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In an unprecedented move, a government agency has ordered the shutting down of two soft drink bottling plants and ordered the recall of the products.
The Ministry of Trade has shutdown the MOHA Soft Drinks plant in Hawassa and the East Africa Bottling plant in Dire Dawa over substandard qualities. The companies are known for their flagship products, Pepsi and Coca Cola, respectively.
Sources from the Ministry of Trade confirmed the closure. However they declined to comment on the current status of the investigations.
The plant in Hawassa, called the Hawassa Millennium Pepsi Cola plant was opened in 2007 and employs over 500 people.
“We have been informed of the process but it is too early to comment,” Tekie Berhan, communication director Ethiopian Conformity Assessment Enterprise told Fortune.
The office is responsible for conducting inspections on the two factories regarding the quality of the products.
In a letter written by the enterprise regarding MOHA’s products, the reason behind the closure was revealed as the substandard quality of the soft drinks processed by the plant.
The letter reads that samples taken on October 17, 2016 from the plants from Hawassa failed to fulfil PH Standards set by Ethiopian Standard Agency. In general, the allegation states that MOHA failed to meet the compulsory standards in soft drinks that were approved by the Agency in 2013.
The test results of Pepsi soft drinks manufactured in the Hawassa plant show that it failed the PH limit standards. The requirements state that PH values for soft drinks (aside from citrus juices) have to be 2.5. Pepsi’s samples showed 2.43.
A low PH might lead to loss of enamel and bone density.
“In addition we were told that the products contain lead chemicals beyond the standard limits,” Samuel Daregea, director for the Region’s Health & Health Related Products Quality Control Authority, told Fortune. “The results that we received showed us that Pepsi, Mirinda Apple and Mirinda Tonic failed to pass the test,” Samuel added.
WHO has identified lead as 1 of 10 chemicals of major public health concern,
In the meantime the city’s administration is collecting the products from the market. The recall also includes Mirinda Orange
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Ethiopia has never been an easy place to operate. But a six-month state of emergency, combined with internet and travel restrictions imposed in response to a wave of anti-government protests, means it just got a whole lot harder.
The government has targeted the mobile data connections that the majority of Ethiopians use to get online. Internet users have also been unable to access Facebook Messenger and Twitter, with a host of other services also rendered unreliable.
This has impacted everyone: from local businesses, to foreign embassies, to families, as well as the extensive and vital international aid community.
“Non-governmental organisations play crucial roles in developing countries, often with country offices in the capitals, satellite offices across remote regions, and parent organisations in foreign countries,” said Moses Karanja, an internet policy researcher at Strathmore University in Nairobi. “They need access to the internet if their operations are to be efficiently coordinated.”
The Ethiopian government has been candid about the restrictions being in response to year-long anti-government protests in which hundreds of people have died.
It has singled out social media as a key factor in driving unrest. Since the beginning of October, there has been a spike in violence resulting in millions of dollars’ worth of damage to foreign-owned factories, government buildings and tourist lodges across Oromia Region, initially ground zero for the dissent.
“Mobile data will be permitted once the government assesses that it won’t threaten the implementation of the state of emergency,” government spokesman Getachew Reda – who has since been replaced – told a 26 October press conference in Addis Ababa.
The Oromo are the country’s largest ethnic group, constituting 35 percent of the country’s nearly 100 million population. They have historically felt ignored by successive regimes in Addis Ababa. In August, similar grassroots protest broke out among the Amhara, Ethiopia’s second largest ethnic group. The ruling EPRDF is portrayed by opponents as a narrow, unrepresentative clique that refuses to share power.
Ethiopia is not alone in its approach to political unrest. Around the world, as countries become increasingly integrated with online technology, the more autocratic governments are blocking the internet whenever they deem it necessary.
“The trend appears to be growing because more people are going online and using the internet, often through the use of mobile connections,” said Deji Olukotun of Access Now, which campaigns for digital rights. In 2016, it documented 50 shutdowns, up from less than 20 in 2015.
“People are enjoying the freedom and opportunity that the internet provides, which enables them to organise themselves and advocate for what they want,” Olukotun told IRIN. “In response, governments are shutting down the net to stop this practice.”
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During a year of anti-government protests throughout Ethiopia, its global diaspora, particularly that in the US, has been deeply involved - and not just vocally, writes Addis Ababa-based journalist James Jeffrey.
Twitter and Facebook have been blocked since a six-month state of emergency was imposed last month as the government tries to restore order across the country's two most populous regions of Oromia and Amhara.
There are also internet blackouts, primarily targeting mobile phone data, which is how most Ethiopians get online - and is for many residents of the capital, Addis Ababa, the most frustrating effect of the security clamp down.
