Ethiopia: shirt designed by PM Abiy Ahmed listed on eBay

A T-shirt that read: ‘I love China, but even a life is short,’ sold in Ethiopia following PM’s visit to Beijing. But in practice it is not really that bad

Ethiopia’s ruling party chairman told villagers that he would bury his foe. That is not really an incitement to violence

It seems to have gone down like a bottle of old wine with the locals:

A shirt

that read: “I love China, but even a life is short,” sold at an auction in Ethiopia after Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed came for a high-profile visit to Beijing last week.

In practice, the slogan is less than controversial: with a population of 100 million, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s largest textile producers, cutting out Indian and Chinese companies.

The t-shirt is being auctioned by the Prime Minister’s Office to support a literacy programme at the prime minister’s private school.

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“It is an attempt to promote the education of children of prime minister Abiy Ahmed. It was auctioned online and is now going to support the capacity of students to read and write in the rural areas,” Lemma Megersa, chairman of Ethiopia’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), said in a statement.

At a community meeting in Gambella, 75 miles (120km) from the capital Addis Ababa, the chairman told people that if they disagreed with him, they should think of him as a brother.

“I love China, but even a life is short,” Lemma said, later adding: “You know I am at war. So, don’t judge me.”

He was referring to his showdown last year with arch-rival Lalu Masiah, the chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

Emma Soi (@EmmaMsoi) Prime Minister @Ethiopia_Malsara makes a speech, he says “I am here. I tell you that I love China. But even a life is short.” He said “I am coming to you as I can’t wait to bury #LaluMasiah”. #Ethiopia

In January, Shibebo Kassila, the deputy chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was shot and killed by the police.

While Ethiopia has been regarded as an island of stability in the maelstrom of conflict in Africa, the relations between Abiy and Masiah are seen as hostile.

A photograph circulated of the two men – the prime minister not wearing a hat and cut out from a television monitor – shaking hands at the main gate of a government office in February.

Opposition sites have posted pictures of handshakes between Saade and Jemal Hage Meles, chairman of the Oromo Democratic party, in the early 1990s when the two sides were fighting a brief secessionist war.

The largest of Ethiopia’s four regions, Oromia borders Amhara, and calls itself the largest group in the country. The state of emergency that Abiy announced last month allows the military to intervene to restore order.

In more recent years, the government has created a system of concentrated political power in which the president is allied with and serves at the pleasure of the prime minister. This system of subservience creates an easy excuse for political caprice, critics say.

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