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Army tightly controlling borders to stop demonetized currency

The Ethiopian army is tightening its grip on money laundering activities around borders, following the country’s introduction of new Birr notes to stop illegal circulation of money outside financial institutions. 

In an exclusive interview with Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), General Berhanu Jula, Deputy Chief of Staff and Head of Military Operations Division of the Ethiopian National Defense Force, said the army has been strengthening its control on the flow of illicit funds into the country. 

However, there are false claims by some quarters that the army has been given permission to seize money at will, he added.

The general strongly dismissed the allegations, saying values of the army would never allow it to do illegal activities. 

General Berhanu explained that illegal money that violates the law is seized and saved in one account and used to strengthen the security structure. 

He also said that there are persons who deliberately tarnish the good reputation of the defense force, the country is proud of. (ENA)

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Ethiopia to launch second satellite in December

Ethiopia will launch a second satellite into space in December this year, said the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute on Monday.

Solomon Belay (PhD), director-general of the institute told state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) that the satellite, named ET-SMART-RSS, will be launched on December 19, 2020 from a Chinese satellite center.

It would play a significant role in sending information helpful for agricultural activities and in covering areas that could not be reached by the first satellite, he said.

Weighing 12 kg, the remote sensing satellite, which has so far cost USD 2 million, has a lifespan of 3-4 years in orbit, said the director-general.

Ethiopia launched its first satellite named ETRSS-1, a 70 kilogram multi-spectral remote sensing satellite, in December last year.

According to Solomon, work is in progress to launch ETRSS-2 in 2022.

Ethiopia has planned to launch a total of 7 satellites over the coming 10 years. (FBC)

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Chinese university launches Amharic language program

Beijing Foreign Studies University has launched a program that offers the Amharic language at an undergraduate level. 

The launch ceremony was held in Beijing on Monday, according to the Ethiopian Embassy in Beijing.

The program will be offered based on the Cooperative Agreement between Addis Ababa University and Beijing Foreign Studies University. This is the first ever program to be given in China, it was learnt.

Attending the ceremony were Ethiopia’s Embassy Representative in China, Samuel Fitsumberhan and Beijing Foreign Studies University Vice President, Jia Wenjian.

According to the agreement the university will provide the Amharic language course at a bachelor’s degree level for the first time.

Beijing Foreign Studies University is a prestigious university established in 1941 in China. As the first foreign language university and offering the most language programs in the country, it excels in the teaching and studying of foreign languages, foreign literature, overseas sinology, and also serves as an important base producing quality professionals with language competence and global vision. (ENA)

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Administration reveals Lake Haramaya restoration

Haramaya Town Administration has announced that Lake Haramaya has been restored, following nature conservation and viable measurements were undertaken by the government.

Muleta Bushura, Mayor of the town, told The Ethiopian Herald on Wednesday that, the lake was endangered by improper and irresponsible human activities since 16 years ago.

For him, starting from 2004, the lake and its environs was a dry land and other parts of the lake were inundated by water weeds, the fish species in the lake were eradicated, and swimming activities were totally over.

He underscored that the town administration has been undertaking different activities in collaboration with different stakeholders, to address the challenges and devise proper solutions especially working closely with Haramaya University. As a result, efforts started to bear fruit.

He also stressed that the university undertook a lot of problem solving researches and investigations by enhancing Integrated Lake Haramaya Water Shed Development project, to bring the status of the lake back. (The Ethiopian Herald)

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Horn in Brief

Somalia meets most targets on road to debt relief

Somali authorities have met their first round of targets for financial reforms, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday, part of a broader program paving the way to debt relief for the war-ravaged nation.

"Authorities have remained steadfast in their commitment to economic reforms, meeting all structural benchmarks for the first review," the press release said.

Domestic revenues for the financial year until June were USD 99 million against a target of USD 109 million, the Fund said, but it was willing to waive that because Somalia had been hit by locust swarms, flooding and COVID-19.

Somalia is reorganizing the Central Bank, and making reforms in customs and tax collection, the Fund said. "Somalia is on the right track," Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh told Reuters. "The government's commitment to its economic and fiscal roadmap, guided by the IMF program, is clear."

The nation has been ripped apart by civil war since 1991, but the fragile internationally-backed government is slowly building institutions despite a ferocious Islamist insurgency. (Reuters)

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South Sudan government figures embezzled USD 36m: UN panel

High-ranking politicians and bureaucrats in South Sudan have siphoned off at least USD 36m in public funds, sometimes with the connivance of international corporations and banks, a United Nations commission said.

Wednesday’s report by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan came six days after President Salva Kiir fired the country’s finance minister, the head of the tax-gathering National Revenue Authority, as well as the director of the state-owned oil company.

 “Our Commission has uncovered brazen embezzlement by senior politicians and government officials, together with a number of entities linked to the government,” the panel’s chairperson, Yasmin Sooka said.

“We can reveal the misappropriation of a staggering USD 36m since 2016. It is worth noting, this is just what we were able to trace and may not reflect the whole picture.”

Sooka added that the figure relates to illegal financial movements from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and from the National Revenue Authority. (Aljazeera)

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US prepares to take Sudan off list of states that support terrorism

The Trump administration is preparing to remove Sudan from a list of states that sponsor terrorism, seeking another foreign policy victory before the election but putting at risk the compensation for victims of terrorist attacks that American courts have concluded were carried out with Khartoum’s support.

Sudan has been on the terrorism list since 1993 and, as a result, has been restricted from receiving the global assistance that would help stabilize its new government and foment democracy. Its delisting is widely expected in the next few weeks, according to four people with direct knowledge of the plan by the State Department.

That would also clear the way for Sudan to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel in an accord similar to the one brokered by Trump administration this month, between Isrsel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. President Trump celebrated at the White House last week with a promise that other nations would soon join them. (New York Times)

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African countries ask Russia for vaccine, medical center and help with security

A group of eight countries in East Africa have asked the Russian government for help in building the region’s first cancer center, a disaster control facility, and raised the possibility of a Russian military presence.

The group, called the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

Representatives spent three days in Moscow this month, meeting Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, on 16 September.  

IGAD executive secretary Workneh Gebeyehu told Russian news website Sputnik that in the meeting with Lavrov, he asked Russia to share the coronavirus vaccine it is working on with all Africans. 

He also said that he had petitioned Russia for “peace and security agreements” between IGAD countries and the Russian Federation on “counter-terrorism, transnational crime, and piracy.”

“We don’t want interference in matters internal to member countries,” he said, “but we want to cooperate, coordinate our efforts to fight terrorism and bring lasting peace to the region.” (GCR)