Since replacing former Premier Hailemariam Desalegn in a bid to revitalize the ongoing deep reform process in the country, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed has prioritized public speeches and discussions with the general public across the country as instruments of creating national consensus.
In his first month in office, the new Premier has been focusing on maintain peace and regaining trust and popular support for his party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), following the violent protests in some parts of the two largest states of the Federal Republic.
Shortly after assuming office, Abiy has been busy in an effort to rebuild the public’s confidence by traveling to different parts of the country. As his first stop, he went to the eastern part of the country to have discussions with the Ethiopian Somali communities. The region was considered as the most important in preventing the Al Shabaab Militants entering into Ethiopia.
In fact, the operation of Ethiopian troops alongside the borders with Somalia halted the threats posed by Al Shabaab. In addition to this, the strong commitment of the Ethiopian Somalis to solidify the federal system closed every opportunity for foreign and local militant groups to gain grounds in the eastern part of country.
Next, the Prime Minister traveled to Ambo, a town in the Oromia State, to have discussion with its residents. The public received him warmly; in a similar fashion to what they did to the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress leaders up on their release from prison.
In a simple calculation, that means he has regained the support of Ambo’s residents, a town which has been the epicenter of protests in Oromia.
In his third stop, Abiy went to Mekelle, the Capital of Tigrai State in the Northern tip of the country, and spend a memorable discussion with the People. Being a multilingual Premier, Abiy addressed the crowd with Tigrinya and the frank discussion helped to rebuild the confidence of the public.
During his next trip to Gondar and Bahir Dar, the two cities in the Amhara State, the latter being the seat of the state government, Dr Abiy managed to build the public’s trust through his open and honest discussion. He then headed to southern and western Ethiopia, to sit face to face with the peoples of Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples State and Beni-Shangul Gumuz respectively.
Similarly, Dr. Abiy started his first international trip to Djibouti where he discussed bilateral and regional issues with Djiboutian President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, on April 29, 2018.
And today, the Prime Minister is in Sudan. He is expected to discuss with the Sudanese President Omer Hassen Al Basher and Ethiopian Communities in Khartoum.
Noting that the policy that Ethiopia pursues is based on the principle of peace and mutual benefit in the region and outside, Abiy said it will continue to strengthen it so as to stand together with neighboring countries during challenges and successes. Dr. Abiy urged the need to work with neighboring countries for peace and cooperation.
Abiy highlighted the need for peace in order to overcome challenges that the complexity in the region poses and utilize opportunities for better cooperation. “On one hand, that complexity poses challenges as the region has many actors with diverse interests. On the other hand, this same complexity presents us with huge opportunities for cooperation since the area is home to people that are connected by blood, culture, and language”.
He underlined the need to seek peace within and outside the country as critical in the journey towards prosperity. Peace is not the absence of conflict; rather it is the active pursuit of finding common grounds to differences. We must seek peace with our borders and outside,” he underscored.
BY HAFTU GEBREZGABIHER
Comprehensive abortion care to decline maternal death
Self-induced abortion, or the deliberate termination of pregnancy is one of the most controversial issues in legal discourse. As a legal issue, abortion is usually discussed in light of the principles of criminal law. Depending on circumstances, however, abortion can also be discussed from the standpoint of constitutional law.
In the former case, the issue usually takes the form of criminalizing or decriminalizing the act, while in the latter, the issue becomes whether a pregnant woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy. The issue thus usually involves the competing arguments in favor of the “right” of the fetus to be brought onto life (i.e. personhood) vis-à-vis the right of the mother to abortion based on her interests and choice.
In May 2005, Ethiopia’s new Criminal Code came into effect. The government revised the code to permit abortion for an expanded range of indications. These include: when the pregnancy results from rape or incest; when the health or life of the woman and the fetus are in danger; in cases of fetal abnormalities; for women with physical or mental disabilities; and for minors who are physically or psychologically unprepared to raise a child.
