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Trouble's On The Horn: Ethiopia in Crisis

Trouble's On The Horn: Ethiopia in Crisis

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma wasn’t the only beleaguered leader of a major African economy to resign last week. At the other end of the continent, Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn stepped down amid a deep political crisis that has roiled the East African nation for three years now.


The roots of the crisis combine two things: perceptions of political marginalization among the country’s two largest ethnic groups (the Oromo and the Amhara), and broader frustrations with a political system that has remained deeply repressive even as economic growth soared in recent years. The government’s release of several hundred political prisoners earlier this year failed to defuse the crisis.

Whether Hailemariam’s resignation opens the way for a more inclusive and stable political system — or merely provides the ruling EPRDF with a chance to install a more effective hardliner — is a critical question for the country, and for the region. Ethiopia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, but it’s in a tough neighborhood — it borders the near-failed state of Somalia to the East and war-wracked Sudan and South Sudan to the West.

More broadly, East Africa has become a critical security focus as jihadist militants from ISIS and other groups transit the region to reach other destinations in North and West Africa. Watch this space closely…

Bonus track: Ethiopia’s most famous musician (unless you count The Weeknd as Ethiopian, which I don’t) is Alemayehu Eshete. He’s been called the Ethiopian James Brown. I’ll let you decide who’s the king of soul, but while you ponder it, kick back and lounge to this.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

Ten years ago this week, a powerful earthquake off the coast of eastern Japan triggered a tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. A decade and dozens of decommissioned reactors later, nuclear energy still supplies about 10 percent of global electricity, but its future remains uncertain amid post-Fukushima safety concerns.

As more countries pledge to curb emissions to mitigate climate change, nuclear could serve as a clean(ish) and reliable source of energy. But investing more in nuclear comes with tradeoffs.

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This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the czar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week, life looking better every day in the United States, coronavirus land. But I thought I'd talk about, this week, all of this cancel culture that everyone's talking about right now. If you're on the wrong political side, your opponents are trying to shut you down and you take massive umbrage. I see this everywhere, and it's starting to annoy.

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"Apocalyptic" protests in Senegal: At least five people have been killed in clashes with police as protests over poverty, unemployment, and the jailing of a popular politician rock the West African nation of Senegal. Ousmane Sonko, who heads the opposition Movement to Defend Democracy (M2D) and is considered the most viable challenger to current president Mackie Sall, was accused of rape in February and arrested last week. Sonko says the charges are a politically motivated attempt to remove him from politics before the 2024 presidential election. His supporters immediately hit the streets, voicing a range of grievances including joblessness and poverty. Though youth unemployment has fallen over the past decade, it still exceeds eight percent and close to two-thirds of the country's 16 million people are under the age of 25. As Sonko supporters pledge to continue protests this week, Senegal's head of conflict resolution says the country is "on the verge of apocalypse."

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