GZERO Media logo

BLOWBACK BLASTS: ZIMBABWE AND ETHIOPIA

BLOWBACK BLASTS: ZIMBABWE AND ETHIOPIA

Both men took power only recently. Both come from within the broken authoritarian systems they promise to fix. And both — Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (pictured above) — were apparently targeted for death last weekend.


In Zimbabwe, a bomb exploded inches from Mr. Mnangagwa during a campaign rally. “It is not my time,” he said. (We’ve written backgrounders hereand here on Mnangagwa, nicknamed the Crocodile, who once survived attempted assassination by ice cream.)

Who did it? Ahead of what could be Zimbabwe’s first remotely fair elections in decades, the field of suspects is wide. Some within the ruling ZANU-PF party hate Mnangagwa because he toppled long-serving strongman Robert Mugabe last November — and because he’s pledged to open the system in ways that threaten them. Opposition supporters hate him because he was once Mugabe’s enforcer, the head of his ruthless security service. The attack on Mnangagwa took place in the city of Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold, but the near miss suggests it might have been an inside job.

In Ethiopia, someone lobbed a grenade at Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as he addressed tens of thousands at a rally in Addis Ababa in support of his reform plans. Two were killed and more than one hundred injured.

The youthful Mr. Abiy took power in April after months of riots against government repression left hundreds dead. Since then, Abiy has lifted a state of emergency, begun a nationwide listening tour to ease ethnic tensions, released thousands of political prisoners, pledged to privatize struggling state companies, and signaled agreement on a long-frozen deal to formally end the war with neighboring Eritrea.

It’s still more talk than action, but the promises themselves are big news in one of Africa’s most historically repressive regimes.

Now, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia sit 2,500 miles apart. They are very different countries with different strengths, burdens, and political histories. But they have this in common: each has a new leader who promises big changes to a deeply entrenched authoritarian system. And each man has enemies who want to see him dead.

Now that Joe Biden is officially US president, leaders from around the world would like a word with him — but where will he make his first international trip?

After a tumultuous four years, many countries are now clamoring for a face-to-face with President Biden. That includes allies who felt abandoned by Trump's "America First" presidency, as well as adversaries with thorny issues on the agenda. We check in on who's pitching him hardest on a near-term state visit.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on what to expect from President Biden's first 100 days:

It's Inauguration Day. And you can see behind me the Capitol Building with some of the security corridor set up that's preventing people like me from getting too close to the building, as Joe Biden gets sworn in as our 46th president. Historic day when you consider that you've got Kamala Harris, the first woman vice president, the first woman of color to be vice president.

More Show less

On Wednesday, Joe Biden will become president because eighty-one million Americans, the highest tally in US history, voted to change course after four years of Donald Trump's leadership. Like all presidents, Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, take office with grand ambitions and high expectations, but rarely has a new administration taken power amid so much domestic upheaval and global uncertainty. And while Biden has pledged repeatedly to restore American "unity" across party lines — at a time of immense suffering, real achievements will matter a lot more than winged words.

Biden has a lot on his agenda, but within his first 100 days as president there are three key issues that we'll be watching closely for clues to how effectively he's able to advance their plans.

More Show less

Kamala Harris was sworn in today as the first woman Vice President of the United States. That means she's only a heartbeat away from occupying the Oval Office — and could well be the Democratic candidate to replace Joe Biden if the 78-year-old president decides to not run for reelection in 2024. Should Harris — or another woman — become US president soon in the future, that'll (finally) put America on par with most of the world's top 20 economies, which have already had a female head of state or government at some point in their democratic history. Here we take a look at which ones those are.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal