Monday Briefing | March 5


Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia shaking hands with Xi Jinping in 2015. | Photo courtesy Lintao Zhang, Getty Images

 Stories to Follow

Turmoil in Ethiopia: Ethiopia may be on the brink of crisis. On February 15, 2018, Hailemariam Desalegn became Ethiopia’s first prime minister to ever resign from office. Desalegn was ruling over an increasingly turbulent country. For several years, frustrated Ethiopians had been mounting protests against the ruling party, which has been in power since 1991 and is widely accused of ethnic favoritism, manipulating elections, and criminalizing dissent.

But the resignation isn’t exactly a happy ending for the dissidents. A day after he announced his departure, Desalegn also instituted a state of emergency barring protests and anti-government materials, while leaving room for the government to institute curfews and shut down the media. On Friday, parliament approved the measure—although with far fewer votes in support of the measure than had been anticipated. This week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be visiting Ethiopia and the ruling party is expected to announce Desalegn’s successor.

Term Limits: Overall, 2017 wasn’t a good year for term limits. Burundi’s scrapping of them incited massive social upheaval. Disagreement over whether the president of The Democratic Republic of Congo’s could stand for another term also led to unrest, and the country’s presidential election were pushed back to April 2018. This year had given us a glimmer of hope, at least as Ecuador voted in February to reinstate limits, which had been scrapped in 2015.

But this week had some bad news for the struggle for term limits. China announced that it would do away with them in an ostensible effort to protect the authority of the party. Still, Chinese authorities say this doesn’t necessarily mean that Xi Jinping, who has ruled China since 2012, will be president for life. But authorities elsewhere aren’t so sure about that—U.S. President Donald Trump hailed the move, calling President Xi “president for life.” Trump went on to say, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.” Indeed, the way that authorities abroad interpret the move could be particularly troubling. Especially those in fragile democracies and developing countries, which already look to China for inspiration.

Happening This Week

Trump and the Asia-Pacific: An American Diplomat’s Reflections | Monday, March 5, 6:30 PM, 5 Washington Place
Daniel Russel is Diplomat in Residence and Senior Fellow at the Asia Society who has served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and White House Senior Director for Asia.

Return of the Crimea | Tuesday, March 6, 6 PM, 19 University Place
A panel discussion marking four years since the upheaval in Crimea focused on the return of Crimea to Ukraine, and the return of justice to the region.

Dangerous Numbers | Friday, March 9, 6 PM, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, 20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor Commons
Two award-winning journalists will discuss the significance of the under-reporting of civilian death tolls in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

In Your Free Time

Archaeologists recently made a discovery which suggests we’d been totally underestimating the size and technological sophistication of ancient Mayan civilizations in Guatemala. Check it out  here.

This week’s Monday Briefing is brought to you by Ayenat Mersie.


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