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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Ethiopia to lift emergency rule amid
improved political, security situations

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government on Saturday approved a draft bill to lift the six-month state of emergency rule that was sanctioned in mid February.

The Ethiopian Council of Ministers, in its meeting on Saturday, decided to lift the emergency rule ahead of its deadline, attributing the decision to the East African country’s current stability in political and security spheres.

The six-month martial law, which had a possibility of extension period if security situation had not been improved, was initially sanctioned by the Council of Ministers on February 16, which was later approved by the Ethiopian parliament’s lower house within 15 days of the initial decision.

The bill to lift the emergency rule is now expected to be approved by the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives (HoPR), the parliament’s lower house. The HoPR is exclusively dominated by the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.

The Ethiopian government stressed, while sanctioning the law, the necessity to protect the country’s constitution, and the safety of citizens and their property from the dangers that would arise from widespread violent demonstrations that erupted in different parts of the country since the second half of 2016.

The emergency rule prohibited possession of armaments at public areas or transferring firearms to third party as well as providing support to activities which affect the peace and well-being of citizens.

The decree, among other things, prohibited issuing statement on security matters without the permission of the Command Post (a special entity that was established to watch over the implementation of the emergency rule), distributing erroneous information that contradicts the law and the directives issued by the Command Post. It also forbids carrying weapons in unauthorized regions of the country.

The state of emergency also outlined curfews prohibiting movement of individuals around infrastructures, investment areas and other related places.

The Command Post, soon after the institution of the state of emergency rule, had also authorized Ethiopian security officers to take measures against individuals or groups that are found in breach of the curfew.

The current 6-month state of emergency period was the second the East African country imposed since the second half of 2016 due to deteriorated security condition, which at times turned violent.

Ethiopia had witnessed a 10-month long state of emergency period that was effective as of October 2016.

The draft bill to lift the current six-month state of emergency rule on Saturday has been positively welcomed by Ethiopians.

The move also followed recent decision by the Ethiopian government to release prominent opposition figures as well as former Ethiopian government officials who were arrested due to corruption cases from imprisonment.

The amnesty program, which the Ethiopian government said is a means towards national reconciliation and unity, has seen the release of thousands of prisoners and others under

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Ethiopia drops charges against two exiled opposition figures

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopia Federal Attorney General has dropped charges against two prominent exiled opposition figures, Jawar Mohammed and Berhanu Nega, state affiliated media outlet Radio Fana reported on Tuesday.

Jawar Mohammed, is an influential ethnic Oromo activist based in the U.S., who has been blamed by the Ethiopian government for stoking unrest in Ethiopia’s most populous regional state Oromia. 

Ethnic Oromos who make up about a third of Ethiopia’s estimated 100 million population accuse successive Ethiopian governments of economic and political marginalization of their community. 

Oromia regional state, which along with Amhara regional state, accounts for about 65 percent of Ethiopia’s estimated 100 million population, has witnessed persistent deadly protests since 2016, fueling fears about the stability of East Africa’s largest economy.

The protests have shaken the hold of the ruling coalition Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which has been ruling Ethiopia for close to 27 years.

Berhanu Nega, leads a rebel group Ginbot 7, based mainly in Ethiopia’s arch-rival Eritrea. The rebel group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian Parliament.

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Ethiopia releases prominent rebel leader, 575 others

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia released on Tuesday a prominent rebel leader, Andargachew Tsige, and 575 others in a bid to foster national consensus and reconciliation.

Tsige, a British citizen of Ethiopian origin, has been serving a prison sentence since June 2014, for leading and directing an outlawed rebel group Ginbot 7, based mainly in Ethiopia’s arch-foe Eritrea. Ethiopian law doesn’t allow dual citizenship.

Another 575 individuals serving time on various other criminal charges were also released.

Prisoner releases are part of the Ethiopian government’s promises to institute political reform and affirm commitment to good governance.

Since the swearing of new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on April 2, several thousand prisoners including prominent opposition figures and activists have been released. 

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Ethiopia pardons prominent rebel leader and former
government officials in amnesty program

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Federal Attorney General of Ethiopia on Saturday officially dropped corruption charges against 740 convicts, including former high-profile Ethiopian government officials and a prominent rebel leader.

According to Berhanu Tsegaye, some 137 of the pardoned individuals were imprisoned on terror charges, while 27 others were charged in connection with corruption.

Among the released terrorism related convicts is the prominent rebel leader, Andargachew Tsige, a British citizen of Ethiopian origin, who has been serving a prison sentence since June 2014, for leading and directing an outlawed rebel group Ginbot 7, based mainly in Ethiopia’s neighboring nation Eritrea.

