OLF Vice President Dismisses Armed Struggle as Ineffective Strategy in Contemporary Ethiopia

Armed struggle is not an effective strategy in the current political context of Ethiopia, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) Vice President Kajela Merdassa said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, the vice president said the armed struggle in the OLF had some success but it did not achieve the desired results, especially over the last 27 years.

The achievement is insignificant when compared to the sacrifices paid and the people have gained a lot from non-violent struggle, Kajela noted.

He pointed out that the popular uprising in 2016 which forced the TPLF to step down was not, for instance, achieved through armed struggle.

“In the current situation, we do not expect any results from armed struggle. This is not necessary, and we have abandoned violence and embraced peaceful struggle,” the vice president elaborated.

According to him, armed struggle by internal and foreign forces will not bring anything to this country, and it is not acceptable. Taking power through armed struggle will lead to governing the country with guns. It does not bring democracy.”

Democracy can only be built when power comes from the people and people need to be free from fear and express their beliefs.

The vice president pointed out that “building democracy is more difficult than fighting. But first, there must be favorable conditions for building democracy. There must be peaceful movement and competition. On the other hand, there are persons who try to seize power through gun. This would weaken democracy.”

Kajela believes that there will be many challenges during a transition period. But the problem in Ethiopia is different, he added.

Ethiopia conducted democratic election during a very difficult time, especially when there was a lot of pressure to prevent the election from taking place, the vice president stated.

He said, “Although the ruling party won the election, some opposition political parties have unprecedentedly got seats, and it is a good thing that we accept. It is important to have a legitimate government and the election is a good start. We hope some shortcomings will be corrected in the future.”

The elected government needs to ensure the participation of political parties in every structure to create a conducive environment for greater stability and building democracy, the vice president observed.

Kajela further said that the government should also hold national consultations with various stakeholders on major issues and ensure their participation in the country’s political process.

On the other hand, the entire public and opposition political parties have a huge responsibility to stand together to defend the sovereignty of the country and ensure national interest.

Asked about the collaboration of the terrorist groups TPLF and Shene, the vice president said this is not acceptable and OLF believes their alliance undermines the struggle of the Oromo people and disrupts peaceful struggle.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Referendum in Southern Ethiopia Completes, Counting of Ballots Commenced

The referendum conducted in five Zones and one Special Worada located in South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State to form one regional state has been completed and counting of ballots begun this evening.

According to the office head of the referendum coordination, Mulugeta Negassi voting has been completed peacefully.

The residents of Keffa, Omo, Bench Sheko, Sheka, Dawro zones and Konta special Woreda have today voted in a democratic and peaceful manner.

He also said that the counting results of the referendum will be announced after the completion of the counting.

The regional state to be formed based on the result of the ongoing referendum expected to be named ‘South West Ethiopia Region’.

Currently, Ethiopia has ten regional states and two city administrations.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Elections in Somali, Harari and SNNP Regions Progressing Peacefully: NEBE

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) said the ongoing national elections in Somali, Harari, and SNNP regions are proceeding peacefully.

National Electoral Board of Ethiopia Chairperson, Birtukan Mideksa said the voting process is proceeding well with minor problems that are being promptly resolved.

Election materials were checked in the presence of observers before voting started in the polling stations, she added.

However, open ballot box was found at a polling station in Hararai region, the chairperson disclosed.

The voting in Moyale constituency of Somali region has been suspended as the election officials cited security problem.

Though voters in SNNP region of Gurafarda constituency were not registered because of security problems, they are now being registered and voting at the same time, Birtukan stated.

In addition to the ongoing national election, referendum has been taking place in Guraferda constituency of SNNP region, it was learned.

An election official in Dawro Zone of SNNP region was released from detention as his arrest has no ground, she revealed.

Some 22 political parties and 106 candidates are competing in the election of the three regions.

About 7.6 million voters are expected to cast their votes in 7,054 voting stations.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

PM Abiy Says Ethiopians Hold Election to Complete Country’s Democracy

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopians today have held an election that would complete the country’s democracy.

The Premier stated that those Ethiopians, who had not able to conduct the June 21 election held in the country due to several reasons, have today conducted election that would complete the country’s democracy.

These Ethiopians have fulfilled their national responsibility by casting their ballot to the parties they think are best, the Prime Minister pointed out.

The election was held without any security problems, Abiy stated on Facebook.

Similarly, the PM said residents of Keffa, Omo, Bench Sheko, Sheka, Dawro zones and Konta special Woreda located in South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State have also conducted referendum today to express the form of regional administration they need.

He extended a congratulatory message to the people who have been able to determine their democratic rights by freely participating in both of the events using their ballots.

