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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)


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.

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.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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)


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.”

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)


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.

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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)


Ethiopia Says Saudi Arabia Expels More Than 1,300 Citizens


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.”

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.

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.

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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)


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


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


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.


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.

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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)


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 »

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)


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.

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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 »

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)


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.

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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 »

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)


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
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.

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

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)


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.

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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)


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)

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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.

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

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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)


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.”

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‘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)


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)


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.

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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.

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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)


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.

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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.’

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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)


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.


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.

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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 »

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.

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Deadly Ethnic Clashes Hit Ethiopia — BBC

Latest: 55,000 people displaced amid ethnic clashes -- AP. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

BBC News

Updated: 15 September 2017

What is behind clashes in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions?

Dozens of people are reported to have died in clashes across Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions in recent days.

According to Adisu Arega, Oromia government’s spokesperson, 18 people have been killed.

Twelve of those victims are ethnic Somalis, Mr Adisu told the BBC.

The figures are however disputed by the Somali regional government, which says that more than 30 ethnic Somalis have been killed in the Oromia town of Awaday.

The clashes have displaced at least 30,000 people, some of whom have taken refuge in makeshift camps at a stadium in the eastern city of Harar, whilst others are camping at police stations.

Local administrators have now asked aid agencies operating in the area to provide humanitarian assistance.

Read more »

Ethiopia sending troops to region of deadly ethnic clashes (AP)

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On Facebook Obama Blasts Trump’s ‘Cruel’ Immigration Decision

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday blasted Trump's decision to end an immigration program that protected 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation as 'cruel' and 'self-defeating.' (Getty)

Barack Obama Facebook Page


Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license…

To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love.

And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

Click here to read the full statement »

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US Africa Policy Braintrust is Back

U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass of California is organizer of Africa Braintrust 2017.

Press release

Rep. Karen Bass

Africa Braintrust 2017: Renewing our Commitment and Engagement with Africa

U.S. policy toward Africa is at a crossroads. An Assistant Secretary for African Affairs has yet to be appointed and the budget put forward by the White House has called for deep cuts to the Department of State and USAID. Many across Africa are asking if this signals a shift away from Africa. Given the long history of US-Africa relations, this is a good time to illustrate our continuing commitment to engaging with African nations.

The Seventh Annual Africa Braintrust will explore the various ways the United States can renew our commitment and engagement across Africa via panels, issue-specific discussions and featured speakers by noted African and Diaspora academics, members of civil society, and members of the private sector who are each experts in their respective fields.

Issue Focuses:

  • Security and Insecurity
  • Encouraging prosperity across Africa
  • Ways to partner with African nations
  • Keynote Speakers and Panelists to follow.

    If You Go:
    Fri, September 22, 2017
    9:00 AM – 5:00 PM EDT
    Walter E. Washington Convention Center
    801 Mount Vernon Place Northwest
    Room 207 B
    Washington, DC 20001
    Click here to RSVP

    United States to Give Ethiopia $91 Million in Drought Aid for Food & Medicine (The Washington Post)

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  • US Gives Ethiopia $91M in Drought Aid

    Women carry water back to their homes in drought-hit Aydora, Ethiopia. The country is facing its third straight year of drought. (Photo: Aida Muluneh for The Washington Post)

    The Washington Post

    United States to Give Ethiopia $91 Million in Drought Aid for Food and Medicine

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The United States will provide an additional $91 million in humanitarian aid for Ethiopia to cope with a third straight year of drought, the top U.S. official in charge of assistance said Thursday.

    The extra funding brings U.S. aid for food and medical care in Ethiopia to $454 million this year, said Mark Green, the new administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. An extra $210 million in U.S. aid has gone to development projects.

    Green announced the additional aid after he met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. In a statement that he read to reporters, Green said he had also urged the Ethiopian leader to take “concrete steps to create political space for all voices to be heard and to uphold constitutional and guaranteed rights.”

    In August, Ethi­o­pia lifted a 10-month state of emergency imposed after deadly clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters who were alleging human rights abuses and political cronyism.

    “What I said to him is, ‘We look at what countries need around the world to strengthen their ability to deliver for their people,’ ” Green told reporters later.

    “Responsive governance, and a place for people to come together from different points of view and to share ideas openly and publicly, history shows is vitally important,” he said. “Our view is the government should continue to foster that, and do more and more.”

    According to USAID spokesman Clayton McCleskey, Green told Desalegn he was concerned that conditions were deteriorating for people affected by the drought and encouraged the government to “show greater leadership and invest more resources to combat a worsening humanitarian crisis.”

    Green, on his first trip abroad since starting the job three weeks ago, is in Ethiopia to highlight U.S. efforts to help impoverished countries emerge from crises such as drought and famine, and to be better prepared to weather future setbacks.

    Read more »

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    Teddy Afro Concert Cancelled for 3rd Time

    Teddy Afro has been denied a permit for his New Year’s Eve concert in Addis Ababa. (Music in Africa)

    Music in Africa

    Ethiopia Teddy Afro concert cancelled for a third time

    The concert, which was to take place on 10 September at the Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall, was expected to draw more than 10 000 people. The artist was reportedly to receive $76 980 (1.8 million birr) from organisers of the event Joy Events and Promotion PLC, which sent an application for the concert at the start of July.

    According to the Mayor’s Office, the decision was taken to give space to a different music event said to be affiliated to the ruling party. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemarim Desalegn is set to attend this replacement concert.

    The cancellation is third time unlucky for Teddy Afro who was denied a permit for same event in 2015 and again last year. An interview with the artist on state television was abruptly cancelled earlier this year, after which the interviewer resigned. The streak of cancellations has been attributed to some of his politically vocal songs.

    Read more »

    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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    Harlem’s Hubert (Black Eagle) Julian Soared to Glory in Ethiopia

    Col. Hubert Julian beside a plane in Le Bourget. (New York Daily News)


    From Italy’s standpoint, it was true, Italy had been fairly royally chiseled out of any substantive World War spoils. The Allies had promised the sun and moon and then left Italy with crumbs, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, nothing but barren desert. Some Roman Empire that was. Well, Italy had Albania, too, but of course Albania was worthless. So it was that Benito Mussolini cast Italian eyes again on the ancient cradle of the Kingdom of Abyssinia. Abyssinia was nothing but barren desert either, so far as that went, but at least there was more of it.

    Italy was still relatively new to the world stage in the 1930s. Until 1870 Italy had been a medieval collection of poor duchies and poorer principalities, and its early attempts to expand across the Mediterranean into Tunis were contemptuously blocked by the older powers. The Italian armies were not particularly sophisticated, in any case: When in 1896 the dictator Francesco Crispi resolved to make a protectorate of Abyssinia, 8,000 Italian soldiers were slaughtered at Adowa by Abyssinians armed with sticks and spears. Great was this sting. Italy had been just mortified ever since.

    Now, in 1935, Mussolini was determined both to avenge the old [Adwa] humiliation and to stake an emperor’s claim at last to Italy’s rightful colonial place in the sun. Now the Roman legions were mechanized, bristling with tanks and warplanes, and all the world knew that Italy would storm defenseless Ethiopia the day the September rains stopped. The great powers did not approve, but the slightest diplomatic misstep could easily mean another world war; now Haile Selassie, Ras Tafari, the Lion of Judah, came before the League of Nations to plead for deliverance, and the great powers all went deaf.

    On Tuesday, the 1st of October, as Europe watched silently, Caproni bombers blasted [Adwa] into rubble and columns of troops poured across the border and destroyed the pathetic war-dancing spearmen who rose up to meet them. The sun had not set before the Italo-Ethiopian War came as well to the hundreds of thousands of Italians and the hundreds of thousands of blacks who sought to live together in the City of New York…

    At this very moment, Col. Hubert Julian, the Black Eagle of Harlem, was in Addis Ababa, and it would have been his most glorious hour if he’d only had an airplane. Trinidad-born Hubert Fauntleroy Julian had been one of Harlem’s most flamboyant figures for years. One of the pioneer black fliers..and he frequently mesmerized citizens by parachuting, crimson-clad, onto 125th St.

    Read the full article at nydailynews.com »

    Prevail: New Film in the Making About Ethiopia’s Resistance Against Fascism (TADIAS)

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    Obama Nudging Deval Patrick to Run

    The former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, would have powerful supporters if he chooses to run for the White House in 2020 including former President Barack Obama and many of his associates. (Politico)

    Politico Magazine

    The former Massachusetts governor would have powerful allies in 2020

    BOSTON — Barack Obama is nudging him to run. His inner circle is actively encouraging it. Obama world’s clear and away 2020 favorite is sitting right here, on the 38th floor of the John Hancock Building, in a nicely decorated office at Bain Capital.

    And Deval Patrick has many thoughts on what he says is Donald Trump’s governing by fear and a dishonest pitch for economic nostalgia, while encouraging a rise in casual racism and ditching any real commitment to civil rights.

    Obama strategist David Axelrod has had several conversations with Patrick about running, and eagerly rattles off the early primary map logic: small-town campaign experience from his 2006 gubernatorial run that will jibe perfectly with Iowa, neighbor-state advantage in New Hampshire and the immediate bloc of votes he’d have as an African-American heading into South Carolina.

    Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s close adviser and friend, says that a President Patrick is what “my heart desires.”

    David Simas, Obama’s political director in the White House and now the CEO of his foundation, used to be Patrick’s deputy chief of staff and remains perhaps his biggest fan on the planet.

    Obama himself—who is personally close to Patrick, and counts him among the very small group of people whom he thinks has actual political talent—has privately encouraged him to think about it, among others.

    Obama veterans light up at the mention of Patrick’s name. In self-assurance, style and politics, they see the former Massachusetts governor as a perfect match, the natural continuation of Obama’s legacy.

    “If you were to poll 100 notable Obama alumni, the only two people who would win that 2020 straw poll right now are [Joe] Biden and Patrick,” said one former senior White House aide.

    Among operatives, “the center of gravity would really shift in his direction in Obama world if he were to decide to run,” said another former top Obama White House official.

    Click here to listen to the interview with Deval Patrick on POLITICO’s Off Message podcast »

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    Harar Celebrates 1,010th Anniversary

    As the UNESCO-recognized Ethiopian city of Harar marks its 1,010th anniversary, the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza explores its unique heritage.(Getty Images)

    BBC News

    Harar – a long history:

  • 7th Century: Part of Coptic Christian Kingdom of Axum, area adopted Islam
  • 1007: Harar city founded
  • 16th Century: Capital of Harari Kingdom, major centre of regional trade and Islamic learning
  • Said by some to be Islam’s fourth holiest site, after Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina
  • 1887: Becomes part of Ethiopia
  • 2006: Named UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Full Ethiopian Timeline

    One of Africa’s best kept secrets – its history

    The city’s fortified walls, built between the 13th and 16th Centuries, even have small holes in them to allow the hyenas to enter the city at night.

    The daily hyena feeding spectacle is just one example of this city’s unique heritage.

    “This is one of the world’s ancient civilisations,” local historian Abdulswamad Idris tells me.
    “Some of the mosques you see here were built in the 10th Century.”

    Early convert to Islam

    Harar is a city that goes by many names, from the city of saints to a living museum, while some consider it to be Islam’s fourth holiest city after Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina.

    It has even been called the city of peace, a name I spot on one huge neon sign as I enter the town.

