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    Ethiopian elite lost in electoral maze under Abiy's gaze

    If the Prime Minister chooses to lean on his personal popularity, could he obtain and sustain enough political support ? There is no easy answer or quick fix to the gathering predicament.

    n Ethiopia today, most political forces keep repeating the same mantra: we need to get everything in place for free and fair polls in 2020. Elections are heralded as the last crucial stepping-stone to the completion of a democratic transition that is believed to definitively turn the page on the authoritarian order and struggling ethnic federal system established in 1991.

    Taking the long view, one might wonder whether holding elections on schedule and under acceptable conditions will really give birth to the new, fair, and stable order as promised, given the political fragmentation and polarization observed in Ethiopia today. In the short-term, however, this mantra raises two questions: Are the political parties publicly advocating for the election to go ahead as planned really committed to that stance? And are they acting as if it is their sincere desire?

    While last year's dismantling of the 'TPLF system' was lightning fast and radical, the construction of the framework needed to hold competitive elections is erratic and slow.  Work was announced by the 'old' EPRDF during the height of the protests 18 months ago, but pushed as a priority shortly after Abiy Ahmed took office. Yet revising two of the three big anti-freedom laws (terrorism and media) is still ongoing, as is the revision of election laws and the regulatory framework for the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE).

    The work on the electoral system hadn't gone much further than a draft bill and the appointment of a new chairperson of the board. Agreement has only just been reached on “the procedure to conduct and regulate the upcoming negotiations and discussions” between the government and the plethora of registered parties. Yet it is via the NEBE that Abiy Ahmed proposed to restart the dialogue between EPRDF and the opposition after the burial of the Political Parties Negotiations Forum, set up in January 2017. In late December, NEBE itself sounded the alarm: “delays in pre-election preparations may create hectic schedule to hold the much anticipated general elections in 2020.”

    Sensitive census

    The immensity of the task at hand may partly explain this procrastination. There are a lot of hurdles to overcome. The national census is planned for April and its outcome is crucial for credible elections. Highly sensitive issues are at stake.

    Close to three million people are now internally displaced. The census will count the number in each of the “nations, nationalities and peoples”, which carries highly significant political and economic weight in a federal system. It will also assess the ethnic composition in mixed areas. But for the first time, no one will be forced to choose an ethnic identity, and can instead register as “Ethiopian” or of “mixed ethnic heritage”. This may prove confusing for the ethnic quota system.

    Furthermore, the Constitution states that it is “on the basis of the census results” that “the boundaries of constituencies are determined”. This may appear as a recipe for continued ethnic conflicts and demographic rearrangements (read, 'cleansing'); or 'ethnic ownership' of cities such as Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Harar, and Hawassa. Hence, will existing ethnic tensions prevent completion of the census, or, more likely, preclude its findings from being widely accepted?

    In addition, the work of the newly created Administrative Boundaries and Identity Issues Commission, or the ongoing demand of different zones in the SNNP to become states, could impact the election's organization. In particular, will the Sidama statehood claim complicate the election process, as it seems unlikely that the Sidama will accept a postponement of their presumed right to establish their own region? So far NEBE has not started to prepare for a referendum on this question, although they are required to do so within a year of the request, which was made in June/July. Sidama activists are demanding that the process must be obeyed. A separate Sidama state would add additional burdens on NEBE to prepare for elections in the southern region, as a new electoral map would need to be drawn.

    Delayed reaction

    The herculean task ahead of the NEBE to put its house in order to facilitate a “free and fair ” election in just 15 months' time has allegedly led to discreet discussions at the center to possibly postpone them for about six months until after the main rainy season. However, whatever they publicly say, for a substantial proportion of political forces, creating suitable conditions for timely elections does not genuinely seem a priority. This position is dictated by beliefs and/or interests.

    Let us recall first that in the 2005 election, the only one under EPRDF to have been relatively free, people voted primarily for a party, embodied by a leader, and took practically no interest in the candidate representing their local electoral constituency. The vast majority probably did not even know the names of the local candidates. Thirteen years on, however, some strong representatives, linked with varying degrees to the opposition, have emerged locally, especially during the last few years of widespread protests. This time, voters may be more influenced by these figures than by party leaders in Addis Ababa. And, let's not forget, the Prime Minister is not on the ballot; it is the House of People's Representatives that elects the premier from among its members.

    Some are convinced that elections can only occur as the culmination of a democratic transition. The recent proliferation of articles pleading for a postponement, for different reasons, is symptomatic of this trend. For example, they should only be heldafter the public has regained its trust in the democratic institutions of the nation… There is a danger in allowing incumbents to stay in office beyond the mandated limit, but there is just as much peril in pushing forward with an election before the foundations for a democratic nation are laid.”

    Building these new foundations by May 2020 is an impossible task, given the dearth of reforms completed so far and the disorganization and fragmentation of deeply conflicting political forces. So, how could a democratic transition be managed, according to those calling for elections to be postponed? For its promoters, by a transitional government only. The question of the elections should be shelved until comprehensive institutional reforms are completed and consolidated.

    But this logic returns us to the same obstacle: are the present political forces cohesive enough to reach a consensus on how trustworthy democratic institutions should be designed, when simply agreeing on an electoral roadmap has been so laborious?

    Systemic opposition

    Above all, too many factions and figures believe that elections on the due date and under current rules would be fatal. First among these are the “unitarians” or “pan-Ethiopianists” who prize “Ethiopianness” above all else. In private, they cite years of harassment, even prohibition, as a reason why they should be given ample time to rebuild their constituency and party platform and why the elections should be postponed. But their reasons go deeper. Some of them never accepted ethnic federalism. Yet the most important issue is their observation that radical ethno-nationalist parties currently dominate the political stage.

    Some extremist positions are presented. To prevent the next elections being “dominated by over ninety percent of ethnic based parties”, there should even be a ban on “all ethnicity based political parties from participating in electoral politicssome even argue. Without going as far as this, the dominant current within this political segment is surreptitiously pushing to prevent the victory of a “block” of ethnic and resolutely ethnofederalist parties, and at the same time for measures to be taken against the growing insecurity in the country. They argue consistently for the establishment of a sort of special transitional regime. Parliament would be mothballed and the executive would govern by decree.[1]

    The new alliance created around Ginbot 7 is the spearhead of the “unitarians”. However, the situation is nothing like 2005, when the Amhara region, Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, and parts of the South – in particular Gurage area – were their bastions. It is likely that they would still attract urban votes – Addis Ababa in particular – and from segments of the South, primarily Gurage. But the newly established National Movement for Amhara (NaMA) has the wind in its sails, partly as the ruling Amhara Democratic Party is widely discredited. The growth of Amhara nationalism would diminish Ginbot 7's support in the region. Elsewhere, they would probably be even less popular, except in urban centers with strong Amhara – or rather ‘Ethiopianised’ – populations.

    Party moves

    A similar scenario may also face Abiy's Oromo Democratic Party (ODP). The stigma of being the EPRDF flag bearer may haunt it. We have not met any Ethiopian who is currently a die-hard defender of EPRDF; rather, the opposite – it is generally despised. The ODP political machine, for instance, is so disparaged that a majority of informed observers think the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), possibly in alliance with the Oromo Federalist Congress, might win a majority of federal seats in Oromia.

    In the Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS), the governing party, the Southern Ethiopian Peoples' Democratic Movement (SEPDM) is a shambles, as the region's integrity crumbles. Mismanagement, internal power struggles, the stepping down of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as chairperson, and a host of other issues, have left SEPDM in such disarray that most southern observers claim that it no longer de facto exists.

    Paradoxically, the only EPRDF party that has more or less sustained its cohesion and regained its grassroots support is the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). Strong criticism from the grassroots was articulated against the leadership for mismanagement, corruption and lack of delivery. Certain corrective measures have been undertaken, foremost of these the change of leadership. However, the turn of events elsewhere in Ethiopia, and the more or less open persecution of all things Tigrayan as a consequence of collective blame for the authoritarian streak of TPLF/EPRDF rule since 1991, has led the Tigrayan people to ‘circle the wagons’ for individual as well as collective protection.

    Tigrayans are convinced that the only agent strong enough to provide this protection in the uncertain terrain into which Ethiopia is heading is the TPLF; hence its absolute dominance at the ballot box in 2020 seems guaranteed. The Tigrayan opposition parties Arena and Tand are in talks of a merger, also possibly including the Tigray People's Democratic Movement. Although they may gather some protest votes, it seems unlikely they will pose any threat as a constituency level anywhere in Tigray.   

    In short, if the political landscape and electoral system remains the same and if a free and fair election is conducted, which is highly questionable as things stand today, then EPRDF – with the exception of TPLF in Tigray – can feel nothing but dread about the possibility of elections in 2020; and consequently Abiy Ahmed about his chances of continuing as Prime Minister.

    Ambiguous Abiy

    As on so many other points, Abiy Ahmed’s public position is ambiguous.

    Heading a federalist party, he has nevertheless made repeated statements and moves which were godsends for the “unitarians”. Abiy’s emphasis on ‘medemer’ – Ethiopian ‘synergy’ or ‘oneness’, is permeating all his speeches, as well as his intentions to reconnect Eritrea, one way or the other, to Ethiopia; making both his own qeerroo constituency and Eritrean nationalists nervous.

    And according to a report about the last session of the EPRDF Executive Committee, “the chairman of the ruling party does not seem to have made up his mind whether to let the national elections be conducted on schedule.” His game is obviously to keep things vague in order to hold two irons in the fire, one in each camp, each totally opposed to each other on this subject. On the one hand, he has allegedly stated at a forum with 81 opposition parties that “constitutional amendment, if necessary, will only happen after first having a legitimately elected government with the mandate to govern.

    On the other hand, there are multiple rumours about his intention to switch to a presidential system. He declared: “eighty people in the Council of the EPRDF made me PM,[2] even though there are 100 million Ethiopians. We need to open up the leadership to direct elections.” Apparently he recently asked the Attorney General's Office to prepare a legal brief on this matter, and he all but admitted his ambitions in his recent first major interview with the international media. This would be the major card he could play, in fact his trump card, in order to stay in charge of the country, since there is no other national figure likely to overshadow him.

    Bulcha Demeksa, a veteran Oromo figure who still has a certain political stature, has always advocated for a presidential system. It is gaining adherents in Oromia, in particular because the Oromo are the most numerous ethnic community and direct suffrage would increase their chances of getting one of their own to the pinnacle of government. A move to a presidential regime is also advocated by the “unitarians”, including Berhanu Nega, head of Ginbot 7, due to a belief it would have a national unifying dynamic.

    Federalist unity

    At the other extreme, a pivot to a presidential system is rejected by all those who fought dearly for ethnic federalism and who believe that they would benefit under the current system. This is the case in particular for the resolutely federalist dominant camp ­– not to say confederalist forces – such as OLF, OFC, TPLF, and most parties from the so-called ‘peripheral regions’ of Afar, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella. Nevertheless, some of them, particularly among the former outlawed parties, are considering that a brief electoral postponement would be welcome to help them reinforce their positions.

