disdain for left-wing ideals like communism.

    “A lot of Ethiopians are capitalists at heart,” says Yonas Ayalew-Mengistu, a local Ethiopian-American youth organizer who voted for Trump. “We had communists.”

    While Ethiopians overall are unlikely to share most Republicans’ views on immigration, they are likely to support the party’s view on fiscal and social issues, such as health care.

    “Typically, a lot of the folks that voted for [Coffman] are Democrats, but it’s a community that values relationships, and it’s also a community that has conservative values,” says Neb Asfaw, a community spokesman and co-founder of the Taste of Ethiopia festival. “There’s a perception that all minorities are Democrats, but that’s not the case, to my knowledge.”

    Still, President Donald Trump is highly unpopular in the local Ethiopian community. Particularly upsetting to local Ethiopians is Trump’s recent call to end the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program, under which many Ethiopians arrived in Colorado in the 2000s. Trump’s discontinuation of the DACA program hit home for others as well.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Watch: Rep. Coffman of Colorado Speaks on Ethiopian Resolution (H.Res 128)
    In Colorado, GOP Congressman Mike Coffman Enjoys Ethiopian Support (TADIAS)
    Republican Congressman Mike Coffman Visits Four Ethiopian Churches in Colorado (TADIAS)

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    NYT: Spectacular Pictures From Lalibela

    Bete Giyorgis, one of the churches in Lalibela carved out of the earth. (Photo: The New York Times)

    The New York Times

    A Trip Through the Stunning, Rock-Hewed Churches of Ethiopia

    The man, carrying a basket dripping with blood and slick with fresh entrails, was yelling. The sun had set, and in the empty dirt lot north of the old town of Harar, Ethiopia, where a dozen or so people had gathered, the only light came from yellowish headlamps of an old SUV. The man repeated a high-pitched shriek that lasted a good four or five seconds, something between a mournful wail and a yodel. After a minute of silence, we heard light, quick footsteps. I saw a sullen, hunched-over silhouette, then a pair of glowing eyes. Then two pairs. Hyenas.

    They were intimidating — bigger than I expected, with thick necks and huge jaws. And they were just one of the many compelling things I encountered during my continued exploration of Ethiopia. Having spent several days in the capital, Addis Ababa, I turned my attention to the cities of Lalibela, with its astounding group of rock-hewed churches dating to the reign of King Lalibela (around 1181 to 1221 A.D.), and Harar, east of Addis Ababa, the epicenter of Muslim culture in Ethiopia. These trips reinforced my opinion that Ethiopia is one of the more exciting places in the world to visit right now: an attractive mix of ancient tradition and rapid modernization. What’s more, it can all be seen fairly economically.

    Preparing for an Ethiopian adventure requires planning and a certain amount of patience — and, in my case, the use of a handy loophole to deal with the sky-high airfares some visitors to Africa face. Flying to Africa from the United States isn’t cheap, and flying within Africa isn’t much cheaper. Visitors to Ethiopia who enter the country on Ethiopian Airlines, however, can take advantage of vastly discounted flights within the country.


    The Monastery of Nakuta La’ab in Lalibela. (Photo: Andy Haslam for The New York Times)

    Read more at nytimes.com »


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    Ethiopia’s Contradiction: Ethnofederalism or Federalism?

    Unlike Ethiopia's ethnofederalism where a state is defined according to ethnicity (see Oromia, Amhara, Tigray, Gambela, Somali, etc), a federal system in other diverse countries, such as the U.S., is simply a constitutional power-sharing arrangement between a central government and the population it serves regardless of group identity and with a purpose of promoting a common national and cultural tradition. (Image: GeoCurrents Maps of Ethiopia)

    Study.com

    What is a Federal Government? – Definition, Powers & Benefits

    A federal government is a system that divides up power between a strong national government and smaller local governments. We’ll take a look at how power plays out between the national and local government, and the benefits of a federal government.

    Benefits of A Federal Government

    Why does the United States have a federal government but not Great Britain? The answer has to do with size. Federal governments are best used in large countries where there exists a diverse group of people with diverse needs but a common culture that unites them together.

    For example, think of the difference between Wyoming (the least densely populated state) and New Jersey (the most densely populated state). Clearly, the needs at the local level of each state will be different, so they should have different local governments to address those needs. Nonetheless, both states share a common culture and interest and, therefore, are united by the national government.

    Federal governments help address the wide variety of needs of a geographically large country. It is no wonder, then, that federal governments exist in large countries, like the United States, Mexico, Germany, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and others.

    Federal Government in the United States: Division of Power

    In the United States, the Constitution created the federal system by limiting the activities of the national government to a few areas, such as collecting taxes, providing for defense, borrowing money on credit, regulating commerce, creating a currency, establishing post offices and post roads, granting patents, creating lower courts, and declaring war. The 10th amendment of the Constitution, on the other hand, gave all other powers to the states. As a result, any specific power not given to the Federal government is a power of the state government.

    In theory, the United States federal system has a clear division between what states oversee and what the federal government oversees.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopian Federal System – What Is in It? (AllAfrica.com)

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    UPDATE: Mugabe Resigns After 37 Years in Power

    Jubilant celebrations broke out on the streets of downtown Harare, Zimbabwe on Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 following the announcement Mugabe’s resignation as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years. (AP)

    Associated Press

    Updated: November 21st, 2017

    HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe resigned on Tuesday, succumbing to a week of overwhelming pressure from the military that put him under house arrest, lawmakers from the ruling party and opposition who started impeachment proceedings and a population that surged into the streets to say 37 years in power was enough.

    The capital, Harare, erupted in jubilation after news spread that the 93-year-old leader’s resignation letter was read out by the speaker of parliament, whose members had gathered to impeach Mugabe after he ignored escalating calls to quit since a military takeover. Cars honked and people danced and sang across the city in a spectacle of free expression that would have been impossible during his rule.

    “Welcome to the new Zimbabwe,” people chanted outside a conference center where the lawmakers met.

    “Change was overdue. … Maybe this change will bring jobs,” said 23-year-old Thomas Manase, an unemployed university graduate.

    Mugabe, who was the world’s oldest head of state, said in his letter that legal procedures should be followed to install a new president “no later than tomorrow.”

    “My decision to resign is voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for a smooth, non-violent transfer of power,” Mugabe said in the message read out by parliamentary speaker Jacob Mudenda.

    Recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa would take over as the country’s leader within 48 hours, said a ruling party official, Lovemore Matuke. Mnangagwa, who fled the country after his firing on Nov. 6, “is not far from here,” Matuke said.

    Mugabe can participate in a formal handover of power “so that Mnangagwa moves with speed to work for the country,” Matuke said.

    Mugabe’s resignation brought an end to impeachment proceedings brought by the ruling ZANU-PF party after its Central Committee voted to oust the president as party leader and replace him with Mnangagwa, a former ally of Mugabe who served for decades as his enforcer with a reputation for being astute and ruthless, more feared than popular.

