What we’re tracking on 18 February 2018
Ethiopia has declared a six-month state of emergency following the surprise resignation on Thursday of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, effectively kicking talks with Egypt on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam far down the priority list for our upstream neighbor’s government. Desalegn said he was resigning over anti-government violence. The snap resignation came amid protests in Ethiopia’s restive Oromia region, PBS reports. Desalegn said his resignation was “vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy” and that he would remain in office until parliament chooses a successor. The state of emergency will ban protests and publications that incite violence in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, the Financial Times notes.
The background: The backdrop to the resignation is anti-government protests by the ethnic Oromo and Amharic people, who are calling for greater civil rights and political inclusion. Long time readers of Enterprise will remember that Ethiopia had accused Egypt back in 2016 of stoking Oromo protests. “The imposition of a new state of emergency may indicate that … Desalegn’s resignation on Thursday was the result of tensions among the four parties in the ruling coalition,” which has been in power since 1991, Reuters notes.
Where’s this going? One Ethiopian political analyst sees things spiraling. Events in Ethiopia, Hassan Hussein says, “feel like a revolution against a regime that will do whatever it can to stay in power. Things are changing very quickly…The country might just go into a prolonged period of chaos but I can see the scenario where the government itself is toppled,” according to the FT.
Desalegn’s resignation has prompted Sudan ask that the next tripartite meeting on GERD be postponed, Al Shorouk reports. It was originally slated for 24-25 February, and Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum are yet to agree on a new date. The three countries’ presidents had set a one-month deadline in January to resolve the deadlock in negotiations over the dam.
This comes as we hear that the Sudanese government has reportedly asked members of the Ikhwan who had fled there from Egypt to leave the country, a source with close ties to the matter tells Al Shorouk. This comes less than a week after Sudanese and Egyptian intelligence officials met to set up a framework for improving ties, which have soured over failed GERD discussions and border disputes.
Thursday’s interest rate cut, Desalegn’s resignation and the developments in Sudan are the talk of the town, if last night’s talk shows (below) are anything to go by.