BBC radio World Today asked for my comments yesterday on the significance of Ethiopia’s national elections.
The interview took place before the results were known, although the assumption was that the EPRDF had won. I responded that the elections were important, because they would serve as an indicator whether Ethiopia was advancing towards a more open political system or reverting to the closed pattern of the 1995 and 2000 elections when the opposition was weak and, in any event, had little opportunity to play a meaningful role.
The elections were also important because Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, is critical to stability in East Africa and the Horn. Instability in neighboring countries impacts Ethiopia, and problems in Ethiopia have a negative effect on the region. It is essential that Ethiopia remain stable and make progress towards democratization.