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East and central African countries have once again ranked poorly in a Washington-based think tank's annual rating of countries' susceptibility to instability.

South Sudan returned to position one as the most troubled country from position two while Ethiopia recorded the greatest worsening globally over 2016, according to Fragile States Index 2017.

Somalia was the second most troubled country of the 178 states that were ranked, followed by Central African Republic at position three. Sudan was fifth, Democratic Republic of Congo seventh and Burundi 17th.

Kenya was ranked at position 22, Uganda 24, Rwanda 34 and Tanzania was the most stable at position 65.

The Fragile States Index assesses 178 countries -- with number one being the most unstable country and 178 the most stable, based on 12 social, economic and political indicators that quantify pressures experienced by countries that make them unstable.

Some of the economic indicators that were assessed were economic gaps, a countries housing system for the poor and job training programmes.

South Sudan returned to number one spot due to deepening food insecurity, political uncertainty and ethnic cleansing that were witnessed in the country last year.

Somalia improved slightly as battle related deaths dropped as part of the ongoing war on Al Shabaab.

Ethiopia registered the greatest worsening, moving four positions to number 15 from position 19, due to anti-government protests, which were witnessed in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

The protests led to declaration of the state of emergency and a crackdown on political opponents and media. An estimated 400 people were killed in clashes with security forces in Oromia alone.

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