Ethiopia is at the crossroads and the ruling party should drastically change the ways of its rule and kickstart a fresh process of all-inclusive transition, says EDP’s President.

By Addis Getachew (Anadolu Agency) |

Addis Ababa

A recent statement of concern by the African Union has thrown the spotlight onto what many see as a simmering problem in Ethiopia which — if left unaddressed — could rapidly descend into a nationwide crisis.

AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma last week called for what she described as “a high-level of restraint” amid growing unrest.

And on Sunday, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — leading a high-level delegation to Juba, South Sudan and Addis Ababa — raised concerns about excessive use of force.

In Ethiopia, conflicts between anti-government demonstrators and the security forces have been a usual sight and have been increasing in intensity since November last year.

The conflict began with popular opposition to a city expansion plan in the capital, Addis Ababa, which encroached upon farmland. The scheme never materialized but the anti-government demonstrations continued.

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On another front, a tribal community near the border with Sudan in northwest Ethiopia began protests for recognition of their ethnic identity, demanding they be removed from the jurisdiction of the northern Tigray State.

The Amhara protests expanded quickly into many other counties.

Tensions continue unabated. In several areas of Oromia, anti-government demonstrations continue with people making a trademark gesture of protest — raised arms crossed in an “X” sign.

This sign has been shown to the world by the likes of famous athletes such as runner Feyisa Lilesa who recently won silver at the Rio Olympics. Two more Ethiopian athletes have repeated the gesture in international competitions.

Rising tensions

Over the past month, the anti-government demonstrations have become intense and more frequent. In the resort lakeside city of Bahir Dar, capital of the Amhara regional state, 551 kilometers (342 miles) northwest of Addis Ababa, one resident — speaking anonymously — told Anadolu Agency she had not left home for weeks.

“All businesses were closed during the stay-at-home protest in Bahir Dar,” she said in a telephone interview. It was not until last Friday that some residents were able to go out and shop for essentials.

According to her, on some days it would look peaceful, with no demonstrations or strikes, but on others tensions would quickly escalate with gunshots being heard.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 500 people have been killed by the security forces since November 2015. The government, however, insists that it will conduct an independent investigation.

Chane Kebede, the president of the opposition Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) told Anadolu Agency, “The country is at the crossroads and the ruling party should drastically change the ways of its rule and kickstart a fresh process of all-inclusive transition.

“That should usher in a whole process of national reconciliation. It is the only viable way left for this country to bring itself together and move forward on a democratic path.”

Continue reading this story on Anadolu Agency
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