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Posts tagged ‘Ancient Land of Ethiopia’

Ethiopia says military chief killed, regional coup failed

June 23, 2019

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s military chief was shot to death by his bodyguard amid a failed coup attempt against a regional government north of the capital, Addis Ababa, the prime minister said Sunday.

The abortive coup Saturday in the Amhara region was led by a high-ranking military officer and others in the armed forces, said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who addressed the nation on state TV at 2 a.m. while wearing fatigues.

The soldiers attacked a building where a meeting of regional officials was taking place, said Nigussu Tilahun, a spokesman for the prime minister. The regional governor and an adviser were killed, while the attorney general was wounded, he said.

Not long after afterward, army chief Gen. Seare Mekonnen who assassinated at his home in Addis Ababa, and a retired army general visiting him was also killed, the spokesman said. “There is a link between the two attacks,” Nigussu said without elaborating.

The attack in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara, was led by a renegade brigadier who had recently been pardoned by the prime minister after being jailed by the previous government, authorities said. Most of the perpetrators were captured, and others were being hunted down, the spokesman said.

The brigadier remained at large, according to two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Addis Ababa was peaceful on Sunday as soldiers stood guard in Meskel Square and set up roadblocks throughout the city. Ethiopia’s internet appeared to be shut down.

The attempted coup was the latest challenge to Abiy, who was elected last year. The 42-year-old Abiy has captured the imagination of many with his political and economic reforms, including the surprise acceptance of a peace agreement with Eritrea, the opening of major state-owned sectors to private investment and the release of thousands of prisoners, including opposition figures once sentenced to death.

Last June, a grenade meant for Abiy wounded many people at a big rally. Nine police officials were arrested, state media reported. In October, rebellious soldiers protested over pay and invaded Abiy’s office, but the prime minister was able to defuse the situation.

Ethiopia is a key regional ally of the U.S. in the restive Horn of Africa region. Tibor Nagy, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, said the latest violence was a “shock, but it could have turned out so much worse,” adding: “Thankfully Prime Minister Abiy escaped this attempt, because there are many, many more people in Ethiopia who support his reforms than those who are opposed to them.”

Speaking in South Africa, Nagy said “there are vestiges of the old regime” who are opposed to Abiy. “I wish I could say that this is will be the last of these attempts, but no one can be certain,” Nagy said.

In Addis Ababa, politicians and government officials went to the home of the slain army chief to offer condolences to his family.

AP journalist Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria, South Africa, contributed.

Ethiopia to send plane’s black box abroad, as grief grows

March 13, 2019

HEJERE, Ethiopia (AP) — The black box from the Boeing jet that crashed and killed all 157 people on board will be sent overseas for analysis but no country has been chosen, an Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said Wednesday, as much of the world grounded or barred the plane model and grieving families arrived at the disaster site.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Asrat Begashaw said the airline has “a range of options” for the data and voice records of the flight’s last moments. “What we can say is we don’t have the capability to probe it here in Ethiopia,” he said.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. The disaster is the second with a Max 8 plane in just five months. While some aviation experts have warned against drawing conclusions until more information on the latest crash emerges, much of the world, including the entire European Union, has grounded the Boeing jetliner or banned it from their airspace.

That leaves the United States as one of the few remaining operators of the plane. “Similar causes may have contributed to both events,” European regulators said, referring to the Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people last year.

British regulators indicated possible trouble with a reportedly damaged flight data recorder, which could hamper the retrieval of information. Some aviation experts have warned that finding answers in this crash could take months.

Asrat, the Ethiopian Airlines spokesman, told the AP that the remains of victims recovered so far are in freezers but forensic DNA work for identifications had not yet begun. The dead came from 35 countries.

More devastated families arrived at the crash site on Wednesday, some supported by loved ones and wailing.

Ethiopian crash victims were aid workers, doctors, students

March 11, 2019

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Three Austrian physicians. The co-founder of an international aid organization. A career ambassador. The wife and children of a Slovak legislator. A Nigerian-born Canadian college professor, author and satirist. They were all among the 157 people from 35 countries who died Sunday morning when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliner crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya. Here are some of their stories.

Kenya: 32 victims

— Hussein Swaleh, the former secretary general of the Football Kenya Federation, was named as being among the dead by Sofapaka Football Club.

