Archive for the month “January, 2016”

Justifying Self-censorship: A Perspective from Ethiopia


by Terje S. Skjerdal
Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication,
Kristiansand, Norway

The Ethiopian Media Situation

Ethiopia is characterized by strong state media institutions, especially in the broadcasting sector. The only television company is state-run (Ethiopian Television, ETV), and nationwide radio is operated by the state as well (Ethiopian Radio). The government has recently opened up the airwaves for private radio stations, and four licences for commercial FM stations have been granted since 2006. As regards the print media, some 33 private newspapers are on the market in addition to four state-run ones, most of which are weeklies.1 The newspapers are mainly distributed in the capital city of Addis Ababa, which accommodates less than 5 percent of the approximately 80 million population in the country.

From 1974 to 1991, the country was ruled by the Derg regime with extensive use of military means and repression of fundamental human rights. The downfall of the regime in 1991 led to great enthusiasm in the emerging media market and a sudden growth in newspaper titles and magazines. However, many publications were highly sensational and remained in the market only for a short period of time (Shimelis, 2002). Throughout the 1990s, the new EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) government began sanctioning the private media and imprisonments of media workers became commonplace, especially during election periods. The latest grave crackdown on the private media occurred after the national elections in 2005 when 14 journalists and editors were put in custody for disrupting public order, only to be found not guilty by the court after more than 1.5 years in prison. Despite irregular reactions from authorities, the private media outlets have managed to carry critical journalism – albeit to varying degrees (Skjerdal and Hallelujah, 2009; Wondwosen, 2009).

Read More…

posted by daniel tesfaye


In Ethiopia, anger over corruption and farmland development runs deep

Jan 18,2016

Despite the government ending plans to build on Oromo land around the capital, clashes continue, as lack of transparency and maladministration fuel dissent

Losing the land would be a big problem

(The Guardian) — Two years ago, on the edge of Chito in Ethiopia’s unsettled Oromia region, local officials told Chamara Mamoye his farmland might be developed when the small town expanded. He hasn’t heard anything since.

“Losing the land would be a big problem for me, but if the government forces us, we can’t do anything,” the father-of-five says outside his compound.

Last month, Chamara, 45, saw the bodies of two protesters lying on the road after demonstrations rocked Chito. The dead were among up to 140 people killed by security forces during region-wide protests triggered by claims of injustice and marginalisation from the nation’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.

Bolstered by US-based social media activists, the protest movement coalesced around opposition to a government plan to integrate the capital, Addis Ababa, with surrounding Oromo towns. After weeks of protests, the ruling coalition in the Oromia region said last week that it was cancelling the planned expansion.

Protests, however, go on, and the roots of popular unease and anger in Oromia run much deeper.

Dissatisfaction with corruption, maladministration and inadequate consultations on investments are fuelling dissent. This patchwork of grievances presents a fundamental challenge to an authoritarian governmentaiming to rapidly transform Ethiopia from an agrarian society to an industrial powerhouse. And the discontent is a national issue.

Urban expansion is causing clashes across the country as investors, officials and farmers protect their interests, says Seyoum Teshome, a lecturer at Ambo University.

“The villagers who have been asking for basic services and infrastructure rush to sell their farmland at market rate before it is expropriated at low rates of compensation,” he says.

As all land is state-owned in Ethiopia, houses are rapidly built on the edge of towns without official permission, to give plots value, Seyoum says. Investors may bribe corrupt officials to formalise illegal transfers, causing anger among dispossessed farmers, he adds.

Chamara was not among the mostly youthful protesters who took to the streets in Chito, but he shares their concerns about an unresponsive ruling system. He’s frustrated by repeatedly broken official promises to tarmac the main road that runs through Chito. Although the area has electricity and a mobile-phone signal, he is disappointed with the rate of progress since the government came to power 25 years ago. “There is no big development considering the time they had,” he says.

He is also upset by a lack of information and consultation over land policies, as well as concerned by suspicions of corruption – though officials do not flaunt ill-gotten gains. “The corruption is done in a secret way. It’s a silent killer,” he said.

In elections last May, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition and allied parties won all 547 seats in the federal parliament and 100% of legislative positions in nine regional councils. Despite the result, the government acknowledged widespread dissatisfaction with the quality of public administration and levels of corruption.

“In many areas, personnel said to be involved in massive corruption that led to sudden outbursts of anger are being dismissed,” government spokesman Getachew Reda said in an interview last week.

One of the deadliest incidents last month took place in Woliso town, about113km south-west of Addis Ababa. Six protesters were killed by security forces after thousands of people from surrounding villages took to the streets to protest over planned expansion of the town.

A group of young Oromo, who had gathered next to the Walga river a few miles from Woliso, spoke of community fears of evictions and poor compensation. But nobody seemed to know anything specific about government plans. “The government does not discuss in detail. They do not have consent,” one said.

Ethiopia has long been a darling of the international donor community, which has appeared willing to ignore its poor record on human rights because high growth rates over the past decade have delivered some development goals. But the Oromo protests illustrate the vulnerabilities of this strategy.

