Country Risk: New Ethiopian PM’s approach towards demonstrators’ demands, contraband networks will determine protest and violence one-year outlook
Jordan Anderson – IHS Jane’s Intelligence Weekly
- Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will likely ease the restrictions and the security forces’ presence under the state of emergency (in place since February) and allow it to expire in August 2018.
- Anti-government protests in Oromia and Amhara regions will likely resume within the one-year outlook if Ahmed fails to address their key grievances.
- Increased likelihood of renewed violence in eastern Oromia and the Somali region, driven by Somali region paramilitaries, particularly if the government clamps down on contraband networks.
New Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a cabinet reshuffle on 19 April, appointing 10 new ministers, as well as non-cabinet ministers in advisory roles.
Key choices in the cabinet reshuffle include the appointment of Motuma Mekassa (formerly minister of mining) as minister of defence, the retaining of Workneh Gebeyehu as minister of foreign affairs, and the appointment of Abadula Gemeda (formerly speaker of the House of People’s Representatives, the lower house of Ethiopia’s parliament) as national security adviser, a minister without portfolio. All three are members of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the same constituent party of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Consequently, the OPDO now holds the key positions in and dominates Ethiopia’s National Security Council.
Top US official’s visit to Eritrea indicates renewed relations, assisting sanctions’ lifting, investment, and Ethiopian peace talks
Event – April 24, 2018
(Jane’s 360) — US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto visited Eritrea on 22–24 April, the first visit by a top US official in years.
No details have been made public, other than Yamamoto was due to meet Eritrean officials, foreign diplomats, and US embassy staff in Asmara, before moving on to Djibouti and Ethiopia. In November 2017, Yamamoto, a former US envoy to all three countries, announced that the United States was ready to facilitate peace talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has said that he is ready for dialogue. However, Eritrea insists on Ethiopia’s withdrawal from occupied territory, particularly the town of Badme, awarded to Eritrea by international arbitration following the two countries’ 1998–2000 border war, but never vacated by Ethiopia.