    Before the resignation, crowds rallied outside the parliament building, dancing and singing. Some people placed photos of Mugabe in the street so that cars would run over them. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC party said the culture of the ruling party “must end” and everyone must put their heads together and work toward free and fair elections. His party had seconded the impeachment motion.

    Earlier Tuesday, Mnangagwa said in a statement that Mugabe should acknowledge the nation’s “insatiable desire” for a leadership change and resign immediately.

    Mnangagwa, a former justice and defense minister, added to the pressure on Mugabe to quit after a long rule during which he evolved from a champion of the fight against white minority rule into a figure blamed for a collapsing economy, government dysfunction and human rights violations.

    “Never should the nation be held at ransom by one person ever again, whose desire is to die in office at whatever cost to the nation,” said Mnangagwa, who has a loyal support base in the military.

    Zimbabwe’s polarizing first lady, Grace Mugabe, had been positioning herself to succeed her husband, leading a party faction that engineered Mnangagwa’s ouster. The prospect of a dynastic succession alarmed the military, which confined Mugabe to his home last week and targeted what it called “criminals” around him who allegedly were looting state resources — a reference to associates of the first lady.

    Grace Mugabe has not been seen since the military stepped in.

    Mnangagwa was targeted by U.S. sanctions in the early 2000s for undermining democratic development in Zimbabwe, according to the Atlantic Council, a U.S.-based policy institute. However, J. Peter Pham, an Africa expert at the council, noted that some Zimbabwean opposition figures have appeared willing to have dialogue with Mnangagwa in order to move the country forward and that the international community should consider doing the same.

    “We’re not saying whitewash the past, but it is in the interests of everyone that Zimbabwe is engaged at this critical time,” Pham said in a statement.

    On Tuesday, Zimbabweans simply enjoyed the moment.

    “Today’s a good day,” said Eric Machona, a Harare resident. “People are very happy.”

    Read more »


    Related:
    In Zimbabwe Army Takes Power, Detains Mugabe and His Wife

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    US Election: Liberian-American Becomes First Black Mayor in Montana History

    Liberian-American Wilmot Collins becomes first black mayor in Montana history. (NY Daily News)

    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    A former refugee who came to Montana more than 20 years ago was elected to lead its capital city, Helena, becoming the first black person to become mayor in the state’s history.

    Wilmot Collins ousted four-term Jim Smith in Tuesday night’s mayoral race, capping off a night of historic firsts throughout the country.

    “After last night’s historic firsts for many leaders across the country, Wilmot is confident that the future of this country favors a union of people from all different walks of life,” a campaign spokesperson told the Daily News in a statement.

    “Most importantly, Wilmot is honored to be granted the opportunity to go to work for the hardworking and inspiring citizens of Helena!”

    The spokesperson confirmed he’ll be the first black candidate in Montana’s history to win a mayoral election.

    Collins came to the U.S. 23 years ago, fleeing civil war in his native Liberia. He went on to become an American citizen and worked in the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, specializing in child protection.

    But he wasn’t the lone newly elected official to make history Tuesday night.

    Read more »


    Related:
    US Election: Trumpism Suffers Blow in Virginia, Sign of Things to Come in 2018
    The shifts in Virginia voting that handed Trump an embarrassing defeat
    A look at the winners and losers of the top US races (AP)

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    US Election: Trumpism Suffers Blow in VA

    Newly elected Virginia Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, greets the audience at his victory rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. (Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

    The Washington Post

    Trump thumped in Virginia — bigly

    One year after President Trump rode a campaign of white nationalism into the White House, the American people struck back. Decisive Democratic wins for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, not to mention the Democratic victories for lieutenant governor and attorney general, are a clear sign of the electorate’s disquiet with Trump’s low-road Twitter presidency.

    But three other signs come to mind in the afterglow of Election Day 2017. Here are my quick thoughts.

    Borrowing pages from Trump’s white-nationalist playbook will hurt you.

    Nothing was more disturbing and degrading of the presidency than Trump’s both-sides nonsense in response to the ugly white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, where Heather Heyer was allegedly killed by a racist who plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. That Ed Gillespie adopted Trump’s rhetoric on monuments to Confederate generals and tried to scare voters with loose talk of Latino gangs clearly was a bridge too far the people of the commonwealth. What’s even more pathetic is that a man with a stellar reputation and good name such as Gillespie threw it in the gutter to try to win on the backs of white grievance.

    No, Democrats don’t need to have a progressive, Bernie-anointed candidate to win.

    Tom Perriello lost the primary to now-Governor-elect Ralph Northam, a centrist anchored in the establishment. Perriello was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who ran for president in the Democratic Party in 2016 but doesn’t see fit to join the party. But Perriello didn’t disappear. He worked hard on Northam’s behalf and not grudgingly. I couldn’t look at Twitter in the run-up to the election without seeing tweets from Perriello out on the campaign trail. Thus proving that a vanquished primary opponent who works hard to help his victor during the general election is essential.

    Read more »


    Related:
    The shifts in Virginia voting that handed Trump an embarrassing defeat
    In Montana A Refugee From Liberia Elected Mayor of Capital City
    A look at the winners and losers of the top US races (AP)

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    Ethiopia: What Really Happened in Ambo?

    The Guardian says rumors of a shipment of smuggled sugar last month caused the recent killings in Ambo. (Photo: The gates of Ambo University. Classes were suspended for a week after the unrest/ by Tom Gardner)

    The Guardian

    ‘We fear for our lives’: how rumours over sugar saw Ethiopian troops kill 10 people

    It began with a rumour. On 25 October, residents of Ambo, 120km west of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, heard word on social media that a shipment of smuggled sugar was due to pass through town.

    “Sugar is so expensive now, the price has tripled,” explains 18-year-old Israel, a first-year undergraduate at Ambo University. “And they’re exporting it to other parts of the country but the people here don’t have any. It’s not fair.”

    So Israel joined the large crowd of young men and women that erupted in protest as three trucks rolled down the high street later that day, seizing hold of the vehicles and setting up roadblocks. He threw stones in the ensuing confrontation with police and covered his face with a scarf to avoid the teargas launched in his direction. And he watched in fear as the national military entered the town that evening and, the next morning, began firing live bullets, killing 10 people and injuring more.

    “They were shooting at us with silencers on,” he says. “One of the boys killed was only 15. They killed girls too – one was my friend. A lot of my friends have died.”

    The sugar rumour and the tragic events it sparked exposed the bitter web of grievance felt by many in Ambo and the surrounding region of Oromia, home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group: anger at what is perceived to be an unequal distribution of the country’s wealth, a pervasive sense of ethnic marginalisation, frustration with the endemic corruption that facilitates crime and contraband, and, above all, a deep mistrust of the authoritarian federal government in Addis Ababa.

