Upheaval in Somali Region Tests Ethiopian PM’s Ability to Unify

Unrest has been so severe that close to 1 million people in the region have been displaced from their homes since April, according to the United Nations.

(VOA) – Tension continues to run high in Ethiopia’s Somali region after federal and regional forces clashed last week, resulting in at least 29 deaths and the resignation of the regional president.

A temporary successor has been named, and a semblance of normalcy has returned to Jijiga, the regional capital. But the flare-up raises important legal and political questions about Ethiopia’s system of government, known as ethnic federalism, in which the country’s nine states are defined largely by ethnicity.

And the aftermath will challenge Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ability to turn inspiring rhetoric into real change for communities that have endured years of violence, according to experts on the region.

Friction between the federal and Somali regional governments has been building since April, when Abiy became prime minister. His reformist vision for the country — which has already led to a historic reconciliation with longtime foe Eritrea — put him at odds with Somali Regional President Abdi Illey, who is known for ruling his territory with an iron fist. Continue Reading >>

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