    In the face of this stalemate, the political class, whether in power or in the opposition, seems unwilling or unable to break it. There are absolutely fundamental disagreements among the political forces, mainly on the role of ethnicity and the degree of devolution in the federal system, and on the shift to neoliberalism. They lack sufficient cohesion and coherence to rise to most of the challenges they face. The autocratic rule of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi undermined the collective leadership model of EPRDF after the 2001 split, and authoritarianism devastated the political opposition.

    After Abiy Ahmed's rise to power ended the wave of protests, there is a popular impetus and mobilization to move towards a liberal democratic system, similar to those in countries escaping from an authoritarian regime. However, the mismatch between this business-as-usual approach and the gravity of the country’s situation is striking.

    At the federal level, the ruling group comes down to a handful of persons under the thumb of a Prime Minister who is the sole embodiment of power. He is hyperactive and hyper-visible, but is busy with routine tasks. Day after day, he receives foreign VIPs, travels frequently to foreign countries, speaks to various groups, inaugurates… But to the best of our knowledge, he has for instance yet to visit any of the IDP camps scattered across the country; and to tackle head-on the primary crisis of security in Ethiopia.

    Instead the PM is focusing on his top priority of resuming high growth, running after potential investors, mainly foreigners, as if the political crisis is in the process of being resolved. Thus he acts in accordance with the analysis of the former government for which the root cause of unrest was the lack of jobs, mainly for the youth.

    Collective irresponsibility

    Addis Fortune noted an incongruity that “best describes Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.” Addressing an audience of Ethiopian financiers who expected to be discussing "the most important subject" in their eyes – the faltering economy – Abiy Ahmed asked them to put their hands in their pockets to contribute to two tourist amenities in Addis Ababa, together representing a sum of more than $1.2 billion.

    Lemma Megersa, President of Oromia, recently travelled to the Netherlands, accompanied by Gedu Andargachew, President of the Amhara region, “to familiarize with some of the Dutch companies active in Ethiopia.” The other ministers are largely invisible, except to some extent Workneh Gebeyehu, at Foreign Affairs. For example two new key ministers, the Minister of Peace, responsible, among other things, for all the security services, and the Minister of Defense, both with no previous experience in their field, are hardly visible in the public domain, although their portfolios are crucial.

    The opposition leaders occasionally speak up here and there, mainly to complain about the slow pace of reform, but seem incapacitated or powerless to assume an active position as checks-and-balances to power and push efficiently for genuine democratization. At the same time, these same leaders, whatever their allegiance, are quite ready to claim that the house is on fire, that Ethiopia is on the edge of the precipice and at risk of sinking into a Yugoslavia scenario.

    True, the agreement reached between OLF and ODP to put an end to their confrontations, notably in Wollega, sends a positive signal. However, it remains to be seen whether it will be applied by all the Oromo Liberation Army units, many of which are semi-autonomous, and whether the young Oromo activists who recently took up arms to form the mass of the combatants in Wollega will agree to disarm. The Somali region is beginning to heave again. There is a renewal of tensions between Afar and Issa. The conflict – and reportedly mass evictions and killings  – between the Amhara authorities and the Quemant is still ongoing, without any official comment or intervention from the federal government.

    In Tigray, the Raya grievance remains tense. Concomitantly NaMA and Amhara nationalists are mobilizing to reclaim Wolkait and Raya areas of Tigray, as they are seen as Amhara lands. In addition, the incorporation of Metekel Zone into Benishangul-Gumuz after 1991 is criticized on the ground that it was historically part of Gojjam. A cold war between Amhara and Tigray is in effect, as their border is securitized and crossing it is restricted, as local Amhara vigilantes erratically prevent personnel and goods going to and from Tigray; most has to be re-routed through Afar region. Former chief of staff Tsadkan Gebretensae, a TPLF veteran thrown out of the party after the 2001 split, known for his levelheadedness, has declared that: “a war [between Tigray and the Amhara region] seems at the zenith of the chaotic situation.”

    Displacement activities

    Ethnic confrontations, far from diminishing or even stabilizing, are becoming worse. The number of IDPs driven out by conflict has risen from 1.47 to 1.77 million in the last two months. “The country registered one of the fastest growing internally displaced population (IDPs) in the world in 2018”. A recent report puts even this figure as at least 2.4 million: “more than 80 per cent of the at least 3 million IDPs in the country… cited inter-communal violence as the primary driver of displacement”.[3]

    Although information on the ground is patchy, not a day goes by without news of civilians being killed here or there by unidentified “gunmen” or by the security forces. Arms-trafficking is exploding,[4] and reportedly gunshots are heard during the nights in cities across Amhara region as people are testing their newly purchased arms.[5] The prices for Kalashnikovs and hand-guns are skyrocketing. The police, whether federal or regional, have ceased to play their full role. The army seems to be the only solution in the event of significant disorder. But there are also some worrying signs that the new “Republican Guard” special force may develop in parallel to the armed forces and is commanded directly by the Prime Minister.

    The economy has ground to a halt: the 8 per cent growth forecast for the current fiscal year is probably an over-estimate for two main reasons: insecurity, and as Abiy has decided to turn his back on the developmental state strategy to embrace neo-liberalism. But this U-turn is so sudden and unprepared that its management is chaotic. A close observer of Ethiopia’s economic performances and development since the Derg period draws a parallel with the radical policy shifts seen in the economic sector that happened after Trump’s takeover in the U.S.. Whatever policy Obama had pursued, even if it was working well, was thrown out regardless. Apparently the same is happening in Addis. Ethiopian neo-liberals are called home and given authority to redesign the economic sector. The brain behind Ethiopia’s industrial park program, Arekbe Oqubay, is reportedly sidelined, and with him institutional memory is lost.[6]

    The dollar is shooting up again on the black market (now c.37/38 to the dollar, while official exchange is 28), exports have declined by 10 per cent and FDI has fallen by half compared with the same period last year. Ethiopia will not be able to reimburse its loans without restructuring, the industrial parks are failing to keep their promises in terms of both exports and jobs.

    Divided rule

    So the political class recognizes that the situation is dire, but does not take proportionate action. It seems neither willing nor capable of rising to the challenges – to prioritise – but jumps from one issue to the next without proper empirically underpinned policy planning, accountable decision-making processes, and speedy institutionalization. It is hanging in the air, as if it would be in charge of a virtual country, a country in a tranquil situation. A smart but disillusioned observer close to the political class, including the top players, reveals that they are locked in “pathetic short-term political calculations.”[7]

    In this flux, Abiy is said to have informed the EPRDF Executive Committee meeting that the opposition is “highly fragmented and occupied by mutual squabbleshence little worry about their capacity to challenge the ruling party on the electoral front”, which could thus expect “a landslide victory”. This harks back to a similar statement a month before the 2005 elections, when Meles Zenawi was asked by French officials during his visit in Paris about the election outcome. He smiled and responded: “It will be a formality”[8]

    All observers agree that the EPRDF is more divided and polarized than at any previous time. Even key leaders and politburo members of EPRDF admit in private that “the party is dead[9], even if it is the only surviving power pole at national level. By way of illustration, although they are supposed to form part of the same coalition, ADP and TPLF are at daggers drawn. The Tigray assembly, composed exclusively of TPLF members, yet with two ministers in the federal government, declared the formation of the Administrative Boundaries and Identity Issues Commission – an institution backed by the head of the government and approved by parliament – to be unconstitutional and void in matters related to Tigray.

    An arrest warrant issued against Getachew Assefa, former chief of the federal security services, has not been executed, and Getachew remains a member of TPLF’s politburo and at large. Most recently, at the Yekatit celebrations commemorating the 44th anniversary of TPLF, the chair Debretsion Gebremichael made his most critical statement against the federal government and the PM to date; calling all federalist forces to stand together against the chauvinist rule in the palace. He stressed that TPLF and Tigray will take all necessary measures to defend the constitutional framework and Tigray region.[10]

    It is no surprise, then, that the lines of authority that EPRDF maintained between the federal government and the regions, as well as within the regions, have disappeared to the point that in many places the exercise of power is no longer decentralized, but atomized. In some places, local authorities have been chased out of office by local vigilante groups, or are mainly ceremonial because they are delegitimized by the population. When they do continue to effectively administer, they do largely what they want. With one key exception: Tigray; TPLF maintains law and order and normal public administration throughout the region.

    Premier ambition

    If the electoral framework is derailed, the compass which sets the only common course of the political leaders in general at least officially, would disappear. Ethiopia would enter into unknown territory. But this could strengthen Abiy’s hand. Objectively, the longer the political class remains divided and impotent, the stronger his position as the irreplaceable leader will become.

    Speculations about his ultimate intentions continue. In particular, the question of whether his ostensible reformism is rooted in sincere and sustained conviction, or is instead the card he has played to attain power by riding the wave of the Qeerroo’s anti-authoritarian protest. He is rightly credited with having rapidly shattered the yoke that was weighing on Ethiopia's neck, and radically opened up democratic space.

    However, a double note of caution is in order. First, the high-speed liberalization he introduced had been sought and initiated by his predecessor: the main lines of reform were decided at the EPRDF Executive Committee meeting in December 2017. Second, his conversion to liberalism is very recent. Like his partner Lemma Megersa, and like the number three at the top Workneh Gebeyehu, he spent a large part of his career in the security services of a particularly repressive regime.

    Moreover, it is not known whether Abiy initially opposed the brutal repression exerted on Oromo protesters from 2015 onwards. As a Member of Parliament, he did not vote against the proclamation of the first state of emergency. It was only after the stampede at the Oromo Irreecha Festival caused dozens, perhaps hundreds, of deaths in October 2016 that he performed a U-turn to endorse the demands of the Oromo protests.

    Abiy Ahmed doesn’t always make a big deal about accountable government, administrative procedures and the rule of law; or at least he turns a blind eye when it is challenged. For example, Abdi Iley, the former president of Somali region, ruled in an unacceptable way. But the federal army couldn’t intervene legally to depose him if not requested by the Somali regional government, which of course did not happen. So the intervention was, de jure, unconstitutional.

    Old tricks

    Furthermore, the constitutionality of the Administrative Boundaries and Identity Issues Commission is also highly questionable. Likewise, the prosecutions for corruption and human rights violations focused on former leaders may appear to have an ethnic bias as most of them are Tigrayan, and some old-class ‘TPLF loyalists’ such as Bereket Simon. Yet there are suspicions that are at least as serious hanging over senior figures who remain untouched. As a result, the neutrality and independence of the judicial system remains in doubt, as it can be perceived as being used as a political revenge tool. The state media has been used to condemn the individuals arrested before they even got to court.

    While Tigrayans were overrepresented at many levels of the state apparatus and in public or semi-public companies, and while an adjustment of the ethnic balance is justified, there is no apparent legal basis for the seemingly targeted purge they are experiencing, while currently serving Oromo officials known to be part of the ancient regime are left untouched. Despite appealing endlessly to “medemer”, the ruling power risks the same error for which its predecessor, the TPLF, has paid such a heavy price: to cleave instead of to reconcile.

