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Ethiopia’s PM Vows To Continue Reforms “At Any Cost”

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Ethiopia's PM Vows To Continue Reforms At Any Cost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

African News

Proposal For UN To Study Climate Technologies Rejected

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Proposal For UN To Study Climate Technologies Rejected

A push to launch a high-level study of potentially risky technological fixes to curb climate change was abandoned at a UN Environmental conference in Nairobi late last week.  Countries, including the United states, had raised objections.

Switzerland’s Environmental Ambassador Franz Xavier Perrez, said that was a huge disappointment.  His country had proposed the UN assessment with the backing of eleven other governments.

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“Geo-engineering” technologies are gaining prominence, and they aim to pull carbon out of the atmosphere, or block some of the Sun’s warmth to cool the earth.

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Supporters say these technologies could help fend off some of the worst impact of runaway climate change, including worsening storms and heatwaves.  Opponents, on the other hand, argue the emerging technologies pose huge potential risks to people and nature and could undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Tanzania: Stiegler’s Gorge Hydro-Electric Project To Produce Thousands Of Jobs

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Tanzania: Stiegler’s Gorge Hydro-Electric Project To Produce Thousands Of Jobs

Tanzanian government is optimistic that the implementation of Stiegler’s Gorge hydro-electric power station would produce thousands of jobs.  It is also expected to generate more than two thousand mega-watts.

Energy Minister, Dr. Medard Kalemani, told the parliamentary committee on energy and minerals that five thousand Tanzanians would be employed as temporary workers, and four hundred others would be employed under permanent contracts.

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Kalemani said the implementation of the project would not only uplift the livelihoods of Mloka villagers in Rufiji district in cost region, and of Kisaki villagers in Morogoro region, it would also enable the supply of electricity to 37 villages in Kibiti and Chalinze.  He said twelve villages will be connected to electricity under Tanzania Rural Energy Agency program.

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African News

African Court Doubles Its Judicial Productivity

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African Court Doubles Its Judicial Productivity

President of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, Justice Sylvain Ore, has said the pan African organ, based in Arusha, has doubled its judicial productivity, and is optimistic it will even do better this year.

Commenting on the on-going reforms at the African Union, initiated under the guidance of the immediate past chairperson, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Justice Ore wanted the court to be a model for internal reforms and an efficiency icon for the rest of the institutions and citizens of the continent.

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The African court was established by the African Charter and began operations in two thousand six in Addis Ababa.  It moved to its permanent seat in Arusha a year later.  It has finalized 48 cases with a hundred thirty-five cases pending.

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So far, 30 countries have ratified the protocol establishing the court, but only nine countries—Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, the Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Tunisia, and hosts Tanzania—have made the declaration to allow individuals and NGOs to access the court directly.

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