ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Oct 3 – Faced with its most serious challenge yet, the Ethiopian regime, a crucial Western ally in the fight against terrorism, risks a deepening crisis if promised reforms do not come, researchers and analysts warn.
A nationwide state of emergency since October 9 combined with the mass arrest of more than 2,500 people has suppressed months of widespread and sometimes deadly anti-government protests.
Mobile internet and the social networks used to mobilise protesters have also been blocked as the government seeks a decisive end to the unrest.
“Violence has-been controlled,” government spokesman Getachew Reda said last week. “What we have is a more or less stable situation.”
The challenge to the government has been strongest in the Oromo and Amhara regions which together account for over 60 percent of the population and these areas are now in a siege-like state.
“The government wants to show its strength. The state of emergency has a psychological impact by increasing the feeling of fear and insecurity among the population,” said Rene Lefort, an independent Horn of Africa researcher.
Too little change, too slow
But force alone will not solve the underlying problems and Lefort said he is “sceptical about the ability and willingness of the regime to open up” raising fears that in the absence of concessions to the protesters, the situation will worsen.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has offered to reform the winner-takes-all electoral system which has allowed his ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition to win every seat in parliament in the 2015 poll....See More
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