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For the Horn of Afrika

November 20, 2020

there is no peace in sight. Worst, World Health Organization(WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s name has been dragged into debates surrounding the Ethiopian civil war. Berhanu Jula, the Ethiopian army chief of staff, has called for his resignation from the global health body.  Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday left for the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to mediate in the crisis. Between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael, neither man were considering peace, in fact, there is a strong commitment on both sides to see the military conflict through, so for now there no basis for negotiations or a mediated settlement in sight, not for the near future anyway.


Despite the sudden outbreak of large-scale fighting between federal forces and the heavily armed Tigray regional government, tensions had been building steadily since Abiy became prime minister in 2018 and later dissolved Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, which included the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and three other ethnically defined regional parties. The TPLF refused to join the new national party that Abiy formed to replace the ruling coalition, so it was left out of power after having dominated the national government since 1991, when Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military dictatorship was toppled.

Abiy had outmaneuvered the TPLF, but the party continued to rule the Tigray region. The other reforms Abiy enacted immediately after taking office were transformative, and were greeted with euphoria by most Ethiopians and the international community. He welcomed back exiled opposition leaders, reached a peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea and vowed to build a strong, lasting democracy in Ethiopia.


“What’s at the heart of the ongoing conflict are Abiy’s economic and political reforms and the unrelenting pace at which they were unveiled. This is not a conflict over who gets to rule Tigray, a small region whose population accounts for a mere 6 percent of Ethiopia’s more than 110 million people. It is a fight over who gets to dominate the commanding heights of the country’s economy, a prize that Tigray’s regional leaders once held and are determined to recapture at any cost. The risk now is that the TPLF’s persistent and increasingly audacious actions could make Abiy’s peaceful reforms impossible and thereby make a violent transition inevitable”

– Kassahun Melesse


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