Ethiopia, DRC govts risk losing legitimacy over crackdown on peaceful protests

by Zelalem

Governments of Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) risk losing all legitimacy with lethal crackdown on citizens engaged in peaceful protests.

This is the position advanced by Herman J. Cohen, a former United States ambassador who served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Cohen, currently a consultant on African affairs, is the author of a book, ‘In the Mind of an African Strongman.’ He has extensive knowledge on the continent having served a long span of his diplomatic career in Africa.

The security situation in Ethiopia’s Oromia region

In Ethiopia, rising anti-government sentiments especially in the Oromia regional state has been met by federal security deployment leading to deaths. The most recent incident in the town of Ambo claimed 10 lives the regional government confirmed.

Similar protests and attendant clampdown led to imposition of a state of emergency in October last year. The six-month measure was to quell the protests which had spread to northern Amhara region and to the capital Addis Ababa.

The security situation in DR Congo

In the case of the DRC, president Joseph Kabila’s continued stay in power despite the expiration of his mandate in December 2016 has led to protests that have been clamped down by security forces leading to deaths and mass arrests.

The failure of the elections body, CENI, to organize elections meant to replace Kabila has also worsened matters. The opposition says it will continue protests till Kabila leaves office. CENI says polls are possible by April 2019 even though the U.S. insists they must be held next year.

Kabila is ineligible to stand per the current laws of the country but he has yet to state explicitly that he will not be contesting. If he plans to, the law must be amended to allow him to stay on.

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