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Ethiopia restores internet services


Analysts warn on need to resolve crisis

Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn

By Tasie Theodore


In a move designed to help normalise things within the country, the Ethiopian authorities have relaxed the ban placed on internet services in the country.

This has excited smart phone users and other online-savvy residents who had been at the receiving end of the ban even as the government battled to resolve the lingering political face-off with its minority Oromo people.

The relaxation of the two-month blackout the Ethiopian government has now permitted the return of mobile data.

Most Ethiopians who access the Internet do so through their phones, and previously the government had singled out social media activity as a major influence in agitating unrest that has doggedly seethed across the country since breaking out a year ago.

“They’ve broken promise after promise, so people won’t believe them–that’s the problem.” –Merera Gudina, Chair of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress Party

But now, more than two months into the six-month state of emergency declared by the government on Oct. 9, protests previously rocking the country’s two most populous regions appear to have subsided, and gangs of young men are no longer prowling the country setting fire to buildings, blocking roads and clashing with security forces.

But despite the appearance of order being restored, no one seems to know what may happen next, or whether this calm will hold.

The current situation may simply serve as a temporary break in Ethiopia’s most sustained and widespread period of dissent and protests since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) ruling party came to power following the 1991 revolution.

“The protests have shaken the EPRDF regime in ways not seen in more than two decades and a half,” says Mohammed Ademo. “It did more to challenge the regime’s grip on power in one year than what some opposition groups have done in years.”

For up until now, the political gamble underpinning the EPRDF’s developmental state project has been that the material transformation of Ethiopia would ultimately satisfy the divergent populations comprising Ethiopia’s ethnic federation.

Analysts however believe that a lot more needs to do to resolve the crisis in the country on a more permanent basis.



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