Ethiopian PM departure brings no change, opposition says

In this file photo taken on August 17, 2017 Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn speaks during a press conference held with the Sudanese President in Khartoum. (AFP)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Ethiopian PM departure brings no change, opposition says

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s opposition reacted cautiously on Friday a day after the surprise resignation of the prime minister, warning it did not herald real change since the ruling party remains in power.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on Thursday after weeks of anti-government demonstrations and growing splits within the country’s ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.
With the EPRDF and its allies controlling every seat in Parliament, it is unclear what difference Hailemariam’s departure will make, said prominent opposition leader Merera Gudina, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).
“What the people are demanding is fundamental change,” Merera told AFP, saying that Hailemariam’s departure was a matter of internal party politics. “So the change of an individual is really the homework for the EPRDF, not the people of Ethiopia.”
However, Merera said he was “cautiously optimistic,” that Hailemariam’s departure could offer an opening for them.
“There are, after all, possibilities... to move forward,” Merera said.
“The EPRDF as an organization has a serious problem and really blocked the democratization of the Ethiopian state and society — and is really responsible for many of its crisis,” he added.
Hailemariam will remain in office until Parliament and the EPRDF coalition confirm his resignation from the most powerful post in Africa’s second most-populous nation.
It remains unclear if his successor will be sympathetic to the protesters’ grievances, or return Ethiopia to the authoritarian governing style of Hailemariam’s predecessor Meles Zenawi, who led the rebels that ousted dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.
Merera was released from jail in January, when the government began pardoning and dropping charges against hundreds of prisoners including many high-profile dissidents.
Hailemariam said it was a way “to improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform.”
The OFC chairman’s release was a key demand of dissidents from the Oromo people, whose campaign of anti-government protests that began in December 2015 are seen as a key reason why Hailemariam resigned.


13 young miners feared dead in India’s remote northeast

Updated 14 December 2018
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13 young miners feared dead in India’s remote northeast

  • Digging in the mine was banned four years ago, but illegal and unsafe activity by private landowners and the local community is rife
  • Rescuers would be able to reach those missing only after the water has been pumped out of the mine

GAUHATI, India: Police say 13 young miners are missing and feared dead following the collapse of a shaft and flooding of a coal mine they were illegally digging in India’s remote northeast.
The police control room says that efforts are being made to pump out water from the mine in Meghalaya state where the flooding took place two days ago.
Police said the digging in the mine was banned four years ago, but illegal and unsafe activity by private landowners and the local community is rife.
The police said rescuers would be able to reach those missing only after the water has been pumped out of the mine.
Demand for coal has increased in energy-hungry India. Coal mafia operations in mining areas have led to accidents.
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