After widespread protests, a six-month state of emergency started in October. Now, much depends on the next move of leaders who have long used their track record of economic development to paper over widespread human rights abuses and political repression.
By James Jeffrey (CSMonitor.com) |
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — For nearly a year, mass protests surged across Ethiopia – and stormed across the world’s headlines – as a movement that began with farmers fighting land grabs outside the country’s capital mushroomed into the country’s most sustained and widespread period of dissent and protests since its ruling party came to power more than two decades ago.
Then, suddenly, it all appeared to stop.
In October, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) announced a six-month state of emergency, banning protests and social media and arresting thousands of demonstrators in mass sweeps. The desired effect was almost immediate – demonstrations previously rocking the country’s two most populous regions subsided, and a fragile calm returned.
But the state of emergency now leaves Ethiopia at a critical juncture.
How long the current calm holds – and where the country’s politics goes next – will depend largely on the next move of the EPRDF government, which has long used its track record of economic development to paper over widespread human rights abuses and political repression.
If it takes heed of the protesters’ calls for more transparent, democratic governance, however, that would go a long way, observers say, to establishing a sustainable peace, giving the country a chance to repair its brand as the safest and most reliable country in the volatile Horn of Africa.
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