by Engidu Woldie

ESAT News (September 9, 2018)

Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, says he hopes the new Ethiopian year will be a year of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love.

Speaking in Addis Ababa on the eve of the Ethiopian New Year today, Dr. Ahmed called on Ethiopians to work together to bring about tangible political and economic changes in the country.

He also called on opposition political groups to to come up with a clear political and economic thinking that could be of relevance to Africa in general and to Ethiopia in particular.

Invited opposition political leaders and activists who have returned from exile in the past few weeks have attended the eve celebrations and the crowd at the Millenium Hall cheered as Prime Minister called their names and recognized their presence.

Ahmed also vowed that the new year would be one that they would not tolerate corrupt government officials and those who steal. “Government positions were meant to serve but not to steal,” he said.

He reminded the gathering that the just concluded year was full of uncertainties and the country was in a perilous state. The political crisis led to an economy that is in a deep trouble, he added.

“The new year opens a new horizon that is full of hope so let’s promise to work hard to bring prosperity and leave poverty behind.”

Abiy Ahmed expressed his best wishes to Eritreans, who also follow the same calendar. He said the defense forces of the two countries are celebrating the New Year together.

Ethiopia and Eritrea follow the same calendar, similar to the Coptic calendar.

And tomorrow turns 2011.

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by Assegid Habtewold [1]

We are good people. We’re rich in culture and history. Most importantly, Ethiopia is endowed with untapped natural resources and human potential. But, we are among the poorest in the world and kept fighting one another for decades. Let’s be honest, our institutions are broken and our systems aren’t efficient and up-to-date. In short, it doesn’t take a rocket science to know that we’re lagging behind, even using Africa’s standard.

We have to be honest if our desire is to attain a sustainable change. If we are genuinely ready to achieve a lasting change, we have to start admitting our failures as a society. We cannot succeed in transforming the nation without being honest about where we are NOW and how far low we have become :-) We have to take responsibility individually and collectively!

That being said, however, since we’re approaching the Ethiopian New Year, I’m not going to spend a lot of time complaining about what is wrong about us and with us. Rather, I’d like to focus on the good news as we Ethiopians are ready to enter into the New Year. Thanks to God, the commitment of many selfless and untiring individuals, groups such as Team Lemma, and our new PM- Abiy, the giant in us has been awakened. We are hopeful and determined to change the destiny of this nation. And, we have what it takes to do so!!!

Nonetheless, we shouldn’t fool ourselves. First of all, we have to acknowledge the old wisdom; we cannot put new wine into old wineskin. We cannot practice new change ideas and succeed using old mindsets, attitudes, personalities, and skillsets. Second, this journey is neither easy nor short. The honeymoon period that we have been in the past more than three months should soon be over and we must roll our sleeves up in this upcoming year to do some serious deconstructions and constructions. We must destroy what hasn’t been working before we build new ones. We have to be courageous to recognize the mindsets and attitudes that led us to where we are and dare to substitute them with new ones that can take us to our dream place as a nation. We have to identify the knowledge and skill gaps that exist, and vow to build our capacity to raise world-class workforce. Without the latter, we cannot transform Ethiopia and change not only the destiny of the contemporary generation but also generations to come.

This rewarding journey, nevertheless, should begin from where we have the most control- from ourselves! We cannot force others to change. We don’t have control. Let’s start where we have the most control and maybe then we may influence others to change, and collectively build a New Ethiopia based on love, forgiveness, tolerance, inclusiveness, excellence, hard work, dedication, and so on.

I cannot emphasize this enough. The protracted and twisted journey of building a New Ethiopia that feeds her people, creates an environment where her diverse children live in peace and harmony, a nation that competes regionally, and becomes an exemplary nation in Africa must begin by first changing ourselves from within. The image that we have within reflects outwardly. We only harvest what we sow. The mindset, attitude, and personality that we have had individually and collectively brought us this far. And, we don’t like where we have been thus far. It must change but the place where we initiate that change should be from within. We shouldn’t keep pointing our fingers toward third parties and others for where we are. Most importantly, let’s not decide to wait and see before we change. Let’s not also wait until others change before we see the change we desperately looking for. Let’s take charge and own our own limitations and shortcomings. When we do that, we actually become empowered and in control.

On the other hand, when we blame others for our predicaments or wait on others to bring the change that we would like to see, we are admitting, indirectly, that we’re victims, helpless, and out of control. While we are in this pitiful position, we’re too weak and too soft to bring any change in our own lives, let alone among our communities, organizations, and nationally. Don’t empower your enemies and the things that victimized you. Tell them that you are in charge and can overcome them in the upcoming New Year. You have what it takes within to transform yours and your community’s destiny!

