Who: Merera Gudina; Leader of the Oromo People's Congress - veteran Ethiopian politician; Dr Awol Allo; London School of Economics Fellow in Human Rights at the Centre for the study of human rights.
What: Protests have swept the northern part of Ethiopia since November last year, after the government decided to geographically expand the country's capital, Addis Ababa. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands of people illegally detained1. However, protest are still ongoing even after the government halted its plan to expand the capital. Furthermore, some commentators believe the protests to be historically motivated, as the Oromo's have been politically and economically marginalised for decades. Dr. Awol Allo writes in CNN, "Oromo culture and language have been banned and their identity stigmatized, becoming invisible and unnoticeable within mainstream perspectives."2.
Mr Merera Gudina believes the crisis in the northern region could evolve into a civil war if the government fails to address its land use policies. Dr. Awol believes the crisis has the tendency to degenerate into a full scale social explosion.
When: The protest in Oromia originally began in April 2014, but intensified in November 2015 while the protests in the Amhara region began on 15 July 2016 (pls see: sporadic-unrest-in-ethiopia-poses-continual-risk-to-business ).
Why: Mr Merera Gudina believes the Oromos are becoming more conscious about their rights and that's why more people are coming out to protest against the marginalisation of the Oromo people. He said if the government continues to repress people while they demand for their rights, a civil war will be one of the most likely scenarios. Mr Gudina in an interview with Reuters said: "There have been no attempts at negotiation from the government, no engagement with the opposition or the people. So far, their only response is bullets"3.
Outlook: In Gondar (a city in the Amhara region), on 15 and 31 July 2016, protesters looted and vandalised buildings and properties of those affiliated with the Tigray dominated Ethiopia's People Revolutionary Democratic Font (EPRDF)4, potentially a harbinger for Gudina's statement that a civil war might occur. In order for Mr Gudina's prophecy not to come to pass, the current administration will need to address the situation cautiously and without violence. One strategy the government might employ might be to resist rhetoric that portrays the Oromias as anti peace and anti-development. As the government has invested massively in public infrastructure and is recording an impressive annual growth rate, a civil war will be a massive blow to the achievements the government has made in terms of infrastructural development in the country. The international community will also be hoping that the crisis in Ethiopia does not degenerate into a social explosion because of the strategic role Ethiopia plays in the sub-region; the current instability of the region adds to their concerns.
1 BBC. Ethiopia forces 'killed 400 Oromo protesters'. 2016 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36546917
2 Awol K. Allo. Oromo Protests: Why US must stop enabling Ethiopia. 2016. CNN http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/09/africa/ethiopia-oromo-protest/
3 Sally Hayden. Ethiopia's battle for land reforms could lead to war: opposition leader. 2016 Reuters Africa http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-landrights-violence-idUSKCN10M12X
4 A. Adedayo. Sporadic Unrest in Ethiopia Poses Continual Risk to Business. 2016 Songhai Advisory. http://www.songhaiworldweb.com/need-to-know/sporadic-unrest-in-ethiopia-poses-continual-risk-to-business
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