The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) near Guba in Ethiopia. Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images.

Ongoing talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan attempting to find a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the dispute over the Blue Nile Basin offer a unique opportunity for trans-boundary cooperation and have huge significance for a region dealing with multiple complex issues.

With trust clearly at a premium, the continuation of talks demonstrates good faith, but there is an urgent need to strengthen negotiations through all available diplomatic channels. The African Union (AU) is well-placed to continue mediating, but sustained high-level engagement is also needed from regional and international partners such as the EU and US, as well as multilateral support in terms of both financial and technical resources.…  Seguir leyendo »

Burned buildings which were set on fire during the violence after the assassination of Oromo's pop singer Hachalu Hundessa are seen in Shashamene, Ethiopia on 12 July 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

Violent unrest in Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia region has led to the loss of over 177 lives, with the detention of thousands and widespread destruction to property. The rise of identity-based conflict and related political tension is the most severe test of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s leadership since he came to power two years ago.

Protests erupted after the assassination on the 29th of June of Hachalu Hundessa, a prominent Oromo singer and activist. They spiralled into widespread rioting, looting and arson which devastated some towns. Targeted attacks and killings, particularly against ethnic minorities in Oromia, have damaged communities’ social fabric and heightened regional tensions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian election authority head Birtukan Mideksa (R) swears in during the handover ceremony at the Parliament in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 22 November 2018. Anadolu Agency/Minasse Wondimu Hailu via AFP

The arrival of COVID-19 could not have come at a more sensitive time for Ethiopia, which was due to hold pivotal elections in August after five years of political turmoil. On 31 March, some two weeks after authorities announced the first coronavirus case in Africa’s second-most populous country, the electoral board suspended preparations for the vote due to the public health risk. Then, on 10 April, parliament approved a five-month state of emergency, giving authorities sweeping powers to battle the disease. As elections will not occur before parliament’s term ends in early October, an interim governing arrangement will likely be necessary.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los incendios devastadores desde el Amazonas hasta Australia, las fuertes tormentas y los patrones de lluvias cambiantes han hecho que a los responsables de las políticas les resulte difícil guardar silencio sobre el cambio climático. En Estados Unidos, legisladores y candidatos presidenciales demócratas hoy hablan de un Nuevo Trato Verde, que podrían implementar si recuperaran la Casa Blanca y el Senado en las elecciones presidenciales y parlamentarias de noviembre.

De la misma manera, en diciembre, la Comisión Europea aprobó un Trato Verde Europeo, que promete una economía sin emisiones netas de carbono en 2050, una creación generalizada de empleos y una mejor calidad de vida.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed picked up his Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm earlier this month, then returned home to Ethiopia to face challenges beyond sustaining peace with Eritrea. In November, Abiy proposed merging the four-party Ethiopian People’s Revolution Democratic Front (EPRDF) into one party, bringing an end to the ruling group in Ethiopia since the communist junta was overthrown in 1991.

The EPRDF came to power as the Cold War ended. Instead of abandoning their Marxist-Leninist roots, the group’s leaders tried to fuse revolutionary principles and class politics with capitalism and liberal democracy. The EPRDF’s successor party — the Prosperity Party — is a radical departure from the past, in terms of ideology and membership base.…  Seguir leyendo »

When the Norwegian Nobel Committee gives the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize medal to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday, celebrations will be undercut by many expressions of disappointment and outrage. Local and international voices criticizing his domestic record attracted considerable media attention, while some took to opinion pages to develop their arguments further.

But Abiy’s domestic record was not why he was awarded the prestigious prize. According to the committee, he was chosen for «his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea,» resulting in a peace deal they hope «will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.»…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir take part in a tripartite summit regarding a dam on the Nile River, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 10 February 2019. AFP/ANADOLU AGENCY/Handout /Presidency of Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are set to meet on the margins of an ongoing two-day Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in an effort to ease tensions over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia is building the dam on the main tributary of the Nile, and Egypt fears that the project will imperil its water supply.

Experts from those two nations and Sudan, the third country directly involved, had neared a technical consensus last year on how fast Ethiopia would fill the dam’s reservoir. But the past few months have seen Addis Ababa and Cairo move further apart amid feisty exchanges of rhetoric.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imagine a man negotiating a crushingly repressive governing machine, doing it from the inside, and sweeping to power. Then imagine him immediately throwing the prison doors open to free thousands of political prisoners and journalists, welcoming back exiles, allowing banned opposition figures to run for office, and quickly reaching a peace deal with a neighboring country after decades of war.

That man is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

In a time when democracy is under assault around the world, the Nobel Committee wisely chose to shine its spotlight on Ahmed, a man who has made it his mission to reverse decades of oppression, push against the global tide, and give peace, freedom and equality a chance in a deeply troubled part of the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sur Internet, un flot de commentaires dithyrambiques salue le dernier récipiendaire du prix Nobel de la paix, le premier ministre éthiopien Abiy Ahmed. Peu importe que cette distinction pourrait en fait entraver les « efforts » pour mener l’Ethiopie à « une vie meilleure et un avenir brillant » plutôt que de les appuyer. En attribuant son prix, le comité Nobel salue d’abord « l’initiative décisive » du premier ministre éthiopien pour « résoudre le conflit frontalier avec l’Erythrée voisine ». Mais alors ce prix aurait dû être au moins partagé… avec Issayas Afeworki, le dictateur d’Asmara.

