by Ezega

August 11, 2018 - The Ethiopian Ministry of Defense Force denied reports that it has clashed with the Ethiopian Somali Liyu Force in an attempt to disarm the regional force in the Somali state’s capital of JigJiga.

Officials of the Ministry of National Defense Forces disclosed on Saturday that members of the national defence force did not have any intention to disarm the regional forces. Rather the forces have already formed a joint committee which will be in charge of supporting victims to resume normal life.

Previous reports had indicated that members of the Ethiopian defence forces clashed with local militia in the restive Somali region of Ethiopia.

“The region’s Liyu Force has been trained by the national defence force and they have been working together in the fight against OLF and other forces. High ranking officials of the national force are still working in the region’s Liyu Force,” Commander of the the south east of Ethiopia's defence Force Major General Belay Seyoum said

“The unfounded information was fictitious and spread by those groups who want to destabilize the state. Otherwise, both forces are working together along with the regional police," he added.

He said relative peace has been realized after the national defence forces were deployed in the region but misleading information continues to horrify the public.

Reports reveal that at least 10,000 people have been sheltered in religious institutions in JigJiga city alone.

Some of the victims whom spoke to via telephone said there are critical food shortages and thousands of people are being held hostage in different areas. They fear that they would be subjected to communicable diseases if things continue as they are.

Meanwhile, the federal government has transported 80 million birr worth of food assistance to JigJiga city.

Somali State Supply and Logistic Head with Ethiopia’s Disaster and Risk Management Commission, Mr. Hassen, said the food shortage in the state is out of the control of region and the federal government has so far provided 7000 Quintals of rice, 5000 nutritional food, 8000 liters of cooking oil, 5000 Quintals of biscuit and 3000 flour to those affected by the violence.

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by Ezega

August 11, 2018 - Witnesses in Djibouti say six people of Ethiopian origin have been killed in alleged revenge attacks over the past three days, according to Ethiopia Observer. The witnesses said the Ethiopians were killed in separate incidents, mostly during night time, by Djiboutians. Hundreds are also wounded, according to multiple witnesses. Ethiopian-owned shops were looted in Djibouti city yet police did not intervene, the Ethiopians said, though the Djiboutian government has condemned the violence. These reports have not been confirmed by other outlets so far.

The violence has been triggered following attacks that left six Djiboutian nationals dead in the Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa on August 5. “The Ethiopians who live in the Somali neighbourhoods of Djibouti city and the suburbs of Balbala have fled their homes and are now sheltered in Arhiba, an area inhabited by the Afars,” an Ethiopian businessman who asked not to be named told Ethiopia Observer. Thousands of Ethiopians, most of them Oromo ethnic groups are sheltered in makeshift camps at Arhiba fearing for their lives, the witnesses said. Oromo Media Network (OMN) showed footages of Oromo people being supported at Arhiba. The Ethiopians in Djibouti accuse of their embassy for inaction, and they say they are only getting assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Source: Ethiopian Observer

(Africa News) — Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has stressed that the security situation in Ethiopia’s Somali region was going to be resolved through peaceful consultations.

His latest comments came after he paid a visit to the head of Ethiopia Orthodox Tewahdo Church, His Holiness Abuna Merkorios on Saturday.

According to chief of staff Fitsum Arega, “PM Abiy said the situation is under control & will be resolved through peaceful consultations. He urged the public to go about their daily lives without being distracted by falsehoods & fabricated stories.”

This is the second comment Abiy has made on the situation in one week. On Monday the PM said he deplored the violence and destruction of property in the regional capital Jijiga and Dire Dawa – a chartered city in the region.

“He expresses his condolences for the tragic loss of lives both in Dire Dawa and Jigjiga. These tragedies and cycle of violence must end,” his chief of staff said in a tweet.

The region’s internal administration came to a head last week as federal security agents moved to Jijiga. An armed standoff resulted resulting in the loss of lives, destruction of property and birth of a humanitarian crisis.

Internet and transport have been restricted in the region according to the Addis Standard news portal.

The region’s leader since 2005, Mahmoud Omar, known as Abdi Illey, has since resigned his position and is being held in federal custody in the capital, Addis Ababa.

by George Obulutsa, Maggie Fick

NAIROBI, Aug 10 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates will build an oil pipeline connecting Eritrea’s port city of Assab with Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, an Ethiopian state-affiliated broadcaster said on Friday.