Thus, use this upcoming New Year as a turning point. Stop using some lame excuses and blaming others for where you are. Don’t wait on others. First change your mindset, attitude, and build a personality that embraces love, forgiveness, equality, justice, and hard work. That is when you will begin to see the change you would like to see happening around you.

We have a New PM who talks about New Ethiopia. Let the New Year be the beginning of your New You. Let your New Year’s resolution list reflect that!

You have a seed of greatness within. You’re wonderfully made to shine in this world. You’re one of the solutions your community has been desperately waiting for. Don’t disappoint them in this coming New Year. Unchain the great potential in you to serve others, your organization, and nation.

Remember, not great laws, institutions, infrastructure, and technologies that resulted great nations. Only great individuals can build a great nation! And, you have greatness chained within you. Begin unchaining it to unchain the destiny of your nation!

In conclusion, use this New Year to nourish and cultivate the great potential you carry within. Discover your uniqueness and your passion to serve others. Grow individually and professionally. Wherever you are, whether you’re in school, college, in business or politics, or doing research or what have you, play your share by building your capacity and committing yourself to excellence.

Be proactive to build the new mindset, attitude, personality, character, and skillsets the new Ethiopia desperately needs. Play your part and inspire others to do so. Go beyond talk, wish, and hope alone. Do something about it and launch yourself, and in turn, your community and country to greatness. Don’t forget. Mere slogans, tones of meetings, and social media posts alone- without actually undergoing change within and growing consistently to shoulder your responsibilities, don’t help you nor your beloved community and country to experience lasting transformation.

Let this year be the year you are going to build your self before you attempt to build others and the nation.

Let your New Year’s resolution be different this time. Straighten up your priorities. Let the coming year be the year you’ll embrace a NEW mindset, attitude, and personality that contribute toward building the New Ethiopia we all wish to see.

Let this coming year be that year you have been waiting for so long. Commit in your New Year’s Resolution first to learn, grow, and build yourself so that you can serve others with excellence and contribute your fair share in building the New Ethiopia. Happy New Year!!!

[1] Dr. Assegid Habtewold is the author of Unchain Your Greatness- the book dedicated to Dr. Abiy Ahmed. The book is available on Amazon. Assegid can be reached at

by Aklog Birara (Dr)

Sooner or later the “Abiy Mania” that continues to grip Ethiopia will begin to fade as Ethiopia faces the intractable and hard socioeconomic reality on the ground that triggered the popular revolt. The systemic, policy, structural and institutional problems that tens of millions of Ethiopians, especially youth face daily, remain intact.

Ethiopian youth that defied the single party state and government machinery expects to win dividends from the enormous sacrifices tens of thousands made. The bread and butter issues of improved life and livelihood through employment and empowerment at home rather than abroad are real and just. The demand must be met sooner rather than later. I am not suggesting a “Marshall Plan” for Ethiopia. We should no longer rely on aid to save Ethiopia. I am suggesting a people-centered and anchored development model in place of the elite led “Revolutionary Democracy” and the elite led “developmental state” that is much more akin to trickledown economics. An empowered youth can do miracles for the country.

It is true that Ethiopia’s energetic, popular and charismatic Prime Minister has done the unthinkable. He has opened-up Ethiopia’s suffocating and debilitating political, civic and spiritual space for the first time since the popular revolution of 1974. The generation born since then must be reminded that at the time hundreds of patriots, intellectuals, political critics and opposition groups moved back to Ethiopia in droves. The anticipation then as it is now was the establishment of a just and democratic form of government that will modernize Ethiopia fast. Sadly, the opportunity to establish such a system that will deal with the root causes of poverty and backwardness were dashed.

Forty four years later, the anticipation is high that, this time, Ethiopian society won’t and can’t afford to repeat the same mistake over and over again. I appreciate the insatiable appetite among youth and the rest in celebrating the new found breath of fresh air expressed in the streets and stadiums by welcoming those unjustly accused of crimes they never committed and those forced into exile by an indescribable one party state and government that is still largely intact. This celebration would not have been possible without Prime Minister Dr. Abiy.

Regardless of ethnic or religious or party or class affiliation, we Ethiopians agree on the primacy of a democratic form of governance in place of the one party state and government that has dominated the lives of Ethiopians for at least half a century. But, to my knowledge, we have not yet agreed on the process of how we get there. This is really where our focus should be in the coming year.

I too accept the foundational and aspirational principle of democracy, and in particular the fundamental principle of respecting and preserving the rights of each and every individual enshrined or articulated in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This eternal principle declares that “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country directly or through freely chosen representatives.”

