There have been a few articles in the newswires about unrest in several parts of Ethiopia, we thought it might be an idea to put across our perspective on this situation.

The spark for the unrest this week was an attempt to remove the Oromo activist Jawar’s security detail on Tuesday night; Mr. Jawar posted on facebook that this was an attempt on his life which led to many of his supporters in Addis to rush to his residence in the middle of the night; on Wednesday more extreme elements of the Oromo ethnic group protested, attacked property (including Orthodox Churches) and people of different Ethnic groups and even the Police (which are seen as part of the moderate and more inclusive regime led by Dr. Abiy). The several skirmishes in different parts of the country left several people dead (reports vary from 15 to 50) and many properties damaged.

The situation seemed to be calmer on Thursday although still tense. Indeed, many roads are still closed thus disrupting coffee transportation by truck from the South to Addis Ababa and from Addis Ababa to Djibouti.

The wider picture is confusing, Jawar and Abiy were allies and Abiy is Prime Minister as a direct consequence of protests and pressure put on the previous regime by the Oromo Youth that are aligned with Jawar; however Abiy is following a conciliatory policy to unify the different Ethnic groups under one party; this is in sharp contrast to the parties that are organised along Ethnic lines; Abiy’s strategy is divergent to Jawar’s Oromo nationalistic views and let’s face it, threatens all parties that have Ethnicity at their core; all this is happening against the backdrop of Elections in May 2020.

We have drawn attention to the political situation before in the context of the Coffee Supply Chain, we believe that actual unrest and fears of it bubbling up, have pushed coffee from the producing areas to Addis in the past and this could happen again this crop if stakeholders are nervous of the political situation in the New Year, as the election date gets closer; we believe that a peaceful period in the coming few weeks is critical to a smooth flow from tree to export bag!

by Charles Seara Cardoso