    Read the full article at BBC.com »

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    Climate Change Threatens an Ancient Way of Life in Ethiopia

    Two seasons of failed rains have left millions in Ethiopia's Somali region dependent on food aid, calling into question how viable traditional forms of life still are in an era of changing climate. (The Washington Post)

    The Washington Post

    Zeinab Taher once roamed through Ethiopia’s arid Somali region tending a vast herd of 350 sheep, goats and cattle with her nine children.

    Then the autumn rains failed and the grass that fed her animals didn’t grow. No rain came this spring, either, and the livestock began to die. Now, wrapped in her orange shawl, the 60-year-old huddles in a makeshift, windblown camp along with several thousand others, depending on food and water from international agencies.

    Another drought has seized the Horn of Africa, devastating the livestock herders in these already dry lands. Even as the government and aid agencies struggle to help them, there is a growing realization that with climate change, certain ways of life in certain parts of the world are becoming much more difficult to sustain.

    In Ethiopia, which unlike neighboring Somalia or South Sudan has a strong, functioning government, the emergency effort has kept people alive. Authorities and aid agencies are trying to get beyond the immediate humanitarian response and encourage a shift to livelihoods less vulnerable to drought and climate shocks.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Warns Emergency Drought Aid to Run Out Next Month (AP)

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    Trump Fails to Repeal Obamacare

    In this March 23, 2010 file photo President Barack Obama signs the health care bill in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo)

    The New York Times

    Trump Finds That Demolishing Obama’s Legacy Is Not So Simple

    WASHINGTON — President Trump’s demolition project just got shut down, at least for now.

    Determined to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy, Mr. Trump in the space of a couple of hours Monday night reluctantly agreed to preserve President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and failed in his effort to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care program.

    The back-to-back events underscored the challenge for a career developer whose main goal since taking office six months ago has been to raze what he sees as the poorly constructed edifices he inherited. Mr. Trump has gone a long way toward that objective through executive action, but as Tuesday dawned, he faced the reality that Mr. Obama’s most prominent domestic and international accomplishments both remained intact.

    In neither case has Mr. Trump given up. He instructed his national security team to keep rethinking the approach to Iran with a view toward either revising or scrapping the nuclear agreement. And he publicly called on Congress to simply repeal Mr. Obama’s health care program without trying to immediately pass a replacement.

    “We will return!” Mr. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning about the collapse of his health care effort.

    Yet there is little appetite among America’s partners to revisit the Iran deal, nor is there much eagerness among lawmakers to cancel the existing health care program without a new system to install in its stead.

    Read more »

    ‘How Trump and Republicans failed on their health-care bill (Washington Post)

    Trump’s Weird Obsession With Obama

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    Economist on Addis Movie Bootleggers

    Ethiopia’s ingenious video pirates: Not even a slow internet can stop the bootleggers of Addis Ababa.

    The Economist

    DOWNLOADING a movie, legally or not, is prohibitively slow in Ethiopia, thanks to glacial internet speeds. Bootleg DVDs are everywhere, but even so it can be hard to find a reasonable-quality version of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Only one cinema in Addis Ababa, the capital, screens foreign hits. Resourceful pirates spy an opportunity.

    Last year yellow ATM-style kiosks began to spring up around Addis Ababa. The brainchild of three Ethiopian science graduates and their software company, Swift Media, the Chinese-built kiosks allow customers to transfer any of 6,000 pirated foreign movies or 500 music albums onto a USB stick they insert for as little as 10 cents per file. The kiosks are located in large malls in full view of authorities, who show no interest in shutting them down.

    This is just one manifestation of a general disregard for foreign intellectual-property (IP) rights in Ethiopia. Swift Media is breaking no local laws by selling plundered foreign films. Ethiopia is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Indeed, it is the largest country that has not yet signed any of the big international treaties governing IP, according to Seble Baraki, a local lawyer. Foreign trademarks are infringed with impunity. Kaldi’s, the country’s biggest coffee chain, has a logo suspiciously similar to that of Starbucks. Intercontinental Hotels Group, a British-owned hotel company, is suing a large hotel in central Addis Ababa with the same name. In-N-Out Burger, an American fast-food franchise, has a popular equivalent in Ethiopia that the American firm only learned about when tourists complained to it about poor standards.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia’s World Heritage Site in Photos

    The World Heritage site draws visitors and pilgrims with its monolithic churches carved into the ground. (Photo: AlJazeera)


    The 11 medieval churches hewn from solid, volcanic rock in the heart of Ethiopia were built on the orders of King Lalibela in the 12th century. Lalibela set out to construct a “New Jerusalem” in Africa after Muslims conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

    Legend has it that the design and layout of the churches mimic those observed by the king in Jerusalem, which he had visited as a youth. Many place names across the town are also said to originate from the king’s memories of the Biblical city.

    The churches were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.

    The blocks were chiselled down, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, trenches and ceremonial passages – some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs. Seven of the churches are organically embedded in the rock, while four are self-standing. The sacred site is a place of pilgrimage for those in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It is said the churches were built in only 24 years.

    (Photo: AlJazeera)

    (Photo: AlJazeera)

    Read more and view the rest of the photos at Aljazeera.com »

    On the Roof of Africa in Ethiopia, Amazing Portraits of a Christian Community

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    Ethiopia’s Exiled Prince Selassie of the World’s Oldest Monarchy — FR Australia

    Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie says "People identify with Ethiopia – its resistance to colonialism, its long history, its sense of pride, sense of tolerance and the living together of all these different religions in peace." (FRA)

    Financial Review Australia

    Ethiopia’s Prince Selassie. The exiled prince from the world’s oldest monarchy

    On the face of it, Australia and Ethiopia have little in common. A poor country of 100 million people on the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is scarred by coups, civil wars and famine.

    But links range from Australian mining investments to eucalyptus trees ringing the capital Addis Ababa; from Australian “Whaler” horses providing mounts for the ceremonial guard, to both countries’ soldiers fighting alongside in the Korean War. And then there is the Australian-founded, funded and run obstetric fistula hospital, the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.

    Promoting the ties, Prince Ermias, President of the Crown Council and putative successor to the oldest throne in the world, believes both are “gateway” countries – Australia to Asia, and Ethiopia to Africa.

    Australia is “a gateway to Asia and because of that to the world.” he says. Ethiopia is the oldest state in Africa with the oldest continuous Judeo-Christian bloodlines. It hosts the African Union, and ranks, after Brussels, as a major diplomatic capital, making it “the gateway for Africa”.

    Warming to his theme, Prince Ermias views Australia as “a microcosm of what the world may look like in the future because you have all types of people in this supposedly isolated and remote place”.

    Arriving in Sydney, “what struck me the most was the multicultural nature of Australia. I found it more visually stunning than New York.” The Big Apple “is supposed to be a melting pot of the world but when I came to Sydney Airport and I was watching all those faces I just could not believe the interaction of people.”

    Read more @FinancialReview »

    Family of Ethiopia’s Late Emperor Gives $700k to Haile Selassie School in Jamaica
    Tadias Interview With Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie
    In Pictures: 50th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Historic Visit to Jamaica
    Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch
    New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie (TADIAS)

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    Forbes: 5 Ethiopian Multi-Millionaires You Should Know

    Tewodros Ashenafi, co-owner of Ambo Mineral Water (top left), Akiko Seyoum Ambaye, founder of Orchid Business Group (pictured center), Buzuayehu T. Bizenu, chairman of East African Holding (top right), Belayneh Kindie, Import And Export BKIEA (bottom left), and Ketema Kebede, founder of KK PLC. (Forbes)

    Forbes Magazine

    A few Ethiopians have built multi-million and billion dollar empires in industries as diverse as agriculture, food, construction, energy and distribution and earned multi-million dollar fortunes to boot. Their names don’t ring with the African public, and you’ve probably never heard about them before, but they are very successful — and very wealthy. Meet 5 Ethiopian entrepreneurs, who own businesses with annual revenues of $50 million or more.

    See the list at Forbes.com »

    Inside The Weeknd’s $92 Million Year–And The New Streaming Economy Behind It (Forbes)

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    Ethiopia Warns Emergency Drought Aid to Run Out Next Month

    (AP photo by Elias Meseret)

    Associated Press

    By Elias Meseret

    WARDER, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s government is warning it will run out of emergency food aid starting next month as the number of drought victims in the East African country has reached 7.8 million.

    An international delegation visited one of the worst-affected areas Friday near the border with Somalia, which suffers from widespread drought as well. Several hundred people lined the dusty road to meet the officials at the remote airstrip, while rail-thin camels and goats roamed in the bushes. Animal carcasses littered the ground.

    “I came to this area after losing nearly all my goats and camels due to lack of rain,” 75-year-old Ader Ali Yusuf said quietly, wiping her cheek with her headscarf as she sat with other women observing the delegation from afar. The mother of 12 is just one of thousands of Ethiopians who have walked up to three days on foot to displacement camps for aid.

    Ethiopia’s disaster relief chief Mitiku Kassa told The Associated Press that the country needs more than $1 billion for emergency food assistance. Seasonal rains have been critically small and local cattle are dying. The number of drought victims has risen by two million people in the past four months.

    The risk of an acute food and nutritional disaster is “very high,” the disaster relief chief said.

    The International Organization for Migration said hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, with the problem compounded as people pour into Ethiopia from Somalia. — (AP)

    A United Nations humanitarian envoy said donor fatigue and similar crises elsewhere have hurt aid efforts. Both Somalia and neighboring South Sudan are among four countries recently singled out by the United Nations in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine. Already, famine has been declared for two counties in South Sudan.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia’s Civil Society Getting Squeezed

    People walk past the Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa. Observers say Ethiopian courts frequently use the country's anti-terrorism laws to restrict activities of government critics. (AP file photo)

    VOA News

    WASHINGTON — From an internet shutdown to convictions of journalists and opposition members, Ethiopia’s civil society has felt like it’s under attack in recent weeks.

    On May 24, Getachew Shiferaw, editor of the news website Negere Ethiopia, was convicted of “inciting violence” because of a private Facebook conversation. The Ethiopian Federal Court initially charged Shiferaw under the country’s anti-terrorism law, but later charged him under the criminal code and sentenced him to time served since his arrest in 2015.

    On May 25, a court sentenced Ethiopian opposition spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye to six-and-a-half years in prison on charges that he encouraged terrorism with comments on Facebook. Yeshiwas Assefa, newly elected president of the Semayawi (Blue) Party, called the verdict “disappointing and embarrassing.”

    “Yonatan is sentenced to six years and six months just because of what he wrote on Facebook as something that encourages terrorism. He was expressing his thoughts freely. This is what we fear would bring people to protest in our country,” he told VOA.

    The following day, May 26, two men, Tufa Melka and Kedir Bedasso, were charged with terrorism for their role in a stampede that occurred in October 2016 at a cultural festival in the Oromia region. The men are accused of yelling things into the microphone that led to chaos and the death of 55 people.

    Gemeda Wariyo, a protester who grabbed the microphone and admitted to chanting “down, down Woyane” is in exile now and wasn’t mentioned in the court documents. “Woyane” is a colloquial term used to describe the ruling party in Ethiopia.

    “I took the microphone in a peaceful protest,” he told VOA Amharic. “I was the one who protested and I don’t know the men blamed for grabbing the microphone.”

    FILE – Ethiopian men read newspapers and drink coffee at a cafe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 10, 2016. The Ethiopian government temporarily cut off internet access nationwide in early June, saying it was necessary to prevent students from cheating on final exams.

