On 16 February 2018, the Council of Ministers of Ethiopia declared a state of emergency to protect the constitution and constitutional order and to ensure the security and stability of the country.
The article 93 of the Ethiopian Constitution provides the power for the Council of Ministers to decree a state of emergency in case of external invasion, a breakdown of law and order which endangers constitutional order, natural disaster or an epidemic occur. During its 17-day meeting, the ruling party EPRDF was considering the issue of declaring a state of emergency if the situation did not improve in the weeks following the meeting.
For the past few weeks, the violence that has been going on in some areas of the country has undermined not only the security but also the harmony and peaceful coexistence of its peoples. These violent activities have been accompanied by attacks which led to the displacement, death and injury of people, damage on property and slowed investment. The decree also aims at protecting the freedom of movement and the rights of citizens to live wherever they choose. It was a response to the public’s request for protection as dangerous activities have continued to expand and recur again.
The decree allows law enforcement bodies to detain without court warrant any individual who orchestrated, led and organised or took part in criminal acts against the constitution and constitutional order. The individual will face justice after a necessary investigation. Law enforcement bodies can also seize materials which were utilised or could be used to commit crimes, search any houses, areas and vehicles as well as stop, ask and search a person without a court warrant. The State of Emergency will remain in effect for six months, and the decree will be tabled in the House of People’s Representatives with 15 days.
It’s hoped that the state of emergency will create a sober environment for the government to implement its broad and multifaceted reform program.
On 17 February, Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, held a discussion with senior director for Africa, Cyril Sartor, on peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region.
During the meeting, Dr Workneh emphasized the need to strengthen relations between Ethiopia and the US to combat terrorism in the region as well as called for support for the ongoing South Sudanese peace process.
After praising Ethiopia’s hard work, Sartor said the US supports efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to maintain peace in the region In a related development, Dr Workneh also had a productive discussion with members of the US Congress on bilateral and regional issues. Expressing their support for the ongoing reform program in Ethiopia, they said “Ethiopia is essential to the peace and stability of the region.”
Two days later, about 860 peacekeepers from the 17th Motorized Battalion of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) received the UN Medal Awards in recognition of their tireless service and sacrifice to support peace efforts and to maintain security in Abyei Area.
The 17th Motorized Battalion has been deployed for over eight months in Diffra and has been carrying out UNISFA’s mandate by demilitarizing its area of responsibility, protecting communities, providing escorts for humanitarian agencies and securing UN personnel and facilities.
The UN Medals were presented as the sign of the UN’s gratitude and appreciation of the troops’ commitment, sacrifice, and hard work. In his speech during the awarding ceremony, Maj General Tesfaygidey Hailemichael, UNISFA’s Force Commander and Acting Head of Mission, emphasized the role of the UN peacekeepers in Abyei.
“Practically they have created relatively peaceful and calm security situation in their area of responsibility. The operationally challenging environment, under which they have had to operate day and night, sometimes in very tough conditions, has never deterred them in carrying out their duties. They work closely and hand in hand with communities and their leaders in order to bring peace to Abyei.”
“The Ethiopian people and government sent us as ambassadors of the international community to complete the task of ensuring peace and security in the Abyei area,” said and Col Hailu G/Hiwot, Battalion Commander of the 17th Motorized Battalion.
As per the decision of the Executive Committee of EPRDF, the Federal Attorney General dropped charges against 101 suspects on 16 Feburary, including Colonel Demeke Zewde. The other suspects include among others Getachew Ademe, Atalay Zerfu, Nigst Yirga and Teshager Woldemichael.
Of the suspects, 56 were charged with having links with Ginbot 7 and the remaining 41 having links with OLF.
In a related development, 18 inmates were granted pardon, including Brigadier General Tefera Mamo and Asaminew Tsige.
They will be released after their cases are reviewed by the Board of Pardon and once approved by President Mulatu Teshome.
Similarly, the Amhara regional state dropped charges against 224 suspects detained in North Gondar zone
The regional state also pardoned 55 inmates who have been imprisoned in Gondar and Chilga prison centres.
The detainees were previously charged with terrorism and participating in violence. They will be freed as of tomorrow. Five detainees have so far been released, it was noted.
In June 2017, the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs main Department in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines finalized preparations for the e-visa service for international visitors to Ethiopia.
The e- Visa is processed and issued online on a single Web page where applicants apply, pay and secure their entry visa online.
Once the online application is approved, applicants will receive an email authorizing them to travel to Ethiopia and they will get their passport stamped with the visa upon arrival in Addis Ababa.
The process will save time, energy and cost for travellers to Ethiopia in addition to the simplicity and convenience that it facilitates.
Please refer the following requirements for Ethiopian eVISA.
e-Visa application fees are not refundable
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you intend to enter Ethiopia.
Currently, we allow travellers with e-Visa to enter Ethiopia via Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Entry via other ports of entry is not allowed.
The validity of Ethiopian e-Visa starts from the date you intend to enter Ethiopia, not from the date of issue.
