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About René Lefort

René Lefort has been writing about sub-saharan Africa since the 1970s and has reported on the region for Le Monde, Le Monde diplomatique, Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur.

He is the author of "Ethiopia. An heretical revolution?" (1982, Zed books).

Articles by René Lefort

This week’s front page editor

Thomas Rowley

Tom Rowley edits oDR.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Ethiopia’s reform process: a seven-point response to Messay Kebede’s critique

“I don’t have any “aim” when I write my articles, other than to present the situation as I understand it. I don’t have any intention, right, or ability to interfere with, let alone alter, Ethiopia’s political course.”

Ethiopia: climbing Mount Uncertainty

"Abiy Ahmed has already gone down in history for addressing the pressing demands of the vast majority of Ethiopians... But Abiy Ahmed made three mammoth strategic errors."

Pacified politics or risk of disintegration? A race against time in Ethiopia

The dramatic changes of the last months have moved Ethiopia away from “the gates of hell ”, but all options are still on the table, from the worst to the best.

Twofold crisis in Ethiopia: the elites and the street

Ultimately, the only route to its successful end is regulation through institutional mechanisms, which means elections, whether early or within the normal electoral cycle.

Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast!

What is urgent is to bring down the tension by focusing the hopes and energies of the activists on a political way out, in the form of a tested, unchallengeable mechanism.

“Ethnic clashes” in Ethiopia: setting the record straight

First there are the undisputed events. Then there are the media reactions, and these – apart from a few rare exceptions, among them some of Ethiopia’s private media – have been perplexing.

Ethiopia’s crisis

Things fall apart: will the centre hold?

The ‘Ethiopian Spring’: “Killing is not an answer to our grievances”

There is every sign that Ethiopia is plunging into a crisis whose scale, intensity, and multiple and interdependent drivers are unprecedented since the founding of the regime in 1991.

Unrest in Ethiopia: the ultimate warning shot?

The culture of power is one of centralisation. But real federalism couldn’t be beyond reach. Oromya shows that it is becoming an absolute requirement.

”Famine” in Ethiopia: key facts

The usual scapegoat returns, with fears that the land tenure system is the main culprit for low production and thus food shortages in a crisis, when it is not.

Ethiopia after its electoral drama: second “renewal” imminent ?

The history of this country is one of eternal recurrence. The ‘national question” re-emerges where it has always been, with varying degrees of visibility: at the heart of Ethiopian political life. 

Ethiopia : a leadership in disarray

It may be that, in Ethiopia, history is so powerful that the past permeates the present, and it repeats itself. In this case, what we see today is simply another interregnum between two powerful men.

Ethiopia: Meles rules from beyond the grave, but for how long?

The trade-off offered by authoritarianism to its client-constituents is security and high growth rates. After Meles challenges may force change, or build the case domestically for a new strong man.

Ethiopia after Meles

Does the Ethiopian state rest on the shoulders of a single man? His illness and recent disappearance from the public eye give some urgency to the question says René Lefort.

The great Ethiopian land-grab: feudalism, leninism, neo-liberalism ... plus ça change

Land in Ethiopia is being leased to agro-industry investors on very long terms and below market rates. The beneficiaries have good political connections. But land has been the play-thing of centralising authoritarians throughout Ethiopia's recent history

"Beka!" ("enough"). Will Ethiopia be next?

Meles Zenawi has been protecting himself from any Arab-spring copy-cat movements in Ethiopia. On balance, it is unlikely that the opposition is strong enough to mount the kind of challenge seen in Egypt and Tunisia. Conditions are not seen to be as brutally unjust in Ethiopia, and no one doubts that the army would be loyal to the Tigray-dominated regime. But there may be surprises yet

Ethiopia's election: all losers

The crushing electoral defeat of the Ethiopian opposition does not actually help the ruling party and encourages its slide into authoritarianism

Ethiopia's famine: deny and delay

Millions of Ethiopians once again face misery and famine. Addis Ababa's desire to project an image of a new dynamic country has led to callous denial of the reality
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