Country FilesEast & HornCountry Profile: ETHIOPIA


Posted on Tuesday, 09 August 2011 11:26

Country Profile: ETHIOPIA

Hailemariam’s appointment as deputy prime minister and foreign minister in an October government reshuffle strengthens his position as a potential successor in 2015. Hailemariam’s party, the SEPDM, has also gained a further two prominent ministries, defence and federal affairs, strengthening the party relative to the traditional power bases in the TPLF, OPDO and ANDM.



Some of the big names who have dropped out of the politburo or given up their parliamentary seats, such as Bereket Simon or Seyoum Mesfin, will still be around in a backstairs or advisory capacity and may even retain ministerial positions.?While Meles may retire in 2015, there is no clear successor. The TPLF is aware that it is probably out of the running; Tigrayans make up just 6% of Ethiopia’s population and people want change.



The Amhara and the Oromo, the two largest ethnic groups, argue that any successor should come from their own ethnic group. This tension will start to make itself felt in the year ahead. ?Meles’s already strong position will be strengthened as new appointees become beholden to him and any rivals are edged out by the changes. The opposition will continue its attempts to form a united front, but ideological differences, the ?absence of a unifying leader and a wait of five years before the next election is held will make this difficult.?Foreign policy impasses in Somalia, Eritrea and, potentially, Sudan have been causes of concern in Addis Ababa.



The resignation from Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Prime Minister Ali Sharmarke in September caused indignation in Addis, which strongly believes that the TFG is too fragile to indulge in internal bickering. There had been some cautious optimism over Somalia, in view of recent significant AU peacekeeping successes in Mogadishu. Ethiopia was more confident of international donor support for the TFG of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. However, as the TFG has less than a year before the end of the transitional period, much remains to be done.?The threat of the Somali al-Shabaab insurgency persists and, although Ethiopia says its troops will not return to Somalia, any major advance by al-Shabaab could change its calculations.


Ethiopia maintains that al-Shabaab is still receiving weapons and assistance from Eritrea, which feels some irritation due to the recommendations of the International Crisis Group’s September report to “bring Eritrea in from the cold”, arguing that it is in danger of becoming a failed state. ?Ethiopia will also be keeping a watchful eye on Sudan as the 9 January referendum approache. Addis Ababa would be comfortable with either one or two Sudanese states, but it has taken a firm position that the conditions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement should be implemented. Ties to the government of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in the south will have to be balanced against the fact that Ethiopia imports all of its benzene from the north. Addis Ababa is extremely wary of antagonising President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to the point where he might actively align with Eritrea.?


The GTP, though still not finalised in 2010, promises to be monumentally ambitious. Economists worry, however, that it will equally miss the mark because its underlying assumptions are flawed. The year ahead will be crucial for implementing the groundwork on a set of goals that Meles claims will lead to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and prepare Ethiopia to become a middle-income country.?While the latest budget promises heavy investment in infrastructure, the primary focus of the plan will be the industrial sector, which currently stands at 13% of GDP. Efforts to boost industry will be insufficient for it to replace agriculture, which accounts for 41% of GDP, as the strongest sector.

Subscriptions Digital EditionSubscriptions PrintEdition










Music & Film



Keep up to date with the latest from our network :


Connect with us