Djibouti unfettered by Ethiopian search for other ports

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – Djibouti has said the use by Ethiopia of Eritrean ports will not be viewed as a threat by the Horn of Africa nation — the bulk of whose income is generated from port services.

Ethiopia has been using the Port of Djibouti for more than 95 percent of its foreign trade since 1998 when it could no more use Eritrean ports due to political fallout between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In what came as a fast-tracked thaw, Ethiopia and Eritrea made peace and opened Eritrean ports for trade.

“It is not a risk; we see it as an opportunity,” Wahib Daher Aden, chief executive officer of Djibouti’s new Doraleh Multi-purpose Port told reporters.

Doraleh Port is the country’s flagship project and it has a state of the art infrastructure including four giant cranes.

“We want to be chosen for our services and in a competition,” he said adding the new Port was able to handle 5 million tons during 2018 — a performance he described as “very good for starting year.”

“We can manage cargo more safely and cheaper,” he said.

Djibouti in 2017 cut the cost of port services by 45 percent in a bid to retain the country of 100 million population with a growing economy as Ethiopia started to look for ports in other neighboring countries as alternative outlets.

“Feedback from our [Ethiopian] forwarders about the decrease in cost services is very positive,” the port official said, adding the Doraleh Port envisage giving service to other countries such as South Sudan.

Ethiopia premier calls on Yemenis to embrace dialogue

                By Addis Getachew</p>    <p>ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday called on Yemenis to embrace dialogue for restoration of peace in their country.</p>    <p> “You should agree and disagree without bloodshed and wars as the people of one home,” Ahmed said in a statement.</p>    <p>“Plan your growth and progress, and keep up with the civilization that you were once at the forefront of,” he added.</p>    <p>The Ethiopian prime minister said war cannot bring anything positive to the Yemeni people but only brings destruction.</p>    <p>Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthi rebel group overran much of the country and the crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.  </p>    <p>Tens of thousands of people, including civilians, are believed to have been killed and the UN estimates that around 14 million Yemenis are at risk of famine.

Rebel group members return to Ethiopia after peace deal

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – Members of a separatist group on Wednesday returned to Somali regional state of Ethiopia from their base in Eritrea after they reached an agreement with the Ethiopian government.

Upon arrival at the Jijiga town, capital of the Ethiopian Somali regional state, the fighters of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), were welcomed by residents and other senior local officials.

The rebel group had been fighting for the right to self-determination for Somalis in the Somali Region of Ethiopia since 1984.

Last month, the government of Ethiopia and the ONLF had signed a peace deal in the Eritrean capital Asmara, according to a local FANA broadcasting corporate.

The two sides reached historic deal that allowed the ONLF to undertake peaceful political struggle in Ethiopia after laying down its arms.

This is one of a spate of agreements the government had reached since June this year with armed opposition.

CORRECTION – Turkey donates 18,000 blankets in Ethiopia

CORRECTS NUMBER OF BLANKETS FROM 80,000 TO 18,000

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia (AA) – A Turkish state-run aid agency on Friday donated 18,000 blankets to internally displaced people in Ethiopia’s eastern city of Jijiga, the capital of Somali Regional State.

Turkish Ambassador to Ethiopia Fatih Ulusoy, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency’s (TIKA) country coordinator Mehmet Ali Yetis and Vice President of Somali Regional State Adem Farha attended the aid distribution ceremony.

Ambassador Ulusoy said that his government would continue to support the development needs in the region.

The vice president of the region noted stability has returned to the region. "We need Turkish investors," he said.

The TIKA coordinator said the donation was only a beginning of the continuous support.

"We will continue to support the needy people and the region. The blankets were produced by Turkish textile company ETUR Textile PLC, which is based in Adama city of Ethiopia," he said.

African Union reforms on agenda of leaders' meeting

By Seleshi Tessema and Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – African leaders met on Saturday to decide on institutional reforms for the African Union Commission, calling these reforms imperative for Africa to be able to speak with one voice on the international stage.

Institutional flexibility and independence, financial independence, and restructuring the functions of the African Union Commission as well as a division of labor among African Union and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are among the key reforms being discussed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

Speaking at the summit's opening, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said that over the next two days, the leaders will consider numerous options and decide the future direction of reforms.

The aim of these reforms is to achieve greater flexibility to respond to the continent’s demands, Faki said, adding that advances have already been made in terms of increasing financial contributions from member states in the form of membership contributions as well as setting aside 0.2 percent import levies to the Union.

Rwandan President Paul Kagami – the mastermind of the reform document – said in his opening speech: “We are very much on course and the end is in sight.”

Close to $55 million has been collected so far in the form of the import levies from member states since 2016, according to Pierre Moukoko, head of the commission's Reform Implementation Unit.

According to projections, to minimize financial dependence on donors, the commission hopes to collect an additional $40 million by 2020.