The revised law also notes that poverty and other social factors may be grounds for reducing the criminal penalty for abortion. In addition, the revised code stipulates that the woman’s word is all that is needed to justify pregnancy termination in cases of rape and incest.
After enacting one of Africa's most progressive abortion laws in 2005, a year later, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health released guidelines for safe abortion services, making major progress towards implementing revision of the country's abortion law. This comes in the back of the fact that unsafe abortion is one of the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality in Ethiopia. Nearly one third of pregnancy related deaths are caused by the complications of unsafe abortion.
The government in collaboration with partners immediately started rolling out as per the provision of services according to the law by training service providers, building the capacity of health facilities, Health State Minister Dr. Kebede said.
“More women are now accessing comprehensive abortion care services, and the proportion of safe abortion cases shot from zero to 80 per cent. Moreover, the contribution of safe abortion to maternal death decreased from 32 percent in 2005 to less than 10 percent currently.”
Dr. Kebede Worku further said that recognizing the huge fall in unsafe abortion, the government has taken courageous position in the historic revision of the penal code in 2005. It was at this time the abortion law was made relatively more liberal than it was before.
According to the state minister, prior to 2005, the abortion law was restrictive and only applicable to save woman's life when she is in grave danger. By contrast, since 2005, the amended penal code expanded the condition in which a woman can access abortion for reasons including rape and incest or if the woman is with mental and physical disability, if it is needed to save woman's life or physical health or if she is not physically or mentally prepared for that.
More recently, the Africa regional conference on abortion, which took place here, commended Ethiopians' effort in reducing unsafe abortion, and in devising and implementing viable policies and strategies.
African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs Dr. Sidiki Kaloko said the continent has shown very firm commitment to include women right in the various continental policy documents. After the adoption of these charters, most African member states have been able to facilitate programs towards the care or the reduction of maternal mortality, and reproductive health as a whole, he added.
The commission continues to play an important role in women sexual and reproductive health, he said. “The issue remains very high following agenda 2063.”
This would mean in accordance with Maputo Plan of Action, to support the removal of legal, regulatory and policy barriers limiting women, men and the youth especially adolescence access to sexual and reproductive health, commodities, programs and services, the commissioner stressed.
"Look at the progress here in Ethiopia, thanks to strong collaboration of stakeholders, we were able to come together in early 2000 for law reform and to increase access to safe and legal abortion as well as contraceptive care. Evidences show that it had a profound effect in women health and maternal mortality in Ethiopia. The African Union needs to recognize Ethiopia's experience in maternal health best practice,"IPAS CEO John Hetherington said.
“We have also seen how this evidence has strengthened abortion policy reforms and improve abortion services in a number of African countries. If we have to achieve our goal of eliminating unsafe abortion,we must map the best way froward,” he added.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
Despite the long history of iron casting and blacksmithing, Ethiopia’s metal and engineering industries have not yet reached the level of development to meet the demands of the rapidly growing economy.
The industry is fraught with low productivity and slow growth both in terms of output and employment. Econometric results showed that average annual efficiency of basic metal and engineering industries had been low.
Then again, the metal engineering sector is expected to be the backbone of the country’s industry development through bringing dynamic industrial change. While previously, Ethiopia has been importing various metal products from Europe and Asia, it sets a vision in its industrial development policy that the metal and metal products sector would substitute imports in the sector.
Considering the limited capacity, the development of the industry needs commitment and sustainable effort of the government and stakeholders to create conducive environment for domestic companies.
Recently, representatives of the Ethiopian Basic Metal and Engineering Association (EBMEA) have briefed the Industry Affairs Standing Committee of Parliament regarding the major challenges facing the sector, particularly of domestic firms.
On the occasion, EBMEA General Manager Solomon Mulugeta, told The Ethiopian Herald, the major constraints for metal and metal products industry can be broadly categorized into policy technical, institutional, and environmental aspects.
Lack of clear policies or direction that enhance competitiveness of the industry and low level of investment in research and development which focuses on the industry are policy challenges, while weak innovation and product diversification and high dependency on customers’ order are technical challenges.