Fana Broadcasting said the information was revealed during a meeting in Addis Ababa between Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE’s state minister for international cooperation.

It did not provide further details, but Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, told Reuters that the discussion with Hashimy was largely on investment in sectors including “industries, agriculture, real estate, (the) oil pipeline, (and) resorts”.

“Most are under study,” Fitsum said in a message.

The announcement is the latest sign of the UAE’s increasing involvement in the Horn of Africa.

The UAE played a behind-the-scenes role in helping Ethiopia and Eritrea end a two-decade state of war last month, Reuters reported this week.

The oil-rich Gulf state, driven by a desire to tap Ethiopia’s growing economy and by a fear that rivals such as Iran or Qatar could gain a foothold, has pushed into the region for more than a decade.

Abu Dhabi has a military base in Assab which it uses to help prosecute the war in Yemen, located just across the Red Sea.

Ethiopians react after an explosion during a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

August 10, 2018 – The Ethiopian Federal Attorney General will charge two additional suspects in connection with grenade attack on June 23, 2018 at rally attended by PM Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, according to ENA.

The government disclosed the suspects as Beyene Ruda and Abdisa Megerssa, according to the report.

The Federal Attorney General has also requested the court for additional 14 days to compile evidences, of which seven days was granted. The court has ordered the investigations to end by August 15, 2018.

Earlier Abdisa Kenene, Desalegn Tesfaye, Getu Girma, Bahiru Tola, and Hiwot Geda were charged with taking part in the grenade attack that caused the death of two people and wounded more than 150.

Source: Ezega

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addressing a rally in his support on June 23, 2018 in Addis Ababa


One of the suspects on trial for the June 23 assassination attempt on the life of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed was the anti-terrorism head with the Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the country’s spy agency.

Tesfaye Urge, one of the about 30 suspects arrested after the June 23 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, was a person with an oxymoronic title of the head of the department for the anti-terrorism task force with NISS.

Dr. Ahmed had just finished addressing a jubilant crowd at Meskel Square in the capital that was gathered to show support for political reforms undertaken by the young Prime Minister when a loud explosion led security forces rush the Premier to safety. A man was trying to hurle a bomb in the direction of the podium where the Prime Minister and other dignitaries were sitting but was tackled by another man. The bomb exploded in the scuffle killing two people and injuring over 150.

An investigation team of the Federal Police say the June 23 assasination attempt was the work of Tesfaye Urge, while he was still running the department of the anti-terrorism department task force with NISS.

Police today requested a first instance court in Addis Ababa for an additional 14 days to finish their investigation on Tesfaye Urge, who has allegedly worked in tandem with other suspects abroad and inside the country in recruiting the perpetrators and coordinating the entire operation. Police told the court that the additional 14 days were needed to gather more evidence on suspects linked to the assassination attempt that are based abroad and inside the country

The court gave police additional 7 days and also denied bail to the suspect.

Girma Kassa, who was the deputy commissioner of the capital’s police is also one of the officials suspected and arrested after the assassination attempt. Kassa is also accused of torturing imprisoned journalists and critics of the TPLF regime when he was in different capacities at the city’s Police Department.

In the early stages of the investigation in June, 17 police and security officers, some of whom were in supervisory positions, were arrested for showing security lapse during the rally in support of the Prime Minister.

They are now being tried for involvement in the assassination attempt.

Mahamoud Omar

by Africa News

Former president of Ethiopia’s Somali regional state, Mahamoud Omar, a.k.a. Abdi Illey, is being held under federal custody barely twenty-four hours after he resigned his post.

“Officials from Ethiopia’s Somali region told the Ethiopian Somali region media that Abdi Mahmud Omar who resigned yesterday [6 August] as a governor, was arrested by Ethiopia’s federal military,” the state-run ESTV website reported.

“Officials from the Somali region in Ethiopia have confirmed to us reports of the arrest of Abdi Mahmud Omar,” the report added.

Privately owned Addis Standard added that the former leader and top military officials had been rounded up by federal forces deployed on Monday on request of the Somali regional authorities. They are due in the capital Addis Ababa.

Illey who has been president of the region since 2005 agreed to step down in the wake of a face off between federal forces and notorious regional paramilitary unit, the Liyu police.

The region’s head of finance Ahmed Abdi Sheikh Mohamed was appointed to replace him. Despite his resignation, the former leader according to reports maintained his position as leader of the ruling party in the region, Somali People’s Democratic Party (SPDP).