To the north of Chito, at Wenchi, which boasts a spectacular crater lake popular with tourists, grievances are almost tangible. Soldiers are still in town and, as elsewhere, the authorities have arrested people suspected of involvement in the protests. While some seem cowed by the crackdown, Rabuma Terefa is not.

His friend was shot in the leg on the edge of Chito as he marched with other protesters from Wenchi.

When an elite military unit told elders the protesters must turn back, the group refused, arguing they had a constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate, said Rabuma. Within minutes, soldiers opened fire, killing people, including Birhanu Dinka, who was leading the crowd at that moment.

“They did not say anything, they just pointed the guns at us. We were begging them not to kill us,” Rabuma, 27, says. While abuses may have occurred, security forces are told to protect civilian lives, according to Getachew.

It is not only lives at stake: around the time of the protests in Wenchi, the property of a Dutch agricultural company, Solagrow, was torched by hundreds of people. Rabuma says the investment angered locals as it fenced off 100 hectares of prime communal grazing land, leased by the government. Solagrow says community relations were healthy and the valley was waterlogged until they drained it.

The project was collateral damage of the political dispute, according to manager Jan van de Haar. “[The protesters] became angry and they said there was only one way to continue, and that’s our farm, because we’re the only investment in that place,” he says. The attack destroyed $300,000-worth of machinery and potato seeds.

Rabuma had no sympathy for Solagrow, which he says was complicit in the government’s oppression of the Oromo. He is instead focused on the struggle ahead.

In Chito, Chamara speaks for many Oromo as he implores the government to better manage investments and urban sprawl. “No one is opposing the development of the city, but it should not be at the expense of farmers’ lives,” he says.

posted by daniel tesfaye

Response to TPLF’s ‘Master Plan’ Announcement

We Shall Have Peace…


After relentless struggle by our people, the TPLF regime has been forced to make concessions by announcing through its mouthpiece, the OPDO, that the so-called ‘Master Plan’ has been entirely scrapped. Through this action, they are hoping for a return to the status quo and the kind of peace they are accustomed to – a ‘peace in dungeon’.80 Killed in Protests

Therefore, my reply to the announcement would be this:

We shall have peace……….

We shall have peace, when you answer for the blood of hundreds of Ethiopians who have been killed by your security apparatus.

We shall have peace, when you answer for the killing of a pregnant woman.

We shall have peace, when you answer for killing a mother in front of her children.

We shall have peace, when you answer for the killing of a seven-year-old kid.

We shall have peace, when you answer for the groom you have killed on the eve of his wedding.

We shall have peace when you answer for the farmers killed in their fields.

We shall have peace when you answer for the students killed and thrown by the roadside.

We shall have peace when ‘Agazis’ leave from our towns and universities without any preconditions.

We shall have peace when all those who committed atrocities brought to justice.

We shall have peace when all the bereaved families are compensated for their losses even though the monetary compensation cannot substitute their losses.

We shall have peace when all prisoners of conscience are released.

We shall have peace when the Prime Minister himself apologises openly for the killing and distraction since he is the formal head of the government.

We shall have peace when people can speak their mind freely and not being persecuted for doing so.

We shall have peace when ‘development through displacement’ ceases to exist and our people are made masters of their own destiny.

We shall have peace when our people become owners of their resources and not onlookers.

We shall have peace when………

Since it incompatible with the nature of ‘Woyane’ to fulfill the long list of demands, the implication is, therefore, we shall have peace only when an inclusive democratic government is established.

Then we shall have peace – not ‘peace in dungeon’ but a real peace!!!by S. Ghazali (Ph.D)

posted by daniel tesfaye

Fly, Ethiopia, Fly…

JAN 11,2016

What if they were really set free?

That was the question  The Economist asked in the headline of its article last week about Ethiopians.

Its response was equally breathtaking:

If the government let people breathe, they might fly.

If the government let people breathe, they might fly

These sixteen words brought tears to my eyes, joy to my heart and resolute optimism to my mind.

I have been asking myself the same question and repeating the same answer every single day for the past 10 years.

But my question was slightly different. It is a difference that makes a world of difference to me.

What if Ethiopia’s young people were really set free?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could really think freely?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could really speak freely?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could really write, blog and report freely?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could really worship freely?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could really assemble and participate in political parties and civic organizations  freely?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could really petition for redress of their grievances freely?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could own their own land freely, farm it, lease it or sell it freely?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could live and travel anywhere in their country without feeling they are bobbing and weaving out of ethnic homelands (kililistans, the contemporary version of apartheid Bantustans)?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could work freely without an ethnicity litmus test?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could make a living without submitting to corruption, extortion and oppression?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could learn freely, without being spoon-fed propaganda diet of ethnic hatred?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be free to choose and join their own choice of political party, union or other civic organizations?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be free from arbitrary arrest and detention?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be free from bogus “anti-terrorism” charges?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be free to enjoy their human rights?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be free to enjoy the due process of law?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be free to enjoy the equal protection of the laws?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be free to vote in a free and fair election?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could live freely in a country where the rule of law, instead of the rule of thugs,  is supreme?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be judged by the content of their character rather than their ethnicity?

