Editor’s Note: February 16, 2018
Ethiopia – not South Africa – is in the midst of radical change
With the eyes of the world fixed on the drama of Jacob Zuma’s exit in South Africa this week the news of Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignationwas easy to overlook. Yet the latter’s departure likely marks a more significant moment in history.
“I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” he said of his surprise decision, hinting at Ethiopia’s fraught path to political opening.
The government, dominated by a small minority from the Tigray region, has released thousands of political prisoners and leading opposition figures since the start of the year in a bid to build bridges with its two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara. They are politically marginalizeddespite accounting for 61% of the population.
Repressive politics has long cast a shadow over Ethiopia, Africa’s fastest growing economy for more than a decade. It is the biggest obstacle to the country’s development.
Speculation is rife about what the resignation means – ranging from talk of Desalegn being forced out, to rumors he could be replaced by an Oromo leader.
Whatever the case, radical change in Africa’s second most populous nation and one of its most compelling growth stories looks increasingly inevitable.
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The Daily Follow
Kandeh Yumkella @KYumkella: Former director general of UNIDO, and outlier candidate in Sierra Leone’s March 7 presidential election.