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Exiled Ethiopian patriarch returns

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The exiled patriarch of Ethiopia’s powerful Orthodox Church, Bishop Merkorios, has returned home to the capital, Addis Ababa, after 27 years.

Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met him in the US last week and persuaded him to reconcile with a rival faction of the church.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christian gather near to the rock-hewn church Bete Giyorgis during the annual festival of Timkat in Lalibela, Ethiopia which celebrates Epiphany, the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, on 20 January 2012 © AFP Ethiopian Orthodox Christian gather near to the rock-hewn church Bete Giyorgis during the annual festival of Timkat in Lalibela… He was greeted by his followers, who sang and ululated in welcome.

The church split in the early 1990s after Mengistu Haile Mariam’s communist regime was overthrown.

Politics and the church are closely intertwined in Ethiopia – and Bishop Merkorios was perceived to represent the diaspora and opposition in exile.

As there are now two patriarchs, Bishop Merkorios will be responsible for the spiritual aspects of the church, while Bishop Mr Mathias will be in charge of the day-to-day affairs.

Musicians greeted the exiled orthodox patriarch: Musicians were part of the welcome ceremony for the patriarch

Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church split

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church can trace its roots back to the fourth century – and is one of the oldest organised Christian bodies in the world. It used to be part of Egypt’s Coptic Christian Church, but appointed its own patriarch in 1959.

Bishop Merkorios was forced to abdicate after the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) overthrew the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

His followers objected, saying the role of patriarch is held for life. The cleric escaped to the US, where a rival synod was established.

In his place Bishop Paulos was elected as patriarch in 1992, becoming the first person from the Tigray ethnic group to head the church. When he passed away in 2012, Bishop Mathias was elected to replace him.

More than 40% of Ethiopia’s population of about 100 million are adherents of the Orthodox church

Ethiopia has some of the word’s oldest churches, including rock-hewn churches, which are a World Heritage Site, in Lalibella in northern Ethiopia.

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PM Abiy reiterates Ethiopia’s decision over latest clampdown.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has finally spoken on ongoing anti-corruption and rights abuse clampdown stating that there was not going to be any backing down let alone retreat.

A statement from the Abiy’s office issued in Amharic tasked citizens to rally behind the development as a means of ridding the country of lawlessness and criminal elements.

State-affiliated FBC reported that the statement titled, ‘Let’s Fight (the) Cancer,’ said the government was bent on bringing people behind injustices to book.



The statement said the underlying objective of recent arrests was to get rid of Ethiopia criminals. “… criminals do not care about ethnicity, country, or morality; they only care for themselves.

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“The key to justice is to create a system for innocent citizens to live in freedom and dignity while criminals are held accountable and punished in accordance with the law,” the statement read in part.

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Since early this week, authorities have announced the arrest of over sixty former military and intelligence officials arrested in connection with rights abuse in prisons and gross corruption in the military run business conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation, MetEC.

A former head of MetEC, Kinfe Dagnew; and a former intelligence chiefs, Tekleberhan Woldearegay and Yared Zerihun have all been detained and put before courts in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Head of security at the state monopoly, Ethio Telecom, Gudeta Olana, has also been arrested as has head of the entity and brother of ex-MetEC boss, Essayas Dagnew.

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New Zealand denies refusing refugees with holiday visas entry.

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Friday, rejected allegations that the country’s government was blocking refugees who wished to travel into the country from Nauru on visitor visas.

Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, also claimed in an interview with Australian media that he had also personally brokered a deal for New Zealand to accept 80 refugees currently located on the island.



“It’s incorrect to say that there is some kind of agreement for 80 specific individuals to take residence or visit,’’ Ardern told media at the East Asia Summit in Singapore.

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“The request did not ask about whether refugees could visit New Zealand on holiday visas,’’ he added.

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The country assessed all applications for visitor visas on a case-by-case basis. This applies regardless of a person’s country of origin or nationality.

The country is under pressure to transfer the remaining 30 children from the island.

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