March 30, 2013

Ethiopian foreign minister fled the scene on foot in South-Africa after scuffle

Filed under: Ethiopia,id cards — ethiopiantimes @ 12:03 am
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An Ethiopian activist says, they continued the meeting after the officials left the meeting hall and discussed how to intensify the struggle in Ethiopia to bring change.



March 29, 2013

Oromo struggle pioneers embrace Ethiopian struggle for justice & democracy

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 11:56 pm
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Leencoo Lataa, a founding member of the OLF, is now with the ODF

SEATTLE – Pioneers of the Oromo nationalist struggle have mapped out a new path that embraces the struggle of all oppressed Ethiopians for social justice and democracy.


In a statement released to the media on Friday, the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) emphasized that the destiny of the Oromo people has never been different from the destiny of the rest of the Ethiopian people. The ODF underscored that the interests of the Oromo people are equally shared by the rest of the people of Ethiopia. In a nutshell, the statement said:

“We also believe that the economic and security interests of the Oromo people are intertwined with that of other peoples in Ethiopia. In addition, their geographic location, demography, democratic heritage and bond forged with all peoples over the years make it incumbent upon the Oromo to play a uniting and democratizing role.”

The ODF called on various political organizations, including the ruling party EPRDF, to join forces that would guarantee durable peace and stability in the country.

Following is the full text of the ODF Declaration:


* * * * * * We, members of the Founding Congress of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF), announce the launching of a new Oromo political movement that advocates justice for the Oromo and all other nations in Ethiopia. The founding of ODF ushers in a new phase in the Oromo nationalist struggle with the objective of working for the transformation of the Ethiopian state into a truly democratic multinational federation equitably owned by all the nations.

We are launching this new movement cognizant of the fact that Ethiopia has been, and remains, the prison of nations and nationalities, with the Oromo being one of the prisoners. Today in Ethiopia, domination, repression, discrimination, eviction, denial of religious freedom, humiliation and exploitation of the Oromo and other nations and nationalities have attained new heights. And this needs to come to an end. It is to contribute to this end that we are launching a movement that advocates freedom and justice for all individuals and nations.

Our advocacy of justice for all individuals and nationals is motivated by the universal principle that struggling for justice for oneself alone without advocating justice for all could ultimately prove futile because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We also believe that the economic and security interests of the Oromo people are intertwined with that of other peoples in Ethiopia. In addition, their geographic location, demography, democratic heritage and bond forged with all peoples over the years make it incumbent upon the Oromo to play a uniting and democratizing role.

By taking this proactive and inclusive stand we are heralding the re-articulation of the Oromo struggle for self-determination as the advocacy of justice for all Ethiopians. This measure does not imply the repudiation of the struggle waged to date by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) but rather to build on its achievements and to open a bold new forward looking chapter.

We remain convinced that the struggle for self-determination by the Oromo and other oppressed nations is still legitimate due to the persisting imperial character of the Ethiopian state, which has been stubbornly lingering  even after the exercise of political power has  passed from one ruling elite to the other.

Ethiopia’s enduring imperial legacy can be put to rest, once and for all, by transforming the present Ethiopian state into a genuinely democratic multinational federation. To this effect, we are struggling for the implementation of those principles and processes that would transform all the subject peoples of the Ethiopian state into the empowered citizens of a common federal state that fairly serve their interests, guarantee their collective security, and reflect their diverse identities.

This stand of our movement contrasts with the policies of the ruling party as well as those yearning for a return to the previous political order. It also contrasts with the stand of those seeking to implement self-determination in an exclusivist and statist sense.

We are convinced that the TPLF/EPRDF’s policy of aspiring to indefinitely remain in power as a vanguard party, which serves as the sole guarantor of “revolutionary democratic unity” while practically subverting the exercise of democracy and federalism is unjust and unsustainable. In fact, this course could culminate in the type of horrendous bloodshed that took place in the aftermath of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

We are similarly convinced that the aspiration to revive the pre-1991 policy of working to achieve upward homogenization by forging Ethiopia’s diverse communities into a single Amharic-speaking nation through coercive cultural and linguistic assimilation is unlikely to be realized even with major bloodshed. This approach, rather than instituting democracy, would further exacerbates inter communal conflicts and thereby becoming antithetical to harmonious coexistence.

