By Degeufe Hailu

(Green Left) — For the past 26 years, Ethiopia has been ruled by an authoritarian government. The party in government is the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — a very criminal group.

The TPLF represents the interests of just one of the tribes in Ethiopia, the Tigrayan people. The control the TPLF has over Ethiopia is therefore an undemocratic one, because the Tigrayan people only one tribe out of many that has historically lived in Ethiopia. All of Ethiopia’s tribes, who have lived there for centuries, deserve ownership and representation within Ethiopia.

The problem now, and for the past 30 years, has been that the TPLF have been the dictators of Ethiopia, and have been brutally putting down the rest of the tribes in the country through terrible violent and underhanded means.

One of the TPLF’s favourite methods of control of the population is fostering inter-religious conflict within the country. This is a classic divide and rule tactic. We know this strategy well from the time of colonialism.

The TPLF likes to ferment conflict between Christians and Muslims. This helps prevent the population from uniting against their tyranny and overthrowing its authoritarian government.

The conflict the TPLF likes to foster does not stop with religious identity. It also extends to ethnic identity.

There are many tribes within Ethiopia, and they all have a beautiful history. They all deserve representation. But the TPLF pits them all against each other. The conflict that the TPLF drives was unprecedented before the rule of this dictatorial party.

An example of the inter-tribal conflict is how the regime exiled the Orthodox Church synod from the country. It removed all the legitimate representatives of the Orthodox Church from their positions, and replaced them with people from the Tigrayan people. This forced former church leaders into exile and they currently reside in the United States.

The people that the TPLF unjustly installed as leaders of the Orthodox Church are not recognised as the legitimate leaders of this community — the Ethiopian people still recognise the former leaders of the church.

Another concrete example of TPLF crimes is the actions of federal affairs minister Abay Tsaheye.

The TPLF has been stealing the land of other tribes, such as the Gambela people. To carry this out, the TPLF sends in its own army — the Agaze army — into other people’s lands and they commit genocide against these tribes. Tsaheye has been accused of ordering these killings.

The TPLF take land to gain control of precious minerals, fertile arable land, and significant oil reserves.

The strategy of the TPLF is clear. They rule the country with an iron fist and steal resources from the lands of other tribes.

The mastermind of the TPLF is communications minister Bereket Simon. He exercises control over Ethiopia’s media, running spin campaigns to distort public discussion about what is going on in the country.

Simon twists the stories that people try to tell about the atrocities the TPLF and Agaze army commit, preventing people from getting a clear picture about the genocidal acts of the illegitimate government.

Another criminal TPLF leader is Tedros Adhanom. A former health and foreign affairs minister, he was appointed last year as World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general.

Adhanom was guilty of covering up three cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia in 2006, 2009 and 2011. United Nations officials said that if Adhanom had correctly reported the mass outbreaks of illness such as cholera, more vaccines and medical help could have been sent to the country to prevent further spread of injury and death.

Instead, Adhanom chose to report the mass outbreaks of illness as “acute watery diarrhoea”, which is a significantly less severe illness. So he is responsible for knowingly killing people. It is a crime that this man has been appointed to the well regarded and respected position of heading the WHO.

There is a silver lining to this dark cloud of TPLF rule. The people of Ethiopia do not listen to the media spin of the ruling party, and are waking up to the illegitimacy of its rule. They are very swiftly realising that the ruling strategy of the TPLF is the same as that of Western colonial governments — divide and conquer.

Millions of Ethiopian people are rising up, and are repeating the slogan: “Unity, Freedom and Democracy”. They are proudly and courageously asserting: “The people, united, will never be defeated!”
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The Ethiopian EPRDF parliament has [on April 2] approved Abiy Ahmed to become the new prime minister of Ethiopian autocratic regime. However, the Somali people and even the Ethiopian peoples are skeptical of the current political moves by EPRDF to bring any meaningful change due to the culture and negative history of this party that is characterized by deceit, the hegemony of all political power and use of violence and grave violations of human rights against its opponents. On many occasions, EPRDF has consistently misinformed both the people and the international community in order to divert attention from its grave transgressions and undemocratic rule, especially against the Somali people in Ogaden.