He was due to return home on the flight after working as the match commissioner in an African Champions League game in Egypt on Friday.

— Cedric Asiavugwa, a law student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., was on his way to Nairobi after the death of his fiancee’s mother, the university said in a statement.

Asiavugwa, who was in his third year at the law school, was born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya. Before he came to Georgetown, he worked with groups helping refugees in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the university said.

At Georgetown, Asiavugwa studied international business and economic law.

The university said Asiavugwa’s family and friends “remembered him as a kind, compassionate and gentle soul, known for his beautifully warm and infectious smile.”

Canada: 18 victims

—Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian professor with Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, was on his way to a meeting of the African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council in Nairobi, John O. Oba, Nigeria’s representative to the panel, told The Associated Press.

The author of “Naija No Dey Carry Last,” a collection of satirical essays, Adesanmi had degrees from Ilorin and Ibadan universities in Nigeria, and the University of British Columbia. He was director of Carleton’s Institute of African Studies, according to the university’s website. He was also a former assistant professor of comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University.

“Pius was a towering figure in African and post-colonial scholarship and his sudden loss is a tragedy,” said Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Carleton’s president and vice chancellor.

Adesanmi was the winner of the inaugural Penguin Prize for African non-fiction writing in 2010.

Mitchell Dick, a Carleton student who is finishing up a communications honors degree, said he took a first- and second-year African literature course with Adesanmi.

Adesanmi was “extremely nice and approachable,” and stood out for his passion for the subject matter, Dick said.

—Mohamed Hassan Ali confirmed that he had lost his sister and niece.

Ali said his sister, Amina Ibrahim Odowaa, and her five-year-old daughter, Safiya, were on board the jet that went down six minutes after it took off from the Addis Ababa airport on the way to Nairobi, Kenya.

“(She was) a very nice person, very outgoing, very friendly. Had a lot of friends,” he said of his sister, who lived in Edmonton and was travelling to Kenya to visit with relatives.

Amina Ibrahim Odowaa and her daughter Sofia Faisal Abdulkadir

The 33-year-old Edmonton woman and her five year-old daughter were travelling to Kenya to visit with relatives.

A family friend said Odowaa has lived in Edmonton since 2006.

— Derick Lwugi, an accountant with the City of Calgary, was also among the victims, his wife, Gladys Kivia, said. He leaves behind three children, aged 17, 19 and 20, Kivia said.

The couple had been in Calgary for 12 years, and Lwugi had been headed to Kenya to visit both of their parents.

Ethiopia: 9 victims

— The aid group Save the Children said an Ethiopian colleague died in the crash.

Tamirat Mulu Demessie had been a child protection in emergencies technical adviser and “worked tirelessly to ensure that vulnerable children are safe during humanitarian crises,” the group said in a statement.

China: 8 victims

—A statement from the Chinese Embassy in Addis Ababa said the Chinese victims included five men and three women, including one person from the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said two United Nations workers were among the eight Chinese killed. Four were working for a Chinese company and two had travelled to Ethiopia for “private matters.”

Italy: 8 victims

—Paolo Dieci, one of the founders of the International Committee for the Development of Peoples, was among the dead, the group said on its website.

“The world of international cooperation has lost one of its most brilliant advocates and Italian civil society has lost a precious point of reference,” wrote the group, which partners with UNICEF in northern Africa.

UNICEF Italia sent a tweet of condolences over Dieci’s death, noting that CISP, the group’s Italian acronym, was a partner in Kenya, Libya and Algeria.

—Sebastiano Tusa, the Sicilian regional assessor to the Italian Culture Ministry, was en route to Nairobi when the plane crashed, according to Sicilian regional President Nello Musemeci. In a statement reported by the ANSA news agency, Musemeci said he received confirmation from the foreign ministry, which confirmed the news to The Associated Press.

In a tweet, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said it was a day of pain for everyone. He said: “We are united with the relatives of the victims and offer them our heartfelt thoughts.”

Tusa was also a noted underwater archaeologist.

—The World Food Program confirmed that two of the Italian victims worked for the Rome-based U.N. agency.

A WFP spokeswoman identified the victims as Virginia Chimenti and Maria Pilar Buzzetti.

—Three other Italians worked for the Bergamo-based humanitarian agency, Africa Tremila: Carlo Spini, his wife, Gabriella Viggiani and the treasurer, Matteo Ravasio.

