On 2 April, the Ethiopian parliament elected Abiy Ahmed, head of the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO), to succeed Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned on 15 February. Abiy Ahmed is Ethiopia's first prime minister from the Oromia region. The new government pursued a reformist agenda.? Since April, the government has lifted a contentious state of emergency, released political prisoners, allowed exiled dissidents to return home, signed an agreement to end hostilities with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and signed a peace deal with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an armed group.? Abiy suggested that Ethiopian prime ministers should adhere to strict term limits, he admitted that the state had engaged in serious human rights abuses, and he committed himself to hold free and fair elections in 2020.? Abiy also appointed women to half of the ministerial posts in Ethiopia. In September, the government signed a peace deal with Eritrea to restore diplomatic and trade relations.? The country is implementing a visa-on-arrival regime for all Africans entering the country in October, so there would be no need for Africans to apply for visas before flying to Ethiopia. ?The international community seems to recognise the historic political and economic opportunity for the region.?
However, several internal conflicts and security issues have seen humanitarian needs rise among the population across the country. 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.? Hostilities between Oromos and Somali groups over border demarcations and resources have caused significant casualties, deaths, and displacement.?Fighting escalated in Jigjiga (eastern Somali region) at the beginning of August, when Ethiopian soldiers took control of major highways, government buildings, and the airport from the local authorities. Vandalism and looting have been reported in the city since. Fighting has led to at least 50 fatalities, displacement and the resignation of the regional president. Friction between the federal and Somali regional governments has also been building since April.?
In addition, intercommunal violence between the SNNP region (Gedeos) and Oromia region (Gujis) rose since April. Access to the displaced population is limited due to insecurity, but humanitarian needs are high. The causes behind the recent conflict are unknown, but land disputes and conflict on border demarcations have long existed. ?An interethnic conflict erupted between Benishangul-Gumuz and Oromia regions in October, creating insecurity in this region. Ethnic-based attacks occurred near Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on 15-16 September, following the return of exiled leaders from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Between 23 and 58 people were killed during these attacks, which led to displacement. Massive protests against the violence were held in Addis Ababa and in Arba Minch in the SNNP region. ?On 17 August, police shot five people dead during protests condemning the government's inaction following the ethnic violence.? Over 2,500 people, mainly youths, were arrested in various locations of Addis Ababa in September. After a month-long detention, they were released on 15 October.?