In his maiden speech to an African Union Summit since coming to power this April, the reformist Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the leaders: “Reforms also require accountability.”

In a competitive and interdependent world mired with conflict, Abiy said Africans cannot stand alone, and the reforms would bring the continent towards achieving the principles and spirit of pan-Africanism.

Over the course of two days, the leaders are expected to come up with tangible decisions and directions to implement the reform agenda, including instituting a sanction regime against member states that fail to make annual financial contributions.

Gender and youth participation in the affairs of the union is another of the reform components.

CORRECTS – Turkey donates 80,000 blankets in Ethiopia

CORRECTS NAME OF TIKA'S COUNTRY COORDINATOR IN 2ND PARAGRAPH

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia (AA) – A Turkish state-run aid agency on Friday donated 80,000 blankets to internally displaced people in Ethiopia’s eastern city of Jijiga, the capital of Somali Regional State.

Turkish Ambassador to Ethiopia Fatih Ulusoy, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency’s (TIKA) country coordinator Mehmet Ali Yetis and Vice President of Somali Regional State Adem Farha attended the aid distribution ceremony.

Ambassador Ulusoy said that his government would continue to support the development needs in the region.

The vice president of the region noted stability has returned to the region. "We need Turkish investors," he said.

The TIKA coordinator said the donation was only a beginning of the continuous support.

"We will continue to support the needy people and the region. The blankets were produced by Turkish textile company ETUR Textile PLC, which is based in Adama city of Ethiopia," he said.

Turkey donates 80,000 blankets in Ethiopia

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia (AA) – A Turkish state-run aid agency on Friday donated 80,000 blankets to internally displaced people in Ethiopia’s eastern city of Jijiga, the capital of Somali Regional State.

Turkish Ambassador to Ethiopia Fatih Ulusoy, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency’s (TIKA) country coordinator Fazil Akin and Vice President of Somali Regional State Adem Farha attended the aid distribution ceremony.

Ambassador Ulusoy said that his government would continue to support the development needs in the region.

The vice president of the region noted stability has returned to the region. "We need Turkish investors," he said.

The TIKA coordinator said the donation was only a beginning of the continuous support.

"We will continue to support the needy people and the region. The blankets were produced by Turkish textile company ETUR Textile PLC, which is based in Adama city of Ethiopia," he said.

'Turkey's Africa policy based on fraternity, equality'

By Zuhal Demirci

ANKARA (AA) – Ethiopia's Ambassador to Ankara praised bilateral relations and called to further boost Turkish investments in Ethiopia.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview, Girma Temesgen Barkessa said that Turkish investors are represented in various sectors in Ethiopia.

Recalling the diplomatic relations between the two countries which go back over 100 years, Barkessa stressed that the bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Turkey are at a strategic level.

"Basically we have a strategic investment sector which has a comparative advantage for both Ethiopians as well as Turkish investors," he said.

Barkessa said Ethiopia gives priority to the fields of agriculture, processing, and textile and leather products.

"By comparative advantage, I mean that we have labor power in that sector, resources in that sector so that’s why we are putting these sectors in our priority area," he added.

Barkessa said the investment of Turkish companies in those sectors, particularly in textile and infrastructure construction, has been increasing.

"So far we have so many Turkish investors investing in Ethiopia. But in view of the stronger relationship between Ethiopia and Turkey, the number or the flow of investors to Ethiopia is not to the expectation of both countries.

We really need to increase the number of Turkish companies in Ethiopia," he said. To boost the flow of investors to the expected level in Ethiopia, he said the media needs to be used effectively to introduce Ethiopia to Turkish investors.

Pointing to the tourism potential between the two countries, the ambassador said Turkish people should designate Ethiopia, which is home to many historical places, as a top tourist destination.

Noting that there is a rapid increase of Turkish tourists in Ethiopia, Barkessa said that many services for them, such as visa regulations, were being discussed for facilitation.

– Turkey’s policy toward Africa based on 'fraternity, equality'

On Turkey's relations with other African countries, Barkessa said: "Turkey is not only limited [to] its relations with Ethiopia. It has also [been] expanding its relations with other African brothers through trade, investment — not only through the flights of Turkish Airlines [but also] to different parts of Africa."

Therefore, Turkey firstly expands its relations through investment and trade tourism, and then through the flights of Turkish Airlines, he said.

"We see the policy of Turkey toward Africa is based on fraternity, equality, as Turkey does not have any colonial background," he added.

On Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call to do business using local currencies, Barkessa said: "When countries exchange their goods through the local currency, it makes life more easier, it makes business interactions more easier. Particularly for Ethiopia the hard currency is decrease."

– Transferring FETO Schools

When asked about Ethiopian government transferring schools linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind a 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, to the Turkish government, Barkessa said: "We promised that we are going to transfer these schools to the Maarif Foundation. Maarif Foundation has already got a legal entity in Ethiopia. The process of transferring these schools is ongoing."

