Editor’s Note: Awol K. Allo is a lecturer at the Keele University School of Law. He writes about Ethiopia’s recent transformations and the government’s announcement to mend relations with Eritrea.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
Ethiopia is undergoing remarkable political transformation never seen in the country’s recent history.
Since coming to power just over two months ago, the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has taken a series of radical steps that are transforming the political map and restoring trust in public authority.
On Tuesday (June 5), the government made three major and politically consequential announcements: it lifted the state of emergency imposed shortly after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, announced plans to liberalize the economy and declared it was ready to fully comply with and implement the Algiers Agreement that ended Africa’s most deadly conflict.
Reforms at home
Perhaps the most popular Ethiopian leader to date, the Prime Minister’s performance over the last two months has been stellar.
Since his inauguration, the Prime Minister has toured the country, listening to the people’s grievances. He has reassured the public that his government is ready to take concrete steps towards democratic opening and national reconciliation.
His government has released thousands of political prisoners, met with the political opposition and civil society to discuss reform, invited previously exiled political parties to return to their country, and embarked on major institutional reforms, including the security and the justice sectors.
In just 66 days, the Prime Minister has turned a new page in Ethiopian history, restoring hope and optimism in the direction the country is taking.
The concrete and symbolic steps being taken on both national and regional levels show that the Ethiopian leadership is making impressive strides towards the party’s promise to widen the democratic public space and foster national reconciliation.
A deadly war
In 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought one of Africa’s senseless and deadliest war, which killed an estimated 100,000 people, ripping the social fabric that tied these culturally and economically interconnected peoples together.
In 2000, the two countries signed the Algiers Peace Agreement, which was designed not just to end the military hostilities and the killings but also to repair the socio-economic fabric ruptured by the war.
Yet, 16 years on, the countries are still at a ‘no peace, no war’ situation, with thousands of soldiers still manning the border regions.
Although both countries presented territorial disputes as an official justification for the war, the real reason behind the war is far more complex and has uniquely regional historical and cultural ro