Furthermore, the Somali people, who were marginalized and brutally suppressed for almost a century since Ethiopia occupied the Ogaden, became a new victim for EPRDF which further committed acts tantamount to a genocide that surpassed the inhumane acts of all previous regimes and destroyed the dignity and lively-hood of the Somali people. Hundreds of thousands were forcefully displaced internally and externally, thousands are languishing in temporary detention centers all over the Ogaden, thousands were summarily executed; close to one-third of Ogaden women were raped and humiliated, using rape as a weapon of war. Many were disabled or died through extensive tortures. Similarly, this Alliance committed atrocities and denied all fundamental democratic rights to all peoples in Ethiopia, although not as grave as what happened in Ogaden.

In addition , although all Ethiopian regimes including EPRDF claimed that Ogaden is part of Ethiopia , Somalis were never allowed into the inner circle of top Ethiopian leadership had no say or input in the election of this new Prime minster or all the previous leadership hierarchy in Ethiopia, despite being the third largest nation and having the second largest territory which is almost one-third of Ethiopia or nominal regional Somali state.

Despite all that, ONLF believes in resolving all conflicts through peaceful means and has on many occasions engaged with the regime in a negotiation process both bilaterally and with the participation of third parties but to no avail. Therefore, unless there is a genuine fundamental change in Ethiopia that addresses the age-old issue of the Somali people, in addition to the general lack of democracy in Ethiopia, a change at the helm of an autocratic regime will not bring any meaningful change to the Somali victims who suffered and are still suffering under EPRDF rule nor to the multitudes in Ethiopia whose human and democratic rights had been violated. Unless the culture of violence and to address political grievances in Ethiopia is stopped, Ethiopia will always be the land of the living dead.

Therefore, The Somali people in Ogaden will judge Abiy Ahmed by his actions and not by his polished rhetoric.

Issued by Ogaden National Liberation Front
April 3, 2018

by Engidu Woldie

The U.S. House of Representative will hold a vote on Tuesday on House Resolution 128, a.k.a. H. Res. 128, a resolution supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia.

Congressman Mike Coffman, who represent Colorado’s 6th district and who works closely with the Ethiopian community on the resolution broke the news on his twitter today saying the resolution will be on the House floor this coming Tuesday.

“I’m happy to announce the #Hres128 will be on the Floor of the House of Representatives this coming Tuesday,” tweeted the Congressman.

House majority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) said in early February that the Ethiopian regime was given an ultimatum to announce by February 28, 2018 that it would allow rapporteurs appointed by the United Nations to independently investigate the state of human rights in Ethiopia.

According to the majority leader, if the regime fails to do so, House Resolution 128, a resolution supporting human rights in Ethiopia, will be put to the floor of the House for vote.

“There is no question this resolution has had and continues to have an impact. We are committed to the shared goal that the human rights of every Ethiopian should be respected, honored, and protested,” McCarthy said in a communication with Ethiopian activist groups in early February.

The resolution, among others, also calls for sanctions against Ethiopian officials responsible for committing gross human rights violations as provided for in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

H. Res. 128 was introduced in the House in February 2017 in response to a widespread brutal and deadly repression of the Ethiopian regime against protesters demanding political and economic freedom.

Hundreds were killed by the TPLF Agazi soldiers and tens of thousands detained and still over one million people have been displaced in the last three years of protest that simply demands the end to misrule by a Tigrayan elite and the formation of a popular government.

A parliament with 100% of seats held by the ruling EPRDF elected a new Prime Minister on Monday. Abiy Ahmed has assume his position but Ethiopians wonder if he could bring any change in a regime where political, economic and military power is under the control of a minority Tigrayan clique in power since 1991.

by Engidu Woldie

Internet service has returned to most of Ethiopia that has been in the dark since last February. Mobile data has been shut down in the entire country with the exception of the capital Addis Ababa since the reimposition of a state of emergency on February 16, 2018.

Ethiopia has continued to block critical media based abroad, like the Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio (ESAT) and the Oromo Media Network (OMN) based in the United States. With the absence of an independent media in a country, which descended into a police state after serious protests erupted two years ago, ESAT and OMN were the only means of news for most of Ethiopia’s information deprived population. The two media are also outlawed by the regime that criminalized watching the channels.

The shutdown mainly targeted the Oromo and Amhara regions where years of protests for political and economic rights had forced the regime to declare a martial law twice to crush growing dissent.