    Abiy Ahmed clearly favours the role of individuals over the work of institutions. Despite a Parliamentary constitution, the representatives “cheer and sing to the tune of the incumbent in the executive as if they are guests at a wedding”. He makes spectacular and mostly unexpected appointments to key positions, showing an indisputable willingness to open things up. But the question is not only whether the appointees have the required skills: are they given the resources, political backing and means to revitalize the often moribund institutions in their charge? He has created multiple committees of eminent figures charged with proposing solutions to the most burning issues, rather than task the institutions concerned with these problems. They are filled with members recommended by him for forgone approval by the Parliament,

    In particular, the institutions don’t seem to play a leading role in tackling the major question of ethnic conflict. Most of the attempts at mediation, which have not yet produced lasting results, are entrusted to groups of elders, religious leaders, etc. The recent agreement between the government and Dawud Ibsa’s OLF was organized, driven, and underwritten by the Abba Gadaa Council, the senior body of the traditional Oromo system of governance, which has no constitutional existence. Dawud Ibsa went so far as to announce that the OLF combatants would be handed over to “the Oromo people and the Abba Gadaa”, in other words not to the established state institutions.

    The slide towards the personalization and deinstitutionalization of power seems apparent. Apart from Abiy Ahmed’s evident ambition, another factor may be at work. Abiy Ahmed, like the two other key leaders Lemma Megersa and Workeneh Gebeyu, is a fervent Pentecostalist. Pentecostalism is a doctrine with a profoundly individualistic vision, which perceives the achievement of required change much more as a personal accomplishment than a collective enterprise. Such a worldview may also influence his governance thinking.

    Illiberal democrat?

    Given such a level of complexity, confusion and open conflict, any prediction on the way forward for Ethiopia would be bravado more than ever. But three assessments and one question may be derived. In the present political and legal environment, could the elections lead to an effective winner? Here is the core of the problem. The probability that Abiy and the EPRDF would be defeated in 2020 is high, assuming it is a “free and fair” process. The possibility that another consolidated coalition could rise to power is low. Hence, the likely outcome would, if a democratic vote occurs, be a hung parliament without any strong coalition achieving a majority.

    If so, there is a risk that the gate could be open for Abiy to assert himself as the sole vehicle to prevent Ethiopia entering into this unknown territory – a prospect that would increase if there is a renewed drive to convert the EPRDF into a unified party under Abiy; with or without TPLF or other affiliates in the federalist camp. Then a sort of “illiberal democracy” could emerge, dominated by a benevolent and modernizing firm-handed leader, a contemporary remake of the “enlightened despot” or, to draw on Ethiopian history, the “Big Man”, the teleq säw. He would rely for his acceptance on a relative tolerance of dissidence, crushed under the previous regime, on a return to order, and on hoped-for growth, revitalized by economic liberalization.

    A recent article by Messay Kebede, a notable opponent of ethnic federalism, is symptomatic of this broader call for something like this. Faced with ethnic parties that seek only to “foment disorder and violence to achieve their true goals,” faced with rising insecurity, Abiy Ahmed and EPRDF are the only game in town. Certainly, “Abiy and his supporters may well be compelled to resort to authoritarian methods.” But “authoritarianism is not always a negative outcome so long as it continues to promote the order of achievement,” so long as it is used by “reforming” and “modernizing” “nationalist elites” “to promote a social order upholding achievement”.

    Popular concerns are increasing about the government’s apparent powerlessness to curtail the growing climate of violence, as is the disillusionment of the literati and civil society elites. The advocates of a classic model of liberal democratization feel increasingly impotent. They believe they can do nothing other than support Abiy and keep silent over the multiple criticisms that they level at him in private, because they are convinced that to express them in public, or to mobilize their adherents, would simply throw oil on the fire. One of them sums up their dilemma in the following way: “Abiy is in the driving seat of the bus; if he is pushed out, no one will be able to replace him; the bus will end up in the ditch.”

    There is thus no easy answer or quick fix to the predicament Abiy, EPRDF and Ethiopia are in. If the Prime Minister chooses to lean on his personal popularity and reinforce his position in the driving seat, could he obtain and sustain support from enough of the political spectrum? And could he also bring on board the army and the security forces, and the general population, in particular the young protesters that helped bring him to power, so that the bus would continue unsteadily along its treacherous course?

    openDemocracy and Ethiopia Insight are pleased to be publishing the author's pieces jointly.

    [1] Personal accounts, Addis Ababa, October 2018.

    [2] Where this figure of eighty comes from is unknown. The EPRDF Executive Committee consists of 36 members, the Central Committee of 180 members.

    [3] These figures contradict the Abiy Ahmed assertion that “90pc of the people that were displaced since the reform began.”

    [4]Bahir Dar: 498 illegal guns seized in the residence of a police commander

    [5] Personal account, February 2019.

    [6] Personal account, February 2019.

    [7] Personal account, January 2019.

    [8] Personal account, April 2005.

    [9] Personal account, October 2018, January and February 2019.

    [10] Personal account, 22 February 2019

    Read more ›

    source: www.nytimes.com

    The reforms by the country’s new prime minister are clashing with its flawed Constitution and could push the country toward an interethnic conflict.

    Abiy Ahmed, the 42-year-old prime minister of Ethiopia, has dazzled Africa with a volley of political reforms since his appointment in April. Mr. Abiy ended the 20-year border war with Eritrea, released political prisoners, removed bans on dissident groups and allowed their members to return from exile, declared press freedom and granted diverse political groups the freedom to mobilize and organize.

    Mr. Abiy has been celebrated as a reformer, but his transformative politics has come up against ethnic federalism enshrined in Ethiopia’s Constitution. The resulting clash threatens to exacerbate competitive ethnic politics further and push the country toward an interethnic conflict.

    The 1994 Constitution, introduced by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front governing coalition, recast the country from a centrally unified republic to a federation of nine regional ethnic states and two federally administered city-states. It bases key rights — to land, government jobs, representation in local and federal bodies — not on Ethiopian citizenship but on being considered ethnically indigenous in constituent ethnic states.

    The system of ethnic federalism was troubled with internal inconsistencies because ethnic groups do not live only in a discrete “homeland” territory but are also dispersed across the country. Nonnative ethnic minorities live within every ethnic homeland.

    Ethiopia’s census lists more than 90 ethnic groups, but there are only nine ethnically defined regional assemblies with rights for the officially designated majority ethnic group. The nonnative minorities are given special districts and rights of self-administration. But no matter the number of minority regions, the fiction of an ethnic homeland creates endless minorities.

    Ethnic mobilization comes from multiple groups, including Ethiopians without an ethnic homeland, and those disenfranchised as minorities in the region of their residence, even if their ethnic group has a homeland in another state.

    Ethnic federalism also unleashed a struggle for supremacy among the Big Three: the Tigray, the Amhara and the Oromo. Although the ruling E.P.R.D.F. is a coalition of four parties, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front representing the Tigray minority has been in the driving seat since the 1991 revolution. The Amhara, dominant before 1991, and the Oromo, the largest ethnic group in the country, complained they were being treated as subordinate minorities.

    When the government announced plans to expand Addis Ababa, the federally run city-state, into bordering Oromo lands, protests erupted in 2015. The Amhara joined and both groups continued to demand land reform, equal political representation and an end to rights abuses.

    Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn, who took office in 2012 after the death of the long-term premier and Tigray leader Mr. Zenawi, responded brutally to the protests. Security forces killed between 500 and 1,000 protesters in a year. Faced with a spiraling crisis, the ruling E.P.R.D.F. coalition appointed Mr. Abiy, a former military official and a leader of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization — a constituent of the ruling coalition — as prime minister.

    Mr. Abiy’s reforms have been applauded but have also led to greater ethnic mobilization for justice and equality. The E.P.R.D.F.’s achievement since 1991 was equal education for girls and boys, rural and urban, leading to greater prominence of women, Muslims and Pentecostal groups.

    The recent reforms of Mr. Abiy, who was born to a Muslim Oromo father and an Orthodox Amhara mother and is a devout Pentecostal Christian, have further broadened political participation to underprivileged groups.

    Mobilization of ethnic militias is on the rise. Paramilitaries or ethnic militias known as special police, initially established as counterinsurgency units, are increasingly involved in ethnic conflicts, mainly between neighboring ethnic states. A good example is the role of the Somali Special Force in the border conflict with the Oromia state, according to Yonas Ashine, a historian at Addis Ababa University. These forces are also drawn into conflicts between native and nonnative groups.

    Nearly a million Ethiopians have been displaced from their homes by escalating ethnic violence since Mr. Abiy’s appointment, according to Addisu Gebregziabher, who heads the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Fears of Ethiopia suffering Africa’s next interethnic conflict are growing. Prime Minister Abiy himself is constantly invoking religious symbols, especially those linked to American Protestant evangelical megachurches, and has brought a greater number of Pentecostals into the higher ranks of government.

    Ethiopians used to think of themselves as Africans of a special kind, who were not colonized, but the country today resembles a quintessential African system, marked by ethnic mobilization for ethnic gains.

    In most of Africa, ethnicity was politicized when the British turned the ethnic group into a unit of local administration, which they termed “indirect rule.” Every bit of the colony came to be defined as an ethnic homeland, where an ethnic authority enforced an ethnically defined customary law that conferred privileges on those deemed indigenous at the expense of non-indigenous minorities.


    The move was a response to a perennial colonial problem: Racial privilege for whites mobilized those excluded as a racialized nonwhite majority. By creating an additional layer of privilege, this time ethnic, indirect rule fragmented the racially conscious majority into so many ethnic minorities, in every part of the country setting ethnic majorities against ethnic minorities. Wherever this system continued after independence, national belonging gave way to tribal identity as the real meaning of citizenship.

    Many thought the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, representing a minority in the dominant coalition, turned to ethnic federalism to dissolve and fragment Ethiopian society into numerous ethnic groups — each a minority — so it could come up with a “national” vision. In a way it replicated the British system.

    But led by Mr. Zenawi, the T.P.L.F. was also most likely influenced by Soviet ethno-territorial federalism and the creation of ethnic republics, especially in Central Asia. Ethiopia’s 1994 Constitution evoked the classically Stalinist definition of “nation, nationality and people” and the Soviet solution to “the national question.”

    As in the Soviet Union, every piece of land in Ethiopia was inscribed as the ethnic homeland of a particular group, constitutionally dividing the population into a permanent majority alongside permanent minorities with little stake in the system. Mr. Zenawi and his party had both Sovietized and Africanized Ethiopia.

    Like much of Africa, Ethiopia is at a crossroads. Neither the centralized republic instituted by the Derg military junta in 1974 nor the ethnic federalism of Mr. Zenawi’s 1994 Constitution points to a way forward.

    Mr. Abiy can achieve real progress if Ethiopia embraces a different kind of federation — territorial and not ethnic — where rights in a federal unit are dispensed not on the basis of ethnicity but on residence. Such a federal arrangement will give Ethiopians an even chance of keeping an authoritarian dictatorship at bay.

    Mahmood Mamdani is the director of Makerere Institute of Social Research in Uganda, a professor of government at Columbia University and the author of “Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism.”



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    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced in a meeting with various representatives of political parties yesterday that the ethnic coalition that he is currently leading, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), will become a unitary party. He said that within the next few months, there will be no Oromo party, no Amhara party, not Tigre party, no Afar party, no Benishangul party, no Somali party

    If what PM Abiy says becomes a reality, it will be a major step towards lifting Ethiopia out of the backward tribal politics that is pitting Ethiopia’s ethnic groups against each other.