United States: 8 victims

France: 7 victims

—A group representing members of the African diaspora in Europe is mourning the loss of its co-chairperson and “foremost brother,” Karim Saafi.

A French Tunisian, Saafi, 38, was on an official mission representing the African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe, the group announced on its Facebook page.

“Karim’s smile, his charming and generous personality, eternal positivity, and his noble contribution to Youth employment, diaspora engagement and Africa’s socio-economic development will never be forgotten,” the post read. “Brother Karim, we’ll keep you in our prayers.”

Saafi left behind a fiancee.

— Sarah Auffret, a French-British national living in Tromsoe, northern Norway, was on the plane, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators said. Auffret, a staffer, was on the way to Nairobi to talk about a Cleans Seas project in connection with the U.N. Environment Assembly this week, the company said in a statement.

U.K.: 7 victims

— Joanna Toole, a 36-year-old from Exmouth, Devon, was heading to Nairobi to attend the United Nations Environment Assembly when she was killed.

Father Adrian described her as a “very soft and loving” woman whose “work was not a job — it was her vocation”.

“Everybody was very proud of her and the work she did. We’re still in a state of shock. Joanna was genuinely one of those people who you never heard a bad word about,” he told the DevonLive website.

He also said she used to keep homing pigeons and pet rats and travelled to the remote Faroe Islands to prevent whaling.

Manuel Barange, the director of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations fisheries and aquaculture department, tweeted saying he was “profoundly sad and lost for words” over the death of the “wonderful human being”.

— Joseph Waithaka, a 55-year-old who lived in Hull for a decade before moving back to his native Kenya, also died in the crash, his son told the Hull Daily Mail.

Ben Kuria, who lives in London, said his father had worked for the Probation Service, adding: “He helped so many people in Hull who had found themselves on the wrong side of the law.”

Waithaka had dual Kenyan and British citizenship, the BBC reported.

Egypt: 6 victims

Germany: 5 victims

—The United Nations migration agency said that one of its staffers, German citizen Anne-Katrin Feigl, was on the plane en route to a training course in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya and the plane’s destination.

India: 4 victims

Slovakia: 4 victims

—A lawmaker of Slovak Parliament said his wife, daughter and son were killed in the crash. Anton Hrnko, a legislator for the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party, said he was “in deep grief” over the deaths of his wife, Blanka, son, Martin, and daughter, Michala. Their ages were not immediately available.

Martin Hrnko was working for the Bubo travel agency. The agency said he was traveling for his vacation in Kenya.

President Andrej Kiska offered his condolences to Hrnko.

Sweden: 4 victims

— Hospitality company Tamarind Group announced “with immense shock and grief” that its chief executive Jonathan Seex was among the fatalities.

— The Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders, an international human rights group, said employee Josefin Ekermann, 30, was on board the plane. Ekermann, who worked to support human rights defenders, was on her way to meet Kenyan partner organizations. The group’s executive director, Anders L. Pettersson, says “Josefin was a highly appreciated and respected colleague.”

Austria: 3 victims

—Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Peter Guschelbauer confirmed that three Austrian doctors in their early 30s were on board the flight. The men were on their way to Zanzibar, he said, but he could not confirm the purpose of their trip.

Russia: 3 victims

—The Russian Embassy in Ethiopia said that airline authorities had identified its deceased nationals as Yekaterina Polyakova, Alexander Polyakov and Sergei Vyalikov.

News reports identify the first two as husband and wife. State news agency RIA-Novosibirsk cites a consular official in Nairobi as saying all three were tourists.

Israel: 2 victims

Morocco: 2 victims

Poland: 2 victims

Spain: 2 victims

Belgium: 1 victim

Djibouti: 1 victim

Indonesia: 1 victim

Ireland: 1 victim

— Irishman Michael Ryan was among the seven dead from the United Nations’ World Food Program, a humanitarian organization distributing billions of rations every year to those in need.

The Rome-based aid worker and engineer known as Mick was formerly from Lahinch in County Clare in Ireland’s west and was believed to be married with two children.

His projects have included creating safe ground for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and assessing the damage to rural roads in Nepal that were blocked by landslides.

His mother, Christine Ryan, told broadcaster RTE that “he had a marvelous vision and he just got there and did it and had great enthusiasm…He never wanted a nine to five job. He put everything into his work.”