Contrary to their lofty pronouncements, the elites that succeeded in ruling Ethiopia to date are fundamentally the same in treating all the inhabitants of the country, including the people, from which they originate, as mere subjects rather than citizens and stakeholders in state affairs. The refusal to recognize in principle and uphold in administrative practice the citizenship rights of all Ethiopians, foremost among which is the right to freely participate in determining how the state is structured and governed, sits at the center of the political contention in Ethiopia.

The elite groups that have ruled Ethiopia to date, despite being locked in a fierce rivalry and antagonism, are also united in presuming that they have the right to set the conditions that members of other societies have to fulfill in order to participate in the country’s political life.

One of the conditions set by the previous dominant elite is the disavowal of the language and cultural rights of non-Amharic speakers in exchange for their individual rights and liberties while the current ruling elite is violating the individual rights and freedoms of these societies while pretending to uphold their cultural and linguistic rights. Taking all of the above into consideration we here under propose and struggle for the following principles and process that would usher in a new era Ethiopia’s history.

On Structuring Ethiopia as a Federation

We start from the simple premise that the post-1991 policy of structuring Ethiopia as a federation of its diverse nations is a move in the right direction. The adoption of this policy is attributable neither to the ill-intensions nor generosity of the TPLF but became mandatory as a response to the mounting pressures of the struggles for self-determination by the Oromo and other oppressed nations.

The OLF played an active role in proposing the restructuring of Ethiopia into a multinational federation as a means to end the injustices stemming from the imperial character of the Ethiopian state. Unfortunately, implementing a genuine federal order completely contradicted the present ruling elite’s aspiration of emerging and permanently remaining as a new dominant group by simply stepping into the shoes of those that it replaced. We now stand for correcting the aberrations resulting from the abuse of the federation as a policy of domination by the present ruling elite.

Federations serve the purpose of facilitating the simultaneous exercise of self-rule and shared-rule and become necessary in order to reconcile unity with diversity. In the present political dispensation, however, communities exercise neither self-rule nor shared-rule but have been enduring the TPLF/EPRDF’s tyrannical rule for more than two decades. The ruling party directly and centrally micro-manages all communities by pre-selecting its surrogates that the people are then coerced to “elect” at elections that are neither free nor fair. Ending this charade by enabling all communities to elect their representatives in fair and free elections is the only way of finally putting Ethiopia on a path to democracy, stability, peace,  justice, and sustainable development.

On the Struggle for Self-Determination

The official title of Ethiopia has gone from the Empire of Ethiopia to the People’s Democratic Republic and to the current one of Federal Democratic Republic. Despite some of the changes that accompanied these name-changes, the custodians of the state behave as if the country is their imperial inheritance. Consequently, the struggle for self-determination by the Oromo and other oppressed nations remains legitimate.

On the Exercise of Self-Determination

We aspire to build on the positive aspects of Ethiopia’s current federal set-up. However, to make the simultaneous exercise of self-rule and shared-rule possible it is necessary to remove the procedural and substantive shortcomings that stand in the way of democracy and federalism.

This can be accomplished by exercising self-determination in a multidimensional fashion whereby subject nations, in due course, freely elect delegates to their respective state and central constitutional assemblies. When this process is completed, the present “holding together” type of bogus federalism will be transformed into a genuine “coming together” variety.

On the Issue of Unity

There are those who perceive themselves as the sole defenders and definers of Ethiopian unity. We reject such a stand since the essential precondition for unity is the emergence of a community of empowered citizens. As we have witnessed for more than a century, invoking a common history, culture or language has not guaranteed unity.

