Ethiopia cautioned over ‘forced return’ of displaced persons

Two groups have cautioned the Ethiopian government against what they say are forced return of internally displaced people to unsafe homelands in parts of the country. The Crisis Croup and Human Rights Watch, HRW, have voiced concerns after the latest round of returns which has been put at over a million and which the government has justified. William Davison, senior Ethiopia analyst at the International Crisis Group told Reuters: “There is a risk of further violence that stems from the very ambitious return targets.” “The problem is there may be lingering resentment and disputes over land and property if adequate work has not been done to assess the situation for returnees and ensure relations have improved,” he said. For his part, HRW’s Ethiopia and Eritrea Researcher, Felix Horne, criticised the forced returns stressing that the said areas were unsafe and the PM’s public relations efforts could not change that. “The only thing that will hurt Ethiopia PM’s image more than having the most new conflict related IDPs globally is forcibly returning those IDPs to unsafe areas. No Gedeo we’ve spoken to believes West Guji is safe for return yet. PR visits won’t change that.” United States-based Refugees International sounded a similar caution in a statement this month in response to what it called the government’s “forced returns:” “Pushing people to return to their home communities prematurely will only add to the ongoing suffering,” the statement read in part. On Thursday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the company of Peace Minister Muferiat Kamil visited the the Gedeo and West Guji areas in southern Ethiopia. It was his second such visit in the wake of the displacement crisis that happened under his watch. The area was the site of brutal violence last year — Reuters spoke in August to the family of a coffee farmer whose limbs were chopped off by a mob of young men. About 700,000 people fled ethnic violence in the area last year. Abiy’s delegation also provided the communities with building materials to rebuild their homes — razed last year during the violence — and the prime minister planted seedlings, according to a statement from his office. PM Abiy Ahmed together with ShimelisAbdisa, SNNPR President Million Matiwos and Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil net & talked to Guji and Gedeo community members that recently returned to the area. More: https://t.co/NUJcilm6Am#PMOEthiopia pic.twitter.com/BXzDvPW6Ni— Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (PMEthiopia) May 30, 2019 Ethnic violence, a blot in Abiy’s reform agenda Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April 2018, has won international plaudits for announcing bold reform pledges, but the blossoming of political freedoms over the past year has been accompanied by a surge in ethnic violence. Rivalries between ethnic groups — once repressed by a state with an iron fist — have exploded into the open, and the United Nations says 2.4 million Ethiopians are currently displaced due to these conflicts. More people were displaced last year in the Horn of Africa nation than in any other country, according to data published this month. Earlier this month the government announced it was scaling up its plan to return displaced people to their homes as soon as possible. Abiy had in February 2019 reported the return of over a million people to their homes. But months on, a report said Ethiopia had maintained its record of having the world’s biggest violence triggered internally displaced population. Concerns by aid workers An aid worker who spoke on condition of anonymity due to tensions between aid groups and the government over the plan said that displaced people “don’t have a voice” in the matter — contradicting the government’s repeated assertions. The person said that in the past two weeks the government has deployed soldiers in the Gedeo area to dismantle camps, telling people who fled violence last year in the Guji area that they must bundle up their few belongings and head home or have them destroyed. The Prime Minister’s office did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment on whether the army has been involved.

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Historic African free trade zone comes into force

The historic African free-trade zone came into force on Thursday, as the African Union celebrated making one more step toward creating a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth $2.5 trillion. “This is a historic milestone!” tweeted Albert Muchanga, AU commissioner for trade and industry. “We celebrate the triumph of bold, pragmatic and continent-wide commitment to economic integration.” Road to implementation Fifty-two of the AU’s 55 member states have signed the agreement to establish the free trade area since March 2018, with the notable exception of Nigeria, the largest economy on the continent. The African Continental Free Trade Area had been ratified by 22 countries by April 29, the requisite number for formally notifying the AU. That paved the way for it to take effect 30 days later as stipulated in its statutes. Some of Africa’s other economic heavyweights, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa, are among the 24 nations that have formally ratified it. In the last month, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso joined the fold. The agreement’s operational phase is to be launched on July 7 at an AU summit in Niger. Challenges ahead There are still a number of outstanding issues to be resolved, including arbitration measures, certifying the origins of goods, tackling corruption and improving infrastructure. The AU envisions the free trade zone, once fully implemented, driving economic integration and spurring investment within the continent. It hopes the progressive elimination of tariffs will help boost intra-Africa trade by 60 percent within three years. At present, only 16 percent of trade by African nations is with continental neighbours. Advocates for the trade zone say it will help develop African economies long driven by a focus on resource exploitation, and provide a platform for negotiating with markets beyond the continent. But critics say poor infrastructure and a lack of diversity between the various economies could throw up barriers to this envisioned integration. The African Union hopes a progressive elimination of tariffs will help boost intra-Africa trade by 60 percent by 2022. AFP

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Comorian President pardons 17 jailed opponents

The Comorian President Azali Assoumani on Wednesday pardoned 17 jailed opposition figures a day after taking office. Among those freed in the presidential decree include Hassane Ahmed el-Barwane, Secretary General of the main Juwa opposition party. He was serving 7 years in prison for assaulting a soldier. “Among them, there were those who were sentenced to life imprisonment. Their sentences were reduced to 20 years of imprisonment. For the others, their sentences ranged from 15, 10, 15, 20 years. They were totally pardoned but the pardon measures do not concern those who were judged in absentia”, said Comorian presidential spokesperson, Mohamed Ismail. Those whose life sentences were reduced to 20 years include, writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui and Bahassane Ahmed Said, brother of former vice president Djaffar Ahmed Said, who sought refuge in France. Fahardine Mohamed is lawyer for the journalists freed. “We will give opinions later, now we are just happy and we share it with you journalists. It is a joy to you especially and we’ll tell you all we have to say in the coming days. For today, we have no comments,” he said. All those pardoned were jailed for up to 20 years on charges linked to unrest following a controversial constitutional referendum to extend the president’s term last year. Azali took the oath of office on Sunday, two months after his controversial re-election. He pledged “appeasement measures” to quell accusations of election fraud. AFP

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South Africa: Ramaphosa’s cabinet announcement delayed

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa is still holding consultative meetings ahead of a much anticipated announcement of his cabinet on Wednesday evening. The presidency had said Ramaphosa would announce a new cabinet at 8:00 p.m. local time (1800 GMT), two weeks after the ANC saw its majority cut in national elections. Ramaphosa’s narrow victory in an ANC leadership election in late 2017, when he replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma, is seen as continuing to constrain his ability to push through reforms as factions inside the party jostle for influence. Ramaphosa is expected to announce a smaller cabinet, with several appointments, notably to the finance, energy and mining ministries and the deputy presidency — likely to be closely scrutinised. REUTERS

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TOO GOOD

A lot of English football fans are not happy to see Liverpool doing well and in the title race, so some of them took to twitter to express their dislike of the club. Thus, hashtag #AnyoneButLiverpool emerged and it soon went viral. Fans from a number of teams are coming together because they really don’t want Liverpool to win the

The post TOO GOOD appeared first on Soccer 360 Magazine.

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