I find no single country or regime on this planet that rejects this universality. In fact, the regime that governed Ethiopia for the past three decades has argued adamantly that it too shared these principles. Yet, it defied and denied such bodies as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from sending Special Rapporteurs to investigate crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. This should be done.

To his credit, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy opened-up Ethiopia’s suffocating and debilitating political, civic and spiritual space and encouraged each and every one within and outside the country to breathe an air of freedom for the first time in decades. This is the reason why Ethiopia is engulfed with a level of unprecedented enthusiasm, hope and aspiration that would have been unthinkable at the start of the Ethiopian New Year last time. At the time, those of us who lived in free countries debated Ethiopia’s prospect to survive.

The accolades should, however, not mask the reality that Ethiopia is still a single party state and government. Under this system, there are no checks and balances. The party, government and state operate as a seamless entity reinforcing one another. This is why the rule of law does not apply under this system. The EPRDF that Prime Minister Dr. Abiy leads commands 7 million members, many of them dependent on the party for their livelihood and influence. The party is therefore the issue.

For the following institutional recommendations to materialize, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy’s EPRDF must, among other reforms, annul the Charities and Societies Act, at minimum, reform it radically. This law restricts civil society and is a therefore a barrier to democracy. Equally, the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation should be changed in such a manner that it does not restrict fundamental rights and freedoms.

As we enter and welcome the New Ethiopia Year of 2011, I still wonder where Ethiopia is heading. I propose that Ethiopia’s New Year should be a year of National Institution Building such as the reconstitution from the ground up of a truly independent, non-partisan, capable and modern National Defense and National Security staffed by a competent and representative cadre of Ethiopians based on merit rather than ethnic or party affiliation.

It should be a year dedicated to the establishment of an independent and non-partisan election Board, judiciary and other critical institutions. It should be a year dedicated to the establishment of a free, independent and competitive press, civil society and a diverse group of professional societies.

It should be a year of disallowing political parties from owning businesses or bidding for contracts. The Ethiopian private sector should be encouraged and empowered to thrive.

The Year 2011 should also be a year that addresses and deals with the perennial issue of chronic youth unemployment and underemployment, deficit and debt reduction, the tackling of hyperinflation and food insecurity; and the eradication and criminalization of institutional and private graft, theft and corruption. It should be a year of restructuring the federal budget allocation so that there is no longer skewed distribution of scarred resources, including foreign aid on the basis of ethnic or party affiliation.

The internal and external environment is much more favorable for institutional reform and for tackling the systemic, structural and policy causes that brought Ethiopia to the brink of collapse and civil war. Ethiopia should take advantage of this window of opportunity to jump start a socioeconomic transformation that is truly fair, just, equitable and sustainable.

The biggest hurdles is political. I conclude that the one party state and government alone cannot resolve these and other structural and policy issues regardless of a charismatic leader, who, for the first time in decades, has placed Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet (ኢትዮጵያዊነት) central to the political discourse.

I suggest that in order to deal with the root causes of poverty and unemployment, Ethiopia’s development model must be anchored on the wellbeing of the country’s 110 million people. Perhaps, it is time for civil and political society to begin discussing the pros and cons of social democracy in place of the elite based model of “Revolutionary Democracy” and the equally elite model of “the developmental state.”

The bread and butter issues of real life for the tens of millions of real people who aspire a better tomorrow deserve our collective resolve and attention.

by Xinhua

The Ethiopian Roads Authority on Sunday revealed its plan to renovate the disused roadway that connects Ethiopia with its long-time foe Eritrea and reopen the long-abandoned lane to travelers.

The announcement came amid recent positive developments that are considered a new beginning in bilateral ties. The two countries fought a bloody border war in 1998-2000, which killed an estimated 70,000 people from both sides.

The war ended following a December 2000 Algiers peace agreement, but had left the two countries in a state of bitter armed standoff.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who on Wednesday paid Eritrea his second visit since he assumed office in April, promised to further improve ties between the two neighboring countries that were once a single nation. Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1991.

Ahmed, accompanied by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, visited Eritrean ports as land-locked Ethiopia eyes Eritrea's Assab and Metswa ports for its import-export needs, in which conducive road connectivity was said to be vital.

The previously constructed road networks connecting the two countries need renovation, having been kept vacant for more than two decades following the armed standoff.

According to the head of the Ethiopian Roads Authority, Habtamu Tilahun, efforts are underway to build roads to leverage Ethiopia's ambitions to utilize Eritrea's ports.

"In addition to the planned new projects, we are working to finalize the renovation activity within the coming three months period and embark on service provision," Tilahun was quoted by Ethiopia's state news agency as saying on Sunday.

Ethiopia on Thursday reopened its embassy in the Eritrean capital, Asmara; Eritrea's embassy in Addis Ababa was reopened on July 16.

