Deutsche Welle: Ethiopia’s ethnic conflicts destabilise Abiy’s reforms – 11 January

  • Deutsche Welle publishes an analysis of the ethnic allegiances said to dominate Ethiopia’s political landscape, and the effect of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s recent reforms on the Ethiopian political area.
  • In the country’s south and west, ethnic violence and clashes against the army have claimed several dozens of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
  • Abiy’s reforms have seen the return of opposition leaders to Ethiopia, and the government says it is cracking down on some groups for failing to lay down their arms. General Berhanu Jula, National Defence Force deputy chief of staff, told the Parliament on 8 January that the army was “disarming” the groups and others were “handing themselves over.” Abiy also warned opposition groups against taking up arms against the government.
  • The ethnic conflicts and government’s pursuit of a political opening are creating a climate of violence and insecurity which has been criticised, because civilians do not feel protected.
  • Merera Gudina, chairman of the multi-ethnic party Medrek, told DW that a return to dictatorship was one of his “biggest fears” for Ethiopia.

Eritrea Hub: Eritrean government attempts to intimidate BBC – 12 January

  • Eritrea Hub reports that the Eritrean government has launched a fresh attack on the BBC, accusing it of having a “nefarious agenda”.
  • In a tweet on 3 January, Information Minister Yemane G Meskel said it had banned contact with the BBC Tigrinya Service in Nairobi. This was followed on 12 January by an article on Tesfanews, which referenced what it called the “recent highly provocative and questionable comments” made by a BBC Tigrinya journalist that resulted in the British Ambassador being summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Martin Plaut shares his experience as former BBC World Service Africa Editor, when he reported on the ruling of the 2002 Boundary Commission allocating the town of Badme to Eritrea. The Ethiopian government claimed it had been awarded the village and sent a minister to London to complain, but the BBC stood by Martin’s reporting, which proved correct.
  • Martin says that the Eritrean government “would not take the trouble to attack the BBC Tigrinya service if it had not won a sizeable audience inside the country. Perhaps it is a kind of backhanded compliment!”

The Irish Times: Taoiseach says visit to Ethiopia changed his perspective on refugee camps – 12 January

  • The Irish Times reports on Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar’s trip to Ethiopia, which he said has changed his perspective on refugee camps
  • The Taoiseach visited the Mai Aini refugee camp close to Ethiopia’s border with Eritrea on the last day of his three-day visit to Ethiopia, which houses around 12,500 of the 907,000 refugees registered in Ethiopia.
  • Varadkar argued that the EU needed to respond to humanitarian and refugee crises by engaging in long-term investment and partnerships in Africa. He said: “The solution is the underlying process (of African development).”
  • Varadkar said: “Europe must do more in the future to bring to Eritrea, in particular, greater democracy, greater freedom, greater security and greater economic opportunity for them so that they don’t feel they have to leave their homes.”

Ezega.com: Ethiopia Bears the Burden after Peace with Eritrea – 12 January

  • Ezega publishes an analysis by Solomon O, who writes that peace with Eritrea has become a burden for Ethiopia, which is currently hosting 175,000 refugees from neighbouring countries.
  • Ethiopia is struggling to cope amid fears that the recent partial closure of the border crossing on Eritrea’s side could again be made permanent. The border points in Rama and Zalambessa were unilaterally closed by Eritrean officials in December, without any official communication.
  • Solomon writes of fears that the border could be closed as quickly as it had been opened, and rumours that Eritrea was “hunting for defectors”, both of which drove border crossings. He says that “the international community turns a blind eye” on Ethiopia’s problems, and the lack of reforms in Eritrea remains a concern for citizens, who continue to flee the country.
  • Solomon says: “When people flee in magnitudes from peace, not war, it is a sign they lack confidence in their leaders. Months have passed since the peace deal and Eritreans are still in shock. Bearing in mind they understand the tactics of their repressive administration too well, hence their decision to leave. They believe the future of their children lies outside Eritrea.”

Africa News: Ethiopia army executing airstrikes against OLF in western Oromia – 13 January

  • Africa News reports on an aerial operation launched by the Ethiopian army on Sunday. It targeted areas in western Oromia believed to be he held by former rebel group the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
  • On 12 January the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Cooperative Bank of Oromia were reportedly robbed by armed members of the OLF. Africa News reports that “the action [of the airstrikes] is tied to the robbery.”
  • Since returning to Ethiopia from their bases in Eritrea following the rapprochement, the OLF group has disagreed with the federal government regarding the deployment of troops in areas in which OLF fighters are allegedly active.
  • Political and security watchers have warned that basic disagreement between OLF and the regional and federal government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed could prove fatal for reforms currently under way.

The East Africa Monitor: Eritrea and Somalia among the world’s least powerful passports – 14 January

  • • The East Africa Monitor reports that Eritrea and Somalia are amongst the worst ranked in terms of passport “power”, according to the 2019 Henly Passport Index.
  • • The 2019 Henly Passport Index, in partnership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) aims to measure the growth of open travel between different countries.
  • • Somalians only have visa-free access to 32 countries while Eritreans can travel without a visa to only 38 countries. They are at the bottom of the list, along with Afghanistan and Iraq, who have access to 30 countries, while Japan is at the top, with a visa-free access to 190 countries.
  • • Global mobility has risen from 58 to 107 destinations accessible without a visa since 2006. This figure however highlights the discrepancy between many African nations and the rest of the world.

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