    And in early June, the government cut off internet access nationwide, stating that the measure was needed to prevent high school students from cheating on final exams by sharing answers on social media.

    In a press conference, Communications Minister Negeri Lencho denied the move was to control free communication.

    “The only reason is to help our students to concentrate on the exams because we know we are fighting poverty,” he said.

    As of June 8, internet access including social media sites was restored, according to published reports.

    ‘Under assault’

    In a new report, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international think tank, concluded that the targeting of civil society and restrictions on free speech fit a pattern in Ethiopia. Over the past two decades the space for political opposition has been steadily constricted and civil liberties taken away, the report said.

    Two laws in particular, the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-terrorism Proclamation, both passed in 2009, have given the government wide latitude to imprison opposition members and journalists and shut down groups advocating for human rights, Carnegie found.

    Saskia Brechenmacher, an associate fellow at the Carnegie Endowment who worked on the report, said anti-terrorism laws have been used across Africa to stifle dissent.

    “Those laws have become very effective tools, especially in moments of crisis as we are seeing right now,” she said. “Ahead of elections or during moments of sustained protests, [they are used] to target selectively, particularly activists and journalists that are seen as particularly threatening.”

    FILE – Security personnel take action against protesters in Bishoftu town in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, Oct. 2, 2016. Critics say that ahead of elections or during moments of sustained protests the Ethiopian government has been known to resort to a self-serving interpretation of the country’s anti-terrorism laws to stifle dissent, selectively targeting activists and journalists.

    Brechenmacher said Ethiopia also cracks down on civil society groups through a provision in the charities law, which prevents organizations from receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad.

    “Many organizations had to switch their mandate and activities and turn more toward developmental and civil liberties because they couldn’t carry out the kind of work they had been doing before,” she said.

    Brechenmacher said these restrictions represent an abrupt reversal for a country that was becoming more open prior to the crackdowns that followed the 2005 elections.

    “Ethiopia showcases what a dramatic effect this could have on independent civil society and the amount of information that is available in a country,” she said. “And also it really testifies the extent to which this does not really address the grievances that citizens have vis-a-vis the government and therefore those grievances will find another outlet.”

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    Comey Accuses White House of ‘Lies’ and Says Trump Tried to Derail Inquiry

    “Those were lies, plain and simple,” James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Jun. 08, 2017 discussing White House explanations for his firing. (New York Times)

    The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the recently fired F.B.I. director, said Thursday in an extraordinary Senate hearing that he believed that President Trump had clearly tried to derail an F.B.I. investigation into his former national security adviser and that the president had lied and defamed him.

    Mr. Comey, no longer constrained by the formalities of a government job, offered a blunt, plain-spoken assessment of a president whose conversations unnerved him from the day they met, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. His testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee provided an unflattering back story to his abrupt dismissal and squarely raised the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice.

    Answering that falls to the Justice Department special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Comey revealed that he gave all of the memos he wrote on his interactions with the president to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the first suggestion that prosecutors would investigate Mr. Comey’s firing last month.

    Read more »

    Comey says he was fired over Russia probe, blasts ‘lies’ (AP)
    Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate the Trump-Russia Case (AP)

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    Tedros Adhanom Elected Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General-Elect (center), with Dr Veronika Skvortsova, President of the 70th World Health Assembly (left), and Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. (UN photo)

    The Associated Press

    Published: May 23rd, 2017

    GENEVA — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian minister of health, was elected as the next director-general of the World Health Organization on Tuesday, becoming the first non-medical doctor and the first African tapped to lead the U.N. health agency.

    Delegates, health ministers and other high-level envoys chose Tedros over Britain’s Dr. David Nabarro, a U.N. veteran, in the third and final round of voting. Tedros had 133 votes to Nabarro’s 50, with two abstentions.

    The third candidate, Pakistan’s Dr. Sania Nishtar, was eliminated in the first round.

    Ethiopian delegates could be seen hugging and high-fiving each other after their countryman made it to the second round. Tedro succeeds China’s Dr. Margaret Chan, who is ending a 10-year tenure at the U.N. health agency on June 30.

    The director-general of WHO wields considerable power in setting medical priorities that affect billions of people and declaring when crises like disease outbreaks evolve into global emergencies.

    The agency has stumbled in recent years, most notably in its error-prone response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and all three candidates vowed to overhaul its organization to restore credibility.

    Of the U.N. health agency’s 194 member states, 185 were eligible to cast ballots; nine others either were in arrears on their dues or not represented at the gathering.

    Jean-Marie Ehouzou, the African Union’s top envoy in Geneva, expressed “happiness, happiness, happiness” at the result.

    “It’s not only a question of symbolism,” he said, referring to Tedros’ status as the first African to run WHO. “It shows when we are united, we can do everything.”

    Read more »

    News Release

    United Nations

    Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom elected to top UN health post

    GENEVA – The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the United Nations health agency, today elected Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

    “Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was nominated by the Government of Ethiopia, and will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017,” WHO said in a statement following the afternoon vote.

    Among his previous positions, Dr. Tedros was Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and, prior, Minister of Health.

    He also served as Chair of the Global Fund and of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board (RBM), where he secured “record funding” for the two organizations and created the Global Malaria Action Plan, which expanded RBM’s reach beyond Africa to Asia and Latin America, according to the UN agency.

    The incoming health chief was chosen from amongst three nominees presented to the World Health Assembly, along with David Nabarro from the UK, and Sania Nishtar from Pakistan, in a process that began before September 2016.

    Dr. Tedros will succeed Margaret Chan, who yesterday addressed the World Health Assembly for the final time after serving two consecutive five-year terms.

    Ethiopian wins race to be next leader of UN health agency (The Associated Press)

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    Carnegie Endowment Report Outlines Civil Society Under Assault in Ethiopia

    In Ethiopia the government has used court proceedings to selectively intimidate and silence high-profile activists, reporters, and civil society leaders. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

    Carnegie Endowment

    Civil Society Under Assault in Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia

    The closing of civic space has become a defining feature of political life in an ever-increasing number of countries. Civil society organizations worldwide are facing systematic efforts to reduce their legitimacy and effectiveness. Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia have been at the forefront of this global trend. In all three countries, governments’ sweeping assault on associational life has forced civic groups to reorient their activities, seek out new funding sources, and move toward more resilient organizational models. Competing security and geopolitical interests have muddled U.S. and European responses, with governments divided over the value of aggressive pushback versus continued engagement.

    Governments in Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia have used a wide range of tactics to restrict civil society:

    Public vilification. Governments rely on aggressive smear campaigns to discredit independent civil society groups, building on suspicions of foreign political meddling, fears of violent extremism, and anti-elite attitudes within society.

    Sweeping legal measures. In addition to restrictive laws controlling nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), sweeping antiterror and antiprotest measures with vague legal definitions enable selective and unpredictable enforcement, which reinforces fear and self-censorship among activists.

    Civil society co-optation. Governments purposefully sow divisions between apolitical and politically oriented organizations and selectively disburse rewards to co-opt civic actors and promote pro-government mobilization.

    However, there are also differences among the three cases:

    In Ethiopia, authorities have pushed NGOs from rights-based efforts to service delivery activities and imposed onerous funding limitations. Targeted repression in the name of counterterrorism has further stifled civic activism, and the government is increasingly relying on emergency powers to suppress growing rural dissent.

    Click here to read the full report »

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    U.S. Senators Call on Ethiopia to Respect Human Rights, Open Democratic Space

    The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is charged with leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. The Committee is generally responsible for overseeing and funding foreign aid programs.

    Press Release

    Cardin, Rubio Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Calling on Ethiopia to Respect Human Rights, Open Democratic Space

    WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a Senate resolution Wednesday condemning excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces that led to hundreds of deaths last year, and calling on the Ethiopian government to release all political opposition, dissidents, activists, and journalists and to respect the rights enshrined in its constitution.

    The Resolution notes that hundreds of people have been killed and thousands were arrested during the course of the protests. To date, there has not been a credible accounting for the excesses of security forces.

    Joining Senators Cardin and Rubio as original cosponsors of the resolution are U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

    “The Ethiopian government must make progress on respecting human rights and democratic freedoms. I am deeply troubled by the arrest and ongoing detention of a number of prominent opposition political figures. The fact that we have partnered with the Ethiopian government on counterterrorism does not mean that we will stay silent when it abuses its own people,” said Senator Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “On the contrary, our partnership means that we must speak out when innocent people are detained, and laws are used to stifle legitimate political dissent.”

    “As the Ethiopian government continues to stall on making progress on human rights and democratic reform, it is critical that the United States remains vocal in condemning Ethiopia’s human rights abuses against its own people,” said Senator Rubio, chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on human rights and civilian security. “I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to urge the Ethiopian government to respect the rule of law and prioritize human rights and political reforms.”

    The text of the resolution is at this link.

    EU Calls for Urgent UN Inquiry Into Protester Deaths & Detention in Ethiopia
    Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia

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    EU Calls for Urgent UN Inquiry Into Protester Deaths & Detention in Ethiopia

    European Parliament Demands Investigation Into Ethiopia Killings. (Photo: Reuters)

    Human Rights Watch

    May 18, 2017

    New York — Today, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a United Nations-led independent investigation into the killing of protesters in Ethiopia. Between November 2015 and October 2016, Ethiopian security forces killed hundreds of protesters, and detained tens of thousands. An overly restrictive state of emergency has been in place for the past seven months, and tens of thousands more people have been detained under it. Today’s resolution echoes a previous European Union parliamentary resolution, resolutions by other countries, and last month’s request by the UN’s top human rights chief for access to investigate the abuses.

    Ethiopia’s government has always rejected outside scrutiny of its horrific rights record, insisting that it can investigate itself. Yet it has conspicuously failed to do so. Past investigations by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have not met basic standards of impartiality, including its June 2016 report into abuses during the protests’ first six months. In April 2017, the EHRC acknowledged that 669 people were killed in an oral report to parliament, but found that security forces had used excessive force in just a few situations. This stands in stark contrast to what Human Rights Watch and other organizations have found, drawing on evidence that includes a wealth of video and photographic material. The EHRC hasn’t publicly released a version of their findings, so it’s impossible to assess their methodology or learn how they reached their conclusions.

    International experts having access to areas where protests occurred and to people still in detention are important first steps towards meaningful investigations. But there are other obstacles too, like victims and witnesses being too afraid to speak out about government abuses. Thousands of Ethiopians have fled the country since the protests, seeking asylum in bordering countries. They too should be part of investigations into what happened, from locations where they may be more free to speak without fear.

    Today’s resolution specifically calls on Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, to “mobilise EU Member States” to urgently pursue the setting up of the UN-led international inquiry, and they can take the first step towards this at the upcoming Human Rights Council session next month in Geneva.

    It’s hoped that implementing today’s timely resolution can help address the pervasive culture of impunity in Ethiopia. The resolution also reiterates the EU’s recognition of the importance of justice to ensure Ethiopia’s long-term stability. To the many victims of Ethiopia’s brutality, a UN-led inquiry could at least begin to answer pleas for justice that too often have gone unheard.

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    In Ethiopia Blue Party Leader Faces 20 Years in Jail for a Facebook Post

    Yonatan Tesfaye, who was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party, is due to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 20 years' imprisonment. (BBC News)

    BBC News

    Ethiopian opposition politician Yonatan Tesfaye has been found guilty of encouraging terrorism for comments he made on Facebook.

