“From a collection of modest offices in a half-empty high rise, one of Ethiopia’s most prominent journalists publishes his weekly paper with a staff of just four. The country has imprisoned U.S.-educated Eskinder Nega multiple times, most recently for six years. But under Prime Minister #AbiyAhmed’s government, he and some dozen other jailed journalists have been released and are free to write. His new weekly Ethiopis takes a strident tone, especially against the city administration and activists from Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group, newly empowered by their fellow Oromo, Abiy. He sees his paper and his activism as part of his long struggle for democracy. Others see it as a danger to Ethiopia’s delicate political state and as part of a wave of news outlets that are taking sides and worsening tensions in the country’s many conflicts.
The changes have also prompted conflicts and unearthed long-buried grievances, often revolving around land and ethnicity. To many, a newly polarized press is making things worse. “It’s a familiar story to what we’ve seen in other countries undergoing a rapid and messy democratization, and it will require a massive effort to ensure that high-quality journalism and civic dialogue prevails...Next year, Ethiopia will hold its first free elections in 15 years, and there are fears that the toxic media environment could lead to violence. “This opening up is sort of an ultimate test for us, and we are failing it, I’m afraid,” said Tsedale Lemma.
In a recent issue of Eskinder’s weekly Ethiopis, a front-page article accused Oromo politician Bekele Gerba, also recently freed from prison, of promoting ethnic cleansing because of a speech he made encouraging the use of the Oromo language. The article compared young Oromo activists to perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, suggesting that #Oromos could carry out similar atrocities. While there have been outbreaks of ethnic-related violence and displacement recently in the country, there has been nothing on the level of what happened in #Rwanda 25 years ago...” read full article @washingtonpost #Ethiopia #EthiopiaNews #Ethiopian #EthiopiansNews #Africa