The profile of Ethiopia's leader-in-waiting promises to bring three years of anti-government protests to an end.
Africa’s second most populous country has been in a state of emergency since February, following Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s unexpected resignation after five years in power. His departure came in response to three years of social unrest which have claimed the lives of hundreds of people. Protests have been caused by persistent concerns over human rights violations including the imprisonment, torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.
Additionally, they have been sustained by widespread anger from within the country's majority Oromo community over their perceived economic and political marginalisation. The election of Abiy Ahmed as head of Ethiopia's four-party EPRDF ruling coalition may change all that; he will become the country's first Oromo leader, and a key signal of change for a group who make up a third of Ethiopia’s 100 million-strong population.
Ethiopia's recent unrest has belied the country's remarkable progress in recent years. In 2000, it ranked as the third-poorest country in the world, with more than half of the population living below the global poverty line, the highest poverty rate in the world. By 2016 however, Ethiopia had emerged as the world's third-fastest growing country of 10 million or more people according to the IMF, with the nation’s poverty rate falling to 31 per cent by 2011.
Delivering effective and inclusive governance is essential if Ethiopia's remarkable pathway from poverty is to be maintained. Significant progress is already being made: as the 2017 Legatum Prosperity Index demonstrated, Ethiopia experienced the largest single-year increase in the number of women in parliament. The next step must be ensuring the voice of the Oromo is heard within government. In that regard, the country's Prime Minister-in-waiting will take office amidst the highest of expectations.
Read our latest newsletter here.