Prime Minister addresses vital issues

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

The 2020 election, Sidama zone issue, the June 22 coup and assassination of senior party and military figures grabbed the most attention during Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s latest press conference which also skimmed over economic issues.
Right off the bat, a question was raised about a divide between the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP). He said that they are working together to benefit the country and that there have been strong statements before the recent statement between the parties but it just hasn’t been made public. Recently the two parties which created EPRDF attacked each other with statements following the coup attempt and assassination. However, Abiy said it is expected in the political game and that it was common in their previous trend. “All members of the coalition working with each other is in their own interest to do so,” he said. He went on to say that he did not have a specific date for when the four parties and affiliates would merge.
In a sign the Ethiopian politics may be democratizing one question dealt with his approval rating, which some say had gone down but he responded that it is impossible to know this as there is no data.
He argued that the support of the Diaspora for the trust fund, which is the initiative that the PM introduced a year ago to involve the Diaspora community in social development projects, should not be related with his political view and support. “They should not associate the support with me. It is their role to provide support for their country,” he said. “It should not be based on the support for me it is their duty to support their country,” he added.
The collection under the trust fund is less than the number of Diaspora abroad. The initiative targeted to build social facilities and improve the development process for different areas that lack the required facilities.
Concerning human rights, “there is no change on our stand regarding reform,” he said. “We did not change our reform plan, there is no harassment, we keep the legal process to improve human rights and the democratization process.”
To deal with people breaking the law and disturbing the peace in some parts of Ethiopia, he said that there are different actors that want to stop the reform and slow down the change. “We are working carefully and patiently to keep the rule of law that might seem that we are reluctant for the process but based on the reform it needs care,” he said.
The Prime Minister reiterated his government’s commitment for the election to take place as scheduled.
“Some are suggesting that the election should take place on schedule and others are saying it should be postponed,” he said.
According to the PM his party has talked about the election but doesn’t want to postpone it yet.
Rescheduling the election should be decided after consultations with all competing political parties and the public, he said adding that the budget allocation for the electoral board shows the government wants to hold the election in the time frame.
The PM also said that from the total hard currency earnings, the major share was transferred to the private sector for both local and foreign companies.
“Compared with the past we secured better hard currency but could not satisfy the demand,” he argued.
He stated that the demand for regional administration for Sidama, which is part of SNNP region, is their right but needs time. The board members of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia were recently assigned by the parliament. He said that besides that the board needs to analyze the administrative issues that include division of resources and other issues.
The Sidama referendum will take place as per the timetable announced by the National Electoral Board in mid November.
Regarding the June 22 coup and assassination, his government has shown a dynamic leadership to calm the case and control the situation that was targeted to damage the government structure.
“Within 24 hours of the incident the government apprehend a training manual used to recruit and train people drawn from various offices in connection with the incident. There were individuals that came from abroad to train besides providing finance,” the PM said.
Because of the incident a total of 350 people were detained from Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa and more than 120 of them have been released so far and others cases will be seen similarly.
In connection with the killing Chief of Staff General Seare Mekonnen, the suspected bodyguard is currently undergoing medical treatment for injuries he sustained.
He said that blocking the Internet should be compared with different experiences than the trend in the modern world. He argued the problem in Ethiopia, which is diverse in ethnicity, religion and other cases, and said it is not similar with the case in the US, Germany or UK. “In our case the issue is different that is the reason to cut connection but it might affect the economic activity but the priority is to save the lives of citizens than talking about economy,” he said.
“The Internet is crucial for economic development, growth and a better life but when it becomes an instrument for destabilization and circulating fake information it might be shutdown forever,” he argued.
Regarding the use of ports in Eritrea several proposal are tabled by Eritrea, according to Abiy but he did not give details.
The PM also stated that his government is working to calm inflation. Inflationary behavior has been calm in the year until May that turned to the hike path again. The PM said that the government is working to supply basic needs to keep the inflationary trend stable.
He added that the government is working to suspend the import of wheat, oil and malt by replacing local production.
He also criticized the sensational and unprofessional media operating against their profession.