    Read more »


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    Al-Amoudi Detained in Saudi Probe

    Mohammed Al-Amoudi, the Ethiopian and Saudi Arabian billionaire businessman, has been detained as part of a high profile anti-corruption probe in Saudi Arabia. (Photo: I-ARB Africa)

    Reuters

    Factbox: Saudi Arabia detains princes, ministers in anti-corruption probe

    DUBAI – Saudi Arabia detained 11 princes, four current ministers and tens of former ministers in a probe by a new anti-corruption body headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported.

    According to a senior Saudi official who declined to be identified under briefing rules, those detained include:

    - Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding

    –Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, minister of the National Guard

    - Prince Turki bin Abdullah, former governor of Riyadh province

    - Khalid al-Tuwaijri, former chief of the Royal Court

    - Adel Fakeih, Minister of Economy and Planning

    - Ibrahim al-Assaf, former finance minister

    - Abdullah al-Sultan, commander of the Saudi navy

    - Bakr bin Laden, chairman of Saudi Binladin Group

    - Mohammad al-Tobaishi, former head of protocol at the Royal Court

    - Amr al-Dabbagh, former governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority

    - Alwaleed al-Ibrahim, owner of television network MBC

    - Khalid al-Mulheim, former director-general at Saudi Arabian Airlines

    - Saoud al-Daweesh , former chief executive of Saudi Telecom 7010.SE

    - Prince Turki bin Nasser, former head of the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment

    - Prince Fahad bin Abdullah bin Mohammad al-Saud, former deputy defence minister

    - Saleh Kamel, businessman

    - Mohammad al-Amoudi, businessman


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    How Ethiopia Became a Land of Prying Eyes (NY Times)

    Takele Alene in his home in Fendika, Ethiopia. Besides being a farmer, Mr. Alene is a senior village official, serving as both an informant and an enforcer for the country’s governing party. (Photo: Tiksa Negeri for NYT)

    The New York Times

    ‘We Are Everywhere’: How Ethiopia Became a Land of Prying Eyes

    FENDIKA, Ethiopia — When he is away from his fields, Takele Alene, a farmer in northern Ethiopia, spends a lot of his time prying into the personal and political affairs of his neighbors.

    He knows who pays taxes on time, who has debts and who is embroiled in a land dispute. He also keeps a sharp lookout for thieves, delinquents and indolent workers.

    But he isn’t the village busybody, snooping of his own accord. Mr. Alene is a government official, whose job includes elements of both informant and enforcer. He is responsible for keeping the authorities briefed on potential rabble-rousers and cracking down on rule breakers.

    Even in a far-flung hamlet like Fendika, few of whose 400 or so residents venture to the nearest city, let alone ever travel hundreds of miles away to the capital, Addis Ababa, the government is omnipresent.

    In this case, its presence is felt in the form of Mr. Alene, a short, wiry man wearing a turquoise turban and plastic sandals. As a village leader, he said, his duties include serving as judge, tax collector, legal scribe for the illiterate and general keeper of the peace.

    But one of his most important roles is to watch who among the villagers opposes the government and its policies, including a top-priority program encouraging farmers to use fertilizer. When a neighbor refused to buy some, Mr. Alene pointed a gun at him until he gave in. He has had others jailed for a similar offense.

    Read more at NYTimes.com »


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    Ethiopia: Diaspora Politicos Got ODS?

    Urban dictionary defines ODS or Obama Derangement Syndrome as a state of mind when people "stop thinking logically and stop using common sense" when it comes to the former American President. In our case, the politicos in the Diaspora are still peddling the same old fake news narrative that blames not themselves, but the ex-U.S. leader, for their own failure (to date) to meaningfully influence U.S. policy towards Ethiopia. Meanwhile, nothing seems to have changed in Ethiopia since last year. Below is the latest news from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Obama in Ethiopia, July 26th, 2015/Getty Images)

    U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

    Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor at the arrival ceremony of Boeing 787-9 Aircraft at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa


    Michael Raynor, the current U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, at Bole airport last week greeting a new Boeing 787-9 Aircraft with Ethiopian airlines CEO Tewolde Gebre Mariam.

    (As prepared for delivery)

    His Excellency Ahmed Shide, Minister of Transport
    Tewolde GebreMariam, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines
    Excellences
    Ladies and Gentlemen

    It’s a tremendous pleasure and honor for me to be here this afternoon to celebrate the arrival of this newest addition to Ethiopian Airline’s fleet, which symbolizes both the extraordinary progress and growth of Ethiopian Airlines as well as the latest in American aviation engineering.

    Having spent much of my career in Africa, I’ve had a front row seat for Ethiopian Airlines’ remarkable growth in becoming the premier carrier for the continent and an important global player in the industry.

    And it’s been gratifying for me to witness the role that American technology and aviation know-how have played in supporting Ethiopian Airline’s progress along the way.

    The arrival of this magnificent aircraft is only the latest chapter in the long and distinguished partnership between the United States and Ethiopia in the field of aviation.

    It’s a history that dates back to 1935, when Colonel John C. Robinson, a pioneering African-American aviator, answered Emperor Haile Selassie’s call to help defend Ethiopia against Italian forces during World War II.

    After significant contributions to Ethiopia’s air defenses during the War, Colonel Robinson returned in 1945 to help rebuild the Ethiopian Air Force and to establish an aviation training school.

    1945 was also the year when the Government of Ethiopia signed an agreement with the U.S. carrier Trans World Airlines, or TWA, to help establish its national airline.

    As a result, many of Ethiopian Airlines very first pilots, technicians, and administrators were American, and the airline has had American aircraft in its fleet throughout its history, starting with the Douglas C-47.

    So the United States takes a small amount of pride in helping to launch this extraordinary enterprise.

    But Ethiopian Airlines subsequent success is entirely Ethiopia’s to claim.

    From those early beginnings, Ethiopian Airlines now offers flights to destinations around the world, including, I’m proud to say, to three great American cities: New York, Washington, and Los Angeles.

    Ethiopian Airlines helps link the world, and it’s a vital bridge between our two nations as well, supporting growth in trade, investment, tourism, and educational and cultural exchanges, while helping to deepen the connections and enduring friendships between our peoples.

    Ethiopian Airlines has also become one of the most significant sources of business cooperation between Ethiopia and the United States.

    This relationship of course includes the airline’s significant investments in Boeing aircraft, but also its strong partnerships with other American companies like Sabre, GE, Honeywell, and AAR.

    These companies are committed to partnering with Ethiopian Airlines to support its continued growth and success.

    To say that these partnerships are mutually beneficial would perhaps be an understatement.

    The benefits for the United States in terms of economic growth and job creation are clear.

    As to the benefits for Ethiopia of having an increasingly global airline using state-of-the-art American technology, well, let’s just say the sky’s the limit.

    From developing Addis Ababa as a regional and global transit hub, to expanding opportunities for tourism, to making Ethiopia more accessible for global trade and investment, the impact of Ethiopian Airlines’ success extends well beyond the airline itself.

    Ethiopian Airlines’ success will expand economic opportunities across the breadth of Ethiopian society, and here, too, the United States is a committed partner to Ethiopia, promoting Ethiopian prosperity through our broad array of development, economic growth, humanitarian, and commercial engagement.

