Ethiopia’s new Cabinet 50 percent women, including defense

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition is expected to take the next steps this week on sweeping reforms announced under its new prime minister as it begins its first congress on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 since Ahmed took power in April. (AP/Mulugeta Ayene)
Updated 16 October 2018
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Ethiopia’s new Cabinet 50 percent women, including defense

  • This 20-member Cabinet, trimmed from 28 posts, is the second named since Abiy took office in April
  • Aisha Mohammed Musa will lead the defense ministry

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s new Cabinet is now a record 50 percent female, including the country’s first woman defense minister, after lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously approved the nominations put forward by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” Abiy said while presenting his choices. “This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa.”
Ethiopia has faced sweeping political and economic reforms since the 42-year-old prime minister took office in April after months of anti-government protests and made pledges that include free and fair elections.
The Horn of Africa power joins a handful of countries, mostly European, where women make up 50 percent or more of ministerial positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women. French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in recent years unveiled “gender-balanced” Cabinets.
Aisha Mohammed Musa will lead Ethiopia’s defense ministry. Another woman, former House speaker Muferiat Kamil, will lead the new Ministry of Peace at a time when Africa’s second most populous country faces sometimes violent ethnic tensions as the wider political freedoms are explored.
The Ministry of Peace will oversee the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service, the Information Network Security Agency, the Federal Police Commission and the Finance Security and Information Center, Abiy’s office confirmed Tuesday.
This 20-member Cabinet, trimmed from 28 posts, is the second named since Abiy took office in April. The first was criticized for the low number of female ministers.
Ethiopia has long been considered a patriarchal society and it “suffers from some of lowest gender equality performance indicators in sub-Saharan Africa,” UN Women has said. “Women and girls in Ethiopia are strongly disadvantaged compared to boys and men in several areas, including literacy, health, livelihoods and basic human rights.”
Recent efforts have been made to show women in more prominent posts. Ethiopian Airlines, which calls itself Africa’s largest carrier, has publicized all-female flight crews.
Several African nations have had female defense ministers including South Africa, Central African Republic, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau. And Rwanda has received international recognition for female representation in government, with women making up 43 percent of its Cabinet and 61 percent of parliament members.


Philippines warns journalists out to ‘destroy’ Duterte

Updated 18 min ago
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Philippines warns journalists out to ‘destroy’ Duterte

  • The warning followed recent local news reports alleging the Duterte family's involvement in illegal drugs
  • Panelo said the government has "never stifled dissent in this country"

MANILA: The Philippine government on Monday warned the press against plotting to "destroy" President Rodrigo Duterte's government, as his spokesman accused journalists of spreading fake news.
The warning followed recent local news reports alleging the Duterte family's involvement in illegal drugs and raising questions about a large increase in his wealth.
"They are all there doing their thing, trying to destroy this government by spreading false news and planting intrigues against the government," Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo told a news conference.
He released a graphic which he said showed how a video of a hooded man alleging the Duterte family's role in the narcotics trade was shared by one journalist to colleagues employed by other Philippine news outfits.
The news organizations named have all reported extensively on Duterte's crackdown against illegal drugs that has left more than 5,000 suspects dead at the hands of the police in what rights groups have said may be a crime against humanity.
Panelo said the ouster allegations were based on information shared by a foreign intelligence agency which he would not name.
"In other words, what these people are doing is to give succour or assist the enemy, if they are not the enemy themselves," Panelo said.
Last week Duterte publicly lashed out at the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which published a report about the rise in the president's net worth.
"In the coming weeks, I will return the favour. So Philippine Investigative, you better stop," Duterte said.
Panelo said Monday the Duterte government was putting these journalists and news outfits on notice but would not pursue legal action against them "for now".
"But if the plot thickens and they perform acts which are already violation(s) of the penal laws, that's a different story," Panelo added.
The comments came weeks after the government twice briefly detained Maria Ressa, chief executive of the online news site Rappler over tax evasion, securities fraud and other charges.
Panelo named Ressa and Rappler, PCIJ, and Vera Files, among others, in the list of news organisations allegedly plotting against Duterte.
He accused Ellen Tordesillas, the Vera Files president, of spreading the video clip alleging Duterte family involvement in the narcotics trade.
Ressa, tweeting about the ouster allegations, called them "ludicrous" and "yet another (presidential) palace ploy to harass journalists".
Panelo said the government has "never stifled dissent in this country".
Tordesillas called the supposed ouster plot "downright false", while PCIJ has said its reports were all based on documents issued by Duterte himself in his required annual filings on assets and liabilities.
Duterte in previous years has also lashed out at other critical media outfits, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper and broadcaster ABS-CBN.
He threatened to go after their owners over alleged unpaid taxes or block the network's franchise renewal application.