The Somali region has been plagued by violence for the last two decades. The government has fought the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) since 1984 after the group launched its bid for secession of the region, also known as Ogaden.

Since 2017, clashes along the province’s border with the Oromiya region have displaced tens of thousands of people.

The region’s officials have recently been accused by the government in Addis Ababa of perpetrating rights abuses. Last month, Ethiopia fired senior prison officials there after details emerged of torture and other abuses in one notorious prison.

Ethiopians from around the country wait to enter the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday to see their homeland’s newly minted prime minister, Abiy Ahmed (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

by Rebecca Tan and Miela Fetaw

(Washington Times) Hulgize Kassa, a 52-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., earned his spot at the front of the line.

The father of two camped outside Walter E. Washington Convention Center starting at midnight Friday, watching as Ethiopians from as far as Colorado and Texas arrived with boxes of food, speakers and selfie sticks. By 7  a.m. Saturday, thousands had gathered in the streets spanning Mount Vernon Place to N Street, honking car horns and sharing food. Most wore T-shirts emblazoned with the face of their homeland’s newly minted prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.

In the three months since his rise to power, the 41-year-old politician has introduced sweeping changes to Ethiopia, lifting a state of emergency, brokering peace with neighboring Eritrea and releasing hundreds of political prisoners. These dramatic steps toward liberalization have sparked “Abiy-mania” within the Ethiopian diaspora in the United States, which, for decades, stood among the fiercest critics of the ruling party’s autocratic regime.

Abiy is in the United States to visit and speak to members of the diaspora. The Washington area is home to some 300,000 Ethiopians, making it the largest community outside the African country.

“I want to hug him. He’s a hugger, I know, so I want to hug him,” said Kassa, a researcher at North Carolina State University. When Kassa first came to the United States in 2000, he never thought he would go back to his homeland. But Abiy’s ascension has changed his mind, he said. He plans to visit his home in the Amhara region next year, and bring his children, 12 and 14, with him.

Abede Yimenu, a former major in the Ethiopian army, said he is also thinking of going home after having been away for 17 years.

The 57-year-old from Dallas was in the District with three friends from his days in the Ethio­pian military, all clad in army uniforms, complete with black sunglasses. After fighting together in the Eritrean-Ethiopian War of 1998 to 2000, they left for the United States, unhappy with the oppression imposed by their government, Yimenu said.

“This uniform,” he said, tapping his red beret. “It shows that we believe in this prime minister, and that we still love our country, and that we still need to serve our country.”

Inside the convention center, the crowd spent the hours before Abiy’s arrival dancing, waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags, and engaging in ululation, called ililta. For many, this is the first time they are seeing so many Ethiopians in a single place, save for being in the country itself.

About 2:45 p.m., Abiy walked onstage in a white, glossy suit with gold accents, and the room exploded in cheers. Nearly everyone stood on their chairs, and many stayed there until they were told to sit.

Religious leaders began the rally with prayers, praising Abiy and celebrating the future of the country. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser also addressed the crowd, declaring July 28 “Ethiopia Day” to rapturous applause.

Abiy spoke primarily about unity, telling the audience that “our ancestors were wrong about having division.” He called on members of the diaspora to invest in Ethiopia and to return home — a message that seemed especially resonant for older members of the audience.

Saba Gizau, a 58-year-old grandmother from Maryland, said that after two decades away from Ethiopia, she is ready to go back. Gizau, who had been at the convention center since 4 a.m. with her 56-year-old sister, works in sales at a Nordstrom department store and said she wants to impart what she knows about business to Ethiopians back home.

“He invited us to come back to Ethiopia and help the country,” she said after Abiy’s speech, her eyes welling with tears. “He invited us, and I will be there.”

PM Dr.  Abiy Ahmed

by Addissu Admas

The kind of change that we have witnessed and continue to witness since Dr. Abiy became prime minister in early April of this year are, to say the least, astounding. The swiftness and efficiency with which the changes have been brought about can only be compared to Mikhail Gorbachev’s or Nelson Mandela’s. In less than four months, Dr. Abiy has essentially veered the country into a completely new and unforeseen direction. Those of us not privy to what has been going on behind closed doors, were expecting more of the same, perhaps with few changes here and there; but nothing to lift our hopes high. Dr. Abiy’s acceptance speech was promising and uplifting, but it was his earnest exchange with the representatives of the House which convinced us of his genuine desire to orient the nation into a completely new direction.