    In the end, the success of Ethiopian Airlines is ultimately just one symbol – albeit an important and impressive one – of the value and potential of the U.S.-Ethiopian relationship.

    If Colonel John Robinson could bridge the 70-plus years between 1945 and today, I expect he would be amazed by, and perhaps a little proud of, the success of Ethiopian Airlines.
    And I can only imagine what still-greater successes will be celebrated 70 years from now – for Ethiopian Airlines, for Ethiopia, and for the U.S.-Ethiopian partnership.

    Congratulations to you all on this milestone in Ethiopian Airline’s growth and success, and thank you for permitting me to be a part of this wonderful celebration.


    Related:
    Readout Of Meeting Between Ambassador Haley & PM Hailemariam

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    Watch: Rep. Coffman of Colorado Speaks on Ethiopian Resolution (H.Res 128)

    (Photo: Congressman Mike Coffman meeting with Ethiopian American constituents in Denver, Colorado on November 2nd, 2014/Courtesy photograph)

    Press Release

    Congressman Coffman

    U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) urges his colleagues to vote on H.Res. 128 to address human rights abuses in Ethiopia on the House of Representatives floor 11/1/2017.

    Video: Rep. Coffman on Ethiopian Resolution (H.Res 128) Nov 1, 2017


    Related:
    What Key 19-Year Timeline of U.S. Human Rights Reports on Ethiopia Show
    US Congress: Support Respect for Human Rights in Ethiopia (HRW)
    Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia

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    Books by Ethiopian Writers That Travelers to Ethiopia May Read

    Book covers for Maaza Mengiste's 'Beneath the Lion's Gaze,' Asfa-Wossen Asserate's 'The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie,' Nega Mezlekia's 'Notes Form the Hyena's Belly' and Abraham Verghese’s 'Cutting for Stone.' (Images: Amazon.com)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    October 30th, 2017

    New York (TADIAS) – In their travel section published today The New York Times highlights three books for first-time visitors to read before going to Ethiopia so they may acquaint themselves with the history and culture of the country.

    We liked the choice of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Ethiopian-American author Dinaw Mengestu. As the Times notes “In his first novel, Mengestu evokes two cities: Washington, D.C., where the protagonist Sepha Stephanos currently lives in exile, and Addis Ababa, the city where he was born. His father had been murdered during Ethiopia’s Red Terror, and Sepha was trying to make a life in the United States. Seventeen years later, he still did not feel settled. Our reviewer wrote that Mengestu is particularly adept at capturing conversations between immigrants: “He gets, pitch perfect, the warmly abrasive wit of the violently displaced and their need to keep alive some textured memories — even memories that wound — amid America’s demanding amnesia.”

    Here are additional books by Ethiopian writers that travelers to Ethiopia may also find educational:

    Beneath the Lion’s Gaze

    We recommend Maaza Mengiste’s debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze that depicts Ethiopia in the 1970s, when the country was undergoing a political revolution. The military had just deposed an archaic monarchy system with a promise of peaceful change. But what followed Emperor Haile Selassie’s removal was anything but peaceful. The country would soon plunge into unimaginable violence. (Tadias Q & A with Maaza Mengiste)

    Notes Form the Hyena’s Belly

    Also worth checking out is the highly acclaimed work by Ethiopian author Nega Mezlekia, Notes From the Hyena’s Belly, which is the winner of the Governor General’s Award and a Library Journal Best Book of 2001. “Part autobiography and part social history, Notes from the Hyena’s Belly offers an unforgettable portrait of Ethiopia, and of Africa, during the 1970s and ’80s, an era of civil war and widespread famine.”

    Cutting for Stone

    Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone is “an epic novel about a young man’s coming of age in Ethiopia and America. From fascinating social and political portraits of Ethiopia in upheaval, Cutting for Stone zooms into a territory where few have gone before: the drama of the operating theater and the mysteries inside the human body. There can be no doubt that this novel is the work of a seasoned writer who has led many lives in many places.” (Tadias review of Verghese’s ‘Cutting for Stone’ and Tadias Interview with Dr. Abraham Verghese)

    King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia

    Asfa-Wossen Asserate’s recent book provides an authoritative, insider’s perspective and a refreshingly balanced look at this fascinating international figure who was the global face of Ethiopia for most of the 20th century. It helps that the author is Haile Selassie’s grandnephew. (Tadias Review: New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie).


    There are many more wonderful books on Ethiopia at tsehaipublishers.com.

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    In Ethiopia Political Prisoner Bekele Gerba is Granted Bail After 2 Years (Reuters)

    Bekele Gerba pictured at the NPR office in Washington, D.C., August 2015. (Photo: Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR)

    Reuters

    By Aaron Maasho

    Detained Ethiopian opposition chief bailed two years after protests: party

    ADDIS ABABA – An Ethiopian opposition leader was due to be released on bail almost two years after he was detained during mass protests over land rights, a member of his party said on Monday.

    Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress, was arrested in December 2015 as activists stepped up demonstrations accusing the government of seizing their land and passing it on to firms and developers.

    Violence went on to spread across the Oromiya province that surrounds the capital Addis Ababa and is home to many foreign-owned businesses, drawn in by the government’s industrialisation push.

    Bekele would walk free late Monday or early Tuesday after the high court granted him 30,000 birr ($1,110) bail, the party’s current deputy leader, Mulatu Teshome, told Reuters.

    Bekele, who denies all wrongdoing, was initially charged with involvement in terrorism and collusion with the secessionist Oromo Liberation Front, which the government has branded a terrorist group.

    A court reduced those charges to inciting violence in August, but denied him bail…

    Read more »


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    Derg Official on Trial in The Hague (AP)

    Presiding Judge Renckens, center, opens the court session in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in the case against a Dutch national of Ethiopian descent for alleged war crimes committed during the 1970’s regime in Ethiopia. (AP)

    Associated Press

    Ethiopian-born suspect goes on trial for 1970s war crimes

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A former Ethiopian soldier denied responsibility Monday for war crimes committed under a brutal Marxist regime in his home country in the 1970s, as he was questioned by judges at the start of his trial in a Dutch court.

    “You have the wrong person,” the 63-year-old suspect, Eshetu Alemu, told a three-judge panel at The Hague District Court.

    Goran Sluiter, a lawyer for victims, said the case sent an important message, that the Dutch commitment to prosecuting atrocities from the past, even if committed in another country, “means that suspects of these crimes are never safe.”

    Alemu, a longtime resident and citizen of the Netherlands, is charged with war crimes including involvement in torturing prisoners to death under the brutal 1974-1991 regime of former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia: ‘Red Terror’ war crimes trial begins at The Hague (BBC)

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    Ethiopia’s Love Affair With Old Volkswagen

    A Volkswagen Beetle car is parked in front of a grocery store in Addis Ababa, September 8, 2017. (Photograph: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

    Reuters

    Wider image: Life after death for the ‘Love Bug’ in Ethiopia

    ADDIS ABABA – At Kinfe Abera’s garage in Addis Ababa, cranky, 50-year-old Volkswagen Beetles enjoy a kind of life after death; their parts are never discarded but re-used to keep the city’s remaining Beetles on the road.

