Barry's Feed
Apr 6, 2010
via Africa News blog

Where is Lemlem?

Photo

It’s one of those photos. The type you can’t get out of your head. There’s just something about it that draws you in. You keep coming back to look again.

It could be because she’s beautiful. Dark brown eyes, gently rounded cheeks, bundles of black curls held atop her head by a carefully tied scarf, the start of a smile she’s trying to suppress, a smile you know will charm when set free.

Apr 2, 2010

Ethiopia denies huge dam will leave 200,000 hungry

ADDIS ABABA, April 2 (Reuters) – Ethiopia rejected allegations that building one of Africa’s biggest hydropower dams would leave 200,000 self-sufficient people reliant on aid.

Rights group Survival International (SI) said last week the dam would disrupt fishing and farming for tribal people, among them the Kwegu and Hamar tribes, and a group of charities have launched an online petition against the dam.

"We have made an extensive survey," government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said late on Thursday.

"Highly renowned, independent experts have assured that the construction of the dam in no way causes concern for people living around there," he said. He did not name the experts involved in the survey.

An SI researcher who did not want to be named told Reuters last week the dam would ruin the economy of those living near it.

"It will end the annual flooding some rely on to make the land they farm fertile, and for tribes who rely on fishing, it will deplete stocks. They will need aid."

Shimeles said the project had the backing of neighbouring Kenya, despite SI claims its construction could threaten the livelihoods of 300,000 people there.

The dam is being built on the Omo river, the main source for Kenya’s Lake Turkana.

"Various concerned bodies, including the Kenyan parliament, have endorsed the Ethiopian government’s plans and have openly criticised the position pursued by these NGOs to prevent the construction of the Gibe III dam," Shimeles said.

Salini Costruttori, the Italian firm building the dam, this week also dismissed the accusations of rights groups saying the project would not cause drought or block the flow of water to the river, but merely redistribute it during the year.

Ethiopia is building the 1.4 billion euro ($1.9 billion) dam as part of a campaign to beat chronic power shortages and become a power exporter.

The dam is expected to generate 1,800 MW, almost doubling the country’s current capacity of just under 2,000 MW.

The Horn of Africa nation is negotiating further funding for Gibe III, whose construction began in 2006, with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the Italian government. (Editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Myra MacDonald)





Mar 30, 2010

Ethiopia dam will not displace 200,000: builder

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The Italian firm building Africa’s biggest hydropower dam in Ethiopia on Tuesday denied allegations that the dam would deprive 200,000 self-sufficient people of a living and make them dependent on aid.

The ethnic rights group Survival International said last week that the dam would disrupt fishing and farming and displace more than 200,000 people, among them the Kwegu and Hamar tribes.

Mar 30, 2010
via Africa News blog

Ethiopia Elections: Will the West be watching?

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When you work for a news organisation in a country like Ethiopia, people  often tell you “nobody cares” about the stories you report. What they mean, of  course, is that nobody in the West cares. Most of the time, they’re right.

But with Ethiopians about to hold national elections for the first time since a 2005 poll ended with a disputed result, about 200 protestors killed in the  streets by police and soldiers and opposition leaders jailed after Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused them of trying to stage a revolution, there’s every reason for the public in the West to take notice.

Mar 29, 2010

VOA says Ethiopia blocks website as US row escalates

ADDIS ABABA, March 29 (Reuters) – U.S. funded-broadcaster
Voice of America said on Monday that Ethiopia may have blocked
its website in a move which may lead to further U.S. criticism
of its closest ally in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia holds national elections on May 23 and
international press freedom advocacy groups say the government
is intimidating and harassing journalists ahead of the vote. The
government denies that.

Mar 27, 2010

Ethiopian opposition barred from seeing jailed leader

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian opposition politicians were barred from visiting their jailed leader, Birtukan Mideksa, Saturday after a U.S. State Department human rights report said her mental health has deteriorated.

Eight opposition politicians asked for access to Birtukan at the prison. They were met by prison head Abebe Zemichael and, after a heated argument in the street outside, were refused permission for not being family members.

Mar 26, 2010

Ethiopia cracks down on biggest ethnic group – party

ADDIS ABABA, March 26 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s most populous ethnic group is being targeted in a government crackdown ahead of the country’s first national election since a disputed 2005 poll, an opposition party said on Friday.

The Horn of Africa country’s last election results were challenged by the opposition and international observers. About 200 protesters were killed by security forces in street riots and the main opposition leaders imprisoned. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said they were trying to oust him.

"They are cracking down on the Oromo ethnicity because we are such a large group, not only many in men, but the Oromia region contains a lot of resources," Bulcha Demeksa, leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) said.

