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Multiple crises may unravel Ethiopia’s transition

An ambitious reform agenda is faltering amid interrelated national and regional crises and brinkmanship on all sides

Overlapping crises have the potential to interact and produce a domino effect

Source: IOM; Oxford Analytica


On October 6, Ethiopia’s parliament entered its sixth year (despite having a five-year mandate) after the House of Federation authorised an election delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The elections were once seen as a potential milestone in Ethiopia’s transformation from an authoritarian, one-party state into a functioning multi-party democracy. Even before the election delay, this narrative had started to crumble. Now, accusations of unconstitutional and anti-democratic behaviour are being traded across the political spectrum.

Rising political polarisation and competing visions for Ethiopia’s future will make finding a path out of the crisis extremely difficult, while multiple, overlapping flashpoints across the country threaten to destabilise the situation further.


  • Elections may ultimately prove a major source of destabilisation if the government cannot ease tensions with its critics before the polls.
  • Dialogue is the only realistic route out of the crisis but will be dead on arrival unless preceded by serious concessions on all sides.
  • Trials of key opposition leaders will fuel allegations of authoritarianism and deepen political polarisation.
  • Political turmoil will complicate efforts to stabilise the economy, while worsening economic conditions will fuel popular unrest
Source: Oxford Analytica


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