Ethiopia. Ethiopia experienced a political upheaval in
2018 that dramatically changed the country's domestic and
After a couple of years of protests against the
government of the Oromo and Amhara people, with hundreds of
dead as a result, the ruling coalition EPRDF (Ethiopian
People's Revolutionary Democratic Front) decided in January
to release the imprisoned Oromo leader Merera Gudina, party
leader of the Oromo People's Congress. The intention was
said to be a national dialogue and an end to the protests.
Then came the amnesty for hundreds of other political
prisoners, including fellow blogger Eskinder Nega and
opposition politician Andualem Aragie, sentenced to 18 years
in prison and life respectively.
Digopaul.com, the government of Ethiopia was pressured by the protracted violence
between people groups in the Oromia and Somali regions with
hundreds of dead and hundreds of thousands of refugees. The
unrest created a fight in the EPRDF, and in February Prime
Minister Hailemariam Desalegn decided to resign. Thereafter,
a state of emergency was announced, and many people were
arrested. Some of those who have received amnesty were
arrested again, including Nega and Aragie but they were
released again. In April, the EPRDF coalition, dominated by
Tigreans, decided to appoint for the first time an
unemployment politician to leader and prime minister, Abiy
Ahmed. He called for national reconciliation and regretted
that people were killed and injured in protests. Many
ministers were replaced, including the defense minister
whose militants killed protesters. At the same time,
Parliament got its first female President.
A few weeks after Abiy Ahmed's take over as head of
government, the leader of the banned opposition movement
Ginbot 7 was released. After the government promised
economic reform, Ginbot 7 decided to lay down arms. Several
hundred other opposites were released, thus releasing
several thousand prisoners since January.
In July, Parliament approved the government's proposal to
lift the stamp of terror for Ginbot 7 as well as Oromo's
Liberation Front and Ogaden's National Liberation Front, all
of which waged an armed struggle against the government.
Ginbot 7's leader Berhanu Nega later returned to Ethiopia
after more than a decade in exile.
The heads of several of Ethiopia's severely criticized
prisons were dismissed, and the new head of government
declared them to be investigated on suspicion of crimes.
Prisoners have been systematically tortured and abused.
Abiy Ahmed also turned outward with his reconciliation
policy. He traveled to Cairo and released Ethiopian
prisoners, while promising that Ethiopia's construction of a
giant dam in the Blue Nile should not take water from Egypt.
Abiy Ahmed wanted to end the border dispute with Eritrea.
He explained that Ethiopia accepts the UN-supported border
commission's ruling that the disputed city of Badme belongs
to Eritrea. In June, both countries sent delegations to each
other's capitals, and in July Abiy Ahmed traveled to Asmera
himself, where he received a warm welcome from Eritrean
president and dictator Isaias Afwerki.
The two leaders signed a peace treaty that ended 20 years
of state war, with a war that cost about 80,000 people their
lives. Diplomatic relations were normalized, telephone
connections were restored, and families that split during
the outbreak of the war in 1998 were able to re-communicate.
The President of Eritrea then visited Addis Ababa, where
he was greeted by cheering crowds, and the two countries
again opened embassies in each other's capitals. Air travel
between the countries was also resumed, and champagne was
served on the first plane from Addis Ababa to Asmera.
In spite of the political thunderstorms, violence again
sprang up in the Muslim-dominated Somali region, where in
August it was reported killing civilians and priests, burnt
churches and looted shops. Government forces seized the
region's leaders, who were accused of human rights
violations and for instigating ethnic violence.
In August, the government signed an agreement with
Oromo's Liberation Front (OLF), which promised to switch to
political activity with peaceful means. Thereafter, Ogaden's
national liberation front also declared a ceasefire. Before
this guerrilla warrior returned to Ethiopia. Over a thousand
members of the OLF returned from Eritrea, where they had
their guerrilla bases.
Ethiopia was in practice a one-party state, although the
EPRDF consisted of several groups, but in August Abiy Ahmed
promised that free and democratic elections will be held in
2020. The World Bank put in view $ 1 billion in support of
the reforms planned by the government.
In September, the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was
opened in the war-torn area. Thousands of people attended
the ceremony, and Abiy Ahmed declared that Ethiopia's
military would be withdrawn from the border area to ease the
Instead, the violence between Ethiopia's groups increased
and spread to Addis Ababa. Several people were killed in
rattlesnakes in the capital's suburbs in September.
According to local residents, the Oromung youths had
attacked minority groups when the return of the
Oromogerillas was celebrated. Several of the deaths were
required when police opened fire. Thousands of people were
arrested at the riots. Ethnic violence continued in the
country, and 1.5 million people were estimated to have left
their homes because of unrest.
In October, Abiy Ahmed's leadership in the EPRDF was
confirmed at a party congress with 176 votes to 1. Then he
reformed the government, reduced the number of ministers and
appointed half women and half men. Women were given
responsibility for, among other things, the Ministry of
Defense and a newly established peace ministry, which
overlooks the police and intelligence service.
In October, President Mulatu Teshome resigned
unexpectedly, and Parliament appointed the diplomat
Sahle-Work Zewde as new head of state. Thus Ethiopia got its
first female president.
Just over a month after Abiy Ahmed's take on as prime
minister, Ethiopian-Swedish doctor Fikru Maru was released
in May from the charges of terrorist crimes that caused his
imprisonment in Ethiopia for five years. He traveled to
Sweden, but soon returned to Ethiopia to realize his plans
for a new cardiac hospital.
In December, 66 soldiers were sentenced to between 5 and
14 years in prison for marching against Prime Minister Abiy
Ahmed's office in October.