Telecom services between Ethiopia and Eritrea have also resumed, and the two countries' flag carriers -- Ethiopian Airlines and Eritrean Airlines -- have also started flights to Asmara and Addis Ababa respectively.

A decision to construct a pipeline linking Addis Ababa and Eritrea's Assab port has been also unveiled by Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates.

The pipeline would allow landlocked Ethiopia to export crude oil via the Eritrean port. Ethiopia started test extraction from its Somali Regional State in June.

On Wednesday, Ethiopia's Ahmed, Eritrea's Afwerki and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed signed an agreement strengthening trilateral ties.

In addition to political and economic relations, Ethiopia and Eritrea are also taking steps to strengthen cultural and people-to-people links.

A cultural symposium last month in Addis Ababa brought together 500 participants from both countries.

China has agreed to restructure a loan that financed the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway which handles cargo from The Port of Doraleh. (Reuters)

Ethiopia PM says China will restructure railway loan

By Reuters

China has agreed to restructure some of Ethiopia’s debt, including a loan for a $4 billion railway linking its capital Addis Ababa with neighboring Djibouti, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday.

Abiy described the rescheduling as limited, but added that repayment of the railway debt has been extended by 20 years.
Landlocked Ethiopia and the Red Sea state inaugurated the railway in January, with 70 percent of the total cost covered through a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM).

Ethiopia has been a top destination for Chinese loans in Africa, with state policy banks extending it more than $12.1 billion since 2000, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University of the United States.

Speaking upon his return from a China-Africa forum for cooperation in Beijing, Abiy told reporters he held successful talks with Chinese government officials over his country’s debt.

“During our stay, we had the opportunity to enact limited restructuring of some of our loans,” he said in Addis Ababa. “In particular, the loan for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway which was meant to be paid over 10 years has now been extended to 30 years.”

The deal was made amid rising concerns over debt distress, with the Ethiopian government’s debt reaching 59 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product, according to official figures.

The country’s ruling EPRDF coalition, in power since ousting a military junta in 1991, aims for Ethiopia to reach middle income status by 2025. It is pursuing ambitious manufacturing-led industrialization that has involved building roads, railways and industrial parks — as well as mounting debt.

Though the Addis Ababa link with Djibouti, which handles roughly 95 percent of all inbound trade for Ethiopia, is complete, the line’s extension to its north has faced delays owing to a lack of funding.

In addition to Djibouti, Ethiopia is also in discussions with neighboring Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia to expand its options for sea access. It has negotiated deals with Djibouti and Sudan to hold equity in their ports.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed waves to the crowd at a rally April 11 in Ambo, Ethi­o­pia. (Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

by Elias Meseret | AP

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s prime minister in his first press conference since taking power vowed Saturday to continue with dramatic reforms “at any cost” and said the longtime ruling coalition soon will prepare for a “free and fair election” in 2020.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also said the World Bank “soon” plans to provide $1 billion in direct budgetary assistance, a sign of confidence after years of unrest in Africa’s second most populous nation. Such assistance stopped after the disputed 2005 elections.

“My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear,” Abiy said, saying the vote won’t be delayed and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

The 42-year-old Abiy took office in April and shocked the country with a wave of reforms including restoring diplomatic ties with neighboring Eritrea after two decades, pledging to open up state-owned companies to outside investment and releasing thousands of prisoners.

The reforms have been praised by the international community and attracted investors interested in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Recent ethnic unrest in various parts of Ethiopia, however, has dampened the initial jubilation and posed a major challenge to the new leader.

“There are groups that are working in unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country,” Abiy told reporters. “They are triggering peoples’ emotions to this end.”

Some 2.8 million people have been displaced by the unrest, according to the United Nations. “But this didn’t happen due to the reforms,” the prime minister said.

He said the unrest in the eastern Somali region has calmed but measures will be taken against former officials, including the region’s former President Abdi Mohammed Omar, who is suspected of orchestrating the chaos earlier this month that led to the destruction of government offices, looting of businesses and burning of churches.

Asked about internet cuts in the region following the unrest, an unpopular tactic widely used by the previous government, Abiy appealed for understanding and said it might have saved lives.

“But curbing access to information and cutting the internet is not the way forward,” he added, and urged youth to use it responsibly.

The prime minister also in recent months has welcomed a number of once-exiled opposition figures and groups back to Ethiopia and invited them to join in the political conversation.

But on Saturday he drew the line at former military dictator Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, who overthrew the last Ethiopian emperor, Haileselassie, in 1974 and eventually was sentenced to life for spearheading a “Red Terror” that killed tens of thousands of people. He fled the country in 1991 as rebels, who now make up the ruling coalition, approached the capital.

