There is a great deal happening in Ethiopia in recent days. A day after Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency.

By Yohannes Gedamu (The Conversation) |

Hailemariam Desalegn, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia has become the first Ethiopian leader to relinquish power willingly. He submitted his resignation letter to the country’s ruling coalition and the House of Representatives after his adminstration’s recent decision to release political prisoners.

His snap resignation suggests that the ruling coalition elites are divided. My considered opinion is that Hailemariam was either pressured to resign, or he was simply unable to function independently as the country’s leader.

There is a great deal happening in the country. A day after Hailemariam resigned, Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency. A previous state of emergency declared in October 2016 was lifted in August 2017. The government said it was lifting the emergency measures because it had fewer security issues. In reality, the state of emergency had failed to quell uprisings in the two largest regions of Amhara and Oromia.

The latest emergency declaration curtails the freedoms of assembly and expression. It has already been criticized by international actors, including the US government.

All eyes are now on the ruling coalition as it deals with the prime minister’s resignation and scrambles to fill his position.

Things are changing quickly in Ethiopia and it is difficult to predict what the ruling coalition will do next. One thing is clear: rather than declaring a state of emergency the ruling regime should come to terms with the popular demand for democracy, the rule of law and political and economic fairness.

End of the road

Hailemariam came to power in 2012 and was widely regarded as a technocrat with the potential to spearhead the country towards democratic reforms. At first, Ethiopians had high expectations of him.

But ultimately he failed. The question is why?

Part of the answer lies in how Ethiopia’s politics is structured. The country is ruled by a coalition of parties that includes the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, Desalegn’s Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement, the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization, and the Amhara National Democratic Movement. Together they form the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.

Continue reading this story at The Conversation
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