On 24 May parliamentary elections were held in Ethiopia. A month later, official results were announced and showed a total victory for the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and its regional allies as it won every parliamentary seat. The African Union, which deployed observers, said the polls passed off without incident. However, the opposition alleged that the government had used authoritarian tactics to guarantee victory and already complained about harassment and intimidation weeks before the elections. Together with rights groups, the EU and the US – whose president will visit Ethiopia in late July as first sitting American leader – reiterated their concerns about the overall lack of democracy, notably restrictions on political opposition and freedom of speech.

Impact on country risk

Along with its allies, the EPRDF has governed Africa’s second most populous nation for more than two decades. After the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2012, political destabilisation in Ethiopia was feared. However, the election of Hailemariam Desalegn as the new prime minister led to a smooth leadership transition, which is now confirmed by this May’s election victory. The latter is likely to confirm Ethiopia as a political stable bastion in the troubled Horn of Africa. Ethiopia’s state-led development model has delivered rapid growth over many years, making Ethiopia one of Africa’s top-performing economies. It has also significantly reduced poverty, while keeping inequality low. Nonetheless, the country still faces big challenges such as the structural deficit both on the current account as fiscally, the limitations on the private sector, the high dependence on foreign aid and ongoing international criticism against the poor human rights record and limited democracy.

Analyst: Jolyn Debuysscher, j.debuysscher@credendogroup.com