It is dutiful and indeed necessary to remind ourselves that Dr. Abiy was the principal person (but may be not the only person, I must add) who stood between chaos and sanity in halting the ever growing protests and willing to put his life on the line to bring forth the necessary changes. For this alone, Ethiopians will forever be indebted to him.

In addition to these commitments, Dr. Abiy ended of his own initiative the State of War with Eritrea, without asking the intervention of the U.N. or the U.S. A remarkable feat in itself, considering the fact that poorer nations, like little children, have a tendency to expect richer nations to act as their arbitrators. To the surprise of the world, not only Ethiopia and Eritrea ended their hostilities, but by acknowledging their shared histories, cultures, and languages, vowed to initiate a new era of close cooperation.

What has encouraged even more Ethiopians has been Dr. Abiy’s uncompromising stand on the question of rule of law and due process. For most of its 27 years of rule, the regime’s preferred mode of dealing with opposition and dissent has been silencing, imprisonment, torture, and killings. Except for prominent dissidents and opposition figures, the vast majority of political prisoners never had a day in court: their detentions were simply extended indefinitely. Even the prominent prisoners never received proper legal process: they were found guilty before they could prove their innocence. The famous terrorism clause was implemented to a point of absurdity. By freeing tens of thousands political prisoners, prominent opposition figures and dissidents overnight, Dr. Abiy has clearly shown that his earnestness and commitment to the rule of law.

His economic agenda is no less remarkable. He has shown his willingness to move away, all be it gradually, from command economy to free market economy. And this should mean freeing the economy from the clutches of party bosses into the hands of free economy agents. The outcomes of such move is only at a very initial stage, and we must wait a while before we can see its fruits.

As impressive and wonderful these momentous changes are just by themselves, without considering others that have not been much publicized, the difficulties facing our young prime minister are varied and intractable. And he, more than anyone, is very keenly aware of them. It is us that we must sober up in this atmosphere of euphoria and unreasonable expectations to lend him our helping hand, so he can pursue his reform agenda successfully.

The TPLF may be wounded and somewhat in disarray, but it remains the best organized group in Ethiopia that still has the levers of government in its hands. And it poses a threat to Dr. Abiy and to his reform agenda. Indeed, some of its members could not help spewing their disapproval and even disdain about Dr. Abiy and what he stands for immediately. The majority have not clearly expressed whether they approve of him or oppose him. It is only a minority that have clearly shown their desire to join him in his efforts. This should raise by itself grave concerns. However, it is to be expected since no one relinquishes power willingly. And in the case of the TPLF, it is not only power loss that will unnerve its members, but their ill-gotten vast financial networks, the real possibility of their standing trial for these and for the unfathomable number of crimes they have committed since they came to power.

Nearly three dozen political parties operate within and without Ethiopia currently. We are only acquainted with those that usually receive media coverage. We don’t know exactly what the majority of them stand for. But most of them appear to be willing to work with the prime minister. But some, notably the older and more established ones, appear to be putting undue pressure on him to call for an immediate election, or worse to meet their irredentist demands. His responses have been restrained and conciliatory. But their insistence and unreasonableness could derail his reform agenda.

Regional conflicts continue to erupt, or appear to be smoldering continuously. These are often the consequences of the ill-advised federal laws and policies that govern the regions (killils), but they are also consequences of tribal rancor and animus. The prime minister has addressed them to the best of his abilities, crisscrossing the country indefatigably and energetically, and spending hours in open fora to resolve the issues at hand. And yet they seem to reappear almost immediately after his visits, where one had hoped for at least a truce until the next election. There is a real danger that these hostilities cannot only thwart the prime minister’s reform agenda, but could lead the country into a civil war if they are taken over by unscrupulous and nefarious forces.

The biggest talk today is of course corruption. Even though corruption is not exactly a new phenomenon in Ethiopia nor, on the other hand, is an Ethiopian problem alone as such, its extent and depth has very few equals in the world. Here Dr. Abiy is faced with a mountain of a problem that he cannot tackle alone: it requires no less than the cooperation of the entire bureaucratic apparatus, the regulatory and auditing bodies of the government, not to mention the courts and security apparatus. Since it is so pervasive it requires no less than a cultural revolution. The prime minister, despite his earnest desire to rid Ethiopia of this plague, cannot do it alone. It is quite simply a national task in which every individual citizen must participate in.