The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has singled out social media as playing a key role in the latest unrest which broke out in November 2015 and which resulted in millions of dollars' worth of damage across Oromia, the region where the protests began.
But internet restrictions may have less to do with silencing Ethiopians at home than with stymieing influence from abroad where those in the diaspora energetically follow and respond to events.
"The diaspora have the freedom to speak freely, assemble and organise under the constitutions and laws of the countries in which they reside," says Alemante Selassie, emeritus professor at the William and Mary Law School in the US.
"The diaspora can speak truth to power in ways that is not imaginable in their own homeland."
'Filling the void'
Ethiopia's global diaspora is estimated to be two-million strong, with the highest numbers in the US, totalling anything from 250,000 up to about one million.
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Eritrean air force pilots, named Mebrahtu Tesfamariam and Afework fissehaye, have defected on Wednesday by flying their military aircraft Zlin-143-102 to Ethiopia’s northern city, Mekelle, sources disclosed to Awramba times.
This is not the first time for Eritrean air force members to defect to the neighboring nations.
In 2012, two Eritrean military pilots secretly flew President Isaias Afewerki’s plane to Saudi Arabia where they sought political asylum. A year after this incident, three other members of the Eritrean air force have defected with their fighter jet to Saudi Arabia. In April the same year, another female Eritrean air force pilot sent by the regime to retrieve the stolen jet from Saudi Arabia herself was defected.
As no Eritrean pilot has yet made his route to Ethiopia, the pilots who defected to Ethiopia today are the first ever Eritrean air force members to make the neighboring Ethiopia a destination of their defection.
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Several people have died and many injured during a stampede after Ethiopia’s special forces fired teargas and warning shots on Sunday to disperse protesters at the annual Irreecha thanksgiving festival of the Oromia people in Bishoftu.
The Ethiopian government confirmed the deaths in a statement but did not state figures while opposition groups estimate at least 50 people dead, Reuters reports.
“As a result of the chaos, lives were lost and several of the injured were taken to hospital … Those responsible will face justice,” the government communications office stated.
The chairperson of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, Merera Gudina, told Reuters that at least 50 people were killed during the stampede while Jawar Mohammed who is the Executive Director of the Oromia Media Network based in the United States reported about 300 dead.
The Irreecha festival is an annual thanksgiving event celebrated at the sacred grounds of Lake Harsadi in Bishoftu in the Oromia region.
Among the thousands of festival participants, a number of them marched chanting anti-government slogans and their arms crossed above their heads while Ethiopian Air Force helicopters hovered above the crowd.
Local media report that the shooting and subsequent stampede occured immediately after ruling party officials were booed off when they wanted to address the crowds at the festival.
Witnesses told Africanews that the helicopter dropped teargas on the people while the police on the ground fired the shots.
Graphic images posted on social media show people lying on the ground dead while others were being helped by the security forces.
The Oromia region lies south of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and is the center of the Oromia protests last year which Human Rights Watch reported that over 400 protesters were killed.
The government disputed the figures yet hundreds remained in custody without charges after thousands of students, social media activists, and opposition party leaders and supporters were arrested.
The anti-government protests which continued in other regions including the neighbouring Amhara were held to demand fair distribution of wealth to Oromia and Amhara, which are the poorest in the country.
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Police fire tear gas at protesters during Oromia religious festival, reportedly instigating deadly stampede in Bishoftu.
A deadly stampede broke out after Ethiopian police reportedly fired tear gas to break up an ethnic Oromo protest with "several" people killed south of the capital, Addis Ababa.
There were conflicting death toll reports following the stampede on Sunday. A government statement said several had been killed in the town of Bishoftu. An AFP photographer at the scene said he saw 15-20 unmoving bodies, some of whom were clearly dead.Crowds chanted "we need freedom" and "we need justice" and prevented community elders, deemed close to the government, from delivering their speeches at a religious festival, prompting police to fire tear gas that caused the stampede.
Thousands of people gathered for the annual Irreecha festival in Bishoftu, about 40km south of the capital.
Protesters chanted slogans against the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation, one of four regional parties that make up the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has ruled the nation for quarter of a century.
Sporadic protests have erupted in Oromia region in the last two years, initially sparked by a land row and increasingly turning more broadly against the government.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, at least 500 people have been killed by security forces since the demonstrations began in November. Though protests started among the Oromo - Ethiopia's biggest ethnic group - they later spread to the Amhara, the second-most largest in the country.
Both groups say the ruling coalition is dominated by the Tigray ethnic group, which makes up only about six percent of the population.
Small protests in Oromia province initially flared in 2014 over a development plan for the capital that would have expanded its boundaries, a move seen as threatening the seizure of farmland.
The government has blamed rebel groups and dissidents abroad for stirring up the protests and provoking violence.
