Last month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had appointed a new cabinet — and that half of its ministers were female. Particularly noteworthy are the appointments of Aisha Mohammed as minister of defense and Muferiat Kamil as the first minister of peace, prestigious ministries at a time when Ethiopia is beginning to soften relations with neighboring Eritrea.

Two days after Abiy’s announcement, Rwanda’s leader, Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame, announced that his country’s cabinet would also be 50 percent female; its members of parliament have been majority female since the genocide.

Some observers have argued that dictators undertake high-profile gender reforms such as these to improve their country’s image, hoping investors and lenders will look more favorably on a “modernizing autocrat.” But our research, published at Comparative Political Studies, shows that these reforms can also bolster domestic political stability.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le premier ministre éthiopien Abiy Ahmed (t-shirt vert) salue la foule lors d'une réunion de soutien en juin 2018. © AP / Mulugeta Ayene

Les mouvements de guérilla nés pendant la guerre froide ont gagné une notoriété internationale mais n’ont pas pu, à de rares exceptions, évoluer vers une solution politique. La guérilla tamoule a été défaite, l’OLP est marginalisée tandis que les groupes kurdes sont en phase de reflux. Un constat s’impose: les revendications culturelles, politiques et sociales sont rejetées par les gouvernements. Malgré leur marginalisation, ces mouvements se maintiennent et l’état de violence perdure.

Pourtant, l’une des plus anciennes guérillas éthiopiennes, le Front de libération oromo (FLO), vient de signer un accord de paix avec Addis-Abeba. En parallèle du rapprochement avec l’Erythrée, la fin de ce conflit est un signe encourageant pour la démocratisation et la stabilisation du pays.…  Seguir leyendo »

After a year of political upheaval and mass protests, Ethiopia’s autocratic government has been suggesting that it might be willing to transform its elections-for-show into elections that are genuinely free and fair. Within the past year, the government has freed its political prisoners. Its prime minister resigned. The ruling coalition held its first-ever contested elections to replace him — and selected the protesters’ choice of Abiy Ahmed, the first time that a prime minister had come from the Oromo ethnic group.

In July, while visiting Washington, Abiy told a group of thousands of expatriate Ethiopian dissidents that his “ultimate goal is to ensure that a democratic election takes place in Ethiopia.”

But many obstacles block that path.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians rallied in the famous Meskel Square, located at the heart of the capital city, Addis Ababa. Citizen groups and human rights activists had organized the event to show support for Ethiopia’s reformist leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — to recognize Abiy’s commitment to democratic change and encourage implementation.

The demonstration was colorful. Many wore T-shirts bearing pictures of Abiy and his right-hand men. Others carried banners thanking Abiy for his agenda of togetherness. The prime minister wore a T-shirt with a picture of Nelson Mandela, which read, “We are not free until we all are free.” Abiy gave a rousing speech calling for national unity, and preaching love, coexistence, and democratic values.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Ethiopian military officer stands guard in the outskirts of Badme, a territorial dispute town between Eritrea and Ethiopia.CreditTiksa Negeri/Reuters

Early this month, the Ethiopian government declared that it was finally ready to implement a peace deal it signed with Eritrea nearly two decades ago. The Eritrean government didn’t respond to the announcement for over two weeks — until Wednesday, when President Isaias Afwerki said that “the positive direction that has been set in motion is crystal clear.” Mr. Isaias also promised to send a delegation to Ethiopia “to gauge current developments directly and in depth.”

For many years, however, even as Ethiopia declared its willingness to implement a 2002 judgment about the two states’ border, it refused to withdraw its troops from Eritrean territory until other issues — about armed groups, trade, access to Eritrea’s ports on the Red Sea — were settled.…  Seguir leyendo »

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chairman of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, in April.CreditMulugeta Ayene/Associated Press

If nature abhors a vacuum, politics abhors a military standoff, especially between two nations in one of the poorest, most volatile and most strategically sensitive regions of the world.

