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Ethiopia joins the 50 nations that ratify continental FTA

Local Brief

The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) on Thursday approved the draft proclamation for the ratification of African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement with no discussion as the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s resolution was voted with a single read.

The HPR has ratified the proclamation for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), unanimously.

As of the end of February this year, 52 out of 55 countries have reportedly signed the agreement and 20 of these, including Ethiopia, have ratified it.

With two African countries coming on board, the agreement will come into effect. The African Continental Free Trade Area will create a market of one billion populations.

The agreement of establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) is expected to enhance continental trade competition, promote job opportunities, improve productivity and expand continental trade destination.

Following the approval of the bill, the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry has welcomed Ethiopia’s move to ratify the continental agreement. (Compiled By Yonas Abiye)

Some 21 Nat’l Political Parties to Establish Solidarity Forum

Some 21 national political parties have formed a provisional committee that aspires to create a national solidarity forum.

Briefing journalists today, Committee Chairman Tigistu Awelu claimed that the existing ethnic and language-based federalism has shaken the country’s unity, leading to the displacement of many.

One of the objectives of the committee is, therefore, to establish a solidarity forum for parties that unilaterally struggles the prevalence of democracy and human rights, he elaborated.

According to him, replacing the existing federal arrangement with provincial structure can guarantee national unity and development.

However, Tigistu stated that there will be room to consider alternatives other than the provincial structure.

The newly formed committee will exert efforts towards bringing all concerned individuals and institutions to create a national solidarity forum, it was indicated.

The structural alternative to replace existing federalism was initiated by the “Union of Ethiopian Provinces” and supported by 21 national political parties, according to a press release distributed at the press conference. (ENA)

MoU for Manufacturing of Medical Equipments Locally Signed

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will allow government institutions work in collaboration to realize the manufacturing of medical equipments locally was signed Tuesday.

The MoU was signed between the ministries of Innovation & Technology, Health, and Trade & Industry as well as Investment Commission.

It is said to help to mobilize efforts in promoting innovation among the youth and encourage entrepreneurs and the private sector to engage in the manufacturing of the equipments.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Amir Aman, Minister of Health explained the importance to join hands in encouraging entrepreneurs and the private sector to engage in the field.

The Horn African country spends more than five billion Birr every year to import medical equipments.

Despite the country invests such huge money, it still unable to meet the demand for medical equipments, he added.

In this regard, the MoU will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to work in collaboration to create the capacity to locally manufacture medical equipments, he added. (ENA)

Main committee for restoration of rock-hewn churches to be formed soon

A main committee which oversees the restoration of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela will be established soon, Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritages announced on Tuesday.

The committee will be comprised of representatives from Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritages, Amhara Culture and Tourism Bureau, Office of the Mayor of Lalibela, and experts from the Lalibela churches.

Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritages Director, HailuZeleke said the main committee to be formed soon will provide general direction about the restoration work.

The restoration of the churches will be carried out jointly by Ethiopian and French professionals, it was learned.

According to the director, professionals who have been participating in various studies and researches, particularly from Addis Ababa University, Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritages, UNESCO are included in the technical committee.

French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site last week. (ENA)

Horn in Brief

Sudan summons Egypt ambassador over 'illegal' Red Sea oil bids

Sudan on Thursday summoned Egypt's ambassador to Khartoum to protest Cairo's "illegal" call for oil and gas exploration bids in the Red Sea area of Halayeb, claimed by both countries.

In a statement on Thursday, Sudan's foreign ministry said it summoned Hossam Eissa over "tenders invited by the Egyptian oil ministry for areas under the sovereignty of Sudan".

"Sudan is asking Egypt to stop all procedures concerning the tenders given the situation about the Halayeb triangle."

It also warned oil and gas exploration companies against submitting any bids.

Egypt's South Valley Egyptian Petroleum Holding Co has offered 10 oil and gas exploration blocks in the Red Sea for sale through a tender on March 10, with bids due to close on August 1.

The Halayeb triangle, which is controlled by Egypt, has been claimed by Sudan since the 1950s. Cairo says it is Egyptian territory and it has long been a source of contention between the two neighbours. (Aljazeera)

South Sudan Spends Millions on Cars, Homes Instead of Peace

South Sudan's committee overseeing the fragile transition from civil war has approved almost $185 million in spending on vehicles, food and home renovations while the country's peace deal suffers from an alleged lack of funds, according to internal documents seen by The Associated Press.

As the East African nation emerges from a five-year conflict that killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions, experts warn that the government's lack of financial transparency will gut the confidence of international donors who have been encouraged to donate to the peace transition fund. Some already have; Japan has given $1 million.

The internal government documents show that on Nov. 5, two months after warring parties signed the peace deal, the committee that includes government and opposition representatives authorized payments for 1,000 vehicles and food including 50,000 tons of sorghum to be delivered to the capital, Juba, and President Salva Kiir's home state of Bahr el Ghazal. (VoA)

Somali soldiers protest non-payment of salaries

Somalia’s plans to cater for its own security needs without the backing of the African Union peacekeeping mission have been hit by striking action by government soldiers in at least three of their bases located in the critical Shabelle region.

Residents and a military officer told Reuters the soldiers are protesting over months of missed pay.

The Horn of Africa nation’s weak central government relies on the support of the military and African Union-mandated AMISOM peacekeepers against al Shabaab, which aims to carve out a realm based on strict sharia (Islamic law).

The vacated bases are in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, one of the troops’ commanders Col. Abdi Mohamed Ahmed told Reuters, adding that the move was to protest about non payment of salaries for four months.

“The military soldiers here have not taken salaries for four months. We are now on (the) way to Mogadishu,” Ahmed said.

“It is painful to be in the frontline and fighting al Shabaab while your wife and kids are starving.”

Ahmed added he understood troops were also deserting more bases but that some of those garrisons had not been completely abandoned because some Somali troops and others from peacekeeping force AMISOM remained. (AfricaNews)

Eritrea explores economic relations with Somaliland

Eritrea became the latest country in the region to enter into working relations with Somaliland after Ethiopia signed deals linking her to the Port of Berbera report said on Thursday.

A government delegation from Eritrea was in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland for talks this week.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Meskel said the three-day visit was part of concerted efforts to boost regional peace and harness trade opportunities.

The delegation, the first ever from Eritrea to visit Somaliland, was led by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, who was accompanied by presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab.

The delegation held talks with Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi who expressed gratitude for the Eritrean initiative.

After the meeting President Bihi tweeted: “Met with the FM of Eritrea Hon. Osman Saleh. We discussed issues pertaining the bilateral relations between the two nations, regional economic integration.”

According to Meskel, The objective of this first-ever Eritrean Government delegation visit to Hargeisa is to begin engagement with Somaliland and to buttress the quest for the promotion of regional peace. (Business Week)