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Addis Ababa administration proposes a bill to ban individuals from giving money to beggars

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Addis Ababa administration proposes a bill to ban individuals from giving money to beggars the existence of an independent and impartial judiciary is a fundamental requirement of democratic Ethiopia. The recent appointment of a prominent lawyer and women’s rights activist Meaza Ashenafi to head the Federal Supreme Court indicates the desire to do away with the basis of authoritarian rule in Ethiopia: executive control over the judicial system. However, creating an efficient and independent judiciary is a long-term effort. The same holds true in reforming the electoral board. In the light of the upcoming general elections, it is urgent to take bold measures to strengthen the independence and authority of the National Electoral Commission, including procedures for a strong public scrutiny of its officials. The same applies to other key institutions, such as the Commission on Human Rights and the Ombudsman. However, given that the elections are a mere one year and a half away, can we expect that the reform leaders will be able to strengthen these institutions and institutionalize the rule of democratic game so that they play a crucial role to safeguard against authoritarian bents in the transition process? This shall be a test of time as we proceed to the forthcoming general elections the creation of a durable democratic space should not become hostage to the generosity of the incumbent or the short-lived passion of the population. Much needs to be done starting with the revision of the repressive laws such as the electoral laws, the anti-terrorism, cyber-security and charities legislation and proclamations. However, the most sustainable support for democracy must come from the institutional checks and balances of government power. For instance, a durable democracy needs a legislative body that can serve as a significant audit of the executive. In the past, because of the democratic centralism ideology of the ruling party, the Ethiopian parliament was a mere rubber stamp of EPRDF decisions. For the first time, ODP’s MPs have deviated from the decision of the party when eighty-eight lawmakers voted against the second state of emergency declared by the Council of Ministers in mid-February 2017. Such a different voice is strictly contrary to the discipline of the party. Thus, in the interests of a wider democratic space, can the ruling party continue to provide more room for the opposition and encourage pluralism in its own ranks the significant rise in the level of access to and use of social media and modern technology and tools such as the Internet, mobile phone, Facebook and Twitter have become important means of mobilization particularly during the protests across the country. Parties and candidates have embraced them, but the influence they exert in the political field comes with treacherous possibilities. Certain aspects of the wave of ethnic conflicts spreading throughout the country can be attributed to the increasing use of social media. Moreover, the growth of “fake news” is a threat to the spread of legitimate news. An increasing number of Ethiopian journalists often use social media platforms to get news, creating the possibility of writing an incorrect story. Thus, with increasing reliance on social media to obtain news and form opinions, can the new leadership find a method of ensuring that the political news being broadcast on social media does not endanger public peace and order

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