One of the world’s worst enemies of the press, a description used by press freedom watch dogs such as CPJ, the country is also paying a price for blocking the Internet with some experts estimating that the country loses upto 1 million dollars a day for shutting down the information highway.

According to Internet Live Stats, there are only 4.2 million Internet users in the country of over 100 million people.

One of the least connected countries in the world, Ethiopia also has one of the lowest mobile phone penetration in the world. Telecommunications, which has been stifled with exorbitant rates, remains the monopoly of the state.


The foreign ministers of Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia have failed to reach an agreement in the lingering dispute over Ethiopia’s massive dam on the Blue Nile, ministers said on Friday.

Egypt is concerned that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will drastically impact its own share of water from the Nile, on which the entire population relies. Ethiopia, like Egypt, has said that the dam issue is a “matter of life or death.”

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said on Friday that 15 hours of talks in Khartoum have ended with no deal. The three countries’ intelligence chiefs and irrigation ministers also attended the talks.

Ghandour said that, nevertheless, “the meetings were constructive and important,” but that the three sides failed to “end up with satisfying answers.”

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri confirmed the remarks in a report published by the daily al-Shorouk, adding that there will be another round of talks within 30 days.

Egypt fears Ethiopia’s $4.8 billion dam could reduce its Nile water share. Ethiopia has said it needs the dam for its development and is seeking to assure Cairo that it will not significantly harm it. The sticking point appears to be how quickly the reservoir behind the dam will be filled and if that will impact Egypt’s water share.

The Renaissance Dam is now 63 percent finished and Ethiopia hopes to become a key energy hub in Africa upon its completion.

Egypt has traditionally received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under agreements seen by other Nile basin nations as unfair. Former Egyptian presidents have warned that any attempt to build dams along the Nile will be met with military action.

Sudan appears to be taking Ethiopia’s side in the dam negotiations and has revived a longstanding border dispute with Egypt.

By Danny O'Brien

(EFF) — On March 25, bloggers, journalists and activists gathered at a private party in Addis Ababa—the capital of Ethiopia—to celebrate the new freedom of their colleagues. Imprisoned Ethiopian writers and reporters had been released in February under a broad amnesty: some attended the private event, including Eskinder Nega, a blogger and publisher whose detention EFF has been tracking in our Offline series.

But the celebration was interrupted, with the event raided by the authorities. Eskinder, together with Zone 9 bloggers Mahlet Fantahun and Fekadu Mehatemework, online writers Zelalem Workagegnhu and Befiqadu Hailu, and six others were seized and detained without charge.

The eleven have now finally been released, after 12 days of custody. It remains a disturbing example of just how far Ethiopian police are willing to go to intimidate critical voices even in a time of supposed tolerance.

During their detention, the prisoners could be seen through narrow windows in Addis Ababa’s Gotera police station, held in tiny stalls crowded with other detainees, in conditions Eskinder described as “inhuman”.

…Better to call it jam-packed than imprisoned. About 200 of us are packed in a 5 by 8 meter room divided in three sections. Unable to sit or lay down comfortably, and with limited access to a toilet. Not a single human being deserves this regardless of the crime, let alone us who were captured unjustly. The global community should be aware of such case and use every possible means to bring an end to our suffering immediately.

After a brief Spring of prisoner releases and officially-sanctioned tolerance of anti-government protests and criticism, Ethiopia’s autocratic regime appears to be returning to its old ways. A new state of emergency was declared shortly after the resignation of the country’s Prime Minister in mid-February. While the government tells the world that it is continuing its policy of re-engagement with its critics, the state of emergency grants unchecked powers to quash dissent, including a wide prohibition on public meetings.

Reporters say that the bloggers were questioned at the party about the display of a traditional Ethiopian flag. The Addis Standard quoted an unnamed politician who attended the event as saying “This has nothing to with the flag, but everything to do with the idea of these individuals… coming together.”

The authorities cannot continue their hair-trigger surveillance and harassment of those documenting its chaotic present online. The country’s stability depends on reasonable treatment of its online voices.

Credit: Dietmar.

Though it may come with risks, it would be in the government’s own interests to encourage open dialogue and constructive criticism.

By William Davison

The swearing-in this week of Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed and his promising inaugural speech suggests Ethiopia has its best chance yet to address a political crisis that has been building for decades.