Ethnic Oromos, who make up 27 million of the country’s 80 million people, have not held power in modern Ethiopian history. Ethiopia has more than 80 ethnic groups.

The nine considered the most powerful by the government, including the Oromos, administer their own federal regions.

Meles comes from the Tigryan ethnic group, who make up only 6 percent of the population but dominate the political and military elite.

The OFC, part of eight-party coalition Medrek, said candidates were beaten and tortured to scare them into leaving the party. It said opposition civil servants in Oromia had been transferred to remote regions and refused time off to campaign.

"We in OFC appeal today to friendly countries and their envoys in Ethiopia, and to the people of Ethiopia at large, to support us," the party said in a statement.

The Ethiopian government says opposition candidates are not intimidated.

"This is a democracy," Bereket Simon, government head of information, told Reuters this week. "We are continuously widening political space."

Analysts say Medrek — or the Forum — is the main threat to the 19-year-old government of Meles, but his Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition is expected to easily win the May 23 poll.

The opposition says this is because they are harassed and jailed. The government says the opposition is trying to discredit a poll it has no chance of winning. (Editing by Janet Lawrence)




Mar 24, 2010

Ethiopia opposition stifled before election: rights group

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The Ethiopian government is ramping up a campaign of intimidation against opposition politicians, journalists and rights activists ahead of national elections in May, a rights group said Wednesday.

The Horn of Africa country’s election will be the first since a government victory in 2005 was disputed by the opposition. About 200 street protesters were killed by security forces and the main opposition leaders imprisoned.

Mar 24, 2010

Ethiopia opposition stifled before election: report

ADDIS ABABA, March 24 (Reuters) – The Ethiopian government is ramping up a campaign of intimidation against opposition politicians, journalists and rights activists ahead of national elections in May, a rights group said on Wednesday.

The Horn of Africa country’s election will be the first since a government victory in 2005 was disputed by the opposition. About 200 street protesters were killed by security forces and the main opposition leaders imprisoned.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said they were trying to topple him.

New-York based Human Rights Watch said the government had arrested and imprisoned opposition politicians for varying terms since the 2005 poll.

"Expressing dissent is very dangerous in Ethiopia," Georgette Gagnon, Human Rights Watch (HRW) Africa director, said in a statement.

"The ruling party and the state are becoming one and the government is using the full weight of its power to eliminate opposition and intimidate people."

One of the country’s most popular opposition leaders, Birtukan Mideksa, has been in prison for more than a year, accused of violating a pardon that released her and other opposition leaders jailed after the 2005 street violence.

The Ethiopian government dismissed the report.



"RIDICULOUS AND OUTRAGEOUS"

"There is no intimidation. This is a democracy," Bereket Simon, government head of information, told Reuters. "We are continuously widening political space."

Meles was hailed as one of a new generation of democratic African leaders in the 1990s but rights groups have increasingly criticised him for cracking down on opposition in sub-Saharan Africa’s second most populous nation.

Human Rights Watch accused the government of withholding seeds and fertilizers from poor Ethiopians to force them to join the ruling party. The organization said members of the civil service were also being pressured to join.

"Since 2005, state resources have also been used to press individuals to join the ruling party so that they can benefit from access to services, jobs, and economic activity," said the 59-page report, citing more than 200 interviews in Ethiopia.

Bereket told Reuters the government had distributed seeds to more than 8 million Ethiopians — far exceeding the number of ruling party members.

"To say we prevent people from accessing seeds or fertilizer is ridiculous and outrageous," Bereket said. "And civil service workers are free to join any party."

Opposition politicians in the capital Addis Ababa backed the report on Wednesday.

"The state resources are a big weapon," Bulcha Demeksa, leader of one of the parties in Ethiopia’s main opposition coalition, Medrek, told Reuters.

"Our candidates who already work in the civil service, like teachers, are being transferred to very remote areas and refused time off to campaign." (Editing by David Clarke)




Mar 24, 2010

Giant Ethiopian dam to make 200,000 go hungry: NGO

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – More than 200,000 Ethiopians who rely on fishing and farming could become reliant on aid to survive if the government goes ahead with building Africa’s biggest hydropower dam, an advocacy group said.

Ethiopia is building the 1.4 billion euro dam as part of a campaign to beat power shortages and become a power exporter.

    • About Barry

      "Irish journalist who has lived in the Horn and east Africa since 2006 - first in Ethiopia, then in Uganda - covering politics, elections, society, culture and economics across the region. I have also worked for Reuters in Tunisia, Iraq and Libya and was part of the team that dominated coverage of Muammar Gaddafi's killing. Always welcome a good chat over on Twitter: @malonebarry"
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