Posted by Stephanie Baker on
Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi in July, 2008
In 1994, a constitution was adopted that led to Ethiopia's first multiparty election the following year. In May 1998, a border dispute with Eritrea led to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, which lasted until June 2000 and cost both countries an estimated $1 million a day. This hurt Ethiopia's economy, but strengthened the ruling coalition.
On 15 May 2005, Ethiopia held a third multiparty election, which was highly disputed, with some opposition groups claiming fraud. Though the Carter Center approved the pre-election conditions, it expressed its dissatisfaction with post-election matters. European Union election observers continued to accuse the ruling party of vote rigging. The opposition parties gained more than 200 parliamentary seats, compared with just 12 in the 2000 elections. Despite most opposition representatives joining the parliament, certain leaders of the CUD party, some of which refused to take up their parliamentary seats, were accused of inciting the post-election violence that ensued and were imprisoned. Amnesty International considered them "prisoners of conscience" and they were subsequently released.
The coalition of opposition parties and some individuals that was established in 2009 to oust at the general election in 2010 the regime of the EPRDF, Meles Zenawi’s party that has been in power since 1991, published its 65-page manifesto in Addis Ababa on 10 October 2009.
Some of the eight member parties of this Ethiopian Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD or Medrek in Amharic) include the Oromo Federalist Congress (organized by the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement and the Oromo People’s Congress), the Arena Tigray (organized by former members of the ruling party TPLF), the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ, whose leader is imprisoned), and the Coalition of Somali Democratic Forces.
In mid 2011, two consecutive missed rainy seasons precipitated the worst drought in East Africa seen in 60 years. Full recovery from the drought's effects are not expected until 2012, with long-term strategies by the national government in conjunction with development agencies believed to offer the most sustainable results.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died in Brussels, where he was being treated for an unspecified illness, on 20 August 2012. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was appointed as a new prime minister. Hailemariam will remain in the position until new elections in 2015.
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