    He was arrested in December 2015 as a wave of anti-government protests in the Oromia region was gathering momentum.

    The authorities objected to several posts including one in which he said the government used “force against the people instead of peaceful discussion”.

    Ethiopia has been criticised for using anti-terror laws to silence dissent.

    Amnesty International described the charges as “trumped up”, when they were confirmed in May 2016.

    A section of Ethiopia’s anti-terror law says that anyone who makes a statement that could be seen as encouraging people to commit an act of terror can be prosecuted.

    In a translation of the charge sheet by the Ethiopian Human Rights Project that details the Facebook comments, Mr Yonatan allegedly said: “I am telling you to destroy [the ruling party's] oppressive materials… Now is the time to make our killers lame.”

    Mr Yonatan, who was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party, is due to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

    Read more »

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    UPDATE: Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate the Trump-Russia Case

    The U.S. Justice Dept. appointed former prosecutor and FBI director Robert Mueller to lead an investigation into the Trump-Russia case. The decision fulfilled lawmakers' demands for an independently probe. (AP)

    Associated Press

    Updated: May 17th, 2017

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department abruptly appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday night as a special counsel to lead a federal investigation into allegations that Donald Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election that put him in the White House. Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.

    The surprise announcement to hand the probe over to Mueller, a lawman with deep bipartisan respect, was a striking shift for Trump’s Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly loud calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor. It immediately escalated the legal stakes — and the potential political damage — for a president who has tried to dismiss the matter as partisan witch hunt and a “hoax.”

    The announcement, the latest in the shock-a-day Washington saga, was made by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The White House counsel’s office was alerted only after the order appointing Mueller was signed, said a senior White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly by name and commented only on condition of anonymity.

    In a written statement, Trump insisted anew there were no nefarious ties between his campaign and Russia.

    “A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” he declared. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

    Mueller’s broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russia probe, but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” That would surely include Trump’s firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

    Mueller, a former federal prosecutor at the Justice Department, was confirmed as FBI director days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that would ultimately shape his tenure. The FBI’s counterterror mission was elevated in those years, as the U.S. intelligence agencies adjusted to better position America to prevent another attack of such magnitude. He was so valued that President Barack Obama asked him to stay on two years longer than his 10-year term.

    Comey succeeded him, appointed by Obama.

    Rosenstein said the appointment was “necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”

    Read more »

    Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation (The New York Times)
    U.S. Lawmakers to Trump: Turn Over Transcript of Meeting With Russians (The Washington Post)
    Trump Shared Top US Secrets With Russia (The Washington Post)

    Political Chaos in Washington is a Return on Investment for Moscow (The Washington Post)
    Former director of US national intelligence says US institutions under assault by Trump & Russia (CNN)

    Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey (The Washington Post)

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    Report: Trump Gave Top Secrets to Russia

    President Trump with the Russian foreign minister, left, and the Russian ambassador at the White House on May 10th 2017. (The photo was taken by a Russian photographer. American journalists were not allowed)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: May 16th, 2017

    U.S. Lawmakers to Trump: Turn Over Transcript of Meeting With Russians

    A growing number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are calling on President Trump to hand over the transcript of the White House meeting last week in which he revealed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador, according to current and former U.S. officials.

    Members of Congress — primarily Democrats — have spent several days demanding that Trump turn over tapes of White House meetings after he suggested, while defending his decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, that he records his conversations.

    But the calls intensified Tuesday morning after Trump seemed to acknowledge on Twitter that he had shared sensitive information during his meeting with the Russians.

    “We want to know what took place in that meeting, and my understanding is there may be recordings or transcripts,” Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday on Capitol Hill. “Obviously, we’d like to see that with appropriate redactions.”

    Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump should release the alleged transcript “if [he] has nothing to hide.”

    “Until the administration fully explains the facts of this case, the American people will rightly doubt if their president can handle our nation’s most closely kept secrets,” Schumer said Tuesday on the Senate floor. And a former Marine intelligence officer now serving in the House said transparency demands the release of the transcript, if it exists.

    Read more »

    Hill Republicans alarmed by Trump disclosure to Russians (Politico)
    Trump Shared Top US Secrets With Russia (The Washington Post)

    Political Chaos in Washington is a Return on Investment for Moscow (The Washington Post)
    Former director of US national intelligence says US institutions under assault by Trump & Russia (CNN)

    Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey (The Washington Post)

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    US Announces Success of USAID-DuPont Partnership in Ethiopia Farm Project

    The Trump administration announced a successful public-private partnership in Ethiopia between USAID and DuPont to advance the agricultural development and food security goals set by Ethiopia. (U.S. Embassy Addis)

    Press release

    U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

    USAID-DuPont Partnership helps hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian farmers transform production and livelihoods

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and DuPont announced that the Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (AMSAP), a public-private partnership between USAID, DuPont and the Government of Ethiopia, exceeded its goal by 150 percent to boost maize productivity among smallholder farmers and increase food production for Ethiopian communities.

    As part of America’s Feed the Future initiative, the program’s objective was to sustainably increase more than 100,000 smallholder farmers’ yields and enhance income potential, while also improving nutrition outcomes in 16 districts over three regions across Ethiopia. The program has already helped 250,000 smallholder farmers in 53 districts to adopt new technology and implement smarter agricultural practices, far surpassing its 2018 target goal.

    This public-private partnership was made possible through a dollar for dollar matching program that runs from 2015 to 2018 and leveraged a $2 million contribution from DuPont. Prior to this program, farmers were harvesting 2.2 metric tons per hectare. In districts where AMSAP was administered, they now harvest 7.5 metric tons per hectare. Since its launch four years ago, participating farmers have achieved an almost 300 percent increase, on average, in their maize yield productivity. They are also more efficiently connected to markets, which has helped boost incomes as much as $1500 per farmer, per year.

    “We’re thrilled to see that we have more than doubled our goal with nearly two years left in our partnership,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, Deputy Coordinator for Feed the Future and USAID Assistant Administrator for Food Security. “It’s these kinds of partnerships that demonstrate the outsized impact we can have when the U.S. development community teams up with America’s leading companies.”

    AMSAP provides increased access to training, improved inputs such as hybrid seeds, and provides other technical support.


    Feed the Future is America’s initiative to combat global hunger and poverty. It brings partners together to help some of the world’s poorest countries harness the power of agriculture and entrepreneurship to jumpstart their economies and create new opportunities. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov

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    Tibeb Girls Children’s Animated Series

    From the creators of the award-winning Ethiopian educational children's series Tsehai Loves Learning comes a new action-drama about three young girls who use their superpowers to tackle big issues. (VOA News)

    VOA News

    ADDIS ABABA — Three young Ethiopian girls use their superpowers to stop harmful practices against girls in rural areas and to promote access to school. That is the story behind “Tibeb Girls,” a new animated series developed in Ethiopia.

    “Tibeb Girls” is the first animated cartoon in which Ethiopian girls play not only the lead characters, but are also portrayed as superheroes. “Tibeb” means wisdom in Amharic.

    “For me, it was very important to have girls who look like me and who look like my child to be on the screen playing very good role models,” said Bruktawit Tigabu, who created “Tibeb Girls.”

    (Screenshot from ‘Tibeb Girls’)

    Representing and empowering girls is a big responsibility. Therefore the writers, such as Mahlet Haileyesus, put a lot of preparation into an episode.

    “We try to include everybody, like the relevant stakeholders, government bureaus, specific target groups,” said Mahlet Haileyesus, one of the show’s writers. “And then once the synopsis is developed, we do prototyping, which means we go to the field and test it.”

    Meaza Takele reads the ‘Tibeb Girls’ comis strip to her young children. (VOA photo)

    “Tibeb Girls” is also published as a comic strip that Meaza Takele reads to her young children each night before they go to bed.

    “When I ask my children why they love the cartoon, they say it’s because now they have a cartoon that is Ethiopian and where their own language is spoken,” she said.

    Creator Bruktawit hopes to raise funds to further develop the TV show, as she tries to sell the first season to broadcasters in Ethiopia and other African countries where young girls face the same issues.

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    McCain Blasts Trump on Human Rights

    Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain published an op-ed for the New York Times on Monday, May 8th 2017 criticizing Trump on lack of human rights focus in his foreign policy. (AP photo)

    VOA News

    Senator McCain Blasts Trump on Lack of Human Rights Focus

    U.S. Senator John McCain is criticizing the foreign policy of the Trump administration, saying it is not focused enough on human rights abuses around the world.

    In an op-ed article for the New York Times, the Republican senator said the United States has an obligation to speak out for human rights as a country that was created from “an ideal that liberty is the inalienable right of mankind.”

    He criticized recent comments made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said conditioning U.S. foreign policy too heavily on values creates obstacles to advance U.S. national interests.

    “With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere: Don’t look to the United States for hope … We make policy to serve our interests, which are not related to our values,” McCain wrote.

    McCain said some will credit Tillerson’s point of view with realism, but he said “if by realism they mean policy that is rooted in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be, they couldn’t be more wrong.” He said it is foolish to view realism and idealism as incompatible. McCain said the demand by people for human rights is reality, and said that by denying them these rights, we “invite their enduring resentment.”

    “To view foreign policy as simply transactional is more dangerous than its proponents realize,” he wrote. “Our values are our greatest strength and treasure.”

    McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, has criticized the Trump administration on a range of issues, including the president’s immigration orders and wish to have better relations with Russia. McCain has also sparred with the president about comments he made on the possible legality of torture and gave only a lukewarm endorsement of Tillerson during his confirmation process.

    John McCain: Why We Must Support Human Rights (NYT)
    Donald Trump’s dangerous flattery of foreign dictators shows how little he cares about human rights
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    George W. Bush: PEPFAR Saves Millions of Lives in Africa. Keep it Fully Funded.
    Ethiopia: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Misses Annual Human Rights Presentation
    Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
    Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
    Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
    U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
    Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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    U.N. Human Rights Chief Pushes for Inquiry into Ethiopia Unrest

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein requested that UN officials be given access to affected regions: "We may then perhaps provide a list for specific releases," he said. (UN)

    Reuters | ADDIS ABABA

    The United Nations human rights chief said on Thursday he would push Ethiopia to allow his agency to investigate rights abuses during months of unrest in 2015 and 2016 in which hundreds of people were killed.

    The Horn of Africa country declared six months of emergency rule in October after more than a year of violent protests in its Oromiya and Amhara regions. Demonstrators in the areas say the government has trampled on their political rights. The state of emergency has since been extended by four months.

    Last month, a government-sanctioned investigation said 669 people had been killed in the violence.

    Speaking to journalists during a three-day visit, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said there was a “clear need for a much wider and freer civic space” in Ethiopia.

    “Although I benefited greatly from the briefings provided to me by the Attorney General’s office, the extremely large number of arrests – over 26,000 – suggests it is unlikely rule of law guarantees have been observed in every case,” he said.

    “I believe my staff ought to be given access to the affected areas, and I renew my request, so we can assess the situation and ascertain what further support can be given to the authorities, including justice officials.”

