The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures used to tackle it could have profound implications for Ethiopia’s political stability. While initially the threat appeared to temper political tensions, there are concerns that the state of emergency imposed to contain it may yet spark riots. Looming political differences could also escalate into unrest. Governance options should be politically negotiated and constitutionally mandated to ensure a stable future. This policy brief examines the implications of COVID-19 and the government’s preventative measure for political stability, especially in the short to medium term. It argues that in the short term the disease and the preventative measures could make the country less vulnerable to organised political violence and more vulnerable to riots. In the medium and long term, however, vulnerability to both types of violence could increase, depending on the capacity of political forces to instigate and manage conflict and on their willingness to work together.