We similarly reject the present ruling party’s presumption that it serves as the sole embodiment and defender of the so-called “revolutionary democratic unity.” Such a system has ended in disaster elsewhere. We also disagree with the ruling party’s illusory expectation that the promotion of economic development would serve as an alternative source of unity in the absence of democratic participation.

Consequently, we propose and struggle for the alternative of deliberately forging constitutional patriotism by inaugurating and entrenching societal commitment to their shared and separate political institutions as the more promising and enduring uniting factor.  We believe that it will be this commitment that will bind the diverse nations into a united political community willing to protect these institutions from internal and external enemies.

On Citizenship Rights

In order for the present subjects of the Ethiopian state to be transformed into empowered citizens, all their citizenship rights must be recognized and respected. In situations where the simultaneous exercise of self-rule and shared-rule needs to be upheld, citizenship also needs to be entrenched at both the national homeland and federal levels. The bundle of rights that make such a layered enjoyment of citizenship is as follows:

Civic rights; that is, the freedom and inviolability of the person, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, equality before the law and prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, origins, nationality, ethnicity, religion, etc.

Political rights; that is, the right to vote and stand for public office, as well as freedom of assembly, association, and information.

Social rights; that is, the right to work, equality of opportunity, entitlement to health services, provision of free education of a high standard to the extent that the resources of the country allow.

Cultural and language rights; the right to take pride in the redemptive aspects of one’s culture, the right to publicize one’s particular history and the right to use one’s language for education, administration, commerce, and the provision of judicial services.

On Disentangling the Private Sphere from the Public

The elite that have dominated Ethiopia to date have fused public and private institutions in order to advance and serve their partisan and sectarian interests. This shall come to an end by turning all state institutions into the common servants of all regardless of their political allegiance and national identity:

The civil service shall be overhauled in order to end its subordination to the ruling party.

The military shall be transformed into a neutral defender of all by enacting a concordance model of civil-military relations.

The intelligence services shall not be used for monitoring the political and private activities of citizens.

Public media shall come under the supervision of a neutral public authority that oversees their work of providing education, entertainment, and information.

On Economic and Social Policy

The regime’s economic and social policies leave much to be desired. Its economic policies have exacerbated inequality, eviction from ancestral lands of indigenous populations, and environmental degradation. Its social policies have created deterioration in educational standards, health disparities and massive youth unemployment. In addition, its interference in the exercise of religious freedom has created unwarranted social tension.

The ODF stands to correct these lopsided policies and upholds inclusive, balanced and sustainable development aimed at curbing growing inequality, protecting the environment, and advancing the rights of indigenous peoples, and promoting employment. It would promote a mass education policy coupled with the development of technical knowhow and scientific progress.  The ODF would also promote a health policy integrating health education, prevention, cure and care measures. Furthermore, it respects and upholds religious freedoms and equality.

On Mobilizing Stakeholders

We believe that a country-wide movement sharing the preceding vision, principles and policies is indispensable for propelling Ethiopia forward and ending the current political paralysis. To this effect, we will exert all efforts in order to pull together as many advocates and promoters of the interests of diverse social sectors as possible in order to popularize and refine the principles and processes that would transform Ethiopia into a genuinely democratic multinational federation.

A call to all Oromo Organizations and Groups

We believe that ending more than a century old subjugation of our people should be of a paramount interest than dwelling on trivial political wrangling. The prevailing condition of our people demands the Oromo political organizations and groups pulling together our efforts to strengthen and consolidate our struggle to achieve our people’s national aspiration. Thus, we call upon all of you to join hands with us in strengthening our camp to intensify our legitimate struggle and put an end to sufferings of our people.


We call up on the ruling regime to reconsider its ultimately counterproductive policy of aspiring to indefinitely stay in power by fanning inter communal and interreligious suspicion and tension. We call on the regime to join us in articulating and implanting policies that create sustainable stability.

A call to International Community

The ODF calls on the international community and all other friends concerned with the suffering of the Ethiopian people, to stand with us in implementing our vision and proposal of transforming the Ethiopian state to bring peace and sustainable stability in Ethiopia and Horn of Africa.

