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Ethiopian church demands apology from Addis Ababa City Administration

Addis Ababa City Administration admits “mistake” for not consulting with Ethiopian Church over Meskel Square project. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo church demands apology for ignoring the Church’s ownership right over Meskel Square.

Ethiopian Church _ Meskel Square
Patriarch Abune Mathias and Haji Mufi. Photo /File. Credit Addis Ababa City.

May 1, 2020

Last week, Addis Ababa City Administration launched what it called the “Meskel Square-Municipality” project – a major construction project. A little earlier than that, the City passed a decision to move the vegetable and fruits market to Janmeda under the guise of preventing Coronavirus transmission.

Both the construction project and relocation of the market center affected the property of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church which it uses for major religious holidays including Timkat and Meskel – which are registered as a world heritage with UNESCO.

The Ethiopian Church has been using these properties for Meskel and Timkat celebrations since the establishment of Addis Ababa as the capital of Ethiopia.

The City project over Meskel Square involved some demolition work but The Ethiopian Church was not consulted about it.

With the intent to get clarification, the Church wrote a letter (which is shared on Adebabay Media) to the Office of the Mayor. A copy of the letter was sent to the office of the Prime Minister, too.

“The Church is disappointed that the City administration is working on an unclear project without consulting with the Church,” reads translation of the letter which is written in Ethiopia’s official language.

The letter also noted that the two religious festivals of the Ethiopian Church, which has now over 50 million followers in the country, do have significance beyond religion and culture. The UNESCO registered intangible heritages generate revenue for the government as the events attract tens of thousands of tourists.

“In Consideration of the gravity of the matter, we would like the Mayor’s Office to pay special attention to the letter and respond appropriately and urgently.”

On Thursday in the evening, Takele Uma, the acting Mayor, sent delegates to the patriarchate in a response to the letter from the church, as reported by Wazema Radio.

 Nebiyu Baye, an advisor to the Mayor, led the delegation composed of the city’s architecture advisor, construction office head, and Plan Commission head, according to the Wazema Report.

During the meeting between the delegates and Ethiopian Church which was represented by Abune Yared, the latter asked the delegates why the City administration ignored the church when embarking on its “beautifying Addis Ababa project?.” The church also demanded to know the fundamental purpose of the project.

City representatives reportedly admitted that the administration erred when launching the Meskel square project without having a discussion about it with the church.

The city representatives also claimed that the “purpose of the project is to make the place attractive so that it can be used for the next Meskel celebration. The decision on Janmeda was, said delegates, made in an emergency mode due to the COVID 19 situation.

Ethiopian Church demanded an official apology from the city administration for the mistake they made and also a written guarantee that the Ethiopian Church’s right will not be infringed upon in the future in connection with the use of the two places for religious purposes.

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  1. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church got no land in Finfine. The Ethiopian Orthodox leases lands in Finfine where it built churches and offices on. Duration of the leases for these lands are somewhere between 30 years to 70 years starting from when the current constitution was put to work, residential buildings go as far as seventy years lease other places are only seventy years lease so whether the Ethiopian Orthodox likes it or not the land leases are due to expire sooner or later so rather than expecting to own Meskel Square through some scam pack your bags and move back to Gojam or to Gondar where this church might be able to renew it’s leases , we people of Finfine have had enough controversy already with so many deadly incidents occuring due to illegal land possession by this church , we got no desire to renew the leases after witnessing the discontent they exhibited in the last two years , so this litigators better find their own town to celebrate whatever they want. Finfine, Oromia is for Aba Gadda , this scam the priests are perpetrating against Finfine remains to be the oldest deception the church had done following the Menilik Sefari conquering lion of Judah going around claiming others lands as their own where they celebrate holidays every single days of the month while collecting taxes from peasant farmers.

    • Hirke

      None of what you said above will take place in a metropolitan city of Addis Ababa . If you are talking about some other place I stand corrected, since it is true that all lands in the regions of Ethiopia except in the City of Dire Dawa and except in the City of Addis Ababa , the rest are owned by the regional governments of Ethiopia , which are given out on temporary leases by the regional governments, but those two city governments got no ownership of their lands.

      Currently close to half of the arable lands in Ethiopia are not being farmed since the regional governments had not found enough workforce to go into farming due to the fact that the lands are handed out in temporary leases not transferable in a will to the next generations, which suggests sooner or later Land Grab in Ethiopia is inevitable unless the Constitution is ammended about the lands ownership .


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