Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed takes on the military

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has strong public support for his reforms

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A year ago, many Ethiopians would not have dared to imagine the spectacle they are being treated to right now, as the government intensifies its crackdown on alleged corruption and gross human rights violations within the military and intelligence services.

The nation has watched in disbelief – and then cheered – as former high-ranking officers have been arrested on live television, handcuffed while surrounded by heavily armed security personnel and bundled into police vehicles. Times have indeed changed.

This is the biggest crackdown on corruption in Ethiopia’s recent history and it is being spearheaded by the bold and reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in April.

His critics say he is carrying out a purge of the old guard in the military and intelligence services who for years have been almost untouchable and only answerable to those within their ranks.

Others argue it is merely political and is targeting officials from the Tigray region, who have long controlled the military and intelligence services. But the crackdown has also nabbed people from other ethnic groups.

The prime minister seems to be responding to concerns raised by the public, especially during the last four years when massive anti-government protests broke out in many parts of the country.

At the heart of the demonstrations were serious concerns about the alleged corruption which touched at the very core of the government and the military.