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Cablegate: Ethiopia: Bi-Weekly Report August 07 2006


DE RUEHDS #2133/01 2190657
R 070657Z AUG 06




E.O. 12958: N/A

The following reports compiled over the last two weeks
illustrate the variety of economic, political and social
developments occurring in Ethiopia.

Charge' Hosted a Meeting of Women Entrepreneurs Group
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1. On July 21, Ambassador Huddleston hosted a meeting of the
Women Entrepreneurs Group, a newly formed group of leading
local women entrepreneurs, government officials, members of
parliament, and representatives from civil society,
international organizations, and diplomatic missions. The
group, which has met twice under the US Embassy's auspices,
is aimed at addressing constraints currently faced by women
entrepreneurs in Ethiopia, serving as a networking forum,
and empowering Ethiopian women and girls through community
outreach. At the July 21 meeting, the group agreed to form
two sub-committees, which will focus on community outreach
and economic empowerment. Each group will be chaired by an
Ethiopian participant and develop activities. Initial
suggested activities include identifying policy gaps that
constrain women entrepreneurs, and the
documentation/dissemination of stories of successful women
entrepreneurs as a tool for motivating young girls.

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2. The Women Entrepreneurs Group builds on on-going efforts
by post to assist women entrepreneurs overcome challenges
such as a lack of capacity and access to credit. These
efforts include export support services to individual women-
owned companies, an internet training program, a loan-
guarantee program targeted for small and medium-sized
businesses, and support to the Addis Ababa Women
Entrepreneurs Association. In addition, post has actively
supported women exporters take greater advantage of AGOA.
For example, several women-owned companies have recently
begun to export under AGOA's Category 9 provision, with
assistance from USAID. Women entrepreneurs are also playing
a lead role in Ethiopia's booming cut-flower export sector.

Demolition of Illegally Built Mosque Triggers Demonstration
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3. On July 24, Addis Ababa City Administration demolished an
illegally built mosque in the Arat Kilo neighborhood in
Addis Ababa. Hundreds of angry Muslims from the
neighborhood took out to the street chanting "demolition of
a mosque is an attack on the religion" and demanded that the
demolition must stop. Addis Ababa Administration says that
the property is owned by a private citizen and is registered
as a residence. Officials of the administration argue that
special permits are required to construct religious
institutions and residents of Arat Kilo do not have permits.
The demonstrators threw rocks at the Federal Police deployed
to control the crowd. Undisclosed numbers of rock throwers
are under police custody pending investigation. The
Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council is concerned with
the development and is working with officials of Addis Ababa
Administration to resolve the issue. The Constitution of
the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia allows citizens
to practice their faith and the government generally
respects this. In this case, the mosque was in a private
home and action was taken when the owner began construction
to turn the house into a mosque.

More Federal Judges to be Appointed

4. The Judicial Administrative Council will propose the
appointment of 30 federal judges for the new Ethiopian year
starting September 11. The appointment of judges is an
ongoing court administration reform project geared towards
increasing manpower. Federal First Instance Court
President, Desalegne Berhe says that currently there are 109
federal judges serving in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.
However, a number of judges leave their profession for
different reasons and there is a pressing need for the
appointment of new judges. Desalegne said the Council's
plan to appoint 20 judges last year did not materialize.
However, the Council will press for the appointment of 30
more judges. The Federal First Instance Courts were able to
reduce backlog files by more than 10,000 as a result of a
campaign carried out this summer. In the past two years
several reform packages had been carried out and now are
providing more efficient services to the public.

Consular Visa Sanction Update

5. The consular section delivered to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, on behalf of DHS, the latest list of potential

returnees ordered removed from the United States to
Ethiopia. This list contains 8 new cases and 8 resubmitted
cases with additional information. Post continues to urge
the Ethiopian government to accept back its citizens in
order to avoid the imposition of visa sanctions.

New USAID Director Meets Senior Officials, Visits South
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6. Recently arrived USAID Director, Glenn Anders, had
introductory meetings with Ministers of Health, Education,
Agriculture and Trade as well as with Deputy Prime Minister
Addisu Legesse and Prime Minister Meles (see SEPTEL about
latter). Minister of Health Tedros emphasized the
importance of USAID in health reforms: programs in
management and leadership training, community health
systems, reproductive health and HIV-AIDS control. Minister
of Education stressed improving the quality of primary
education through teacher training, strengthening schools'
management, and basic courses in math, English and civics,
and thanked USAID for assistance through its BESO program.
DPM Addisu Legesse emphasized the development of a commodity
exchange and rural enterprise to transition safety net
recipients and avoid dependency. He expressed concern over
high grain prices due apparently to crop diversification.

7. Director Anders also made a several day field trip to
Oromia and southern regions to meet regional officials and
to review USAID programs in health, education, and food
aid/safety net. The impacts of the substantial USAID
programs involved in southern states were evident in health
systems and teacher training. Regional officials emphasized
importance of U.S. assistance programs in teachers training
at Awassa College and in building a code of health extension
workers and community health volunteers appeared effective.
PEPFAR programs, outreach/prevention, and testing/treatment
in the so-called "high-risk corridor," between Addis and
Djibouti appeared to be making process.

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