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Ethiopian reforms will open little new political space

Monday, July 10, 2017

Subject

Ethiopia's protests.

Significance

Relative calm has returned to Ethiopia after last year’s social unrest. Cautious political and economic reforms promised in the wake of the 2016 protests are under discussion with opposition parties. Most significantly, the ruling Ethiopian People's Democratic Front (EPRDF) is affording greater political space to its ethnically-based constituent parties -- especially to the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the ruling party in the Oromia region, where the bulk of last year’s protests took place. However, this may not be enough to prevent further social unrest.

Impacts

  • Greater regional government influence on development may dampen investor confidence, but stability and cheap labour will remain a key draw.
  • The risk of external support to domestic opposition may be used to justify a more robust regional posture, especially towards Eritrea.
  • Security risks in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf will further underpin the rationale for an extension of the state of emergency.
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