Please carefully read and comply with the important notices and guidelines stated in each step of the application form.
Travelers who are nationals of or have a permanent residence permit in one of the eligible countries can apply for e-Visa.
Currently, we are issuing single entry tourist visas and conference visas only.
Are you eligible for an e-Visa?
Citizens from the following countries are eligible for e-Visa:
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has submitted a resignation letter as both Prime Minister and Chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) on 15 February. PM Hailemariam said his decision to resign from the leadership of both EPRDF and the government is to be part of the efforts being made to ensure lasting peace and deepen democracy in the country.
The Executive Committees of his party, the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) and the EPRDF’s have both accepted his request to resign.
Shiferaw Shigute, head of EPRDF office, said PM Hailemariam Desalegn has served as chairman of EPRDF and Prime Minister of Ethiopia for about the last six years and contributed a lot to the ongoing reform programs.
He has also served as chairman of the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) for the past 17 years and played a crucial role in guaranteeing peace, democracy and good governance in the country move forward following the unexpected death of the great leader Meles Zenawi,
The Council of EPRDF will democratically elect a replacement at its next meeting. The Premier expressed his hope that his party and government will make history again by conducting peaceful power transition.
However, PM Hailemariam will continue to serve in his current positions until the EPRDF Council, and the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) approve his letter of resignation.
He is currently doing his job and will continue until a new Premier is appointed.
A private investor is going to develop a-100 megawatts (MW) of solar energy in Ethiopia for the first time, according to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity (MoWIE).
A local investor, who will build the solar farm, has been identified following the culmination of the bidding process. Preparations are underway to ink the final agreement with the inventor. The solar energy farm will be built around Metehara, 200 km southeast of the capital Addis Ababa.
After selling the power it generated to the government for 20 consecutive years, the investor will hand over the farm to the government. The construction of the farm is expected to take 7-8 years.
Ethiopia has designed favorable policy and strategies for the private sector to engage in hydro-power, wind and solar energy development. The country has been providing various incentives to attract more foreign and local investors and companies in the sector.
In addition to solar energy, private sector investors are participating in the development of geothermal energy, such as the two Canadian companies that will develop geothermal energy plants at Corbetti and Tulu Moye. Each company is expected to generate 500MW.
Ethiopia seeks to raise its power generation capacity to 17, 347 by 2020. It has so far developed 4, 284 MW and the construction of projects that have the capacity to generate 9,000 MW is also underway in various parts of the country.
Ethiopia has released hundreds of prisoners and dropped charges against others in recent weeks. Following the decision of the Executive Committee of EPRDF, the government of Ethiopia has been dropping charges and pardoning individuals imprisoned for inciting violence, terrorism and religious extremism.
Additional suspects whose charges were dropped or were granted pardon were released from prison on 14 February, including Eskinder Nega, Andualem Arage and former chief administrator of Gambella Regional State, Okelo Aquay, Ustaz Ahmedin Jebel, Kalid Ibrahim, Ahmed Mustefa and Mohammed Abate. Seven suspects, including Bekele Gerba, were also freed on 13 February.
Prosecutors in Ethiopia also dropped charges against two bloggers on 14 February and announced they would abandon the prosecution of a third amid a wave of prisoner releases. Six Zone 9 bloggers were arrested in April 2014. Two were released in July of the following year, while the remaining four were charged with terrorism.
A US-based investment firm is collaborating with partners from Asian countries to build an oil refinery in Ethiopia.
The project, worth $4 billion, is expected to serve the country and the rest of East African market. Located in the eastern Ethiopian town of Awash; some 220 kilometres from the capital Addis Ababa, the refinery will have the capacity to process 120,000 barrels per day. That is equal to six million metric tonnes of crude oil.
“Here in Ethiopia over the next ten to fifteen years there is going to be a very massive transformation in the economy from what used to be an agrarian to what is to become an industrial based economy,” said Zemedeneh Negatu, Global Chairperson at the Fairfax Africa Fund. “That means a very significant increase in transportation which is what is what this refinery comes into. By the way, it’s not just a refinery. The refinery is just the first component…we are going to have an entire petrochemical over the next fifteen years.”
At the moment Ethiopia uses three million metric tons of fuel every year.
“The aim is to service all of East Africa. To just give you a very quick reference point …all of East Africa…which is a couple of hundred million people…has just one tiny refinery. And yet East Africa is actually the fastest growing region in Africa as a whole. And on the later of that the fact that there is a lot of urbanisation going on we figured this is a viable project. Now the 4 billion is an estimate. It could be slightly lower or it could be slightly higher.” Negatu said.
Reports suggest Ethiopia built its first oil refinery in 1967 in the Port of Assab in current Eritrea.
The then refinery built by Russian engineers had the capacity of producing 500,000MT of fuel per year only. Then it was upgraded to process 800,000MT of fuel per annum.
But the new facility will eventually have the capacity of refining 12 million metric tons of crude oil yearly. That will boost the confidence of Ethiopia’s energy security program.