Ethiopian News

  • Gov’t announces death of 23 people in Qilinto prison facility

    (by EthioTime) Government Communication Affairs Office has announced today death of 23 people following the fire outbreak in Qilinto prison in the outskirt of Addis Ababa on Saturday.        

    According to a local radio station report quoting a statement from the communication office that the death causality of 21 people were when the prisoners tried to escape the fire. Two prisoners were also reported shot dead while they attempted to escape from the prison.   

    The report says, two buildings have been damaged and most of the prisoners’ room were also eaten by fire which the prison administration has later managed to transfer the prisoners to other federal prisons.

    The cause of the blaze is not yet identified while investigation is undergoing on the bodies of the dead and remaining, said the report.

    Image: Qilinto Prison caught in fire on Saturday while gun shot was heard at the moment.

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  • PM Hailemariam removes Mekuria Haile

    (by EthioTime) Seems an attempt of overhauling the leadership of his government, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has recently removed Mekuria Haile, Minister of Housing and Urban Development.

    Though Prime Minister Hailemariam did not offer any reasons as to why the minister has been sacked, a letter that was signed by the PM mentioned that Mekuria was given another position in government as advisor to the PM on the issues of housing and urban development with the rank of a minister. Is has also been confirmed that Mekuria received the letter a week ago, reports a local newspaper in Ethiopia.  

    However, according to a high-level discussion held back in November 2015, lack of good governance and emergence of rent-seeking trends in the government institution has posed a serious threat to the system. And hence, the Ministry, which is led by Mekuria, is one of the institutions that were cited in the good-governance report, which was discussed at the high-level meeting.

    However, recent reports indicate that Mekuria’s ministry was raised in connection to severe maladministration and lack of good governance. Former comrades of the ruling EPRDF revealed that the real administrative power has never been given to Mekuria which led to create strong network of officials to embezzle the land and housing development mainly in the city of Addis Ababa.   

    Mekuria was severely challenged in the House of People’s Representatives in June in connection with the performance of his Ministry and the slow delivery of public condominium houses to home-seekers.

    Particularly, he was grilled by a Member of Parliament after he reported that over 80 blocks of condominium houses were either lost or were not constructed despite fact that they were included in the site map. MPs were also angered over his comment that he claimed he knew nothing about the lost houses.

    Mekuria, who was born in Azza area of Gurage Zone, has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Addis Ababa University (AAU) and has obtained his Master’s degrees in International Business Management and Business Administration from Universities in Ireland and England. His first post in the public sector is the Trade, Industry and Urban Development Bureau of the Southern Region and cabinet member of Southern Regional State. He then moved to Addis Ababa as manager of the city under Kuma Demekssa who was back then Mayor of the city. His current ministerial portfolio materialized in 2010, in the then Urban Development and Construction Minister which was later renamed as Minster of Housing and Urban Development.

    Image: Mekuria Haile

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  • Fire Broke at Qilinito Prison: Causality due to gun shots and stumped has escalated to 20


    The Qilinto maximum security prison, located in southern Addis Abeba, caught fire this morning. Intensive gunfire ensued following the fire accident, creating a tense situation among local residents in the area.

    Addis Abeba’s fire brigade chief declined to make a comment on the accident as fire fighters, emergency service providers and first responders continue to battle the blaze, according to eye witnesses.

    Under the Federal Prison Administration, Qilinto hosts the country’s high profile political prisoners. Inmates are reportedly being moved away from harm’s way, amidst continued gunfire by prison guards and local police, supposedly to prevent any prison breaks. There is heavy presence of security forces from the federal police around the scene, an eye witness told Fortune.

    We will update this story as our reporter on the ground brings more details.

    Update: The fire is now under control, while there is a reported loss of life on one inmate. The cause of the fire, currently under investigation, started in a kitchen.

    Update: Causality due to gun shots and stumped has escalated to 20, while three fire fighters are admitted to hospitals due to suffocation. Cause of fire is reportedly deliberate act to escape , according to sources. the federal police unit has taken over security from the Federal Prison Administration.

