Ethiopia: The Somali strongman
How Abiy handles his relationship with Abdi Iley, the powerful leader of Ethiopia’s Somali Region, has implications for the country’s fragile system of ethnic federalism
Both men hail from traditionally marginalised regions with secessionist histories, and both represent constituencies eyeing greater power at the centre. But last year’s violence fuelled mutual mistrust, especially a suspicion among Oromos that Abdi is too close to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated Ethiopian politics, as well as the security apparatus, for much of the past three decades. Some in Oromia and elsewhere hope that the decline of the TPLF heralded by Abiy’s appointment might spell the end of Abdi, too.