    The Beetle was born in the 1930s out of dictator Adolf Hitler’s desire to produce a cheap “people’s car” for the German family. After World War Two it sold in the tens of millions around the globe and in the 1960s even starred in a Disney movie as Herbie the “Love Bug”.

    Production of the original version of the curvy little vehicles ended in 2003, and authentic spare parts can be hard to come by. So Ethiopian mechanics have to “slaughter” some cars to keep others alive.

    “If one is in a bad condition, we will cannibalize it and give its parts to other cars. That is how we extend their life,” said Kinfe, the 74-year-old garage-owner who has been working on Beetles for six decades.

    “The Volkswagen Beetle is a servant car for lower income people. They never fail you – they take you anywhere and have excellent functionality,” he said.


    A 1978 model Volkswagen Beetle is parked in front of the Ethiopian National Theatre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 13, 2017. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    Read more »


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    Ethiopia: Readout Of Meeting Between Ambassador Haley & PM Hailemariam

    This week Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted from Addis Ababa saying: "We met with PM Hailemariam to talk about Ethiopia, IGAD, S.Sudan & DRC. We discussed the importance of giving the youth a voice & human rights." (Photo: Twitter @nikkihaley)

    US Embassy

    Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn today [23 October, 2017] in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ambassador Haley thanked Prime Minister Hailemariam for his country’s leadership in continuing to host desperate people fleeing conflict in the region and for Ethiopia’s decades-long generosity hosting refugees from nearby countries.

    Ambassador Haley and Prime Minister Hailemariam discussed peace and security in the region, particularly developments in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On South Sudan, Ambassador Haley and Prime Minister Hailemariam agreed on the importance of moving forward with the high-level revitalization forum to revive the 2015 South Sudan peace agreement as soon as possible. Both underscored that resolving the situation in South Sudan would require sustained engagement and attention from the African Union and others in the region. On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they agreed on the importance of holding elections as well as the need to address the root causes of conflict in the country.

    They also discussed efforts to stimulate additional growth and sustain long-term peace and stability in Ethiopia by building strong institutions and fostering an open society.


    Related:
    What Key 19-Year Timeline of U.S. Human Rights Reports on Ethiopia Show (TADIAS)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    What Key 19-Year Timeline of U.S. Human Rights Reports on Ethiopia Show

    Top: Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and current President Donald Trump. Bottom: Ethiopia's former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and current PM Hailemariam Desalegn. (Wikimedia)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    October 21st, 2017

    New York (TADIAS) – The United States has been expressing grave concern about human rights in Ethiopia for a long time without much results. In a report published in 1998 during the Bill Clinton administration the U.S. noted:

    Serious problems still remain in the Government’s human rights practices; although the Government made efforts to improve its record in a few areas, its record worsened significantly in others. Security forces sometimes beat or mistreated detainees, and arbitrarily arrested and detained citizens. These problems persisted despite government efforts to improve the security forces’ human rights practices through increased training. Prisons are seriously overcrowded, and prolonged pretrial detention remains a problem.”

    Three years later in 2001 under George W. Bush the U.S. Department of State declared:

    The Government’s human rights record remained poor; although there were some improvements in a few areas, serious problems remained. Security forces committed a number of extrajudicial killings and at times beat and mistreated detainees. Prison conditions are poor. Arbitrary arrest and detention and prolonged pretrial detention remained problems.”

    And in 2006, a year after the deadly and controversial 2005 elections in Ethiopia, the office of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced:

    After the May elections, serious human rights abuses occurred, when the opposition parties refused to accept the announced results, and in November after the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) called for civil disobedience, which resulted in widespread riots and excessive use of force by the police and military. In the period leading up to the May national elections, campaigning was open and debates were televised. The Carter Center described this period as credible and commendable. However, in the period following the elections, authorities arbitrarily detained, beat, and killed opposition members, ethnic minorities, NGO workers, and members of the press. Authorities also imposed additional restrictions on civil liberties, including freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.”

    Then in 2011 following another less than free and fair Ethiopia elections in 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the annual report on behalf of the Obama administration stating:

    Human rights abuses reported during the year included unlawful killings, torture, beating, and abuse and mistreatment of detainees and opposition supporters by security forces, especially special police and local militias, which took aggressive or violent action with evident impunity in numerous instances; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of suspected sympathizers or members of opposition or insurgent groups; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, including illegal searches; use of excessive force by security services in counterinsurgency operations; restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press; arrest, detention, and harassment of journalists; restrictions on freedom of assembly and association; restrictions on freedom of movement; ruling party intimidation, threats, and violence during the elections; police, administrative, and judicial corruption; harassment of those who worked for human rights organizations.”

    Similarly, in 2015 the U.S. said:

    The most significant human rights problems included harassment and intimidation of opposition members and supporters and journalists; alleged torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; and politically motivated trials. Other human rights problems included alleged arbitrary killings; harsh and at times life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; a weak, overburdened judiciary subject to political influence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, including illegal searches; restrictions on freedom of expression, including continued restrictions on print media and the internet, assembly, association, and movement; restrictions on academic freedom; interference in religious affairs.”

    Just this year Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asserted that in 2016,

    “Security forces used excessive force against protesters throughout the year, killing hundreds and injuring many more. The protests were mainly in Oromia and Amhara regions. At year’s end more than 10,000 persons were believed still to be detained. This included persons detained under the government-declared state of emergency. Many were never brought before a court, provided access to legal counsel, or formally charged with a crime.”

    This is all to say that thus far for all intent and purposes the above official statements going back to almost two decades have been “all bark and no bite.” The irony is that since 1998 here in the States we have moved from Clinton to Bush to Obama and now Trump. In Ethiopia, however, the same individuals who wielded political and economic influence in the 1990s continue to do so at the present moment.

    But in fairness the future of Ethiopia is up to Ethiopians not a foreign power, nor should it be. And as America’s oldest African ally, 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.

    By doing so, perhaps, we may manage to accelerate the ever fading dream of witnessing (in our lifetime) a free, peaceful, independent, democratic and united Ethiopia with a prosperous economy that respects the natural human rights of all its citizens.


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    Obama is Back: Reject ‘Politics of Fear’

    In return to campaign trail former President Barack Obama (pictured on Thursday in Virginia) calls on Americans to reject 'Politics of Fear.' (AP Photo)

    CNN

    Obama calls on Americans to reject ‘politics of fear’ in return to campaign trail

    Washington — Former President Barack Obama returned the campaign trail Thursday with a warning about the current state of politics in America.

    “Some of the politics we see now, we thought we’d put that to bed. I mean, that’s folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century,” Obama said during a rally in New Jersey, where he was campaigning for Phil Murphy, the Democratic candidate for governor there.

