Mistakes In Choosing Mr.


John Aglionby, East Africa correspondent

Ethiopian soldiers enforcing the country’s state of emergency have killed at least nine civilians in what appeared to be a botched security operation, highlighting the tension in the country as the ruling coalition meets to select a new prime minister.


The military said troops in the town of Moyale, in Oromia state close to the Kenyan border, acted on a “mistaken intelligence report” in an “anti-terrorist operation”, according to state television. At least a dozen were injured, local authorities said.

Ethiopia has been rocked by almost three years of deadly protests against the authoritarian Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has ruled for 26 years. 

In January, the government appeared to change from its traditionally repressive approach to handling dissent, announcing that it would release thousands of political prisoners and begin a process of national reconciliation.

But after Hailemariam Desalegn resigned as prime minister last month the government declared a state of emergency in what appeared to be an attempt by hardliners to reassert control.

About 1,000 people have been killed in the unrest, which is motivated by demands for greater democracy and an end to the economic marginalisation of other groups by the Tigrayan ethnic group. Tigrayans dominate society but are only 6 per cent of the 105m population.

The executive committee of the EPRDF, which is made up of four regional-based parties, began meeting on Sunday to choose Mr Hailemariam’s replacement. The meeting was expected to take at least two days. 

The EPRDF is dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. But leaders of two of the parties which represent the Oromia and Amhara regions, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation and the Amhara National Democratic Movement, have in recent weeks intensified their demands for reform.

Analysts say this is because the state of emergency, the second since the protests began in 2015, shows no sign of quelling the demands for greater democracy. 

Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian political scientist at Georgia Gwinnett College in the US, said the killings in Moyale “will further divide an already-fractured coalition”.

“Some factions from ANDM and especially the OPDO might ask whether the state of emergency and measures by the [security forces] would even push the country to chaos,” he said. 

All four parties within the EPRDF have proposed candidates to replace Mr Hailemariam but there is no clear favourite. Analysts say that if the next prime minister is not from Oromia or Amhara the political crisis will be harder to resolve.

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Source : https://www.ft.com/content/e6819126-2535-11e8-b27e-cc62a39d57a0

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