This comes not a moment too soon. Youthful protesters, particularly in Oromiya, are emboldened and angry. Since 2015, security forces have killed more than 1,000 people as the government has shown both frailty and ruthlessness in the face of persistent demonstrations. Without altering its current trajectory, the country would risk a worsening conflict.

Promisingly, the promotion of Abiy looks set to ease unrest and provide space for a rethink. The young leader, still in his early 40s, is the head of the Oromo party in the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). This grouping, in power since 1991, has made major achievements in nation-building and socioeconomic development. It has done this partly through the Marxist-Leninist concept of “revolutionary democracy“. This has entailed monopolising power across all tiers of government, politicising the civil service, and maintaining a weak judiciary and legislature. It has also involved prioritising material improvements over civil rights, leading to restrictions on the opposition, civil society, and media.

The EPRDF has recorded some impressive achievements in office, but it has also witnessed growing rifts between its four regional parties and a rising crisis of legitimacy. With this now reaching a head, it needs to democratise as promised.

The former rebel movement must shed some of its attachment to secrecy, control, and coercion, and convert itself into an actor in a multi-party system. The EPRDF can maintain its commitments to collective action, minority rights, and state-led development. But it needs to recognise that its vision to transform Ethiopia will not be realised if it continues to exercise complete control and therefore provoke intensifying resistance.

This can be done by borrowing from the liberal democratic playbook without straying into neoliberal territory that is anathema to the EPRDF.

The key ingredient for a new Ethiopia

The key initial ingredient will be encouraging greater freedom of expression within government and throughout society. While many point to the inflammatory dangers of social media in a polarised environment, the need for greater openness trumps such concerns.

This is because more information, reporting, and dialogue are crucial to confronting Ethiopia’s many challenges. Increased scrutiny of the government, for example, would help the EPRDF in its mission of fighting corruption. Tolerance of dissent would act as a pressure valve for opposition sentiments. More openness would encourage expert discussion of Ethiopia’s complex federation and better reporting will illuminate localised grievances. Constructive inquiry could also help detoxify sensitive issues such as the perception of Tigrayan privilege at the expense of more populous nationalities like the Amhara and Oromo.

If the EPRDF wants to signal its seriousness in pursuing change, it could reassure dissidents that they can publicise competing viewpoints without punishment. A line must be drawn under draconian actions that inculcate fear, such as the recent rearrests of critical journalists or the prosecution of the Zone 9 bloggers.

The party-affiliated media could be empowered to investigate issues rather than perform a government public relations service. There is already a promising example of this new possibility in Oromiya, where the regional broadcaster has reported on corrupt lands deals. Newly-empowered national journalists could start by looking into the state-owned Sugar Corporation contracts that are suspected to have been mismanaged by a military enterprise. Only through accountability for those perceived as untouchable can the EPRDF begin cleaning out its stables.

Elements of EPRDF doctrine see private media as the potential tool of capitalist elites. However, the weakness of Ethiopia’s press is a hindrance to progress. The vacuum of reliable information makes space for conspiracy theories to dominate, as they have during the discontent.

The absence of a strong media means a disillusioned public is fed competing narratives by state organs and partisan online activists. Meanwhile, events such as the state repression of Qimant activists demanding greater autonomy or the Konso people’s protests over their loss of self-rule in the south go virtually unreported. Before such fraught challenges can be addressed, facts need to be established.

The mechanics for strengthening the press are a matter for debate, but there is a case to be made for measures such as tax breaks for new outlets. Existing responsible-but-critical media in Addis Ababa provide useful precedents for future development. Western donors who spend more than $3 billion annually can surely find ways to help too without being accused of fomenting a “colour revolution” or contravening former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s stipulation that democratisation has to be homegrown. One route could be backing a stalled initiative for an independent press regulator to monitor abuses, such as the anti-Tigrayan hate speech published in 2005.

Levelling the playing field

Some experienced observers have called for a snap election to address Ethiopia’s crisis, but a level playing field does not yet exist. There have been discussions with opposition parties on altering the first-past-the-post system and adjusting repressive legislation, but significant actors did not participate, and the forums were held without EPRDF commitment to systemic change.

Implementing a long-standing call for electoral board autonomy is a prerequisite for meaningful elections, and there is a clear case for refining some catchall provisions of the terrorism law. While such initiatives are hashed out, the EPRDF could give more interviews and publicise more of its deliberations. It is as vital that freedom of expression is enhanced within government as well as wider society.

