Ethiopia Shuts Land Borders To Fight Coronavirus

A cleaning staff waits in protective gear to disinfect a metro carriage for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 20, 2020. – African countries have been among the last to be hit by the global COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic but as cases rise, many nations are now taking strict measures to block the deadly illness. Michael Tewelde / AFP.

 

Ethiopia on Monday shut its land borders to nearly all human traffic as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Africa’s second-most populous country has so far recorded just 11 infections and no deaths, but officials have struggled in recent days to enforce prevention measures including bans on large gatherings, raising fears the tally could climb.

The land border closure was part of a set of new measures announced Monday by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office.

Soldiers will be empowered “to halt the movement of people along all borders, with the exception of incoming essential goods to the country,” a statement said.

Security forces will also play a role in enforcing existing measures prohibiting large gatherings and meetings, it added.

Ethiopia has so far refrained from imposing the kind of shutdown seen in other East African countries like Rwanda and Mauritius.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus Kills Two Senior Military Officers In Egypt 

But even its more limited measures have not been fully enforced, and Abiy’s Prosperity Party has been criticised on social media for holding large meetings in various parts of the country where attendees have sat close together.

Monday’s statement said political parties would “adhere to social distancing and preventative measures when convening meetings.”

Ethiopia has kept its main airport open for international flights, although Ethiopian Airlines has been forced to suspend services to destinations in nearly 40 countries, according to its website.

Monday marked the first day of a new rule requiring all passengers arriving in Ethiopia to be quarantined in hotels for two weeks at their own expense.

Ethiopia shares land borders with countries including Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia — all of which have confirmed coronavirus cases.

Djibouti announced its second case on Monday.

Eritrea, with one case, on Monday announced new measures of its own including a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.

The country’s health ministry also urged residents to avoid public transportation and said Eritreans currently living abroad should refrain from returning.

Ethiopia’s refugee population of more than 735,000 includes large numbers from neighbouring South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR has voiced concern about how border restrictions implemented to fight the coronavirus could affect the rights of asylum seekers.

The UN “requests that measures be put in place to take into account access to territory of asylum seekers for those fleeing persecution,” Ann Encontre, UNHCR’s Ethiopia representative, told AFP on Monday.

AFP

Group Of Canadian Charity Workers Detained In Ethiopia

 

Ottawa confirmed Saturday that a group of Canadians had been detained in Ethiopia after a humanitarian organization reported that 15 volunteers and workers, including 13 Canadian nationals, had been apprehended.

Global Affairs Canada, the foreign ministry, said it had “raised this case directly with the government of Ethiopia and officials are in contact with local authorities to gather further information.”

The charity, Canadian Humanitarian, said that the 15 detained individuals were medical professional volunteers, general volunteers, and staff members.

READ ALSO: More Than 200,000 Affected By Congo Floods

All were Canadians except for two Ethiopian staff members, it said.

Canada’s foreign ministry said it was “aware that Canadian citizens are detained in Ethiopia.”

According to Canadian Humanitarian the detained “are being investigated on the allegations that they were practicing medicine without permission and had dispensed expired medication.”

“While we cannot comment on the specifics of the expiry of the medication, we can with confidence say that all medicine and care offered by our team was safe,” it said.

The organization added that all protocols had been followed to be properly permitted to provide medical support.

Canadian Humanitarian describes itself as a “non-political organization” that has worked in the country for 15 years providing educational, medical, dental and social-emotional support to youths.

Pompeo Closes Africa Tour With Warning About China’s ‘Empty Promises’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa on February 19, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP.

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday closed a three-nation Africa tour with a thinly-veiled swipe at China as he talked up Washington’s ability to stimulate growth and entrepreneurship on the continent.

“Countries should be wary of authoritarian regimes with empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency,” Pompeo said in a speech to diplomats and business leaders at the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“They run the risk that the prosperity and sovereignty and progress that Africa so needs and desperately wants won’t happen.”

Pompeo in his remarks did not explicitly mention China — Africa’s largest trading partner — but analysts predicted ahead of his trip that he would attempt to pitch the US as an alternative source of investment.

On Wednesday Pompeo name-checked US companies operating in all three countries on his Africa tour, the first by a US cabinet-level official in 19 months: Bechtel in Senegal, Chevron in Angola and Coca-Cola in Ethiopia.