Freedom and Justice for all!!

Founding Congress of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF)

March 27, 2013

March 28, 2013

Ethiopia: EPRDF Delegates Unhappy With Meles Eulogy

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:51 pm
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Delegates of the ninth convention of the ruling EPRDF party have shown their dissatisfaction over a eulogy written for their late leader, Meles Zenawi, while some were critical of the quality of its writing and completeness of the content.

Translated from Tigrigna, the eulogy was first presented to the congress of the TPLF, held in Meqelle two weeks ago, before it was presented to over 1,000 delegates at the conclusion of the ruling coalition’s convention on Tuesday, held in Bahir Dar.

The first to voice such disappointment over the organisation of the eulogy and its content structure was Meles’s widow. Elected to the political bureau of the TPLF for the second time and to the all too powerful Executive Committee of the EPRDF, Azeb Mesfin was displeased to see the eulogy incomplete.

Some of the points she argued as missed are Meles’s place, role and the contributions he made as an Editor-in-Chief of the party’s ideological organ, Addis Ra’ey. Azeb feels that the contributions Meles had made in originating the idea of forming a training facility for the rank and file, now directed by Addisu Legesse, and the manual he develop ought to be forcefully underlined.

Azeb defended her late husband’s legacy in relations to how he had handled the conflict and the subsequent war with Eritrea. Despite condemnations from his political opponents due to his heritage, Azeb told delegates that Meles had never negotiated on the national interests of Ethiopia.

“Not even for a second,” Azeb told delegates rather emphatically.

Azeb described Meles’s conduct during the war with Eritrea in the late 1990s as “extraordinary” in not showing what he had felt of the accusations, but focused on defending his beliefs and political positions regardless.

She recalled her late husband as perhaps the only leader who had earned a little over 4,000 Br a month in net salary, but fought poverty with courage and resolve, while remaining selfless.

“Meles didn’t have a bank account,” Azeb said. “He had neither an ID card nor a driving licence.”

These parts, Azeb argued, were not given their proper place in the eulogy, which was read by Hailemariam Desalegn, re-elected to chair the EPRDF twice since the death of Meles in August 2012.

Hailemariam’s re-election was fait accompli, although he was made to pass the test of contest to the office. His deputy, Demeke Mekonnen of ANDM, and Alemayehu Atomsa of OPDO, were nominated by their respective parties for the chairmanship, while leaders of the TPLF have declined to nominate their leaders, Fortune learnt.

Hailemariam has won the chairmanship with a landslide, after bagging 176 votes of the 180 Council members of the ruling party, sources in the Council disclosed to Fortune.

Although the other two contenders have received two votes each against Hailemariam, Demeke too claimed the deputy chairmanship position with significant margin, claiming 146 votes against 25 given to his contender, Fortune learnt.

Emerging as uncontested non-combatant leader of the Revolutionary Democrats since the party’s formation in the late 1980s, Hailemariam was seen endorsing the conciliatory proposition made by Addisu, who remains one of the 13 political bureau members of the ANDM but left out from the EPRDF’s Executive Committee.

Addisu has argued that the eulogy is filled with repetition, is not well organised, and suffers from losses in translation, while its structure is weak. Addisu urged delegates to let the EPRDF’s Executive Committee rewrite the eulogy before it gets adopted as the party’s official document, a proposition Hailemariam had secured its adoption by the Congress unanimously.

March 18, 2013

Ethiopia refugees being tortured in Saudi Arabia

Filed under: Ethiopia,Saudi Arabia — ethiopiantimes @ 10:48 pm
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March 12, 2013

Wabeshebelle Hotel to Semayawi Party and Prof Mesfin: ‘You can’t eat the dinner you payed for!’ | March 8, 2013

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 2:30 pm
Tags: , , ,–March-8-2013

The great Ethiopian land giveaway

Ethiopian land giveaway

By Graham Peebles

Ancestral land which for generations has served as home and source of livelihood for hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in Ethiopia is being leased out to foreign corporations on 99-year renewable contracts at nominal sums.

