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  • Ethiopia Travel Warning - U.S. Passports & International Travel

    The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Ethiopia due to ongoing unrest that has led to hundreds of deaths, thousands of arrests, as well as injuries and extensive property damage, especially in Amhara and Oromia States. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services in many parts of the country is limited by the current security situation.

    The Government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency effective October 8, 2016. An October 15 decree states that individuals may be arrested without a court order for activities they may otherwise consider routine, such as communication, consumption of media, attending gatherings, engaging with certain foreign governments or organizations, and violating curfews. The decree prohibits U.S. and other foreign diplomats from traveling farther than 40 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa without prior approval from the Government of Ethiopia, which severely affects the U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens. The full text of the decree implementing the State of Emergency is available on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

    Internet, cellular data, and phone services have been periodically restricted or shut down throughout the country, impeding the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. You should have alternate communication plans in place, and let your family and friends know this may be an issue while you are in Ethiopia. See the information below on how to register with the U.S. Embassy to receive security messages.

    Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, continuously assess your surroundings, and evaluate your personal level of safety. Remember that the government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations, and that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can be met with a violent response or turn violent without warning. U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should monitor their security situation and have contingency plans in place in case you need to depart suddenly. 

    U.S. government personnel are restricted from personal travel to many regions in Ethiopia, including Oromia, Amhara, Somali and Gambella states, southern Ethiopia near the Ethiopian/Kenyan border, and the area near the Ethiopia/Eritrea border. Work-related travel is being approved on a case-by-case basis. U.S. government personnel may travel to and within Addis Ababa without restrictions. For additional information related to the regional al-Shabaab threat, banditry, and other security concerns, see the Safety and Security section of the Country Specific Information for Ethiopia

    Due to the unpredictability of communication in the country, the Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to register your mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). 

    For further information:

     

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  • It is also illegal to watch TV stations such as ESAT and OMN and other similar radio stations - BBC Africa

    A UN memo to staff in Ethiopia appears to give details of the likely measures to be imposed during the six-month state of emergency declared by the Ethiopian government last week. It quotes the Minister of Defence as a source. 
    The measures mentioned include a ban on using social media to communicate with "outside forces" and a ban on watching certain TV channels.

    Here are some of the points in more detail:

    • For their own safety, Diplomats are not allowed to travel more than 40 km beyond Addis.
    • A curfew from dusk until dawn was also imposed on major projects, factories, farms and governmental institution. Nobody can enter these institutions from 18:00 to 06:00. If anyone violates these rules, security forces are ordered to take the necessary measures.
    • Political parties are also banned from issuing press statements inciting violence.
    • Religious leaders are not allowed to make political statements on religious gatherings or
    • Demonstrations in educational institutions are forbidden.
    • Security forces are not allowed to ask for leave and cannot resign from their positions.
    • It is also banned to communicate with outside forces using any means of communication including Facebook or any other social media.
    • It is also illegal to watch TV stations such as ESAT and OMN and other similar radio stations.

     

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  • UN Warns of Possible 'Large-scale' Election Violence in DRC - VOA News

    The U.N.’s top diplomat in the Democratic Republic of Congo warned Tuesday the country has “entered a period of extreme risk to its stability,” as the electoral crisis deepens.

    “The electoral crisis has become a constitutional crisis, with deepening political polarization and no immediate resolution in sight,” Maman Sambo Sidikou, the head of the U.N. mission in DRC told the Security Council.

    “Actors on all sides appear more and more willing to resort to violence to achieve their ends, while the space for constructive political activity has shrunk further still,” he said. “If this trajectory continues, I believe large-scale violence is all but inevitable,” he warned.

    Congo’s constitution limits the president to two terms, which President Joseph Kabila will complete on December 19. With barely two months until then, the
    Independent National Electoral Commission has yet to set the election date, citing technical difficulties.

    Meanwhile, in May, the country’s constitutional court ruled Kabila can legally remain in office until his successor is in place. The opposition disagrees with this ruling.

