Abiy's big steps shouldn't obscure undercurrents in Ethiopia

6 days 17 hours ago
Members of the Ethiophian Oromo Liberation Front protest against the political situation in their country in front of the Chancellery in Berlin. EPA/Wolfgang Kumm

Positive headlines about Ethiopia have been frequent since the country’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took over in early April.

One of the biggest steps he’s taken has been the rapprochement with Eritrea, which ended the longstanding conflict between the two countries. He agreed to adhere to a border ruling that gave disputed territories to Eritrea, ending a cold war that had raged between the two countries since 2000. On 11 September, the land border between the two countries was reopened.

Abiy also invited armed opposition groups, including the [Oromo Liberation Front] and Ginbot 7 G7 – which were declared terrorist organisations under the former leaders – back home. And in October, Abiy gave women in Ethiopia a big boost when he appointed the country’s first female president. He also gave half of all cabinet posts to women.

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Poll in the DRC looms. But the election is unlikely to bring change

2 weeks 6 days ago
Voters during the DRC's last elections in Kinshasa. Dai Kurokawa/EPA

It’s no easy task to hold an election in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just ask the country’s electoral commission, which started 2017 by publicly announcing that the general election, planned for December 2018 might actually only be held as late as April 2019.

But, come early 2018, it looked like there might be good news on the horizon for the beleaguered nation: a 23 December poll was confirmed. The independent electoral commission declared that it had registered enough voters for the election to go ahead.

This is a crucial poll because it finally marks the end of Joseph Kabila’s rule in the DRC. The constitutional court gave Kabila a caretaker mandate to ensure that elections were held after the end of his two-term tenure. Many feared that this caretaker role would eventually turn into a third term but it hasn’t.

However, the majority of ordinary people don’t view this as a chance for real change.

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Study sheds light on scourge of "fake" news in Africa

3 weeks ago
Nigerians have the lowest trust in the country's media, thanks to widespread misinformation. EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo

Concerns about “fake news” have dominated discussions about the relationship between the media and politics in the developed world in recent years. The extraordinary amount of attention paid in scholarship and in public debates to questions around truth, veracity and deception can be connected to the role of “fake news” in the 2016 US presidential election, and US President Donald Trump’s use of the term to dismiss his critics.

The term “fake news” itself is controversial because it’s poorly defined.

The panic created by the spread of misinformation in general has led to introspection by journalists and a reassertion of professional values and standards.

The rise of false information has complex cultural and social reasons. Until now, though, the phenomenon has been studied mostly as it happens in the US and Europe, with relatively little attention to the situation in African countries.

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How events in Ethiopia will influence the Horn of Africa

3 weeks 6 days ago
Peace in the Horn of Africa could depend on how Ethiopia handles its reforms process Shutterstock

Reforms currently sweeping through Ethiopia under the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have implications for the relationship between Ethiopia and its neighbours. Ethiopia is seen as the de facto leading state in the region. But it has a history of clashing with neighbouring states.

The current reforms have the potential to bolster Ethiopia’s leadership role in the region. And an Ethiopia that is perceived as a unifying force could lead to more stability.

Two recent announcements stand out: the normalisation of relations with the northern neighbour Eritrea and the signing of a peace deal with the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a separatist movement that has sought self-determination for the Somali region of Ethiopia.

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