Tag Archives: Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia: Oromo arrests

3.10.2020 Ethiopia’s Oromiya region police have arrested 503 people on accusations of planning to incite violence during an annual Thanksgiving festival – Irreecha – this weekend and seized guns and hand grenades, the state affiliated Fana news agency reported.

Fana Broadcasting also reported on Octobere 2 that police and intelligence services had foiled what they said were plans to incite violence in Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia ahead of the Irreecha festival of the Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group.

The latest arrests happened a week after Ethiopia’s attorney general said about 2,000 people had been charged over deadly violence after the killing of popular Oromo musician and activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa in June.

Fana News Agency, quoting Oromiya region police commissioner Ararsa Merdasa, said on October 1 officers seized guns and hand grenades during the arrests, ahead of a celebration in the capital Addis Ababa on Saturday, October 3, and in Bishoftu in the Oromiya region of Ethiopia on Sunday, October 4.

In the violence following Haacaaluu Hundeessaa assassination in June, at least 166 people were killed. More than 9,000 people were arrested, including some politicians from Oromiya, Ethiopia’s most populous province.

Long-suppressed frustrations frequently explode into ethnic violence.

Last year’s Irreecha festival in Addis Ababa was held peacefully amid tight security. But in 2016, a stampede, triggered by a clash between police and protesters during celebrations in Bishoftu, south of the capital, left more than 50 dead.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, is one of the continent’s fastest growing economies and is due to hold elections next year.

Decades of frustration over government repression and democratic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April 2018, have emboldened regional power-brokers keen to challenge the ruling party.

Ethiopia Grand Dam dispute

In his speech to the United Nations the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that Ethiopia has “no intention” of harming Sudan and Egypt with a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile that has caused a bitter water dispute between the three African countries.

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan failed to strike a deal on the operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam before Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam in July, the move which has risen concerns of damages to the farmers along the Nile, deprived of water supply. However the three states have returned to African Union (AU) -led mediation.

“I want to make it abundantly clear that we have no intention to harm these countries,” he told the 193-member U.N. General Assembly in a video statement, pre-recorded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to addressing the concerns of downstream countries and reaching a mutually beneficial outcome in the context of the ongoing AU-led process,” Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy said.

Tensions between neighbours escalated this year, as the U.S.-brokered negotiations between Ethiopia and Egypt untangled and new talks mediated by the African Union began. Two issues are at the core: what will happen during a drought and what will happen in case of dispute. In terms of the former, Egypt wants the pace of the reservoir filling to be dependent on rains, to ensure a minimum flow if there’s a drought; Ethiopia says such a guarantee is unacceptable. And in terms of disputes, Egypt and Sudan want a resolution mechanism with binding results, but Ethiopia doesn’t.

Tigray region counts ballots

Tigray region held regional elections on September 9, in spite of protests of the federal government and increasing political tensions in Ethiopia.

While Prime Minister Abiy has ruled out military intervention, there are fears that any punitive measures by the federal government could further escalate tensions.

The Tigray defiance of the federal government is the latest challenge to the administration of Nobel Peace Price winner Abiy, who is struggling to hold together a federation that assembles Ethiopia’s more than 80 ethnic groups.

The regional officials, holding polls for the 190-seat Tigray parliament, warned that any intervention by the federal government would amount to a “declaration of war”.

They objected to the postponement of the national and regional elections, originally scheduled for August, explained by the coronavirus pandemic and the extension of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s time in office.

The local sources said results will be announced by September 13.

On, Ethiopia’s upper house of parliament, which mediates constitutional disputes, ruled that the polls for regional parliaments and other positions were unconstitutional, announcing the assessment on September 5, which did not stop Tigray region to continue with election timetable.

EU calls Ethiopians for inclusive dialogue

«The EU calls all sides to restrain from violent reactions, and appease tensions» said the European External Action Service spokesperson, while commenting on the situation in Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the elections to the regional 190 seats parliament were declared unilaterally, refusing to postpone them due to pandemic sanitary restrictions.
The Tigray electorate intends to drop ballots on September 9, provoking political tensions between regional and federal delegates, interpreting the Constitution.

