Ethiopia — January 2007

Sociopolitical Situation

The political situation in the country seems more stable than it has been in years. Much of this stability is due to the fact that many of the political opposition have been jailed without the possibility of bail, and their trials for treason and genocide drag on.

There is no sign of progress for the resolution of the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The U.N. peace-keeping force continues to have verbal conflicts with the government of Eritrea due to Eritrea’s violation of the agreement, mostly by allowing armed soldiers to enter the demilitarized zone. Meanwhile, Ethiopia continues to hamper efforts to address the implementation of the court decision, which was in favor of Eritrea.

The international court that tried the case has announced that it is giving Ethiopia and Eritrea one more year to implement the finding or it will recommend to the United Nations the withdrawal of the peace-keeping force.

As this report is being written a critical situation that could easily change before the January 2007 ROACO meeting is the situation in Somalia. Ethiopia admits that it has troops in Somalia, which it says are there at the invitation of the interim government.

International reports state that at last 11 Middle Eastern and North African countries have some involvement in supplying weapons, advisors and other personnel in Somalia.

Ethiopia is experiencing economic success, especially in the area of exports. The growth rate is in the area of seven to eight percent. In general, inflation has been kept in control, but in the last half of 2005 there was a sharp increase in food prices, estimated to be approximately 15 percent. This, of course, affects the poor greatly.

Religious Situation

In mid-year, there were attacks by Muslims against Christians in the western part of the country. A number of people were killed and two Ethiopian Orthodox priests were beheaded. Apparently there is a video of the atrocities in circulation. The leaders of the main religious communities have been meeting and are in the process of preparing a joint statement condemning the conflict.

There have been no significant activities within the Orthodox Church. Some minor church figures have spoke out against the Catholic Church. Periodically, there are such expressions of deep-felt feelings of the Orthodox toward the Catholic Church that date to the 16th century and to more recent experiences of Catholic proselytism of the Orthodox.

Slow progress is being made by the bishops in the establishment of a Catholic university. Efforts are being made in the areas of fund raising and establishment of the infrastructures needed to initiate the university.

At the end of the academic year, results of the national exams were released and the Catholic schools throughout the country continue to lead the country in the quality of education. The Catholic schools set the academic standards for the country, and this is recognized by everyone.

In general the Catholic Church is experiencing a decline in the number of young men presenting themselves as candidates to the priesthood and wanting to enter the major seminaries.

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