Direct phone call between PM Abiy and Debretsion; and others: Weekly summary

Direct Phone call between PM Abiy and Debretsion

Last week, one of the controversial claims was about an alleged phone call between PM Abiy Ahmed and Debretsion Gebremichael, Chairman of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

There were recent improvements in the relations between the federal government and the TPLF. There were claims that the belligerents were holding discussions in another country regarding a potential agreement to end the conflict.

Amid this, a controversial claim came out. Tom Gardner, Ethiopia correspondent for The Economist claimed that there were direct phone calls between PM Abiy and Debretsion.

Instantly, counterclaims emerged from both sides denying the claim that the two leaders directly spoke with each other on the phone.

Getachew Reda, a member of the Executive Committee of TPLF stated that there was no phone conversation between PM Abiy and Debretsion since the beginning of the armed conflict.

Asked by Deutsche Welle (DW), Legesse Tulu, Minister of Government Communication Services Minister denied the claim that Prime Minister Abiy and Debretsion talked to each other over the telephone.

The Ethiopian Mass Media Authority issued a warning letter to Tom Gardner accusing him of circulating false information and denied the claimed direct phone call between the belligerent leaders.

Girma Wake appointed as CEO of Ethiopian Airlines

There was a news report last week that Girma Wake was appointed as CEO of Ethiopian Airlines following the resignation of the former CEO Tewolde GebreMariam.

The former CEO resigned and his resignation was accepted by the Board of Management of Ethiopian Airlines. The Board of the Airlines on Mar 23, 2022, stated that it would shortly announce the new Group CEO and successor of Tewolde GebreMariam, and Girma Wake, former CEO was appointed as Board Chairman, replacing Abadula Gemeda.

In reference to this statement, a tweet post reported that Girma Wake replaced Tewolde Gebremariam as CEO of the airline.

HaqCHeck looked into the claim and counter-checked the statement issued by Ethiopian Airlines regarding the acceptance of the resignation of the former CEO and the appointment of Girma Wake as Board Chairman.

Thereafter on Mar 24, 2022, it was announced that Mesfin Tasew, a former Chief Operating Officer was appointed as the new CEO of the airline.

Hence, HaqCheck looked into the claim and confirmed that the claim is PARTLY FALSE.

Plane shot down by Eritrean army

Another claim that was fact-checked by HaqCheck was that a plane trying to fly through Eritrean airspace from Sudan into Tigray was shot down by the Eritrean army. A Twitter account with more than 110 thousand followers shared a picture on Mar 16, 2022, captioned “Antonov plane that carried weapons from Sudan across Eritrea to Tigray was shot down by an Eritrean anti-aircraft.”

The tweet shared an image that shows heavy fire and smoke.  HaqCheck assessed the image and spotted it on a YouTube channel called AERO press BG which has more than 2000 subscribers captioned, “National Air Cargo’s Boeing 747-400 freighter crash in Afghanistan” on Apr 30, 2013. The video of the incident also appeared on CNN aired on May 2, 2013. It was reported in the news that, “a civilian cargo plane crash killed seven Americans. The moment after taking off from Bagram airbase in Afghanistan six of the Americans on board were from Michigan and one from Kentucky. An American contractor nearby filmed the incident.”

The Twitter post cropped out an image from the video of the cargo crash accident and employed it to accompany its claim. 

Therefore, HaqCheck inspected the image used to support the claim and proved it wrong, to finally render it False.

Scam: Noah Real Estate giving awards

A message was circulating on Telegram claiming that Noah Real Estate was giving awards to Telegram users who would send the message to others. The message on the Telegram channel reads that the real estate was awarding a two-bedroom apartment to those who share the message.

HaqCheck talked to the company to prove whether the Telegram channel belongs to it. Noah Real Estate confirmed that the information was false and it doesn’t have any Telegram channel.


HaqCheck recommends social media users be careful of potential scams. Particularly on Telegram, scam messages were observed being circulated.

These messages sometimes demand readers to fill out various forms and have links that lead to other sites. Thus, users should refrain from sharing it with others, clicking the given links, and should avoid filling out forms.

We recommend social media users that they should be cautious toward claims on these platforms. They should try to confirm the information they come across. They should look for original content and official statements regarding the issues in question.

Information disorders always intensify and pose damage in a situation when there is little information. And rumors and false information take advantage of the information gap. To avoid this the government should allow open access to information to the public and media sector.

Multinational tech companies that host social media platforms should work with local fact-checking organizations to prevent or reduce disinformation dissemination via their platforms.

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