    “A draft electoral timetable was proposed by the independent national electoral commission,” DRC’s U.N. Ambassador Ignace Gata Mavita wa Lufuta told the council.

    He said the national dialogue participants would agree a date for presidential elections, combined with legislative and provincial ones.

    In September, the president began a national dialogue that the majority of opposition parties have boycotted.

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  • Ethiopia's Candidate to Lead the World Health Organization Contracts Foot-in-Mouth Disease - Global Voices

    Ethiopia's candidate for Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, shocked many observers when he displayed a complete lack of knowledge about global health strategies during a candidates’ forum on November 2, 2016. Though Adhanom has served in the Ethiopian government as both minister of health and foreign affairs, he failed to answer a basic question about his claims that he is running a campaign on a framework that promotes the health needs of the developing world.

    “Sorry, the question is not clear, can you clarify?” he answered, when a representative from Brazil asked him to explain why he claims to represent the developing world, when the agenda he advocated in his presentation espoused the health agenda of the developed world. Instead of answering the question, Adhanom tried to engage in a conversation with the Brazilian representative, apparently hoping to grasp what the question meant. Awkwardly, the moderator intervened, trying to help Adhanom understand the question.

    Adhanom also stumbled with another question at the same forum, when asked about the technical cooperation of WHO member states:

    This embarrassing performance could hurt Adhanom’s current political campaign for the post of head of the global health body. Recently, he was relieved of his ministerial duties in the Ethiopian government, following a cabinet reshuffle. During his presentation last week, Adhanom said the Ethiopian government replaced him with a new foreign minister, so he could focus on the campaign.

    Though he's endorsed by African Union, Adhanom has been under continuous assault from prominent members of Ethiopian civil society and opposition groups, who argue that his ties with the Ethiopian regime should disqualify him from leading WHO. These groups have also started an online petition.

    When Adhanom launched his campaign in April 2016, Ethiopia was beset by anti-government protests. Citing the government's violent actions against protesters, 20 Ethiopian political and civic organizations signed a letter declaring Adhanom unfit to lead the World Health Organization, saying he is the face of the regime.

    The letter read: “Mr. Adhanom did not lend confidence as a public health figure while he served as the Minister of Health in Ethiopia. […] His tenure as head of the Federal Ministry of Health was fraught with mismanagement and incompetence.”

    The letter refers to an audit conducted by the Office of the Inspector General, which was prompted by reports of “mismanagement of money and incompetence.” Subsequent research available on the Internet confirmed that the audit uncovered detailed evidence of financial mismanagement.

    In a separate letter, one activist outlined his reasons why Mr. Adhanom should not be allowed anywhere near the World Health Organization.

    The human rights website “Al Mariam” also offers a strong denunciation of Adhanom's WHO candidacy:

    Adhanom’s shallowness and cluelessness in matters of foreign policy and diplomacy are simply incredible.

    His public speeches and statements generally lack not only substance and coherence, but are simply nonsensical. In July 2015, Adhanom said  Ethiopia  is a democracy with one hundred percent of the vote! (Of course, so did Obama. Two “nonsenses” don’t make one bit of sense!)

    Adhanom’s diplomatic speeches are chock full of platitudes, clichés, buzzwords and hokum. He has a distinct proclivity to frame complex issues in worn out and left over phrases from the days of student activism of his late boss, thugmaster Meles Zenawi.

    Adhanom manifests little understanding of international diplomacy and appears to lack even an elementary understanding of international law, treaties and conventions.   

    Meanwhile, Adhanom has been making the case that he would bring a fresh perspective to the WHO's leadership. Other than the African Union, some pro-government diaspora groups and international figures have also backed his candidacy.

    Adhanom has relied heavily on social media to build his “brand” in Ethiopia — a country where access to social media is highly limited. Access isn't so restricted, however, that Adhanom's gaffes at the Nov. 2 forum haven't led to mockery online, where critics have enjoyed making fun of his surprising ignorance.

    On Twitter, the hashtag #NoTedros4WHO gained popularity, with many users arguing that Adhanom has disqualified himself from holding any position at the WHO.

     

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