    The prime minister cannot be expected to do everything to rescue Ethiopia from the tribalism cancer that has been eating away at the fabric of our country for the past 3 decades. He has done the heavy lifting so far, but where are the other parties? What are the opposition parties who claim to stand up for Ethiopian unity doing to help?

    It is easy to criticize PM Abiy for all the ills in Ethiopia. We have been criticizing him for not taking action to stop Legetafo Mayor Habiba Siraj’s and Milkesa Mitega’s ethnic cleansing campaign under the pretext of creating a green area. The prime minister, indeed, deserves to be criticized for inaction in this case, but where are the various civic and political groups? What have they done to challenge legally, politically, and in the streets to stop the tribal thugs who have infiltrated the ODP?

    source: Mereja.com

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    በለገጣፎ ለገዳዲ ከተማ ከማስተር ፕላን ውጪ ተገንብተዋል የተባሉ ከ12,000 በላይ ቤቶች እንዲፈርሱ መወሰኑና ቤቶቹም መፍረስ መጀመራቸው ውዝግብ አስነስቷል፡፡ እስካሁን በከተማው በሚገኙ ሁለት ቀበሌዎች ማለትም ቀበሌ 03 የካ ዳሌና ቀበሌ 01 አባ ኪሮስ በመባል በሚታወቁ ሥፍራዎች ከ930 በላይ የሚሆኑ ቤቶች መፍረሳቸው ተነግሯል፡፡ የአካባቢዎቹ ነዋሪዎች የተሰጣቸው የማስጠንቀቂያ ጊዜ አጭር መሆኑን፣ እየፈረሱ ያሉትም የተመረጡ ቤቶች ናቸው ሲሉ ቅሬታቸውን አሰምተዋል፡፡ ካርታ ለማግኘት ተመዝግበው በመጠባበቅ ላይ የሚገኙ ነዋሪዎች ቤቶች እየፈረሱ እንደሆነ ሪፖርተር ያነጋገራቸው ገልጸዋል፡፡ ድርጊቱንም የኦሮሚያ ክልል ርዕሰ መስተዳደር አቶ ለማ መገርሳ እንዲያስቆሙ ነዋሪዎች ጠይቀዋል፡፡ የኦሮሚያ ክልል ኮሙዩኒኬሽን ቢሮ ኃላፊ አቶ አድማሱ ዳምጠው፣ ሕገወጥ ግንባታዎችን የማፍረስ ሥራ ተጠናክሮ ቀጥሏል ብለዋል፡፡  

    ሪፖርተር በሥፍራው ተገኝቶ ያነጋገራቸው የአካባቢው ነዋሪዎች ሜዳ ላይ መበተናቸውን ገልጸዋል፡፡ በተለይ በቀበሌ 03 የመፍረስ ዕጣ ከገጠማቸው ቤቶች የአንዱ ይህንን ይመስላል፡፡    

    ሦስት ክፍሎች ያለው ቤት ግድግዳው በከፊል ፈርሷል፡፡ ጣራውም ሙሉ ለሙሉ ተነስቷል፡፡ በርና መስኮትም የለውም፡፡ ሊወድቅ ቋፍ ላይ የደረሰውን የጭቃ ግድግዳ ተደግፎ ከቆመው መሰላል ውጪ ምንም አይታይም፡፡ ከወንዝ ዳርቻ የተሠራው ቤት ወደ ፍርስራሽነት የተቀየረው ዕድሜ ተጭኖት ወይም የቦምብ ፍንጣሪ መትቶት አይደለም፡፡ ሕገወጥ ግንባታ ነው ተብሎ በአፍራሽ ግብረ ኃይል በትዕዛዝ የፈረሰው ረቡዕ ረፋዱ ላይ ነበር፡፡

    ‹‹ጠላ ሸጬ ነው ቤቱን የሠራሁት፤›› የሚሉት ወይዘሮ ግን ቤቱ ከፈረሰ ሰዓታት ያለፉት ቢሆንም አልተፅናኑም፣ ከድንጋጤያቸውም አልተላቀቁም፡፡ ‹‹ሕገወጥ›› የተባለው ቤታቸው እንደሚፈርስና ንብረታቸውን እንዲያወጡ የሚገልጽ ደብዳቤ የደረሳቸው ቅዳሜ የካቲት 9 ቀን 2011 ዓ.ም. እንደሆነ ይናገራሉ፡፡ በሰዓቱ ደብዳቤውን የተቀበለችው ኮተቤ ሜትሮፖሊታን ዩኒቨርሲቲ የምትማር ልጃቸው በድንጋጤ መታመሟን፣ እስካሁንም እንዳልተሻላትና ወደ ትምህርት ገበታዋ እንዳልተመለሰች ሲናገሩ እያነቡ ነው፡፡ ‹‹ለነገሩ ደንዳና ነኝ፤›› የሚሉት  ወይዘሮዋ ቢሆኑም፣ አፍራሽ ግብረ ኃይሉ ግድግዳውን በላያቸው መናድ ሲጀምር ራሳቸውን ስተው እንደ ነበር ይናገራሉ፡፡ መናገርና መስማት አትችልም የሚሏት ትንሽ ልጃቸው ቤታቸውን እያፈረሱ የነበሩትን ሰዎች ልብስ እየጎተተች ስትለምናቸው እንደበር የሰሙትም፣ ከወደቁበት ሲነሱ ሰዎች ነግረዋቸው እንደሆነ ገልጸዋል፡፡

    ‹ቤቱን ለቃችሁ ውጡ› የሚለው ደብዳቤ ሲደርሳቸው፣ ‹‹እውነት አልመሰለኝም ነበር፤›› ብለዋል፡፡ የተሰጣቸው የአራት ቀናት ቀነ ቀጠሮም አጭር ነበርና መፍትሔ ለማፈላለግም ሆነ ንብረታቸውን ለማውጣት በቂ ስላልነበረ፣ ከማስፈራሪያነት ያለፈ ሚና ይኖረዋል ብለው እንዳላሰቡ ተናግረዋል፡፡ ረቡዕ የካቲት 13 ቀን 2011 ዓ.ም. ረፋዱ ላይ አፍራሽ ግብረ ኃይሉ ግድግዳቸውን መናድ ሲጀምር ግን እያነቡ ከመለመን ባለፈ ንብረታቸውን ለማውጣት እንኳን ፋታ አለማግኘታቸውን ተናግረዋል፡፡

    ‹‹ነገሮች ከአዕምሮዬ በላይ ራሴን ስቼ ወደቅኩ፤›› ብለው፣ ወደ ራሳቸው ሲመለሱ ጠላ ሸጠው የገነቡት ቤት ወደ ፍርስራሽነት ተቀይሮ እንዳገኙት ተናግረዋል፡፡ የቀረላቸው ነገር ቢኖር በቆርቆሮ በር የሚዘጋው ትንሹ ኩሽናቸው ነው፡፡ በማንኛውም ሰዓት ሊያፈርሱት ይችላሉ ብለው በሚሠጉበት ኩሽናቸው ውስጥ አዳራቸውን ማድረጋቸውን፣ ከፍርስራሹ ውስጥ የወጣ ንብረታቸውን ደግሞ ቤታቸው እንደሚፈርስ ቀነ ቀጠሮ በተሰጣቸው ጎረቤቶቻቸው ቤት በታትነው ማስቀመጣቸውን አስረድተዋል፡፡   

    ባለትዳርና የአምስት ልጆች እናት የሆኑት ወይዘሮዋ ያለ ወትሯቸው ሜዳ ለሜዳ ይዞራሉ፡፡ አፉን ከፍቶ የቀረ ቤታቸው የሚያርፉበት ባይሆንም ቤት እንዳለው ሰው ወደ ፍርስራሹ ያመራሉ፡፡ ‹‹ከእነ ልጆቼ ሜዳ ላይ ቀርቻለሁ፤›› አሉ ትንሽ ልጃቸውን አዝለው ወደ ተቆለለው ፍርስራሽ ላይ እየወጡ፡፡ በመንደሩ ተመሳሳይ ችግር የደረሰባቸው ብዙዎች ስለሆኑ እየዞሩ ሌሎችንም ያፅናናሉ፡፡

    እንደ ወይዘሮዋ ሁሉ መውደቂያ ባያጡም ጎረቤታቸው ወ/ሮ መቅደስ ተሰማ ግን እውነታውን መቀበል ተስኗቸዋል፡፡ ‹‹ሊፈርስ ነው የሚባል ነገር ከሰማሁ ቀን ጀምሮ እንዳለቀስኩ ነው፡፡ ደብዳቤው ቅዳሜ ዕለት በእጃችን ሲገባ ያልሄድንበት ቦታ የለም፡፡ ነገር ግን ማንም የደረሰልን አካል የለም፡፡ የቀን ጨለማ ነው የሆነብን፡፡ ይኼንን ቤት ለመሥራት የለፋሁትን እኔ ነኝ የማውቀው፤›› አሉ ወደ ተከመረው ፍርስራሽ በእጃቸው እያመለከቱ፡፡

    በአካባቢው ይኖሩ ከነበሩ ከአንድ ግለሰብ የገዙትን ቤት አድሰውና ባለው ትርፍ ቦታም ቤት ገንብተው ኑሮ ለመጀመር ነገሮች ቀላል አልነበሩም ይላሉ፡፡ በአንድ የመንግሥት መሥሪያ ቤት ተቀጥረው እንደሚሠሩና በወር የሚያገኙትም 3,000 ብር እንደማይሞላ ይናገራሉ፡፡ ‹‹ያለው ሰው እኮ እዚህ አይኖርም፡፡ አማራጭ የሌለን ድሆች ነን እዚህ ገዝተን የምንገባው፤›› በማለት ዕንባቸውን አዘሩ፡፡

    የፈረሰባቸውን መኖሪያ ቤት ለመሥራት ለዓመታት እንደተቸገሩ ይናገራሉ፡፡ ቆርቆሮ ለመምታት፣ ግድግዳ ለማቆም በወር ከሚያገኙት ላይ እየቆጠቡ ዕቁብ መጣል እንደነበረባቸው ያስታውሳሉ፡፡ የዋናው ቤት ግንባታው ባያልቅም ቀስ በቀስ ያልቃል በማለት ከአራት ዓመታት በፊት ገብተው መኖር እንደጀመሩም ያስረዳሉ፡፡ በአንዱ ዕቁብ በር፣ በሌላው ኮርኒስ እያሠሩ መደበኛ ቤት ለመሆን አንድ መስኮትና የፍሳሽ ማስወገጃ ሲቀረው፣ ሕገወጥ ግንባታ ተብሎ ረቡዕ ዕለት መፍረሱን ተናግረዋል፡፡ የቀራቸው ለተከራይ የሰጡት ሰርቪስ ቤት ቢሆንም፣ የቱ እንደሚፈርስና የቱ እንደሚቀር ስለማይታወቅ መጨረሻቸውን አላወቁም፡፡ ‹‹የዋናውን ቤት የተወሰነ ክፍል አፍርሰው ይኼ ቀርቶልሻል እጠሪው ካሉ በኋላ ነው ተመልሰው የቀረውን ሆ ብለው ያፈረሱት፡፡ አሁን ጭንቀት ሊገድለኝ ነው፡፡  የማይወለድ ልጅ ማማጥ ሆኖብኛል፤›› አሉ እንደገና እያነቡ፡፡

