Ethiopia enjoys $1b World Bank’s support after 13 years isolation

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Thirteen years after donors suspended
budgetary assistance to Ethiopia, the country is to enjoy a World Bank’s
$1 billion support.
 
The World Bank will provide the money as direct budget support in the next few months.
 
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said his government’s economic and political changes for the development were paramount.
 
“This is due to the reforms taking place in the country. We will continue with dramatic transformation t any cost”.
 
Abiy also said the long-time ruling
Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition,
which controls all 547 seats in Ethiopia’s parliament, will soon prepare
for a “free and fair election” in 2020.
 
“My dream is that doubts about the ballot
box will disappear,” he said, saying the vote would not be delayed and
promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.
 
Since his election the 42-year-old has
overseen a number of changes, including restoring diplomatic ties with
neighbouring Eritrea after two decades, pledging to open up state-owned
companies to outside investment and releasing
thousands of prisoners.
 
The reforms have been praised by the
international community and attracted investors interested in one of
Africa’s fastest-growing economies.
 
Recent ethnic unrest in various parts of
Ethiopia, however, has dampened the initial jubilation and posed a major
challenge to the new prime minister.
 
“There are groups that are working in
unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country,” Abiy told
reporters. “They are triggering peoples’ emotions to this end.”
 
About 2.8 million people have been displaced by the unrest, according to the United Nations.
 
“But this didn’t happen due to the reforms,” Abiy said.
 
He said the unrest in the eastern Somali
region has calmed, but measures will be taken against former officials.
They include the region’s former President Abdi Mohammed Omar.
 
Asked about internet cuts in the region
following the unrest, an unpopular tactic widely used by the previous
government, Abiy appealed for understanding and said it might have saved
lives.
 
“But curbing access to information and
cutting the internet is not the way forward,” he added, urging youth to
use it responsibly.
 
Abiy in recent months has also welcomed a
number of once-exiled opposition figures and groups back to Ethiopia
and invited them to join in the political conversation.
 
But on Saturday he drew the line at
former military dictator Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, who overthrew the
last Ethiopian emperor, Haileselassie, in 1974 and eventually was
sentenced to life for spearheading a “Red Terror” that
killed tens of thousands of people.
 
He fled the country in 1991 as rebels, who now make up the ruling coalition, approached the capital.
 
Some Ethiopians have called on Abiy to
offer Mengistu amnesty after a rare photo of him in exile in Zimbabwe
went viral early this month.
 
“Ethiopia’s constitution clearly
stipulates the ‘Red Terror’ crimes cannot be covered under an amnesty
law,” Abiy said. “So Colonel Mengistu will not … return home. But if
the law in the future allows, that may change.”