Political communication Vis-à-vis Anti-Terrorism Laws: The Case of Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Ethiopia uses legislation as one way of counterterrorism. This legislation is “Anti- Terrorism Proclamation; Proclamation Number 652/2009.” Against its principal aim of preventing every intent and act of terrorism, some claim that the law shackles the political communication in the country. The primary purpose of the study was to explore the impacts of the law on political communication as practiced by various political parties and media organizations. In attempting to explore the impacts of the law, the Spiral of Silence and Media Politics Theories were used as theoretical framework of the study. Media-terrorism relations model was also employed to support the analysis. The study is entirely qualitative method in which some political parties and print media organizations were purposively selected for the analysis. Accordingly, nine multi-ethnic political parties: Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, All Ethiopia Unity iv Organization, Ethiopian Democratic Party, Ethiopian Social Democratic-South Coalition Unity Party, Ethiopian Raie Party, Coalition for Unity and Democracy, Ethiopian Democratic Union, Unity for Democracy and Justice and Blue Party were selected. Seven media organizations: Addis Zemen, The Reporter, Addis Admas, Ethio-Mihidar, Addis Guday, Fact and Lomi were also selected for the study. Semi-structured interview with representatives of political parties and media organizations and textual data obtained from the publications were used in the study. The textual data collected from the publications were stories and features ran from 8 July 2013- 10 October 2013. This study has found out that the Ethiopian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation affects the political communication by further weakening the already weak political communication by repressing opposition political parties and media organizations. The law suppresses opposition political parties by restricting political space, intimidating members and supporters as well as through routine surveillance. Similarly, the law affects the political communication of media by pressurizing journalists, challenging access to information and intensifying self-censorship. However, the study has found out that all the existing problems of political communications should not be considered as the byproduct of the proclamation.



Anti-Terrorism Laws