Recently, demonstrators demanding political change in Ethiopia have been met with violent resistance by the government security forces.
By Jeffrey Gettleman (The New York Times) |
Is Ethiopia about to crack?
For the last decade, it has been one Africa’s most stable nations, a solid Western ally with a fast-growing economy. But in recent months, antigovernment protests have convulsed the country, spreading into more and more areas. In the last week alone, thousands of people stormed into the streets, demanding fundamental political change.
The government response, according to human rights groups, was ruthless. Witnesses said that police officers shot and killed scores of unarmed demonstrators. Videos circulating from protests thought to be from late last year or earlier this year show security officers whipping young people with sticks as they were forced to perform handstands against a wall. The top United Nations human rights official is now calling for a thorough investigation.
“It was always difficult holding this country together, and moving forward, it will be even harder,” said Rashid Abdi, the Horn of Africa project director for the International Crisis Group, a research group.
Ethiopia is the second most populous nation in Africa, after Nigeria, and its stability is cherished by the West. American military and intelligence services work closely with the Ethiopians to combat terrorist threats across the region, especially in Somalia, and few if any countries in Africa receive as much Western aid.
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