Ethiopia warned that efforts by UN-backed investigators to probe abuses committed during the war in the country’s north could “undermine” the progress of a peace agreement signed last year.
The federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) inked a peace deal in South Africa in November to end the two-year Tigray war, which has killed untold numbers of people and unleashed a humanitarian crisis.
In its first report published in September last year, the UN-backed International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said it had found evidence of violations by all sides that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ethiopia’s government rejected the report and has embarked on a diplomatic offensive to win international support for its bid to stop the commission from continuing its work.
On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, said the commission “could undermine the AU-led peace process and the implementation of the Pretoria Peace Agreement with inflammatory rhetoric,” referring to the African Union, which mediated the negotiations.
“It could also undermine the efforts of national institutions,” he told an AU ministerial session ahead of the pan-African bloc’s summit in Addis Ababa this weekend.
Direct flights from Denver to Ethiopia in the pipeline
A direct flight option for travelers from Denver to Ethiopia may only be a few months away after Mayor Michael Hancock and a crew of city business leaders traveled to the country this month to lobby for it.
Hancock says the city has been working on a direct flight from Denver International Airport to Africa for years. He says city officials studied the top 15 markets in Africa for Denver passenger travel and found Addis Ababa in Ethiopia was the top target for Denver demand, and Cairo, Egypt, was a secondary target.
“Landing these two flights also means tens of millions of dollars in economic impact,” Hancock said. “What we’re asking Ethiopian Airlines, and ultimately Egyptian Airlines, to do is commit a USD 200 million asset to our city, and the moment they commit that to us, they can’t move it anywhere else… So, this is not a small ask; this is a huge ask.”
“The teams have been working behind the scenes, studying data, making analyses, and having conversations with the airlines about route conferences, trying to establish and make very clear that we are interested in having a direct connection,” Hancock said.
US sends delegation to AU summit in Addis
The US is sending a strong delegation of special envoys to Addis Ababa this week for the annual African Union Summit in the Ethiopian capital, as it seeks a role in the continent’s affairs.
The Department of State announced that the delegation will “meet with stakeholders to discuss the global food security crisis and its disproportionate impact on Africa, as well as to follow up on US commitments made at the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit.”
The US gathered African leaders in December last year in Washington for a summit that sought to improve partnerships.
The delegation is led by Molly Phee, the US assistant secretary for Africa, and Johnnie Carson, the former US ambassador to Kenya, who is now the Special Presidential Representative for the Implementation of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit. Others include US Special Envoy for Global Food Security, Cary Fowler; USAID Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Africa, Monde Muyangwa; acting USAID Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau of Resilience and Food Security, Dina Esposito; and US Global Aids Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy, John Nkengasong.
(The East African)
Water Shortage Protest Turns Deadly in Ethiopia’s South
A protest over water shortages in the southern Ethiopian town of Welkite turned deadly when, witnesses say, security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least two people.The protest was started early Thursday morning by a group of elderly women holding jerry cans for carrying water and, according to one witness, gradually swelled to thousands of people.
In a report Friday, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission put the death toll at three and said at least 30 people had sustained injuries due to bullet wounds.Officials in the area say the violence was sparked by protesters throwing rocks at the local water bureau building and blocking roads, according to the report.
Welkite, a town of about 70,000, and the capital of the Gurage zone, has been plagued by water shortages for months amid the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa.A resident said there was a water drilling project that local authorities promised would solve the problem. But nothing came of it.
East Africa floats its largest freshwater vessel
Tanzania has floated East Africa’s largest-ever domestically manufactured freshwater passenger and cargo ship, the MV Mwanza Hapa Kazi Tu, on Lake Victoria.
The ship, launched at the Mwanza South Port on February 12, can carry 1,200 passengers, 400 tons of cargo, 20 small vehicles, and three trucks. It is currently 82 percent complete.
“Up to this point of float-out, we can say the ship is complete, and the remaining 18 percent is just minor installations that will be done in less than four months,” said Eric Hamissi, the Chief Executive Officer of Tanzania’s Marine Services Company Limited.
Hamissi explained that the next phase included finishing internal aesthetics, including paintwork, fixing air conditioners, beds, and toilets, and installing navigation equipment.
The ship’s construction began in January 2019 and was led by two South Korean companies: Gas Entec and KangNam Corporation. The 92.6-meter-long, 17-meter-wide, and 20-meter-high vessel costs taxpayers over USD 43 million.
Upon completion, the ship will weigh 3,500 tons, an increase of 500 tons from the current 3,000 tons.
US issues Kenya default notice for KSh57 billion KQ debt
A US-backed financier has slapped the Treasury with a default notice for delayed payment of a KSh 57.8 billion loan that the government guaranteed for Kenya Airways.
The Treasury Principal Secretary, Chris Kiptoo, told Parliament that the Exim Bank of the United States had issued a default notice after Kenya failed to make loan payments on time.
This highlights the country’s struggles with the mounting public debt, whose servicing costs are expected to be more than half of projected state revenues in the fiscal year ending June.
KQ defaulted on part of its USD 525 million (KSh64.6 billion) loan from the Private Export Funding Corporation (PEFCO) of the US, which was guaranteed by the Exim Bank of the US, which, in turn, was guaranteed by the Government of Kenya.
The 89-year-old Exim Bank, which is fully owned by the US government, provides direct loans, commercial loan guarantees, export credit insurance, and working capital guarantees for American exporters.
Kiptoo said the Treasury guaranteed the loan to the struggling airline at an exchange rate of KSh 84 to a dollar. The exchange rate currently stands at KSh 125.2 to the dollar.
EU dumps 37 million items of plastic clothing in Kenya yearly
EU countries are dumping 37 million items of “junk plastic clothing” in Kenya every year, a new investigation revealed.
This fashion waste is too dirty or damaged to be reused and is creating serious health and environmental problems for vulnerable communities in the country. The low quality of the clothing means it ends up being immediately dumped or burned to heat water, cook, and allegedly fuel a power station.
Investigators say that exporting junk clothing to poorer countries has become an “escape valve” for “systemic overproduction,” and this hidden stream of waste should be illegal.
Clean Up Kenya and the investigative NGO Wildlight interviewed people and collected evidence on the ground in Kenya to discover what happens to this waste. They discovered junk clothing in some places piled as high as four-storey buildings and spilling into rivers.
“We went to Ground Zero of the fast fashion world to unmask an ugly truth: that the trade of used clothing from Europe is, to a large and growing extent, a trade in hidden waste,” says Betterman Simidi Musasia, founder and patron of Clean Up Kenya, which advocates for sustainable public sanitation.
Western envoys vow to resume support for Sudan transition
Special envoys from the European Union, Britain, France, Germany, Norway, and the US have vowed to support Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led government.
The six envoys arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday and met with Sudanese political leaders to show support for the country’s ongoing political transition. But they agreed to resume financial support for Sudan only once a civilian-led transitional government is formed.
The envoys made the pledge late Wednesday after meeting with the head of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan.
Speaking after the meeting, Peter Lord, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary for East Africa, Sudan, and South Sudan, said the envoys are in Khartoum to familiarize themselves with the ongoing political process.
He said they believe the political framework agreement of December 5 is the best basis to form the next civilian-led government in Sudan and the best basis to establish a constitutional arrangement for a transitional period that results in elections.
“It’s our strong hope that the parties will make a quick formation of a civilian led-government that is able to lead Sudan out of its current political, economic crises,” said Lord.