What if Ethiopia’s young people could be free to aim for the sky?

What if Ethiopia’s young people were free from oppression, free from ethnic discrimination, free from domination by a criminal gang, free from subjugation, free from persecution, free from coercion, free from intimidation, free from tyranny, free from thugtatorship…

What if the “government”  let Ethiopia’s young people breathe  free?

What if Ethiopia’s young people were free, free,  free… ?

By God! Ethiopia’s young people would fly, fly, fly, fly high in the sky like millions of butterflies.

They would soar like eagles.

“They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

The Economist gave a host of reasons why Ethiopians cannot fly:

There are thousands of political prisoners. Torture is routine.

All land belongs to the state, so it cannot be used as collateral for borrowing.

The standard family plot has shrunk to less than a hectare.

At least 25m Ethiopians are still deemed to be ‘extremely poor’.

The service sector here is one of the most restrictive in the world.

The government’s refusal to liberalise mobile-telephone services and banks is patently self-harming.

A university graduate in biology seems happy to get a monthly wage of $26. A labourer earns a lot less.

Ethiopians have one of the lowest rates of mobile-phone ownership in Africa.

Fewer than 4% of households have a fixed-line telephone and barely 3% have access to broadband.

If the government opened the airwaves to competition, as Kenya’s has, it could probably sell franchises for at least $10 billion, and reap taxes and royalties as well; Safaricom in Kenya is the country’s biggest taxpayer.

Many of these annoyances could be removed—if only the government were brave enough to set the economy free.

Roads and railways are also being built apace. Driving east from the town on a dirt track to join a paved road 80km or so away, your correspondent saw not a single other vehicle in two hours.

It was notable, at a recent Economist conference in Addis, that virtually no businessman, Ethiopian or foreign, had the nerve to disparage any of the government’s policies. In public Ethiopians tend dutifully to echo the government line; in private, though, they can be franker.

Imports for such essentials as kitchen spares are often held up at the airport, where tariffs are sky-high: a recent batch of T-shirts with logos for the staff ended up costing three times its original price.

The opposition is crushed, fragmented and feeble. Prominent dissenters have fled or are behind bars.

If the ruling party had the courage to open up the economic and political system, the pace of Ethiopia’s progress towards prosperity and stability would quicken.

Imagine if Ethiopia’s young people could fly:

If they could fly, they would not have to take to the sea to die.

If they could fly, young Ethiopian women wouldn’t have to fly to the Middle East to become virtual slaves.

If they could fly, young Ethiopians would not have to cross the desert and become victims of bloodthirsty terrorists.

If they could fly, they would not have to go into exile.

If they could fly, they would soar like the African fish eagles.

If they could fly, they would glide like the African seagulls.

If they could fly, they would ascend like the great African pelican.

If they could fly, they would lift their wings high, high into the sky.

If they could fly, they would flutter like the humming bird.

But Ethiopia’s young people can’t fly.

How can they fly, soar like eagles when you are caged by turkeys.

How can they fly when they are caged in a Gangstas’ Paradise.

So they sing, they cry and scream caged in Gangstas’ Paradise.

Why does the Caged Bird sing?

The caged bird sings of and for freedom, said Maya Angelou.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

But why does the caged bird cry? Weep? Scream? Shriek?

I know why the caged bird cries.

The caged bird cries for it has no country. Just a cage. A kilil.

The caged bird weeps today for its tomorrow is stolen.

The caged bird screams in the streets because it is hurt, because it is in pain.

The cage bird shrieks because it has become a sitting duck in a police shooting gallery.

I know why the caged bird is angry when they take its land and trees.

I know why the caged bird is impatient because it does not want to spend one more day caged.

I know why the caged bird feels so desperate and hopeless.

I know why the caged bird cannot sing songs of freedom.

I know.  Do I know!!!

I know the caged bird cannot fly or sing because it is caged and its wings are clipped.

For now, the caged bird can only cry, weep, scream and shriek for freedom.

I know the caged bird, like the sleeping giant, has suddenly awakened.

I know the caged bird has arisen, never to fall asleep again.

Rise! Caged bird! Rise! Rise from your slumber!

Break out of your cage and fly,

Rise! Spread your wings and fly till you can touch the sky.

Break out of your cage and breathe the fresh air of freedom.

There is no one, no wind, under your wings to help to fly free.

That is why you must believe in yourself that you can fly free.

Believe in yourself despite the strong head winds.

Believe in yourself despite  the fog, rain and hail.

Believe in yourself! Believe the Almighty is on your side!

Rise, rise and fly free, fly free… because that is your destiny!

Breathe free. Be all you can be. Free!

Be free, Caged Bird! Free as a bird! Free as the wind and the sea! Free as the morning sun!

Rise! Caged Bird! Rise!

Rise and breathe free!

Rise and be free because that is your destiny!


Ethiopia-what next?