Le prédécesseur d’Abiy Ahmed avait redoublé d’effort pour se rapprocher de l’Erythrée.…  Seguir leyendo »

High-profile assassinations, intercommunal violence and the question of Sidama statehood have endangered Ethiopia’s transition to a multi-party democracy. In this excerpt from its Watch List 2019 – Second Update, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to support a parliamentary vote and assist with economic reforms.

This commentary is part of our Watch List 2019 – Second Update.

Ethiopia is being buffeted by deadly unrest as it attempts a rapid transition to multi-party democracy under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. His government has chalked up significant achievements during the last eighteen months of political and economic liberalisation. But the challenges it faces were laid bare on 22 June when the president of one of the country’s regional states, Amhara, and the Ethiopian military’s chief of staff were assassinated in concurrent events in separate cities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian deacons stand by the coffin of the army's chief of staff, Gen. Seare Mekonnen, who was shot by his bodyguard on June 22. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

In Ethiopia, a wave of assassinations has renewed fears of political turmoil. On June 22, gunmen burst into a meeting, killing the president of the Amhara region, Ambachew Mekonnen and two aides. Shortly thereafter, a bodyguard killed the army chief of staff, Gen. Seare Mekonnen, along with retired Gen. Gezai Abera.

Two days later, Ethiopian special forces killed Gen. Asaminew Tsige on the outskirts of Bahir Dar. The government alleges that Asaminew was the ringleader of this violent conspiracy and released a tape recording of Asaminew saying, “we have taken measures . . . because the regional ruling party leaders have sabotaged the people’s demands.”…  Seguir leyendo »

People walk past the gate of the Eastern Industrial Zone in Ethiopia in the town of Dukem near the capital, Addis Ababa, on March 21, 2018. (Elias Meseret/AP)

For years, the biggest names in apparel have had their clothing made in China, Bangladesh and other countries in East and South Asia. Now, with wages rising in Asia, companies such as Hanes and H&M have identified a new frontier for low-paid labor. The new destination is Ethiopia, to which Asian manufacturers are shifting some of their production capacity on the promise of low labor costs. Entry-level garment workers in Ethiopia typically receive a base salary worth only $26 a month — the lowest, by far, in the worldwide clothing supply chain.

Opened in June 2017, Hawassa Industrial Park (named after the southern lakeside city where it’s located) is one of five huge publicly owned complexes built for the Ethiopian government by Chinese construction companies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in January. Photo: Getty Images.

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 »

En enero, el parlamento de Etiopía ratificó una legislación que les da a los refugiados derechos sin precedentes, incluido el derecho a buscar empleo y educación, y a moverse libremente fuera de los confines de los asentamientos de refugiados. El Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) elogió a Etiopía por tener “una de las políticas más progresistas para refugiados en África” –una política que podría servir de modelo para otros.

Los países que reciben refugiados en todo el mundo deberían seguir el ejemplo que marcan países como Etiopía y Uganda, en particular dándoles a los refugiados un mejor acceso a empleos formales y escolaridad, e intentando alojarlos en comunidades más que en campos.…  Seguir leyendo »

In 1974, Haile Mariam Mengistu (3rd-L), was the Ethiopian leader and the chairman of the Provisional Military Administration Council (1977-87). He will then become President of Ethiopia (1987-91).

The summer of 2018 visited a naturalized Ethiopian American with a twinge of pity. After about 40 years of anonymity, Nigussie Mergia, who is now 58 years old, could be facing a fatal intersection of time and space following his arrest on charges of multiple immigration offenses. The sealed indictment from the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) alleges that Mr. Nigussie lied in his immigration documents about his role in persecuting Ethiopian prisoners for their political opinions during the country’s so-called “Red Terror” period in 1977-78. His trial is to open on February 25 before a district court in Virginia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian army soldiers controlled protestors from the capital and those displaced by ethnic-based violence over the weekend in Burayu, as they demonstrated demanding justice from the government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last September.CreditMulugeta Ayene/Associated Press

Abiy Ahmed, the 42-year-old prime minister of Ethiopia, has dazzled Africa with a volley of political reforms since his appointment in April. Mr. Abiy ended the 20-year border war with Eritrea, released political prisoners, removed bans on dissident groups and allowed their members to return from exile, declared press freedom and granted diverse political groups the freedom to mobilize and organize.

Mr. Abiy has been celebrated as a reformer, but his transformative politics has come up against ethnic federalism enshrined in Ethiopia’s Constitution. The resulting clash threatens to exacerbate competitive ethnic politics further and push the country toward an interethnic conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

By almost any measure, 2018 has been a disastrous year for democracy. Authoritarian leaders have made decisive moves to tighten their grip on power by eroding practices indispensable to a functioning democracy, such as the rule of law and a free press, and blithely ignoring or violently suppressing mass protests in places such as Hungary, Nicaragua, the Philippines and elsewhere.

And yet, there are parts of the world where, quite unexpectedly, the struggle for democratic reform made giant strides — a reminder that the right mix of activism, leadership and circumstances can suddenly change the course of history. The good news came from starkly different countries, where undemocratic practices had been playing out in unique ways.…  Seguir leyendo »

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.”…  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.”…  Seguir leyendo »