This show of unity between the Oromo and Amhara is unprecedented since the EPRDF came into power in 1991. It’s likely the government’s response will only unify the groups further, Ademo believes. “The government’s insistence on dealing with the protests only through more crackdown and repression is only likely to exacerbate tensions and draw in other marginalized groups,” Ademo says. “Either way you look at it, these are extraordinary times for Ethiopia and the youth are saying ‘Nu Gaye, Baqa’—enough is enough.”

Ethiopia is a key US ally in the Horn of Africa, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in aid every year. During a visit there last year, president Barack Obama was criticized for praising the country’s leadership and calling it “democratically elected,” even as human rights and opposition groups have described the country as effectively an authoritarian regime.

Opposition groups have also taken aim at mainstream media’s “Ethiopia Rising” narrative, which they say overlook ethnic discontents across the country. With the scale of recent protests, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to ignore them anymore.

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