Agribusiness corporations

The land giveaway, or agrarian reforms as the Ethiopian government prefers to say, began in 2008 when the government, under the brutal premiership of Meles Zenawi, invited foreign countries and corporation to take up highly attractive deals and turn large areas of land over to industrial farming for the export of crops. India, China and Saudi Arabia were all courted and, along with wealthy Ethiopians, they eagerly grabbed large pieces of land at basement prices, with rates varying from 1.10 to 6.05 US dollars per hectare (ha). Comparable land in India would set you back 600 dollars per hectare.

The Oakland Institute, a US-based think tank, estimates that a total of 3,619,509 ha, has been leased out. This is land that has been made available by the forced relocation of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people under the government’s universally condemned “Villagization” progamme, which aims to relocate over 1.5 million people from their homes.

Indian corporations, split between 10 investing companies, have taken the lion’s share, acquiring around 600,000 ha concentrated in Gambella and Afar. The term “investing” implies benefits for Ethiopia, which is misleading. “Profiteering”, or “exploiting” is closer to the truth. As the Oakland Institute says, “taking over land and natural resources from rural Ethiopians is resulting in a massive destruction of livelihoods and making millions of locals [farmers and pastoralist communities] dependent on food handouts”. With small-scale farmers being evicted from their land, prices of staples such as teff, used by millions throughout Ethiopia to make bread (injera), have rocketed, increasing fourfold since 2008.

Small change, big profits 

In line with its ambitions to achieve diversity and world food dominance, Karuturi Global, the world’s largest grower of roses, leads the Indian charge, leasing 311,700 ha in Gambella. According to the international non-governmental organization GRAIN, Karuturi also wants to set up farming operations throughout eastern and southern Africa on more than one million hectares.

Almost a quarter of Gambella’s 25 million ha has been earmarked by the federal government for agricultural “development”. Karuturi, whose profits rose 55.13 per cent in the quarter ending June 2012, took its chunk without even seeing it, paying only 1.10 dollars per hectare.

In addition, Indian farmers are being sub-contracted to grow maize, cereals, palm oil and sugarcane, among other things, all destined for export to India or Europe, where companies farming in Ethiopia (and other sub-Saharan African nations), benefit from lower import duties applied to developing countries.

Another major Indian company leasing land in Gambella is the green-sounding BHO Bioproducts. Its chief operating officer, Sunny Maker, told Bloomberg in 2010 that the company plans to invest more than 120 million dollars in rice and cotton production, which by 2017 should “generate about 135 million dollars a year from sales divided equally between domestic [Indian] and international markets”. He added that the “incredibly rich fertile land” will all be “cleared within the next three years”. Cleared, yes, violently, indiscriminately and totally – villages, people, forests, woodland, all destroyed, burned, relocated, displaced, desecrated.

The government’s promise to such prized investors is that the land is handed over stripped of everything and everyone. Dissent is not allowed and, when it occurs, is dealt with brutally. As Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute, makes clear, “The repression of social resistance to land investments is even stipulated in land lease contracts; [it is the] state’s obligation to ‘deliver and hand over the vacant possession of leased land free of impediments’ and to provide free security against any riot, disturbance or any turbulent time.”

The “rich fertile land”, lovingly cultivated by the men and women who have farmed it for generations, is unlikely to be nurtured so carefully by Indian (or indeed Chinese or Saudi) corporations with their thirsty GM seeds. As Oxfam says in its report Land and Power, “investors’ short time scales may tempt them into unsustainable cultivation, undermining agricultural production”.

Distortion of development

Land is a prime asset in the commercialization of everything and everywhere, and the “rich fertile land” in Ethiopia is cheap, even by sub-Saharan African standards. Along with long-term leases, the government offers a neat bundle of carrots, including tax incentives and unrestricted export clauses, incentives which, the Oakland Institute says, “deny African countries economic benefits” from land deals that the Ethiopian regime wraps up neatly in its complete disregard for the human rights of the indigenous people.