Some Ethiopians have called on Abiy to offer Mengistu amnesty after a rare photo of him in exile in Zimbabwe went viral early this month.

“Ethiopia’s constitution clearly stipulates the ‘Red Terror’ crimes cannot be covered under an amnesty law,” Abiy said. “So Col. Mengistu will not … return home. But if the law in the future allows, that may change.”

by Muluken Gebeyew

The opportunistic and parasitic TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) which has been led by few elites family members have been using and trading the Tigray Ethiopian people for their evil act on Ethiopians. Majority of Tigray Ethiopian people who live in the rural Tigray suffer from TPLF’s cruel dictatorship and harsh ruling from theses elites and their top down cadres.

The majority of innocent Tigray Ethiopian people have been denied of the slim right that the rest of oppressed Ethiopian people have during the last 27 years. They have no option except to support TPLF otherwise they face ostracism, dispossession, imprisonment, torture death and migration. Those who dare to question TPLF have been thrown in under ground jails in the mountains which are not yet known by the Federal government.

The innocent Tigray Ethiopian mothers and fathers had been crying during the 17 years war as the élites of TPLF used their children under forceful conscription for war effort against their fellow Ethiopian brothers. They lost many of their children to put on power a dictatorial TPLF regime which killed and tortured so many Ethiopians.

TPLF has ruled Ethiopians through hate, fear, divide and rule policies. It has monopolised the economy, military, foreign affair, security and all sector of the society. It has killed, tortured, imprisoned, looted, destabilised large sector of Ethiopian society principally the Amhara and Oromo people.

TPLF created a delusional federal system in Ethiopia with puppets figure heads while its operatives rule under iron fist. It continued its divide and rule policy by fermenting and waging violence among different ethnicities, nationalities and religious members. Its inflammatory polices have made Ethiopians displaced, homeless, dispossessed, unemployed and to flee from their country.

The sufferings of innocent Tigray Ethiopian people haven’t been well acknowledged by most Ethiopians and global audience. This is partly because of the false perception that most of us associating them with ruling regime as TPLF use their name; They live in a TPLF spy webs where there is no breathing space; Geographically they are far away from the centre and other Ethiopians don’t live there which created a medium to hide all the TPLF cruel treatments without any exposure. The Poor Tigray Ethiopian people suffered double oppression, sandwiched between the rest of Ethiopians false impression about them and TPLF cruel treatment. They are falsely associated with regime or ignored by most of their Ethiopian brothers.

There are many Tagaru who benefited from the 27 year dictatorial rule of TPLF in Ethiopia. These are mainly the Tagaru who live outside Tigray, in Addis Ababa, the rest of Ethiopia and in Diaspora. These group have enriched themselves by the direct opportunity TPLF arranged specifically for them. They are the current millionaires, business owners, property owners, military generals, security heads, powerful people with mighty finances. They have looted government properties, finance of public organisations, public properties, state banks and lands of Ethiopians. Every successful business from non TPLF Ethiopians have been transferred to TPLFits and their supporters under the pretext of non tax payment. The regime created an environment even for some to induce fear and intimidation among Ethiopians by mere boasting and associating themselves with regime and using Tigrigna language in public places as means of superiority.

These élite groups which amassed unbelievable wealth have been defending the TPLF’s dictatorial rule in Ethiopia from any Ethiopian and Opposition group. They have supported the TPLF’s killings and cruel treatment against Ethiopians and participated as spy, spy master, security and military bosses , minsters, ambassadors in all important sector of the Ethiopian society to maintain and prolong TPLF regime. These opportunistic group will continue to stand with TPLF by hook or crook as TPLF is the source of their finance and adverse influence against Ethiopians. They are few when compared to the majority innocent Tigray Ethiopian people but the are rich and powerful with big mouth and means.

The Ethiopian people 27 years struggle against TPLF has got its momentum in the last 2 years and it is at the verge of eradicating TPLF. The ruthless tyrannical TPLF has back tracked from the front seat of power in Ethiopia in the last 4 months following the peaceful people struggle where many Ethiopians scarified their life. TPLF is still alive and kicking in Mekele.

This powerful and very rich organisation (TPLF) with possession looted billions dollar worth of Ethiopian property, is fermenting and organising obstacles against the new progressive leadership led by Dr. Abiy and his team using mercenaries inside Ethiopia through the blessing of criminal old TPLF guards with in the centre and periphery regions. The cash milk of TPLF, EFFORT,(Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray) billions worth conglomerate business organisation which was established through blood money is still the main source of finance for TPLF to derail the progressive democratic changes

Once again the innocent Majority Tigray Ethiopian people are suffering from the rage and wrath of TPLF which is crying like wounded Tiger. It is trying to use these poor people as usual for its evil act against their Ethiopian brothers. It is preparing the people for bloodshed, another civil war and potentially separation from the rest of Ethiopia. In order to survive, TPLF élites would do whatever possible at the expense of the poor majority Tigray Ethiopian people.