Inability to produce iron ore domestically, lack of working capital, inability to cope with foreign competition, tariff gaps between imported raw materials and finished goods and lack of quality monitoring on imported products, shortage of skilled labor, power fluctuation, fragile linkage with universities and research institutions, and poor infrastructure in iron ore manufacturing areas are the major institutional, and environmental challenges.
The government should create conducive environment to make the industry competitive in domestic and international market. For this, easy credit access should be arranged to buy the necessary technology which would facilitate product diversification, he said.
Indicating that shortage of working capital is one of the major challenges that Ethiopian metal and metal product industries have been facing so far, he added that, that is why they are not able to allocate extra budget for research and development activities.
Ethiopian Metal Industry Development Institute was reestabl ished in 2010 to provide all the necessary support for metal and metal products industries and support local companies in a bid to be competitive internationally.
According to its Deputy Director Mesayneh Wubshet, due to many reasons, the sector has been facing with various difficulties to come up with informed decision that makes the sector vibrant.
With regard to capacity utilization, there exists a potential to increase output in the industry by improving efficiency in the utilization of existing resources as well as tackling external problems that hinder the development of the sector, he added.
Recognizing that research has its own impact in developing the sector, the industry would be allocated budget to do so. In the short-term, however, the existing stakeholders need to create strong bond among them.
The Institute has been working towards utilizing local iron ore. Moreover, it has been working to improving product quality with better technology, upgrading manpower and managerial skills and other alliances that will have considerable effect in the development of the sector, he added.
Other than this, no public institution has been fully engaged in conducting researches so far that enhance competitiveness among metal industries. Due to this, innovative ideas and strong competitiveness have not been observed. In this case, the association should also be strong in lobbying and creating public-private linkage.
EBMEA Executive Officer Mesfin Mengesha on his part said that the Ethiopian government should provide extensive support for the development of domestic industries rather than working only to attract foreign investment. Otherwise, it would be impossible to build domestic companies that can compete with companies in other countries.
Previously, there was no clear direction that showed how the private sector should boost its involvement in the sector. These days, though it is not applicable, the direction has prepared to encourage the private sector.
Taking the long tradition of iron casting and blacksmithing, the economic boom and the market potential at hand, there is a lot of room for the metal engineering sector to grow and become a major contributor to the economy once these challenges are addressed. By substituting expensive imports with domestic production, the industry would reduce foreign exchange dependency. Hence, the representatives and the Standing Committee members agree that all concerned bodies especially the government should provide priority for domestic industries.
BY ESSEYE MENGSTE
Ethiopia, known for having the largest livestock population in Africa, has 55 million chickens. There is an increasing demand for livestock products in the country including meat, milk and egg, which calls for expansion of production. Expanding poultry production is easier than other livestock productions as it demands little startup capital and chickens grow more quickly than most of farm animals.
It is obvious that in a developing economy like Ethiopia, more productive and dynamic poultry sector could improve the livelihood of women, who are the principal owners of those businesses.
Poultry facility is a great opportunity to improve nutrition and income serving as response to food insecurity and supporting the country’s ongoing fight to prevent childhood stunting.
Poultry Research Facility, which was inaugurated on the 26th of April to boost poultry production and improve incomes and nutrition condition, conducts researches on genetic diversity of poultry to improve the nutrition and incomes of the Ethiopian farmers with unique opportunities to use advanced genetic technologies to understand, monitor and strengthen the resilience and productivity of chickens in a sustainable manner.
Selected chickens most suitable to various environments in Ethiopia will then be supplied to the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research for breeding.
Gebregziabher Gebreyohanse (PhD), State Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Ministry said on the occasion that poultry research facility represents an important step in enhancing the fruitful collaboration between research institutions in Ethiopia and have brought many positive benefits for the scientific community and importantly for farmers, he added.
