20 April 2017

Ethiopia: Enhanced EHRC, OFAG Activities Deep Renewal Outcomes - Hailemariam

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said the enhanced activities of the democratic Institutions in discharging their respective responsibilities is an outcome of the in-depth renewal initiative.

The premier attributed the outcome to the institute of the Ombudsman, Ethiopian Humans Rights Commission (EHRC) and Office of the Federal Auditor General (OFAG).

In a press conference he held at his office yesterday, he emphasized that as part of the deep renewal the government has been exerting efforts to capacitate democratic institutions.

EHRC's investigation and presentation of its full scale assessment of the recent unrest to the House of Peoples' Representatives is among the positive outcomes of the deep reform, he noted.

The commission stated that significant damage has occurred on both civilians and security personnel including loss of life, injury and property damage, according to the premier.

Further, he added the activities of the Auditor General has been singling out government organizations with financial mismanagement and reporting to the concerned body has ensured accountability.

According to the Premier, in its reshuffling move the government has appointed new leadership at all levels based on merit and ethical conducts with the participation of the public.

The initiative, which also incorporates civil servants, is bringing about encouraging results. However, he acknowledges that there are still areas where the deep renewal did not bring about significant change.

Discussions are also well underway with civil societies and opposition political parties to up scale the multi-party democratic system and widen up the political space, according to him.

According to the study conducted by the government, some 85 per cent of the public believe that youth unemployment is one of the major challenges.

The premier pin pointed that this is the very reason for his government to budget 10 billion Birr from the treasury in addition to other funds. "This sum would not solve the problem ultimately but it would flicker a ray of hope for the youth."

Foreign currency and export

Hailemariam noted that remittance and foreign direct investment as major source of foreign currency showed 10 and 24 per cent increment respectively from same time the previous year.

Despite the poor performance of export compared to last year, it would not significantly harm the import trade, he said, adding that the export earning covers only 15 per cent of the country's import expenses.

Yet, the premier acknowledged that reliance on other sources than export is not healthy and the government is working to change this reality.

As about 75 per cent of the country's export commodities are agricultural products with low value, he noted the solution is structural transformation of the economy to improve manufacturing export and the construction of industrial parks.

The shortage of foreign currency would continue to be a challenge in the foreseeable future as the demand increases with the growing economy.

In diplomatic realm

Regarding Ethio-Egypt relations, the premier stated: "In various diplomatic discussions, the Egyptians promised to take actions on anti-peace groups and media outlets, based in Egypt, bent on destabilize Ethiopia."

In connection to Ethio-Eritrea relations, he said despite the efforts Ethiopia together with IGAD has been exerting to bring durable peace in the region and normalize relations with the two peoples, the State in Eritrea has been devoting on poisoning regional peace and stability.

"A study has already been conducted to ensure lasting peace in the region and submitted to the pertinent body for approval, which would be publicized after endorsement," he added.

Regarding the growing activities of Gulf countries across the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, the premier reaffirmed that there is no hidden agenda behind. "Red Sea is a strategic area where ISIS, al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda found it a hotbed." As to the premier, some relate these anti-peace activities with only Eritrea and Somalia but we have to look at the bigger picture."

Ethiopia's policy clearly stipulates working for mutual interest with these countries but circumstances matter.

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