The government has denied that violence from the security forces is systemic, though a spokesman has previously told Al Jazeera that police officers "sometimes take the law into their own hands", pledging an independent investigation.
The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front last month rejected a United Nations request to send in observers, saying it alone was responsible for the security of its citizens.
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Police in Ethiopia's Oromiya region fired teargas and warning shots on Sunday to disperse anti-government protesters at a religious festival, triggering a stampede that caused several casualties, witnesses said.
Sporadic protests have erupted in Oromiya in the last two years, initially sparked by a land row and increasingly turning more broadly against the government. Since late 2015, scores of protesters have been killed in clashes with police.
Thousands of people gathered for the annual Irreecha festival in the town of Bishoftu, around 40 km south of the capital Addis Ababa.
Crowds chanted "we need freedom" and "we need justice", preventing community elders, deemed close to the government, from delivering their speeches at the festival.
When police fired teargas and guns into the air, crowds fled and created a stampede, some of them falling into a deep ditch nearby in the rush of people. Witnesses said they saw several casualties.
It was not immediately clear if they were dead.
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Colonel Demeke Zewdo At Court
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When Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa held his arms in an “X” as he crossed the finish line for a silver medal last month at the Rio Olympics, he says he was culminating a political protest he’d planned for months. But top Ethiopian officials say he was put up to the stunt by U.S.-based opposition groups in order to protest the government’s crackdown on demonstrations and further fuel controversial secessionist movements at home and in neighboring Eritrea.
Speaking to Foreign Policy in an exclusive interview from the living room of his suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Tuesday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said he strongly believes that groups of anti-government Ethiopians based in the United States convinced the athlete to use the Summer Games as a protest venue. He also figures they helped get him from a Rio hotel to Washington, D.C. in time for a televised press conference last week.
“It’s me who sent him to Rio for the Olympics, and we expected him to come back after winning the medal,” Hailemariam said, specifically naming members of the Oromo Liberation Front as having likely contributed to Feyisa’s protest.
“This is not the capacity of the man himself. It’s something which has been orchestrated by someone else from outside.”
The OLF did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Feyisa could not be reached for comment, but he told the Washington Post earlier this month that Oromo sympathizers helped him with his U.S. visa application.
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Tesfu Reday lives in Johannesburg for the past 6 years. He struggled in life and was able to open a small shop.
Last Wednesday, September 14, around midnight robbers came to his shop where he also lives in a small room behind. They broke the door and went it.
He asked them what they want. They were looking for money, so he gave them all he has. But they didnt stop there. They took him outside where he park his car, put him inside and tie him with the chair and then lit the car on fire.
They escaped after they did that. Our helpless brother, Tesfu Coudn't survive the fire.His body was so damaged it took time for the police to identify him. They finally did after taking DNA sample from his son, a 3 year old boy
Once his identity is released, fellow Ethiopians were able to send his body back home and we have learnt that he got buried in Addis Abeba Sunday, Sept. 18/20016
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Ethiopia's Ministry of Education has apologised for mistakes in school textbooks, state-owned television has reported.
The sixth grade English language textbook wrongly placed Ethiopia's highest mountain, Ras Dashen, in Tigray Regional State instead of the Amhara Regional State, it quotes an unidentified ministry official as saying.
The official added that a map in a tenth grade textbook on nationality and ethics failed to show the correct location of regional states, the report added.
The sixth grade text book was published in 2004 and the tenth grade book in 2010.
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The Ethiopian born Indian- American writer and Physician Abraham Verghese is to be honored with National Humanities Medal by President Obama.
Abraham Verghese, 61, was born in 1955 during the regime of Emperor Haile Seliassie. However during the political unrest broke out while overthrowing the Emperor it was a must for Abraham to cut short his medical training in Addis Ababa and joined his family in US where he studied medical.
Now Abraham is to be awarded for his books of real health crises with several others in the ceremony to be held at white House on September 22.
Among Abrahams books one was cutting for Stone, was set in Ethiopia from where it moved to America. “I wanted the reader to see how entering medicine was a passionate quest, a romantic pursuit, a spiritual calling, a privileged yet hazardous undertaking,” he said
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An Ethiopian certified nursing assistant named Adeladilew A. Mekonen has been charged with first-degree rape and first-degree unlawful sexual penetration.
The 34 years old Ethiopian man who raped an elderly patient was terminated last Wednesday following his arrest after an 87-year-old woman came forward with accusations against Mekonen Koin6 reported last Friday.
According to the report the suspect was from Portland working in Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
This was not the first time that the region police office received a complaint about Mekonen .previously a 94-year-old woman reported the same trial but they couldn’t prove it at the time.
It is expected that Mekonen could face charges after prosecutors review the case. Indeed investigators are also worried that there could be more victims of Mekonen since May.
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