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A Country of Many Contrasts

Foreign Minister Briefs Diplomats about Current Situation in Ethiopia

hirut and fmMinister of Foreign Affairs Workeneh Gebeyehu has briefed diplomats on November 07/2017 on various issues, including border conflicts in parts of Oromia and Somali regional states, the political reform in the country, and devaluation.

The Minister noted that the federal government and the two regional governments have worked closely to amicably resolve the conflict which took the lives of innocent people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

“The conflicts are contrary to the longstanding ties and peaceful coexistence between the communities around the border. They are not in line with the role of democratic nationalism which offers space for pluralism in the country. They were driven by selfish economic gains and political benefits in attempting to control the cart trail route, ” he said.

According to investigations undertaken by the government, he said “The clash had been instigated by individuals and groups who want to take advantage of the conflict”.

He said the government is now working to dismantle the activities of these rent-seeking groups along the border areas.

Mentioning that the government had held a series of discussions with residents, community elders and presidents of the two regional states following the incident, Workeneh said “understanding was reached that the problem is largely contained with some pocket conflicts”.

Noting that the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is investigating the causes of death and alleged abuses, he said “once the investigation is finalized, the government will take actions in accordance with relevant laws of the state on perpetrators of the recent killings and displacement”.

The government along with community elders is working to repatriate and rehabilitate the displaced people.

Peace conferences that include community elders, religious leaders and the population at large, will be held soon and a forum will also be set up to bring the regional forces of both states to take stoke of situations and find lasting solution.

Noting that all necessary measures are undertaken to stabilize the situation in the conflict affected areas, he assured the diplomats that a delegation was sent to neighboring countries to discuss matters and ensure that the case is contained within the country.

Regarding the protests that occurred in eight towns in Oromia resulting in the death of eight persons in Shashemene and Borena and damaging of properties are already contained and measures have been taken on the responsible persons.

“The Oromia regional state has taken measures against those criminal offenders who targeted civilians by hundreds and the federal government is also supporting this endeavor.”

The government has also arrested a member of the police and military servicemen who violated the law of the land and acted irresponsibly.

Speaking of the government’s firm commitment in widening the political space, the Minister said that the political dialogue and negotiation that has been taking place has brought changes in helping to create a more inclusive electoral system.

He noted that the country will follow the new mixed electoral system which was endorsed by the negotiating political parties, after some legal procedures.

“Under the new electoral law, Ethiopia will have a hybrid electoral system composed of 80 percent simple majority vote and 20 percent proportional,” he said.

Besides, agreement has also been reached among the negotiating parties in financing political parties and forming national and regional political parties.

Concerning the recent devaluation of the Birr, Workneh said it is aimed at stimulating the export sector of the country which remained stagnant over the past five years.

Ethiopia’s export performance was falling off target mainly due to weaker global markets, he added.

The country has also raised the savings interest from five to seven percent, hoping to stimulate savings and keeping inflation at bay.