Ethiopia has been enjoying consistent economic growth for more than a decade. On the other hand, unrest has plagued the country for the past two years. So what’s going on? The reasons for the unrest are complicated.
By Martin Plaut (Deutsche Welle) |
Journalist Martin Plaut considers this to be the beginning of the problems facing modern Ethiopia. “The TPLF and Meles Zenawi were never prepared to allow democracy and real federalism,” he told DW. But the focus on ethnic differences in the constitution has not been without consequence:“As soon as you increase the focus on ethnicity and make ethnicity the basis of the state, you basically stoke up ethnic tensions,” said Plaut.
Unequal distribution of economic resources
For some observers, the deadly clashes over the past few weeks would appear to be harbingers of an ethnically-motivated civil war. It seems like ethnic tensions are being expressed with increasing intensity. But the causes are complex.
Over the past few years, one issue in particular has repeatedly exacerbated the ethnic tensions in Ethiopia: the side effects of rapid economic growth. Since 2000, gross domestic product has increased almost tenfold, raising questions over who actually benefits from this increase in prosperity.
For example, the violent expropriation of many Oromo people following the spread of the economic boom in the capital Addis Ababa is considered one of the triggers for the ongoing unrest. While a small number of government-connected oligarchs are accumulating more and more wealth, most Ethiopians are not experiencing the so-called economic miracle, with nearly six million people dependent on food aid.
Although the economic boom has led to the emergence of a small, but growing, middle class, this hardly diffuses the situation.
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