Daily Digest of News on Ethiopia - February 18, 2018

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The day in the media

The New York Times: A Placeholder Prime Minister Departs. What Comes Next?

A Placeholder Prime Minister Departs. What Comes Next?
By MOHAMMED ADEMO and HASSEN HUSSEINFEB. 18, 2018

More than Mr. Hailemariam’s departure, what is important is how the transition will shake out. The E.P.R.D.F. needs a leader who can unify the party, gain popular legitimacy and calm widening political and ethnic tensions. Moreover, beyond the change of guard at the top, a major policy shift is needed. Repression has outlived its usefulness. Unfortunately, the restoration of martial law suggests that the E.P.R.D.F. is still not prepared to learn its lesson. But continued authoritarianism in the face of fierce and determined protests will be futile.

To end the succession battle, the choice is clear: The new reformist leaders of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, led by Lemma Megersa, enjoy substantial public support. Everywhere they go, Mr. Lemma and his entourage receive a hero’s welcome, on a par with that received by the just-released opposition leaders — itself a significant change for a party whose support is often either bought or coerced. The O.P.D.O.’s youthful leaders relate easily to a generation now in revolt. Their support base cuts across political, ethnic and religious fault lines partly because they adopted the demands of the protesters and made bold commitments to democratization and unity.

WaPo: Egypt accepts delay of Ethiopia dam meeting as protests rage

CAIRO — Egypt’s Foreign Ministry says it accepts Ethiopia’s request to delay a meeting about a dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile River, after Addis Ababa declared a state of emergency amid the worst anti-government protests in decades.

The meeting, which was to discuss contentious issues over the dam, which Egypt fears could reduce its share of the Nile waters, was to include Sudan and take place in Khartoum on Feb. 24-25.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/egypt-accepts-delay-of-ethiopia-dam-meeting-as-protests-rage/2018/02/18/8202ed66-1492-11e8-930c-45838ad0d77a_story.html

Herald of South Africa: No military military takeover in Ethiopia: minister

ADDIS ABABA. – Ethiopia’s defence minister has ruled out a military takeover a day after the east African nation declared a new state of emergency amid the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century.

Siraj Fegessa on Saturday also ruled out a transitional government. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn remains in the post for now after making the surprise announcement Thursday that he had submitted a resignation letter to help planned political reforms in one of Africa’s best-performing economies succeed.

The state of emergency will last for six months with a possible four-month extension, similar to one lifted in August, the defense minister said.

The new state of emergency, which effectively bans protests, will be presented for lawmakers’ approval within 15 days. Siraj said security forces have been instructed to take “measures” against those disturbing the country’s functioning, with a new special court established to try them.

Befekadu Hailu, a prominent blogger who has been jailed for his writings, urged Ethiopia’s government to “carry out genuine reforms, negotiate with legitimate opposition groups and prepare the country for a free and fair election” to solve the unrest.

The new state of emergency will create a group of people with conflicting interests, Befekadu said. “The state of emergency was tested a year ago. It brings temporary silence but not normalcy.” – AP

Aljazeera: What triggered unrest in Ethiopia?

How will PM Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation affect the future of Africa’s second most populous country, Ethiopia?

Presenter: Martine Dennis

Guests
Harry Verhoeven - visiting scholar at Cambridge University
Mohamed Ademo - founder and editor of OPride.com, an independent news website about Oromo and Ethiopia

The Guardian: Mass protests force Ethiopia to free opposition leader

Bekele Gerba and seven other political figures suddenly cleared of charges and let out of jail after being arrested in 2015

Ethiopia has released a senior opposition leader from prison and dropped all charges against him after demonstrators blocked roads and staged protest rallies in several towns.

Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested in December 2015 after mass protests broke out in the Oromiya region over accusations that farmers were being forced to sell land with scant compensation.

He was held initially on terrorism charges, later reduced to incitement to violence.

“He just walked out of prison. We have confirmed that all charges against him have been dropped,” said Mulatu Gemechu, a member of the OFC’s leadership.

State-affiliated media confirmed Bekele had been freed along with seven other opposition figures and that the charges against him had been dropped. Ethiopia’s information minister was not available for comment.

Bekele’s release came amid a three-day strike across Oromiya province, which surrounds the capital, as well as a mass pardoning of dissidents by the government aimed at reducing unrest that has simmered since 2015.

Nearly 6,000 prisoners have been freed since January, mainly people who had been detained for alleged involvement in unrest in Oromiya, or, to a lesser extent, the Amhara region.

Last month, Bekele was given six months for contempt of court after he and other opposition members sang a protest song during their trial. Had he not been freed, a verdict on his incitement charge would have been handed down on 7 March.

On Tuesday large crowds marched in various towns in Oromiya and roads remained blocked with large stones, including in the towns of Jimma, Woliso and Legetafo.

Markets, schools and banks remained closed in most of the areas, residents said. Some protesters attacked vehicles.

“Many Oromo politicians remain unjustly incarcerated, such as Bekele,” said one protester in the town of Jimma, who gave his name only as Awol, speaking before news that Bekele had been freed. “All should be released. That is why we are striking.”

Sparked initially by an urban development plan for the capital, unrest spread in 2015 and 2016 with demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses.

Rights groups say hundreds have died in the violence.

Ethiopia is often accused of using security concerns as an excuse to stifle dissent, as well as suppressing non-governmental organisations and the media, which the government denies.

DW Special (ልዩ ውይይት): Lemma Megersa’s OPDO | Merara Gudina’s …

VOA Afaan Oromoo: Embaasiin Ameerikaa Labsii Yeroo Hatattamaa Itoophiyaa Morme

Mootummaan Itiyoophiyaa mirga bu’uuraa kan akka wal ga’uu fi yaada ofii ibsuu dabalatee labsii yeroo hatattamaa labsuu isaa cimsinee ittiin mormina.

Hookkaraa fi lubbuun namaa baduu kan mootummaa yaaddesse nuunis nu yaaddessa garuu deebii kan ta’u walabummaa itti dabalaa kennuu malee xiqqeessuu akka hin ta’in amantii keenya cimaa dha.

Rakkoon Itiyoophiyaa mudate, jijjiirama dimokraasii, guddina dinagdee ykn sabatiinsa waariinsa qabu haa ta’u hiika kan argatu marii hunda hirmaachisee fi adeemsa siyaasaan malee uggura kaa’uu dhaan miti.

Labsiin yeroo hatattamaa labsamuun hidhamtoota siyaasaa kumaan laka’aman gad dhiisuu dabalatee waltajjii siyaasaa uumuuf tarkaanfii dhiyeenya fudhatame fudhatama dhabsiisa. Lammiiwwan Itiyoophiyaa karaa nagaan yaada ofii ibsachuuf mirga isaan qaban ugguruun durumaanuu kan isaan dhaggeeffatu akka hin qabaanne ergaa dabarsa.