    አራት ልጆች የማሳደግ ኃላፊነት እንዳለባቸው፣ ከዘራቸውን ተደግፈው የሚቆዝሙ ወላጅ አባታቸውን የማስተዳደር ኃላፊነትም የእሳቸው መሆኑን መኖሪያ ቤታቸው በላያቸው የፈረሰባቸው ወ/ሮ መቅደስ ይናገራሉ፡፡ አንገት ማስገቢያ ጎጆ ለመቀለስ ባወጡት ወጪና ልፋት ውጤቱን ሳያዩ ስለፈረሰባቸው ሐዘን እንደሰበራቸው አክለዋል፡፡ ቤቱን ለመሥራት ከፍለው ያልጨረሱት የዕቁብ ዕዳም ዕረፍት ነስቷቸዋል፡፡ በሁኔታው ተስፋ ቆርጠው አፍራሾቹን ቆመው ሲመለከቱ እንደነበር፣ ንብረታቸውን ያወጡላቸውም ዕድርተኞቻቸው እንደሆኑ ይናገራሉ፡፡ አለኝ የሚሏቸው የቤት ዕቃዎች ወደ አንድ ጎን ተከምረው አቧራ ይጠጣሉ፡፡ 276 የሚል የቤት ቁጥር የሠፈረበትን ቆርቆሮ የያዘ የብረት በር ከአንዱ ጥግ ተሸጉጧል፡፡ ወይዘሮ መቅደስ የቤት ቁጥር ከተሰጣቸው ዓመታት እንደተቆጠሩ ይናገራሉ፡፡

    በራፋቸው ላይ ከተተከለው የኤሌክትሪክ ፖልም የኤሌክትሪክ ኃይል ያገኛሉ፡፡ ከዓመታት በፊት አንድ ክፍል ቤት ያለውን ግቢ የገዙት በግል ውል ነበር ይላሉ፡፡ ‹‹ማዘጋጃ ቤት በሊዝ ለባለሀብት ይሸጣል እንጂ ለምን ለእኔ ይሸጥልኛል? ባለሀብት ደግሞ እንዲህ ዓይነት ቦታ ላይ ምን ይሠራል?›› ሲሉ ለኑሮ የማይመቹ ቦታዎች ላይ ተገፍቶ የሚወጣው አማራጭ ያጣ እንደ እሳቸው ያለ ደሃ እንደሆነ ይገልጻሉ፡፡

    ቦታው ላይ ሲኖሩ ካርታ ባያገኙም ሕጋዊ መሆናቸውን የሚያመላክቱ የልማት እንቅስቃሴዎች ውስጥ ተሳታፊ እንደነበሩ ያስረዳሉ፡፡ ‹‹የአከራይ ተከራይ ግብር ለመክፈል የሚመለከተው አካል ከቀናት በፊት አነጋግሮን ነበር፤›› ብለዋል፡፡ ‹‹ይኼንን እየተነጋገርን ባለንበት ሰዓት ደብዳቤው እንደ ዱብ ዕዳ ዓርብ ወጪ ተደርጎ ቅዳሜ እጃችን ላይ ገባ፡፡ በአራት ቀናት ውስጥ ምን ማድረግ እንችላለን?›› ብለው ሌላው ቢቀር እንዲወጡ የተሰጣቸው የጊዜ ገደብ ነገሮችን ያላገናዘበ መሆኑን ገልጸዋል፡፡ ቀረልኝ የሚሉት ተከራዮች ይኖሩበት የነበረው ቤትም እንደማይፈርስ ማረጋገጫ የለም ይላሉ፡፡ ምክንያቱም ከቀናት በፊት በእጃቸው የገባው በኦሮሚፋ የተጻፈው ደብዳቤ የቱ እንደሚፈርስና የቱ እንደሚቀርላቸው አይገልጽም፡፡

    አካባቢውን በአንድ ጊዜ ወደ ፍርስራሽነት የቀየረው ዘመቻ በርካቶችን ሐዘን ላይ ጥሏል፡፡ ለገጣፎ የሚገኘው የካ ዳሌ 03 ቀበሌ ልጅ አዋቂ ሳይል ሁሉም በአንድነት የሚያነባበት መንደር ሆኖ ነበር ያረፈደው፡፡ እንደ ነገሩ ተበታትነው ከሚታዩ የቤት ዕቃዎች፣ የቆርቆሮና የፍርስራሽ ክምር ባሻገር የሚገቡበትን ያጡ በትካዜ የተዋጡ ሰዎች ብዙ ናቸው፡፡ ማረፊያ እንዳጡ ሁሉ በየመንገዱና በየጥጋጥጉ እንደቆሙ ይተክዛሉ፡፡ የደረሰባቸውን የሰሙ ዘመድ አዝማዶች ከያሉበት እየሄዱ እከሌን ዓይታችኋል እያሉ የዘመዶቻቸውን አድራሻ ሲፈልጉ ታይተዋል፡፡ ጥቂት የማይባሉ የአካባቢው ነዋሪዎች ‹ቤት ለእምቦሳ› ብለው የመረቁላቸው ቤቶች ወደ ፍርስራሽነት ተቀይረዋልና ሜዳ ላይ ቆመው ያወራሉ፡፡ ምርር ብለው የሚያለቅሱ ዘመዶቻቸውን ያፅናናሉ፡፡ ሰብሰብ ሲሉ ‹የአንተም ቤት ፈረሰ?› እየተባባሉ የቁም ቅዠት የሆነባቸው ክስተት በሌላው ላይ ደርሶ እንደሆነ ይጠያየቃሉ፡፡ ‹የእኔ ቤት እዚያ ጋ ነበር› እያሉ ነው የፈረሰባቸውን ለሰዎች የሚያሳዩት፡፡ የፈረሰባቸውን ሲያፅናኑ የቆዩ ደግሞ ተራው የእነሱ ሆኖ ቤታቸው ሲፈርስ እያዩ እንደ አዲስ ይደነግጣሉ፣ ያለቅሳሉ፡፡

    ‹‹100 የሚደርሱ ሰዎች ሆ ብለው መጥተው አንድ፣ ሁለት፣ ሦስት ብለው ግድግዳ ገፍተው ሲንዱ ማየት ግራ ያጋባል፡፡ ከማልቀስ ውጪ ምንም ማድረግ አይቻልም፤›› ይላሉ ወይዘሮ መቅደስ፡፡ የሚፈርሰውን ቤት መታደግ ባይቻልም ጥረው ግረው ያፈሩት ንብረት በፍርስራሽ እንዳይዋጥ ጎረቤት ተሯሩጦ ለማትረፍ ይረባረባል፡፡

    ቄስ ኪሮስ ዓለምነህን ሪፖርተር ያገኛቸው ከፈረሰው ቤታቸው ውስጥ የወጣ ንብረታቸውን በጎረቤቶቻቸው ዕገዛ ወደ አንድ በኩል ሲቆልሉ ነበር፡፡ ቄሱ በሆነው ነገር ከመደንገጣቸው የተነሳ ግራ መጋባት ይታይባቸዋል፡፡ ጎረቤቶቻቸው ግቢያቸውን ሞልተው የተበተነውን ንብረታቸው ዝናብ እንዳይመታው ቆርቆሮ ይመቱላቸዋል፡፡   

    እናቶች በየጥጋጥጉ እንደተቀመጡ ያለቅሳሉ፡፡ ከአርሶ አደር ላይ በ250 ሺሕ ብር የገዙትን ቤት አፍርሰው በሚፈልጉት ዲዛይን ለማሠራት ብዙ ገንዘብ ማፍሰሳቸውን፣ ቤቱን የሠሩትም በ2003 ዓ.ም. እንደሆነ ይገልጻሉ፡፡ ቦታውን ገዝቶ ቤት ለመሥራት ከዘመድ አዝማድ ብዙ ገንዘብ መበደራቸውንና እስካሁንም ያልተከፈለ 80 ሺሕ ብር የሚሆን ውዝፍ ዕዳ እንዳለባቸው ይናገራሉ፡፡

    ቄስ ኪሮስ በአካባቢው ሕጋዊ ነዋሪ መሆናቸውን የሚያሳይ የቀበሌ መታወቂያ አላቸው፡፡ ለመንገድ፣ ለውኃና ለኤሌክትሪክ የከፈሉበት ደረሰኝም አላቸው፡፡ በሌሎች ማኅበራዊ ግዴታዎች ክፍያ የፈጸሙባቸው ሕጋዊ ደረሰኞች ይዘዋል፡፡ የመኖሪያ ቤት ሽያጭ ውልም በእጃቸው ይዘዋል፡፡

    ‹‹ከ2003 ዓ.ም. ጀምሮ ዕዳ ላይ ነው ያለሁት፡፡ ቤቱን ለመገንባት ከ500 ሺሕ ብር ከላይ አውጥቻለሁ፤›› በማለት፣ ዕዳቸውን ከፍለው በወጉ መኖር ሳይችሉ የቤታቸው መፍረስ የተደበላለቀ ስሜት እንዳሳደረባቸው ይናገራሉ፡፡ ቤቱን በአስቸኳይ ለቀው እንዲወጡ የሚያሳስበው ደብዳቤ የተጻፈውና እጃቸው ላይ የደረሰው በአጭር ጊዜ ነው በማለት፣ የቅድመ ማስጠንቀቂያ ጊዜው እጅግ አጭር እንደሆነና ነገሩን ለመረዳትም ፋታ ሳይሰጣቸው ሕይወታቸው እንዳልነበረ መሆኑን ይናገራሉ፡፡

    ሌላው ቢቀር ቀልባቸውን ሰብስበው ንብረታቸውን በመልክ መልኩ ለማሰናዳት እንኳ አልሆነላቸውም፡፡ ሕጋዊ ነዋሪ መሆናቸውን የሚመሰክሩ ሰነዶችን ቅጂ እንደያዙ ፍርስራሽ የዋጠው ቅጥር ግቢ ውስጥ ቆመዋል፡፡ ዕዳ ገብተው የሠሩት ቤት ፈራርሶ ማየታቸው በቤታቸው እንግድነት እንዲሰማቸው እንዳደረጋቸው ይናገራሉ፡፡

    ከጎናቸው ሆኖ የሚያፅናናቸው የ29 ዓመቱ አቶ ቀናው በላይ ደግሞ 150 ካሬ ላይ ያረፈው ቤቱ ሙሉ ለሙሉ ፈርሶበት ሜዳ ላይ መቅረቱን ይናገራል፡፡ ደሳሳ ቤት የነበረውን ቦታ በ2004 ዓ.ም. ገዝቶ ከ300 ሺሕ ብር በላይ አውጥቶ የብሎኬት ቤት እንደሠራ፣ ባለትዳርና የልጅ አባት መሆኑን፣ በቴክኒክና ሙያ ከሰባት ዓመታት በፊት በዲፕሎማ ቢመረቅም፣ በተማረበት ሙያ ሥራ ማግኘት አለመቻሉን ያስረዳል፡፡