For instance, the selective breeding of Horo Chicken in Debrezeit Research Center by scientists from International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Ethiopian Poultry Research helped more than double their productivity. “This facility provides a unique space for men and women poultry farmers to adopt new technologies and improve productivity,” he indicated.
He stressed that the facility also displays the first DNA sequencing undertaken on one of Ethiopia’s indigenous birds.
Genetic code of indigenous chicken will significantly improve understanding of genetic diversity to the benefit of the country, he added. This knowledge will provide a unique opportunity to understand, monitor and strengthen the resilience and productivity of these chickens in sustainable manner, he further added.
Smart genetic breeding is a key in utilizing the potential of vast indigenous genetic diversity in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian livestock master plan identified huge untapped potential in the poultry sector. By introducing genetics feed and health services, it is planned to increase poultry and egg production by approximately 100 and 800% respectively over the next five years, he mentioned.
Adequate supply of nutritious and affordable protein meat and egg will help children to improve their physical growth, micro nutrient status and cognitive performance, as to him.
“We have made huge progress in malnutrition in recent years and increased chicken and egg consumption to play a crucial role in eliminating childhood stunting.”
The rapidly expanding poultry sector has the potential to strengthen the empowerment of women who are heavily involved in the businesses, said International Livestock Research Institute Director General, Jimmy Smith.
According to him, poultry meat and egg directly provide essential nutrients, particularly for infants. Poultry filter also fertilizes soil, increases crop productivity and indirectly helps to improve the wellbeing of households.
It is indicated that poultry research institutes aim to help millions of people across Africa and Asia to secure better lives through livestock.
ILRI has been working to improve poultry production, set up marketing system, strengthen value chains and reduce climate change shocks.
The facility is part of the effort to develop productive and resilient poultry for the part of the world where demand for livestock products is rising rapidly and climate change is undermining agricultural productivity, he added.
Of all livestock, poultry production can be easily scaled up to meet household nutrition needs in a far more affordable and sustainable manner, Smith concluded.
BY TSEGAYE TILAHUN
In one of his recent tours in the country, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed made a pledge that he would work to introduce term limits to Prime Minister's office. The Premier expressed his will and commitment to limit the tenure of office to two terms.
It is to be recalled that some six years ago, the ruling party Ethiopians People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) reached decision to limit the term of office for its chairman, and hence the Prime Minister. What makes Dr. Abiy’s pledge different is that the amendment will be incorporated in the Constitution, perhaps in the foreseeable future.
So far, Ethiopia’s Constitution permits the Head of Government to remain in power for unlimited term of office, and Prime Minister's pledge is a break away from the long held tradition.
“Any leader of the country will not serve in office beyond two terms following the amendment on the Constitution” Prime Minister Abiy said. “Seizing power for lifetime comes to an end in Ethiopia.”
True, the tendency of leaders and officials to stay in power for too long, and absence of legal term limits have been the major stumbling blocks for smooth transition of power in many African countries.
It has almost become a norm in most African countries that Heads of State and Government cling to power irrespective of their successes or failures in their works. At times, it seems unrealistic even to think of witnessing transfer of power between individuals within the same political party.
On the contrary, in many of the world’s major and emerging democracies, it is normal to put political term limits. To mention a notable case, the Twenty-second Amendment of the United States Constitution sets a limit on the number of times a person is eligible for election to the office of President.
When former US president Barack Obama visited Ethiopia back in 2015, he delivered a historic speech at the headquarters of the African Union, where he put stress on the importance of term limits in Africa as an essential component of democracy.
“I have to also say that Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end,” he said at the time.
Political office term limits are in fact central to democracy. Term limits would also serve as a vital check against the accumulation of too much power in the hands of one person or authority.
Constitutional term limits would make it possible to make leaders accountable, put a stop to corruption, give opportunity for political remedy, and above all create smooth platform for new ideas to get a chance and thrive.
Unfortunately, there have also been cases in some African countries and beyond where power hungry individuals opt to cling on power for long. Some even amended the legal term limits restriction to extend their stay in power.
