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Controversy splits city Ethiopian church

Published: Dec 10, 2013 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News

Dissidents allege missing funds, bad governance, intimidation

A North End Ethiopian church has been riven by allegations of missing funds, bad governance and intimidation, and now the internal strife may end up in court.

Four dissident members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on Mountain Avenue have received letters from the church's lawyer banning them from Sunday services. In response, the dissidents, many of whom founded the local church 20 years ago, have made a formal complaint to the Canada Revenue Agency asking the CRA to investigate what they say is a board hand-picked by the priest, Aba Fikreselasie Tsegaw Terefe, who has rewritten the bylaws to give himself more power.

The dissidents, part of a group of 20, have also demanded an accounting of thousands of dollars in donations they say ended up in the priest's personal bank account.

"This is Canada. You can't do things like they did back home," said Lemma Mekonnen, who was among seven of the dissidents who sat down with the Free Press recently. "You have to be accountable. We say, 'No, what you're doing is not right.' We just don't have the stomach to keep quiet."

In a statement issued through Winnipeg lawyer Alfred Thiessen, the church's board of directors disputed all those allegations: "These false statements have all been addressed internally to the full and complete satisfaction of its membership and the congregation's support for Aba Fikreselasie Tsegaw Terefe remains steadfast."

The trouble began about a year ago when questions arose about more than $300,000 raised to build a new cathedral and multicultural centre. Progress on planning the cathedral appeared to be stalled, and some church members asked for a full accounting of the fundraising.

In its statement to the Free Press, the church's board did not respond to specific questions about the cathedral donations.

Saudi investors leave Ethiopia

Published: Dec 10, 2013 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News Business

Saudi agricultural investor has warned about the failure of Saudi agricultural investments in Ethiopia and the liquidation of businesses due to the conditions set by the [Saudi] Agricultural Development Fund (ADF) to support and lend to investors in Ethiopia.

This is not to mention the negative impact of such conditions on the process of correcting the situation of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia, including many Ethiopians. He revealed that some Saudi investors in Ethiopia have begun to sell their investments due to the impossible conditions set by the ADF for loans, in addition to the lack of facilities to export their produce to Saudi Arabia.

The head of the Saudi Agriculture Investors Association in Ethiopia, Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Shahri, told Al-Hayat that Saudi investors in Ethiopia have filed complaints to the Saudi king about the ADF conditions, which are in direct conflict with King Abdullah's Initiative for Agricultural Investment Abroad.

He also said that there are more than 400 Saudi businessmen in Ethiopia investing in the cultivation of a variety of crops, namely wheat, rice and barley. He added that the association was established to introduce investors … and show them the best places for agriculture, where water is abundant. The association also provides translation services, investment management and communicates with the competent authorities in Ethiopia. When it was first established, the association had 10 members, whose number increased to reach 60 agricultural investors.

Shahri also said that Saudi investors in Ethiopia began work in 2008, following the king’s Initiative for Agricultural Investment Abroad. The size of Saudi investments in the agricultural sector in Ethiopia is currently estimated at 13 billion riyals [$3.47 billion].

Moreover, he stated that the investment environment inside Ethiopia differs from one place to another, as some areas are very weak in terms of infrastructure. In certain places, investors contributed to building roads, transportation means and bridges for farmers, since the country is riddled with rivers. He confirmed that investing in Ethiopia helped the Ethiopian people, as it created job opportunities. Ethiopian workers in some small farms number more than 1,500 for a season. Ethiopians have also received training to use modern equipment, machinery and techniques relating to the agricultural sector.

Tedros Adhanom (PhD) was a darling of the west

Published: Dec 10, 2013 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News Politics

Serving as a Minister of Health, Tedros Adhanom (PhD) was a darling of the west, gossip recalled. He has a disarming personality, unlike many of the administration’s officials who struggle to package themselves beyond their largely perceived individuality of a cadre with a seemingly scripted rhetoric. Most diplomats based in Addis find him easily accessible, pleasant to talk to, and energetic to change things for the better, gossip observed.

Indeed, one of the oldest institutions in Ethiopia has changed so much during his tenure as a Health Minister; it is now a poster-child of success cited by global development gurus at the corridors of international conferences from the United States to Europe and from Africa to Asia.

Critics may still be delighted in pointing out to the wide disparity among Ethiopia’s different regional states. Nonetheless, his mark in the nation’s accomplishments in reducing child mortality, far ahead of the conclusion of UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2015, remains a shining star in helping a taunted image of a nation as helplessly poor and famine stricken change to the recent narratives of a land in renewal.

