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Ethiopia shows East Africa leadership transition risks

Thursday, January 29, 2015


The outlook for leadership transitions in East Africa.


Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda are ruled by parties that transformed from armed liberation movements. The Ethiopian People's Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPRDF), Uganda's National Resistance Movement (NRM) and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) all took power within a few years of one another. They maintain party-to-party contacts and run tightly-controlled states which hold regular and ostensibly multiparty elections. Ethiopia's forthcoming elections in May will be the first since the death of liberation-era Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Its leadership transition provides signals for the region's other post-liberation states.


  • Institutionalised leadership transitions would help provide regulatory clarity to foreign investors.
  • Unstable transitions in any of these countries would have regional spillover effects, given cross-border political dynamics.
  • Strong, coherent military institutions may prove an important guarantor of a stable transition, barring direct interference in politics.

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