Yet, the value of term limits and abiding by such laws could not be undermined. Many countries with term limit laws have passed through several ups and downs to finally make the law a strongly held tradition.
It is an exciting thing for Ethiopia that Prime Minister Abiy himself initiated the issue term limits. He did not set a specific date for the amendment of the constitution or give any detail on the issue. But it is true that the pledge deserves applaud as its materialization would be a bold move towards building a democratic system. In fact, the premiership is a position of civil service. And when one fails to deliver or when his/her time is over, he/she has to step aside!
Free, peaceful and democratic power transfer is a cornerstone of democracy. It really represents in the starkest way, the peaceful transfer of power from a high level political leader to the other successor: a system that helps establish a political framework that mitigates the crisis propensity of power transition. Such an approach focuses on power transition in which rising powers approach a declining hegemony that often escalates into conflict or war. Peaceful, free, fair and democratic and voluntary transfer of power such as the one currently observed is unprecedented in our nation’s political landscape.
However, this was conducted you guessed it here in Ethiopia for the first time. This is a moment of history that everyone is witnessing and our people are very delighted to see this unprecedented phenomenon during their life time. Further, it is important to note that the current transfer of power from our previous Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to our new Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed has been conducted democratic, transparent.
After a thorough discussion and rigorous and open evaluation, all members cast their votes confidentially in a free, fair, transparent and democratic manner.. Then, the governing party elected Dr. Abiy Ahmed: The new Prime Minister being the Fourth Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
The Governing Party’s i.e. EPRDF’s decision to bring Dr. Abiy to the front was the right decision considering his leadership and intellectual caliber as well as his educational, professional and ethical background. The public at large has been happy with such a decision. Further, the United States commended Ethiopia’s open, free and transparent power transfer as follows “The Us Embassy in Ethiopia has welcomed Ethiopian parliament’s conformation of Dr. Abyi Ahmed as the next Prime Minister of Ethiopia The Embassy of the United States is ready to support the Ethiopian Government ‘s rapid implementation of democratic and economic reforms”. Such a phenomenon is so extraordinary that it can be a glaring example of decency, commitment and love for a motherland can also be seen as a progress in democracy and good governance that Africa has often than not been questioned for.
Therefore, this unique experience can be seen as an excellent example and a way forward to enriching transparency, good governance and the overall democratic process not only to Ethiopia or the Region but indeed to the continent of Africa as well.
Our nation and our people should be very proud of such an accomplishment and more importantly, we should also give the due respect and admiration to our previous Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn for his selfless commitment and bold initiative in taking such a courageous decision. I believe he deserves the highest honor of the land.
This reminds me of the Canadian experience that rewards people who made unique, respectable and honorable accomplishment and rendered exceptional service to the nation and their people. It is called the Order of Canada. This highest award is given to outstanding people with outstanding performances and/or services of the highest caliber every year. The Canadian Governor General who is the representative of the Queen of England: the queen herself being the Queen of Canada as well awards the honor to those nominated for the award after a rigorous selection. We can learn a lesson or two in that regard and use it here at home as well because such an experience can have a very positive effect and can encourage and motivate the society for yet another noble and honorable service towards the nation and the public at large. Here at home, we were lucky enough to possess a remarkable peaceful and democratic indigenous peaceful power transfer. The Geda system is a very proud culture and tradition of the Oromo People.
This rich Oromo tradition has been going on for generations with the exception of some interruption during the former regimes especially during the Derg regime. However, even then, the Oromia people kept this noble tradition and were able to preserve and pass this enriched and noble tradition to the next generation with dignity and pride.
The Geda System is a true democratic system where the leadership passes to the next in eight years with no exception and with no interruption what so ever. It is also a time of joy and jubilation, thanksgiving day, a day of compassion and kindness and a good wish to all humanity and towards fellow citizens irrespective who they are.
It is also a day to reflect dignity and pride of the Oromo people and to preserve and safeguard this rich culture and tradition as is without missing it to the next generation. The Oromia people knew about the importance of peace, sharing and caring for generations and they passed this noble tradition to the young generation’s perusal.
