Ethiopia: The Starving Masses Rise Up


May 11, 2010: The continuing drought is hitting Ethiopia hard. In the past, what the aid professionals call "food insecurity", has led to military and police security problems. The Afar, the Ogaden, parts of Oromiya, Amhara, and Tigray regions are all suffering from food and water shortages. The Ogaden already has a major insurgency underway, with Somali Islamists and Eritrea supporting ethnic Somali separatists. Expect the trouble to grow.

May 10, 2010: Ethiopia's main opposition group, the Forum for Democracy and Dialog (Medrek) accused the government of murdering three of its candidates in the last week. National elections are scheduled for May 23, the first national elections since 2005. Over the last six months several opposition groups have accused the government of intimidating their candidates and harassing voters. Medrek spokesman say the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is employing a party militia force.

May 9, 2010: The Eritrean opposition group, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO), announced that it intends to create a “joint military front” coalition to combat the Eritrean government. RSADO is already a member of a political coalition group, the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA).

May 8, 2010: The Ethiopian government continues to claim that its year-long offensive in the Ogaden was successful. That may not be the case. The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) officially began its insurgency in 1994. Despite the Ethiopian Army's offensive, the ONLF still has a significant presence in the Godey, Wardheer, Qorahe, Fiq, and Degehabur regions. These areas are ethnic Somali.

May 7, 2010: The Ethiopian government accused the main opposition party coalition (Medrek) of murdering a ruling party candidate (from the EPRDF).

May 4, 2010: The Eritrean government denied accusations made by Ethiopia that Eritrea intended to send agents and terrorists to disrupt Ethiopia's national elections.

May 2, 2010: Opposition groups are complaining that the governing party is abusing Ethiopia's kebelle organizations (peasant associations). The kebelle are supposed to encourage local participation in decision-making, but the opposition claims that the EPRDF has seeded party members in kebelles throughout the country and is using the system to spy on local communities and curtail political opposition. One charge that crops up frequently is that local leaders threaten small farmers with land expropriation. A kebelle is supposed to help aid rural development and help organize local responses in a food crisis or natural disaster.

May 1, 2010: The Ethiopian government claimed it had arrested ten people who are either members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) or of Somalia's radical Islamist Al Shabaab organization. The government claimed that the men had infiltrated Ethiopia (with the aid of Eritrea) and intended to launch attacks during Ethiopia's national elections.

April 28, 2010: The EPRDF accused its political opponents of plotting to provoke violence in the upcoming May elections. The government also accused the main opposition coalition, Medrek, of seeking to undermine the elections' validity.

April 22, 2010: The Eritrean government claimed that in 2002 the United States requested new military facilities in the Eritrean port of Assab. Eritrea turned down the U.S. request. Eritrea also denied accusations that it had secretly agreed to provide Iran with military facilities.


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