Ethiopia has achieved double-digit growth in recent years. Should its incoming prime minister placate ethnic tensions along party lines — leading to the lifting of the state of emergency within six months — this could continue.

Justina Crabtree (CNBC) |

Ethiopia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and a hub for Chinese investment, having rejuvenated its fortunes after a turbulent history marred by civil war and famine.

But, the East African nation’s political story is murkier. Given the surprise resignation of its prime minister and the declaration of a state of emergency last week following protests, CNBC takes a closer look at this major frontier market.

Set up for political failure

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on February 15 following mass protests. A six-month long state of emergency was imposed by the government the next day, with the intention of quelling civil unrest.

The state of emergency prohibits, among other things, the distribution of potentially sensitive material and unauthorized demonstrations or meetings.

Hailemariam remains in office until a new prime minister is appointed.

Ethiopia is, in essence, a one party state led by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, a coalition comprising of parties representing different regions of the country.

Tension has been bristling between the powerful Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which represents just 6 percent of Ethiopians, and its counterparts representing the Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups. Meanwhile, Hailemariam’s party, the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement, is the weakest in the coalition.

Hailemariam, who took power after the death of his predecessor Meles Zenawi in 2012, has failed to unite his party. The former leader headed up a centralized government and wielded prestige from the country’s civil war to ensure loyalty.

Anti-government protests have bubbled up, most recently in 2016 when the country’s last state of emergency was imposed.

Continue reading this story at CNBC
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