Even if the list of problems can be extended further, I believe that the above are just the main ones I think are the most pressing now. But the question at this point should be how we can help the prime minister succeed in his reform agenda. What must we do or not do in order to benefit from this unique historical opportunity?

In case you have any doubts, let me make one thing clear: I am not asking and indeed will never ask for Dr. Abiy dictatorial powers to conduct his reform agenda. He would be in fact the first one to disabuse us from such thought. But I firmly believe that given the enormous difficulties he is faced with, we should give him time to at least consolidate his reform agenda and not press him to hold a snap election. It would be simply disastrous. It would in fact compound the problems that we have to the point that they can cause a dictatorial reaction. It would in fact provide a rational for hostile factions to stage an insurgency that can begin a cycle of violence. Even though there is a reasonable argument to question the legitimacy of the regime, pragmatism dictates patience under the circumstances we are in. We should not be like the blind man who, upon hearing that he will be able to see on the morrow, said “how can I bear to sleep” (Endet Adərre’). And even though again the 2020 election may not have an irrefutable legal basis – since it follows upon previous illegitimate election – I believe that it should not be changed and must be maintained not only to give time the prime minister to implement his reform agenda, but also to provide the opposition parties with enough time to re-establish themselves and prepare effectively for it. This is not to say, however, that the opposition parties should withhold their opinions to themselves until election time. Quite obviously the prime minister invitation was meant to generate a peaceful but vigorous debate immediately. And this should even include debates about constitutional reform or even the drafting of a new constitution.

Ethiopians must not either buy into the notion that peace means unaccountability. As citizens they must cooperate in the campaign to expose the criminals who have used their positions, powers and influence to deprive ordinary citizens of their lives, rights, and legitimately owned properties. The day has come now to begin the process of not only national reconciliation, but also of national reckoning. Indeed, true reconciliation requires that wrongs be righted and that criminals do not walk away scot-free. And this does not mean mob justice, but strict adherence to the rule of law and due process. Even the most aggrieved citizen must not let his/her emotions take over and seek personal revenge. This would be a recipe for chaos and disaster.

Cooperating with the prime minister and his reform agenda does not and should not mean keeping quiet and be a passive onlooker. Citizens must fully engage the prime minister in a constructive debate, in whatever way they can, by proposing ideas, solutions and even criticisms. By adhering to the truth and integrity of the information; and not being tempted by fabrication, over exaggeration and speculation. We must remember that truth will serve us more in our goal to establish a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia more than anything!

The best ally Dr. Abiy could have in his quest to transform Ethiopia into a genuinely democratic state is without a doubt a free press. What he needs the least are mindless adulators on one end and nay-sayers on the other. Serious press, if left unmolested to pursue the truth, can provide him and his reform agenda invaluable service. The prime minister has shown clearly that he is not afraid of the truth, and to be a person of dialogue. It stands to reason that he should be amenable to views and opinions not quite in line with his. A free press can be a wellspring of ideas, while at the same time acting as the pulse of the nation and a platform for a vigorous debate. The history of the past 27 years has been one of progressive suffocation and persecution of the free press. It is time to let it breath openly!

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed addressed Ethiopian political parties in a forum in Washington DC. (July 27, 2018)

Ethiopia PM says his goal is to organise a democratic election

(Africa News) — Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed has ruled out the formation of a transition government, and urged the opposition to prepare to contest at the polls that are just two years away.

Abiy, who was addressing the 18th Annual Badr Convention organized by Ethiopian Muslims in the United States, who said the ruling EPRDF party is working hard to compete in a democratic environment.

“My ultimate goal is to ensure a democratic election takes place in Ethiopia,” said Abiy.

Abiy is in the United States to mobilise support for ongoing reforms that he has championed since taking office in April this year.

The 41 year old former intelligence officer has met several opposition leaders, agreed to amend the country’s controversial anti-terrorism laws and also granted amnesty to individuals and organisations that previously rebelled against the government.

The reforms have yielded positive results, as organisations like Ginbot 7, ODF and ONLF have renounced rebellion and committed to pursuing a peaceful struggle in Ethiopia.

Abiy also addressed Ethiopian political parties at a forum in Washington DC, urging them to get organised and participate in a peaceful process of democratic discourse.