Transformation And Turmoil: Ethiopia Under Abiy Ahmed
Faizan Hashmi 3 months ago Fri 18th June 2021 | 11:30 AM
Addis Ababa, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Jun, 2021 ) :Abiy Ahmed promised a fresh start after years of iron-fisted rule in Ethiopia when he became prime minister in 2018 following anti-government street protests in Africa's second-most populous nation.
- A new hope - Abiy was appointed in April 2018 by Ethiopia's authoritarian ruling coalition after years of agitation by the country's two largest ethnic groups -- the Oromos and Amharas -- forced his predecessor to resign.
The country's first ever Oromo prime minister, Abiy sparked early hope of a democratic resurgence. Dissidents were freed from prison, exiles welcomed home, and a formal apology issued for state brutality.
Shortly after taking office, Abiy extended an olive branch by accepting the demarcation of the two countries' shared border as drawn by the UN in 2002. He then paid a historic visit to Eritrea, where both sides declared the war over.
- State of unrest - The opening of political space under Abiy, however, spurred ethno-nationalism in restive pockets of Ethiopia long kept at bay by the repressive former regime.
The Sidama people in Ethiopia's south voted overwhelmingly in 2019 to create their own regional state, Ethiopia's tenth. Other groups also challenged Abiy for greater ethnic self-rule, sometimes drawing a brutal response from security forces.
Abiy has struggled to keep a lid on ethnic violence, including in his native Oromia.
In June 2020, the shooting of an Oromo pop singer there sparked protests that saw 160 people killed in inter-ethnic violence and clashes with security forces. Opposition leaders were rounded up and jailed, accused of terrorism.
Oromia has also witnessed massacres blamed on local rebel groups. Meanwhile, hundreds of civilians have been killed in ethnically-motivated clashes in Amhara, the second-most populous region.
- War in the north - In late 2019, Abiy disbanded Ethiopia's long-ruling coalition and formed the Prosperity Party with his political allies. The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which had dominated the coalition before Abiy took power, refused to join.
In November 2020, Abiy accused the TPLF of orchestrating attacks on federal army camps in Tigray, and sent troops into the mountainous region. He promised a swift military campaign to detain and disarm the party's leadership and militias.
More than seven months later, the war drags on.
Ethiopia has faced censure on the world stage as a humanitarian crisis has worsened in Tigray, and troops have been accused of mass rape and ethnic cleansing. Eritrean forces, who crossed into Ethiopia to fight the TPLF, have refused to leave.
The ruling coalition that preceded him claimed staggering majorities in the two previous elections, which observers said fell far short of being free and fair.
The war in Tigray, and ethnic unrest elsewhere, is expected to make voting impossible in large parts of the diverse country of 110 million.