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Al Jazeera opens office in Ethiopia


As former foes Ethiopia and Qatar turn friends, the Qatari news network, Al Jazeera, has opened a regional office in Addis Ababa. The ceremony, which was held on Thursday, was attended by Government Communications Minister, Negeri Lencho (PhD), veteran politician Sibhat Nega, other invited government officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

Mohamed Taha Tewekel, the Director of the Al Jazeera Regional Office in Addis Ababa, described the opening of the office as an "important" moment given that Ethiopia as a country weighs heavily on the economic development of the East African region.

“Ethiopia is a country which is growing fast economically and going through urban and cultural change. It is therefore a promising new market that offers good human and commercial prospects” he said.

Tewekel assured media stakeholders that the Al Jazeera branch in Addis Ababa is committed to conducting its journalistic work “in line with the highest standards of "ethics, integrity, honesty, fairness and professionalism" without exception.

The new regional office will provide in-depth analyses and documentaries aside from factual news reports about both Ethiopia and the international institutions based in the country, including the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The news channel had been in a bitter friction with the Ethiopian government in the past with the latter accusing the Qatari news giant of negative reporting.

In 2006, an Al Jazeera correspondent was deported from the country for doing a story that the Ethiopian government alleged was unbalanced. However, the same correspondent managed to illegally cross Ethiopian borders in the east and the south in 2009 and 2011. One of the stories was about women rebel fighters of the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Amid the brawl, Ethiopia severed diplomatic ties with Qatar accusing the latter of sponsoring “anti-peace elements” in and out of Ethiopia.

Three years ago, the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), formerly known as ETV, aired an anti-Al Jazeera documentary entitled ‘Unmasking the veneer of Al Jazeera’.

Recently, shutting down Al Jazeera was listed as one of the demands by Saudi-led Gulf states and Egypt on the aftermath of the Qatar-Gulf Crisis.