Tsige’s release, which the attorney general said was on a “special amnesty rationale,” followed the announcement on Friday to release former high-profile Ethiopian government officials.

Among the former Ethiopian government officials whose cases dropped on Friday include Melaku Fanta, the former Director General of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority with the rank of a Minister, and his deputy, Gebrewahed Woldegiorgis, who were arrested in 2013 together with other 11 individuals suspected of involving in large scale corruption cases, state television EBC reported.

Alemayehu Gojo, former deputy minister of finance and economic cooperation, who was arrested last year as part of Ethiopia’s biggest anti-corruption sweep in years, is also another high-profile defendant included in the attorney general’s latest amnesty list.

Gojo, who is a member of Ethiopian Parliament, had his immunity revoked by a vote in the Parliament, a necessary step before he was prosecuted for corruption.

Tsegaye, announcing the pardon on Saturday, also revealed that some 576 individuals serving time on various other criminal charges were also pardoned as part of the large government’s amnesty program.

The amnesty program, which the Ethiopian government said is a means towards national reconciliation and unity, has seen the release of thousands of prisoners and others under investigation since the swearing in of Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, on April 2.

Just last month, 114 defendants who were detained on terrorism cases were given pardon followed by the closure of a notorious detention and investigation center located in the capital Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian government has characterized the mass prisoner release programs as part of its efforts to widen political space by creating national consensus and reconciliation.

Regional states have also conducted similar large scale prisoners release recently, including pardoning more than 2,200 prisoners by Ethiopia’s northern Tigray regional state.

Ethiopia’s largest Oromia regional state administration has also on Thursday pardoned some 7,611 prisoners.

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Landlocked Ethiopia to reestablish navy: media

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Landlocked Ethiopia is to establish a naval force more than two decades after it was disbanded, state media Radio Fana said on Saturday.

The announcement was made by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during a meeting with officials from the Ethiopia National Defense Force, said the Radio Fana report.

However, the announcement did not specify where the navy would be based or when it would be established.

Ethiopia had a navy up to the early 1990s, when the independence of Eritrea left Ethiopia landlocked and prompted the Ethiopian government to disband the navy.

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Ethiopia’s next fiscal year budget to grow by 3.6 pct

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- A draft budget bill approved by the Ethiopian Council of Ministers on Saturday showed a 3.6-percent increase for the next 2018-2019 Ethiopian fiscal year.

The bill, now tabled to the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) for approval, provides 346.9 billion ETB (close to 12.56 billion U.S. dollars) budget for the coming fiscal year, up from 320.8 billion ETB for the current 2017-2018 fiscal year, state television Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported.

The bill is expected to fulfill the regional governments’ necessary requirements as well as for the federal government’s effective implementation of the second five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) of Ethiopia, due effective from 2015 to 2020.

The Ethiopian government’s priority areas during the GTP II include infrastructure, education, agriculture, water, and health constitutes 61 percent of the total budget allocation, according to Ethiopia’s finance ministry.

Despite a 3.6-percent increase, the next year’s budget has registered a decrease as compared with the current fiscal year’s budget in terms of its value due to the Ethiopian National Bank’s decision to devalue the Ethiopian birr (ETB) by 15 percent as of October last year.

The bill will be scrutinized by the HoPR’s, the Ethiopian parliament’s lower house, Budget and Finance Affairs Standing Committee before tabled to the parliament for approval. 

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Exports to China account for 8.25 percent of Ethiopia’s total exports in 2017

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia exported 239.82 million U.S. dollars’ worth of goods to China in 2017, accounting for 8.25 percent of its total exports, the Ethiopia Ministry of Trade (MoT) said on Thursday.

The revenue was earned from the exports of agricultural products, textile and garment, leather products, minerals, flowers and construction materials, according to the MoT Public Relations and Communication Affairs Office.

Ethiopia’s export revenue to China accounted for about 8.25 percent of the country’s total exports in 2017, the second largest export destination for the East African country. Ethiopia exported about 2.9 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods in 2017.

Ethiopia’s largest export destination in 2017 was neighboring Somalia, which imported 269.3 million U.S. dollars’ worth of goods accounting for 9.26 percent of Ethiopia’s total exports.

Speaking to Xinhua recently, Wondimu Filate, head of Public Relations and Communications Affairs Office at MoT, said China is becoming a key export destination, in particular because of increasing demands for Ethiopia’s organic, high quality and high nutritional agricultural exports.

