What exactly led to crisis in Ethiopia
For a year now, the Horn of Africa populous and fast developing country of Ethiopia has been at war by itself, in other words , there has been a civil strife. The conflict is between the government forces led by Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray regional TPLF forces in the northern part of the country called Tigray. This turmoil has led to thousands of deaths, displacements and at least 300, 000 people forced into deplorable conditions of famine, hunger and diseases. I am sure you are pretty much in the dark of what exactly has caused this war in a country that has enjoyed great levels of stability and even had the leader of the country receive the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. I am here to give you the answers.
Push for political reforms and power struggle are at the center of this unrest. On 4th of November, 2020 (literally a year ago), Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the military to open fire on the regional rebel forces of TPLF in Tigray. Ahmed said that this was in retaliation to the earlier attack of government military bases by the rebel forces in Tigray. This came after months of political tension between Mr Ahmed led government and leaders of the Tigray most dominant political party. Tigray People’s Liberation Front-TPLF. For almost thirty years, this particular political party held the whims of power in Ethiopia before Abiy Ahmed took over power in 2018. After taking over the government, Abiy completely sidelined this political party and its leaders from the government. It is interesting to note that Prime Minister took power at a very delicate moment when Ethiopia was undergoing another period of political turmoil and he went ahead to institute reforms. It is these reforms that Tigray region resisted, resulting to a political crisis which has morphed into the current tension in Ethiopia. The biggest reason of this crisis can be traced from the system of government in Ethiopia. Since 1994, Ethiopia has been under federalism where different ethnic groups have had a control of the political affairs of 10 regions. This system was brought in place by the powerful Tigray region party called Tigray People’s Liberation Front –TPLF. It was the party that governed Ethiopia from 1991 untill Abiy Ahmed took over in 2018. TPLF is credited for leading massive reforms in Ethiopia during this period (1991-2018) transforming it from a military warring country to a stable and developed in terms of economy and infrastructure. However, it has been widely reported that this regime oversaw human rights violations leading to protests throughout the country. The protests forced the then government to be reshuffled and that is when Abiy Ahmed took over power in 2018.
In his bid to lead reforms, Ahmed formed a new party The Prosperity party which liberalized the politics of Ethiopia and fired senior Tigrayan leaders accused of corruption and human rights violations. Ahmed also ended a thirty year diplomatic row with Eritrea earning him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. While Ahmed’s reforms earned him good name, the Tigrayan leaders saw his reforms as a way of centralizing the political power of Ethiopia and destroying federalism that they established. It is from this disagreement that everything got worse. In September 2020, Ethiopia was supposed to conduct General Elections, however Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed postponed them because of Coronavirus pandemic. In an act of open defiance, Tigray region led by TPLF conducted its own regional elections a move termed as illegal by the central government. In response, the Abiy Ahmed led central government cut funding and ties with Tigray in October, 2020. Tigray regional leaders declared that this actions from the central government warranted war. Tigray forces under TPLF attacked military bases in the region escalating the tension and forcing the Ethiopian forces conflict to retaliate. This was the beginning of the today one year conflict in Tigray region which is fast spreading with reports that TPLF are invading the capital Addis Ababa.
We wait to see how the situation in the oldest African nation and the Headquarters of the African Union will be handled as things continue to get ugly and out of hand.