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Ethiopian premier vows to continue reforms ‘at any cost’

The Associated Press ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Ethiopia’s prime minister in his first press conference since taking power vowed Saturday to continue with dramatic reforms “at any cost” and said the longtime ruling coalition soon will prepare for a “free and fair election” in 2020.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also said the World Bank “soon” plans to provide $1 billion in direct budgetary assistance, a sign of confidence after years of unrest in Africa’s second most populous nation. Such assistance stopped after the disputed 2005 elections.

“My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear,” Abiy said, saying the vote won’t be delayed and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

The 42-year-old Abiy took office in April and shocked the country with a wave of reforms including restoring diplomatic ties with neighboring Eritrea after two decades, pledging to open up state-owned companies to outside investment and releasing thousands of prisoners.

The reforms have been praised by the international community and attracted investors interested in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Recent ethnic unrest in various parts of Ethiopia, however, has dampened the initial jubilation and posed a major challenge to the new leader.Speech

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