Ethiopian Leader Secures New Mandate as Conflict Rages On
Ethiopia’s new parliament reappointed Abiy Ahmed as prime minister on Monday following his party’s landslide election win, giving him a five-year mandate to tackle the fallout of a civil war that’s triggered an economic and humanitarian crisis.
Abiy, who first assumed his post in 2018, initially won investor acclaim for opening up the insular economy and a Nobel Peace Prize for ending a long-running conflict with neighboring Eritrea. He’s fallen from grace since ordering a federal troop incursion into the dissident Tigray province after forces loyal to the northern region’s leaders attacked an army base. Fighting has dragged on for 11 months, leaving thousands dead and 5 million in need of aid.
Fostering peace and national unity will be among the new administration’s top priorities. At his inauguration ceremony on Monday, Abiy said he intends convening a national dialog that will “bring together all those who believe we can solve our differences.” It’s unclear whether his main foes -- the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army -- will be invited.
“We will work to build an Ethiopia that’s all inclusive and works for all,” said Abiy, who also identified tackling high inflation and corruption as key focuses.
The leaders of Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Uganda were among those who attended the ceremony.
Abiy was assured of retaining his post after his Prosperity Party secured an outright majority in the House of People’s Representatives in the August elections. The vote was postponed to Sept. 30 in some of the 547 constituencies due to security concerns and logistical problems and results from those regions have yet to be announced, but they won’t affect the final outcome.
The new administration needs to finalize a program to restructure some of the nation’s almost $30 billion foreign debt under the so-called G20’s Common Framework. That plan, which was first announced in January, spooked investors, with yields on Ethiopia’s 2024 Eurobond reaching a fresh record high of 12.3% on Monday.
It will also need to renegotiate a new program with the International Monetary Fund to replace an extended credit facility, which had been agreed but lapsed before the money was disbursed. In September, the Washington-based lender said it was “too soon” to engage with Ethiopia over new programs.
Abiy’s attempts to secure external funding could be complicated by threats by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to impose sanctions on individuals and entities involved in the conflict.
“For its journey to prosperity, Ethiopia strongly needs support from its friends,” Abiy said. “However, any kind of friendship should not and cannot be given in a way that sacrifices the sovereignty of the country.”
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