The backbone of EPRDF rule is an ethnonational federation that accommodated different entities during a fragile transition in the early 1990s. This arrangement, which allows for the secession of groups with shared traits, was made with the historic oppression of minorities by mainly Amharic-speaking highlanders in mind. However, some opponents allege the system was devised by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to divide and rule more populous groups. While that’s a distortion, there are justified concerns that it has led to communities growing apart rather than together, as evidenced by extreme violence between Oromo and Somali factions last year.

Nonetheless, the arrangement suits many groups, including the Oromo, and will remain while the EPRDF is in power. While differences over ethnic federalism and identity politics represent a deep schism, dialogue might soften those fundamental disagreements that poison the national discourse.

On the ground, efforts to bolster national citizenship rights might improve cohesion, while a constitutional court has been mooted to better handle identity claims. A more open government, a less politicised bureaucracy and autonomous institutions would make it harder for elites to mobilise along ethnic lines to claim a greater share of the pot. At the same time, devolving mechanisms such as tax-revenue generation could make regional governments more accountable to their citizens.

In general, a stronger judiciary and more democratic scrutiny would help counter excessive and arbitrary government action and improve the federation’s functioning. In time, language issues, the secession clause, and the system’s ethnolinguistic underpinning might also be discussed. Oromiya has implemented an important measure by removing ethnicity from identity cards, a move that could be replicated. EPRDF tolerance of flags from previous eras would be another worthwhile gesture.

Generally, progress should be possible if critics forward constructive suggestions that deliver autonomy while protecting against further outbreaks of ethnic rivalry.

Decentralising power

Deeper federalism could challenge certain elements of Ethiopia’s Developmental State model, which has relied on centralised policy control and often prioritises national development schemes over local concerns. However, there are in fact few opponents to EPRDF’s approach of protecting strategic industries and investing heavily in infrastructure, often using Chinese loans. If decision-making was decentralised, it is likely that regions would adopt, and increasingly adapt, national strategies. They do this already in many policy areas, notably in Oromiya recently.

As with many problems, calls for the liberalisation of closed economic sectors or privatisation of state-owned enterprises are often treated as zero-sum calculations. In reality, partial steps can be taken without selling out to global capitalism. For example, a telecoms monopoly has extended mobile-data networks nationwide, which is impressive, but given that the service is inadequate and expensive, a degree of rethinking is needed.

Efforts to attract foreign investment into energy have been lacklustre, while the state-controlled fuel supply results in frequent shortages. The financial model protects the economy and crucially allows state banks to provide cheap loans for public enterprises to construct infrastructure. But more needs to be done to promote lending to the private sector. The growth of private businesses will help alleviate mass unemployment and boost a low tax take.

So far, the EPRDF has treated the corporate sector either as a source of cronies or rent-seeking corruption. A relaxation of control will mean a more conducive environment for business to operate and lobby, which could lead to more balanced growth.

At times, the problem has not been state control but failures of implementation when liberalising. This was the case with the bungled introduction of large-scale commercial agriculture or an inadequately administered construction boom. Similar errors can be prevented by more inclusive policy-making and the encouragement of constructive feedback, rather than maintaining the impression that officials who speak out will be branded “anti-development”. To improve outcomes, thorough probes of projects and strategies will reveal which are working and which need work – this again means giving the media and civil society expanded freedoms.

Ethiopia’s economic system is also tied up with its ethnic politics. While power is already shifting from the TPLF, it is crucial this is managed sensitively. Tigrayan leaders see themselves as unjustly blamed for the current ills and note that they spearheaded the defeat of a military junta, protected minority rights, and played a key role in Ethiopia’s celebrated development model. Although imbalances exist, especially in the security apparatus, claims over the dominance of TPLF-affiliated parastatals can be exaggerated, further toxifying the debate. Independent investigation of those companies would probably support the TPLF’s case. In the meantime, it’s beholden on critics to base reporting on evidence and not prejudice.

Opening up for the opposition

If the EPRDF and Abiy build on their pledges, an assertive but responsible response from the opposition will hopefully be forthcoming. To build trust, while they turn their focus to mobilising at the grassroots, opponents should eschew violence, acknowledge government achievements, and denounce the targeting of Tigrayans or any other groups.

