Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday that the country will hold a parliamentary election in May or June despite security and logistic concerns that his government is tackling.
The election will be the first under Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy, who took office in April 2018 and launched political and economic reforms.
His reform agenda has also stoked violence and highlighted ethnic divisions in the country of about 105 million people, and the election board said last June that the security situation could delay the 2020 election.
“On the schedule, I am not sure whether it is May or June, because the schedule will be declared by the election board but I think we will conduct an election this year because it is a constitutional mandate,” Abiy said in response to a question at a media briefing with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a Reuters report said.
“There might be lots of challenges, not only logistics but also peace and security… It is better for Ethiopians and for Ethiopian parties to conduct the election on time in a very peaceful and democratic manner,” he said.
Ahmed is on an official state visit to South Africa. The two governments signed agreements to enhance cooperation, including on tourism and health.
Ethiopia has regularly held elections since 1995 but, with the exception of the 2005 election, no election has been competitive.
In the 2005 election, riots erupted after the opposition cried foul, security forces killed nearly 200 protesters, and the government jailed many opposition politicians.
Opposition politicians have warned against any delay in the election, and critics have said that postponing the vote could cause an adverse social reaction, fuel regional conflicts and damage Abiy’s democratic credentials.
Heavy rains threaten Uganda’s coffee crop quality
Uganda’s coffee crop quality could see a decline in the coming months as heavy rains across the country have reduced the amount of sunshine necessary for bean drying.
Uganda is Africa’s largest exporter of coffee followed by Ethiopia and grows mostly robusta variety.
The country has been pounded by unusually heavy rains that started in August resulting in deaths, displacement and extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure.
Western Uganda, including the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains , some of the biggest coffee growing areas, has received some of the most intense rains.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the state-run regulator, forecasts Uganda’s bean exports will climb 16 percent to 5.1 million 60-kg (132-pound) bags in the current crop year ending September.
The country’s coffee output has surged in recent years, the fruition of a government programme that has been distributing free seedlings to farmers to expand acreage and replace aging trees.
Authorities say their target is to help boost annual production to 20 million bags by 2025.
The beans have traditionally been Uganda’s biggest commodity export but were recently overtaken by gold which now annually earns the country over $1 billion.
Tanzania, France sign water supply loan agreement
Tanzania has signed a loan agreement with France to finance water supply projects that will benefit about 770,000 people in the country’s Morogoro municipality.
The French government will extend the loan worth about $76 million to Tanzania through its French Development Agency (AFD), according to Dotto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning who signed the agreement on behalf of Tanzania.
“Upon completion, the water supply in the Morogoro municipality will increase from the current 37,000 cubic meters a day to 108,000 cubic meters a day,” James told a press conference following a signing ceremony in Morogoro.
AFD Country Representative for Tanzania, Stephanie Mouen says the project will improve the well-being of the people in the municipality and it will also improve the environment.
Uganda approves return of over 2,500 nationals stranded abroad
Over 2,500 Ugandan nationals stranded abroad amid the Covid-19 pandemic can now return home as approved by the Ugandan cabinet.
The cabinet on Monday, agreed that Ugandan nationals trapped in 66 countries can return home at their own cost.
The government is making arrangements with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to fly the stranded citizens home, Judith Nabakooba, the country’s minister for information, communication technology and national guidance says, adding that all the returning citizens will have to undergo a 14-day mandatory institutional quarantine.
President Yoweri Museveni last month, directed Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to study the possibility of evacuating dozens of citizens stranded abroad amid Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions.
To contain the spread of Covid-19, the country on March 22 suspended all incoming flights, except cargo flights.