Jan 10,2016

The uprisings in Ethiopia are continuing unabated despite the regime’s wishful claim of controlling the Oromia Kilil. TPLF Woyane has invaded the Oromo kilil to assert its rule by the power of the Gun. For all practical purpose today the Oromo enclave or Bantustan that was drawn by TPLF itself is not  under the control of the central government. The Oromo local police have been set aside and governance and security control has been handed over to the TPLF Agazi Force. The force that does not  understand local language and local customs is using terror to achieve submission to the mafia group in power. A military dictatorship hangs over Oromia.The uprisings in Ethiopia are continuing unabated

The Oromo youth has been politicized due to the naked form TPLF supremacy manifested itself in the Kilils. So called Oromo leaders were approved by TPLF and the election is conducted under TPLF supervision. The youth saw the corruption, deceit, empty rhetoric and most of all humiliating treatment of the junior partners by the Woyane bosses. Separate but equal came to resemble the old American south. Twenty five years of organized terror against genuine Oromo leaders including such gangster methods as execution, intimidation, beatings and exile has brought  about the realization that the system is the enemy not neighbors and family members.

The “Master Plan’ is the final straw that triggered the spontaneous eruption we are witnessing now. Woyane has been selling land especially after the 2005 election and there is nothing new in that. Mafia boss Meles figured out selling land is the shortcut to wealth. When the land is taken by force, using intimidation, zoning scam or inflated Bir it naturally turns into a bonanza to Woyane Cadre. That have been going on for ever. Our country is populated  by nouveau riche that can not read or write with their nouveau poor culture written on their face.

The youth does not have land to sell, their poor parents have been made destitute and homeless, education even college level does guarantee decent living wages.  This is the youth revolting against the system. When they looked at the future there was nothing good there.  When they saw the pathetic junior role the OPDO is playing to Woyanes supremacy the feeling of shame is what was engulfing their heart.

The Oromo and other Ethiopian youth have been faced with a hard choice the last few years. Home was not a good place to use one’s God given talents to soar. They also have heard of the perilous journey to south Africa and the disappearance of many of their friends and family. The young girl’s dream of going to the Middle East and achieving something has turned into a nightmare with many committing suicide or returning damaged. It is time to stand and fight is what is playing here. Fear of the TPLF mafia is eroding by the day.

The revolt by the Oromo is a continuation of the revolt by the Amharas during Gura  Ferada or Beshangul, the revolt by the Gambelan people when their land was sold to Indian investors that today have gone bankrupt. Our Gambelan citizens are now refugees in Kenya. They just did not attract attention like the Oromo issue has achieved today. We are certainly grateful to the sons and daughters of Oromia that refused to ignore the cry of their people. They persisted and we were all forced to pay attention. A lot of us were compelled to stand on the side of our Oromo people and show the hurt we feel and feel empowered when they risk their life refusing to submit to gross injustice.

According to the latest report by foreign organizations over one hundred forty Ethiopians have been killed by the illegal regime. We Ethiopians know the number is three times as much. It is also reported over six thousand youth are in jail. We know it is much higher based on past experience. Meles Zenawi killed over two hundred and imprisoned over thirty thousand-you remember? How do they do this you might ask? They have Agazi special forces to kill and they got EFFORT and Woyane owned trucks to take people to strange places such as Shoa Robit, Zuwai, Ber Sheleko and more. They are not places of higher learning but concentration camps like in North Korea.

No question the Ethiopian people as a whole and right now the Oromo citizens in particular are in grave danger. They are doing their utmost to challenge a regime armed with lethal force and not afraid to kill as as many as necessary to stay in power. They have wantonly killed plenty of times before so it is not news to most of us. The Oromo youth is using many means to fight back and regain their freedom. We also know they need help.

It is a beautiful day for Ethiopia where we march together for justice and equality for all. We have been lacking that in our approach to the common problem. The current realization regarding the intentions and plans of TPLF Woyane has opened our eyes to its zero sum message. The Amharas are feeling the Oromo pain, the Tigreans though few are beginning to realize the few in power do not have their interest at heart and are  saying no to being used. The three together will usher an era of real peace and real prosperity on equal basis for our ancient land. No one deserves it more than us.

I have talked about the sacrifices of our people faced with an army trained to kill. The question to be asked is as an Ethiopian and human right activist what are you doing to help our young tigers to achieve victory? There are plenty of things one can do on behalf of freedom.

  1. Boycott all products associated with Woyane. Surely you can go without drinking Ethiopian made beer, using Ethiopian tea, avoiding enjera made with Ethiopian imported Teff.
  2. Do not get involved in purchase of land and condominium.
  3. Do not fly Ethiopian Airlines.
  4. Do not deposit foreign currency in Ethiopian banks.
  5. Use Social Media such as Facebook to show your solidarity with our people.
  6. Do not underestimate your power.

If you notice none of the items will hurt if you go without. The action is important when we put our common power together. According to the World Bank the Diaspora contributes billions every year to invest, help family and on holiday in Ethiopia. Our power is more than you think. Just do your part and live with knowing you have contributed your share for your people.

