Big Tent: Ethiopia’s Authoritarian Balancing Act

When Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s leader of more than 20 years, died in August 2012, many anticipated significant and potentially destabilizing change. Past political transitions in Addis Ababa had been violent and settled at the barrel of the gun, so the precedents were worrisome. Meles’ eulogies emphasized his individual brilliance and his personal role in bringing development to the modern Ethiopian state. What would happen with the strongman gone? Could the strong and effective authoritarian developmental party-state engineered under Meles’ leadership sustain itself without him? Instead of instability, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) quickly moved Deputy Prime Minister […]

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