In his first ever press conference since he took office last May, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PHD) has addressed wide variety of issues including the reform process and the inter-party challenges in EPRDF, the recent conflicts in Jigjiga, and the progress of the nation’s mega projects including the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
In his two and half hour stay with members of the local and international press in his office, Abiy took unusually serious tone in explaining the recent disaster in Jigjiga town, Ethio Somali Regional State, and asserted that his administration’s intervention was precipitated by grave human rights violations such as holding prisoners next to caged wild animals as an interrogation tactic inflicting the gravest psychological damages.
In this, the PM also argued that, in spite of knowledge of such human rights violations, federal forces intervened in the most reserved and careful manner not to instigate further conflict in the regional state and the whole region.
“The selected killing of Djiboutian in Dire Dawa town was an orchestrated attack to plunge the whole region and the neighboring countries into conflict,” he said to journalists; and revealed that these conflicts were part of the larger plot to put the region into conflict.
“The fate of the former leader of Ethio Somali Region is something which will be handled by the law enforcement agencies,” said Abiy, adding that many of ongoing investigations regarding major cases such as the June 23 bomb attack and the killing of Sigmegnew Bekele (Eng.) are still progressing and that fact has to be established before the public is notified of the findings of the investigation.
On the other hand, Abiy also dispelled speculations about TPLF, one of the four member parties of EPRDF, regarding boiling resistance to the reform process which is spearheaded by him and the so called Team Lemma. According to the PM, accusing TPLF of resisting the reform is widely inappropriate since the top leadership of the party, the region and the people are very much in support of the reform process. He further said that some who are removed from the government office through pension are the ones who are against the reform and the renewal process; and “these people are not limited to just one party but are present in all four parties”.
As far as the rhetoric regarding tacit ideological shift in the front and the leadership including him, Abiy asserted that there are no known and unknown ideological shifts in the party but the propaganda of people who are resistant to reform and change.
The PM also rectified some of the statements which were said to be uttered by him in recent weeks. One is the issue of GERD; Abiy noted that he has visited GERD two months ago to review the process that has been made so far and found out that electromechanical works contracted to the Metals and Engineering Corporation (MetEC) is lagging the project far behind.
“Salini is completing its part of the project on time and now it is demanding huge payment because the project is lagging from the side of MetEC,” Abiy told the Media. “Thinking big is one thing but accomplishing it is another,” Abiy argued. “We have handed over a complicated water dam project to people who have not seen a dam in their life and if we continue in that direction, the project may never see the light of day,” he added.