The new leadership led by Dr. Abiy and his team, the rest of Ethiopian people (specially youth), oppositions forces and the intellectual have moral duty to help our Tigray Ethiopian brothers to get rid off TPLF which has been trading under their name for more than four decades. Our Tigray brothers need to breath freedom and exercise their Ethiopian rights as the rest of us and define our fate together.

The Tigray Ethiopian people and youth, including progressive elements with in TPLF have to rebel peacefully against these tyrannical and oppressive TPLF élites who besieged you for decades. TPLF’s elites should never be allowed to hide under innocent Tigray Ethiopian people’s skirt.

The rest of Ethiopians are with you to end these evil war monger TPLF which is currently fermenting division, animosity and hate among Ethiopians. Those opportunists benefiting from TPLF rule can not use your name and you should stride big and join the rest of Ethiopians!

Ethiopia’ s Political Trajectory: From Meles to Abiy Ahmed.

by Teodros Kiros (Ph.D) 08/22/2018

Meles and his idea of the Developmental State had put Ethiopia on the modernity project, the central ideas of which can be summarized as follows.

The development of the Ethiopian nation must be assumed as the defining task of the State. The State must guide all the necessary components of a functional state, the economy with its central institutions including the banks, education, infrastructure and parts of civil society. All the subordinate parts of the state must follow directives articulated by the state and then processed by the appropriate functionaries of the state, most particularly the bureaucrats.

Since Ethiopia is fundamentally a peasant society, attention must be given to the peasantry, the main labor force. The duty of the state is to create opportunities for the peasantry, who had hitherto been excluded from the development project must now be encouraged to venture as entrepreneurs and learn the skills of capitalist entrepreneurs and improve their conditions. The state in turn must create a development bank which will lend money to peasants to create values and exchange them at a capitalist market, as socialist entrepreneurs.

The idea of modernity which began in Europe in the seventeenth century was anchored on the capitalist form of distributing resources with an ego centered moral frame, which caters to the whims, interests and passions of the rich and powerful.

In contrast, the inadequately organized socialist economy seeks to develop an alternative form of modernity, which is slowly but steadily penetrating global consciousness.

Capitalist modernity keeps on growing, leaving a vast moral wasteland, a wasteland that socialist modernity seeks to combat but with deep grounding in the people’s public reason and heart. Socialist ideas, however, have yet to develop grounding institutions.

The strategic Meles attempted to modernize Ethiopia through a market economy, jettisoning the socialist alternative, which characterized, the earlier project of revolutionary Ethiopian modernity, which Meles, following the visions of Chinese thinkers dubbed, the Developmental State.

From the very beginning, Meles’ Developmental state seeks to give Ethiopian modernity an original economic form which decouples the idea of development, the motor of modernity, from any moral limitations and worse, it seeks to develop bureaucrats whose task is to implement a singular leader’s vision of building an economic infrastructure that will develop the agricultural center in the villages and also build roads, highways, universities and business centers guided by the imperatives of the global market economy, seeking to develop modernity, using China as a model. The decoupling of morality and economy, characteristic of capitalist modernity, is in direct contrast to the blending of morality and economy, which typifies the socialist vision of modernity.

Meles Zenawi, betraying his commitment to “revolutionary democracy,’ makes the strategic decision of securing food for the poor of Ethiopia by any means necessary. This decision is realized at the expense of aborting the democratic necessity of allowing citizens to participate in choosing ways of life and ethics of existence. The unflinching vision of developing Ethiopia came with shocking results, such as the death of hundreds of university students after the 2005 elections, and the imprisonments of dissidents.

a recent video in Aiga Forum, presents the young Meles Zenawi, movingly grounded in the rural cultures of the Ethiopian countryside. There in the vast fields of the principled Ethiopian peasants, impressive democratic dialogues take place. The leader is seen teaching and learning, lecturing and being lectured at, instructing and being instructed, relentlessly attacking bureaucratic ineptness, praising the natural intelligence of Ethiopian peasants. These moments were the sites of direct democracy, my lifelong dream for Ethiopia, to which I devoted my two most recent books, Philosophical Essays, and Ethiopian Discourse. (Red Sea Press, 2012) Again, I am profoundly dismayed that he did not read these two books, in which I fully share his earlier vision of developing Ethiopia by directly empowering Ethiopian farmers, the back bone of the unfinished project of Ethiopian modernity.