    Read more »

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    US Budget Pays for Security in Ethiopia

    The $1 trillion U.S. spending package for the rest of 2017 that was approved this week by the U.S. congress includes money to cover "border security and counterterrorism programs" in Ethiopia. (Photo: Townhall)


    Bill Funds Border Security — in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Egypt…

    The 1,665-page spending bill the Republican-controlled Congress is planning to pass this week includes multiple measures that seemingly demonstrate a commitment to securing the border — in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

    It does not include the $1.4 billion President Donald Trump requested to begin building the wall he promised to build along the U.S.-Mexico border…

    Under the terms of the funding bill, U.S. taxpayer money will also go to Ethiopia “for border security and counterterrorism programs.”

    Read the full article at Townhall.com »

    Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia
    Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

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    UN Human Rights Chief to Visit Ethiopia

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. (UN Photo)

    By Associated Press

    UN rights chief to visit Ethiopia after deadly protests

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The United Nations says the U.N. human rights chief will visit Ethiopia next month at the invitation of the government, which has rejected U.N. and other outside offers to investigate months of deadly protests.

    Ethiopia remains under a state of emergency declared in October after hundreds were killed amid anti-government protests demanding wider political freedoms.

    A U.N. statement Friday says Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein will visit the East African nation on May 2-4 and meet the prime minister and other officials along with civil society groups.

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn this month rejected U.N. and European Union requests to investigate the protests in which the government says at least 669 people died.

    Zeid also will meet with officials from the African Union continental body, which is based in Ethiopia’s capital.

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    Controversy Brews Over British Designer’s Velvet Jacket Almost Identical to ‘Kaba’

    British fashion designer Alexander McQueen's £4,895 black velvet jacket looks very similar to Kaba. (DM)

    Daily Mail

    Alexander McQueen has been accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ for designing a jacket that looks remarkably similar to a ceremonial gown from the Horn of Africa.

    Hundreds of people from the Habesha community – who come from Eritrea and northern Ethiopia – have reacted in fury on social media after the fashion house posted a picture of a £4,895 black velvet jacket covered in gold embroidery on Instagram.

    An Ethiopian priests wearing the ceremonial kaba gown. (Flickr)

    Read more at the Daily Mail »

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    Eskinder Nega: 2017 Press Freedom Hero

    IPI, which is a global network of journalists, editors and media executives, has named Ethiopia’s Eskinder Nega the 2017 World Press Freedom Hero. (Image: IPI)

    International Press Institute

    Eskinder Nega named IPI Press Freedom Hero

    Ethiopian journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, who has been imprisoned since 2011 after criticising his country’s abuse of anti-terror laws to silence the press, has been named the International Press Institute (IPI)’s 69th World Press Freedom Hero.

    IPI also announced today the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee as the recipient of the 2017 Free Media Pioneer Award in recognition of the group’s courageous and trailblazing work to prevent, combat and monitor attacks on journalists in one of the world’s most dangerous media environments.

    Both awards, which for the past three years have been given in partnership with Copenhagen-based International Media Support (IMS), will be presented during a special ceremony on May 18 in Hamburg, Germany during IPI’s annual World Congress and General Assembly.

    Press Freedom Hero

    IPI’s World Press Freedom Hero Award honours journalists who have made significant contributions to the promotion of press freedom, particularly in the face of great personal risk.

    Nega has spent over 2,000 days behind bars since his arrest on Sept. 14, 2011, when Ethiopian authorities accused him of “leading a plan to throw the country into serious political chaos through a series of terrorist acts” and linked him to a banned opposition group. His jailing came shortly after Nega, a persistent critic of Ethiopia’s former long-time ruler and then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, published a column questioning the government’s abuse of anti-terror laws to punish journalistic scrutiny.

    Nega’s comments were preceded by a wave of detentions under Ethiopia’s broad 2009 anti-terror law, including those of journalists Woubshet Taye and Reeyot Alemu – the 2013 recipient of the UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize – as well as Swedish correspondents Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson.

    An Ethiopian court convicted Nega in June 2012 of “participation in a terrorist organization” and “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of (a) terrorist act”. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison the following month, a decision the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention later said violated international law.

    IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said the award was a recognition of Nega’s “unflinching dedication to the free exchange of ideas and information and his determination – at the expense of his freedom and separation from his family – not to remain silent in the face of the Ethiopian government’s cynical attempt to use the fight against terrorism to crush legitimate dissent”.

    She continued: “This award sends the message that Eskinder Nega’s bravery in relentlessly scrutinising power despite years of intense retaliation has not been forgotten. We renew our call on Ethiopia to free Eskinder and all journalists jailed for doing their jobs or expressing their opinions, and we urge the international community not to ignore Ethiopia’s continued flouting of its international human rights obligations”.

    Nega faced frequent official pressure and harassment due to his writing beginning in the early 1990s. In 2005, he and his wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil, were jailed on treason charges for their coverage of a mass government crackdown on popular protests following disputed parliamentary elections won by Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Fasil would later give birth to a son behind bars. Authorities released the couple in April 2007 but shuttered their publishing company and banned Nega from practicing journalism.

    Fasil, who now lives in exile in the United States with their son, said of IPI and IMS’ recognition of her husband that it was “absolutely heart-warming to know that all his sacrifices and valuable contribution to press freedom are not wasted in vain, but continue to shine a spotlight [on his plight] on the global stage”.

    She added: ”Although, it remains a bittersweet moment for me (knowing where he is now), it is important to uphold such recognition for the tremendous impact it’s having to those who aspire to follow in his footsteps. … I truly hope it also expedites his release from imprisonment and brings an end to his suffering.”

    IPI and its members have previously called for Nega’s release, including during a November 2013 joint mission to Ethiopia with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). The Ethiopian government on that occasion denied IPI and WAN-IFRA’s requests to visit Nega and other jailed journalists.

    The following year, WAN-IFRA honoured Nega with its Golden Pen of Freedom Award. In 2012, he also received the PEN American Center/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

    In early September 2011, commenting on the arrests of Taye and Alemu, and just days before his own detention, Nega wrote to IPI: “Their arrest has more to do with calculated cultivation of fear. Fear is what dictatorships ultimately rely on to survive.”

    Free Media Pioneer

    The annual Free Media Pioneer Award was established by IPI in 1996 to recognise news or media organisations that have made innovations that have promoted news access or quality, or benefitted journalists and the media community, thereby ensuring freer and more independent media in their country or region.

    Read more »

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    Africa’s House of Cards: Ethiopia Enters Its Seventh Month of Emergency Rule

    (Getty Images)

    The Economist

    The old model persists: development now, democracy later

    AMBO — THE three-hour bus-ride to Ambo from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, offers a glimpse into the country’s future. The road is well paved; irrigation ditches and polytunnels criss-cross commercial farmland; electricity lines leap over forested hills. The signal granting access to mobile internet is clear and constant. As the bus pulls into Ambo, a trading centre in Oromia, the largest and most populous of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based regions, the street is bustling.

    But there are signs, too, that not all is well. An army truck rolls down the main road. Federal police surround the entrance to the local university. Unemployed young men playing snooker in bar point at a building across the road: it used to be a bank, but it was burnt down. Three years ago 17 local boys were shot dead by security guards as they protested on the doorstep, the young men say.

    Ambo has a reputation for dissent. It was on these streets that protests against authoritarian rule started in 2014 before sweeping across the country. They culminated in the declaration of a six-month state of emergency on October 9th last year.

    Students from Ambo University led the charge in opposing a since-shelved plan to expand the capital city into surrounding farmland. Oromo identity is especially powerful here: locals speak angrily about being pushed aside by ethnic Tigrayans, who they say dominate the government despite making up less than 6% of the population.

    The country’s leading opposition politician, Merera Gudina—who was charged with inciting terrorism in February and was scheduled to appear in the dock on April 24th—comes from this area. When the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) extended the emergency law for another four months (albeit after watering down its most draconian provisions) on March 30th, it was because of places like Ambo. Hundreds of its citizens have been arrested and subjected to months of “re-education” in military camps. Although stability has more or less returned to Ethiopia there are still young men across Oromia and Amhara, the second-largest region, who talk of protesting once more when the state of emergency is eventually lifted.

    Not everyone feels this way. There may have been plenty of raised eyebrows when the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, told Parliament on March 15th that 82% of Ethiopians wanted the state of emergency extended.

    Read more »

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    ‘So, What’s Been Going On?’ Jokes Obama at 1st Public Event as Former President

    In his first public event since leaving the White House former President Barack Obama held a conversation with young leaders at the University of Chicago on Monday, April 24th, 2017. (Photo: CNN video)

    The Hill

    Former President Barack Obama on Monday kicked off his first public appearance since leaving office by jokingly asking if he’s missed anything important.

    “So uh, what’s been going on while I’ve been gone?” Obama asked with a smile.

    “It is wonderful to be home, it is wonderful to be at the University of Chicago, it is wonderful to be on the South Side of Chicago and it is wonderful to be with these young people here.”

    Obama has kept a low profile since leaving office earlier this year. His appearance Monday comes as President Trump approaches his 100th day in office.

    On Sunday, the former president met with at-risk youth in Chicago ahead of his first post-presidency speech.

    He joined a group of young men and boys for a discussion sponsored by the Cred program in the same South Side Chicago neighborhood where he started as a community organizer.

    Obama “listened to the young men’s stories and shared some of the challenges that he faced growing up,” spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a release.

    “He expressed that he was optimistic about their potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families because of the services provided in the program.”

    Watch: Obama ‘What’s been going on while I’ve been gone’

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    Ethiopia Unrest Killed 669: Report

    (Photo: Reuters)


    ADDIS ABABA — A total of 669 people were killed in unrest that gripped Ethiopia for several months until authorities imposed a state of emergency last October, according to an investigation report presented to parliament on Tuesday.

    The Horn of Africa country declared six months of emergency rule after more than a year of violent protests in its Oromiya, Amhara and SNNP regions. Demonstrators in the three areas say the government has trampled on their political rights.

    Ethiopia has faced criticism from abroad as well as at home over its authoritarian approach to economic development, though the government has also presided over stellar rates of growth.

    The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission – a body mandated by parliament to investigate the violence – presented its findings on Tuesday and acknowledged that security forces had taken disproportionate measures in some areas.

    The report said 462 protesters and 33 security personnel had been killed in the unrest that engulfed 91 towns in the Oromiya region alone. The protesters opposed having their land incorporated into the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa.

    Commission head Addisu Gebregziabher told parliament that security forces had been “negligent” when firing teargas at protesters during a religious festival, triggering a stampede that killed scores.

    In the Amhara region, 110 demonstrators and 30 security officials were killed in clashes sparked by the arrest of activists campaigning over disputed territory, the report said.

    Tensions there have simmered for around 25 years over the status of Wolkayt district, which the protesters say was illegally incorporated into the neighboring Tigray region to the north.

    That dispute is particularly sensitive because it runs counter to a division of Ethiopia along ethnic and linguistic lines, imposed by the core of the current ruling EPRDF coalition when it came to power in 1991.

    The report said another 34 people died in the SNNP region which lies to the south of Addis Ababa.

    Ethiopia is an important Western ally against Islamist militants in neighboring Somalia as well as an increasingly important economic player in a fragile region.

    In October Ethiopia accused “elements” in neighboring Eritrea, in Egypt and elsewhere of being behind the wave of disturbances. It has since extended the nationwide state of emergency by four months.