Irish premier Leo Varadkar said: “Michael was doing life-changing work in Africa with the World Food Programme.”

Mozambique: 1 victim

Nepal: 1 victim

Nigeria: 1 victim

—The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it received the news of retired Ambassador Abiodun Oluremi Bashu’s death “with great shock and prayed that the Almighty God grant his family and the nation, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

Bashu was born in Ibadan in 1951 and joined the Nigerian Foreign Service in 1976. He had served in different capacities both at Headquarters and Foreign Missions such as Vienna, Austria, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Tehran, Iran. He also served as secretary to the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At the time of his death, Bashu was on contract with the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa.

Norway: 1 victim

—The Red Cross of Norway confirmed that Karoline Aadland, a finance officer, was among those on the flight.

Aadland, 28, was originally from Bergen, Norway. The Red Cross said she was traveling to Nairobi for a meeting.

Aadland’s Linkedin page says she had done humanitarian and environmental work. The page says her work and studies had taken her to France, Kenya, South Africa and Malawi.

“People who know me describe me as a resourceful, dedicated and kindhearted person,” she wrote on Linkedin.

The Red Cross says in a news release that it “offers support to the closest family, and to employees who want it,” the organization said in a news release.

Rwanda: 1 victim

Saudi Arabia: 1 victim

Serbia: 1 victim

Serbia’s foreign ministry confirmed that one of its nationals was aboard the plane. The ministry gave no further details, but local media identified the man as 54-year-old Djordje Vdovic.

The Vecernje Novosti daily reported that he worked at the World Food Program.

Somalia: 1 victim

Sudan: 1 victim

Togo: 1 victim

Uganda: 1 victim

Yemen: 1 victim

U.N. passport: 1 victim

Italy’s PM visits Ethiopia and soon Eritrea to support peace

October 11, 2018

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Italy’s prime minister is visiting Ethiopia and is awaited in Eritrea after the neighbors and once-bitter rivals made surprising peace earlier this year. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says this is the first visit by a Western leader since the peace accord that ended years of deadly border tensions.

Conte is expected to discuss migration, a sensitive topic in Italy, as well as investment opportunities in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. He was met at the airport by Ethiopia’s reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and is expected to meet with members of the Italian community.

Eritrea’s information minister says Conte on Friday will discuss bilateral cooperation and “international matters of mutual interest” with longtime President Isaias Afwerki during his visit. Eritrea is a major source of migrants.

Ethiopia faces reforms’ next steps as ruling coalition meets

October 03, 2018

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) — Declaring “a true measure of leadership is not indispensability,” Ethiopia’s prime minister on Wednesday urged the next steps in the country’s sweeping reforms as the ruling coalition that has led for decades opened its first congress since he took power in April.

A true leader produces qualified successors and makes “herself/himself redundant,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the gathering, according to Twitter posts by his chief of staff, Fitsum Arega. The 42-year-old prime minister has pledged free and fair elections in Africa’s second most populous nation in 2020 and dramatically widened the political space by welcoming once-banned opposition groups home from exile. Ethiopia since 1991 has been led by the coalition and allied parties that hold every seat in Parliament.

The political and economic reforms, which have made surprising peace with longtime rival Eritrea and would open state-run enterprises to investment, have been welcomed with enthusiasm by many, but already Abiy has been the target of an assassination attempt. Last week Ethiopia’s attorney general filed terrorism charges against five people and accused them of wanting to pave the way for the once-banned Oromo Liberation Front.

Some have expressed concern that enthusiasm over the returning groups has played a role in the resurgence of deadly ethnic tensions that pose a major challenge to reforms. In the latest unrest, the Oromia region reported more than 70,000 people displaced by fresh violence in late September. The number of Ethiopia’s internally displaced people has reached 2.8 million, up from 1.6 million at the beginning of the year, the United Nations recently reported.

Ethiopians have long expressed grievances over the country’s federal structure that is largely based on ethnic lines and has been held together by the ruling coalition and its security forces. The nation of 100 million people has more than 80 ethnic groups.

On Wednesday, Abiy told the congress that “a federal form of government is a preferred option in Ethiopia as long as we don’t confuse regional arrangements with ethnic identity,” according to his chief of staff. “Each regional administrative unit should serve all citizens with respect and without discrimination.”

