On 26 March, the ruling coalition Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) nominated Abiy Ahmed, head of the EPRDF's Oromo bloc (Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization or OPDO) to succeed the former Prime Minister. Parliament elected Ahmed as Prime Minister on 2 April. The global community reacted positively. ? Given Ahmed represents the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia (Oromo), his nomination is indicative of more stability. ?He is the first Prime Minister from Oromia region. ?
On 23 June, a grenade attack at a rally for the Ethiopian Prime Minister killed two people and injured 150 others. The prime minister had been targeted in this attempted assassination.?
Unrest and protests against the government began over land rights in the Oromia region in November 2015, eventually broadening against the Tigray-dominated government on issues including inequality, cultural rights, economic marginalisation, and corruption. Protests spread to the Amhara region, populated by the second largest ethnic group in the country. Protests were met with a brutal government response.? Violence escalated in October 2016 and a state of emergency was imposed by the government, to be lifted only in August 2017. ?In 2017, thousands of protesters were detained and hundreds killed.? Ex-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on 15 February 2018, and on 16 February a new six-month state of emergency was declared in an attempt to quell government protests. However, Ethiopians protested the state of emergency, mainly in the capital and Oromia region.? Ethiopian security forces re-arrested a number of journalists and politicians, but 11 of them were released again on 4 April, following the election of Abiy Ahmed. ?Four students held by the Command Post since February were released on 26 April, after four days of peaceful protests by their colleagues of Ambo University (Oromia region). ? On 2 June, Ethiopia's cabinet approved a draft law that would bring an end to the state of emergency two months earlier than originally scheduled.?
Media censorship is common in Ethiopia but was further reinforced following the last state of emergency in 2017 and the new state of emergency since 16 February, with many journalists engaging in self-censorship to avoid harassment or arrests. Since 2010, at least 75 journalists have fled the country. Access to the internet is frequently blocked and international radio signals are frequently interrupted. Social media was a key factor in mobilising protesters and it is carefully monitored by authorities. ? On 16 April, the government ended a three-month internet blackout. ?
EPRDF was founded in 1989 and it is a coalition of 4 ethnically based political organisations: the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDP), and the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (SEPDM). ?The ethnic Tigrayans account for 6% of the country's population and more than 61% of the population are Oromo and Amhara ethnicity.? However, each political organisation has 45 representatives in the EPRDF council. ? Although promising deep reform, the government under PM Desalegn did not adequately address fundamental issues such as demands to open up political space and to allow dissent and tolerance of different perspectives.?
Somali - Oromia Clashes
Clashes between Oromos and Somali groups ethnic over border demarcations and resources have caused significant casualties, deaths, and displacement beginning in September 2017.? Since the beginning of 2017, dozens of clashes and hundreds of fatalities have occurred as a result of fighting between the Liyu Police (the Somali State's paramilitary force) and Oromo militias.? 87% of some 1.07 million conflict-induced IDPs have been displaced due to tensions along the border separating Oromia and Somali regions. New displacements have been recorded since mid-January.? The Somali regional government claims that attacks are being launched by members within the Oromo government, in conjunction with the Oromo Liberation Front, a group branded as terrorists by the government of Ethiopia. Some Oromia activists believe the situation has been orchestrated by the federal government, who are using the Liyu police to divert attention away from the issue of suppression of the Oromo people, whose concerns have not been addressed. ?On the Ethiopian side of Moyale town, Oromia region claimed the Liyu police were responsible for a grenade explosion that killed four people and wounded more than 50 on 17 April. ? On 10 March, a security incident in Moyale town had already displaced a total of 48,000 people (including over 10,000 people into Kenya). ?