    Ethiopia rejects UN investigation over protest deaths (BBC)

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    Instead of a Wall, an Open Door: Why Ethiopia Welcomes an Enemy’s Refugees

    Cultural similarities have helped Ethiopia absorb more than 160,000 refugees from Eritrea, despite a still-bitter border dispute. But it's also a strategy at a time when other countries are doing the opposite. (CSM)

    CS Monitor

    BADME, ALONG THE ERITREAN-ETHIOPIAN BORDER —When Yordanos and her two young children slipped safely across the Mereb riverbed between Eritrea and Ethiopia late one recent night, they thought the worst of their journey into exile was over. The smuggler had done his job, and they were safely over the border.

    Then they heard the hyenas.

    Yordanos and her children began to yell for help, their panicked calls fading into the solid darkness. Suddenly, she saw a group of Ethiopian soldiers coming towards them. The men comforted the young families, and then escorted them to the nearby town of Badme. “They were like brothers to us,” says Yordanos, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of reprisals from the Eritrean government against her relatives at home.

    In some regards, Ethiopia – and in particular this sliver of Ethiopia’s arid north – is the last place you might expect an Eritrean refugee like Yordanos to receive a warm welcome. In 1998, after all, an Eritrean invasion of this sleepy border town touched off a two-year war between the two countries that cost tens of thousands of lives and more than $4.5 billion, along with destroying most of the then-flourishing network of trade between the two countries. And before that conflict, Eritreans fought a 30-year civil war for independence from Ethiopia, which ended only in 1991.

    Even today, the ashes of those conflicts still smolder. The internationally-brokered peace settlement ending the 1998-2000 war decreed that Ethiopia should give this region of the country back to Eritrea, which claims it as historical land. But Ethiopia never did, and border clashes between the two countries’ militaries continue into the present.

    Still, Yordanos’ story is not uncommon. Fleeing enforced, indefinite military service, illegal imprisonment, and torture, about 165,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers currently live in Ethiopia, according to the United Nations. Upon arrival and registration, they are automatically granted refugee status, and the country continues to welcome more. In February of this year alone, 3,367 new Eritrean refugees arrived in the country, according to Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA).

    Read more »

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    He Took Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Photos, Now Awol Erizku Takes on Trump Era

    Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Awol Erizku grew up in the South Bronx, New York. (The New York Times)

    The New York Times

    Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Photographer Is Opening an ‘Anti-Trump’ Art Show

    LOS ANGELES — By one measure of success, the 28-year-old artist Awol Erizku has possibly already peaked. In February he was revealed to be the photographer behind Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement, which quickly became the most popular Instagram post ever with over 10 million likes.

    The image shows her kneeling in front of a floral wreath so large it looks like a throne.

    But Mr. Erizku, who landed his first New York gallery show before he earned his M.F.A. from Yale, said that sort of record-breaking is not the attention he craves.

    “It would have meant so much more if I had gotten recognition from the Whitney this year,” he said, speaking of the Whitney Biennial — “this thing that every great artist I admire has had.”

    This is just one sign of how thoroughly the artist operates within the traditional biennial-obsessed art world, even as he manages through social media and other platforms to reach a much broader public. He D.J.s here and there and makes mixtapes to play during gallery shows to “make my peers feel welcome.” At his Los Angeles studio recently, Mr. Erizku showed his new artwork while listening to Jim James, Future and Kodak Black.

    That new work is heading to Europe for his first gallery exhibitions there: His defiantly anti-Trump show “Make America Great Again,” at Ben Brown Fine Arts in London, opens on April 20, and his more playful “Purple Reign,” at Stems in Brussels, opens a day later…

    You can also see a Trump-era development: the image of a black panther, which he has lifted straight from the logo of the Black Panther Party, now roams throughout his work, climbing an American flag or clawing a bed of roses. It also appears atop the slogan “Make America Great Again” on a red baseball cap that the artist is selling “to have something affordable in the show.”

    Works for Awol Erizku’s coming exhibitions in his studio. (The New York Times)

    As for the use of the panther image, “I don’t want to take something so powerful and cheapen it by using it too much, like wallpaper. I want to give it more power,” said Mr. Erizku, who speaks rapidly, enthusiastically. “I’m putting it out there because I’m black and I’m Muslim and this is everything Trump has tried to stand against.”

    “I don’t think this show is anti-American, but it is definitely anti-Trump,” he added. “All the people he’s hating on do make America great.”

    Read more at NYTimes.com »

    Shaken & Stirred by Beauty: Review of Awol Erizku’s New Flower (Addis Ababa) Exhibit (TADIAS)

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    Spotlight on Ethiopia’s Jano Band

    The Jano band -- a rare rock band in Ethiopia -- has been playing locally and touring in Europe for the past five years. (Photo: AFP)


    Ethiopian band wins fans by melding rock with African sounds

    At a hotel in Addis Ababa well-known for hosting jazz greats, thousands of fans lined up on a Saturday night to headbang along with what is still a rarity in Ethiopia’s diverse music scene — a rock band.

    Jano, named after a popular item of traditional clothing, has made a name for itself in Africa’s second most populous country, as well as abroad, by blending local styles of music with Western rock and roll.

    “We’re trying to make something very, very different,” said Hailu Amerga, one of four vocalists in the eight-piece, mixed ensemble, that also features a drummer, keyboard player, guitarist and bassist.

    Read more »

    Watch: JANO Band performing at Howard Theatre in DC on July 4th, 2013 (TADIAS Interview)

    Watch: The Ethiopian Rock Band Jano – Interview with Producer Bill Laswell (TADIAS)

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    Ethiopia: Do the Right Thing, Drop All Prosecution of Zone 9 Bloggers (CPJ)

    (Photo: Zoneniners.com)


    Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges

    New York — Ethiopia’s Supreme Court today ruled that two bloggers from the Zone 9 collective, previously acquitted of terrorism charges, should be tried instead on charges of inciting violence through their writing. If convicted of the charge, Atnaf Berhane and Natnail Feleke would face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, according to the Addis Standard newspaper.

    The court upheld the lower court’s acquittal of two other Zone 9 bloggers, Soleyana S Gebremichael and Abel Wabella. Today’s actions by the Supreme Court were a response to prosecutors’ appeal of the October 2015 acquittal of all four.

    “We urge Ethiopian authorities to do the right thing and drop any further prosecution of Atnaf Behane and Natnail Feleke on charges relating to their work,” said Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “Today’s acquittal of two Zone 9 bloggers is a positive step, but there can be no celebration until this exhibition of legal harassment ends once and for all.”

    Ethiopia ranked fourth on CPJ’s 2015 list of the 10 Most Censored Countries and is the fifth worst jailer of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ’s 2016 prison census. CPJ awarded Zone 9 an International Press Freedom Award in 2015.

    For more data and analysis on Ethiopia, visit CPJ’s Ethiopia page.

    Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards

    Audio: Interview With Zone 9 Bloggers Soleyana S. Gebremichael & Endalk Chala

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    Is it Worth the Money? The Economist Looks at Ethiopia’s Space Program

    Reaching for the sky: Why Ethiopia is building a space program and why critics think it an odd use of scarce resources. (Getty Images)

    The Economist

    THE ancient holy town of Lalibela, perched some 2,500 metres above sea-level in Ethiopia’s northern highlands, boasts some of the clearest night skies imaginable. Ethiopian stargazers dream that the mountains around Lalibela may one day host a world-class observatory to rival the big ones in Chile and Hawaii. And in time Ethiopia hopes to do more than just gaze at the stars. It would like to launch its own satellites, too.

    In January the government said it would launch a Chinese-built civilian satellite from an overseas rocket pad within the next five years. It would be designed to Ethiopian specifications and used to monitor crops and the weather, and doubtless to spy on neighbours, too. The government also wants to reduce reliance on foreign telecoms by launching its own communications satellite.

    In putting its own satellites into orbit Ethiopia would join the select club of African nations that have already done so. Nigeria has paid for the launch of five since 2003, some of which it says have helped fight terrorism. South Africa has also put several home-built satellites into space. Egypt launched two earth-observation ones, both of which have since failed; a private company, Nilesat, successfully operates communications ones. Kenya, Angola and Ghana are eager to join them.

    Being able to beam communications or take photos from space offers some economic benefits. Ethiopia’s government hopes that mapping the country to help resolve land disputes, for instance, could boost agricultural productivity. And it could help with planning cities better. Investment in space science might also help speed up industrialisation, the government hopes.

    Read more at Economist.com »

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    BBC Radio on Haile Selassie’s Life & Legacy With Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate

    BBC interviews political analyst and author Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate about the life and legacy of his great-uncle Haile Selassie, the last Emperor of Ethiopia. (Getty Images)


    Sun 2 Apr 2017

    Emperor Haile Selassie was the last in the line of Ethiopia’s ancient monarchy. During his long rule he was revered as an international statesman and reformer, demonised as a dictator, and even worshipped as a God incarnate by the Rastafarians of Jamaica. He was without doubt a controversial figure, but achieved a status in the global arena previously unheard of for an African ruler.

    Bridget Kendall discusses Haile Selassie’s life and legacy with Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate, political analyst and author of ‘King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia’, who is also the great-nephew of Haile Selassie; Gerard Prunier, Independent Consultant on Eastern and Central African affairs, and former Director of the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies in Addis-Ababa; and Laura Hammond, an anthropologist specialising in Ethiopia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

    Read more and listen to the program at BBC.com »

    New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie
    Interview With Prince Ermias S. Selassie
    In Pictures: 50th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Historic Visit to Jamaica
    Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch

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    In US African Summit Held Without Africans is Baffling Everyone

    Organizers said participants from Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola and Sierra Leone were denied visa to the U.S. to attend the summit at the University of Southern California.


    The African Global Economic and Development Summit took place at the University of Southern California from March 16th to 18th.

    None of the approximately 60 invited guests from Africa were able to attend.

    The problem was that none of the African delegates were able to get U.S. visas…

    The conference was first held in 2013 and seeks to strengthen business ties between U.S. investors and African companies, says summit chairwoman Mary Flowers.

    Visa problems have been an issue before, she says. In the past, she says roughly 40 percent of African invitees are unable to get the papers they need to attend, mainly due to a combination of red tape and bureaucracy.

    “This year we were thinking there are going to be some rejections but some will still come,” she says. “But it was 100 percent blocked across the board.”

    It’s hard to find out exactly why…A State Department official on background tells NPR that they can’t comment on any individual visa applications but says all applications are screened on a case-by-case basis. And the eligibility requirements for getting a visa haven’t changed.

    Some of the African delegates to the summit say their visa applications were denied because they didn’t show a compelling reason why they would return home after the event.

    Audio: What If You Held An African Summit And No Africans Could Come? (NPR)

    Read the full article at NPR.org »

    Highly Cited – No African citizens granted visas for African trade summit in California (The Guardian)

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    The Unlikely Winner of the Trump Presidency? Art Supply Stores

    Protesters outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Washington, DC, Women’s March. (Artnet)

    News Artnet

    Depending on how you see it, there is one silver lining that comes with Donald Trump’s still-nascent presidency: “Setting political views aside, the women’s movement has positively influenced the sales of office supplies,” wrote the market research firm NPD Group in a recent blog post.

    Of the estimated 3.3 to 4.6 million protesters who took to the streets around the country on the Women’s March on January 21, many carried handmade signs denouncing the new administration and its policies. But just how much have sales for poster board and other related art supplies gone up since Trump took office?

    According to NPD Group, 2.7 million poster and foam boards were sold in the US in the week leading up to the post-Inauguration march. That’s 33 percent more poster board that was sold during the same time period in 2016!

    For foam board, sales were up 42 percent.