He also hailed the free market generally, blasting “failed socialist experiments of years past” in places like Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

And he criticised a proposed constitutional amendment in South Africa that would allow private property to be expropriated without compensation — a plan that seeks to overcome inequalities set down in the apartheid era.

The amendment would be “disastrous for that economy and most importantly for the South African people,” he said.

Pompeo left later for Riyadh.

Mixed messages

Pompeo’s attempt to lay out a positive vision for US cooperation with Africa has been undermined by President Donald Trump’s Africa policy so far, analysts say.

Critics are quick to cite Trump’s widely-reported remarks in 2018 when he used a profanity to describe African and poorer Western Hemisphere nations whose citizens migrate to the United States.

Washington is currently discussing military cuts in Africa, and the US recently announced tightened visa rules targeting Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, as well as Tanzania, Sudan and Eritrea.

“Pompeo is unlikely to undo the damage from the Trump administration’s travel bans, the proposed budget cuts, or the president’s disparaging comments about the region,” said Judd Devermont, Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington.

But African leaders would nonetheless “welcome his long-overdue engagement and focus on the positives as much as possible,” Devermont said.

Even so, countries like Ethiopia have benefitted from Chinese engagement, rendering Pompeo’s message less effective, said Abel Abate Demissie, an Ethiopian political analyst.

“It is undeniable that Chinese investment was quite crucial in keeping Ethiopia on track as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for many years,” Abel said.

He added that much Chinese money has gone toward tangible projects like roads and buildings, while American money is more often funnelled to “less visible” fields like education and health.

“The fact that Chinese loans and sometimes grants have less bureaucracy also makes it quite convenient for Ethiopia and Africa at large,” Abel said.

China has funnelled cash and loans into infrastructure projects across the continent.

However Beijing has faced accusations, which it denies, of saddling poor nations with debt, siphoning off mineral resources and leaving environmental damage.

Pompeo insisted Wednesday that Trump was eager to play a bigger role on the continent.

“If there’s one thing you should know about our president –- my boss –- you should know that he loves deals,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience.

“He wants more to happen between the United States and nations all across Africa.”

Nigeria, Ethiopia Sign Visa Waiver Agreement, MoU On Defence Cooperation

 

Nigeria and Ethiopia have signed a visa waiver agreement for diplomatic, official passport holders, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the field of Defence.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed witnessed the signing of the agreement on Tuesday in Addis Ababa by their Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and Gedu Andargachew, respectively, during the State Visit of the Nigerian leader.

This was disclosed in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu.

The statement added that President Buhari while meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister also discussed how to explore new areas of collaboration to further enhance and expand Nigeria-Ethiopia bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries.

The visa waiver agreement is expected to ease travels by officials and contribute to further strengthening of bilateral relations.

“The Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation is important to both countries in the coordination of efforts in the fight against terrorism and securing peace and stability in their respective sub-regions, as well as on the continent of Africa.

“The MoU will also enhance bilateral military cooperation in the areas of training and education, technical assistance, exchange of visits and defence technology transfer.

It also entails cooperation in peace support operation issues within the framework of the respective laws of the Parties and on a reciprocal basis.

Both sides agreed to swiftly conclude negotiations on the revised Bilateral Air Services Agreement and the MoU on cultural cooperation.

President Buhari after the signing expressed gratitude to the Government and People of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia for the warm and generous hospitality extended to him and his delegation during the visit.

He further extended an invitation to Prime Minister Ahmed to pay a reciprocal State Visit to Nigeria on mutually convenient dates.

Buhari Travels To Addis Ababa For AU Summit

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has departed for the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to attend the thirty-third Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).

This was revealed in a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on Friday.

According to the statement, Buhari will be with other leaders from the 55-country organization for the AU Summit with the theme, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”

READ ALSO: Supreme Court Upholds 12-Years Jail Term For Jolly Nyame

During the Summit, the Nigerian leader will take part in the 29th Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the 27th Session of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (AUDA-NEPAD).

The statement further noted that these meetings will precede the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly.

