Oromo & Somali social & political movements in Ethiopia’s post-Meles era

Hybrid event: to join the webinar, please register using the link below.

Between 2012 and 2018, the intensity of insurgency groups in Oromia and the Somali Regions declined, yet grievances and mobilization persisted in both regions as well as against the federal government. This period also saw the emergence and spread of numerous social and protest movements, placing immense pressure on the EPRDF-led government. Despite shared grievances and similar critiques of the historical Ethiopian state, as well as the expulsion of their vanguard parties during the early 1990s transition, political and social movements in Oromia and the Somali Region diverged in the years leading up to the collapse of the EPRDF regime. Beginning in 2014, Oromia experienced persistent and organized social and protest movements that lasted for years. In contrast, Somali opposition mobilization primarily manifested through elite mobilization and the emergence of new advocacy groups in the diaspora. This research investigates why a mass protest movement emerged in Oromia but not in the Somali region by interrogating the conditions that either facilitated or hindered such movements. It examines the trajectories of key Oromo and Somali social and political movements, the regime type, geography, and geopolitics of the two regions, as well as the nature and size of their local elite and diaspora communities, to understand their impact on grassroots mobilization and their role in inspiring political change.

Dr Juweria Ali is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Westminster’s Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), where she completed her PhD. Her research interests focus on critical international relations theory and practice, natural resource governance, and the politics of nation & state-building in the Horn of Africa.

Hallelujah Lulie is a PhD Candidate in Politics at the University of Oxford studying the nexus between nationalism and citizenship in the Horn of Africa. His research interests include democratization, governance and social movements. He was previously senior visiting policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), and headed the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA), Ethiopian government’s prime strategic policy think-tank for more than a year, as well as a member of the policy advising team at the Office of the Prime Minster of Ethiopia.