    Altogether, a total of $4.1 million in poster and foam board sales were logged in that week alone. For the entire month of January, more than 6.5 million poster boards were sold. Poster-hungry protests continued on International Women’s Day on March 8.

    There were also considerable increases in sales of various types of markers and glue/adhesives, as well as scissors and fabric paint, used to personalize t-shirts for the march.

    Read more »

    Trump Proposes to End All Arts Funding

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    Update: Friends in Nashville Mourn Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant Owner’s Death

    Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot about midnight last Saturday as he was preparing to close his business. (Photo: News Channel5)


    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Members of Nashville’s Ethiopian community remain puzzled as to why someone would kill a beloved restaurant owner who was shot to death last weekend.

    The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/2nLCR5B ) that friends of Gitem Demissie were still grappling with his violent death. Those who knew him described him as a good man and a hardworking immigrant.

    Demissie was the owner of Ibex Ethiopian Bar & Restaurant in south Nashville.

    Authorities have said that the 41-year-old was preparing to close his restaurant about midnight Saturday night when he was shot. Police say a masked gunman wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and black jeans approached Demissie and shot him multiple times. Investigators have called it a targeted killing but are still searching for a motive as well as the gunman.

    In Nashville, Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed In Targeted Shooting

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    Addis Trash Disaster: Survivors Ask Why

    A funeral service last week for victims of a garbage landslide in Addis Ababa. At least 113 people were killed in the March 11 collapse, according to the government. (Photo: Associated Press)

    The New York Times

    As Trash Avalanche Toll Rises in Ethiopia, Survivors Ask Why

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — At the moment when she lost her home and family, Hanna Tsegaye was spending her Saturday night with a neighborhood friend.

    Around 8 p.m. on March 11, Ms. Hanna, 16, heard a strange sound, like rushing wind, and felt the ground shake beneath her feet. She rushed outside and saw that an enormous pile of garbage at a nearby landfill had collapsed.

    Her home, which had been a couple of hundred yards from the trash heap, was buried. So were her parents and two siblings.

    At least 113 people, according to the latest government estimate, were killed when part of the Repi landfill, in the southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, collapsed. In the days since, grieving survivors have been tormented by a pressing question: Could this tragedy have been prevented?

    “We don’t know how such a thing could happen,” a weeping Ms. Hanna said. “Hopefully, someone can tell us and find a solution for the future. I hope this can be a lesson for the government, and that they remember us.”

    Read more »

    Desperate Choice of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor: Run or Die
    What’s Wrong in Ethiopia? It’s Land, Stupid
    In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

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    Tale of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor

    A garbage dump landslide on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa killed hundreds of people last week. (Photo: AFP)


    Desperate Choice of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor: Run or Die

    Addis Ababa – One minute, Zemed Derib stood negotiating with her precocious siblings who had locked themselves inside their uncle’s home as a prank.

    The next, the playful scene gave way to horror as the hillside of the rubbish dump above them collapsed.

    With terrified screams of neighbours filling the air, Zemed abandoned her doomed sisters and took to her heels, outrunning the torrent of fetid dirt that swallowed homes and killed at least 113 people in Africa’s second most-populous country, Ethiopia.

    “I ran away, but finally, when I turn my face, nothing was there. Everything changed into black,” Zemed said as she sat clutching a portrait of her mother Yeshi Beyene, one of the victims of the disaster at Koshe, the country’s largest rubbish dump situated on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa.

    On Saturday, a week after the tragedy, men in face masks and rubber aprons waited for excavators to move aside the waste to carry out their search for the dead.

    Zemed, wearing all black, is mourning the loss of seven relatives, including her three younger sisters and a baby girl born days earlier who had not yet been named.

    Zemed’s family lived among a community of hundreds who had built homes on the side of Koshe’s main slope and spent their days scavenging for valuable rubbish trucked in from neighbourhoods around this city of about four million people.

    - Accident waiting to happen? -

    The settlement is now buried under a wall of black muck and the landslide left a jagged, crescent-shaped cut in the side of the landfill’s rise.

    Read more »

    What’s Wrong in Ethiopia? It’s Land, Stupid
    In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

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    FBI Debunks Trump’s Fake Claims Against Obama, Confirms Russia-Trump Probe

    The Director of the FBI James B. Comey told the U.S. Congress on Monday that his agency is investigating possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 US election. (Photo: Reuters)

    The Associated Press

    Comey Says FBI probing Trump-Russia links, wiretap claims bogus

    WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating whether Donald Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election, Director James Comey said Monday in an extraordinary public confirmation of a probe the president has refused to acknowledge, dismissed as fake news and blamed on Democrats.

    In a bruising five-hour session, the FBI director also knocked down Trump’s claim that his predecessor had wiretapped his New York skyscraper, an assertion that has distracted White House officials and frustrated fellow Republicans who acknowledge they’ve seen no evidence to support it.

    Read more »

    WATCH: FBI says no evidence to backup Trump’s wiretapping tweets

    (Photo: Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    FBI Director confirms probe of Russian meddling in election, possible links to Trump associates

    FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged on Monday the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.

    Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said the investigation is also exploring whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin, and “whether any crimes were committed.”

    The acknowledgment was an unusual move, given that the FBI’s practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. “But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest,” Comey said, “it may be appropriate to do so.”

    Comey said he had been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the wide-ranging probe’s existence.

    He spoke at the first intelligence committee public hearing on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with National Security Agency head Michael S. Rogers.

    Read more at The Washington Post »

    FBI Sees No Evidence of Trump Wiretap, Director Confirms Inquiry Into Russian Election Meddling (NY Times)
    FBI Says Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found (CNN)

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    US: Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed

    Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot this past weekend as he was preparing to close his business. (Photo: News Channel5)

    News Channel5

    In Nashville, Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed In Targeted Shooting

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Family and friends gathered to mourn the loss of their loved one after he was killed in a targeted shooting inside a business he owned.

    South Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot overnight as he was preparing to close his business.

    Metro Police responded to Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant in the 2500 block of Murfreesboro Pike after midnight, early Sunday morning, where they discovered Demissie who had been shot multiple times.

    First responders transported him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

    “We were really broken,” said Father Mesfin Tesemma, who leads the Ethiopian church where Demissie was an active member. “We didn’t expect this to happen to him. He doesn’t deserve to die like this. He is a very nice person.”

    Tesemma said Demissie was a hard-working businessman who was well-known in the area. Tesemma said he sometimes put in 16 or 17 hours a day at his businesses.

    Demissie had lived in Nashville for more than ten years. He first opened Ibex Mart on Bell Road, selling Ethiopian groceries, including spices, fresh meat, and vegetables.

    According to Tesemma, Ibex Mart was the only Ethiopian grocery store in Nashville, meaning a lot of people knew Demissie and relied on his business.

    In January 2015, Demissie opened a second business, the restaurant and bar, where he was shot and killed early Sunday morning.

    Friends said Demissie had been working hard to sell his bar in hopes of taking time to travel home to Ethiopia to see his parents. His death has left many in the Ethiopian community fearing for their safety.

    “What happened to him means a lot for everybody. So are we safe here?” Tesemma said. “Those are the kinds of questions it raises in the minds of a lot of Ethiopians.”

    Detectives remained on scene until sunrise collecting interviews and evidence.

    The shooter was described as a masked gunman wearing a black long sleeve shirt and black jeans. A witness said the suspect went up to Demissie, shot him multiple times, and fled from the building. The witness added the man had light skin and a thin build, and he stood around 5’7’’ tall.

    Anyone with information on this fatal shooting has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.

    Read more and watch video at News Channel5 »

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    Ethiopia: Time to End Mass Detentions

    President Mulatu Teshome addresses Parliament about the declaration of the state of emergency, in Addis Ababa, October 10, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)


    Ethiopia Lifts Some State of Emergency Restrictions: Time to End Mass Arbitrary Detentions

    Ethiopia announced this week that some of the restrictions around its five-month-old state of emergency have been lifted. The government announced that the command post, charged with enforcing the country’s state of emergency in the wake of unprecedented mass protests against government policies, would no longer be able to arbitrarily arrest people or conduct property searches without warrants. Further, curfews and some restrictions on media reporting will end.

    The government says that it has detained more than 20,000 people in “rehabilitation camps” – one of its long-standing approaches to obstructing protests and expressions of dissent – during the state of emergency. Detaining tens of thousands of people without charge in horrible conditions in order to indoctrinate them on government polices is not only unlawful, but unlikely to deter future protests. Human Rights Watch has interviewed many people who were detained in these camps, and they all say the experience only served to increase their anger and frustration with the government.

    The announcement that arbitrary detentions – long a significant and underreported problem in rural Ethiopia – are no longer permissible under the state of emergency is welcome news. The government hasn’t permitted the United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to investigate allegations despite requests from the UN body in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2015.

    Human Rights Watch and other groups have documented the Ethiopian government’s use of arbitrary detention, especially outside of Addis Ababa, over many years – in police stations, prisons, military camps, and unknown places of detention. There is a lack of due process, mistreatment and torture are common, and most detainees never face trial. A Human Rights Watch report last year detailing the brutal crackdown against protesters in Oromia region highlighted the problem of mass arbitrary detention. Just two of the 46 people we interviewed who had been detained outside of Addis Ababa had been brought to court.

    As part of Ethiopia’s “deep reform” process, it should send a clear message to its security forces that they cannot arrest people for lawfully protesting government policies, for being members of legal opposition parties, or for other peaceful forms of dissent. Now is the time for Ethiopia to give the UN Working Group access, and stop hiding its rights record from scrutiny.

    Ethiopia Lifts Some Restrictions Imposed During State of Emergency (Reuters)
    Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

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    Trump Proposes to End All Arts Funding

    (Image: National Endowment for the Arts website)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    March 16th, 2017

    New York (TADIAS) — It’s unfortunate that the Trump administration’s budget proposal for 2018, submitted for approval to the U.S. Congress this week, eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from the entire US federal spending. The Washington Post points out, however that “many of Trump’s budget proposals are likely to run into stiff resistance from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, whose support is crucial because they must vote to authorize government appropriations.”

    The Post adds: “Trump’s first budget proposal, which he named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” would increase defense spending by $54 billion and then offset that by stripping money from more than 18 other agencies. The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs since the drawdown after World War II.”

    The arts news site, Artnet, likewise notes that Trump’s budget cuts would “have a serious impact on cultural production, and the artists, musicians, writers, and scholars who rely on it.”

    Trump’s budget proposal, which was presented to Capitol Hill on Thursday (March 16th), is part of the White House expenditure goals for next year that seeks large cutback in spending for science, culture, diplomacy, and much more. Budget cuts can also affect the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds national public radio stations.

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    Reuters: Ethiopia Lifts Some Restrictions Imposed During State of Emergency

    Demonstrators during a march in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, October 2016. (Photo: REUTERS)


    ADDIS ABABA — The Ethiopian government has lifted some restrictions imposed during a state of emergency declared last year following deadly protests, state-run media quoted the defence minister as saying on Wednesday.

    Minister Siraj Fegessa ended powers granted to security services to stop and search suspects and to search homes without court authorisation.

    Siraj, who chairs the government’s body overseeing the state of emergency, also revoked a dusk-to-dawn curfew on access to economic installations, some infrastructure and factories for unauthorised people.

    “These measures were lifted because it is our belief that the ordinary security arrangements are sufficient enough to maintain calm,” the state-run Ethiopian News Agency quoted Siraj as saying in a news conference for local journalists.

    Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in October following months of deadly protests that killed around 500 people. Anger over a development scheme for the capital sparked broader anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses.

    Read more »

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    Father Imprisoned for Genital Cutting Is Deported to Ethiopia

    Khalid Adem in 2006. (Photo: GWINNETT DAILY POST via The Associated Press)

    The New York Times

    A man who in 2006 became the first person in the United States to be convicted of female genital cutting was deported on Monday to his home country, Ethiopia, after serving 10 years in prison, federal authorities said.

    The man, Khalid Adem, 41, used scissors to remove the clitoris of his 2-year-old daughter in his family’s Atlanta-area apartment in 2001, prosecutors in Gwinnett County, Ga., said. He was convicted of aggravated battery and cruelty to children.

    The case led to a state law prohibiting the practice, which was already prohibited by a federal law and is a common social ritual in parts of the world but is broadly condemned.

    “A young girl’s life has been forever scarred by this horrible crime,” Sean W. Gallagher, a field office director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement on Tuesday.

    “The elimination of female genital mutilation/cutting has broad implications for the health and human rights of women and girls, as well as societies at large.”

    The World Health Organization has estimated that more than 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The procedure, which involves the removal of parts of the genitalia, is typically performed on girls before they turn 15 and leads to a wide range of lifelong health consequences, including chronic infection, childbirth complications, psychological trauma and pain during urination, menstruation and intercourse.

    The practice is far from unheard-of in the United States. Though it is illegal under federal law, about half a million women have undergone the procedure or are likely to be subjected to it, according to a 2012 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia: Journalist Anania Sorri Freed

    Journalist Anania Sorri. (Image: Fana TV via Youtube)


    March 13, 2017

    New York — Authorities responsible for overseeing implementation of Ethiopian’s state of emergency today released Ethiopian commentator Anania Sorri.

    Anania told CPJ he was released unconditionally today, four months after his November 17, 2016, detention without charge under a state of emergency the government declared the month prior. He told CPJ that he planned to continue writing. Anania posts critical commentary on a public Facebook page followed by some 11,000 people.

    “Today’s release of Anania Sorri is welcome news,” CPJ Africa Coordinator Angela Quintal said. “We urge Ethiopian authorities to free all other journalists and bloggers still imprisoned simply for doing their jobs.”

    After Seyoum Teshome and Befekadu Hailu, Anania was the third Ethiopian journalist to be released since December 1, 2016, when CPJ last conducted its annual census of journalists jailed around the world.

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    NPR’s East Africa correspondent, tells the story of a brave Ethiopian reporter, Anania Sorri,
    who asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry one very serious question that was seriously misunderstood.

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    In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

    Police officers secured the perimeter around a garbage dump landslide on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday as excavators helped the rescue efforts. (Photo: Elias Meseret/AP)

    Associated Press


    46 killed, dozens missing in Ethiopia garbage dump landslide

    ADDIS ABABA — A mountain of trash gave way in a massive garbage dump on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, killing at least 46 people and leaving several dozen missing, residents said, as officials vowed to relocate those who called the landfill home.

    Addis Ababa city spokeswoman Dagmawit Moges said most of the 46 dead were women and children, and more bodies were expected to be found in the coming hours.

    It was not immediately clear what caused Saturday night’s collapse at the Koshe Garbage Landfill, which buried several makeshift homes and concrete buildings. The landfill has been a dumping ground for the capital’s garbage for more than 50 years.

    About 150 people were there when the landslide occurred, resident Assefa Teklemahimanot told The Associated Press. Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma said 37 people had been rescued and were receiving medical treatment. Dagmawit said two had serious injuries.

    Many people at the landfill had been scavenging items to make a living, but others live there because renting homes, largely built of mud and sticks, is relatively inexpensive.

    An AP reporter saw four bodies taken away by ambulances after being pulled from the debris. Elderly women cried, and others stood anxiously waiting for news of loved ones. Six excavators dug through the ruins.

    “My house was right inside there,” said a shaken Tebeju Asres, pointing to where one of the excavators was digging in deep, black mud. “My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don’t know the fate of all of them.”

    The resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months likely caused the landslide, Assefa said. The dumping had stopped in recent years, but it resumed after farmers in a nearby restive region where a new garbage landfill complex was being built blocked dumping in their area.

    Smaller collapses have occurred at Koshe — or “dirty” in the local Amharic language — in the past two years but only two or three people were killed, Assefa said.

    “In the long run, we will conduct a resettling program to relocate people who live in and around the landfill,” the Addis Ababa mayor said.

    Around 500 waste-pickers are believed to work at the landfill every day, sorting through the debris from the capital’s estimated 4 million residents. City officials say close to 300,000 tons of waste are collected each year from the capital, most of it dumped at the landfill.

    Since 2010, city officials have warned that the landfill was running out of room and was being closed in by nearby housing and schools.

    City officials in recent years have been trying to turn the garbage into a source of clean energy with a $120 million investment. The Koshe waste-to-energy facility, which has been under construction since 2013, is expected to generate 50 megawatts of electricity upon completion.

    Ethiopia, which has one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, is under a state of emergency imposed in October after several months of sometimes deadly protests demanding wider political freedoms.

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    Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

    On Thursday March 9, 2017, in front of a large crowd of Ethiopians, US congressman Chris Smith convened a hearing on the current situation in Ethiopia entitled 'Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia.' (AP file photo)

    US House Foreign Affairs Committee

    Excerpts from Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04)

    Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations

    March 9, 2017

    As we begin today’s hearing to examine the troubling conditions for democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, let us stipulate that this East Africa government is a prime U.S. ally on the continent. Ethiopia is the primary troop contributor to peacekeeping operations such as UNISFA along the Sudan-South Sudan border, UNMISS in South Sudan and AMISOM in Somalia. Ethiopia joined the UN Security Council in January and is one of three African members on the Council, along with Senegal and Egypt.

    During a series of private negotiations in the last months of the previous Administration, Ethiopian officials acknowledged that the tense situation in their country is at least partly their government’s fault. There have been discussions with opposition parties and consideration of changing the electoral system to use proportional representation, which could increase the chances of opposition parties winning Parliamentary and local races. Late last year, the government released an estimated 10,000 prisoners despite maintaining a state of emergency.

    However, there are at least 10,000 more people held in jail who are considered political prisoners, and the government continues to arrest and imprison critics of its actions. In January, two journalists from the faith-based station Radio Bilal, Khalid Mohamed and Darsema Sori, were sentenced to 5 and 4 year prison terms respectively for inciting extremist ideology and planning to overthrow the government through their coverage of Muslim protests about government interference in religious affairs. The journalists were arrested in February 2015 and convicted in December under the 2009 anti-terrorism law alongside 18 other defendants.

    In late February, Ethiopian prosecutors charged Dr. Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (a registered opposition party) with rendering support to terrorism and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order.” Merera had been arrested upon his return to Ethiopia after testifying in November at a European parliament hearing about the crisis in his country, Dr. Merera had testified alongside exiled opposition leader Prof. Berhanu Nega (sentenced to death on terrorism charges in 2009) and Olympic medal winner Feyisa Lilesa. Other senior OFC leaders, including OFC deputy chairman Bekele Gerba, have been imprisoned on terrorism charges for more than a year. Both are viewed by many as moderate voices among Ethiopia’s opposition.

    According to the State Department’s newly released Human Rights Report on Ethiopia, security forces killed “hundreds” in the context of using excessive force against protestors in 2016. “At year’s end more than 10,000 persons were believed still to be detained,” according to the report. Many have not been provided due process. The government has denied the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights access to the Oromia and Amhara regions.

    The lack of due process in Ethiopian courts also affects foreigners. Israeli businessman Menasche Levy has been in jail for nearly a year and a half on financial crimes charges. The government officials accused of being involved with Levy in illegal activities have had their charges dropped and have been released from jail. Yet Levy’s next court proceeding won’t be for several more months. We cannot determine his guilt or innocence of the charges, but it is clear that he has been denied a trial in a reasonable time frame and has been beaten in jail by other prisoners and denied proper medical care. These circumstances unfortunately apply to all-too-many people who come in contact with the Ethiopian court system.

    My staff and I have discussed with the Government of Ethiopia the possibility of working cooperatively to find ways to end the repression without creating a chaotic transition. Officials in Addis and Ambassador to the U.S. Girma Birru have been very positive in their response. The previous Administration found the Ethiopian government similarly willing to be cooperative.

    Unfortunately, there is a significant variance in how that government sees its actions and how the rest of the world sees them. That is why I and several of my colleagues have introduced House Resolution 128 – to present as true a picture of the situation in Ethiopia as possible. It is also why we have convened today’s hearing.

    In our first panel, we have witnesses who will provide an overview of the current state of democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. They will present the facts as the rest of the world sees them. Our second panel consists of four Ethiopians representing various ethnic groups and organizations created to help the Ethiopian people. We have no opposition parties appearing before us today, despite the tendency of the government and its supporters to see anyone who disagrees with them and their actions as supporting terrorists seeking to overthrow the government.

    It is my belief that, until the Government of Ethiopia can squarely face the consequences of its actions, there will not be the genuine reform it has promised. Forexample, government officials say we are mistaken to state that the ruling coalition holds 100 percent of the legislative seats. We have said the coalition holds all the seats, whether in the name of the coalition itself or as affiliate parties. If the government cannot be honest with us or itself in such an obvious matter, it is unlikely that the conditions for reform can exist.

    The government does appear to realize its precarious position. We have discussed the frustrations it creates by not fully allowing its citizens to exercise their rights of speech, assembly and association. In a June 20, 2013, hearing of this subcommittee, Berhanu Nega said the government has created a situation in which there is no legitimate means of redress of grievances. Although the government jailed him after he won the 2005 race to become Mayor of Addis Ababa, he was not known to have begun his campaign of armed resistance until after that time.

    The recent increased protests in Oromo and Amhara regions have alarmed the government, but if it can’t find a way to relent in its refusal to allow genuine competition for political power and to respond to the cries of its people for the services they deserve, there will be more Berhanu Negas.

    But this is preventable. Rather than spend hundreds of thousands on consultants to try to mislead Members of Congress on the facts and inciting e-mail form letter campaigns by supporters, the Government of Ethiopia can acknowledge their challenges and work with the U.S. government and others in the international community to seek reasonable solutions. We are prepared to help once they are ready to face the ugly truth of what has happened and what continues to happen in Ethiopia today.

    Chairman Smith on the hearing: “Ethiopia has long been an important ally, providing effective peacekeepers and collaborating in the War on Terror. However, increasingly repressive policies have diminished political space and threaten to radicalize not only the political opposition but also civil society by frustrating their ability to exercise their rights under law. This hearing will examine the current situation in Ethiopia with an eye toward developing policies to help this nation to reverse an increasingly tense situation in the troubled Horn of Africa.”

    Panel I
    Terrence Lyons, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
    George Mason University
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Mr. Felix Horne
    Senior Researcher
    Horn of Africa
    Human Rights Watch
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Panel II
    Ms. Seenaa Jimjimo
    Coalition of Oromo Advocates for Human Rights and Democracy
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Mr. Tewodrose Tirfe
    Amhara Association of America
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Mr. Guya Abaguya Deki
    Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Mr. Yoseph Tafari
    Ethiopian Drought Relief Aid of Colorado
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

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