    “We are rejecting a politics of division. We are rejecting a politics of fear,” Obama continued. “We are embracing a politics that says everybody counts, a politics that says everybody deserves a chance, a politics that says everybody has dignity and worth — a politics of hope.”

    The 44th president did not mention his successor by name in his remarks, which were interrupted with chants of “four more years” from the crowd. President Donald Trump has actively taken steps to attack Obama’s legacy in recent weeks, including on Iran, immigration and health care.

    Beyond his lament about the country’s political environment, Obama also stressed the importance of the US remaining a leader on the world stage.

    “The world counts on America having its act together. The world is looking to us as an example,” Obama told the crowd. “The world asks what our values and ideals are, and are we living up to our creed.”

    Read more »


    Related:
    ‘Our democracy is at stake,’ Obama says on Virginia campaign trail

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    U.S. Senators Inhofe & Enzi Visit Ethiopia

    Republican Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Michael Enzi of Wyoming. (Photo: Twitter)

    CNBCAfrica

    U.S. Senators James Inhofe and Michael Enzi visited Ethiopia on October 12 and 13 to discuss U.S.-Ethiopian relations. The Senators met with Prime Minister Hailemariam.

    During the meeting the Senators highlighted the value the United States places on its bilateral relations with Ethiopia and the strong ties between our people. They reiterated the United States’ commitment to working in partnership with Ethiopia to take on challenges such as regional security and economic development. Senators Inhofe and Enzi expressed a sincere desire to provide whatever assistance would be helpful to address the ongoing tensions in Ethiopia, and reaffirmed the strong friendship between our two nations.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


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    UPDATE: Ethiopia Parliament Speaker Says ‘Disrespect’ Made Him Quit

    Abadula Gemeda, the former Speaker of the Ethiopian parliament, says he left his position last week because of "disrespect" of his Oromo ethnic group. (Photo: Reuters)

    AFP

    The speaker of Ethiopia’s lower house of parliament, who resigned last week, said Saturday that he quit because of “disrespect” of his ethnic group.

    Abadula Gemeda, a member of the Oromos, the country’s largest ethnic group, announced last Sunday that he was stepping down after seven years as speaker of the House of People’s Representatives.

    He is one of the highest-ranking government officials to resign since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition took power in 1991.

    A former army chief of staff, Abadula is also a founder of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) C, which represents the Oromos within the EPRDF.

    Oromos led a wave of anti-government protests that began in late 2015 and were only quelled after more than 940 deaths and the imposition of a 10-month state of emergency, and distrust of the EPRDF still runs deep.

    In comments carried by the state-affiliated Oromia Broadcasting Network, Abadula said he was dissatisfied with the EPRDF’s treatment of his people.

    “I resigned because my peoples and party were disrespected,” he said. “However, I will struggle to bring the necessary respect and do the best I can for Oromo people to gain their rights.”

    His resignation came at the start of a turbulent week in Ethiopia, which saw protesters return to the streets in several towns in Oromia, the largest of the country’s ethnically based regional states.

    On Wednesday, three people were killed and more than 30 injured at a protest in the city of Shashamene, while another protest in the town of Boke left another three dead and three more injured, spokesman for the Oromia regional state Addisu Arega said in a post on Facebook.

    His accounts could not be independently verified, and the cause of the deaths remained unclear.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Speaker of Ethiopian Parliament Resigns
    Ethiopia’s PM Protocol Chief Defects to America After United Nations Meeting

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    Security Advise for US Citizens in Ethiopia

    Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Violent protests and road closures in and around Shashamane. (Photo: Addis Gazetta)

    U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

    US Advises Citizens of Security Risks Amid Continuing Protests in Ethiopia

    The U.S. Embassy is aware of reports of violent protests and road closures in and around Shashamane, approximately 250 km south of Addis Ababa. There are reports of casualties. The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to Shashamane at this time. As always, review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.


    6 dead as protests surge again in Ethiopia: Official (AP)

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian official says protests in the restive Oromia region left six people dead Wednesday as anti-government demonstrations return to some parts of the East African country.

    Oromia regional official Abiy Ahmed says more than 30 people were injured in clashes in Shashamane town and an area called Boke. He did not say who was responsible for the killings.

    Blogger and university lecturer Seyoum Teshome says more than 15,000 people rallied again Thursday in Wolisso town against the country’s ruling elite. He says it was mostly peaceful.

    Read more »


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    Ethiopia Devalues Currency by 15 Percent

    A woman counts birr notes, after selling a cabbage at Mercato in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Reuters)

    REUTERS

    Ethiopia devalues currency by 15 percent to boost exports

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s central bank devalued the Ethiopian birr ETB= by 15 percent on Tuesday, its first such move in seven years to boost lagging exports.

    The birr was quoted by the National Bank of Ethiopia at a weighted average of 23.4177 against the dollar on Monday, compared to what will be 26.9215.

    “The devaluation was made to prop up exports, which have stagnated the last five years owing to the birr’s strong value against major currencies,” Yohannes Ayalew, the bank’s vice governor, told a news conference in the capital Addis Ababa.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, have both repeatedly urged Ethiopia to consider devaluing its currency to boost exports as they are mostly unprocessed products and need to stay competitive on price.

    Ethiopia has operated a managed floating exchange rate regime since 1992.

    The Horn of Africa country is the continent’s biggest coffee exporter but its total export revenue has been falling short of targets for the last few years owing to weaker commodity prices.

    Read more »


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    In Colorado, Criminal Record Haunts Ethio-American Candidate for Local Office

    Abel Laeke is running for City Council Seat in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo: abellaeke.com)

    Aurora Sentinel

    Abel Laeke pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in 2004 for indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, and sexual contact without consent, a felony, according to court documents. The case landed the at-large candidate on the Colorado sex offender registry, which marks him as having a felony conviction. It’s also one of the top Google search results for ‘Abel Laeke.’

    Read more »

    Denver CBS Local

    Abel Laeke, 39, is vying for one of two open at-large seats.

    A charge from 2004 landed Laeke on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s sex offender registry.

    Laeke told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia on Saturday by phone that he could not comment on his criminal record due to pending litigation.

    Court documents show that Laeke has been fighting to appeal the sex charge for years.

    On Nov. 7, 2017, Aurora residents will elect two new city council members.

    Laeke is on the city’s approved list of 8 candidates.

    As a first generation Ethiopian American, Laeke grew up in Aurora and graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He runs his own start-up business consulting firm, serves as a non-profit organization mentor and teaches Sunday school at his Aurora church.

    The CBI website shows a 2005 conviction of a sexual contact charge, a class 5 felony.

    A background check reveals that Laeke pleaded “not guilty by reason of insanity.”


