A Make-or-Break Moment Nears for Ethiopia's Political Transformation

Nov 14, 2019 | 09:00 GMT

Supporters of Jawar Mohammed, a member of the Oromo ethnic group and high-profile opposition activist, gather outside Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's home following rumors that his security forces had tried to orchestrate an attack against Mohammed.

Opposition protesters gather outside Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's home in Addis Ababa on Oct. 24. Roughly 78 people were killed when protests against the government's alleged mistreatment of a prominent opposition activist turned violent last month.

(STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)


  • Hard-line regionalism and interethnic violence will likely surge in the run-up to Ethiopia's May 2020 elections as competing groups increasingly clash for power.
  • Should Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed fail to unite his unpopular ruling coalition, it will weaken his government’s ability to defeat opposition parties that could temporarily derail his liberalization efforts.
  • The potential for escalating political violence in the coming months, however, could ultimately force Abiy's administration to scrap the 2020 vote altogether, further hurting its legitimacy.

Since rising to power in April 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has already overseen several impressive victories -- the opening of Ethiopia's media and political environments being hailed as one of his biggest. His efforts to "achieve peace and international cooperation," including opening Ethiopia's relations with long-time enemy Eritrea, even earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in recent weeks. But unfortunately for Ethiopia's new leader, no amount of accolades will protect him from the bitter campaign his regional rivals are gearing up for ahead of elections slated for May 2020....

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