Ethiopia Billionaire donates $3.6m to fight COVID19, General Election postponed

Ethiopia Billionaire donates $3.6m to fight COVID19, General Election postponed

Ethiopia-born Saudi billionaire, Mohammed Ali Al-Amoudi has made the biggest private donation yet to coronavirus combat in Ethiopia.

He donated the sum of 120 million birr (about $3.6m) to the Addis Ababa city administration on Tuesday. 

Amoudi, in his 70s, became a multi-billionaire investing first in construction, agriculture and mining in Ethiopia, where he was born, and then purchasing oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden. Forbes valued his fortune at more than $10 billion in 2016.

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Ethiopia’s election set for August has been called off due to COVID19

Ethiopia as of midday March 31 had 25 confirmed cases of the virus. Transport has been banned in most parts of the country as government moves to curb spread.

The campaign trail has been marred by a surge of violence as some people use the new freedoms to settle old scores.

Both the government and opposition camps have expressed support for the election board’s decision. With the government’s mandate expiring in a few months, lawmakers are expected to vote to extend it.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought decorum amongst opposition camps

This is the first major election in Africa to be postponed because of the coronavirus. Several African countries have upcoming presidential votes this year, including Burundi and Tanzania.

“Although the circumstances of the delay are deeply worrying, it does offer an opportunity to reset Ethiopia’s troubled transition,” William Davison, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for the country, said in a statement.

The ruling party should take this opportunity to discuss with opponents important issues such as conditions for a fair election, he said. It is “necessary that they are provided the time and conditions to compete on a level playing field with the incumbent when the electoral timetable is rescheduled.”

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for the political reforms since he took office in April 2018, has repeatedly pledged that the election would be free and fair. His reforms included appointing a former opposition figure to lead the election board.