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    Speaker of Ethiopian Parliament Resigns

    Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the Ethiopian parliament, submitted his resignation on Sunday. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    ADDIS ABABA – The speaker of Ethiopia’s lower house of parliament submitted his resignation on Sunday, one of the highest-ranking officials to do so since the ruling EPRDF coalition came to power in 1991. Abadula Gemeda did not disclose reasons behind his decision, but said he would disclose the factors once his move was approved by parliament.

    Analysts in the Horn of Africa country said Abadula, an ethnic Oromo, may have decided to step down owing to disapproval of the government’s response to unrest that roiled Ethiopia’s Oromiya region in 2015 and 2016.

    The violence there forced the government to impose a nine-month state of emergency that was only lifted in August. “Given the existence of circumstances that do not enable me to continue in this position, I have submitted my resignation to my political party and the House of People’s Representatives,” he said in a short speech on national television. “I will disclose the reasons behind my decision once my request is reviewed by the House of People’s Representatives,” the former defense minister added.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Ethiopia’s PM Protocol Chief Defects to America After United Nations Meeting

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    Unity v Diversity: Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism is Being Tested

    Photo: Reuters

    The Economist

    Print edition

    HARAR — FOR centuries the city of Harar, on the eastern fringes of the Ethiopian highlands, was a sanctuary, its people protected by a great wall that surrounded the entire city. But in the late 19th century it was finally annexed by the Ethiopian empire. Harar regained a bit of independence in 1995, when the area around it became the smallest of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based, semi-autonomous regions. Today it is relatively peaceful and prosperous—and, since last month, a sanctuary once more.

    In recent weeks thousands of Ethiopians have poured into areas around Harar, fleeing violence in neighbouring towns (see map). Nearly 70,000 people have sought shelter just east of the city. Several thousand more are huddling in a makeshift camp in the west. Most are Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. Its members clashed with ethnic Somalis in February and March, resulting in the death of hundreds. The violence erupted again in September, when more than 30 people were killed in the town of Awaday. Revenge killings, often by local militias or police, have followed, pushing the death toll still higher. In response, the government has sent in the army.

    Ethnic violence is common in Ethiopia, especially between Oromos and Somalis, whose vast regions share the country’s longest internal border. Since the introduction of ethnic federalism in 1995, both groups have tried to grab land and resources from each other, often with the backing of local politicians. A referendum in 2004 that was meant to define the border failed to settle the matter. A peace agreement signed by the two regional presidents in April was no more successful.

    When the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) swept to power in 1991 after a bloody 15-year civil war, federalism was seen as a way to placate the ethnic liberation movements that helped it to power. The previous regime had been dominated by the Amhara, the second-largest ethnic group (the Eritreans broke away to form a new state). Eventually ethnic loyalties would wither as people grew richer, went the thinking of the Marxist-inspired EPRDF.

    But the way federalism was implemented caused problems from the start. New identity cards forced people to choose an ethnicity, though many Ethiopians are of mixed heritage.

    Read more »

    Related
    Ethiopia is grappling with heightened risk of state collapse (Addis Standard Editorial)

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    Ethiopia’s PM Protocol Chief Defects to US

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn addresses the UN General Assembly’s seventy-first session. His chief protocol officer, Baye Tadesse Teferi, is currently seeking political asylum in the United States. (UN Photo)

    Africa News

    An Ethiopian diplomat who was part of the government delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month has sought political asylum in the United States.

    Baye Tadesse Teferi, the state’s chief protocol officer, quit his job in the United States after serving over two years with the government, he told VOA Amharic on Tuesday.

    He added that his decision was due to fears of being persecuted for political reasons.

    Teferi attended the summit with the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who has since returned.

    Read more »


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    Just Follow the Roads in Ethiopia to Find Unequal Distribution of Infrastructure

    (Map: World Bank visualization based on data from various UN agencies)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    September 28th, 2017

    New York (TADIAS) — For all of Ethiopia’s much talked about infrastructure building over the past three decades, such as highways and power supplies, to date only 22% of the country’s rural population has access to a properly paved road, which is a major hindrance to trade as well as social, political and economic development.

    According to a World Bank study focusing on expansion of road density that was published online last week “changes in road density pointed to greater economic concentration towards the center of Ethiopia and the north of the country. These are also areas of greater population density. Between 2006 and 2016 the increase in road density was concentrated in certain regions, notably Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa, as well as Tigray in the north of the country and in Oromia in the center.” The World Bank adds that “remote and economically lagging regions, and Amhara Region, see lesser increases in road density. Taking the development of roads as a proxy for the development of infrastructure, this suggests that infrastructure development has not been homogeneous across all regions. It also shows that road connectivity for some regions is poor, both within those regions and with other regions, with consequences for labor mobility, the transportation of goods and services, and for agricultural productivity as the distance and travel times to markets are longer.”


    Figure 2b: Rural Access Index (RAI) and major roads in 2016 (World Bank)

    Despite the large infrastructure investments undertaken by the Ethiopian government in the past ten years, accessibility by road to rural areas remains low in Ethiopia; we can see its distribution across the country in Figure 2b. The Rural Access Index was 21.6 percent in 2016, signifying that only around 22 percent of the rural population had access within a 2km distance of them to a decent road.”


    Related:
    What Studies in Spatial Development Show in Ethiopia-Part I
    What Studies in Spatial Development Show in Ethiopia-Part II

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    UPDATE: Massive Protest at This Year’s Irreecha Festival But No Violence Reported

    Thousands of Oromo people attend the "Irreecha" festival in Bishoftu on October 1, 2017. (Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency)

    Anadolu Agency

    By Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Updated: October 1st, 2017

    BUSHOFTU, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian festival on Sunday turned into a massive anti-government protest for the second year in a row.

    Over a million people gathered at Horra Harsede, a meeting place for Irreecha celebration in the central town of Bushoftu, 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa.

    Irreecha, a Thanksgiving holiday, is celebrated by Ethiopia’s largest ethnic Oromo group.

    The celebration turned into a protest after the crowd took over the dais reserved for community elders and began chanting anti-government slogans.

    Last year, more than 50 people were killed in a stampede caused by tear gas and bullets fired by security forces to disperse anti-government demonstrators during the celebration. The incident led to an imposition of martial law, which lasted for 10 months.

    Last week, the government put a ban on the presence of army and armed forces at the site of the celebration.

    “The agreement to keep the army and armed police at bay paid off this time around because it prevented confrontations and possible violence,” Lulu Alemu, Oromia Deputy Communications Office head, told Anadolu Agency.

    Read more »


    Ethiopia bans weapons at upcoming religious gathering

    Associated Press

    By Elias Meseret 

    Updated: September 24th, 2017

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia has banned weapons at the upcoming Irrecha religious festival in order to avoid the violence that killed several dozen people last year. The statement from the restive Oromia region comes ahead of the October 1 thanksgiving gathering.

    “The security situation in the region has improved immensely compared to last year so armed personnel will not be allowed to be at the center of the festival,” Lomi Beo, head of the Oromia Culture and Tourism Office, told the Associated Press on Sunday. “Armed police will be confined to the outskirts of the festival site as per the request of the religious leaders. We don’t expect last year’s tragedy to happen again.”

