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What Ethiopia needs is an independent prosecution

9 56 0
19.07.2019

More than a year after his rise to power, the honeymoon period for Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has finally come to an end. Following the federal government's relatively strong response to a failed "coup" in the Amhara Regional State, prominent national and international media and watchdogs have raised concerns over a possible lapse to old habits of mass arrests and internet shutdowns in Ethiopia - a past Abiy has sought vehemently to distance himself from.

Since taking power in April 2018, the reformist prime minister has taken a series of confidence-building measures, including releasing thousands of political prisoners, facilitating the return of exiled political groups, some of them armed, and initiating legal reforms aimed at enabling and institutionalising a transition to a democratic dispensation.

He also ended the no-war-no-peace impasse with Eritrea and recently contributed to the breakthrough agreement between the Transitional Military Council and opposition forces in Sudan.

The last few months have, however, brought to the fore the complexity of governing Africa's second-most populous country where ethnic cleavages have high political saliency. The initial euphoria that followed Abiy's unexpected rise to power gradually transformed into bewilderment and even pessimism in some quarters.

The prime minister has faced criticism, especially because of the perceived deterioration of the security situation and inter-ethnic skirmishes, which partly contributed to the rise in the number of internally displaced persons.

Perhaps the most obstinate challenge facing Ethiopia is the escalation of militant ethnic nationalism and regional irredentism in the context of a historically authoritarian political culture bereft of experiences of inter-ethnic or even intra-ethnic dialogue and compromise.

Reports of armed attacks by forces that claim to be associated with the Oromo Liberation Front; excessive tension and a war of words between officials of Amhara and Tigray Regional States; and........

© Al Jazeera