Ethiopia’s government is set to backdown from plans to expand the boundaries of the capital, Addis Ababa, which resulted in months of deadly protests.
However, after consultation with local people, the ruling party in the Oromia region said it was abandoning the “master plan”, the BBC reports.
The proposal had sparked fears that the expansion will displace Oromo farmers. There were concerns that Oromo farmers and people living close to Addis Ababa, “could be evicted from their lands without appropriate – or possibly any – compensation,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
At least 140 people involved in anti-government protests since November 2015 were killed in the demonstrations resisting the plan. Rights groups heavily criticised the manner in which government security forces dealt with the protests.
The decision to abandon the planned expansion vindicates the grievances raised by protesters in Oromia region. According to HRW, these deep seated concerns have always existed: “Many Oromos have felt marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments and have often felt unable to voice their concerns over government policies”.
The decision to abandon the plan highlights the effectiveness of protests as a form of political participation. It also indicates that protests can be an effective means through which the public can express their concerns and views to exercise their influence on the political process.