Each week, The Messenger will summarize key stories from Ethiopia tracking economic and political developments.
Reuters: Ethiopia cuts off internet after high school exam leaks
Aaron Maasho, June 1
Ethiopia cut off internet access nationwide until at least June 8 to try to stop cheats from posting high school exam papers on social media, a government official said on Thursday.
Hundreds of thousands of students will take the tests throughout the Horn of Africa country with Grade 10 exams taking place from May 31 until June 2, and Grade 12 tests from June 5 until June 8.
Last year, exam papers were widely posted online, prompting the government to reschedule the tests, which are the main public exams for 16- and 18-year-olds to secure places at university and on vocational courses. Find the full story here.
Addis Insight: Head of Embattled Railways Corporation Quits
Anonymous, May 28
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, Getachew Betru, has resigned, reports website Addis Insight, citing The Reporter newspaper. He’d been in charge for a decade.
The Railways Corporation is under pressure for delayed projects and failing to attract financing for large chunks of a planned 5,000-kilometer network. The flagship Chinese-funded Addis Ababa to Djibouti line has been largely completed and is due to open in the next few months. Find the full story here.
Courts Convict Politician, Editor After Facebook Posts: The Reporter
Dawit Endeshaw, May 27
The opposition Blue Party condemned the sentencing of its former public relations head Yonatan Tesfaye, whose charge sheet included inciting violence on Facebook.
Yonatan, 29, was arrested in December 2015 after accusing the government of using excessive force against demonstrators in Oromia Regional state. The party, which said it supported an appeal against the conviction, added that since October’s State of Emergency over 80 of its members have been jailed. Find the full story here.
Getachew Shiferaw, editor in chief of Negere Ethiopia, was also convicted recently, in a case criticized by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. He was accused of supporting on Facebook an incident in which Abebe Gellaw, an exiled political activist, heckled the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Horn Affairs: Chinese Industrial City Risks Angering Oromo Protesters
Daniel Berhane, May 26
In a move that has the potential to reignite protests from the Oromo people, Chinese investors are pushing for a new mega industrial city to the south of the capital, reports Horn Affairs.
The proposal for the Akaki area was discussed on May 20 in the presence of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the “Ethiopia – Sichuan Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum”.
The Ethiopian International Industrial and Logistics City would cover an area a fifth of Addis Ababa’s current size. It’s proposed to have 2,000 enterprises as well as housing and educational facilities.
Despite backing the project, Hailemariam was unable to provide a schedule due to political considerations. An Addis Ababa and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan was as a rallying cry for protests in 2016. Demonstrators feared the scheme would intensify the eviction of farmers that occurred as Addis grew. After serious unrest, the government shelved the blueprint, but this proposal risks a similar backlash. Find the full story here.
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