Ethiopia — January 2006

Sociopolitical situation

Since the general elections in May 2005 the country has been politically unstable. The political opposition made significant gains in the number of seats won in parliament but has accused the ruling party of corruption and therefore refused to accept the results of the elections. There was a general strike which was broken by the harsh measures of the government followed by street demonstrations with millions of dollars in damages and the lost of at least forty-six lives. The opposition party leaders were arrested and among other charges have been charged with high treason and genocide and bail has been denied.

The Ethiopian – Eritrean border dispute is still not resolved and both governments have moved large armies to the border area. The United Nations Security Council is most concerned that fighting could start again. Eritrea has expelled UN peace keepers who come from Europe, North American and Russia.

The economy of the country is relatively stable with Ethiopia getting high marks from the IMF and the World Bank. European governments, however, have stated that they will channel funds through NGO’s rather than directly to the government, in reaction to the recent human rights violations.

Religious situation

The Ethiopian Assembly of Bishops has signed a formal agreement with the Ethiopian government to start a Catholic University in Addis Ababa. The Dominican Fathers have agreed to provide Dominicans for administration and academic affairs. The government has allocated land for the proposed university. The Assembly of Bishops will now begin to look for funds.

The Catholic Bishops issued an official statement on the political situation in the country. The statement has been very well received by members of other religions and the people who had access to the statement. It was considered to be fair and balanced. Unfortunately it was not well circulated among the Catholic population.

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