Dehai News The Horn Of Africa States: Healing The Constant Turbulence – OpEd

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Friday, 05 April 2024


The political crisis in the region kept stressing it. Unrest in the Tigray State, the war that erupted in the Amhara state, the stressed relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea kept the northern parts of the region on its feet, unbalanced and unstable. The Welkait region between Tigray and the Amhara states added to the bitter relationship between the two main northern regions of Ethiopia. This affected the humanitarian works in the region and only added more stress to the toils of the populations in that region. 

The Somali issues took a turn for the worse as well as the government forced its will on the population by changing parts of the provisional constitution to ensure that all powers are to be concentrated in the president of the Somali federation wherein most of the member states appear to have bolted, rejecting the change. One of the States, Puntland has already fully declared that it would not abide by the new changes to the constitution and considers that the president has violated the constitution under which he was elected some two years ago. It already made moves to establish direct relations with Ethiopia and the latter did not disappoint them, receiving them with great care.

This has resulted in further distressing the relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia, wherein Somalia has expelled the Ethiopian Ambassador and all the consulates in the country, further aggravating the already difficult relations between the two countries and hence the dire situation of the region.

In addition to the continuing political stresses in the region, its other ills including corruption, criminality, terrorism and other security challenges continued and weighed heavily on the rule of law. The changes to Somalia’s provisional constitution seriously affects the reconstruction of the Somali state, which seems to be breaking apart more at the seams. The current governing party appears adamant on retaining the changes to the constitution while the majority of the country’s member states, and population appear to be moving away from the center. 

The region which appeared to be improving in governance is retreating to the chaos and instabilities of the past with, of course, the negative impact this would have on the economic development of the region and the already unstable security situation in the region. There is clearly a decline in the civic and democratic space in the region with the accompanying exasperation on the region’s human rights profile.

How this would affect in the election processes in the region is to be seen. In Ethiopia, the delayed 6th round by-election of June 2021 in four states of the Ethiopian federation are to be held this year in June 2024. The four states include Benishangul Gumz, Afar, Somali, and Central Ethiopia. These elections could not be held in the past due to security concerns and other undisclosed factors. In Somalia state elections are to be held in November 2024 in four member states including South-West, Jubaland, Hirshabelle and Galmudug states.

The region remains in its current web of complex issues including long-serving leaders, droughts further aggravated by global climatic changes, foreign interferences, eroding press freedoms , other than social media in the diaspora, and religious terrorism.

It is ironic that the region is not new to the complexities of history. Its existence and participation in global affairs at different times in human history dates back to millennia, back to Ancient Egyptian times and old Persian empires and even Indian and Chinese with whom the region traded and had relations. It does appear that the social contracts which bound the region’s populations together in the past is being challenged by outside forces, and they seem to be unable to handle these challenges in these difficult times. 

There seems to be an onslaught on the region’s ability to manage and govern itself through a process of barring all those with institutional memories of the region’s past administrations. Young and inexperienced leaders seem to have been imposed on the region recently. The skilled and the experienced with institutional memories are no longer deployed even as consultants, let alone in the governing infrastructures. It would appear that the most unskilled and inexperienced are being deployed in most of the region’s institutions. They are selected  through tribalistic/clannish, nepotistic, and other illegal forms.

This is causing political fragmentation within each country and avoidance of anything that may help in assisting political inclusiveness, proper management of state affairs and good relations with the other neighboring countries of the region. Deep-rooted divisions are being instituted within each state and within the region, which becomes a formidable challenge for all those who may wish to reconstitute each country and the region into a viable, developing and growing region.

 The region seems poised to further breakups if the elites of the region and populations do not rise up to the challenge of stopping the downfall trend apparent in the region. Building of institutions seems not to be enough. There is need to have principled and good leaders to fill these governance institutions, who should be endowed with visionary ideas and sincerity in their works.

Good governance entails democratic values anyway for it entails justice, fairness and respect for the rule of law. Who would not like to live and work under such a system irrespective of the tribe and/or clan? The continuing emphasis on the tribe and clan in the region is not a viable solution for a tribe and/or a clan can also be as bad or worse than a national government. One must emphasize in the region the practicing of good governance, consensus, rule of law and fair policy making which appeals to everybody as the way out of its current quagmire.

The way out of the constant turbulence in the region should be a local national and regional agenda. It cannot be helped by the international community. There is no international community per se. It is a group of communities and /or countries each pursuing its best interests. Why shouldn’t each of the countries of the region and the region together build up consensus within each country and the region together. It is where history-making leaders are needed.

The continuing dependency on the foreigner will not help. It has not helped in the past and it would help in the future. A country can only rise if it helps itself. This should be the mantra of every Horn African leader or those aspiring to lead the region. Dependency on the foreigner has not only exasperated the situations of each of the countries of the region but has also endangered the very existence of some the countries od the region. A perfect example is Somalia, which appears to have been broken into many parts still poised to break up further. Ethiopia is not far behind. What about Eritrea and Djibouti?

The Horn of Africa States region is blessed, but it does not see it. It enjoys a sizeable young population, situated in a geostrategic location, is the source of the Blue Nile and many other rivers, has a vast agricultural and maritime space and hence a substantial source of food production. It is, indeed, a region of the future, and its leaders should accept it and embrace it, and serve it and not take advantage of it.


Dr. Suleiman Walhad

   *Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at

ERi-TV, Eritrea - ጸብጻብ ዑደት ፕረዚደንት ኢሳይያስ ኣፈወርቂ ኣብ ዋዕላ ደቡብ ኮርያ አፍሪቃ | Reportage on President Isaias Afwerki's visit to South Korea for the South Korea-Africa Summit, held from June 3-4

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