“LIKE Sarajevo, 1914,” said the late Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, of the first gunshots fired on May 6th 1998. “An accident waiting to happen.” Neither he nor his counterpart in neighbouring Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, imagined that a light skirmish at Badme, a border village of which few had heard, could spiral into full-scale war. But two years later about 80,000 lives had been lost and more than half a million people forced from their homes
THE speed of events caught Ethiopians off guard. When Abiy Ahmed took office as prime minister on April 2nd he did so as the head of a deeply divided ruling coalition. The inexperienced 42-year-old, who came from the Oromo wing of the ethnically based coalition, was viewed with deep suspicion by many of his establishment colleagues. He was taking charge of a country under a state of emergency after more than three years of anti-government protests and ethnic unrest. Few expected him to achieve much soon.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
“Life is but an empty dream!”
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.