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Thomas Rowley

Tom Rowley edits oDR.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Tackling the kilil system: a critical response to ‘Ethiopia: Climbing Mount Uncertainty’

“A powerful leadership cannot resolve the endless ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia and save the country. Only a genuine transition to a democracy can.”

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.”

Separating the wheat from the chaff on Ethiopia: reply to René Lefort

One must see things in their movement rather than in their fixity. The EPRDF is the only path toward maintaining the unity of the country and consolidating it by means of democratic reforms.

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.

Horn of Africa: there are no quick fixes in ‘countering violent extremism’

An effective response to violence and harmful ideologies is important. But projects are failing to adequately engage with root causes.

Precarious migrant motherhood in Lebanon

Ethiopian migrant domestic workers who give birth to children in Lebanon are caught in a trap between the struggle to bring up a child with no legal status, and the difficulty of exiting the country.

My 350 on Donald Trump: in a free land according to my conscience

I am blessed, in this western country, to cast my vote.

Ethiopia’s crisis

Things fall apart: will the centre hold?

In Ethiopia, famine stalks the land once again

The answer to famine is not increased levels of food aid, but strategic planning to enable communities to survive the impact of extreme weather, made more acute by climate change.

”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.

Addressing global taxation and gender equality

The increased call on countries to maximise local revenue in order to finance their own development agenda adds to the urgency of  making sure that domestic resources are tailored towards achieving gender equality.

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. 

The poetics and politics of Oromo resistance

Oromo music has played a central role in providing alternative spaces for enunciating ‘the Oromo question’.

Suppressed at home, neglected abroad, Ethiopian migrants

The May 24 election, contrary to US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s misjudged and widely criticized comments, is a hollow piece of democratic theatre.

Desperate people, hazardous escapes

Those fleeing violent conflict or brutal repressive regimes, facing darkness and terror as they journey from home to Europe, deserve compassion—not intolerance, paranoia and hate.

Andargachew Tsige: Ethiopian brutality, British apathy

A UK citizen who was a refugee from the one-party state that is Ethiopia has been spirited back into its clutches. Why is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office doing so little?

Ethiopia’s alleged terrorists: vocal bloggers and independent journalists

In attempting to minimize the risks attendant to human rights work in an authoritarian setting, Ethiopian NGOs have been hesitant to support young activists who face government persecution. 

Ethiopia's electoral manoeuvres

Why does the Ethiopian government regularly organise elections and invite observers, only to reject their findings? Why do international actors such as the EU Observer Mission continue to participate in these processes despite jeopardizing their credibility? 

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.

Appraising Ethiopia’s Saudi policy

We are full well aware that we should not kid ourselves about the likely short- and long- term costs of severing all bilateral ties. What we are proposing of course is limited in scope and time. 

In Kenya, averting a move to strangle civil society with the financial noose

In October Kenya introduced legislation capping foreign funding to NGOs and requiring that money be channeled through a government body. Though narrowly defeated, the law looked to be a death-knell for a vibrant civil society sector. But Kenya – and the region – is not out of the woods yet. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Funding for Human RightsFrançais

Bliss Was It in that Dawn to Be Next Door

Our columnist warns western commentators quick to advocate caution to Egyptians, that if they are honest noone knows what is taking place in Egypt in these extraordinary days which we are invited to observe - from above. Down below, there is a small problem with driving, and not just in Ethiopia. But we begin with a visit the author made in June to a Cairo about to erupt.

Marriage as symbolic resistance: a story of Ethiopian Muslim activism

While the Kality inmates were supposed to be broken through incarceration and character assassination, they have manifested their hope through their colourful marriages.

The rise of Islamophobia in Ethiopia

Recent demands have been the most vocal and the most sustained in the history of Ethiopian Muslims. But if they have gone the least bit beyond the scope of religion, then, ironically, they have been overtly secularist.

The Ethiopian Muslim civil rights movement: implications for democracy

In a country where NGO’s have been severely crippled, press freedom is dying out, religious institutions are tightly controlled, and professional associations effectively co-opted - in short, where civil society is in grave danger of extinction - there has been one arena of visible democracy, that of the protesting Muslims.

Ethiopia: the ‘war on terror’ and the trial of 28 community leaders

The lies that creep out of the state’s mouth are justified as the protection of order, even when they are against the law, but a citizen’s lawful attempt to counter their lies is terrorism. 

The 'politics' in Ethiopia's political trials

The Ethiopian regime is using the legal system to eliminate dissident voices and drag protesters to court under terrorism charges. Far from guaranteeing equality and justice, the country’s courts serve as an instrument in the Government’s hands to legitimize persecution of political adversaries while justifying its practices to the west.

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.

Redefining protest in Ethiopia: what happens to the 'terror' narrative when Muslims call for a secular state?

From the periphery, Ethiopian Muslim protesters have recently turned a page in the history of the country. They have proven that demonstrations by religious groups can be peaceful, that secularism can be the aim of these groups instead of their nemesis and that a radical Islamist agenda doesn't have to be the dominant one.

Ethiopia ahead of the curve: the green legacy of Meles Zenawi

It is surely better now to concentrate on Meles’ positive achievements rather than dwell on negatives from the past. His legacy will be decided by what happens next. But the “develop now and clean up later” approach enjoyed by the west for a while is no longer an option - for anyone.

The paradox of Meles Zenawi

He embodied the eternal paradox that is Ethiopia: a land of ‘great abundance’ where so much poverty exists; a Garden of Eden whose potential has never been fulfilled.  

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