“In Nigeria’s capacity as a member of the AU Peace and Security Council, President Buhari will participate in the High-Level meeting of the Peace and Security Council on the situation in the Sahel and Libya, and High-Level Ad-Hoc Committee on South Sudan,” the statement further said.

Also, on the margins of the Summit, Buhari will deliver a keynote speech at a High-Level Side Event on “Stop the War on Children: Dividend of Silencing the Guns.”

It added that “The President will also hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders on the margins of the Summit.

“At the end of the AU Summit on February 10, the Nigerian President will commence a State Visit to Ethiopia on February 11, at the invitation of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed.”

He will also meet with the Nigerian community in Ethiopia before returning on February 12th.

Buhari is accompanied to the summit by Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Senator Adamu Mohammed Bulkachuwa; Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Honourable Yusuf Baba, Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Others are Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Aviation, Hadi Sirika;  Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; Defence, Major-General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd); Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and Gloria Akobundu, National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Nigeria.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar are also among the entourage.

See Photos Below:

737 MAX: After 10 Months Of Crisis For Boeing, Questions Remain

 

 

Boeing is still far from seeing an end to its continuing crisis over the 737 MAX airplane. Ten months after two fatal crashes led to the grounding of the aerospace giant’s star passenger jet, many serious questions remain, including the date of its return to service.

David Calhoun, 62, a former top executive at General Electric, is to take charge of the aircraft manufacturer on Monday, after CEO Dennis Muilenburg was ousted in late December over what critics said was his catastrophic handling of the crisis.

– What exactly happened? –
On March 10, 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashed southeast of Addis Ababa just minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 on board.

It was the second accident in five months for the model, which Boeing launched in May 2017 as a competitor for Airbus’s A320neo in the lucrative narrow-body aircraft segment.

The October 2018 crash in Indonesia of a Lion Air 737 MAX had claimed 189 lives.

On March 13 of last year, the United States and Canada became the last two countries to ground MAX planes. Thus began Boeing’s crisis.

When will the MAX fly again?

It’s hard to say. The most optimistic prediction is late February or early March, but some experts, including the respected Richard Aboulafia of the Virginia-based Teal group, speak of late April or early May.

United Airlines has ruled out flying the MAX before June.

Investigations by Indonesian and Ethiopian authorities raised questions about the plane’s automated flight control system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System).

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered Boeing to provide a fix, which the company is working on.

But as a result of the crisis FAA has subjected the MAX, which was only partially inspected during its original flight certification, to microscopic scrutiny.

The agency at first detected a problem with the microprocessor that manages flight systems and then, more recently, a flaw in the electrical wiring.

Once Boeing has resolved all problems, the FAA should set a date for a test flight — the last major hurdle before the MAX is green-lighted to return to service.

Boeing has taken one major step in that direction: after long resisting having MAX pilots train on flight simulators rather than on computers — a longer and more costly option, but one demanded by European and Canadian regulators — Boeing has finally backed that course.

– Is Boeing still building and delivering the MAX? –
Boeing suspended MAX deliveries a few days after the planes were grounded. It had continued to produce the aircraft, but has built none since January 1.

From mid-March to the end of December, Boeing produced 400 MAX planes, bringing the total number built to 787. Of those, 387 were in service when orders to ground them went out.

The planes are parked at different Boeing sites in the US.

Is Boeing in financial trouble?

No. As of the end of September, the company had $10 billion in hand and about $20 billion in available funds, according to financial documents.

Besides passenger planes, Boeing builds military aircraft and equipment. It also has a space division.

Nevertheless, the costs linked to the MAX crisis have continued to mount. They had already reached $9.2 billion by the end of September and should soar as Boeing deals with demands for damages and compensation from airline companies, aircraft-leasing firms, parts suppliers and victims’ families.

To cover future expenses, the company expects to turn to the financial markets to borrow up to $5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

– What about Boeing employees?? –
The company so far has ruled out any firings or layoffs, which could provoke a political outcry in this US election year.

Boeing has already shifted thousands of workers to other programs — building its 767, 787 and 777/777X models — and has promised to find jobs for others.

– How are suppliers affected? –
The consequences vary. Engine builders like General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines, through their CFM joint venture, are partially spared since they also build engines for Airbus.

Along with other smaller American suppliers, they will profit from Airbus’s surprise decision to ramp up production of the A320 in the southern US city of Mobile, Alabama.