The ruling coalition is undergoing a significant transformation, Awol Kassim Allo, a lecturer in law at Keele University in Britain, said in a Facebook post. This week it is expected to change its name and core leadership and elect a leader.

It is inconceivable that the coalition will unseat Abiy, who brought the country back from the brink after months of widespread anti-government protests demanding more freedoms, Awol said. “He is the only figure within and outside the ruling coalition with the political capital and cultural appeal to steer Ethiopia through this difficult and complex period of transition.”

Anna reported from Johannesburg.

Ethiopians protest in capital against weekend violence

September 17, 2018

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Several thousand Ethiopians demonstrated in the streets of the capital on Monday morning to protest ethnic-based attacks in the outskirts of the city in which more than 20 people died over the weekend.

Commissioner of the federal police Zeynu Jemal said that five people were killed in the Monday protests and between 20 and 25 people were killed in the weekend attack. He said that 700 suspects are in custody.

Victims of the attack and their families alleged the perpetrators are some groups of youths from the surrounding Oromia region. Police fired tear gas to try to disperse the demonstrators, but people continued to flock to central Meskel Square. The demonstrators are calling on the government to take firm measures against the perpetrators.

“We demand justice,” some of the rally goers chanted when they passed by the offices of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, on the way to Meskel Square. “The government’s task is to protect its citizens, not to send condolences after they are butchered,” shouted a protester.

There were also protests in Arba Mich, the capital city of Ethiopia’s Southern region and the home area of many victims of Saturday’s attacks, in which demonstrators kneeled to urge justice. For the first time since taking office in April, Ethiopia’s reformist leader Abiy has come under sharp criticism for what some see as his soft stance and people are calling on him on social media to toughen up and restore law and order. Some Ethiopians are also openly calling for a state of emergency to be put in place to avoid further killings.

For his part Abiy denounced the killings. “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed strongly condemns the killings and acts of violence against innocent citizens … These cowardly attacks represent a grave concern to the unity and solidarity of our people & will be met with appropriate response,” said Fitsum Arega, the prime minister’s chief of staff, in a tweet on Sunday.

Ethnic-based attacks over land and resources are not new in this East African nation of more than 80 ethnic groups. But the severity of such attacks has grown in recent months. The U.N. Children’s Fund UNICEF said in August that as many as 2.8 million Ethiopians were internally displaced, mainly due to ethnic-based attacks in various parts of the country.

Hundreds of thousands in Ethiopia welcome once-banned group

September 15, 2018

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians gathered on Saturday to welcome returning leaders of the once-banned Oromo Liberation Front amid sweeping reforms to bring opposition groups back to politics.

The OLF and two other organizations were removed from a list of terror groups earlier this year after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office. He invited them to come home as he vowed to widen the political space in a country where the ruling coalition, in power since 1991, and affiliated parties hold every seat in parliament.

Earlier Saturday, some 1,500 OLF fighters returned to Ethiopia from neighboring Eritrea. The group since the 1970s has advocated the “right to national self-determination” for the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.

A large concert was being held in Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa, to welcome OLF leader Dawud Ibsa and others arriving from Eritrea’s capital. Events also were held in Oromia, the largest region among Ethiopia’s federal states.

“I’m happy to be here after 26 years of struggle from outside of Ethiopia,” the OLF leader told reporters upon his arrival. “We have been struggling to bring the changes that we are seeing now in Ethiopia. We are now seeing positive signs that include the respect for rule of law. That’s why we came here.”

Abiy, the first Oromo politician to become prime minister since the ruling party came to power in 1991, took office after more than two years of deadly anti-government protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions spread throughout the country and led to a state of emergency. Tensions in restive areas have dramatically declined as the new government released several thousand prisoners, unblocked websites and welcomed opposition voices.

“This is a day that we have been longing for,” Milkessa Hunde, a university lecturer, told The Associated Press. “This is why thousands of Qeeros (youths in Oromia) sacrificed their lives. We are eternally indebted to them.”

After clashes in recent days between youth from Oromia and the capital over displays of the OLF flag in Addis Ababa, the prime minister condemned any incitement of violence. He added, however, that “the right of freedom of expression includes the use of a flag of choice.”

Police used tear gas to separate the two sides as some businesses closed.

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