The benefits of this rich Oromia tradition go beyond the normal and traditional belief. It enhances among others the economy of the region, increase the flow of tourist and investment thereby increasing hard currency to the Region and the Country and promotes the Region’s and the Nation’s good image to the rest of the world.
The Geda system’s overall contribution on these and other important endeavors such as the teaching of peace, tolerance, democratic process and caring and sharing is therefore extremely significant contri bution especially towards the young generation.
Therefore, this envied and enriched tradition must continue with no interruption what so ever and must pass from generation to generation with dignity and respect because it benefits the society at large.. Such a remarkable, excellent and rich Oromo culture and tradition has been there for generations before the so called formal electoral processes used elsewhere and it has been a trade mark of a true democratic process and a unique example of a free, fair and democratic electoral power transfer system and has been going on strong to date.
Unfortunately such rich, democratic, transparent indigenous practice has not been incorporated to our formal political system although it has been practiced by the indigenous Oromo culture. It is time therefore that our political system looks back to such a rich indigenous culture such as the Geda system and other similar indigenous cultures practiced elsewhere in the country and learn a lesson or two from them and incorporate them within our formal political electoral and power transfer processes.
That can reinforce our democracy and create cohesiveness and inclusiveness amongst our people. We have to come together and find a common ground; only by recognizing and respecting the important contributions that all of us make to our country’s success can we build an inclusive and stronger future for our country.
Peaceful transfer of power is the whole mark of democracy. Peaceful transfer of power overlooks the possibility of ruling the system by consensus rather than by coercion: It is time therefore that such archaic and uncivilized practice: a system that has dominated the political landscape of African countries for generations be gone with the wind once and for all. Ethiopia is on the rise and there is no turning back.
Democratic rights, due process of justice and good governance is well and sound in Ethiopia and is here to stay because that is why the Ethiopian people fought and paid a lot of scarifies for. An excellent example of such a phenomenon is the decision taken by the nation’s Prime Minister to voluntarily and without any pressure from any one, group or government to resign from the highest post of the land i.e. from the post of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and from the leadership of his own party. Such a bold, courageous and wise decision is simply unprecedented unheard of and truly historic. It is indeed exemplary not only to the democratic process underway in Ethiopia but also to the whole continent of Africa as well.
BY YOHANNES GEBRESELLASIE (PH.D)
Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed recently stated his proposal to amend the Constitution and limit the tenure of the Prime Minister to two five years terms. This, as to a political analyst and politician, would add inputes to the country’s democratization process.
The Premier said that the term limit is needed to ensure smooth power transfer, strengthen democratic system and fight corruption.
According to the parliamentary political system Ethiopia follows, the real power is vested in the hands of Premier than the President, who has largely ceremonial powers. Unlike the constitutional two term limit on the President's tenure, the tenure of the Prime Minister while powerful is constitutionally unlimited.
Despite the fact that the idea has come to the forward at party level years ago, the new Premier has pressed on the need for constitutional amendment.
This is an agenda the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) has been fighting for several years, Party President Dr. Chane Kebede tells The Ethiopian Herald. “It is a great move that would respond to our call for political change,” he adds.
Chane says that the ruling party has been reforming and inclining itself to liberal thoughts and politics of diversity. Shortly after assuming office, Dr. Abiy has decided that the tenure of the Premier should be limited to ten years in a two term office.
The move could facilitate the flourishing of democratic institutions, Dr Chane adds.
“I can say that this decision would significantly consolidate the country's democratization process,” he says adding: “the Prime Minister’s speech reflects the desires of all political parties. And EDP favorably sees this political decision.”
Thus, given its importance, this measure should be trickled down to the succeeding echelons, where ministerial positions and administrative institutions have to set limited positions, Dr. Chane states adding that this would be a remedy to address political corruption and nepotism.