Abiy has also thanked pertinent bodies engaged in the execution of the elections for their efforts to accomplish the tasks in a peaceful and democratic manner.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

DPG, Gov’t Express Commitment to Strengthen Partnership to Address Challenges in Ethiopia

The Development Partners Group (DPG) and the Government of Ethiopia expressed commitment to further strengthen partnership by deepening dialogue and coordinating efforts to address existing and emerging challenges in Ethiopia.

According to Ministry of Finance, the Heads of Agencies of the Development Partners Group (DPG) in Ethiopia held a meeting in Addis Ababa.

The meeting was co-chaired by Deputy Director of the African Development Bank Dr. Abdul Kamara, and Head of German Development Cooperation, Mrs. Laura Schmidt.

In addition to the Heads of Agencies constituting the DPG, the meeting was also attended by the Ambassadors of different countries.

The meeting served as an important platform to exchange views with high level representation from the Ethiopian Government.

Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide and the Minister of Peace, Muferiat Kamil provided updates on the current macroeconomic and humanitarian situation.

Commissioner of the Planning and Development Commission, Dr. Fitsum Assefa has also presented the key elements and approach of the 10 Year Development Plan proposing a set of mechanisms for implementation, and invited development partners to join efforts to ensure an effective execution.

The discussions between Heads of Agencies and Government representatives focused on the current economic and financial situation of Ethiopia.

They have also exchanged views on progress of implementation of the ongoing economic and fiscal reforms, as well as on the grave humanitarian situation and challenges for delivery of humanitarian aid, particularly in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions.

During the occasion, the government of Ethiopia has requested Development Partners to advance humanitarian support to meet the need.

The Development Partners Group and the Government of Ethiopia also expressed commitment to further strengthen their partnership by deepening dialogue and coordinating efforts to address existing and emerging challenges of the country.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Ministry Grants Mineral Production Licenses to Foreign & Local Mining Firms

Ethiopian Ministry of Mines and Petroleum today granted mineral production licenses to five foreign and one local mining companies.

The licenses would help the companies to engage in the production of gold, Marble, Bromine and chlorine minerals in the country.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Takele Umma today signed the agreements with the Chief Executives Officers of the mining companies.

The Minister said during the occasion that the government of Ethiopia has given a great deal of attention to the development of mining sector for it is one of the key economic potential after the agriculture sector.

The firms that have secured the license today are believed to create huge capacity to enhance the development of the sector with a view to supporting the national economy.

He further called on all local and the foreign investors to engage in the area as there is huge opportunity.

Ethiopian Investment Commission Commissioner, Lelise Neme said that the mining sector in Ethiopia has a huge potential to support the overall economic development of the country by attracting foreign and domestic investors.

The sector is key instrument particularly to create more jobs to citizens and improve foreign trade among other things.

The companies for their part said Ethiopia has untapped potential resources in the sector with conducive investment environment.

They further expressed their commitment to support the effort to boost the mining sector in the country.

Of the six companies 5 are foreign such as from Australia, Canada, India, Norway, Sweden, UAE and one local company (Oromia Mining Share Company.)

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Ethiopia – Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 30 Sept 2021

HIGHLIGHTS

• Malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women screened during the week is unprecedently high with 79% of some 15,000 women diagnosed with acute malnutrition in Tigray.

• Huge price hike due to severe shortages of essential commodities in Tigray.

• Some 126,000 people received food (half the number of people reached the prior week), of whom 52% received only 2 kg of pulses due to reduced supplies.

• Between 23 and 25 September, 33 trucks with food commodities entered Tigray, and 35 empty trucks returned to Semera from Mekelle to carry more food stock back into the region.

• Humanitarian partners continue to scale up response in Afar and Amhara regions.

KEY FIGURES

5.2M People in need

5.2M People targeted

63,110 Refugees in Sudan since 7 November

BACKGROUND

Disclaimer

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 21-28 September. In some cases, access and communication constraints mean that updates for the period are delayed. The next issue of the sitrep will be published on 7 October. The report is expanded to cover Amhara and Afar regions.

BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The humanitarian situation in Tigray remains dire, while the spillover of the conflict to neighboring Amhara and Afar regions is rapidly increasing the humanitarian needs and the number of internally displaced people (IDPs). The delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Tigray Region remains heavily constrained via the only access route to the region (Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor). Access to some areas in Afar and Amhara regions also remains restricted due to conflict and insecurity.

During the week (21-28 September), 79 trucks of humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray via Afar. This brings the number of humanitarian trucks that entered the region since 12 July to 606 trucks, or 11 per cent of the trucks needed. Humanitarian partners estimate that 100 trucks with food, non-food items, and fuel must enter Tigray every day to meet the needs on the ground.

