Ethiopia has experienced a surge in anti-government protests since late December 2015, the incidence of which has primarily been catalysed by the Addis Ababa and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan (known colloquially as the ‘Master Plan’). Although the government has since reportedly abandoned the plan, which sought to expand the territory of the capital, Addis Ababa, into surrounding farm areas in the Oromia region, protests have continued unabated.
Unrest has been particularly acute in the country’s Oromia region, with protests frequently accompanied by fatalities and arrests. The Oromo, an ethnic group located in the aforementioned region, have accused the government of attempting to displace thousands of Oromo from areas near the capital, without compensation. It should be noted that, although the Oromo constitute the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia (34 percent), they continue to lack appropriate representation in the country’s political system. Perceived political and economic marginalisation of the Oromo has only served to exacerbate the emotive nature of protests in the region. Clashes between security forces and protesters are frequently reported; the prevalence of which has been ascribed to the forcible means by which soldiers and police respond to demonstrations.