«The EU encourages and supports the inclusive, and comprehensive dialogue between all political parties at federal and regional levels in order to organise next general elections in coordinated way» she continued. «The EU intends to deploy an electoral observation mission for the general elections, and will pay special attention to the conditions of its organisation through the electoral process. The EU follow closely the situation in Ethiopia, including through out EU delegation».

The EU spokesperson also quoted the declaration of the House of Federation of Ethiopia, qualifying the decision of the regional parliament of Tigray region as «unconstitutional».

Ethiopia is the key EU partner in the region, while development cooperation is one of the largest in Africa and in the world, amounting to more than €800 million for the period 2014-2020. The significance of the partnership with Ethiopia has been underlined with the symbolism of the first working foreign visit of the new European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to Addis Ababa.

However in spite of the calls for coordinated  action from Addis Ababa and abroad, the Office of Electoral Commission of the National Regional State of Tigray said 2672 polling stations were ready for tomorrow’s regional election. Some 2.7 million people are expected to cast their votes from 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM, the Commission said.
The information about the upcoming vote is limited because the independent observers, and members of the press were not allowed to enter the region.

The elections are just the latest example of how Tigrayan officials are increasingly acting like leaders of an independent state, creating a political standoff, which evokes a great deal of interest and concern abroad. Back in June the Federal election officials said the elections had “no legal basis”, and the upper house of parliament ruled they were “null and void”. On September 5 Ethiopia upper house of parliament, the House of Federation, called the formation of an electoral board in the region illegal and said any actions taken by it would be unenforceable, state-controlled Broadcasting Corporation reported from Addis Ababa.

In recent days, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed office has instructed the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority to call journalists working for foreign media outlets to pressure them not to cover the vote. On September 7, intelligence agents barred several journalists from boarding a flight from Addis Ababa to Mekele.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank revealed that some federal officials have raised the possibility of retaliating by taking economic “punitive” action against the Tigray government – for instance, by withholding financial grants, which amount to half the region’s budget.

Approximately 3 million people are expected to vote in the September 9 regional election, according to the Tigray Regional Electoral Commission, and results are expected to be announced by September 13. Five parties are participating, including the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and other smaller regional parties such as the Tigray Independence Party, which is focused on for the secession of the region from Ethiopia. However not all the parties in the region entered the standoff with Addis Ababa – the Prosperity Party and the Tigray Democratic Party are both boycotting the elections.

Ethiopia death toll rising to 239

The death toll from protests and violence outbreak in Ethiopia last week following the assassination of a popular Oromo singer and and activist Hachalu Hundessa has risen to 239, according to announcement of the authorities.

“Due to the unrest that occurred in the region, nine police officers, five militia members and 215 civilians have lost their lives,” acting police commissioner Mustafa Kedir said on state television on July 8.

Hachalu, 34, was killed on June 29, sparking unrest that spread from Oromia community where he was considered as an emblematic figure.

The motive of the assassins remains unclear. Previously Hachalu had received death threats. His songs focused on the rights of the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister in 2018.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in a televised speech a day after Hachalu assassination, said that “internal and external forces” were responsible. The same forces, he alleged, were trying to prevent the singer from being taken back to his place of birth for burial.

Security forces made a number of arrests after a dispute at Hachalu’s funeral over whether the place of burial should be in the capital Addis Ababa or his birthplace of Ambo, some 100 kilometers to the west of the capital.

The Ethiopian government shut down internet in the entire country on June 30, after protests erupted in capital Addis Ababa and surrounding areas against the assassination of Oromo musician and social activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa.

Ethiopia: EU joins AU calling for violence halt

… Previously I was mentioning how important Africa is for us, the European Union, as a partner, this fully applies to Ethiopia, that is why we are following closely the situation in this country, we are following the rising tensions, and this is something that is worrying us, of course, and we are calling to all sides to refrain from violence. The violence can never be an alternative to a peaceful dialogue when you are trying to reach a sustainable solution in a situation of a political conflict” the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson said, while commenting on the recent dramatic events in Ethiopia.