Moving onto the foreign service, Tedros’s style of diplomacy with openness captured the imagination of the nation’s youth who are active on the social media, gossip observed. His lead among his peers in the administration, openly engaging tens of thousands of tweeters on daily basis, remains a fascination to many of his fans, while his style neutralized even those ardent critics of the government he serves.

Unlike the leader they all adore – Meles Zenawi has had 21,350 followers on Twitter – majority of the leaders in the Revolutionary Democratic camp are not social media enthusiastic, gossip learnt. Neither are any of their political opposition digital savvy.

Of those with a presence there though, it is Tedros who leads with 15,709 followers, followed by Hailemariam Desalegn (who incidentally forgot to update his profile which still has him as Deputy Prime Minister) at 5,752; Kesetebrehan Admasu (PhD), minister of Health at 3,526; Alemayehu Tegenu, minister of Energy & Water Resources, at 2,444; and Zenebu Tadesse, minister of Women, Children & Youth Affairs, at 643.

Israel Follows Saudi Arabia to Demand Deportation of Ethiopians

Published: Dec 10, 2013 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News Politics

Unlike those deported from Saudi, these migrants could get a total of 35m Br in compensation

As Ethiopians removed from Saudi Arabia continue filing back into the country, Israel is also planning to deport 500 Ethiopians, possibly as early as January 2014.

Some 60,000 migrants from different African countries – particularly Eritrea and Sudan, which makes up the lion’s share at some 90 pc of the total – have entered Israel in recent years through the Sinai Peninsula. This has led to fears that the Jewish character of the country of 7.8 million is being threatened, as was stated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech in May 2012.

In order to assuage those concerns, the country is embarking on a drive to remove the undocumented migrants, which it calls ‘infiltrators’, with incentives designed to encourage voluntary departures. These include 3,500 dollars in compensation for each migrant, in addition to free plane tickets and health care.

For Ethiopians, deportation is to happen within a short period of time, Fortune has discovered from the Ethiopian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“The deportation will happen in the near future. That is a given,” said  Hilawei Yosef, Ethiopian ambassador to Israel, speaking on the phone to Ambassador Dina Mufti, spokesperson to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who called him from the Ministry here in Addis Abeba to get answers to Fortune’s questions.  “But, at least they are well-protected and safe, unlike those from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The operation will probably begin as of January next year, according to the Embassy.

Nile Talks Highlight Ethiopian, Egyptian Split

Published: Dec 9, 2013 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News Politics

CAIRO — Water ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are meeting in Khartoum to try to resolve differences over Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam. Egyptian officials remain worried the Nile project threatens the nation's security.

Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese officials hope to reach an agreement on the Renaissance Dam, which has angered Egyptian officials and brought forth repeated objections to the project.

This second round of tripartite talks follows a shift in allegiances among the three countries. Sudan has historically sided with Egypt in claiming the lion's share of the river's water and veto rights over upstream developments. But last week, Khartoum lent its support to Ethiopia's drive to complete construction.

Ethiopian officials have tried to bring Sudan and others on board by offering access to future electricity generated by the dam. They argue the project should be seen as a pan-African effort.

Yet Egypt remains worried. Ethiopia began diverting water earlier this year to fill the massive reservoir behind the dam, a multi-year effort that will lower water levels reaching Egypt.

Eritrea's Football Coach and Eight Players Defect to Kenya

Published: Dec 9, 2013 by bini Filed under: Ethiopian News Politics

The coach of the Eritrean national football team Omer Ahmed and eight of his players have disappeared in Kenya in order to defect, IBTimes UK can exclusively report.

The defection follows last week's disappearance of two members of the national team. The Red Sea Camels are in Kenya for the Cecafa Cup.

The players went into hiding in an undisclosed location in Kenya and are now seeking UNHR protection. "We are hiding because police from the Eritrean embassy are hunting us," one unnamed player told IBTimes UK. "The reason why we are fleeing is obvious and doesn't need to be repeated."

It is not the first time players from the national squad have defected abroad. Last December, 17 players and the team doctor claimed asylum in Uganda. In 2009, a dozen members of the national team disappeared in Kenya. 

"Our main concern is safety, that's why we are seeking UN protection," the player told IBTimes UK. "Once we are protected and safe, we can go to a democratic and safe country."

The men also fear backlash back at home, where they have left family and children.

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