But the Spirit AeroSystems group, which provides fuselages and other parts for the MAX, has been hard hit; the 737 program represents more than half its turnover. The company plans to cut 16 percent of its workforce — around 2,800 employees — and has not ruled out further cuts.

– Is Airbus profiting as Boeing struggles? –
Airbus received orders for 768 planes in 2019 and delivered 863. Boeing, which has yet to publish its full-year figures, had delivered 345 as of the end of November, while 84 orders were lost.

Airbus also gained ground in the important middle of the market sector with its launch of the A321XLR, which will give air carriers the ability to open new long-haul routes between secondary cities using a narrow-body craft that is less expensive, easier to fill and thus more profitable.

The first orders are already pouring in, notably from United Airlines, which ordered 50 of the new aircraft in December.

Boeing is banking on its own NMA (New Midsize Airplane), built to carry from 220 to 270 passengers on routes up to 5,400 miles (8,700 kilometers). But progress has been slow, and it is unclear, given the severe challenges over the MAX program, whether the NMA will be rolled out this year as planned. (Boeing has not decided to launch the NMA yet. It promised to make a decision this year.)

Ethiopia PM Hails Role Of Ex-Foe Eritrea In Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali speaks after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize during a ceremony at the city hall in Oslo on December 10, 2019. Fredrik VARFJELL / AFP

 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hailed the role played by ex-foe Eritrea in the Nobel Peace Prize he collected on Tuesday for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict between the two neighbours.

“I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace,” Abiy said after he received the prestigious award in a formal ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall.

“Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afwerki, whose goodwill, trust and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries,” he added.

AFP

10 Things You Should Know About Nobel Laureate, Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali (C) signs the Nobel Protocol at his arrival in Oslo, Norway, on December 9, 2019; behind (From L) members of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize comitee Asle Toje, chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen, Henrik Syse and Anne Enger. Tore Meek / NTB Scanpix / AFP

 

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is set to receive the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday. Here are ten things you should know about him:

August 15, 1976: He was born into a poor mixed Christian-Muslim family in the rural town of Beshasha.

Early 1990s: He started a nearly 20-year career in the military as a radio operator, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

2008: He established the government’s cyber-spying Information Network Security Agency (INSA).

2010: He was elected to parliament with the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation, which is part of the ruling coalition.

– 2016: After a brief stint as federal minister of science and technology, he was appointed the vice president of the Oromia regional government.

– March 2018: He was elected to lead the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition.

– April 2018: He became prime minister, being the first ethnic Oromo in the post, after his predecessor resigned.

June 2018: He announced Ethiopia would abide by a 2002 ruling by a UN-backed commission requiring it to cede territory to Eritrea. This launched a peace process that ended a 20-year-old stalemate.

– October 11, 2019: He was announced winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the conflict.

– October 23, 2019: Protests broke out denouncing Abiy after an activist claimed to be the target of a security force attack plot. They turned into ethnic and religious clashes in which more than 80 people were killed

400 Arrested As Ethiopia Defends Response To Deadly Violence

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 01, 2019 Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gives a press conference at the Prime Minister’s office in the capital, Addis Ababa. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP

 

 

More than 400 people have been arrested in Ethiopia during investigations into ethnic and religious violence that left 78 people dead last week, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Thursday.

Protests against Abiy erupted in Addis Ababa and in Ethiopia’s Oromia region on October 23 after a high-profile activist accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him – claim police denied.

The unrest quickly devolved into ethnic and religious clashes that killed dozens of people over three days.

“The latest information that I have in terms of perpetrators that have been apprehended is 409 individuals,” spokeswoman Billene Seyoum told a press conference.

She said investigations were ongoing and that more suspects could be taken into custody.

Billene said Thursday that the death toll had climbed to 78 — up from the figure of 67 provided by a police official in Oromia last week.

Abiy, who came to power last year and was named this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been criticised for his government’s response to the violence and specifically for waiting until the weekend to issue a statement.

Billene defended the response Thursday and dismissed descriptions of Abiy as “weak”.

Ethnic violence has been a recurring problem under Abiy, causing Ethiopia to record more displaced people than any other country last year.

