Ethiopia – America’s strongest African ally in the war on terrorism – is undergoing some massive political changes, and with changes come friction. That was demonstrated today during a political rally for the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. From Sky News:
Abiy Ahmed had just finished speaking to a crowd of tens of thousands when an attacker tried to throw a grenade towards the stage where he was sitting.
The perpetrator was held back by people nearby and three suspects – two men and a woman – were arrested, said rally organiser Seyoum Teshome.
When the explosion happened, dozens of people ran towards the stage, shouting anti-government chants and throwing objects at police, as the prime minister quickly left the scene.
This is an event which is very important to Americans, even though few of them will hear of it or recognize its significance. Ahmed is a true reformer, and he seems focused on uniting his country. He has freed hundreds of political prisoners in his first two months in office and has enacted reforms for the justice system, increasing due process and free speech rights. (dw.com) He has also admitted that over the last decade, the ruling Ethiopian party – his party – has committed acts of terrorism against their political opposition in an effort to remain in power. He is open to combining Ethiopia with Eritrea again.
The efforts are important to the United States precisely because of those reforms. On the one hand, pro-freedom reforms are inherently good… especially when terrorist methods are being used to oppress the citizenry. On the other hand, some of the political prisoners being freed have been Islamists, and the results of the “Arab Spring” should be fresh in the minds of many.
The political situation in Ethiopia is complex. The assassination of a reform-oriented leader would likely bring about one of the worst possible situations, with tensions erupting in a country already heavily divided, a country which the United States relies upon for aid in Middle East and African military and political efforts.
A few hours after the attack in Ethiopia, about a thousand miles to the south, Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa was targeted for assassination with what appears to have been a bomb attack. From Africanews:
A rally attended by the Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa in Bulawayo, was rocked by an explosion as the president walked off the podium. His spokesman said the head of state was successfully evacuated.
Mnangagwa has been attempting to implement positive economic reforms since he adopted control of the country following a coup that ousted the dictatorial, violent and racist Robert Mugabe. His actions have been moving more slowly than have Abiy Ahmed’s, because the political structures of the nations are radically different.
A clip of the explosion was provided to Twitter:
This clip captures the incident pic.twitter.com/DszQj3TJdN
— Nick mangwana (@nickmangwana) June 23, 2018
Just for the record, the unusual name of the Zimbabwean President is NOT pronounced as if he were a classic Muppets song. He is a world leader who has risked his life attempting to depose a brutal and murderous strongman, and should be afforded his earned dignity. Provided for clarification: