Ethiopia: Pull No Punches

Tagesso Chafo , the speaker of the House, playfully tugs Demeke Mekonnen, deputy prime minister, after welcoming him at the entrance to the main hall of parliament. The duo, a few minutes later, welcomed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) as he made his way where he appeared before MPs to take questions on the current political and economic affairs of the country.

The atmosphere in parliament was anything but playful. MPs pulled no punches. They did not praise or brandish the achievements of the executive as much as parliamentarians were wont to do in the past.

No MP directly brought up the poor state of macroeconomic conditions that had seen the cost of living increase and foreign direct investment declined. The focus was instead on the breakdown of the rule of law and the government's inability to arrest conflicts and unrest despite the loss of life and destruction of property.

The Prime Minister was more sober and restrained than most of his other appearances in parliament. He argued that Ethiopia is no longer sinking into the sea and that there were successes such as Ethio telecom servicing 14.8 billion Br in debt.

Notably, he was far from referring to the deteriorating security crisis of the country as mere growing pains of political reform. He admitted that the resistance put up by "forces" has been underestimated but that his administration has resigned itself to a "life and death" fight in its attempt to save the Ethiopian state.

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