Perhaps he did read them in their original forms when I first published them in the Ethiopian reporter, as a weekly columnist for five years and that I was not fortunate enough to engage him in a critical dialogue in the spirit of Ethiopian modernity, a unique blend of culture and enlightenment, tradition and elements of capitalist modernity.

The fundamentals of the developmental state that Meles has left are impressive sources of waking the sleeping Ethiopian giant of one hundred million people waiting to be engaged economically and be disburdened from poverty. The repressive political structure however is at loggerheads with the idea of modernity, the pillars of which are enlightenment, democratic freedom and tolerance.

In 1982 the continent of Africa was engulfed by the menace of food crisis and then I proposed remedies in a series of conferences sponsored by the African Studies association. These conference papers were collected in book form, Moral Philosophy and Development: The Human condition in Africa. (Ohio University Press, 1992)

In that book, I proposed that food security for the continent be developed by African States, which make conscious decisions and adopt two principles of Justice:

The first principle is the recognition of food, Health, Shelter and clothing as inalienable human rights. African resources must be used in such a way that they can, with proper scientific aids, be channeled to eventually (a) eliminate urgent human conditions of poverty and hunger, and (b) address other attendant consequences of mental and physical health, hopelessness and under motivation.

The second principle is a demand for the absolutely necessary duty humans may have in the recognition of the importance of freedom for those who think and feel that they are unfree. When the basic human needs are met, only then may the Africans be able to think about nonmaterial human needs, such as art and religion. (Moral Philosophy and Development: The Human Condition in Africa, p, 176)

I can only hope that Meles Zenawi, a voracious reader, has read this work of my youth, and perhaps adopted it to his recent call for Ethiopian food security.

Instead of assuming that he was familiar with the work, I publicly suggest that the present Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, consult this work as he continues implementing Meles Zenawi’s vision of securing food for the Ethiopian poor, a lifetime work.

I would like to elaborate and revise my present views of using the two principles of Justice by the Developmental state. With the first formulation, I treat the two principles of justice separately and give priority of importance to the first principle and sacrifice freedom by relegating it to the second position, whereas now, I propose that the Ethiopian Developmental state must enshrine the two principles of justice as constitutional amendments simultaneously.

The repressive political structure that does not allow the flourishing of the thinking individual must be checkmated by the second principle of justice that guarantees freedom for every citizen. That food security and freedom must be procured for the poor of Ethiopia. The first principle and the second principle must be realized at the same time. Both are necessary and sufficient conditions for the vision of a just and efficient modern Ethiopian state.

The existential imperative of food security ought to be mediated by the democratic right of freedom for every Ethiopian. Meles Zenawi was very much mistaken when he thought that freedom and food security couldn’t be realized simultaneously. I think they can.

Development, one of the engines of Ethiopian modernity, requires a democratic structure. The right of speech, principled assembly, spiritual conscience, which includes religious sensibilities, fuels the democratic structure and most potently expresses freedom.

The first principle of justice justifies the idea of development and gives it a material anchor. This material anchor however, must be buttressed by the full satisfaction of the second principle of justice that secures the basic freedoms of speech, assembly and worship. Indeed Ethiopian modernity ought give pride of place to the fundamental freedoms, as political rights, the inherent features of democracy.

In an enlightening article, Dr. Ghelawdewos Araia, has rightly argued, which I would like to quote in its entirety.

While addressing the Ethiopian parliament, Dr. Abiye told us that he is in favor of capitalism, which by the way is acceptable to me, and as I have indicated above, this economic system was most successful and has demonstrated universal applicability. However, I have not heard of the details of the Prime Minister’s policy in regards to the capitalist system. Similar to Dr. Abiye and his Government, Ginbot 7 and Arena Tigray are also in favor of the neo-liberal market economy, but I am not sure whether they have incorporated in their respective policies and/or political programs the distinction between the Liberal Market Economy (LME) and the Coordinated Market Economy (CME), both of which are capitalist systems. It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss in detail the policies of the two systems, but it is important to note which countries belong to which. The US, Canada, the UK, and Australia belong to the LME group, and Germany, Japan, Scandinavian nations, Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland belong to the CME bloc. While the former group still promotes unfettered capitalism, the latter bloc of nations humanized capitalism.

If Ethiopia adopts the LME policy of economic development, slowly but surely it could reverse the gains of the DS and the many major projects such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) could be stalled or delayed indefinitely; if, on the other hand, Ethiopia pursues the CME strategy, it will have a chance to make reforms in the economy without completely obliterating the DS and without hindering the current pace of development. (African Idea, August 22, 1918)

I appreciate his penetrating question. “If a DS renders sound transformation and prosperity as it did for the Asian Tigers (South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong), China, and Japan etc why then resort to a neo-liberal development agenda, when in fact the latter failed in most Third World countries” ( African Idea, August 22, 2018).

