Violent repression of demonstrations on the streets of Addis Ababa and other towns has marred Ethiopia's reputation as a representative of the new democracies of Africa. The May 2005 election, the first authentic poll in its thousand-year history, was supposed to open the way to an era of modernisation and democracy. Instead it revealed the deep ethnic and economic divide in the country. The experience, which may descend further into civil strife, has put a large question mark over broader democratisation plans in Africa.
Beyond domestic politics the war noises on the border with Eritrea, China's increasing engagement, and hopes for an oil bonanza in the east have made the regime more significant for Western leaders, already banking on it as an ally in the 'war on terrorism'.
SouthMedia's report on the current situation has been compiled by analysts in Addis Ababa. It is essential reading and reference for all policymakers seeking orientation in a new and fluid situation in the Horn.
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