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Tigray region plans election despite Ethiopian government’s disapproval2 minutes read

“We are making preparations including the holding of a regional election in order to safeguard the rights of our people from chaos,” regional ruling party, TPLF said in a statement. It did not mention a date for the vote.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in an undated photo. He has postponed indefinitely the country’s parliamentary and Tigray regional elections due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ethiopia’s Tigray region is on a collision course with federal officials following plans by its main party to hold elections despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s disapproval due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Horn of Africa country in March postponed parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for August due to the Covid-19 outbreak. A new date has yet to be set, and parliament failed to settle on one in a meeting on Tuesday.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the region’s governing party, split acrimoniously from the national Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition last year when its three other parties merged to form the new Prosperity Party.

The TPLF said late on Monday it would proceed with elections in Tigray despite the nationwide postponement of voting.

“We are making preparations including the holding of a regional election in order to safeguard the rights of our people from chaos,” a TPLF statement said. It did not mention a date for the vote.

Ethiopia’s National Elections Board said no request for a vote was submitted by TPLF and no organisation other than the NEBE had a mandate to conduct any type of election.

The EPRDF that seized power in 1991 was dominated by minority Tigrayans, and it kept a lid on bubbling tensions for decades by quashing virtually all dissent, including expressions of ethnic nationalism.

When Prime Minister Ahmed took power in Africa’s second most populous country in 2018, he rolled out a series of reforms allowing greater freedoms.

But the reforms have made it possible for long-held grievances against the government’s decades of harsh rule to resurface, and emboldened regional power-brokers such as the TPLF seeking to secure more power for their ethnic groups.

Jawar Mohammed, a prominent activist from Abiy’s Oromo ethnic group, said the Tigray dispute could destabilise the Horn of Africa.

“The federal and Tigray authorities are being unreasonable. The Tigray regional council can decide to hold elections; they also have the power to actually carry out the election,” Jawar said.

The TPLF statement accused Abiy’s Prosperity Party of having no genuine interest in holding elections and that he was using the coronavirus pandemic as “an excuse to establish a one-man dictatorship”.

The PP rebuffed the accusation. “The TPLF’s stand has no constitutional basis. They have no mandate to hold elections. They are trying to destabilise the country in an attempt to grab power,” PP spokesman Awelu Abdi said.

Ethiopia’s constitution sets a maximum five-year term for the national government. Abiy’s mandate expires in September 2020.

William Davison, the International Crisis Group think tank’s senior analyst for Ethiopia, said the TPLF’s decision to proceed with elections before the rest of the country could be politically explosive given a lack of legal clarity.

“(It) threatens to deepen Ethiopia’s political crisis, as the legality of regions holding polls without federal permission is unclear and disputed,” he said.

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Heavy rains threaten Uganda’s coffee crop quality

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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.

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Tanzania, France sign water supply loan agreement

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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.

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Uganda approves return of over 2,500 nationals stranded abroad

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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. 

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