And so there was much excitement when the government of Ethiopia announced on Tuesday that it would fully accept the ruling of an international tribunal in the country’s boundary dispute with Eritrea — some 16 years after the judgment was issued.

In 2002, a special international commission delineated the border between the two countries, as they had agreed in the peace deal that ended their 1998-2000 war. Demarcation on the ground was expected to start swiftly, allowing cross-border trade and cooperation to resume.…  Seguir leyendo »

New prime minister Abiy Ahmed attends a rally in Ambo, Ethiopia. Photo by Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images

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 »

L’Ethiopie, terre des opportunités, nouveau « Far East »… A Addis-Abeba, les autorités connaissent le bréviaire de l’attractivité sur le bout des doigts. « Dans les années 1990, nous étions une toute petite économie. Nous sommes maintenant l’une des plus grosses d’Afrique subsaharienne, une destination sérieuse pour les investissements et un futur hub industriel. » Ministre des finances, Abraham Tekeste s’adresse à un public sagement assis dans les rangées d’un amphithéâtre : les représentants d’une quarantaine d’entreprises françaises, venus, les 8 et 9 mars, en visite exploratoire. Avides d’en savoir plus sur le modèle d’un pays qui connaît depuis une décennie une croissance échevelée, la plus rapide du continent…

L’Ethiopie séduit et, pourtant, l’Ethiopie inquiète.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the latest twist in Ethiopia’s current political dramas, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn formally submitted his resignation from his position as the nation’s premier and as chairman of the ruling EPRDF coalition. That’s a dramatic development — and no one knows where it will lead. Dessalegn was elected as a compromise candidate who could balance the interests of various factions within the ruling coalition and maintain the status quo. He appeared to manage this well — until recently.

So how did autocratic Ethiopia, a U.S. ally and Africa’s second most populous country, end up in its current tumult? Here’s what you need to know.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters welcome Merera Gudina, leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, on Jan. 17, after his release from prison in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Is Ethiopia opening — ever so slightly — to democracy?

Some observers were cautiously optimistic after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprising Jan. 3 announcement that the government would release some political prisoners, including opposition leader Merera Gudina. Starting in mid-January, Gudina and hundreds of Ethiopians detained during a 2016 wave of anti-government protests were released from a federal prison.

That release, however, was partial. The government is still holding thousands of other opposition figures and protesters, along with journalists who have reported critically on the regime.

On Thursday the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corp. reported that 417 people serving sentences for terrorism, inciting violence and similar offenses to be freed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopia’s commitment to peace-making in South Sudan has been critical for regional stability. It has much to gain from continuing this engagement, including a secure border and trade with a stable neighbour. But achieving lasting peace after South Sudan’s two-year-long civil war is a long-term undertaking.

Ethiopia has shown strong leadership and a level of direct involvement in peace efforts in Sudan and South Sudan that few countries can match.

The African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) peace talks on the conflicts are held in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa led the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD, a regional body) peace process on South Sudan and is a guarantor of the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS).…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly three months into the state of emergency declared by Ethiopia, the atmosphere on the streets of its bustling and impressively modern metropolis and capital, Addis Ababa, feels tense.

At 2,355m above sea level, the climate is pleasantly mild most of the year. Its broad thoroughfares are studded with magnificent cultural attractions. These are infused with the glow of an ancient yet resilient civilisation that could withstand both Jesuit and Wahhabi encroachment.

Yet, at present, tourists are understandably few and far between. There have been reports of hundreds of deaths in districts surrounding the capital in recent weeks. But these have been played down as an exaggeration by Prime Minister Heilemariam Desalegn.…  Seguir leyendo »

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID)- the government body responsible for the Britain’s  overseas aid budget  and major backer of development organisations including VSO and Tearfund- recently announced its plan to back a proposal to fund the creation of an industrial centre in Ethiopia which aims to create 100 000 jobs, some of will go to asylum seekers, in order to create incentives for people to stay in Ethiopia and stem the flow of migrants watering Europe’s ‘crisis’.

