Rebel spirit: Oromo harvest festival
October 2, 2020 (The Economist) — Ethiopia’s largest and lately most-rebellious ethnic group, the Oromo, celebrates its annual thanksgiving this weekend. Tensions are high: recent festivals have been marred by protests and violence. In 2016, a stampede triggered by heavy-handed policing of demonstrations left possibly hundreds dead. The tragedy was a turning-point in the protest movement which in 2018 brought to power Abiy Ahmed, a young reformer from Oromia who promised redress for what Oromos claim is centuries of political and economic marginalisation. But as prime minister Abiy has lately fallen out of favour with many Oromos, who claim he has turned his back on their cause and reverted to the authoritarianism of his predecessors. Several influential Oromo opposition leaders are behind bars, accused of inciting violence: riots in Oromia in July resulted in at least 166 deaths. This year’s festivities will be tightly controlled and attendance limited. For many Ethiopians, a calm and orderly weekend will be reason enough to celebrate.
We are closely watching developments in Ethiopia with concern for the security of all its citizens and the closing of civic space. Leaders across the political spectrum should prioritize dialogue over violence and repression to preserve the promise of a transition to democracy.
— Antony Blinken (@ABlinken) October 1, 2020