There has been little effort to meaningfully address ethnic grievances at the root of anti-government protests that are destabilizing the country.
By Robbie Corey-Boulet (World Politics Review) |
Long before a demonstration against South Sudan’s president forced Nikki Haley to evacuate a displaced persons camp in Juba on Wednesday (Oct. 25), it was a safe bet that much of the coverage generated by her first trip to Africa as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. would concern the civil war in that country—with some possible competition from her stop in the Democratic Republic of Congo. President Donald Trump specifically mentioned both countries when he announced in September that he planned to send Haley to the continent. Haley has been openly critical of the South Sudanese and Congolese presidents for months, increasing the likelihood of confrontational one-on-one meetings.
The trip began, though, in Ethiopia, the home base for the African Union and a stalwart U.S. ally that remains central to Washington’s priorities in the region, especially the fight against terrorist groups.
Traditionally seen as a bastion of stability, Ethiopia currently faces internal security problems that are impossible to deny, even if they receive scant attention beyond its borders.
First, there has been little effort to meaningfully address ethnic grievances at the root of anti-government protests that are destabilizing the country. In 2015, the Oromia region, home to the Oromo people, was the starting point for protests sparked by plans to expand the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa, into its territory. The protests quickly spread throughout Oromia and into the neighboring Amhara region, reflecting widespread anger over marginalization and repression at the hands of the central government, which is dominated by the Tigray ethnic group.