There is every sign that Ethiopia is plunging into a crisis whose scale, intensity, and multiple and interdependent drivers are unprecedented since the founding of the regime in 1991.

By René Lefort (openDemocracy) |

The Ethiopian leadership remains in denial. The long meetings of its ruling bodies have culminated in a report on 15 years of national “rebirth”, in which it awards itself good marks, while acknowledging the existence of a few problems here and there.

Nonetheless, the odd warning signal may be heard – though very seldom – in counterpoint to the general complacency. Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister and chairman of what is essentially the single party, has gone so far as to warn that the issues facing the regime are a matter of “life or death”,[1]and that Ethiopia is “sliding towards ethnic conflict similar to that in neighboring countries”.[2]

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Well, these neighboring countries include Somalia, epitome of the ‘failed state’, and Sudan, which has split in two and where civil war is raging in the new Southern State. In this, unusually, he is in agreement with Merera Gudina, head of one of the main opposition parties still permitted to operate, who speaks of the probability of “civil war […] if the government continues to repress”.[3] There is every sign that Ethiopia is plunging into a crisis whose scale, intensity, and multiple and interdependent drivers are unprecedented since the founding of the regime in 1991, although the impossibility of field research precludes any in-depth and conclusive assessment.

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