Western actors have few cards to play given how the Ethiopian government has diversified its international support and cast itself as irreplaceable. However, if the EPRDF introduces more meritocracy into civil service appointments, maybe donor funds can be utilised to attract more of the brightest Ethiopians into key positions. This has already been tested at institutions like the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange and Agricultural Transformation Agency.

More radically, foreign diplomats should end their virtual silence on political issues. Rather than direct, the West rightly respects and supports government strategies, but it is wrong to not express justified disapproval. To be true partners, donors could show the way in publicly engaging in constructive criticism.

Ethiopia’s crisis is arguably centuries in the making and there’s little chance of it being resolved quickly. However, recent events offer promise. If all sides take conciliatory steps to discover common ground then dangerous grudges may be defused through dialogue.

The first step in this must be the EPRDF encouraging those conversations by increasing the opportunities for freedom of expression. With more groups from within the EPRDF pushing for enhanced democracy than before, and the clamour from outside growing ever louder, perhaps the best hope is that forthcoming struggles are conducted more democratically than they generally have been in Ethiopia’s long history.

Abiy Ahmed, newly elected Prime Minister of Ethiopia, addresses the house of Parliament in Addis Ababa, after the swearing in ceremony on April 2, 2018. (ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The announcement of a new prime minister has led to widespread celebrations, but reforming the country without alienating the army will not be easy.

Written by Nizar Manek | FT

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — In 1990, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was a guerrilla alliance battling the Derg, a Marxist-Leninist military junta that had deposed Emperor Haile Selassie in a 1974 coup. A year later, the EPRDF took power; it has ruled Ethiopia ever since.

When the Derg fell, Abiy Ahmed, who was recently elected as the EPRDF’s chairman and sworn in as prime minister on Monday, was just 14 years old. But even then, Abiy, who was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother in the Oromo town of Beshasha in southwestern Ethiopia, was becoming politically active.

“In one way, the world is eagerly awaiting our country’s transition, and in another way, they are waiting in fear,” Abiy said in his maiden speech as prime minister. “We have a country in which our fathers have sacrificed their bones and spilled their blood,” and yet the nation has kept its unity. “This is the season in which we learn from our mistakes and compensate our country,” he continued. “I ask forgiveness from those activists and politicians who paid the sacrifice and youths who wanted change but lost their lives.” He even spoke of applying Ethiopia’s constitution in a way that understands “freedom,” especially freedom of expression and the rights to assembly and association — suggesting that he may lift the state of emergency that has led to the detention of more than 1,100 people.

In the capital of Addis Ababa, people in cafes clapped and cheered in front of television screens.In the capital of Addis Ababa, people in cafes clapped and cheered in front of television screens. At a town on Ethiopia’s porous southern border with Kenya, where Ethiopia’s military last month announced it had mistakenly killed Oromo civilians, locals celebrated by slaughtering camels, cows, and goats. People in Jimma, the largest city in southwestern Ethiopia, were singing; a student at Jimma University told me, “We have got one of our own!”

More than a third of Ethiopians belong to the Oromo community and about a fifth to the Amhara, while Tigrayans represent 6 percent, according to the latest census. Together, the Oromo and Amhara make up more than half of Ethiopia’s population of 105 million. These demographic realities and the distribution of power among these groups are the defining feature of Ethiopian politics.

Abiy joined the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the EPRDF in 1991, according to his official biography. He decided to join the OPDO after his brother, Kedir, was killed, according to Abiy’s childhood friend Seyfu Imam Abamilki. The same year, the OPDO was part of the advancing EPRDF army seeking to smash Derg forces and take Addis Ababa. At that time, the OPDO was a small organization that the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) established in late 1990; it became part of the EPRDF in January 1991.

As a young man finding his feet, Abiy was one of at most 200 OPDO fighters placed under the overall military command of the EPRDF forces, which in 1991 numbered about 100,000 — 90 percent of them Tigrayans. Abiy, despite his Oromo origins, was quick to adapt, starting as an assistant to the military and learning the Tigrinya language. As a Tigrinya speaker, he could get ahead, given the preponderance of Tigrayan soldiers and officers. And it has continued to serve him well; Tigrayans remain preeminent in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition and control the military, intelligence, and security organs of the state.

