Africa’s second most populous country is in the midst of an increasingly rocky political transition that began in 2018, with the ascent of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. At first, the change seemed to hold great promise, but fissures have grown, partly between and among the country’s numerous ethnic groups. At stake is the state’s stability and the post-1991 ethno-federalist system, which many Ethiopians support as guaranteeing local autonomy, and many others oppose as sowing division and undermining effective central government. War between the federal and Tigray governments broke out in the northern region in late 2020 as these tensions came to the fore. Through its research and advocacy, Crisis Group works to end the fighting and ward off similar conflict elsewhere, with the long-term goal of encouraging comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue about the country’s political future.

CrisisWatch Ethiopia

Unchanged Situation

Deadly violence persisted in Oromia region, Tigray peace process remained on track despite challenges, and unrest simmered in Amhara region amid rising opposition to federal govt.

Insecurity remained rampant in Oromia, exacting heavy toll on civilians. Hostilities between Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and military continued at high intensity; month also saw clashes between Amhara Fano militia and govt forces. Meanwhile, armed groups stepped up attacks on civilians. Notably, OLA 6 June attacked bus near Bule Hora town (West Guji Zone), killing two; Fano militia 8-9 June killed at least three in Agemsa town (East Wollega); UN humanitarian agency 14 June reported deteriorating humanitarian situation following attacks on civilians in parts of Horo Guduru Wollega and East Wollega zones. Kidnappings also continued; notably, gunmen 24 June abducted around 50 people in Ali Doro area (North Shewa Zone), demanding ransom.

Tigray peace process saw mixed progress. NGO Human Rights Watch 1 June reported Amhara forces in disputed Western Tigray continued ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans after Nov 2022 truce. Amhara residents of Western Tigray 4 June demonstrated, demanding govt address status of ethnic Amharas living there. U.S. Horn of Africa envoy 7 June met with federal and Tigray leaders, and African Union (AU) officials, later confirmed parties agreed to extend AU ceasefire monitoring and verification team’s mandate until Dec 2023. Tigray Interim President Getachew Reda 11 June visited Amhara’s capital Bahir Dar for first time since Tigray war ended, pledged to continue work toward “sustainable peace” during talks with Amhara’s president.

Fano militia clashed with federal forces in Amhara. Amid rising discontent with federal govt in Amhara region, sporadic fighting occurred during month between federal forces and Amhara nationalist Fano militia, notably leaving six dead on 10 June in Awi Zone. Other Amhara nationalist factions feeling isolated as federal govt strengthens relations with Tigray may resort to low-grade armed rebellion.

In other important developments. U.S. development agency 8 June suspended food aid to Ethiopia after uncovering “widespread and coordinated campaign” to divert assistance; World Food Program next day followed suit. Addis Ababa 29 June requested to join BRICS bloc of emerging economies that includes Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa.

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In The News

2 Dec 2022
Any serious failure in implementing the agreements [between Ethiopia's federal government and Tigrayan leaders] raises the risks of a disastrous return to large-scale war... Reuters

William Davison

Senior Analyst, Ethiopia
10 Nov 2022
The deal [with Tigrayan leaders] was a huge diplomatic and political victory for the [Ethiopian] federal government. GZERO

William Davison

Senior Analyst, Ethiopia
1 Sep 2022
Now Tigrayan reports ... of a large-scale incursion into Tigray from the north by Eritrean and federal forces. So, it is evident that the conflict is now seriously escala... VOA

William Davison

Senior Analyst, Ethiopia

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William Davison

Senior Analyst, Ethiopia
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