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

Govt struck deal with Somaliland to secure Red Sea access, ratcheting up regional tensions; violence in Amhara and Oromia persisted; and Tigray’s humanitarian crisis mounted.

Tensions with Somalia spiked over Ethiopia-Somaliland deal. Ethiopia and Somaliland 1 Jan signed memorandum of understanding that would allow Ethiopia to develop naval base along Somaliland’s coast; Hargeisa said deal includes recognition of Somaliland’s independence, though Addis Ababa’s commitment to this step appears tentative. Announcement fuelled regional tensions. Mogadishu, which views Somaliland as part of Somalia’s territory, 2 Jan called agreement an “act of aggression” and rallied regional allies (see Somalia). African Union Peace and Security Council 17 Jan held emergency session, agreed to dispatch envoy to mediate. Regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) 18 Jan called extraordinary meeting, Ethiopia did not attend but in leaked letter dated 22 Jan requested IGAD summit to discuss issue. Despite backlash, ruling Prosperity Party 26 Jan pledged to press ahead with deal.

Violence in Amhara region persisted. Military continued battling Amhara nationalist militias known as Fano. Notably, Fano militants 3 Jan entered North Shewa Zone’s administrative capital, Debre Berhan, assassinated head of zonal peace and security office before military next day ejected them. Fano 6 Jan attacked Gondar city, disrupting transport and business for two days. Ethiopian Air Force 12 Jan conducted drone strikes on Fano units near school in Merhabete Woreda (North Shewa Zone), killing two. State of emergency due to expire early Feb, even as military struggles to suppress rebellion.

Oromia insurgency continued. Insurgency in Oromia region pitting govt forces against Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) continued. Notably, security forces 12 Jan conducted drone strike in Horo Guduru Wollega Zone, killing four. OLA 28 Jan declared twenty-day ban on transport and business throughout region.

Humanitarian situation in Tigray region deteriorated further. Tigray interim administration’s (IRA) emergency task force 10 Jan said about 4.5mn people are at risk of famine, wrought by war-related economic destruction, drought and inadequate relief efforts; IRA 29 Jan said region is on brink of humanitarian catastrophe not seen since “infamous” 1984-1985 famine. Meanwhile, internally displaced persons in regional capital Mekelle 24 Jan protested slow implementation of Pretoria peace agreement. 

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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
William Davison

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