Turkey established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to FETO.

The foundation also establishes schools and education centers abroad.

Asked whether Ethiopia sees the terror group as a threat, Barkessa said: "We consider all terrorists as an enemy of the country."

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

– 'Peace is a matter of process'

With regard to the recent positive developments in the relations between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia, Barkessa said: "It is a process. You cannot achieve peace overnight. Peace is a matter of process.”

“But the process has already commenced. We hope and wish that the commenced peace will be sustainable. We will see a peaceful Horn of Africa within the coming few years."

Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993, and from 1998 to 2000 the two countries fought a bloody war in which an estimated 70,000 people perished on both sides.

The two countries broke two decades of tension after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed extended an olive branch to the Eritrean president in his inaugural speech in April. Both opened their respective embassies, while Eritrea allowed Ethiopia to use its Red Sea ports.

-‘We are in favor of equitable utilization’

Asked if his country has any solution to put an end to the tension with Egypt due to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project, Barkessa said: “As it [the Nile] belongs to all, we have also the legal and natural right to use the dam without creating any significant harm on lower riparian countries.

“This is the understanding we try to create among all African brothers, including the lower riparian countries as well as upper riparian countries.”

Recalling a misunderstanding with lower riparian countries, he said: “Our neighbor Sudan has recognized and has accepted that our dam [is being constructed] to create energy….. So they are with the principle of equitable utilization of the Nile.”

“With regard to Cairo, we are discussing at the technical level," Barkessa said. “We hope they do understand us. What we can say, as Ethiopians […] we are in favor of equitable utilization of the rivers of the Nile.”

“We have also the right to use this dam,” he said: “No one can stop the construction of this dam. ”The dam, which will be the biggest dam in Africa to date, was scheduled to be completed within five years.

– Reforms in Ethiopia

Asked if there were obstacles to the reform process in Ethiopia after Ahmed came to power, the ambassador said: “Whenever reform comes, you should expect the resistance. That is natural. Reform without resistance cannot exist, because you learn a lot from resistance. That’s what we are facing now in Ethiopia."

“There is a fast reform going on in Ethiopia in terms of human rights, political reforms, economics, as well as combating corruption…..there may be few individuals who could be against. However‚ for sure‚ the reform is in favor of the majority of the people," the ambassador added.

Ethiopia arrests over 60 high-ranking army officials

By Seleshi Tessema

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – Ethiopia on Monday announced the arrest of dozens of high-ranking security officials over alleged human rights violations and corruption.

Speaking at a news briefing, Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye said 36 high-ranking security officials were arrested for human rights violations, while 27 officials of Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), a military-run conglomerate, were held for embezzlement of public funds.

Tsegaye said that “the crimes against humanity” were committed by high ranking officials and operatives of National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which operated dozens of secret prisons throughout Ethiopia.

“People were being detained without trail for long time in the prisons,” he alleged.”

“In humane torture, bodily harm, forced disappearances, sexual attacks against men and women inmates were committed in those prisons,” he said.

According to him, the violations had been “institutionalized” and also victimized family members of the incarcerated citizens.

Tsegaye also accused officials of METEC of misuse of public funds worth billions of dollars.

“METEC has made unlawful international procurement worth $2 billion without the established bidding process,” he said, adding the conglomerate also made “unlawful” domestic procurement worth another $2 billion.

He said METEC officials made their family members as middlemen in their own bidding processes.

Tsegaye who refused to provide names noted that criminal charges will be filled against the detained.

10,000 people run for Eritrea–Ethiopia newfound peace

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – More than 10,000 people participated in an Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Run in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday.

The guest of honor was Ethiopia’s most celebrated singer and song writer Tedros Kassahun (aka Teddy Afro), whose numerous songs advocated for unity, peace and love between Eritrea and Ethiopia – an advocacy that began during the sad days of enmity between the two governments in the 1990s.

Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993.

From 1998 – 2000, the two countries fought a war in which 70,000 people perished.

The runners filled Meskel Square in downtown Addis Ababa for the kick-off sporting t-shirts that feature the flags of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and it came as one of major events since the two countries began a fast-paced diplomatic thaw ending two decades of tense relations.

“It is a very happy day for the peoples of the two countries and I thank God for making me live to see this day,” Tilahun Masresha, 79, told Anadolu Agency.

Masresha said he worked as teacher in Embatikala in Eritrea for five years when the two countries were under one flag.

“We should never have been separated,” he said, pointing to his t-shirt that reads “We are one.”

On Thursday, Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki together with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed visited the Amhara regional state in Ethiopia where they met Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as a follow up to the Declaration of Comprehensive Cooperation the trio signed in September in Eritrea’s capital Asmara.