The Woyane regime is in disarray. The Woyane regime can not last long with consistent and relentless attack against its very foundation of divide and rule. Our war is a war of attrition. Time is on our side. It is pointless to talk about Woyanes crimes but a lot productive organizing to help our people at home to withstand the regime.

We are standing with three legs at the moment. The first and primary leg is the unity and struggle of the Ethiopian people. The second leg is our Liberation forces that are at the moment engaging the Woyane military. Our third leg is the rich, lucky and country loving Diaspora.

Two of our legs are working fine. The Ethiopians are confronting Woyane. Our Oromo citizens are in the forefront of this struggle. We are certain others will join soon. We are more than excited about the movements of Arbengoch G7 Forces operating in Northern Ethiopia and the underground work among Ethiopian military and the urban young people they have set up the last few years. The bold move to cover Assela with Arbengoch G7 call for salvation with leaflets is signs of things to come. That road will not end till victory and who wins in this epic struggle will determine our children’s future. A slave or a free person is the choice.

The third leg got to cooperate. The Diaspora should be part of the solution not the problem. Think of it as an appeal by our poor parents that today live in fear of the Kebele, in fear of the local cadre and in fear for their future. Ignoring their shout for help is cruel and a terrible burden to bear. The hundred forty that were reported killed did not have to die because they asked for a review of a decision to take their land away. What are called ISIS killed …….Ethiopians because they wanted to show they do not like Christians. We were upset and we went out on marches to show our hurt. Our own government kills hundreds in the name of keeping the peace and we just shake our heads and go on with business as usual. It is wrong. Our people are getting killed because they refused to submit and we start splitting hair about consequences. Why should it be called Oromo Protest instead of Ethiopian protest is a double edged thinking. It cuts both ways. Woyane is worried about the unity of the opposing forces like we see today where Ethiopian flag and Oromo regional flag are carried during protest to symbolise unity. And there are some among us instead of building on this positive force go about filling the air with negative connotations fished from the bottom of the barrel. They dress themselves in green, yellow and red while undermining the very concept.

The problem is some have been talking for so long they have lost sight of action. Instead of politicizing their constituents to join the march they are calling foul before the real work starts. I would say with all my heart why don’t you get your followers to rise up against Woyane at this opportune moment instead of sitting on side and nitpicking and demoralizing thus being used by Woyane.

Our heart is with our Oromo people. The sons and daughters they have lost will always stay in our hearts. Our collective condolences to the families that lost a loved one. Let us make their death mean something.

posted by daniel tesfaye

Ethiopia: Can You Spare a Dime for T-TPLF Ambassadors?

A few days ago, I read a heart-rending  article  about the serious cash flow problems the diplomatic missions of the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) are facing worldwide.Ethiopian diplomatic missions abroad

According to the malaria-researcher-turned-“Ethiopian”-foreign-minister-overnight, Tedros Adhanom, “Ethiopian diplomatic missions abroad” are experiencing a “challenge of accessing foreign currency.”  Adhanom moaned and groaned about a serious cash flow problem. “We know that we were supposed to indicate a 100 percent budget implementation in our plan. We have challenges that prevented us… One of the biggest challenges is that we are suffering from hard currency shortage especially for the execution of diplomatic missions in most of our embassies and consular offices.”

“Suffering from hard currency shortage” sounds very much like, “We are flat broke!  We can’t make ends meet. We are feeling the pinch. We just used up our bottom dollar. Our diplomatic missions are going bust. We have fallen on hard times.”

Most importantly, Adhanom is saying, “Our diplomats ain’t gonna afford no French champagne, no French cognac and no Johnny Walker Scotch Blue.”

Finally, the sky has fallen on T-TPLF “diplomats”! Aye, aye, aye, aye…

Quick! What can be done to save the “suffering” poor T-TPLF diplomats?

What can I do to help?

Well, my first reaction was, “Why don’t they eat cake?”

I mean, why don’t they just print the currency of every country where they have diplomatic missions and spend it like a drunken sailor?

The T-TPLF spends money like they print money. Duh! They DO print money!  So, print more monopoly money.  What’s the problem?

Apparently, it ain’t that easy to print greenbacks or Euros. Those currencies have to be earned or acquired on the  foreign exchange market where they trade currencies.

The super-big banks run the Forex markets and determine the relative values of different currencies in the trillions of dollars and Euros everyday. They have all kinds of trading deals like spot transactions, currency and exchange swaps and other fancy stuff.

Obviously, the foreign exchange market ain’t gonna fly for the T-TPLF diplomatic missions.

How about using some of the stolen loot from international aid and loans, kickbacks on no-bid contracts and stuff to alleviate the “suffering” of the T-TPLF diplomatic missions?

No can do.

In Gangasta’s Paradise of Ethiopia, it’s about “Power and the money, money and the power/ Minute after minute, hour after hour.” Forget ‘bout it!

Well, how about, how about skimming off of the secret slush fund from ten years of double-digit growth?

In October 2015, T-TPLF president Teshome bragged,  “We successfully completed the implementation of the growth and transformation plan… we will continue to deliver the sustainable, rapid, double-digit economic growth, which was registered in recent years… about 11%” for the next five years.”

“Double-digit economic growth in recent years” and “11% for the next five years”! Doggone it! Them T-TPLF fat cats must be drowning in cash.

Sorry, no cash there. It’s all lies, damned lies and statislies!

Last year, Adhanom said Ethiopia is on track to eliminate poverty and become a middle income country by 2025.

A country on track to becoming a “middle income” country can’t cover the basic expenses of its embassies abroad?

Yep!  Adhanom says, they are “suffering”.  They are dead broke.  T-TPLF diplomatic missions abroad don’t have a pot to piss in.

How about dipping into all of the panhandled money to build the “Grand Renaissance Dam” to alleviate the “suffering” of T-TPLF missions?  There’s got to be a few million dollars sitting in that GRD piggy bank. (I did not say Pigs’ Bank.)

This past September T-TPLF said, “Ethiopian Diaspora” dropped a cool 600 million birr in the GRD strongbox. How about temporarily raiding that squirreled away cash?

No can do! That money was long gone with the wind. (I did not say that money never left America or Europe. Nor did I say it is sitting in American and European banks for a rainy day for T-TPLF bosses. Talking about rain, the T-TPLF should know, “A hard rain is gonna fall.” That was Bob Dylan back in the day. “And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”  No floods after the hard rain. “God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, the fire next time.” That was a prophesy told in the lyrics of a song of African slaves toiling on the cotton and tobacco plantations in America.)

I always wondered how the T-TPLF could build the largest dam in Africa with nickels and dimes collected in America. Hmmm!

Here is a tagline the T-TPLF could use in future fund-raising: “Can you spare a dime for a dam?”

Seriously, so what is to be done?

I guess the only option left is to pass around the hat. We all need to get in gear and chip in for the professional T-TPLF panhandlers. Sorry, I meant diplomats whose job is to pound the pavement of the capitals of the industrialized countries to panhandle aid and loans.

The T-TPLF ain’t too proud to beg.  You ought to read my commentary the “Baksheesh (Beggar) State in Ethiopia”.

Adhanom said the T-TPLF is starving for cash today. (I did not say 15 million Ethiopians are starving today.)

Adhanom is subtly putting out an S.O.S. asking (I did not say begging) if we could all chip in a dime, a nickel or a quarter and help out the “brothers” and “sisters” stranded in foreign embassies and missions. They need a little cash to get a few bottles of champagne, cognac and whiskey. Of course, they don’t need the libations  for rest, relaxation and entertainment. They need it to forget their “suffering”.

Yeah! Right. The T-TPLF is “suffering”. The Ethiopian people are suffering!

Anyone?  Alms for the poor and “suffering” T-TPLF “diplomats” stranded in foreign lands?

I hope those diplomats  won’t resort to thugging. Remember that T-TPLF “diplomat” who opened fire at the T-TPLF embassy in Washington, D.C. in October 2014? I talked about it in my commentary, “The Thugplomacy of the TPLF”.

When push comes to shove and the cash flow dries up, them guys may just switch from diplomacy to thugplomacy. Stick’em up! I am just sayin’!

On January 2, 2016, “president” Teshome “hosted a farewell ceremony for the newly appointed Ambassadors at the National Palace.” He “congratulated the newly appointed Ethiopian Ambassadors on their appointment and wished a successful tenure.”

Teshome can’t be serious! Didn’t he get Adhanom’s memo that the diplomatic missions are “suffering”?

It seems like Teshome is sending off the “ambassadors” on a “successful” diplomatic kamikaze mission.

Adhanom told the ambassadors at the same event “that they need to engage vigorously in building the image of Ethiopia, reflective of the leap in economic growth and development.”

Really! The “ambassadors” don’t got a pot to piss in and now they are expected to “vigorously” propagandize about “leap in economic growth and development”?  (A leap into beggary is more like it.)

Can be done only by ambassadors from Planet T-TPLF!

Here is food (question)  for thought: If T-TPLF’s  diplomatic missions abroad are “suffering from hard currency shortage”, how hard could the hard currency “suffering” of the T-TPLF bosses inside the country be?

Reading between the lines of the September 2015 IMF Report, the T-TPLF is flat broke.

The IMF says, the T-TPLF’s “medium-term objective [is to have] foreign exchange reserves cover three months of the following year’s imports of goods and services.”

Put another way, in the short term the T-TPLF is flat broke in their “Gangstas Paradise”.

Anyway, if you see any down and out T-TPLF diplomats sitting curbside with begging bowls, have a heart and drop ‘em a dime or something?

It’s good for your soul!

posted by daniel tesfaye

Ethiopia: What if they were really set free?

if the government let people breathe, they might fly


THE Ben Abeba restaurant is a spiral-shaped concrete confection perched on a mountain ridge near Lalibela, an Ethiopian town known for its labyrinth of 12th-century churches hewn out of solid rock. The view is breathtaking: as the sun goes down, a spur of the Great Rift Valley stretches out seemingly miles below in subtly changing hues of green and brown, rolling away, fold after fold, as far as the eye can see. An immense lammergeyer, or bearded vulture, floats past, showing off its russet trousers.What if they were really set free?

The staff, chivvied jovially along by an intrepid retired Scottish schoolmarm who created the restaurant a few years ago with an Ethiopian business partner, wrap yellow and white shawls around the guests against the sudden evening chill. The most popular dish is a spicy Ethiopian version of that old British staple, shepherd’s pie, with minced goat’s meat sometimes replacing lamb. Ben Abeba, whose name is a fusion of Scots and Amharic, Ethiopia’s main language, is widely considered the best eatery in the highlands surrounding Lalibela, nearly 700km (435 miles) north of Addis Ababa, the capital, by bumpy road.

Yet the obstacles faced by its owners illustrate what go-ahead locals and foreign investors must overcome if Ethiopia is to take off. Electricity is sporadic. Refrigeration is ropey, so fish is off the menu. So are butter and cheese; Susan Aitchison, the restaurant’s resilient co-owner, won’t use the local milk, as it is unpasteurised. Honey, mangoes, guava, papaya and avocados, grown on farmland leased to the enterprising pair, who have planted 30,000 trees, are delicious. All land belongs to the state, so it cannot be used as collateral for borrowing, which is one reason why commercial farming has yet to reach Lalibela. Consequently supplies of culinary basics are spotty. Local chickens are too scrawny. The government will not yet allow retailers such as South Africa’s Shoprite or Kenya’s Nakumatt to set up in Ethiopia, let alone in Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Bookings at Ben Abeba are tricky to take, since the internet and mobile-phone service are patchy. Credit cards work “about half the time”, says Ms Aitchison. Imports for such essentials as kitchen spares are often held up at the airport, where tariffs are sky-high: a recent batch of T-shirts with logos for the staff ended up costing three times its original price. Wine, even the excellent local stuff, is sometimes unavailable, because transport from Addis, two days’ drive away, is irregular and private haulage minimal. The postal service barely works. Fuel at Lalibela’s sole (state-owned) petrol station runs out. Visitors can fly up from Addis on Ethiopian Airways every morning, but private airlines are pretty well kept out.Internet and Mobile-phone disconnected in Ethiopia

Many of these annoyances could be removed—if only the government were brave enough to set the economy free. “The service sector here is one of the most restrictive in the world,” says a frustrated foreign banker. The government’s refusal to liberalise mobile-telephone services and banks is patently self-harming. Ethiopians have one of the lowest rates of mobile-phone ownership in Africa (see chart); the World Bank reckons that fewer than 4% of households have a fixed-line telephone and barely 3% have access to broadband.

The official reason for keeping Ethio Telecom a monopoly is that the government can pour its claimed annual $820m profit straight into the country’s grand road-building programme. In fact, if the government opened the airwaves to competition, as Kenya’s has, it could probably sell franchises for at least $10 billion, and reap taxes and royalties as well; Safaricom in Kenya is the country’s biggest taxpayer.

Moreover, Kenya’s mobile-banking service has vastly improved the livelihood of its rural poor, whereas at least 80% of Ethiopians are reckoned to be unbanked. For entrepreneurs like Ms Aitchison and her partner, Habtamu Baye, local banks may suffice. But bigger outfits desperately need the chunkier loans that only foreign banks, still generally prevented from operating in the country, can provide. A recent survey of African banks listed 15 Kenyan ones in the top 200, measured by size of assets, whereas Ethiopia had only three.

Land reform is another big blockage, though farmers can now have their plots “certified” as a step towards greater security of tenure. Given Ethiopia’s not-so-distant feudal past and the dreadful abuses that immiserated millions of peasants in days of yore, especially in time of drought, the land issue is sensitive; the late Meles Zenawi, who for 21 years until his death in 2012 ran the country with an iron fist and a fervent desire to reduce poverty, was determined to prevent a rush of landless or destitute peasants into slums edging the big towns, as has happened in Kenya. But the increasing fragmentation of land amid the rocketing increase in population is plainly unsustainable, even though productivity has risen fast through government-provided inputs such as fertiliser and better seed. (Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most-populous country after Nigeria; by some estimates it has nearly 100m people.) Most women still have four or five children. The standard family plot has shrunk to less than a hectare.

Yet, despite these self-imposed brakes, Ethiopia’s economic progress has been spectacular. Its growth rate, if the latest official figure of 11% is true, is the fastest in Africa; and even the lower figure of around 8%, which the IMF and many Western analysts prefer, is still very perky. Social and economic indices are reckoned to have improved faster than anywhere else in Africa, albeit from a low base. Extreme poverty, defined as a daily income of under $1.25, afflicted 56% of the population in 2000, according to the World Bank, but had fallen to 31% by 2011 and is thought to be dipping still. The average Ethiopian lifespan has risen in the same period by a year each year, and now stands at 64. Child and infant mortality have dived. Protection for the rural poor in time of drought, which presently afflicts swathes of the north and east, is more effective than before. The government has “the most impressive record in the world” in reducing poverty, says a British aid official. (Britain gives its fattest dollop of largesse to Ethiopia.)