“As a political expert, I can see that there is always worry in the minds of analysts,” he says. Thus from this point of view and based on the culture of EPRDF, the specter here is, either this could remain rhetoric intended to cool down the popular movements or a real commitment to widen up the political space, Dr. Chane poses question.
There is a room for constitutional amendments in the FDRE constitution, either to add or cancel articles, says Legal and Constitutional analyst Zephaniah Alemu.
Article 104 of the constitution reads: “Any proposal for constitutional amendment, if supported by two-thirds majority vote in the House of Peoples’ Representatives, or by a two-thirds majority vote in the House of the Federation or when one-third of the State Councils of the member States of the Federation, by a majority vote in each Council have supported it, shall be submitted for discussion and decision to the general public and to those whom the amendment of the Constitution concerns.
The government believes that measures should be taken to amend the constitution when found necessary in the eyes of the public, and this is a cornerstone for democracy, says Zephaniah, before adding that power should also be limited.
“I can say that democracy is thriving within the (ruling) party and within the government, which helps ensure accountability and transparency,” the Analyst indicates.
Dr. Chane, for his part boldly underlines that the Prime Minister should see through the initiative’s implementation.
He points out that political parties, civic societies, figurative individuals and the general public should participate in the amendment process, while the ruling party should put its political manifesto in line with the amendment.
The ruling party (EPRDF) should revise its administrative code, and secondly, the constitution has to put imperative articles in conformity with the new amendment, according to Dr. Chane.
As for Zephaniah, the country has vibrant constitution that can resolve all public demands; and what is expected from the government is to execute its commitments, and for the pertinent bodies to act in accordance with the principles of the constitution.
While government’s commitment is the key factor in the democratization of any country, the process also demands and needs popular support.
BY HAFTU GEBREZGABIHER
Recently, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein visited Ethiopia at the government’s invitation. While the country has seen a sea change and political reforms in recent years, the question is regarding the implications of the invitation and his visit at this critical juncture.
It is to be recalled that following the release of the 2017 'Human Rights Watch' report, which stated that Ethiopia made little progress on much-needed human rights reforms, the High Commissioner had also visited the country at the government’s invitation.
As a result of the political turmoil that erupted in some parts of the country for much of the last three years, a total of 669 people, including members of security forces, were reportedly killed, according to the 2017 Ethiopian Human Right Commission official report.
Since then, the government has been engaged in deep reform to improve the situation. Several politicians and individuals have been released from jail as per the government's decision in what it said would foster dialogue and widen up the political space.
According to some experts and officials, the second visit of the High Commissioner is expected to play a constructive role in building the country's image in the handling of human rights.
Endale Nigussie, Deputy Director of Civil Service University School of Diplomacy and International Relations says that the invitation signals the desire and commitment of the government to further bring improvement in the area of human rights handling.
Though there are visible changes in human right protection, UN's judgment has not been sound as it is highly dependent on secondary resources that do not help them see the realities on the ground, adds Endale.
“So, the invitation happened at the right time. As we are beginners when it comes to democracy and human right issues, working jointly with the UN commissioner is quite important.”
However, it does not mean that they have no angle of their own, Endale warns. Along with the assistance they give us, countries and donors have their own interest to upload on a given country, he explains.
“Here, the country should stand guard.” On the other hand, much is expected from the government in implementing the principles enshrined in the Constitution.
Endale further explains how working with human rights organization leads to further improvement in human rights handling.
Working with human right organizations is very critical, he says, and there is no doubt that it will improve the country’s reputation and acceptance in the international arena.
And good reputation means a lot for a given country, and has its own influence in diplomacy; and diplomacy directly influences the economy. As a result, investors show interests to invest here. And this gives the government the incentive to further boost its commitment in bringing further improvement in human rights protection.
Ameha Mekonnen from Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) says that the Commissioner met with members of the Council during his second visit and discussed major human right problems, the changes observed after the coming to power of the new Premier, and ways to support the new initiative and bring advanced changes.
As to him, discussions were also held regarding the human rights handling observed over the past three years. “We discussed about the excessive measures taken by government forces, and the efforts to provide compensation for victims. We also discussed the issue of accountability and so on.”