    ቤተሰቡን የሚያስተዳድረውም ፑል ቤት ተቀጥሮ እየሠራ በሚከፈለው 1,500 ብር ቢሆንም፣ የራሱ የሚለው ቤት ስለነበረው ግን ብዙም እንደማይቸግረው፣ ዓለም የተደፋበት የመሰለው ሕገወጥ ነህ ተብሎ ቤቱ ሲፈርስበት መሆኑን ገልጿል፡፡ ‹‹ቤቴ የፈረሰው ማክሰኞ ነው፡፡ ‹‹አሁን ያለሁት አንድ ወዳጄ ዘንድ ተጠግቼ ነው፡፡ መንግሥት አካባቢውን ለማልማት ፈልጎ ከሆነ ደስ ይለናል፣ ግን እኛ የት ሄደን እንውደቅ?›› ሲል ይጠይቃል፡፡ ‹‹ከአሁን በኋላ የሚጠብቀኝ የጎዳና ሕይወት ነው፡፡ ሚስቴንም ወደ ቤተሰቦቿ እልካለሁ፡፡ ከቻሉ ሁላችንንም ወደ ትውልድ ቀዬአችን የምንመለስበትን ገንዘብ ይስጡን፤›› ይላል፡፡

    ቴሌቪዥን፣ ፍሪጅ፣ ቁም ሳጥን ሳይወጣ የፈረሰባቸው፣ ፅዋ እንኳ ሳይወጣ በላያቸው የፈረሰባቸው፣ እንዲሁም ሁኔታው በፈጠረባቸው ድንጋጤ ከታመሙና ራሳቸውን ስተው ከወደቁ ባሻገር የከፋ ነገር የገጠማቸውም መኖራቸው ይሰማል፡፡

    ጎረቤቶቿ ዓረብ አገር ሠርታ ባጠራቀመችው ገንዘብ ከጎናቸው ቤት ገዝታ እንደምትኖር፣ ቤቱ ላይዋ ሲፈርስ ግን ተስፋ ቆርጣ ራሷን ማጥፋቷንና አፍራሽ ግብረ ኃይሉ በአምቡላንስ እንደወሰዳት የአካባቢው ነዋሪዎች ይናገራሉ፡፡ አስከሬኗ የትና በምን ዓይነት ሁኔታ ላይ እንዳለም አይታወቅም ብለዋል፡፡ ዘመድ ይኑራት፣ አይኑራት የደረሰባትን ይስሙ፣ አይስሙ የሚያውቅ የለም ብለው ወደ ፍርስራሽነት የተቀየረው ቤቷና እሷ በአንድ አፍታ ታሪክ ሆነው መቅረታቸውን ይናገራሉ፡፡

    ዱብ ዕዳ የሆነ ክስተት እንደ አቶ ጌታቸው ህያሴ ያሉ በአካባቢው ተሰሚነት ያላቸውን ሰዎች እንኳ አላለፈም፡፡ አቶ ጌታቸው ከ2000 ዓ.ም. ጀምሮ በአካባቢው እንደሚኖሩ ይናገራሉ፡፡፡ ዓምና ደግሞ የቀበሌውን ሊቀመንበር አስፈቅደው በዘመናዊ መንገድ ከብቶች ማርባት ጀምረዋል፡፡ በለገጣፎ ለገዳዲ ከተማ አስተዳደር የካ ዳሌ 03 ቀበሌ አሉ የተባሉና ጠንካራ የልማት እንቅስቃሴ የሚያደርጉ እንደሆኑ ይነገርላቸዋል፡፡ ‹‹ይኼ ሁሉ ነገር ሲሠራ አብረውን ነው፡፡ ሁሉንም ነገር ያውቃሉ፡፡ ገና ሲጀመር ማስቆም ይችሉ ነበር፤›› ይላሉ፡፡ እንደ እሳቸው ገለጻ፣ ከብቶቹን ለማርባት ከ500 ሺሕ ብር በላይ ወጪ አድርገው ወደ ሥራ ሲገቡ የከለከላቸው አልነበረም፡፡ በዘመናዊ መንገድ የገነቡት የከብቶች በረት እንዲፈርስ ሲደረግ ግን ብዙ ነገር ማጣታቸውን ይናገራሉ፡፡

    አቶ ጌታቸው የአካባቢው ወጣቶች የልማት ኮሚቴ አባል ናቸው፡፡ ነዋሪዎች ገንዘብ እያዋጡ መንገድና የተለያዩ የመሠረተ ልማት አውታሮች እንዲሟሉ እያስተባበሩ ከ2004 ዓ.ም. ጀምሮ ሲሠሩ መቆየታቸው ይነገርላቸዋል፡፡ ነዋሪዎች ለተለያዩ የልማት እንቅስቃሴዎች አሥር፣ አሥር ሺሕ ብር እንዲከፍሉ ተደርጎ አካባቢው መልማቱን፣ ቤታቸው ሕገወጥ ተብሎ ከፈረሰባቸው ነዋሪዎች መካከል ሪፖርተር ያነጋገራቸው አብዛኞቹ ገንዘብ አዋጥተው አካባቢውን ማልማታቸው ይነገራል፡፡ ‹‹ኮሚቴአችን በልማት አንደኛ ተብሎ የተሰጠን የምስክር ወረቀት ቤት አለኝ፤›› የሚሉት አቶ ጌታቸው፣ ‹‹ከማዘጋጃ ቤቱ ጋር ተባብረው አካባቢውን ሲያለሙ የነበሩ ነዋሪዎች ሳይቀሩ ሕገወጥ መባላቸው ግር አሰኝቶኛል፤›› ይላሉ፡፡

    የአካባቢው ነዋሪዎች ይህንን ያህል ገንዘብ አውጥተው ቤት ሲገነቡና አካባቢውን ሲያለሙ ዝም ተብሎ አሁን እንዲፈርስ መደረጉ ብዙዎችን አስቆጥቷል፡፡ ግንባታውን ከጅምሩ ማስቆም ሲቻል ገንዘብ እየተቀበሉ ፈቃድ የሚሰጡ የአመራር አካላት መኖር፣ ሌሎችም እንዲገነቡ ያደፋፍር እንደነበር ነዋሪዎቹ እየተናገሩ ነው፡፡ አብዛኞቹ ቤቶች ሲገነቡ አሥር ሺሕ ብርና ከዚያ በላይ ለቀበሌው አስተዳደር አካላት ይከፈል ነበር ተብሏል፡፡

    ሕጋዊ ነዋሪ እንደሆኑ የሚያሳይ የቤት ቁጥር፣ የነዋሪነት መታወቂያ፣ የኤሌክትሪክና የውኃ አገልግሎት ካገኙ በኋላ ሕገወጥ ተብለው መፈናቀላቸው ሌላ አስተዳደራዊ ችግር ቢኖር ነው ያሉም አሉ፡፡፡ በቀናት ውስጥ ቤታቸውን እንዲለቁ የሚያዘው ደብዳቤ እንደደረሳቸው በተለያዩ የመገናኛ ብዙኃን በኩል ድምፃቸውን ያሰሙም፣ ‹ማስፈራሪያ እየደረሰን ነው፡፡ የምንንቀሳቀሰውም ተደብቀን ነው፡፡ አብረውን ችግሩን በተመለከተ በሚዲያ የተናገሩ ሁለት ሰዎችም ተይዘዋል› ብለዋል፡፡ ቤቶቹን ሲያፈርሱም ‹እስቲ ሚዲያዎች ይድረሱላችሁ፣ እናያለን› መባላቸውን ለሪፖርተር አስረድተዋል፡፡

    ቤቶቹን ሲያፈርሱ ከነበሩት መካከል በሦስቱ ላይ ግድግዳ ተደርምሶ ጉዳት እንደ ደረሰባቸው የአካባቢው ነዋሪዎች ገልጸዋል፡፡ አንደኛው ተጎጂ ሕይወቱ ወዲያው እንዳለፈ ቢናገሩም፣ የከተማው የኮሙዩኒኬሽን ባለሙያ የሞተ እንደሌለ ለሪፖርተር ገልጸዋል፡፡

    ቤቶቹን የማፍረስ ኃላፊነት የተሰጠው በለገጣፎ ለገዳዲ ከተማ ከንቲባ የሚመራው ገብረ ኃይል፣ አስለቃሽ ጭስና መሣሪያ በታጠቁ የፀጥታ አካላት ታጅቦ እንደነበር ነዋሪዎች ገልጸዋል፡፡  

    የለገጣፎ ለገዳዲ ከተማ ከንቲባ ወይዘሮ ሐቢባ ሲራጅ ከቀናት በፊት በሰጡት መግለጫ፣ ቤቶቹ እንዲፈርሱ የተወሰነው ከተማዋን በማስተር ፕላን የምትመራ ለማድረግ፣ እንዲሁም ምቹና ፅዱ ቦታ ለመፍጠር ነው ብለዋል፡፡ ይፈርሳሉ የተባሉ ከ12,000 በላይ የሚሆኑ ቤቶችም የከተማውን ማስተር ፕላን በመጣስ፣ ለአረንጓዴ ልማት የተተውና የተከለከሉ የወንዞች ዳርቻዎች ላይ የተገነቡ በመሆናቸውም እንደሆነ አስረድተዋል፡፡ በሕግ ከተፈቀደላቸው ቦታ ውጪ ተጨማሪ ቦታ አጥረው የያዙ ባለሀብቶችም የዚሁ አካል ናቸው ብለዋል፡፡

    ዓርብ የካቲት 15 ቀን 2011 ዓ.ም. የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ፕሬስ ሴክሬታሪ አቶ ንጉሡ ጥላሁን፣ የክልሉ ገዥ ፓርቲ ኦዴፓ ሥራ አስፈጻሚ አባልና የገጠርና ፖለቲካ ዘርፍ ኃላፊ አቶ አዲሱ አረጋና ሌሎች የክልሉ ሹማምንት በለገጣፎና አካባቢው ጉብኝት አድርገው ነበሩ፡፡ ከንቲባዋ ወ/ሮ ሐቢባ በሰጡት ገለጻ መሠረት፣ ከ12,300 በላይ ካርታ የሌላቸው ቤቶች በከተማዋ ውስጥ ይገኛሉ፡፡ በአሁኑ ጊዜ እየፈረሱ ያሉ ቤቶች በመንግሥት ይዞታ ውስጥ የሚገኙ መሆናቸውን ገልጸው፣ የማፍረስ ዕርምጃ ከመወሰዱ ሁለት ወራት በፊት ደብዳቤ ለባለ ይዞታዎቹ ደርሷል ብለዋል፡፡ የከተማ አስተዳደሩ ከመመሥረቱ ሦስት ዓመት በፊት ግብር የከፈሉበት ደረሰኝ ማቅረብ አለመቻላቸውን አስረድተዋል፡፡

    ‹‹ውኃና መብራት ማስገባት ዋስትና አይሆንም፤›› ያሉት ሪፖርተር ያነጋገራቸው የከተማው የኮሙዩኒኬሽን ዳይሬክተር ወይዘሮ ነፃነት ከበደ በበኩላቸው፣ ቤቶቹን የማፍረስ ዘመቻው በማስተር ፕላኑ መሠረት ይቀጥላል ብለዋል፡፡ ግንባታ የተከናወነባቸው አንዳንዶቹ ቦታዎች መንግሥት ለልማት የሚፈልጋቸውና ካሳ የከፈለባቸው እንደሆኑም አስረድተዋል፡፡ ከአርሶ አደሩ እየገዙ የሠፈሩም አሉ ብለዋል፡፡ አለ ለሚባለው ችግር ተጠያቂው ከዚህ በፊት የነበረው የአስተዳደር አካል እንደሆነ፣ ከእነዚህም ውስጥ በሕግ እየተጠየቁ ያሉ ሰዎች መኖራቸውንና አሁንም ተጠያቂ የሚደረጉ ሌሎች መኖራቸውን፣ ከአርሶ አደሮችም የሚጠየቁ እንደሚኖሩ አስረድተዋል፡፡

    ቤት የፈረሰባቸው ነዋሪዎችን የፌዴራል ዕንባ ጠባቂ ተቋም ባለሙያዎች ዓርብ የካቲት 15 ቀን 2011 ዓ.ም. በቦታው ተገኝተው እንዳነጋገሯቸው ታውቋል፡፡


    source: ethioian reporter

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    State utility firm Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) on Monday signed an agreement with two Chinese firms and one Kenyan firm for the 70 MW geothermal energy drilling project.

