RENÉ LEFORT 19 November 2016
Source: Ethiopia’s Crisis
Oct.2,2016.Members of the Oromya Regional Special Police with protesters in Bishoftu, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. STR/Press Association. All rights reserved.
Almost exactly a year ago, Ethiopia entered its worst crisis since the arrival of the regime in 1991. Last month, a state of emergency was proclaimed. These two events have generated a flood of commentary and analysis. A few key points, sometimes underplayed if not ignored, are worth closer attention.
“Mengist yelem!” - “Authority has disappeared!”
People waited in vain for the government to react other than by brute force alone to the opposition it was facing and the resulting chaos. The unrest in Oromya, Ethiopia’s most populous state with 35% of the country’s total population, began on November 12, 2015; the uprising in part of the Amhara Region, the second largest by population (27%), on July 12, 2016.
For 11 long months the government was content to quell protest and to release information in dribs and drabs, the epitome of one-sided doublespeak. A handful of cryptic press releases repeated the same platitudes ad nauseam. When in June 2016 the ruling power finally realized the severity of the crisis, launching a series of internal deliberations, these took place in total secrecy. This pseudo-communication destroyed its credibility and in turn lent credence to the sole alternative source of information, the diaspora, which itself is often hyperbolic to the point of implausibility. On both sides, the space available for information that exhibits even a degree of measure, not to say simple rationality, is shrinking alarmingly.
On both sides, the space available for information that exhibits even a degree of measure, not to say simple rationality, is shrinking alarmingly.
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