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Ethiopian ruling party, opposition agree to reform electoral system   

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia’s ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and 15 opposition parties agreed on Friday to reform the country’s electoral system and scrap the simple majority vote system.

Under the new electoral rule, Ethiopia will have a hybrid electoral system composed of 80 percent simple majority vote system and 20 percent proportional vote electoral system.  

The two sides have been locked in discussions for months on reforming Ethiopia’s electoral law which follows simple majority vote system.

Ethiopia’s fragmented opposition parties say the simple majority system unfairly favors EPRDF and marginalizes the diverse voices of opposition supporters.

EPRDF and opposition parties also agreed to increase the federal parliamentary seats from the current 547 to 660 to accommodate the electoral system changes.

In the last national election in May 2015, EPRDF and allied regional parties swept all 547 federal parliamentary seats, sparking criticism against the simple majority voting system.



Ethiopia nabs rebels over suspected bomb plot

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia’s security forces announced on Wednesday they apprehended two members of an outlawed rebel group Ginbot 7 who were preparing bomb attacks in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara regional state.

A joint statement by the Joint-Anti Terrorism Task Force and Ethiopia Federal Police said the suspects were caught with four grenades as they were preparing to attack entertainment places in Bahir Dar city, the capital of Amhara regional state.

The statement went on to blame Ethiopia’s arch rival Eritrea for the bomb plot, accusing it of supporting terror plots in various parts of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia alleges Patriots-Ginbot 7 and other rebel groups are supported by Eritrea. Eritrea in turn accuses Ethiopia of supporting Eritrean rebel groups and running an international campaign to isolate the Red Sea nation.

Eritrea had been a province of Ethiopia from 1952-1993, until a bitter 30-year armed struggle followed by a referendum in 1993 gave Eritrea independence from Ethiopia.

However, the two nations relapsed into conflict five years later in a bloody border war between 1998-2000 that left an estimated 70,000 people dead from both sides.

Since then, the common border between Eritrea and Ethiopia has had an uneasy calm punctuated occasionally by sporadic armed flare-ups.


Ethiopia to repatriate residents displaced by Oromia-Somali conflict

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government will repatriate tens of thousands of people displaced by recent conflicts along the boundary of Somali and Oromia regional states, an official said on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists, Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner of Ethiopia National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRC), said the repatriation will go hand in hand with a peace conference aimed to build trust and confidence of residents and officials from both regional states.

Speaking exclusively to Xinhua in October, Negeri Lencho, Minister of Ethiopia Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO), said Ethiopia’s defense forces and police will be deployed in conflict hotspot areas along the 1,500-km-long border between the two regional states to keep peace and aid the repatriation.

Ethiopia’s biggest regional states Oromia and Ethiopia Somali have been locked in a dispute over the delineation of their common boundary for almost two decades.

A referendum in October 2004 was supposed to demarcate the boundary between the two regional states, but its implementation has been stalled ever since with both sides accusing each other of non-compliance with the referendum results.

Heavy clashes along the Oromia-Somali boundary in September left scores of people dead and tens of thousands displaced.


Germany pledges 246 USD to support Ethiopia’s development

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia and Germany on Friday signed a summary record agreement worth 212.6 million euros (about 246 U.S. dollars) to support Ethiopia’s development.

The agreement, which will be applied as a framework shaping the development cooperation between the two countries during 2017-2020, focuses on agriculture, education and biodiversity.

Signing the agreement on Friday, Admasu Nebebe, Ethiopian Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, said the East African country will give due emphasis in the agricultural sector, as it remains the source of livelihood and employment for the majority of Ethiopians.

According to the minister, the agreement signed will assist rural poverty reduction, food security improvement and conservation and sustainable use of the country’s huge biodiversity resource.

The agreement will also support the vaccination program, upgrading the water supply in refugee camps and refugee host communities in the country, it was noted.


Kenyan police nab 132 Ethiopians for illegal stay

By Chris Mgidu NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police on Friday interrogated 132 Ethiopian nationals after arresting them in a security operation at a residential estate in Nairobi.

Area police commander Joseph Gichangi said the illegal immigrants had sneaked into the country from Moyale by road and were in the process of being smuggled to South Africa.

“The 132 suspects were arrested on Friday afternoon in a residential house in Mihango. We don’t know how they passed many police roadblocks without being detected,” Gichangi told journalists in Nairobi.

He said during the sting operation, the security officers arrested two Kenyan nationals profiled as transporters in the illegal human trafficking trade.

A similar operation carried out on Oct. 6 in Mihango led to the arrest of another 67 Ethiopian immigrants.

Police and immigration officials have decried increased cases in which Ethiopian nationals are nabbed in the country while on transit to Tanzania or South Africa.

Police face difficulties in dealing with the illegal immigrants as they can not speak in Swahili and English.

On several occasion the immigrants were found locked up in congested rooms in Kenyan towns and cities but the trade continues to thrive even as many were repatriated.

The Kenyan authorities have blamed the vastness of the region for the runaway influx of foreigners into Kenya through Moyale on Kenya-Ethiopia borders.



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