Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn held interview with Aljazeera English on various issues related to democracy and development. He said, Ethiopia‘s democracy is a house in the making where every election is getting better than the previous election. He also outlined that apart from conducting periodic election, Ethiopia considers participating and engaging the public in all aspects of development as an important aspect of democracy. He reaffirmed the Government’s view that it considers democracy not as a matter of choice but as an existential issue. He also rejected the allegation that there is wealth disparity in Ethiopia despite an impressive growth. He said, such allegation comes from misunderstanding about the mainstay of Ethiopia’s growth. According to Prime Minister Hailemariam, Ethiopian farmers and agriculture are the engines behind Ethiopia’s growth and dismissed the allegation of wealth disparity saying out of 70 million farmers only 15% are below poverty which shows the fairly distributed wealth. The 15% figure is a drop from 50% fifteen years ago, he added. Responding to a question on migration, he said, the war over poverty is not over and it is no miracle for people to leave the country in search of better life and stressed the inevitability of fighting poverty tooth and nail to tackle migration and subsequent challenges. He noted that Ethiopia needs 10-15 years to effectively eradicate absolute poverty which he said will bring a real change. He rejected criticisms of Human Right Watch and other right groups on the anti terrorism law and human rights in general as ideologically motivated. He said “We are criticized because we do not accept the neo liberal prescription”. Regarding freedom of speech and allegation of arrest of journalists on the ground of violating the anti-terrorism law, he said, Ethiopia’s anti-terror law is just a copy of similar laws of countries like UK and there is no special reason that makes it vulnerable to castigation. He raised the point that many countries like UK, Australia and France are making their anti terror laws tougher to underscore the importance of the law as Ethiopia is facing challenges from Alshabaab , Ginbot 7, OLF and ONLF, groups labeled as terrorists by the Ethiopian parliament. On the allegation of the detention of Zone 9 as political, he said, “if you become a blogger after joining a terrorist group you will not be immune from being tried before a court of law.” He said, with all considerations that the case is on pending trial, the government has evidence that the zone 9 bloggers have links with terrorist groups. Regarding the election, he said parties are taking part in every process of the election including campaign and televised debate. He said the allegation’s of Blue Party that the election lacks a level playing field is baseless, noting that the party has fielded the candidates it wanted to field. He criticized the Party for attempting to achieve political goals by instigating violence leaving aside the democratic process. Credibility of the election lies in the eyes of the public, the Prime Minister remarked. Regarding the recently signed Declaration of Principles, he said what is important is creating mutual trust and mutual respect which he said is important for discussion.