    Up to 1.5 million people are expected to participate in this year’s celebration in the town of Bishoftu, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa, she said.

    Last year security forces at the Irrecha gathering dispersed anti-government protesters with tear gas and gunfire, triggering a deadly stampede that officials said killed at least 50 people. Activists said the death toll was much higher.

    Read more »


    Human Rights Watch to Ethiopia: Exercise Restraint at Upcoming Irreecha Festival (HRW)


    Several dozen people were killed and injured in Bishoftu last year after security forces fired at protesters at an Irrecha cultural and religious festival. (Photo: Reuters)

    Human Rights Watch

    September 20th, 2017

    Ethiopian government and security officials should act with restraint and take concrete steps to prevent injuries and deaths at this year’s Irreecha festival on October 1, 2017, Human Rights Watch said in a report and video released today. Many people, likely hundreds, died in a stampede at last year’s festival, triggered by security forces’ use of teargas and obstruction of exits.

    The 33-page report, “‘Fuel on the Fire’: Security Force Response to the 2016 Irreecha Cultural Festival,” details the Ethiopian government’s use of force in response to restive crowds at 2016’s Irreecha. The festival, attended by massive crowds, is the most important cultural festival to Ethiopia’s 40 million ethnic Oromos, who gather to celebrate the end of the rains and welcome the harvest. Human Rights Watch found evidence that security force personnel not only triggered the stampede that caused many deaths but subsequently shot and killed some members of the crowd.

    “The security forces’ disastrous and disproportionate use of force should not be repeated this year,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “With longstanding grievances still unanswered, this year’s Irreecha could be fraught with tensions. The government and the security forces should take all steps necessary before and during the festival to protect human life and de-escalate tensions.”

    Read more »


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    US Calls for Ethiopia Ethnic Conflict Probe

    Latest: Statement by U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa on Reports of Ethnic Violence on the Oromia-Somali Border.

    AFP

    US calls for probe into Ethiopia ethnic clashes

    Addis Ababa – The United States on Tuesday urged Ethiopia to investigate deadly clashes between two of the country’s major ethnic groups that have caused tens of thousands to flee.

    Fighting broke out in recent weeks along the border between the Oromia and Somali regions, which Oromia president Lemma Megersa said earlier this week led to “brutal killings” and the displacement of 50 000 people.

    Details of what started the fighting remain unclear, but the US embassy in the capital Addis Ababa said it had received “troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people”.

    “We urge the Ethiopian government to conduct a transparent investigation into all allegations of violence and to hold those responsible accountable,” the embassy said in a statement.

    Read more »


    Related:
    Hundreds’ dead, thousands displaced in Ethiopia ethnic clashes (AFP)
    Deadly Ethnic Clashes Hit Ethiopia (BBC)
    55,000 people displaced amid ethnic clashes (AP)
    Ethiopia sending troops to region of deadly ethnic clashes (AP)

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    The World Loves Ethiopian Pop Star Teddy Afro. His Own Government Doesn’t.

    Teddy Afro at his home in Addis Ababa. (Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press)

    The Washington Post

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Monday marked the first day of the new Ethiopian year, but it hasn’t been much of a holiday for Teddy Afro, the country’s biggest pop star.

    First, the government informed him that his New Year’s concert was canceled. Then, on Sept. 3, police broke up the launch party for his successful new album, “Ethiopia,” in the middle of the sound check at the Hilton Hotel, claiming Teddy hadn’t received permission to hold the event.

    “Asking for a permission to organize an album launch is like asking a permit for a wedding or birthday party,” Teddy wrote on his Facebook page. “This is unprecedented and has never been done before because it is unconstitutional.”

    But government disapproval certainly isn’t anything new for Teddy: This year was his third straight aborted New Year’s concert. And even as “Ethiopia,” which briefly hit No. 1 on Billboard’s world music chart, could be purchased or heard on virtually every street corner in the capital of Addis Ababa after its May release, Teddy’s songs were nowhere to be found on state radio and TV. An interview with a public TV network was even canceled at the last minute, prompting the resignation of the journalist involved.

    At first glance, there seems to be nothing controversial about Teddy Afro, born Tewodros Kassahun, and his traditionally influenced pop songs about love, unity and the glory of Ethiopia. His tunes have earned him a rapturous audience both at home and among the vast Ethiopian diaspora.

    If anything, Teddy is quite the patriot. He’s just the wrong kind of patriot.

    Teddy’s music has increasingly focused on extended history lessons glorifying Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, who was overthrown by a communist coup in 1974, as well as the great kings of the 19th century. The title track of his 2012 album, “Tikur Sew,” for example, celebrated Emperor Menelik II and his defeat of Italian troops invading Ethiopia in 1896 — complete with a music video that was practically a war movie.

    Read more at The Washington Post »


    Related:
    Teddy Afro’s ‘Ethiopia’ Album Launch Blocked, Pop Star Says It’s ‘Ridiculous’
    Ethiopia Teddy Afro New Year Concert Cancelled for 3rd Time (Music in Africa)
    Teddy Afro ‘Grateful for the Love’ After New CD Ethiopia Ranks No. 1 on Billboard
    Ethiopia’s star singer Teddy Afro makes plea for openness (AP)

    Watch: Teddy Afro Rocks New York’s SummerStage and B.B. King Blues Club — 2014 (TADIAS Video)

    Photos: Teddy Afro at SummerStage 2014 Festival in New York

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    Ethiopian Restaurants Foster Community in Silver Spring (Associated Press)

    (Photo: Annual Ethiopian Festival in Silver Spring/Ethiopian Community Center in Maryland)

    Associated Press

    SILVER SPRING, Md. — Beginning in the mid-1970s, war and political turbulence led a large number of Ethiopians to flee their home country. Many of these emigrants came to the United States, with a particularly high number settling in the Washington region.

    Thanks to a welcoming environment and local educational institutions, as well as legislation over the decades that eased immigrant entry into the United States, many Ethiopians were eager and able to stay in the area and put down roots.

    “This area became a hub for Ethiopians,” Dr. Getachew Metaferia, an Ethiopian native and professor of political science at Morgan State University, told Capital News Service. “They contributed to the dynamics of multiculturalism.”

    As this community has grown, it has infused within local neighborhoods vestiges of native Ethiopian culture, from music to language to art. Montgomery County even has a sister city in Ethiopia, the ancient former royal city of Gondar.

    Perhaps the most prominent contribution of Ethiopian immigrants to the Washington area, though, has been food.

    “A night out at an Ethiopian restaurant is as much a tradition here as an outing to a deep-dish pizzeria might be in Chicago,” Jessica Sidman wrote in Washingtonian magazine in January.

    Today, Ethiopian communities – and thus, restaurants – have spread from their traditional neighborhoods within the District of Columbia (Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights and, more recently, Shaw) to several of Washington’s suburbs, most notably Silver Spring.

    Read more »


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