Category Archives: International

Ethiopian Exile Returns Home

Ethiopian marathon runner, Feyisa Lilesa makes anti-government gesture at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics finish line.

Ethiopian marathon runner, Feyisa Lilesa makes anti-government gesture at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics finish line.

By Chuma Kisu

According to international reports Ethiopian marathon runner, Feyisa Lilesa who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics finish line, has returned from exile.

Feyisa Lilesa’s return on Sunday, October 21, 2018 came several months after Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy took office in the Northeast African nation. President Abiy has announced and enacted sweeping political reforms.

The runner held his arms over his head, wrists crossed, as he finished second in the 2016 Olympics in solidarity with protesters in his home region, Oromia.

He sought asylum in the United Sates, saying he feared he would be imprisoned or killed if he returned home.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu received Feyisa at Addis Ababa’s airport, where relatives – clad in traditional clothing from the Oromia region and fans gathered.

Feyisa said the new government is “a result of the struggle by the people” and he hopes it will address concerns after years of repression.

“I knew this day was coming because I know the blood spilled by all these people was not going to be in vain,” the medal-winning runner told the Reuters news agency upon arrival.

The unrest in Ethiopia was originally triggered by protests over a government development plan for Addis Ababa, which critics said would lead to expropriation of farmland in the surrounding Oromia region.

Hundreds were subsequently killed by security forces as the demonstrations evolved into rallies against perceived political and economic marginalization of ethnic Oromos.

In April, the EPRDF coalition which has ruled the country since 1991, elected Abiy – a 42-year old ethnic Oromo – as prime minister.

“I knew the dictatorship would eventually fall down,” Feyisa said. “I was expecting this day, but I did not know if it would be today or tomorrow, but it has been clear in my mind that I would go back to my father’s land alive.”

As well as making peace with neighbor Eritrea, Abiy has pursued a reconciliation strategy, extending an olive branch to dissidents and rebel groups, although the changes have not stopped bouts of ethnically charged violence.

After Rio, 28-year old Feyisa competed in a number of marathons, winning some. He told reporters he planned to focus on training for his sport.

“I can still bring good results for my country in my field,” he said. “I was loved by my people because I am a sportsman not because I am a politician. I only brought their suffering to global attention by using my profession.”

Kanye West Visits Uganda

Kanye West meets with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Kanye West meets with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

By Chuma Kisu

US rapper Kanye West (YE) and his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, arrived in Uganda on a private visit the week of October 15, 2018.

West’s visit is seen as a coup for the country’s tourism promoters.

The East African nation’s tourism sector was recently criticized by its President Yoweri Museveni, who said that Uganda was not doing enough to promote the nation’s vast natural attractions.

“The celebrity couple touched down in the country last evening in a private jet,” local news outlet Watchdog Uganda reported on Saturday, October 13, 2018.

“The rapper and team have already set up a temporary music studio in the wild for next week where he is planning to record a new album,” the website added.

Kim Kardashian West and the rapper, who recently said he had changed his name to YE, are reportedly vacationing in a luxury safari lodge with a view of the River Nile in the northern part of the country.

Ugandan record label Swangz Avenue confirmed they are working with West on his new album “Yandhi”.

In September, President Museveni called upon the tourism ministry and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to improve their promotion of Uganda’s tourism potential.

“The promotion of Uganda’s potential in wildlife has been poor. Countries that have nothing to show are getting more tourists than Uganda. The Ministry of Tourism and UWA should bring out the uniqueness of Uganda in their promotion of the tourism sector,” the Kampala Post cited the president as saying.

Museveni said the country was in need of better packaging of the uniqueness of Uganda.

“We need to systematically work on the roads of the national parks for the tourists to easily access the parks in comfort,” he said.

For the First Time, the Ethiopian National Cabinet Is Fifty Percent Female

New Ethiopian Defense Minister Aisha Mohaaed

New Ethiopian Defense Minister Aisha Mohaaed

By Chuma Kisu

According to international reports Ethiopia’s new cabinet is now a record 50 percent female.

The new cabinet includes the country’s first woman defense minister, Aisha Mohaamed. This happened after legislators unanimously approved the nominations put forward by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” Ahmed said while presenting his choices on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

“This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa,” he added.

The Horn of Africa nation joins a handful of countries where women make up 50 percent or more of ministerial positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and United Nations’ Women.

The shake-up is the latest in a series of dramatic reforms implemented by Abiy since he took office in April 2018 after more than two years of anti-government unrest that contributed to his predecessor’s sudden resignation.

The prime minister’s measures have included ending two decades of conflict with neighboring Eritrea, releasing jailed dissidents, welcoming formerly banned groups back into the country and announcing plans to privatize major state-owned industries.

Most Europeans nations do not have cabinets that are half female. At last count, not even the President Trump’s cabinet in the United States is 50% female.

Dakar, Senegal Gets First Woman Mayor Since Independence

By Chuma Kisu

Soham El Wardini

Soham El Wardini

According to international reports Soham El Wardini was elected Dakar, Senegal’s first woman mayor since its independence from French colonial rule.

Wardini was elected Saturday, September 29. Until then she was the deputy mayor to embattled Khalifa Sall. Sall was imprisoned in March 2017 over corruption charges. He consistently claims it is a political witch-hunt.

Wardini polled 64 votes against 13 and 11 for Moussa Sy and Banda Diop respectively. “I am proud to be the first female mayor of the Senegalese capital,” she stressed after results of the election to replace Sall were announced.

She went on to reiterate her support for Khalifa Sall and said that she still considered him as the mayor. “The teams will remain unchanged. We will finish the projects started. The key is to get back to work and stay united. I assure you that the fight continues,” she added.

Appointed deputy in 2014, she served in acting capacity over the period that Sall shuttled between jail and the courts. Incidentally until August 31st when Sall was officially stripped of his tenure she visited him in prison to take instructions on how to run Dakar.

But she has a little over a year before the next municipal elections are held, when she can contest for her first official term in charge of one of Africa’s booming capitals. She has set sights on ensuring a clean capital under her tenure: “I do not want Dakar to be named one of the dirtiest cities in the world. It deserves all the sacrifices,” she declared after the polls.

Wardini was born in 1953 in the town of Latmingué in the Kaolack region. Her father is of Lebanese origin whiles her mother is Senegalese.

Soham El Wardini grew up along with ten other siblings in Latmingue. It was the death of her father, a peanut trader, that caused the family to migrate to Kaolack where she received much of her high school education, graduate studies, and then became a teacher.

Her political journey kickstarted in 1999 when she joined the Alliance of Forces of Progress (AFP) of former Socialist Prime Minister, Moustapha Niasse, who is the current leader of the National Assembly.

Following the split of the party in 2012 between incumbent Macky Sall and Khalifa Sall, Wardini joined the Khalifa Sall faction rising through the ranks to become his deputy.

Since its founding in 1857, Dakar has only had one pre-independence mayoress.