Billene said the violence is the work of unnamed “elements” that oppose Abiy’s reform agenda, which has included freeing political prisoners and creating a more open political environment.

She also said the latest surge was partly a “backlash” against plans to transform Ethiopia’s ruling coalition — which has been in power for nearly three decades — into a single political party.

The activist at the centre of last week’s protests, Jawar Mohammed, is credited with helping to sweep Abiy to power last year but he has recently become critical of some of the premier’s policies.

Both men are from the Oromo ethnic group, the country’s largest, and their feud highlights divisions within Abiy’s Oromo support base that could complicate his bid for a five-year term when Ethiopia votes in elections planned for May 2020.

Jawar, a media mogul, is highly divisive and accused by critics of fomenting ethnic divisions.

Abiy has faced pressure in recent days to take measures against Jawar, but Billene on Thursday declined to address whether the government held him responsible for the latest deaths.

“It’s not about naming or not naming, but it’s important for the due process of investigations to go through,” she said.

AFP

Ethiopia PM Abiy Warns Ethnic Violence Could Worsen

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gives a press conference at the Prime Minister’s office in the capital, Addis Ababa. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP

 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed warned Saturday of further instability and vowed to bring to justice those responsible for violence that left at least 67 people dead this week. 

“The crisis we have faced will become even more fearsome and difficult if Ethiopians don’t unite and stand as one,” Abiy said in a statement issued by his office, his first remarks since the violence broke out.

“We will unswervingly work to ensure the prevalence of the rule of law and to bring perpetrators to justice.”

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate also noted that what began as protests against his government had quickly morphed into clashes that took on an ethnic and religious dimension.

“There has been an attempt to turn the crisis into a religious and ethnic one. In the process our comrades have become victims in terrible circumstances,” he said.

He added that homes, businesses and places of worship had been destroyed, and that an untold number of Ethiopians had been displaced.

Violence erupted in Addis Ababa, the capital, and in much of Ethiopia’s Oromia region on Wednesday after a high-profile activist accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him — a claim police officials denied.

The activist, Jawar Mohammed, is credited with promoting the protests that swept Abiy to power last year but he has recently become critical of some of the premier’s policies.

Both men are from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, and their feud highlights divisions within Abiy’s Oromo support base that could complicate his bid for a five-year term when Ethiopia votes in elections currently planned for May 2020.

On Friday, Oromia police chief Kefyalew Tefera said 67 people had been killed there, including five police officers.

He said most of the dead had lost their lives in “clashes between civilians” rather than at the hands of security forces.

He also claimed that calm had been restored but the defence ministry announced Friday that it was deploying forces to seven hotspots to restore order, and reports of violence persisted through Friday night and into Saturday.

Abiy was in Sochi, Russia, for the Russia-Africa summit when Jawar’s supporters first started mobilising in Addis Ababa.

Prior to Saturday’s statement, he was facing criticism for saying nothing about the unrest.

In an interview with AFP Friday, Jawar accused Abiy of acting like a dictator and said he could challenge his former ally in next year’s elections.

But Jawar said he could also end up backing Abiy if he changes course.

AFP

67 Killed In Anti-Abiy Protests, Ethnic Violence In Ethiopia

 

 

Violence in Ethiopia that began with protests against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and quickly morphed into ethnic clashes has left 67 people dead in Oromia state, a police official said Friday.

The spike in the death toll came as the high-profile activist at the centre of the violence accused Abiy, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, of acting like a dictator and suggesting he might challenge him in elections planned for next year.

“The total number dead in Oromia is 67,” said Kefyalew Tefera, the regional police chief, adding that five of the dead were police officers.

Violence erupted in Addis Ababa, the capital, and in much of Ethiopia’s Oromia region on Wednesday after the activist, Jawar Mohammed, accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him — a claim police officials denied.

Kefyalew told AFP that the violence had ended in Oromia but Amnesty International researcher Fisseha Tekle said late Friday that he was still receiving reports of attacks.

The defence ministry said Friday that it was deploying forces to seven hotspots to restore order, according to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Jawar is credited with promoting protests that swept Abiy to power last year but he has recently become critical of some of the premier’s policies.

In an interview at his residence in Addis Ababa, Jawar told AFP that Abiy — named Nobel Peace laureate two weeks ago — seemed to be taking Ethiopia back to “the old ways” of authoritarian rule.

“He has resorted to the early signs of dictatorship, of trying to intimidate people, even his very close allies who helped him come to power who happen to disagree with some of the policies and positions and ideologies he’s advocating,” Jawar said.

“Intimidation is the start of authoritarian rule.”

Both men are members of the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest.

Their feud highlights divisions within Abiy’s Oromo support base that could complicate his bid for a five-year term when Ethiopia votes in elections currently planned for May 2020.

Jawar said that running against Abiy was “one possibility,” though he also said he could be convinced to back Abiy if he changes course.

“I want to have an active role in the coming election. In what capacity I’m not sure but I want to make sure that the influence I have in the country has a positive contribution,” he said.

Religious, ethnic conflict

After two days of violent protests, tensions had cooled Friday in Addis Ababa, although the total damage inflicted by the unrest was still being tallied.

Fisseha of AI said the violence had included instances of security forces opening fire on protesters but was increasingly taking the form of ethnic and religious clashes.

“Some people have lost their lives with sticks, with machetes, some houses have been burned. People have been using even bullets and light arms to kill each other, to fight each other,” he said.

At least six people were killed in the town of Ambo, west of Addis, after security forces opened fire on protesters, Fisseha said.

Ethnic and religious violence has been reported in the towns and cities of Dodola, Harar, Balerobe and Adama.

Property belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which some associate with the Amhara ethnic group, has been targeted in several locations, Fisseha said.

Daniel Bekele, head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, urged public figures to tamp down virulent rhetoric that could contribute to additional unrest.

“It is extremely depressing that public officials and community leaders don’t appreciate the consequences of their actions and words leading to this senseless loss of lives, destruction of property and disruption of ordinary life,” he said.

“As security forces are struggling to calm the crisis, everyone has a responsibility to do their share and cooperate.”

16 Dead As Ethiopian Protesters March Against PM

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gives a press conference at the Prime Minister’s office in the capital, Addis Ababa. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP

 

At least 16 people have been killed in violence in Ethiopia this week that began with protests against Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Abiy Ahmed, an Amnesty International researcher said Friday.

“Up to now we have confirmed 16 people dead, but the number must be more than that because new reports are emerging which we have not confirmed,” Fisseha Tekle told AFP.

He said the violence had included instances of security forces opening fire on protesters but was increasingly taking the form of ethnic and religious clashes.

“Some people have lost their lives with sticks, with machetes, some houses have been burned. People have been using even bullets and light arms to kill each other, to fight each other,” he said.

“I don’t have the latest on what happened during the night but there was no sign of decrease.”

The violence erupted in Addis Ababa, the capital, and in much of Ethiopia’s Oromia region after a high-profile activist accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him.

The activist, Jawar Mohammed, is a former Abiy ally and member of the prime minister’s Oromo ethnic group — the country’s largest — who has recently become critical of some of Abiy’s policies.

The unrest highlights divisions within the ethnic Oromo support base that swept Abiy to power last year — divisions that could undermine his position ahead of elections planned for May 2020.

At a press conference Thursday, Jawar called for calm while accusing the authorities of stoking instability.

Religious, ethnic violence

At least six people were killed in the town of Ambo, west of Addis, after security forces opened fire on protesters, Fisseha said.

Ethnic and religious violence has been reported in the towns and cities of Dodola, Harar, Balerobe and Adama.

Ethiopian officials have provided scant information on casualties but did confirm two deaths in Adama earlier this week.

Property belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which some associate with the Amhara ethnic group, has been targeted in multiple locations, Fisseha said.

“Up to now it is people going after the Orthodox Church and that creates a standoff and violence because the followers of the Orthodox defend themselves,” Fisseha said.

On Thursday, the Orthodox Church issued a call for calm while saying the violence has “resulted in loss of lives as well as caused damages to properties and mass displacements,” according to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Amnesty called on security forces to use restraint as they work to get the situation under control.

“The fact that protests are not commonly peaceful does not mean they have to use lethal force,” Fisseha said.

“It’s only as a last resort that lethal force can be used and only to protect the lives of security forces and protect the lives of other people.”