    The two Chinese firms were Shandong Kerui Oilfield Service Group and Shandong Kerui Oilfield Service Group Co. Ltd. Another firm Kenya Electricity Generating Company was also part of the agreement.

    In a press statement, EEP said the two Chinese firms and one Kenyan firm are expected to supply drilling materials as well as drill wells for possible geothermal energy sources in central Ethiopia.

    Named the Aluto- Langano geothermal project, it's part of the Ethiopian government's plans to generate up to 5,000 MW of geothermal energy in the coming few years. Ethiopia currently produces only 7.3 MW of geothermal energy.

    EEP said the agreement with the three firms will see the drilling initially of 22 wells to probe their geothermal energy generation potential.

    EEP further said the geothermal energy project is expected to consume 173.2 million U.S. dollars, with the World Bank expected to cover the total project's cost through loans and grants.

    Ethiopia has the longest section of the 7,000-km East African Rift Valley, which boasts an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 megawatts (MW), but the country has been unable to match the neighboring Kenya's installed geothermal power capacity of about 630 MW.

    Geothermal energy is considered a reliable renewable energy sources although it involves a greater start-up cost. 

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    The issue of the African Union (AU) and the Haile Selassie monument has been a point of contention since 2012. The controversy started with the unveiling of a statue of Ghanaian Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. Built to commemorate his founding role in the Organisation of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor, the Nkrumah statue was inaugurated together with the AU’s new US$200 million Chinese-built headquarters.

    Ethiopians felt that Haile Selassie should have been similarly honoured; in fact, a statue of him should have preceded that of Nkrumah. His supporters argued that Selassie was a famous colonial resistance leader and a longer-standing supporter of African liberation than Nkrumah was.

    They embarked on a campaign to lobby for a Selassie statue, claiming that the man who ruled Ethiopia for 40 years had “the legal, moral, historical and diplomatic legitimacy to have his statue erected next to Kwame Nkrumah”.

    This did not go down well with Ethiopia’s then leader, Meles Zenawi, who said it was “crass” to question the choice of Nkrumah as an African symbol. He has repeatedly denounced Selassie, who died in 1975, as a “feudal dictator”, according to the Independent newspaper.

    “It is only Nkrumah who is remembered whenever we talk about Pan-Africanism,” Meles told local media. “It is a shame not to accept his role.”

    Selassie supporters remained undaunted, saying it was because of Selassie that the AU is in Addis Ababa. “It is not because of the current regime,” historian Mesfin Tariku told The Africa Report. “We have no idea of the criteria used to choose Nkrumah.”

    Read: Look to the East: Haile Selassie and the Rastafari Movement

    Emperor Haile Selassie statue unveiled

    The campaign has ended and its labour has proven to be fruitful: A statue of Emperor Haile Selassie will be unveiled at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on 10 February 2019 in Addis Ababa.

    The deputy chairperson of the AU noted in the organisation’s press release that “the commemorative statue of Emperor Haile Selassie is an important recognition of the Emperor’s contribution to Africa’s liberation and unity leading up to the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963.”

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    True to the name of Cacharel’s new fragrance… ’Yes I Am’ obsessed with Izzy Bizu. The 24-year-old British-Ethiopian singer-songwriter is commanding attention outside of the music industry as the face of the brand’s feminine new scent. Izzy’s lively personality is the embodiment of the scent’s manifesto, which is synonymous with youth and empowerment.

    The star’s rising status in the music industry has ultimately brought her to the fore. She’s toured with Coldplay (Chris Martin is a big fan) and her first hit single, White Tiger, has garnered over 60 million streams on Spotify. The singer’s excitement for the upcoming release of her second album is palpable: “I’m very, very excited, it’s going to be really cool.”

    Here, Izzy shares her top beauty tips and tricks, “manuka honey is great for dry lips and there’s the added bonus that you can just lick it off,” and why perfume is a “self-love thing.” As I said, obsessed!


    “Fragrance is my form of self-love…

    Wearing perfume is a big part of my daily routine and it’s become a part of who I am now. I’ve been wearing it since I was 17. When I was young, my mum would wear it all the time and I would hug her and find the smell so comforting. Or my dad and his aftershave - it would endlessly make me laugh because it was so strong and I’d just be like, ‘yep Dad wears the crazy stuff!’ Fragrance really is part of your personality. When I put it on, I feel more desirable in a weird way. It’s a self-love thing.”

    “Growing up in Britain with a dual identity shaped my approach to beauty…

    Being British-Ethiopian is such an amazing experience. I love exploring both cultures. The other night I met a girl from a neighbouring country to where I’m from and you have that instant connection because you know all about each other’s culture. That’s super cool and I find that when I grew up I kind of turned into my mother who is from Ethiopia. I have certain traits of hers so I very much feel Ethiopian despite never having lived there. Beauty-wise, it’s obviously a little different because I have afro hair - it’s always really fun to experiment with it. I love going to the afro shop and picking all the creams.”

    “The best tip a makeup artist has told me is…

    If you get dry lips, get a toothbrush and just scrub them. Manuka honey is also very good for dry lips and there’s the added bonus that you can just lick it off. Another good piece of beauty advice I was given is to moisturise properly at night time because that’s when the skin regenerates. I’m all about taking care of my skin. The Body Shop Almond Face Mask is my go-to, because I’m on the pill, my skin gets so dry all the time so I have to over compensate with products.”

    “When I’m going out OUT, my beauty look is minimal… but I want to try the pink eyeshadow trend…

    I just put a thin line of liquid liner, concealer under my eyes and some lipstick. I might use coconut oil or Vaseline on my cheeks for a dewy look that looks like you’ve just come back from on a mini holiday.

    t’s easy and I feel like then I don’t have to spend ages taking foundation off at night time. If I sleep with it, it’s not going to be too bad for my skin – I might look like a Panda but who cares. Having said that I really like the pink eyeshadow trend going on. I’ve seen girls wearing it and it looks amazing but I’d need to watch a tutorial on how to do it because it can go so wrong. I quite like the appearance of makeup after a night out where it looks like you’ve done just the right amount. I used to do that at school but my mum would call the secretary and tell her to stand at the door with a makeup wipe and take it off. I was so annoyed at the time but now I thank her because I’d have ended up with really rubbish skin.

    “I love going out and meeting strangers…it builds my confidence…

    I’m very spontaneous. I really love meeting strangers at bars, it’s builds my confidence and makes me feel better about myself. When you live in a city, you can sometimes feel alone but meeting strangers is a reminder that people are more together than you think. Also, we change all the time so it’s really important to meet new people because when you go through that changing process, they are going to feed into that and you feed into them. “

    “I’m going to be slightly more out there with my beauty looks for the next album…

    I’ve got the EP coming out which is very, very exciting. The first single is going to come out in February and then the rest will follow in March. It’s going to be really cool. I don’t think my style has changed much since the first album but I might be slightly more out there with my makeup and hair for this look of the EP. I quite like the idea of having something clean that pops.”

    “I’ve had some VERY interesting beauty regrets…

    When I was 15, I really wanted to have green eyes so I went to Shepherd's Bush and brought really cheap contact lenses but as soon as I put them in my eye, they became instantly bloodshot. I think I was allergic to something or they were just really bad quality but my mum did not approve. I thought they looked sick!”

    Yes I Am EDP by Cacharel, £35 for 30ml, available from Superdrug now.


    SOURCE: https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/izzy-bizu-beauty-interview

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    Ethiopia’s parliament passed what experts consider the “strongest” tobacco legislation on the continent. The law aims to limit tobacco use in the second most populous country in Africa.

    Dubbed the Food and Medicine Administration Proclamation, the law was passed unanimously by the legislators and they’re optimistic it will help safeguard lives and protect the country’s huge population.

    It requires public and work environments to be 100% free from smoking, prohibits campaigns and publicity, limits the sale of laced tobacco products and mandates pictorial warning labels in 70% of the front and back covers of tobacco merchandises.

    The law also prohibits the selling of e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, shisha, and bans the sale of tobacco products to persons below the age of 21.

    The Toll of Tobacco in Ethiopia:


    In a country with a population of approximately 105 million, 5% of adults use tobacco with 8.1% men and 1.8% of women engaged in the vice. 1.7% of adults use smokeless tobacco according to Tobacco-free Kids Organization. Among the youth (13-15 years), 7.9% use tobacco and related products.

    Exposure to Second Smoke:

    29.3% of adults aged 15 years and above are exposed to secondhand smoke in enclosed places. 31.1% in restaurants, 60.4% in nightclubs and bars, while 11.4% in public transport vehicles. Youths aged 13 to 15 years are exposed to secondhand smoke in public areas, whereas 14.9% are exposed at home.

    Health Concerns:

    According to Tobacco Atlas, 16,800 people die from tobacco-related diseases in the country. Furthermore, 18,000 children aged 10 to 14 years, and more than two million adults aged 15 years and above use tobacco products daily. Still, Tobacco-free Kids organizations estimate that 65 women and 259 men die each week due to tobacco-related causes.

    The six largest tobacco enterprises had a combined revenue totaling USD 346 Billion in 2016. This revenue is more substantial than Ethiopia’s Gross National Income by 380%. This industry is so dominant such that is doesn’t fear the actions taken by countries like Ethiopia because of their extensive global market share and resources.

    The country ratified the World Health Organization’s framework on tobacco control in April 2014, and it came into effect on the 23rd of June, the same year.

    Having enacted this legislation, the government must move swiftly and implement it as the authorities remain vigilant because tobacco companies will try undermining the progress it has made so far.

