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End of Era For EPRDF

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End of Era For EPRDF In Metser, another town that is crucial for the economy of South Ari Woreda, the people who have been victimized by forced displacement and expropriation in 2013 have been asking for clean water, telecommunication and banking services. Recently, they are organizing peaceful demonstrations to express their frustrations. Essentially, the people in these area are drinking polluted river or spring waters, travel kilometers to access most basic services. On August 15, 2018, the people of Wubhamer town organized a protest which got out of control leading to the burning of the office of the Municipal administration and a Police Station and various Kebele Administration offices. The protesters also burned down two vehicles and a bulldozer. On the following day (August 16, 2018), subsequent to the arrival of the Federal Police and the National Defense Forces, due to a clash between protesters and the members of the local security forces on duty, a young man named Manalew Yemish was shot and wounded. He has been hospitalized in Jinka general Hospital. An attempt to organize a dialogue between the leaders of the protest and the Zone Administration failed reportedly due to the failure of the Head of the Zone Administration, Alemayehu Bawdi, to turn up for the dialogue. The protest which was originally organized by the youth of Wubhamer town is now spreading to other towns and villages and there is no meaningful step being taken by the government to contain it without resorting to violence. and all this is happening off the radar of both mainstream and social media. The situation is unlikely to calm down in the long run unless the people secure concessions from the government. But there is no media that reports these events that are threatening the stability of the entire Zone which is considered to be one of the stable areas. Understandably, the people express their disappointment that the media does not give them coverage and does not expose the challenges they are facing that need the attention of both the regional and federal government. What should Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed do? The coming to power of Prime Minister Abiy is considered as a new beginning for all Ethiopians and South Omo Zone is not an exception. His reform agenda and rhetoric of respect Ethiopians’ constitutionally recognized human and democratic rights is a music to the ears of the people of South Omo. For the first time, people are expressing their opinion on all policy matters both online and offline without the fear of state coercion. But the demand for infrastructure cannot be replaced by the exercising of constitutional rights of freedom of expression, assembly, and demonstration. The latter are only the means to an end of securing economic benefits and developmental projects that enhance the welfare of citizens. Prime Minister Abiy should address the problem in South Omo as early as possible. Recently, he was quoted as saying all the delayed sugar projects after the coming six months. But this cannot just be said without taking into considerations the damages the Omo Kuraz sugar factory has done to the people of South Omo, who have embraced him with open arms and have hopes in him. They are not backing down from demanding what they rightfully deserve. To make the new Ethiopia work for all, including those who have been marginalized and ignored for several decades, Prime Minister Abiy should take appropriate course of action. First, he should call on the regional administration for reforms specifically tailored to South Omo Zone by realigning the policy direction and focus of the existing leadership within the zone with his agenda. The people are blatantly rejecting politicians that have been in office in the zone in key positions but who are unable to respond to their needs and negotiate with the regional and federal governments on their behalf. They are pushing for change of leadership in key positions as exigent if the government wants to forge a new alliance between the zonal administration and the people. Young people who have the required level of education and capability are relegated to the side based on slight differences they have with legacy politicians on the direction of the zone and the country. The Prime Minister has an opportunity in front of him to bring those useful forces to the table and allow them to work with mainstream politicians by setting aside their differences. Second, the Prime Minister should put in place detailed policies with regard to rural land administration. In particular, the law of expropriation of rural lands should be rethought to incorporate compensation mechanisms that take into account the local context and the financial capacity of farmers to rectify not only the direct effect of expropriations but also the incidental effect on their economic lives. If the ongoing political crisis in South Omo Zone is not managed cautiously and promptly, it could bring in more volatility which would further destabilize the region. The days when early warnings can be simply brushed aside as agitation and instigation have outlived their purposes due to years of protests that have made it possible for us to experience today’s changes in Ethiopia. If history is a lesson, the call from the people of South Omo should not be left unheard.

Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el Sisi concluded a joint press conference with his Ethiopian counterpart by seeking the strongest reassurance concerning the latter’s dam project on the Nile. Talks over the Grand Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia’s $4 billion hydroelectric project, have been deadlocked for months. Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed was in Egypt for a two day state visit to conclude the resolution of the dispute over the Nile project, following the establishment of a joint scientific committee to handle the matter last month. displayAdvert("mpu_3") We will take care of the Nile and we will preserve your share and we will work to increase this quota and President Sisi and I will work on this. At the end of talks, the two leaders held a news conference, where Sisi asked Ahmed to swear to God before the Egyptian people that he will not hurt Egypt’s share of the Nile. “I swear to God, we will never harm you,” Ahmed repeated the words in Arabic after Sisi, who thanked him for releasing jailed Ethiopians. The two leaders signalled their commitment to mutually benefiting from the Nile’s waters and cooperate in other projects. “We have come a long
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