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Ethiopia: President’s office concludes a 400,000 birr per month house rent deal for outgoing President Girma

By Muluken Yewondwossen

The Office of the President has finally concluded a deal to rent a 400,000 birr per month residence for outgoing President Girma Woldegiorgis on Friday September 20, canceling previous plans to rent a fully furnished house from Elias Arega at 530,000 birr a month.

The current house owned by Solomon Girma, businessman and owner of Mesale Bar and Restaurant, has been selected by the government to be the residence of President Girma, who has served in the position for the past 12 years after the first president, Negaso Gidada (PhD) resigned in 2001.
In the past few months the president’s office, i.e. the Palace Administration, has been looking to rent a house for the outgoing president. Three weeks ago the office had reached an agreement with Elias Arega to rent a fully furnished house for 530,000 birr per month. Although it is not known why, the plans were changed and a new deal was concluded with Solomon Girma instead.
Solomon told Capital that the house is semi furnished, ‘as the president will probably prefer to bring some of his own stuff’.
The two-storey residence which includes a swimming pool, located on Haile Gebresilase Avenue, behind Axum Hotel, was rented to the Kenyan Embassy the previous year. Before that the owner himself was living in it for five years after construction was completed.

Currently, an elevator is being installed in the house by Dan Technocraft, a lift technology supplier and contractor, before it is transferred to the Office of the President. According to sources, the lift installation will cost 1.6 million birr.
The deal was finalized on Friday Sept. 20 at the head office of Documentation and Authentication Registration Office (DARO).
“Based on the standard of my house I could get higher offers than the president’s office’s but I am proud to rent my home to the outgoing president,” Solomon told Capital with delight.
Sources said that the owner has to turn over the house to the Office of the President, by the end of September.
As per Ethiopia’s laws, the outgoing president has the right to receive several benefits, including a presidential standard residential house, but if the former president is involved in political activities the benefits shall be terminated.
According to the country’s constitution, the president shall not be in the position for more than two terms or 12 years. The current President is the first to occupy the position for two terms since the constitution was ratified.
President Girma, whose second six-year term comes to an end next week, is renowned for his role on environmental issues.
The ‘Proclamation No. 255/2001 Administration of the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’ states that the government has to supply an up-to-the standard residential house and other facilities for the outgoing head of state. A September 2009 proclamation no. 653/2009 further states that the government will provide benefits for an outgoing head of state, heads of government and other top government officials.
According to the proclamation number 653/2009 under the article ‘Rights and Benefits of Outgoing Heads of State and Government, Senior Government Officials, Members of Parliament and Judges Proclamation’ an outgoing President, Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister shall be provided with a residential house having four-to-five bedrooms, the administrative costs of which, including remunerations of housekeeping staff, shall be covered by the government.
The proclamation also states that an outgoing President, Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister and his family shall get local and overseas medical services at the expense of the Government.
“An outgoing President, Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister shall be provided by the government with three high standard transport vehicles,” the 2009 proclamation also states.
In related news, speculation about the incoming president is rampant, even though the government or the leading party (EPRDF) has not given any hint about the identity of the incoming president.
One presumed front-runner to replace President Girma is former Caretaker Mayor of Addis Ababa and prominent diplomat Ambassador Berhane Deressa. However, it has not yet been confirmed by the government.
According to the 2001 proclamation, the president shall have no affiliation with any political parties.

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