The Oakland Institute reports that, in exchange for such attractive deals, the Ethiopian government has been extended “a 640-million-dollar line of credit … over five years to boost sugar production in the country’s Lower Omo region”. This is not a philanthropic gesture but a sales trap by India’s EXIM Bank, which stipulates that “Ethiopia must import 75 per cent of the value of the credit line in the form of Indian goods and services”.

The government-owned sugar plantations in the Lower Omo are themselves attracting a great deal of concern and criticism from human rights groups, which highlight the environmental and human damage being perpetrated. Government acts of violence and abuse, in the various land-deal regions, are justified under the overused and misleading title of “development”, a term that has been appropriated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and misunderstood and distorted by government development agencies.

More concerned with sitting at the top table and cultivating the right international allies than with doing its constitutional duty and serving the people, the Ethiopian government is in danger of giving away, and for peanuts, its “rich and fertile” land to overseas companies that have no interest in Ethiopia, it’s environment, its culture and even less its people.

Increasing hunger

Hunger and poverty stalk both Ethiopia and India. Some 12-15 million people survive on food aid in Ethiopia, which at 76 ranks bottom in the World Hunger Index.

India, which has the world’s highest number of malnourished children and where 25 per cent (around 270 million people) of the world’s hungry live, is the 65th hungriest nation in the world, below Niger and the Sudan. This is despite the fact that, according to the World Food Programme, India “grows enough food for its people”.

The commercialization of the countryside in India and Ethiopia, which is displacing large numbers of small-scale farmers and concentrating crop production in the hands of multinationals, is intensifying existing levels of hunger. Substantive agricultural reform and real development would see the army of skilled small-scale producers, with generations of local knowledge and love of the land, supported with the necessary capital and technology and given access to markets that corporations bring. Such an agrarian revolution, ethically founded, environmentally healthy and socially sustained, would build long-term food security and feed the hungry.

Soft targets, easy profits

India has no domestic need for food produced by the overseas industrial farms that are causing such far-reaching damage to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people in Ethiopia as well as to the natural environment. The trend in Ethiopia echoes what is taking place to a much greater degree in India. The government has shifted all support away from Indian farmers and is backing the transfer of land from the rural poor to large companies, causing the displacement of millions (60 million to date, according to Arundhati Roy) of indigenous people.

According to Oxfam, multinationals are targeting countries with “poor governance”, ones that “allow investors to secure land quickly and cheaply… cherry picking countries with weak rules and regulations”. Needy nations, like hungry people, make easy targets for multinational man whose pockets governments are desperate to nestle inside. The driving force behind such destructive land developments, undertaken by corporations obsessed with an insatiable desire for growth, is, as Oxfam suggests, profit and profit alone.

March 8, 2013

Ethiopia cancels foreign investment licences

The Oakland Research Institute says Ethiopia has leased lands the size of France to 10 Indian companies/Photo©Reuters


Read the original article on : Ethiopia cancels foreign investment licences | East & Horn Africa
Follow us: @theafricareport on Twitter has cancelled 330 foreign investment licences, claiming the companies had failed to implement planned projects.


The Ethiopian Investment Agency said the investors had failed to carry out various projects in different parts of the country after they were awarded licenses worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The foreign investors, including those from India, China, United Arab Emirates and neighbouring Sudan, have been affected by the move, which took effect this March.

Ethiopia said most of the affected investors have had their licences lying dormant for more than three years after the permits were awarded.

A large number of foreign companies are currently undertaking multi billion dollars investments in Ethiopia’s agricultural and mining sectors.

India and China are among the country’s top the investors, with each country counting over $4 billion in investments.

In recent months, however, The Oakland Institute – a US-based research agency- has decried the relocation of thousands of Ethiopians from their traditional prime farmlands after 600,000 hectares of land were leased to 10 Indian companies on 99 year leases.