    The WHO reports that tobacco kills more than 7 million annually, with 6 million deaths resulting from direct tobacco use. The remaining 1 million are due to exposure to second-hand smoke.

    The government should also consider raising taxes on cigarettes. WHO recommends 70% Excise Tax but Ethiopia charges 13.9%.

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    ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Yeneneh Beyene has worked as a public transport vehicle driver for more than nine years traveling across the East African country.

    Beyene often travels to Adama city, capital of Ethiopia's largest Oromia regional state some 100 km south of capital Addis Ababa, along the main import-export corridor.

    As the road that connects Addis Ababa to Adama is part of landlocked Ethiopia's vital road infrastructure linking the capital to Djibouti Port, severe traffic congestion had been a major bottleneck affecting Ethiopia's aspiration to sustain its fast growing economy.

    Beyene had for years used the decades-old two-lane road during his routine trip from Addis Ababa to Adama, which he described as a "challenging and tiresome drive."

    "The road was very congested, full of trucks and freight vehicles," Beyene told Xinhua on Tuesday. "We often had to wait for hours even for minor traffic incidents."

    "What makes the situation even worse was that we had no other alternative road infrastructure than the old line," he said.

    As the number of cars that commute along the road increased rapidly together with Ethiopia's soaring demand for import and export commodities over the past decade, the Addis Ababa-Adama road infrastructure had become a major concern for the Ethiopian government as well as private businesses.

    According to figures from the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA), the two-lane largely dilapidated road was forced to handle in excess of 16,000 vehicles on a daily basis, way over its capacity.

    Cognizant to the huge demand for a sustainable road infrastructure connecting the two important cities, the Ethiopian government in 2009 partnered with the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) and the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to build a modern six-lane toll expressway.

    According to Beyene, the "huge burden is now a distant reality" following the commencement of the 85-km expressway in Sept. 2014.

    "As much as we hated driving along the old-road infrastructure, we are now very happy with the expressway," Beyene said, adding "A simple one-way drive using the old road line would put parts of cars at greater damage, and significant financial cost."

    "It was particularly unthinkable to use the two-lane road at night, mainly due to the road's poor condition," Beyene said as he described the various socioeconomic challenges that emanated from the previous dilapidated road.

    Beyeneh's assertion was also backed by figures from the Ethiopian Toll Roads Enterprise (ETRE), showing that more than 22,000 vehicles are currently using the Addis Ababa-Adama expressway on a daily basis.

    During the 2018 Ethiopian fiscal year alone, the toll road had served more than 7.8 million vehicles, eventually collecting close to 245 million Ethiopian birr (about 9 million U.S. dollars), according to ETRE.

    As the demand increases, ETRE also expects some 8.8 million vehicles during the current fiscal year, with an expected income of 266 million Ethiopian birr.

    The Addis Ababa-Adama toll road, as the first expressway in the East African region, is considered as one major outcome of Ethiopia's cooperation with China in the implementation of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

    Ethiopia, as one of the countries cooperating in the implementation of the initiative, had also accomplished Africa's first transnational electrified railway, connecting Addis Ababa with the Red Sea nation Djibouti.

    In addition to the 752-km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, the East African country had also witnessed a 475-million-U.S.-dollar light rail system in its capital Addis Ababa, which was built with Chinese technology and 85 percent funding from the China Exim Bank.

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    For the third time in as many years, thousands of Ethiopian citizens of Israel demonstrated against police violence this week. On Jan. 18, officers gunned down Yehuda Biadga, a 24-year old Israeli of Ethiopian background, who was wandering the streets of his neighborhood in the city of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv.

    According to family members, the young man left his home in the evening hours of that fatal day. He was distraught and carried a knife as he wandered around the neighborhood — Biadga suffered from severe PTSD after his release from the Israeli army. The family immediately called the police, informing them that Biadga suffered from a mental illness and had not taken his medication, but that he did not pose any danger.

    Police took just over 50 minutes to arrive and commence searching for the young man. It was during the belated search that police said one of the officers saw Biadga approaching with a knife and ordered him to stop, but he ignored the officer’s warnings. The officer, who told police he had reason to fear for his life, fired two shots at Biadga’s upper body, killing him. Police officials rejected accusations that the officer opened fire because Biadga was black, claiming instead that the policeman’s life was at risk.

    The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department — an external agency meant to investigate and prosecutes officers — has launched an investigation. Police placed the officer on leave, per his request.

    The shooting reignited tensions between Israel’s Ethiopian community and the police, which has long been accused of using a heavy hand against the country’s visible minorities, particularly against citizens of Ethiopian descent. Over 15,000 Ethiopian Israelis and their supporters marched in the streets of Tel Aviv on Wednesday, blocking the Ayalon Highway, one of the country’s main arteries, and calling for an end to “racist police violence,” which they say is a daily experience for them.

    Despite the large turnout, members of the Ethiopian community are in despair over police brutality. Biadga’s killing is just the latest, most extreme incident, says Efrat Yerday, a prominent Ethiopian-Israeli activist, but it is a salutary example of the way Israeli officers treat young Ethiopians. “The police want to talk about [Biadga’s] violence, [but] they don’t want to talk about the hour that the family waited for officers to arrive or the fact that they shot him twice in the upper body. They are building a narrative that makes the officer look like the victim in this situation.”

    Police push demonstrators back during a protest against police brutality targeting Israelis of Ethiopian descent, July 3, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

    Police push demonstrators back during a protest against police brutality targeting Israelis of Ethiopian descent, July 3, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

    Wednesday’s march ended with a vigil in Rabin Square, one of Tel Aviv’s central gathering points and the site of bloody clashes in 2015, when thousands of Ethiopians demonstrated following a number of high-profile incidents of police violence. Those clashes left dozens wounded, after police on horseback beat protesters with riot sticks and used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse them. Israelis were stunned by widely disseminated images of bloodied protesters in the country’s most famous public square.

    Less than a year later, Ethiopian-Israelis turned out in the streets once more. This time they were protesting the police having closed a criminal investigation against two officers who tasered Yosef Salamsa, a 22-year-old Israeli-Ethiopian, in the northern town of Zichron Yaakov in 2014.

    Three months after the incident, Salamsa, who had been traumatized by the encounter, committed suicide by jumping off a cliff. Investigators did not find the officers guilty of criminal conduct, but they recommended disciplinary action against the two for having lied about warning Salamsa before firing a taser at him, and for having left him outside the police station for 35 minutes, injured and unattended.

    Relatives and members of the Jewish Ethiopian community protest during a march held in memory of Yosef Salamsa, January 4, 2015. Salamsa took his own life after alleged police harassment.

    Relatives and members of the Jewish Ethiopian community protest during a march held in memory of Yosef Salamsa, January 4, 2015. Salamsa took his own life after alleged police harassment. (Activestills.org)

    ‘It’s incitement against Ethiopians, plain and simple’

    More than 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, most of whom are the children of those who immigrated in the mid-80s or early 90s. Now second-generation Israelis, most of the community is still struggling to be integrated into mainstream society. Their socio-economic status is low, and they suffer gaps in housing, education, and employment. According to a 2011 report by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem, 65 percent of Ethiopian children in Israel live in poverty.

    “To be Ethiopian in this country is to be constantly struggling for something,” says Ziva Mekonen-Degu, the executive director of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, established in 1993 to close social gaps and improve the lives of Ethiopian Israelis. “We have been struggling, since we came to this country, to be recognized and treated fairly. Today the struggle is against police brutality, which is a result of racism against black people in this country.”

    Yerday, the activist, says the underlying reasons for police targeting are two-fold: a deep belief that Ethiopians, and black people in general, are inherently more violent; and the media’s failure to investigate incidents of police violence. Instead of investigating independently, media outlets often report the police version as straight news, she says.

    “They claimed that the march would be violent, that the lives of police officers would be put in danger. All the biggest news outlets took their headlines straight from the police playbook. It’s incitement against Ethiopians, plain and simple,” she says.

    This time, however, the demonstrations were largely peaceful. Police refrained from using violent crowd control measures, as they had in 2015. There were a few isolated clashes when a small group of protesters broke away from the main demonstration, damaging parked cars, trashing a café, and setting fire to trash cans. Police arrested 11, nine of whom were brought in front of a judge on Thursday morning.

    Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis and their supporters marched against police violence in Tel Aviv on Jan. 30, 2018, weeks following the fatal police shooting of Yehuda Biadga. The protests ended with a vigil in Rabin Square. (Activestills.org/Oren Ziv)

    Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis and their supporters marched against police violence in Tel Aviv on Jan. 30, 2018, weeks following the fatal police shooting of Yehuda Biadga. The protests ended with a vigil in Rabin Square. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

    ‘It’s about racism against black people writ large’ 

    According to police data provided to the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, the number of cases opened by the police against members of the Ethiopian community between 2014 and 2017 increased by 20 percent, even as it decreased by six percent for the total Jewish population. During those same years, cases opened against Ethiopians accused of assaulting an officer increased by 25 percent.

    Moreover, a report published by the Public Defender’s Office in 2016 found that almost 90 percent of young Israeli offenders of Ethiopian descent are sentenced to prison — three times the percentage for non-immigrant Jewish minors and twice the percentage of Arab minors.

    Both social gaps and police violence have pushed governmental authorities to act. Following the bloody protests of 2015, the Israeli government established a ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to look at recommendations made in the 2016 Palmor Report, which recognized institutionalized discrimination against Ethiopians and sought solutions that would close socio-economic gaps.

    The ministerial committee enacted a 71-point plan to integrate Ethiopians at an estimated cost of NIS 165 million per year. The plan includes increasing the percentage of Ethiopian-Israelis eligible for high school matriculation; increasing the scope of gifted and outstanding students, and placing them in appropriate education programs; increasing the number of officers in the army and in the police force; integrating academics into higher paying jobs in the private sector; and subsidizing vouchers for extracurricular activities for children.

    “The Palmor Report showed very clearly that Israeli police disproportionately target Ethiopians,” says Anne Suciu, an attorney for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) who focuses on racial profiling and police violence.

    Suciu says the government has recognized that Ethiopians are over-policed, among other minority groups, and it is this recognition that has led the Justice Ministry to allow Ethiopians to request their criminal records be expunged. Still, Suciu says, the police continue targeting Ethiopians due to the color of their skin.



    Meanwhile, the police have poured millions of shekels into various programs to strengthen ties with the Ethiopian community, and to — a decision that has been criticized by Ethiopian-Israeli leaders. “This is the same police whose former commissioner said it is ‘natural’ for officers to suspect Ethiopians,” says Mekonen-Degu. “I don’t need them to learn my culture, I don’t need them to eat my food. I need them to stop looking at my son suspiciously.”

    The problem, Yerday adds, is anti-black racism among police, whether it targets Ethiopian citizens or African refugees: “If we think that racism begins and ends with Eritreans and Sudanese asylum seekers, we are sorely mistaken. It’s about racism against black people writ large.”

    Yerday is exasperated, and it shows. “I don’t know what to tell my community anymore,” she says. “People are calling me every day to tell me they feel helpless and hopeless. Men and women who are afraid of the future. They are afraid for themselves. This place is deteriorating, and I am afraid that we won’t have any reason left to stay here. It’s extremely worrying.”

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