The United States, one of Ethiopia’s biggest backers, is urging the government to address the widespread dissatisfaction and open up the country’s politics before it is too late.

By Paul Schemm (The Washington Post) |

―Earlier this month, hundreds of high school students in the small Ethio­pian town of Meti gathered for a demonstration.

They were supposed to be celebrating the country’s Nations and Nationalities day, which commemorates the much-vaunted equality of Ethiopia’s 80 ethnic groups. Instead, they defied a two-month-old state of emergency to voice their anger over stalled political reforms and endemic corruption.

The protest was quickly dispersed and arrests were made, locals said, and calm returned to the village. But the incident is a sign of the simmering resentment that threatens to shatter Ethiopia’s enforced quiet.

The United States, one of Ethiopia’s biggest backers, is urging the government to address the widespread dissatisfaction and open up the country’s politics before it is too late.

“We feel it has reached an inflection point where some hard decisions are going to have to be made,” said Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for human rights, in an interview during a recent visit to the capital, Addis Ababa. “Otherwise, a lot of the achievements could be jeopardized, and we know from the country’s history what a true crisis could look like.”

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Ethiopia to Africa’s stability. It has the continent’s second-largest population — nearly 100 million people — one of its fastest growing economies and a powerful military that helps stabilize a string of troubled countries around it.

Continue reading this story on The Washington Post
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