Ethiopia currently hosts the highest number of refugees on the African continent, due to a combination of its unfortunate and unstable neighbours, its open-door asylum policy and it being an ideal stopover point for people migrating northwards to Europe from Eastern and Central Africa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopia’s prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared a six-month state of emergency on 8 October, as well as hinting at electoral reform and potential engagement with the political opposition. Demonstrations have been ongoing for nearly a year. Until July, these were significant but sporadic, and largely concentrated in towns across the country’s Oromiyya Regional State. Subsequent tensions around Gondar triggered a wave of protests across towns in the Amhara Region. Intensification of protests in both regions has followed. On 2 October, security forces intervened at a large Oromo religious festival in Bishoftu to disrupt demonstrators, triggering a stampede which reportedly killed as many as 200 people.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopia is facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude, yet its government and Western enablers refuse to acknowledge and recognize the depth of the crisis.

The nationwide protest held on Saturday by the Oromo people, the single largest ethnic group both in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, is clear evidence of a crisis that is threatening to degenerate into a full-scale social explosion.

The protests are the most unprecedented and absolutely extraordinary display of defiance by the Oromo people and it is by far the most significant political developments in the country since the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the strongman who ruled the country for over two decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

The worst drought in three decades has left almost 20 million Ethiopians — one-fifth of the population — desperately short of food. And yet the country’s mortality rate isn’t expected to increase: In other words, Ethiopians aren’t starving to death.

I’ve studied famine and humanitarian relief for more than 30 years, and I wasn’t prepared for what I saw during a visit to Ethiopia last month. As I traveled through northern and central provinces, I saw imported wheat being brought to the smallest and most remote villages, thanks to a new Chinese-built railroad and a fleet of newly imported trucks. Water was delivered to places where wells had run dry.…  Seguir leyendo »

Oil is the Middle East’s glamor product, sought after by the entire world and bringing the region wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. But water is the mundane resource that matters even more to locals for, without it, they face the horrible choice of leaving their homes or perishing within them.

That choice may sound hyperbolic, but the threat is real. Egypt stands out as having the largest population at risk and being the country, other than Iraq and Yemen, with the most existential hydrologic problem.

As every schoolchild learns, Egypt is the gift of the Nile and the Nile is by far the globe’s longest river.…  Seguir leyendo »

On one of the last occasions an Egyptian president visited Addis Ababa, he got no further than the road from the airport: In 1995 the motorcade of President Hosni Mubarak came under fire from Egyptian jihadists. Mr. Mubarak was saved by his bulletproof car, his driver’s skill and Ethiopian sharpshooters.

After that, Ethiopian and Egyptian intelligence officers worked together to root out terrorists in the Horn of Africa, contributing, along with pressure from the United States government, to Osama bin Laden’s expulsion from Sudan in 1996. But that was the limit of their cooperation.

Egypt and Ethiopia have otherwise been locked in a low-intensity contest over which nation would dominate the region, undermining each other’s interests in Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Secretary of State John F. Kerry traveled to Ethiopia last year, he met a young blogger named Natnael Feleke. When he returned a few months ago, Kerry found that Feleke, along with five other bloggers and three journalists, had been arrested — the latest in a long line of journalists the Ethiopian government has detained on the claim that they were trying to incite terrorism. Although Kerry addressed the arrests with officials he met, and President Obama has spoken forcefully on the importance of good governance in Africa, preoccupation with immediate security priorities — in particular counter-terrorism — trumps the fine words.…  Seguir leyendo »

I was confused the first time I saw a giant billboard in Addis Ababa advertising Members Only and stressing how “membership has its pleasures,” accompanied by a stark silhouette of a leggy female figure. It reminded me of advertisements in New York for so-called gentlemen’s clubs — not the sort of places you tend to find in Ethiopia’s capital, where levels of disposable income and where that money goes differ markedly.

Members Only turned out to be the latest condom brand released by DKT Ethiopia, an American nonprofit that since 1989 has sold Ethiopia’s most popular brands. DKT’s condoms are usually sold well below market cost, heavily subsidized, as part of the effort to tackle problems like H.I.V.…  Seguir leyendo »