CW 44/2021: Downward Spiral
Press Review 29 October 2021 to 5 November 2021

Ethiopian conflict intensifies

On the first anniversary of the Tigray conflict that began in Ethiopia on the 4th of November 2020, the crisis is deepening. The conflict, which began under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as a “rule of law operation” against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the north of the country, had already spread to the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara at the beginning of August this year. Last Saturday, the TPLF now made territorial gains by capturing the strategically important towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, putting the Ethiopian government on the defence. Although Abyi Ahmed initially denied the territorial gain, a nationwide state of emergency lasting for the next six months was declared shortly afterwards. The prime minister also called on the population to arm themselves and defend their environment. Further reports of the TPLF joining forces with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels, who are classified as terrorists, and accessing one of the most important highways in the country raises concerns of a spread of the conflict and an invasion of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. On this Friday, the TPLF and the OLA also announced that they would join forces with seven other groups to form the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces. This means that an overthrow of the government can no longer be ruled out. The United Nations Human Rights Report, which was published this week in cooperation with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), also reveals how embittered the fronts in the country are. The report attests the “extreme brutality” of the conflict. War crimes and crimes against humanity, ranging from killing and torture to sexual violence, were committed by the armed forces of Ethiopia and Eritrea up to June 2021, although crimes committed by the TPLF have increased recently. All actors in the country have been called upon internationally to call for a ceasefire and an end to the fighting. Today the UN Security Council will meet to discuss the situation in Ethiopia.


Historically low election result for the ruling party in South Africa

In Monday’s municipal elections in South Africa, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) recorded its worst election result since the introduction of democracy in South Africa. According to official results, the ANC received 46% of the vote, dropping below 50% for the first time. The second strongest party was the Democratic Alliance (DA), the largest opposition party, with 22%, while the radical left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) received 10% of the vote. This continues the trend of the ANC, which has been chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa since 2018, falling steadily in the electorate’s favour. Already in the 2016 elections, the ruling ANC had noticeably lost support. The campaign issues of that time also dominated the current election: high unemployment, corruption, repeated power cuts and inefficient bureaucracy led to great frustration among eligible voters and manifested themselves, among other things, in a low voter turnout. According to the report, only two out of three eligible voters registered to vote, and less than half of them – only 47% – cast their ballots. The outcome of the election means that significantly more coalition governments will have to be formed at the head of municipal and district councils than in the past, and the political landscape in South Africa could thus be permanently changed. Due to the sometimes strong ideological differences between the various parties as well as the majority ratios, it can be assumed that most coalitions will be made up of the ANC and the DA. President Ramaphosa and the ANC, meanwhile, also tried to draw positive conclusions from the election results and continue to start as the strongest party in possible coalition negotiations in various parts of the country, but with a view to the parliamentary elections in 2024, the results of the local elections cannot be satisfactory for the ANC.


In other news

Together with Welthungerhilfe, the foundation of the weekly magazine stern has launched a project to implement local solutions to the specific challenges of a small village in Kenya whose food security is increasingly threatened by climate change. Not only changing rainy seasons and longer periods of drought, but also plagues of locusts are jeopardizing the important progress made in recent years in the fight against hunger in many parts of East Africa. The aim of the three-year project is therefore first to examine the causes of hunger in the village of Kinakoni and then to develop long-term solutions together with the inhabitants. The special aspect of the project is the involvement of founders from Nairobi’s start-up scene, who will help to develop innovative ideas to address the challenges faced by the people of Kinakoni. The solutions tested in Kinakoni will also be implemented in other Kenyan villages.

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