In-depth Analysis: A Spring in the Horn: Mass Protest and Transitions in Sudan and Ethiopia - Addis Standard
Two mass protest movements have, in quick succession, forced regime changes in Sudan and Ethiopia, two of the Horn of Africa’s quintessential “hard” states. A deep-seated disillusion with the security and developmental states drives the new “revolutionary” mood. What is less clear is where all the ferment and the popular demand for a new dispensation will lead.
In Sudan, the ouster of Al-Bashir has been followed by a partial retreat of the security state. In Ethiopia, the election of a reformist PM and a year of sweeping reforms, have extensively eroded the power of the security Deep State.
Yet, neither PM Abiy’s extensive cull nor Sudanese military council’s modest targeted purge constitute a fundamental dismantling of the structures of the security state. More important, the transitions under way in the two countries, were, in the initial phases, at least, top-down attempts by the security state to engineer a soft landing with minimal disruptions.
PM Abiy’s singular act of genius lay in the way he deftly subverted that strategy of piecemeal reform assigned to him by the ruling party and began almost single-handedly to unravel old Ethiopia at break-neck speed.
The retreat of the authoritarian order in both cases opens huge possibilities: a generational opportunity for meaningful and positive change but also great risks.
In Ethiopia, a year of “deep” reforms under the reformist Premier Abiy Ahmed has put the transition on a rocky but relatively steady positive trajectory. Overall prospects for good governance, civil liberties and human rights continue to improve.
In Sudan, the situation is less hopeful and remains, so far, uncertain. The hopes and expectations raised by the resignation of Omar al-Bashir after 30 years in power, now grates against the reality of a potentially messy and protracted transition following a controversial intervention by the army. The Transition Military Council (TMC), made up of Bashir’s allies, is struggling against mounting popular discontent to manage an interregnum.