On the unfortunate events that led to the unrest that cost lives to 80 people, first of all I would like to express our condolences to the families of the victims, and speedy recovery of all those injured, and it is very important that the violence stops. It has to stop immediately, and all sides have to refrain from violent actions in order to appease the tensions” spokesperson continued.

Under current circumstances there is limited internet and phone connection, but we are trying to follow what is going on via our delegation in Ethiopia, we follow in particular the clashes that occurred between the protestors and the police in the capital, and also in the other cities since the death of the singer Hachalu Hundessa, this week, and we also follow the arrests of the journalists, and opposition political party members”.

We allied with the statement issued by our partner the African Union, we are calling those responsible to be brought to justice, conducting transparent and independent investigation” the EU Diplomatic added.

Six people were injured on July 2 in slashes between Ethiopian security forces and mourners attempting to attend the funeral of Oromo singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa, whose assassination earlier this week provoked protests, causing violent death of at least 80 people.

The Chairperson of African Union Commission Moussa Faki calls on the Government of Ethiopia to bring the perpetrators of such heinous act to face justice and encourages all sides to resolve differences through dialogue and peaceful means in order to allow adequate efforts towards preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa, 36, was shot dead in the capital Addis Ababa on June 29 by unknown gunmen and was laid to rest later at a church in Ambo, his home town about 100 km west of the capital. He leaves behind three daughters, the youngest a month old. The slain singer’s wife, Santu Demisew Diro, gave a short speech after mourners laid wreaths.

Late Haacaaluu’s songs were popluar among a generation of Oromo protesters whose three years of anti-government demonstrations finally forced the unprecedented resignation of the Prime minister, 2018, and the appointment of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Oromo have long complained of exclusion from political process. In recent months, some Oromo activists who initially supported Abiy have become more critical, accusing ignoring he legitimate interests of the Oromo people.

The singer’s killing sparked protests in Addis and surrounding Oromiya region, leading to violent clashes, which left behind more than 80 people killed.

Ethiopia: urban violence continues

Six people were injured on July 2 in slashes between Ethiopian security forces and mourners attempting to attend the funeral of Oromo singer and activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, whose assassination earlier this week sparked protests, causing violent death of at least 80 people.

“…While the country mourns the loss Hachalu Hundesa, the Chairperson appeals for calm, restraint by all sides and calls on all Ethiopians to refrain from acts that could further escalate the current situation” reads the statement of the African Union Chairman H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat, who is monitoring the recent developments in Ethiopia closely, following the killing of Haacaalu Hundeessaa.

The Chairperson calls on the Government of Ethiopia to bring the perpetrators of such heinous act to face justice and encourages all sides to resolve differences through dialogue and peaceful means in order to allow adequate efforts towards preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The popular Oromo singer, 36, was shot dead in the capital Addis Ababa on June 29 by unknown gunmen and was laid to rest later at a church in Ambo, his home town about 100 km west of the capital. He leaves behind three daughters, the youngest a month old. The slain singer’s wife, Santu Demisew Diro, gave a short speech after mourners laid wreaths.

Late Haacaaluu’s songs were popluar among a generation of Oromo protesters whose three years of anti-government demonstrations finally forced the unprecedented resignation of the Prime minister, 2018, and the appointment of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Oromo have long complained of exclusion from political process. In recent months, some Oromo activists who initially supported Abiy have become more critical, accusing ignoring he legitimate interests of the Oromo people.

The singer’s killing sparked protests in Addis and surrounding Oromiya region, leading to violent clashes, which left behind more than 80 people killed.

Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed mandate extended

Ethiopia’s parliament approved an extra year in office for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after August elections were postponed due to coronavirus pandemic. The decision was taken two days after a leading opposition politician resigned as speaker of its upper house in apparent protest at the delay.

The upper house voted for a resolution that extends the terms of federal and regional lawmakers and the executive branch of the government for between nine and 12 months, House spokesman Gebru Gebreslassie annnounced.

The elections will tale place within that period, once health authorities determine that the coronavirus is nolonger a threat to public health, Gebru Gebreslassie added.

Ethiopia had recorded a total of 2,336 cases of COVID-19 and 32 deaths by 10 June.

EU committed to stablity of Ethiopia

“The EU is a committed and reliable partner of Ethiopia, and we attach great importance to the stability and unity of the country, which is crucial for the whole of Horn of Africa the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson said, commenting on the recent political events in the country in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 7 the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali made an announcement that the ruling party will stay in charge until next elections, while the election calendar was postponed due to sanitary conditions, and Tigray region refused to follow.

Africa’s second most populous (115M) country was due to hold national elections in August 29, and the incumbent Prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali hoped would give him a mandate for wide-ranging political and economic reforms people are awaiting for long.

However the election board announced in late March that it would be impossible to organise the polls on time because of the pandemic.

The EU have been following closely the recent political developments in the country, and has “taken note” of the swift decision of the House of People’s Representatives to ask the Constitutional explanations of the postponement of the elections, the EEAS spokesperson ensured.

“We encourage and support the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of all political parties at federal and regional level in order to organise the next elections in a coordinated way” the spokesperson of the EU diplomacy continued. She also underlined that the EU intended to deploy the EU Election observation mission (EUEOM) for the general elections, “in this context we pay special attention to the conditions of the organisation of elections throughout the electoral process”.

The events in Tigray region became a matter of concern after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced plans to conduct elextions in Tigray region despite of the federal government decision of postponemet. In relation to this decision of Tigray region leading political force the EU diplomacy “have taken note of the declaration of the Tigray’s People Liberation Front (TPLF) to hold elections in the region, the EU delegation of the ground in Addis Abeba has regular contacts with TPLF, and is seeking the clarifications on this declaration” the spokesperson underlined.

The EU diplomacy is also fully aware that the decision to hold regional elections separately from the general election has been debated in the country by legal and constiutuional experts, and the “European Union is encouraging and supporting the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of political parties of both level – national and regional” the spokesperson underlined.

Citing the CVOID-19 pandemic as the reason for the calendar change, last month on March 31 the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) postponed indefinitely the legislative elections scheduled for August 29. The supporters of the decision, mostly from the incumbent government, have expressed consent, while the opposition condemned the decision defining it as a “power-grab“. They also indicated that the later date would not take into account poor rain season weather conditions and agricultural activities, complicating electoral campaign.

Tigray region elections controversy

Ethiopia’s Tigray region plans to hold elections, its leading party announced, setting it on a collision course with the federal government in Addis Ababa and imposing strain on the country’s fragile unity.

On May 4 the Executive Committee of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has passed a decision to hold the upcoming elections at the regional level after the decision of the election board to postpone the elections “indefinitely” the context of the pandemic.

The end of March Ethiopian electoral board postponed parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for August 29 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. A new date has yet to be set but the opposition has already questioned the move.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the region’s governing party, split acrimoniously from the national Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition last year when its three other parties merged to form the new Prosperity Party.

The TPLF said it would proceed with elections in Tigray region despite the nationwide postponement of voting due to COVID-19.

We are making preparations including the holding of a regional election in order to safeguard the rights of our people from chaos,” a TPLF statement said. It did not mention a date for the vote.

Addis Alem Balema, an expert and a prominent Tigray politician has criticised Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in connection with the change of the election schedule.

Government was working half-heartedly on the next election. Now the Coronavirus complicated it,” the expert said.  Moreover, he criticized Prime minister’s administration pointing that the rule of law in the country is “messy“.

Concerning the strategy to address the situation, Alem Balema added the measures to be taken need to ensure the “rights of nations and nationalities, and foster the federal system.” 

Consultation has to continue and the upcoming election has to be free, fair, and credible” he added.

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