Ethiopia needs to change its authoritarian course
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It is the political risks that form the gravest threat to the present system. Though it insists otherwise, the coalition is dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which is seen to favour ethnic Tigrayans who make up only 6 per cent of the population. The cabal in charge seems genuinely to believe that only it can frog-march Ethiopia to middle-income status. Its plans have run into opposition from the Oromo and Amhara, ethnic groups that together make up 60 per cent of the population. The Oromo, the biggest, have long felt discriminated against, a sentiment that exploded two years ago after government plans to extend Addis Ababa, the capital, into their land. Unusually, the Oromo have formed a united front with the Amhara, who have long felt themselves the rightful rulers of Ethiopia. That is the background to the turmoil that erupted in 2016 with the killing of at least 55 people at a religious festival. Several thousand may have been killed since, and many thousands more are still imprisoned. The ruling coalition’s attempt to quell dissent forcibly — tempered by holding off on Addis expansion plans — has failed.