“China is a big export market for Ethiopian products, with Chinese firms located in Ethiopian industrial parks tentatively starting to export industrial goods to China. The volume of Ethiopian exports to China is expected to significantly increase in the coming years,” he said. 

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Chinese language learning boosts people-to-people
exchanges between Ethiopia and China

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Fantahun Tsegaye, a university student in Asela town of Ethiopia, was one of the 15 finalists of the 2018 Chinese language proficiency competition, dubbed “Chinese Bridge” at the Addis Ababa University in the capital of the East African country.

Sponsored by the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia, the 17th Chinese Bridge-Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students was organized on Wednesday by the Confucius Institute under the theme, “One World, One Family,” attracting students from different universities in different parts of the East African country.

Fantahun, who emerged winner of the competition with participation in Chinese speech, general knowledge question and answer, and Chinese martial arts, said more exchanges of such kind should continue to further enhance the people-to-people relations between the two countries.

He said that he is very happy about his achievements and that he is keen to learn more about the language and other elements of the Chinese culture.

In his statement during the competition in Addis Ababa, Tan Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, said the bridge of language brings the two ancient countries separated by oceans closer, and connect their peoples.

It also serves as a bond to further cement friendship between the two countries, while helping the two peoples understand each other, said the ambassador.

“With the overall advancement of China-Ethiopia comprehensive strategic partnership, the exchanges between China and Ethiopia have been growing,” he said.

Yohannes Debru, a scholar at the Addis Ababa University, said provision of the Chinese language learning in different universities of the country provides good opportunities for Ethiopian students, particularly for those who will pursue further studies in China.

He has also hailed the role the Chinese language learning plays in further cementing the overall relations and partnership between the two countries and their peoples.

Yohannes, who also had study experience in China some years back, told Xinhua that the Chinese Bridge competition is an important annual event that services as a bridge and helps further strengthening ties between the two countries.

Winners from local contests in different parts of the world will finally represent their respective countries and participate in the annual Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students held in China.

This year, the final competition will take place from July 3 to August 4.

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“Chinese Bridge” furthers cultural ties between Ethiopia, China

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Fantahun Tsegaye, a university student in Asela town of Ethiopia, was one of the 15 finalists of the 2018 Chinese language proficiency competition, dubbed “Chinese Bridge” at the Addis Ababa University in the capital of the East African country.

Sponsored by the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia, the 17th Chinese Bridge-Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students was organized on Wednesday by the Confucius Institute under the theme, “One World, One Family,” attracting students from different universities in different parts of the East African country.

Fantahun, who emerged outstanding winner of the competition with participation in Chinese speech, general knowledge question and answer, and Chinese martial art, said more exchanges of such kind should continue to further enhance the people to people relations between the two countries.

He told Xinhua, particularly, that he is very happy about his achievements and that he is keen to learn more about the language and other elements of the Chinese culture.

“I would like to thank my Chinese teachers who helped me achieve this result,” Fantahun said. “I started learning the Chinese language just a year ago, but the martial art since five years back, and I had gone to China and was trained in the martial art for three months.”

In the competition, Fantahun presented three styles of the martial art: broad sword, short stretch, and tiger style. “I am very happy that I have finished the contest successfully,” he said.

Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Tan Jian said the bridge of language brings the two ancient countries separated by oceans closer, and connect their peoples.

It also serves as a bond to further cement friendship between the two countries, while helping the two peoples understand each other, noted the ambassador.

“With the overall advancement of China-Ethiopia comprehensive strategic partnership, the exchanges between China and Ethiopia have been growing,” he said, adding “Learning and using the Chinese language has become an important tool for the people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.”

Attending the competition, Dr. Yohannes Debru, a scholar at the Addis Ababa University, said provision of the Chinese language learning in different universities of the country provides good opportunities for Ethiopian students, particularly for those who will pursue further studies in China.

He has also hailed the role the Chinese language learning plays in further cementing the overall relations and partnership between the two countries and their peoples.

Yohannes, who had also study experience in China some years back, told Xinhua that the Chinese Bridge competition is an important annual event that services as a bridge and helps further strengthening of ties between the two countries.

“This is an annual event which has been taking place over the last three years,” Yohannes said.

“These are students who studied Chinese language in different universities in Ethiopia; and these are students who have got the good opportunity to study Chinese in their country,” said the scholar. “And this (the competition) is very good event; and the students have performed very nice, their Chinese is incredibly nice.”

Outstanding winners from different parts of the world will represent their respective countries and participate in the annual World College Chinese Competition held in China.

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