Nonetheless, at least 25m Ethiopians are still deemed to be “extremely poor”. A waitress at Ben Abeba, a university graduate in biology, seems happy to get a monthly wage of $26. A labourer earns a lot less.

How they made a miracle

The core of the government’s economic policy is to improve agriculture, nurture industry and build lots of infrastructure. This includes a series of huge dams on the Blue Nile (which provides most of the water that flows into Egypt via Sudan) and on the Omo river, which flows south into Kenya’s Lake Turkana. The mass electrification that is expected to ensue should eventually help Ms Aitchison’s kitchen and communications in Lalibela.

Roads and railways are also being built apace. Driving east from the town on a dirt track to join a paved road 80km or so away, your correspondent saw not a single other vehicle in two hours. The government puts its hope in industrialisation and light manufacturing, spurred on by investment and also by mass education (more than 32 universities have been created since 2000). It promotes industrial parks, which are supposed to boost their share of GDP from 5% today to 20% within a decade—and create millions of jobs for a population whose median age is only 19.

Though the government invokes no precise model, it has various Asian ones in mind, most obviously China’s system of state capitalism under the strict control of a dominant political party. Meles rose to power at the head of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a revolutionary regional party that originally drew its inspiration from Enver Hoxha’s Albanian brand of communism and which, after years of guerrilla warfare in the mountains, overthrew a vicious Soviet-backed Marxist regime, known as the Derg, in 1991.

Meles gradually began to open the country’s economy, but he also felt obliged to close down an experiment in multiparty democracy after an assorted opposition made big advances in a general election (which it claimed to have won) in 2005. The two main opposition parties, which both want to liberalise the economy and privatise the land, were eventually allowed to keep 161 seats in the 547-strong parliament. In the post-election fracas, about 200 people were killed and at least 20,000 are reckoned subsequently to have done stints in prison. In the next two rounds of elections, in 2010 and again in May 2015, the tally of opposition MPs, after a government campaign of outright repression, slumped to one and now none.

The opposition is crushed, fragmented and feeble. Prominent dissenters have fled or are behind bars. Human Rights Watch, a monitoring group based in New York, reckons there are “thousands” of political prisoners. Torture is routine. “Ethiopians are cowed,” says a longtime analyst. It was notable, at a recent Economist conference in Addis, that virtually no businessman, Ethiopian or foreign, had the nerve to disparage any of the government’s policies. In public Ethiopians tend dutifully to echo the government line; in private, though, they can be franker.

After Meles’s death, Hailemariam Desalegn emerged as prime minister. In September of 2015 he was confirmed as head of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, itself a coalition whose key component is still Meles’s Tigrayan front. But Mr Hailemariam, a southern Pentecostalist from a small ethnic group outside Meles’s circle of revolutionaries from the north, has yet to achieve his predecessor’s authority.

Just take the plunge

He says he favours a loosening of economics and politics. But so far he has been tentative. “He’s a compromise guy encircled by old-guard Leninist ideologues, the Tigray boys,” says Beyene Petros, a veteran leader of the opposition. One of Mr Hailemariam’s close advisers, Arkebe Oqubay, a reformist who promotes industrial policy (especially the creation of industrial parks) and craves foreign investment, cagily suggests that banking will open up “in five years”. Yet the ruling front still reflects a deep wariness of foreigners who, in the words of a long-standing expatriate, remain widely suspected of plotting to “get rich at the expense of Ethiopians”.

Most independent observers feel that, overall, Ethiopia is on the rise, and may even emerge as an African powerhouse alongside South Africa and Nigeria—and ahead of Kenya, its regional rival. It is proud of having the African Union’s headquarters and of providing more UN peacekeepers than any other African country. It is a leading mediator in the region, especially in war-torn South Sudan, and has won plaudits from the West for its fierce stand against jihadism. It also caters for more refugees than any other African country—some 820,000 at last count.

On the home front, Ethiopia’s infrastructure plans have attracted the interest of potential investors from across the globe. Yet unless the government gets a move on frustration will grow, at home and abroad. If the ruling party had the courage to open up the economic and political system, the pace of Ethiopia’s progress towards prosperity and stability would quicken. Even lovely, remote Lalibela would gain.

posted by daniel tesfaye

Embassy official: US shuts down drone operation in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — A United States official says his government has shut down its drone operation base in southern Ethiopia.US builds drone bases in Ethiopia

U.S. Embassy Spokesman in Ethiopia David Kennedy told The Associated Press by email that a decision has been reached that the facilities in Arba Minch, 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Addis Ababa, are no longer necessary.

Ethiopian media reported about the base when it was set up in 2011 but the U.S. has never publicly confirmed the existence of the base. A security expert in Addis Ababa said the base was used to attack Islamic extremists in Somalia.

Ethiopia is a staunch U.S. ally in East Africa and has sent hundreds of troops to Somalia to counter the Islamic extremist rebel group, al-Shabab.

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