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Hachalu Hundessa’s death exposed an unlikely anti-Abiy alliance | Ethiopia



Ethiopia has returned to normal after weeks of ethnic violence and unrest triggered by the June 29 murder of the revered Oromo singer, Hachalu Hundessa.

On July 10, Ethiopian authorities said they arrested two suspects over the killing. Both the capital, Addis Ababa, and the surrounding Oromia region – the Oromo homeland which became an epicentre of violence following the tragic murder – have returned to calm. Internet services that were shut off on the day of the killing to prevent further escalation of violence have also been reinstated.

The country’s return to normalcy is welcome news, but the devastating episode of violence that claimed more than 200 lives left permanent marks on Ethiopia’s national psyche and clearly demonstrated that the nation’s ethnic faultlines have not been fully mended.

During the violence, scores of innocent Ethiopians were murdered for the sole “crime” of belonging to a certain ethnic group, mostly Amhara. Homes, businesses and vehicles belonging to Ethiopians from various ethnic and religious backgrounds were destroyed. In Shashemene, a diverse and beautiful town located at the heart of the Oromia region, even school buildings were burned to the ground.

The question now facing Ethiopia is whether this most recent recurrence of ethnic violence is going to hinder the country’s long-awaited transition to democratic governance.

Since his rise to power in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, national unity, solidarity and social justice in Ethiopia. He achieved some success in easing the tensions between Ethiopia’s many  ethnic groups. He introduced new schemes to elevate the economy and ambitious plans to overcome environmental challenges. The prime minister also created several governmental commissions to work on national reconciliation and promotion of good governance.

All this helped most Ethiopians get behind Abiy’s plans for achieving sustainable national unity, but there are still many more challenges to be conquered for the country to be able to smoothly transition to democracy.

Abiy’s ethno-nationalist detractors

The violence that followed Hachalu’s tragic murder drew renewed attention to the ethno-nationalist detractors of Abiy’s government.

More importantly, it exposed the dangerous alliance The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – the political representative of the Tigray minority which dominated a coalition government for years before Abiy took office – and some radical Oromo political organisations formed to undermine the reforms that are being enacted by Ethiopia’s first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to end the country’s ethnic divisions.

After Hachalu’s murder, rather than allowing the relevant authorities to investigate the crime and punish the perpetrators, the TPLF and ethno-nationalist Oromo groups embarked on a blame game and intentionally raised tensions across the country.

By framing the heinous killing in ethno-nationalist terms and blaming entire communities as well as the federal government for the death of the young singer, these groups paved the way for a new episode of violence.

The anti-Abiy alliance between radical Oromo groups and the TPLF was in the making long before Hachalu’s killing.

After Abiy’s rise to power, several Oromo leaders, including the now-jailed leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, Bekele Gerba, openly embraced the TPLF, ignoring the group’s long history of oppressing Oromo rights and freedoms.

During TPLF’s decades-long rule, Oromos were silenced, tortured and arrested en masse, to the point that the Oromo language was dubbed “the language of prisons”.

But this painful history was all but forgotten by many Oromo leaders when Abiy emerged as a unifying leader eager to create a new political system in which no ethnic group has dominance over others. Oromo leaders who expected Abiy, himself an ethnic Oromo, to fight solely to expand Oromo influence over the federal government were disappointed by his policies aimed at achieving national reconciliation.

While the TPLF took a stance against the new prime minister to avoid losing all of its past powers and privileges, Oromo groups that are more interested in securing power for themselves than unifying the nation also positioned themselves against Abiy. Their shared desire to undermine the new prime minister led these two erstwhile enemies to join forces.

Hachalu himself had acknowledged and criticised this new-found alliance before his death. In his last interview with the now-banned Oromia Media Network, Hachalu implicitly criticised links between opposition Oromo leaders and the TPLF, stating “one thing I know for certain is that the Oromo people have defeated TPLF and brought our current leaders to power”. He had also asserted that any Oromo political group’s collaboration with the TPLF should be viewed as a betrayal of the Oromo struggle for equality and political freedoms.

The actions of the Oromo-Tigrayan alliance against Abiy’s government had raised concerns about renewed ethnic violence in Ethiopia for the first time in May when the parliament announced its decision to postpone the general elections that were scheduled to take place in August due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TPLF officials criticised the federal government’s decision and announced their intention to hold an election in the Tigray region in a clear attempt to undermine Abiy’s authority. Abiy’s Oromo opponents also strongly criticised the decision to postpone the election. Oromo political activist and Oromia Federalist Congress member Jawar Mohammed, for example, asserted in an op-ed in Addis Standard that Ethiopia will not have a legitimate government after September 30 – the day that should have marked the end of the current government’s tenure.

Jawar Mohammed has a lot of influence over Oromo youth. His vocal opposition to the government’s decision to postpone the election, coupled with the TPLF’s apparent refusal to follow the federal government’s guidance on the matter, raised concerns that the anti-Abiy stance of the two groups may eventually lead to renewed ethnic strife in the country.

The violence that followed Hachalu’s murder clearly demonstrated the threat this new-found Oromo-Tigrayan alliance poses to Ethiopia’s democratic prospects. If Abiy fails to successfully counter the incendiary rhetoric utilised by these groups, there is indeed a chance that Ethiopia may experience more bloodshed as the date of the postponed election nears.

All is not lost

The TPLF and some Oromo political groups’ opposition to Abiy’s democratic reform agenda is undoubtedly a concern, but the young prime minister has not yet lost the battle to create a political system in which all Ethiopians are equally represented and heard.

Abiy came to power on the back of widespread Amhara and Oromo protests triggered by the TPLF’s decades-long marginalisation of the two ethnic groups. Once Abiy took over the country’s leadership with a promise to bring all Ethiopians together, however, the country’s other marginalised ethnic groups, such as the Somalis, also joined in the efforts for democratisation and supported the new government.

Therefore, although Oromo and Amhara protests are often credited for paving the way for much-needed political, democratic and economic reforms that Abiy enacted in his first two years in power, almost all Ethiopian ethnic groups played a role in getting the country on the road to democratisation.

Acknowledging this fact and understanding that reforms should serve not any single group but all Ethiopians, Abiy refused to give in to the ethno-nationalist demands of his detractors and continued on the path to democratisation.

This does not mean Ethiopia’s prime minister did not encounter any challenges, or experience any failures, during his first term in power. Back in April 2019, I myself expressed concerns over Abiy’s failure to address rising ethnic tensions and violence in Ethiopia. Fortunately, in the year that followed, the prime minister managed to make significant gains against armed groups active in the country and made Ethiopia a safer place for all Ethiopians.

The devastating events of the past month, however, revitalised concerns over the Abiy administration’s ability to ensure the safety of Ethiopians and the stability of the nation.

Nevertheless, Abiy can still deliver on his promises of democratisation and reconciliation as long as he stands strong against the ethno-nationalist demands of both the TPLF and his Oromo opponents. By engaging citizens to address the issues between different communities through dialogue rather than violence, and utilising transitional justice mechanisms to heal wounds and offer meaningful reconciliation, Abiy can ensure his detractors are not successful in deepening ethnic divides, and he can pave the way for all communities to peacefully co-exist in a united Ethiopia.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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