A top diplomat of the United States says Washington “definitely wants to be partners in Ethiopia’s evolution” through technical assistance, financial reforms and investment. Tibor Nagy, who was speaking on the side-lines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly said political and economic reforms in countries like Ethiopia and Angola were “prime examples” of how visionary leaders could transform countries and attract investor interest. Nagy said, however, recent protests in Ethiopia’s Somali region and on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa illustrated the delicate nature of political change in Africa’s second most populous country.
After the recent ethnic clashes in the city of Burayu on the outskirts of Addis Abeba, Ethiopian authorities have arrested more than 1,200 people, three times more than earlier estimates. The ethnic violence that raged between 12 – 17 September 2018 has been a blow to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reformist efforts at reconciliation. The unrest escalated on the day of a rally marking the return to Ethiopia of leaders of the exiled Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which had waged a four-decade insurgency for self-determination for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. Ethiopia’s Oromo, who make up about a third of the population, have long complained of being marginalized during decades of authoritarian rule by governments led by politicians from other smaller ethnic groups. With mass arrests and unlawful killings, Abi Ahmed continues the line of previous administrations who have never been shy of using force, arbitrary detentions, and mass arrests. Amnesty International has cautioned Ethiopia not to return to a police state. The rights group argues that people must not be detained without charge and encourages the government to respect and uphold human rights. During later protests in Addis Ababa, at least 28 people were killed. Most deaths arose from clashes between youth from Addis Ababa and those from Oromia. However, at least 5 people were shot dead by security forces.
On a list of the top 10 countries affected by instability leading to mass displacements, six African countries made the ranking with a combined displacement figure of over 3.5 million. The period under consideration is the first half of 2018. Ethiopia’s internally displaced figure of 1.4 million put it top of the ranking, 200,000 more than that of Syria, a country in open war. Democratic Republic of Congo came in third with 946,000 displaced. Other countries in the top ten were Central African Republic in sixth spot with 232,000, Somalia (5th with 341,000) and South Sudan (7th with 215,000). The list once again shows the volatility of the East Africa region.
Over the weekend, it was announced that the notorious ‘Jail Ogaden’ is to be closed officially. The detention center officially known as Jigjiga Central Prison located in the capital of the Somali region, Jigjiga, was used by authorities to torture and brutalize inmates. The jail had been a tool used by the former regional leader, Abdi Illey, to control and repress those that opposed his rule. Human Rights Watch released a report in July, uncovering the mass atrocities carried out in the detention center and called the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to investigate the mass human rights abuses of inmates carried out in the mentioned facility. The closure of Jail Ogaden has been received well by Ethiopians in the region who want the offenders to be held accountable.
This week, orthodox Ethiopians celebrated the Meskel festival which is the founding of the true cross of Jesus Christ was crucified. The celebrations are marked by burning a large bonfire as adherents circle it while dressed in long white robes, head gears and sing religious songs. The bonfire and procession commemorate Queen Eleni who is belived to have found the true cross guided by divine dream in which she was told to light a bonfire and follow the smoke to where the cross of Jesus Christ was buried.
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy has told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that sustaining the country’s rapid and stable economic growth was his utmost priority. Abiy Ahmed made the remarks on Monday when he met a delegation from the global finance outfit in the capital Addis Ababa. The delegation arrived for the annual ‘Article IV Consultations.’ Abiy’s Chief of Staff said that the IMF team presented their findings on Ethiopia’s economic and financial developments after which Abiy Ahmed stressed his main economic priority of sustaining economic gains. Since April 2018, Abiy’s fast-paced reforms have been felt not only in the diplomatic and political circles but also very much in the economic arena. He has stated as part of his economic reform plans that private investments are going to be allowed into strongly state-controlled sectors.
The tripartite committee consisting of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt on Tuesday kicked off a new round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Addis Ababa. The meeting would discuss the outcome of the joint technical team among the three countries besides the joint studies agreed under the tripartite experts’ committee. Egypt fears that its water share would be drawn down by the filling of the GERD which is expected to hold 74 billion cubic metres of water and generate electrical power of up to 6,000 megawatts. In 2015, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia signed a declaration of principles on the dam project that tacitly approves the dam construction but calls for technical studies aimed at safeguarding the water quotas of the three riparian states.
The World Bank has made two significant moves in the Horn of Africa in the space of one month, first in Ethiopia and now in neighbouring Somalia. In Ethiopia, the global finance lender after 13 years agreed to finally provide direct budgetary support to one of the continent’s fastest growing economies. Thanks to reforms championed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Addis Ababa had secured USD 1 billion in direct budget support. The bank suspended the support after botched polls back in 2005. The funds were very much needed for a country that is suffering acute forex shortages.
Ethiopia’s economy is set to grow at 8.5 per cent in the July 2018 – June 2019 period, from 7.5 percent in the previous fiscal year, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday. In its first assessment since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April, the IMF said Ethiopia was benefiting from easing uncertainty and improved domestic and foreign investment.