They say the Horn of Africa country has leased lands the size of France to the Indian companies, doling out incentives that include generous tax breaks and some of the world’s cheapest land leases to the detriment of the locals.

Read the original article on : Ethiopia cancels foreign investment licences | East & Horn Africa
Follow us: @theafricareport on Twitter

March 6, 2013

Kenya:Is external software at play here to rig the election

Filed under: Kenya — ethiopiantimes @ 6:29 pm
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Ethiopia: Teff Scarce, Prices Sky High

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 6:21 pm
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The current price of the staple crop, teff, varies from 1,400 Br to 1,650 Br a quintal depending on its colour; black or red teff being the cheapest.

Grain prices inEthiopia, in general, tend to slump at this time of year, weather permitting. This year’s weather has been the best in years.

As we have learned from frequent interviews broadcast through national television, farmers have never enjoyed better yields than the current harvest season.

What, then, is the cause for the untimely rise in the price of teff?

I recently met a young economist who had just returned fromEurope. He was sitting beside me at a wedding as we waited two long hours for the wedding party to arrive. After breaking the ice, we were soon chatting about general issues.

He introduced himself as a man who has recently returned home after a long stay inFrance, working on his doctorate. He was surprised, if not perplexed, to see so many people being subjected to more than a two hour wait, sitting next to a table richly laden with a variety of food. Most were keeping away from the food by sheer prudence, whilst yearning to devour everything on the table. But our mouths were too busy talking.

Even after the wedding party arrived, accompanied by a large number of people, quite a long time passed before we were led to the buffet table. The economist was no longer a stranger to me as he picked up a slice of red teff injera and unrolled on it onto his plate, in preparation for the wot(stew) of his choice. As he did so, he told me that he grew up in an area where red teff was abundant.

Red teff is baked and eaten as a variation; placed on the table as a mere alternative. Coming from abroad, he prefers the teff he is familiar to. I told him that more and more people are consuming teff because they are now able to afford it. Some are having teff for the first time.

Unlike the general assumption of many people, Europeans do not eat much bread. They feed on a variety of nourishing items of which bread is just an insignificant part.

The economist recalled a recent address by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to members of parliament (MPs), in which he said that the price of teff was increasing because more and more people are able to buy and consume it.

March 4, 2013

Israel to investigate contraceptives to Ethiopia women

After weeks of controversy and an admittance by Israel that they were forcing, without women’s knowledge, Ethiopians to take contraceptives, the country’s health ministry announced it would establish a panel to look into the allegations that Ethiopian-Israeli women had been given contraceptive shots.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman will name the team, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday, and it will include top health ministry officials, a representative of the Ethiopian community and an independent doctor.

The investigation will look at whether the shots were given without the women’s knowledge or consent and without fully informing them of the side effects, and if they were used to reduce the number of births in the Ethiopian immigrant community.

Depo-Provera is a particularly preventative measure. A woman must only receive an injection once every three months, or four times a year, and the contraceptive works instantaneously. Several studies have shown that first year fail rate, or percentage of women who were impregnated during use of Depo-Provera, was between zero and 0.3 percent.

General Prof. Ron Gamzu, the director of the Ministry of Health, has instructed gynecologists to stop administering the contraceptive.

Israeli citizens of Ethiopian origins have faced great difficulty in Israeli society.

There was recently and anti-African immigration movement in Israel and Ethiopian Jews are often denied work and housing based on their ancestry.

The announcement comes after a major step forward for Ethiopians in Israel, as the first female Ethiopian member of the Knesset was elected with the centrist Yesh Atid party.

Pnina Tamano-Shata is a former television broadcaster as is the head of her party, Yair Lapid. Being from a family of low socioeconomic standing, Tamano-Shata maintains that Israel needs “to exhibit zero tolerance to discriminatory institutions, regardless of whether they discriminate against Ethiopians, Arabs, or anyone else.”

She further expressed her desire to support legislation that promotes equality and affordable housing, reports Ynet news.

** Creede Newton contributed to this report.

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