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Two major parties of Ethiopia’s disbanding ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), have ratified their decision to join a new, united ‘Prosperity Party’.
The rebranding comes ahead of landmark general elections in Africa’s second most populous country, scheduled for May 2020. Eighteen months since taking office, the country’s reformist prime minister Abiy Ahmed is hoping to complete an unlikely transition from autocratic state do democratic governance.
He has shaken Ethiopia’s status quo by opening its political sphere and kick-starting a much anticipated process of economic liberalisation. This has won him plaudits internationally – including a Nobel peace prize – but has also stirred political and ethnic instability.
The EPRDF’s minority Tigray People’s Liberation Front – which dominated Ethiopian politics for decades before Abiy – has rejected the merger, part of growing domestic opposition to the ruling party.
Ethnic tensions have spiked, with an estimated 1 million people displaced by violence between 2018 and 2019. In June an alleged coup in the Amhara region left several officials dead, including the country’s army chief of staff, with Abiy’s government facing accusations of being unable to keep a lid on political and ethnic violence.
There are also calls for greater autonomy, with the Sidama ethnic group recently voting in favour of establishing Ethiopia’s 10th regional state.
Assuming the vote proceeds as scheduled, Ethiopia is facing a true test of democracy.
This report reflects the views of the author alone, not those of How we made it in Africa.
From the continent
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A Kenyan parliamentary committee has reportedly cut a request for a 3% funding increase in the 2019/20 budget to help finance infrastructure projects, citing an expected revenue collection shortfall. East Africa’s biggest economy is facing a fiscal squeeze amid rising debt and deteriorating public finances. More: Reuters
The global perspective
Saudi Arabia has extended a $130 million loan to Sudan to help fund education and health services. This is part of billions that the Kingdom has pledged to Khartoum, which is trying to kick-start its stalled economy following the ousting of former longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April. More: Bloomberg
France’s army chief of staff, general François Lecointre, has said “definitive victory” over Islamist militants in West Africa’s Sahel is an unlikely prospect, following a combat accident in the region that left 13 French troops dead. Paris has thousands of troops on the ground in Mali, and is leading stalling international efforts to curb militancy in the region, which has spiked in recent weeks. More: Reuters