Indeed, if DS has worked miraculously, why should it be abandoned, instead of perfecting it more, and making it repression free. I suggest as Dr. Ghelawdewos does, that we think very hard about choosing an appropriate economic form that serves the people’s interests as opposed to Washington consensus.

Ethiopia arrests disgraced Somali Regional President, Abdi Mohammed Omer.

by Reuters

Police in Ethiopia arrested the disgraced former head of the eastern Somali region on Monday on charges of human rights abuses and stoking deadly ethnic clashes, the attorney general’s office said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, presiding over democratic reforms in the African nation of 100 million, said on Saturday rights abuses committed in the region “defied belief” and included torture, rapes and killings.

The region’s administrator, Abdi Mohammed Omer, was forced to resign on Aug. 6 after violence broke out in the provincial capital Jijiga.

At least 20 people died and thousands fled Jijiga as mobs looted properties owned by ethnic minorities and burned down several Ethiopian Orthodox churches.

The central authorities said the unrest in the region had been triggered by local officials fearing arrest on human rights abuse charges.

On Monday, Federal Police “apprehended Abdi Mohammed Omer at his home in Addis Ababa,” state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said, citing the Federal Attorney General’s Office.

“Crimes he committed include, among others, human rights abuses and stoking disputes along ethnic and religious lines,” it said, adding that other officials were also sought by police.

Rights groups have routinely accused Abdi’s administration of abuses such as torture, while some witnesses claimed he had ordered paramilitary raids on civilians in neighboring Oromiya province after ethnic clashes there last September.

The government fired senior regional prison officials last month over accusations of torture. Abiy on Saturday described cases in which prisoners had been put into cells with lions, hyenas and leopards to force them into confessing.

The region has been plagued by violence for the last three decades, in which the government fought the secessionist Ogaden National Liberation Front before the group declared a unilateral ceasefire this month in the wake of reforms.

The region holds four trillion cubic feet of oil and gas reserves, government estimates show. China’s GCL-Poly Petroleum Investments has been developing two gas fields there since 2013.

Saturday's news conference was the first Abiy held since taking office in April [Reuters]

by Aljazeera

The World Bank will provide $1bn in direct budget support to Ethiopia in the next few months, the prime minister has said, more than 13 years after the body and other donors suspended budgetary help over a disputed election in 2005.

Speaking on Saturday at his first press conference since taking power in April, Abiy Ahmed credited his government's economic and political changes for the development.

"This is due to the reforms taking place in the country," he said, vowing to continue with dramatic transformation "at any cost".

Abiy also said the longtime ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, which controls all 547 seats in Ethiopia's parliament, will soon prepare for a "free and fair election" in 2020.

"My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear," he said, saying the vote would not be delayed and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

Since his election the 42-year-old has overseen a number of changes, including restoring diplomatic ties with neighbouring Eritrea after two decades, pledging to open up state-owned companies to outside investment and releasing thousands of prisoners.

The reforms have been praised by the international community and attracted investors interested in one of Africa's fastest-growing economies.

Recent ethnic unrest in various parts of Ethiopia, however, has dampened the initial jubilation and posed a major challenge to the new prime minister.

"There are groups that are working in unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country," Abiy told reporters. "They are triggering peoples' emotions to this end."

About 2.8 million people have been displaced by the unrest, according to the United Nations.

"But this didn't happen due to the reforms," Abiy said.

He said the unrest in the eastern Somali region has calmed, but measures will be taken against former officials. They include the region's former President Abdi Mohammed Omar.

Internet cuts

Asked about internet cuts in the region following the unrest, an unpopular tactic widely used by the previous government, Abiy appealed for understanding and said it might have saved lives.

"But curbing access to information and cutting the internet is not the way forward," he added, urging youth to use it responsibly.

Abiy in recent months has also welcomed a number of once-exiled opposition figures and groups back to Ethiopia and invited them to join in the political conversation.

But on Saturday he drew the line at former military dictator Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, who overthrew the last Ethiopian emperor, Haileselassie, in 1974 and eventually was sentenced to life for spearheading a "Red Terror" that killed tens of thousands of people.

He fled the country in 1991 as rebels, who now make up the ruling coalition, approached the capital.

Some Ethiopians have called on Abiy to offer Mengistu amnesty after a rare photo of him in exile in Zimbabwe went viral early this month.

"Ethiopia's constitution clearly stipulates the 'Red Terror' crimes cannot be covered under an amnesty law," Abiy said. "So Colonel Mengistu will not ... return home. But if the law in the future allows, that may change."