    Source: Addis Fortune 

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  • Dutch, Israeli Farms in Ethiopia Attacked by Protesters

    A Dutch-run flower farm in northern Ethiopia was among a series of foreign-owned plantations attacked by anti-government protesters as unrest in the country spreads.

    A “large group” of people invaded Esmeralda Farms Inc.’s farm 13 kilometers (8 miles) south of Bahir Dar city in the Amhara region on Aug. 29, causing about 7 million euros ($7.8 million) of damage, country manager Haile Seifu said by phone Thursday. Flower farms in the area owned by Israeli, Italian, Indian and Belgian companies were among nine commercial properties damaged in the protests, which continued on Aug. 30, he said.

    “They were so aggressive, there were also soldiers who couldn’t control them, so we just ran away, as it’s life or death,” he said from the capital, Addis Ababa. “They came actually at once through our compound, through our fence, through our main gate, so everybody left.”

    Authorities in Ethiopia have killed more than 500 people since June, according to human-rights groups, to suppress protests by the two most populous groups, the Oromo and Amhara. Analysts say the demonstrations present the biggest challenge to the government’s authority since it came to power a quarter of a century ago. The economy grew faster than any other in Africa over the past two years, International Monetary Fund data shows.

    Nigusu Tilahun, a spokesman for the Amhara government, said he wasn’t immediately available to comment, while a call to Communications Minister Getachew Reda wasn’t answered.

    Militias Clashing

    Militias are also clashing with the army in parts of Gojam and Gondar areas of Amhara, with 10 people dying Wednesday in Metemma on the Sudan border, and four in Debark to the north of Gondar city, said Yared Hailemariam, executive director for the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, which is based in Belgium.

    The military is also patrolling Bahir Dar and shooting at protesters, he said by phone from Brussels. Unless the government changes its approach, the unrest may worsen, he said.

    “In both Oromia and Amhara region people are saying enough is enough,” Yared said. “They are demanding regime change.”

    Source: Bloomberg  

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  • U.S. Ambassador Patrica Haslach left Ethiopia

    (by EthioTime) Ambassador of the United States to Ethiopia, Patrica Haslach has left Addis Ababa as she finished her term as U.S. Ambassador for the past three years.  

    She said on Wednesday evening farewell event that, “the end of an assignment is always bittersweet, and that is particularly true today.  As I reflect on the last three years, I’m very proud of how much progress we’ve made, but also very much aware of how far we have to go.”

    We have focused on three pillars in the U.S.- Ethiopia relationship – development and economic growth; human rights and governance; and regional peace and security, she said.  

    All are necessary if Ethiopians are to have the future they aspire to.  All are independent, but interconnected, and there will not be success in one domain without success in all. Patrica also stressed that Ethiopia is an important partner for the United States mentioning President Obama’s visit last years as high point of her time in Ethiopia.

    “I am also worried by recent developments, which have the potential to threaten the progress that the people and government of Ethiopia have made.  I know there is a great deal of fear and frustration in Ethiopia, including among our diverse and talented staff,” said Patrica.

    “I can tell you that we continue to engage with the government of Ethiopia, urging its officials at all levels to uphold Ethiopia’s constitutional guarantees of democratic government and respect for human rights and the rule of law.  As President Obama said last year:  “Making sure to open additional space for journalists, for media, for opposition voices, will strengthen rather than inhibit the agenda that the Prime Minister and the ruling party has put forward.” 

    Even in the United States, the world’s oldest democracy, we continue to strive for improvement, by acknowledging our challenges and working to overcome them.  Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, transparency, and accountability are essential elements of good governance and democracy. 

    The leaving Ambassador also noted that, as U.S. Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, Tom Malinowski said in his recent article in allafrica.com (and on our Embassy Facebook page), “Because of the friendship and common interests our two nations share, the U.S. has a stake in Ethiopia's prosperity, stability and success. When Ethiopia does well, it is able to inspire and help others.  On the other hand, a protracted crisis in Ethiopia would undermine the goals that both nations are trying to achieve together.”  I want you to know that our message is clear:  anyone who wants Ethiopia to develop and to succeed must understand that Ethiopia will be strongest when all voices are heard and government is accountable to all.  Unlawful detention and abuse must end.

    Image:U.S. Ambassador Patrica Haslach

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