The humanitarian trucks that arrived during the week included food, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection and mixed cargo items. Fuel and medical supplies are still denied entry into Tigray. Lack of fuel is one of the major impediments for delivering humanitarian assistance. The last fuel tanker entered Tigray on 29 July, over 8 weeks ago, while eight tankers in Semera (Afar) are pending Government approval. Consequently, several UN and NGO partners had to severely reduce or suspend humanitarian response activities, programs and needs assessments.

The last supplies of medicines allowed into Tigray was end of July. In addition, health partners have not been able to rehabilitate and re-equip health facilities following the systematic looting by parties to the conflict. With lack of essential medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic equipment, coupled with limited access to essential humanitarian assistance and services, increasing numbers of children, women and people with chronic diseases are at grave risk unless the restrictions placed on essential medical supplies is lifted immediately. Generators, ITC equipment, and office furniture have still not been allowed to transit to Tigray.

Commercial supplies remain blocked since 28 June, leading to severe shortages of essential commodities in the private markets leading to a huge rise in prices. This is compounded by significantly reduced purchasing power among vulnerable households due to loss of livelihoods, including non-payment of salaries for civil servants since June. Essential commodities like cooking oil has increased by 400 per cent, salt by 300 per cent, rice by 100 per cent and teff by 90 per cent, while the price of a liter of petrol in the black market has reportedly reached 300 Ethiopia Birr (ETB) from 28 ETB in early July.

UNHAS continues to operate two passenger flights per week between Addis Ababa and Mekelle, with 17 flights having operated to date since July. Passengers reported moderate searches at Addis Ababa airport on departure and arrival during the reporting period.

On 21 September, and after extensive additional repairs and reinforcement, parts of the Tekeze bridge, connecting Shire to May-Tsebri, Laelay Tselemti, and Tselmti Woredas in North Western Zone are now usable for vehicles, including heavy trucks. This will allow partners to transport humanitarian supplies across the bridge, opening the possibility of a second humanitarian supply route to the Tigray region. The bridge was destroyed in early July.

The severity of food-insecurity continues to increase, with at least 5.2 million people targeted for emergency food assistance in Tigray. According to WFP, Tigray has one of the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption in the country, which has risen from 5 to 21 per cent between June and September 2021. The nutrition situation is also critical. Screenings for malnutrition during the reporting period indicate unprecedented high levels of moderate malnutrition (MAM) among pregnant and lactating women. Of the more than 15,000 pregnant and lactating women screened during the reporting period, more than 12,000 women, or about 79 per cent, were diagnosed with acute malnutrition reaching about 79 per cent. MAM level among children under five years is also exceeding global emergency threshold of 15 per cent, at about 18 per cent, while cases of children with severe malnutrition is 2.4 per cent, above the alarming 2 per cent level.

The spillover of the conflict into neighboring Afar and Amhara regions continues to affect civilians with increased food insecurity, increased displacement, and disruption of livelihoods. In Afar, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people are directly affected by the conflict, including an estimated tens of thousands who are displaced and need urgent humanitarian assistance.

Similarly, the humanitarian situation in Amhara continues to deteriorate due to the active conflict along the Tigray regional border further increasing the number of IDPs, reportedly reaching a few hundred thousands across North Gondar, Central Gondar, South Gondar and North Wello.

Over 1,660 primary and secondary schools or 17 per cent of the total schools in Amhara and two colleges are reportedly completely or partially damaged by conflict, which directly affected over 1.2 million children (50 per cent girls), according to the Regional Education Bureau.

Despite challenges, including limited presence of humanitarian partners, limited or no access to some areas due to conflict and insecurity, and limited resources, partners continue to scale up the response and to support the regional authorities-led response efforts in both Afar and Amhara regions (see further details on the response below).

In addition to the conflict-related negative humanitarian consequences, FAO’s latest Desert Locust Update issued on 23 September indicated that new summer-bred immature swarms have started to form between the Awash and Mille river in Afar Region. The scale of the breeding is currently not known as most places are inaccessible by ground and the No-Fly Zone impedes survey and control aircraft from collecting data. Nonetheless, breeding is likely to continue in the coming weeks and extend to other areas of Afar and adjacent areas of southeast Tigray and eastern Amhara, potentially impacting the harvest. Despite the prediction of dry conditions for the rest of the year, the below-average rains should be sufficient to allow swarms to mature and lay eggs, which will hatch and give rise to hopper bands. Operations in northern Ethiopia, therefore, need to be increased and scaled up to prevent further deterioration in food security.

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs