Ethiopia will hold parliamentary elections on May 23, and in the run-up to the vote tensions between Ethiopia and its rival Eritrea are high.
During the weekend of April 25, “a bomb blast at a cafe in Adi Haro, an Ethiopian settlement close to the frontier with Eritrea…killed at least five people and injured 20 others.” An Ethiopian official accused “Eritrean agents who crossed the border to sabotage the upcoming elections” of perpetrating the attack.
The problems between Ethiopia and Eritrea have, in the former, complicated the ruling party’s campaigning and caused dissent even in the party’s political strongholds.
On Monday, the stakes increased as “Ethiopia arrested an undisclosed number of people from the rebel Oromo Liberation Front and Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabaab militia who crossed into the country with alleged plans to disrupt Ethiopia’s May 23 elections.” The Ethiopian government accused Eritrea of training these would-be saboteurs.
The regime in Eritrea strongly denies these charges.
Eritrea, meanwhile, faces unrest of its own, some of which Ethiopia encourages.
Eritrean rebel groups are building a joint military front to depose a government they say is pursuing ethnic persecution and becoming a growing threat to regional security, an opposition leader told Reuters.
The Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation (RSADO) — one of many opposition movements based in nearby Ethiopia — said the government of President Isaias Afwerki targets ethnic groups, such as the Afars, and will soon face military attacks.
In short, the hostility between the two countries is thriving, and as the elections approach in Ethiopia both sides are expressing it openly.