In 1993, when Abiy was in his late teens, he became a regular soldier. He enrolled in what would become the new federal army — the Ethiopian National Defense Forces — as part of an OPDO division and eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1995, Abiy had to formally leave the OPDO; the EPRDF’s new constitution would be “free of partisanship” and forbade membership in any political organization. The same year, he was deployed as a member of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Kigali in the wake of the Rwandan genocide.

After nearly two decades of military service, Abiy left the army in his early thirties, became a civilian, and re-entered the OPDO; his final military post was as deputy director of the Information Network Security Agency, which provides technical intelligence to support the government on matters of national interest. A few years earlier, he was posted back to his hometown of Beshasha, where he successfully defused communal tensions following an incident between Muslims and Christians, his old friend Seyfu and a government official in the town, Mohammed Abajojam, told me.

In quick succession, Abiy became a member of the EPRDF-controlled parliament, the OPDO central committee, and then the politburos of both the OPDO and EPRDF. He began a rapid ascent through the corridors of power, serving as director of the national science and technology information center and, briefly, as minister of science and technology under former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned in February, triggering a leadership crisis.

At 41, Abiy is Africa’s youngest leader — and he is pursuing a different path than many others in the region. “Now more than any other countries of the world, for us, ensuring democracy is about our existence,” Abiy told parliament. “We have to keep in mind that Ethiopia is ours and build a participatory democracy that allows everyone’s voice to be heard and everyone to benefit.”


Eritrea reportedly said its relation with neighboring Ethiopia can be amended providing its long time foe honors international obligations by withdrawing from occupied territories.

“I call on the Eritrean government to take the same stand,”Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in his inaugural address at the national parliament on Monday.

Responding to Abiy, Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebre Meskel on Monday told the BBC that relations can be mended but it largely depended on Ethiopia.

“The ball has stayed for too long in Ethiopia’s court. There is no dispute as the litigation process ended 16 years ago. Ethiopia needs to honour its treaty obligations and respect Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by withdrawing from occupied territories – including Badme.”

Relations between the two neighbours remain tense following a disastrous and deadly war that led to the death of nearly 70,000 people on both sides.

After the war ended back 20 years ago, the Eritrea–Ethiopia Boundary Commission, a body founded by the UN, established that Badme, the disputed territory at the heart of the conflict, belongs to Eritrea

“We are fully committed to reconcile with our Eritrean brothers and sisters” Abiy said urging the Eritrean government to do its part by starting a dialogue that would help to re-establish peaceful relationship.

“I would like to extend an invitation to the Eritrean government to start dialogue and rapport” he continued

“Peace will indeed be beneficial to the two peoples but obviously, this must be predicated on respect of international law which Ethiopia continues to flout to date,” Meskel stressed.

Mr. Abiy, the first ethnic Oromo to rise to the post of Prime Minister in the ruling EPRDF said he was willing to resolve the current problems between the two nations, which he said share the same interests and the same s blood”.

While in power, former Prime Minister Hailemariam severally accused Eritrea of supporting anti-government demonstrations in the country.

Amsale Aberra, RIP 

By Vogue

Amsale Aberra, founder and creative director of the bridal and ready-to-wear line Amsale, has passed away at the age of 64. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she moved to Vermont for college, then went to New York, where she earned her degree in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Soon after, she was shopping for her own wedding dress and found a gap in the market for simple, understated, timeless gowns—it was 1985 and frills and sparkles were de rigueur. Aberra launched Amsale as a custom bridal business out of her apartment, and it quickly grew into one of the industry’s most recognized brands. Kleinfeld was her first wholesaler in 1991, and in the years since the Amsale label expanded to include evening gowns, cocktail dresses, and bridesmaid dresses.

Before she passed, Aberra had already chosen a successor: Margo Lafontaine, recently the senior studio director at Vera Wang. Lafontaine will oversee Amsale’s extensive bridal and ready-to-wear design teams. Aberra is survived by her daughter, musician Rachel Brown, and her husband, Amsale CEO Neil Brown, who said in a statement: “Amsale was not only an inspiration to the company, but someone who inspired and impacted everyone around her with her strength, kindness, and humility. Working side by side, we spent 360 degrees of our life together, and I know only too well both her creative genius and her infinite goodness. Words cannot express the personal loss that we feel, but we are comforted by the avalanche of support we’ve received and the commitment of our team to carry on Amsale’s legacy.”

Amsale’s Spring 2019 bridal show is scheduled for next Friday, April 13. Per Aberra’s request, the show will take place as planned.