Tag Archives: Abiy’s anti-establishment agenda

Why Ethiopia is in deep trouble, and how it got here—A must read & penetrating insight!

3 Feb

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

TPLF failed because:

“But the [EPRDF] coalition did less well in achieving democracy and embedding a democratic form of governance. Over time the organisation moved away from its revolutionary and progressive political objectives. Instead it became an instrument for the rent-seeking objectives of its leaders and members.

In their bid to stay in power, the former revolutionaries took to trying to ride waves of populism. On top of this, loyalty to leaders of the coalition – and not competency – became the key criteria for filling the ranks of the party and the state. And the party became fused to the state. It lost its autonomous identity and impeded the building of independent institutions crucial for democracy.

This meant that the benefits of economic growth weren’t universally shared. Trade-offs were made between maintaining hot-house growth levels and dealing with welfare and equity. But the establishment failed to optimally manage these trade-offs. It also failed to meet, or manage, the expectations of Ethiopia’s educated young people.”

“Firstly, there was the incomplete transformation of its wartime leadership style and organisational culture. This included holding onto inheritances from the armed struggle. These included a binary categorisation of enemy versus friend, a strong emphasis on secrecy over transparency and a highly centralised approach to leadership.

Secondly, the tendency to stick firmly to ideologies undermined the need to create partnerships with political elites in opposition. On top of this, its comfort to live as a dominant party meant that it didn’t create an enabling environment for a pluralist democracy.”

“The country is entering a dangerous phase. Violence has broken out in a number of regions and many are under an unofficial state of emergency. The central government has shown that it’s incapable of maintaining law and order. This has resulted in an unprecedented number of internally displaced people.

In addition, most universities are incapable of running their yearly academic programmes. Over 35,000 students have left their schools as a result of instability.

If the slide is not arrested, the complete collapse of the state seems imminent.



Ethiopia has seen dramatic transformation and change over the past century. Two of the biggest changes were the victory in 1991 of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front which has remained the dominant party ever since and, more recently, the accession to power of Ahmed Abiy as Prime Minister.

I have been intimately involved in Ethiopia’s politics since the early years of the formation of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in 1975. I served as a member of the leadership of the ruling coalition for the first eight years it was in power. I have also written extensively on its successes and weaknesses. This includes a recently published book, Laying the Past to Rest: The EPRDF and the Challenges of Ethiopian State-Building.

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