From Europe, Exiles Keep Eye on Ethiopia’s Fledgling Democracy
By Marthe van der Wolf
LONDON – (voanews)—-Dozens of Ethiopian activists, journalists and politicians have lived in exile for many years, having fled their country when dissident voices were repeatedly suppressed and jailed over the past few decades. Ahead of elections set to take place in their homeland in six months, the first since the previous government collapsed in 2018, the exiles are closely watching the current unrest and are contemplating how they can help.
Kinfu Assefa remained active as a journalist even after being forced to move to the Netherlands. From there, he has seen the changes at home, and he worries about the strength of Ethiopia’s democratic institutions.
“I didn’t see proper preparation for the upcoming elections,” he said. “Neither the ruling party nor the opposition groups have done anything so far to mobilize the nation. Activists and exiled journalists could contribute a lot towards a positive development in the country. We can engage ourselves to ongoing changes through dialogue and discussion. We can contribute a lot through knowledge transfer, for instance.”
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed released many political prisoners and won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending hostilities with Eritrea in the past year and a half. His reforms also opened up more space for civil society organizations.