Nov 16, 2020: The African country of Ethiopia is on a brink of civil war. The tensions are high due to unrest in Tigray region over the government of Ethiopia. On November 7, Prime minister of Ethiopia Abby Ahmed, a 2019 Nobel laureate, declared war on the Tigray region. The war was declared in response to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attack on a federal military base.
“Our campaign in the Tigray Region to uphold rule of law is progressing well. Justice will prevail. Ethiopia will prevail,” said Mr Abiy in a statement.
The civil war can destabilize the entire region known as ‘horn of africa’. Since Mr Ahmed came to power, he has focussed on economic and political reforms. He was awarded the Nobel prize in 2019 for his efforts to end the 20-year post-war territorial stalemate between Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea. The end to this stalemate has opened pollisbality of peace in the region after decades of war. On November 15, rockets were fired at the airport in neighbouring Eritrea’s capital. According to a reuters report, the leader of Ethiopia’s rebellious Tigray region, Debretsion Gebremichael, accuses Eritrea of assisting Ethiopean government.
Ethiopia has a complex history of civil war and a part of Tigray has been a point of contention between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Tigray is the northernmost region of Ethiopia, bordering Eritrea. Tigrans make up roughly 6 percent of Ethiopia’s 110 million population. They have traditionally enjoyed substantial influence in the government. In 1991, TPLF successfully toppled the Derg military government in Addis Ababa. Since then. They had power and influence over the Ethiopean government. Tigray, one of 10 semi-autonomous federal states organised along ethnic lines in Ethiopia, is ruled by the TPLF and was the dominant part of Ethiopia’s governing coalition before Mr Abbey Ahmed took office in 2018. TPLF has accused Mr Abiy of targeting Tigray’s leaders under false charges of corruption. Mr Abiy Ahmed’s political reforms and peace with Eritrea increased the rift between TPLF and the government.
The rift widened after Tigray region held its own elections in September 2020, defying Abiy government’s directives which postponed national polls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Abiy Ahmed has indicated a firm resolve to tackle the destabilising forces. He tweeted, “By advancing rule of law and holding accountable those that have been looting, destabilizing Ethiopia, we will lay the foundation for lasting peace & harmony. Those who are committing crimes against humanity and peace will be held accountable. We remain steadfast in our resolve to justice and rule of law.“
The tigrayans have accused Mr Abiy Ahmed, who belongs to the Oromo ethnic group, of taking away their rights. Mr Abiy Anmed has emphasised he has responsibility to entire nations. On the other hand, the largest ethnic group, Oromos, have complained of marginalization.
“Our law enforcement operations in Tigray are proceeding as planned: operations will cease as soon as the criminal junta is disarmed, legitimate administration in the region restored, and fugitives apprehended & brought to justice — all of them rapidly coming within reach,” tweeted Mr Abiy Ahmed on November 10.
The impending civil war has forced many to leave the country and seek shelter in neighbouring countries like Sudan.