“The other point we raised was related to the speech and commitment of the new Prime Minister to protect human right, where the Premier acknowledged that human right activists were arrested,” Ameha says adding “The High Commissioner also applauded Dr. Abiy desire to work with political parties residing in and outside the country.”
Ethiopian Human Right Commission (EHRC) Commissioner Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher tells The Ethiopian Herald that the invitation of the Commissioner adds value in creating strong collaboration between the two institutions.
And the most important thing here is that the Zeid came here to physically observe the situation, and discuss with various organizations, he adds.
Addisu highlights the effort of the EHRC, especially the various investigations it conducted on the violation of rights, and other tasks. “As UN and the Commission have common vision, they would and should work together for the respect of human rights, governed by international law.”
Dr. Addisu also states that the second visit enables the High Commissioner to observe the progress made in relation to human and political right protection and peace and stability in the country.
Human and democratic rights performance is not connected with such visits, as this can be realized through the effort of the country alone, says Addisu. “But his visit has its own impact in supporting us to do more on the issue. They could assist us by facilitating capacity building training, and filling other gaps through sharing best practices.”
He also notes that Zeid has also signed agreement with Ministry of Foreign Affairs to open office in Addis Ababa.
The UN commissioner has been finalizing his term, where only four months remains in his tenure. The visit of the commissioner enables the country to build its image.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
• Urges youths to utilize social media in responsible manner
ADDIS ABABA- Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed called on the public to help bolster the ongoing development process so as to ensure unity, prosperity and peace across the country.
The Prime Minister paid visit to Benshangul Gumuz State, where he discussed various issues with people that hail from all over the State, and also visited the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
In his speech, Dr. Abiy also talked about the youth, where he said they should be reasonable in either accepting or rejecting any sort of idea on the social media.
“Spending your precious time in the social media would have negative impact on your future.”
The Premier mentioned that the very purpose of demarcation between states is to create conducive environment for effective administration. However, this does not mean that the federal system restricts free movement of citizens among States.
During his discussions with the public, the Prime Minister listened to questions from the participants, and assured them that service delivery problems such as banking and custom and revenue will be improved in short span of time, and his administration is committed to that.
The government is ready to address infrastructure problems in the State, especially delayed road projects, through monitoring and evaluation, he stressed.
The Premier also told the participants that considering Industry Parks demand outlets and heavy infrastructural presence, it would be better to build factories that can utilize the State's abundant resource.
Since becoming Prime Minster, Dr. Abiy has held discussions with residents of Jigiga, Ambo, Mekelle, Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Hawasa and Assosa.
BY TSEGAYE TILAHUN
ADDIS ABABA-New proclamation tipped to encourage the private sector's involvement in forest development.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry disclosed that it has been striving to encourage the private sector to engage widely in the sector.
State Minister Kebede Yimame told The Ethiopian Herald that efforts has been exerted to raise awareness of the society towards the new proclamation with the view of maximizing the participation of the private sector.
The new proclamations encourage private forest developers to engage widely in the sector, as it facilitates the necessary professional support and incentive for those who desire to invest in the sector, Kebede opined. The new proclamation invite private sector to develop forest and get benefit out of it.
As Forest is not like any sort of crop, in terms of reaping its benefits given it takes years, the State Minister pointed out, it is not expected that the private investors would be engaged in it widely. “As it requires long period of time to harvest, there is always a risk. So, the new proclamation would address such risks,” he noted.
Explaining that farmers are benefiting from the sector, Kebede said that the trend has been changing for the better in this regard. For the most part, farmers are the main providers of various wood products for local consumption.
In addition to maximizing benefits via supplying wood products for local consumption, currently farmers are exporting various wood products to neighboring countries, Kebede indicated. In 2009 alone, Amhara State farmers have earned 26 million USD exporting wood products to Sudan, while the State earned 14 million USD in the first nine month of this year. Forest development has now changing the livelihood of farmers, he added.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW