It has been a whirlwind year for Ethiopia since Abiy Ahmed became prime minister. He has initiated a raft of reforms to overhaul Ethiopia’s authoritarian government structure, significantly improved relations with neighbours and received widespread international acclaim, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. But the same period has seen a sharp increase in lawlessness, intensified domestic conflict, heightened identity-based violence and huge internal displacement.
The fervour of ‘Abiymania’ has waned in recent months, as the reality of the monumental tests that lie ahead hit home. Having created massive expectations among competing constituencies, there are growing fears that Abiy’s reforms might end up achieving neither good governance nor stability.… Seguir leyendo »
After a turbulent three years for Ethiopia, including large-scale anti-government protests, new prime minister Dr Abiy Ahmed is likely to enjoy a honeymoon period – and seems early on to have persuaded many he can bring stability, unity and reform to the country.
Abiy – an Oromo leader in his early 40s with a mixed ethnic and religious background – is now the youngest leader of any African country, and heads up one of the four ethnically-based constituent parties, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO).
He faces significant long-term obstacles that will need to be confronted, and the pace of change will create tensions and significant resistance, especially considering Dr Abiy’s rise was partially a direct response to the popular protests which have gripped Ethiopia since 2014, particularly in the Oromia and Amhara regions, which account for almost 60 per cent of the population.… Seguir leyendo »
South Sudan faces an existential crisis. More than four million people – between a third and half of the population – are displaced from their homes. Nearly eight million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The economy is in tatters. After almost four years of civil war, conflict has devolved into fighting across multiple fronts.
A new regional peace effort
In an attempt to address the ongoing crisis, the Horn of Africa’s regional organization, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), initiated the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) in June. The forum is intended to revive an effectively defunct 2015 peace accord, the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), which collapsed following fighting in Juba in July 2016 between government forces and the armed opposition loyal to former First Vice President Riek Machar.… Seguir leyendo »
Regional stand-off risks polarizing partners in the Horn
The Horn of Africa and the Gulf share close geographical, historical, cultural and political links. Increasing layers of engagement and the formalization of security, governance, trade and development ties between the two regions, particularly visible in the last two years since the war in Yemen began, mean that the longer the Gulf dispute goes on, the greater the ramifications will be for countries in the Horn of Africa.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have formed a strong alliance over issues of mutual importance. While Riyadh’s primary concern is opposing Iranian influence in the region, most visible through the Saudi-led coalition’s actions in Yemen, Abu Dhabi has worked to counteract political Islam, which it believes threatens security in the Gulf and for its Middle East allies.… Seguir leyendo »
On 8 February, widespread street celebrations took place in Somalia, following the election of its 9th president: Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, nicknamed ‘Farmajo’.
A popular former prime minister and dual Somali-US national, his victory has raised hopes that the country remains on track in its gradual emergence from a 30-year civil war—and protracted fight against the insurgency of Islamist militants al Shabaab. Though serious flaws with Somalia’s political system remain, the election was the most extensive effort at a democratic exercise in the country for many decades. Successive peaceful transfers of power hint at emerging layers of democracy not always visible elsewhere on the continent.… Seguir leyendo »
The Somali presidential elections have been postponed four times since 10 September, reflective of an imperfect process and the country’s many problems. Despite the resolution of contests for over 90 per cent of seats in the lower house, and the selection of a majority of the 54 members of the newly constituted upper house, repeated interruptions and the need to re-contest some seats mean that the selection of the next president and government will be pushed into 2017.
But progress to date also highlights the success of reforms and an evolution of the political transition. Despite its flaws, Somalia has a more competitive electoral process and political landscape than many countries in the Horn of Africa or elsewhere on the continent.… Seguir leyendo »
Tight political choreography ensured that Djibouti’s presidential polls on 8 April resulted in the re-election of Ismael Omar Guelleh for his fourth five-year term. The vote highlighted both the enhanced strategic importance of the tiny state and the choices facing its ruling elite. Revenues from foreign military bases and transit trade are rising fast; and Guelleh’s legitimacy in the eyes of key overseas allies and neighbouring Ethiopia appears assured.
What is less certain is whether the president, now 68, has either the will or capacity to transform his considerable diplomatic and economic capital into tangible improvements in welfare, education and employment for the many Djiboutians facing acute poverty.… Seguir leyendo »