The African Union has been taking a larger role of late in addressing questions of peace and security on the continent. Our annual survey identifies eight situations where the organisation’s timely intercession could help resolve, mitigate or ward off conflict.
Political violence and counter-insurgency operations continued in Oromia region, parties manoeuvred ahead of elections tentatively set for Aug, and Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan reported some progress in talks to resolve dispute over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile River creating opportunity to strike comprehensive agreement in Feb. Security forces early Jan launched counter-insurgency operation against armed opposition faction Oromo Liberation Army in western Oromia, where govt reportedly blocked internet and mobile phone usage. Clashes erupted at Haramaya University in eastern Oromia 11 Jan between security forces and students reportedly protesting counter-insurgency operations in region, some students injured. Residents in Amhara regional state in north late Jan took to streets to protest alleged kidnapping in Oromia of up to 27 students from Amhara. Authorities reportedly arrested at least 75 supporters of opposition parties in Oromia late Jan. After Jawar Mohammed, ethnic Oromo activist and prominent critic of PM Abiy, 30 Dec joined opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), OFC, Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo National Party 3 Jan formed Coalition for Democratic Federalism. Electoral board 15 Jan tentatively set 16 Aug as date of general elections. Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan made some progress in GERD talks in Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Washington, agreeing 31 Jan in Washington on various aspects including filling and operation of dam during drought and instructing technical and legal teams to prepare comprehensive agreement for signature by end Feb.
Ethiopia’s political opening under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won well-deserved accolades but also uncorked dangerous centrifugal forces, among them ethnic strife. With international partners’ diplomatic and financial support, the government should proceed more cautiously – and consultatively – with reforms that could exacerbate tensions.
Southern Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Sidama, is set to declare a new regional state on 18 July. To reduce conflict risks, the Sidama should resolve sensitive issues before forming the entity, while the government should urgently organise a constitutionally mandated referendum on the question.
Ethiopia is building a mighty dam on the Blue Nile, promising economic benefits for both itself and Sudan. But Egypt fears for its freshwater supply. The parties should agree on how fast to fill the dam’s reservoir and how to share river waters going forward.
Ethiopia’s charismatic new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has generated great excitement with initiatives breaking with the past. But he faces challenges as formidable as his promises are bold: he urgently needs to halt communal strife, smooth the road to elections and boost the ailing economy.
Ethiopia’s struggle with domestic religious radicalisation has shifted toward top-down intervention, a policy that has contained violence but is generating new risks. Political accommodation and compromise are vital to defuse faith-based radicals’ opposition to what they perceive as overly secular rule by the dominant party.
The most credible attempt at talks to end decades of armed conflict in Ogaden may soon resume, but concerted efforts need to be made to guide them to a peaceful resolution.
[In Ethiopia] as political space has opened and [the majority's] control has weakened all sorts of latent disputes over power, resources, identity and territory have surfaced.
[Ethiopian] Prime Minister Abiy and his Oromo Democratic Party risk losing significant amounts of support in Oromia unless relations with [political opponent] Jawar and his loyalists are swiftly repaired.
The decision by top Sidama administrators [in Ethiopia] to accept a belated referendum meant the zone didn’t self-declare and so a major confrontation was avoided yesterday.
After today’s violence, the Sidama situation looks like another major challenge for a government already struggling to manage this transition and create conditions for elections next May.
It doesn't appear to have been a concerted national coup attempt [in Ethiopia]. It's not obvious what the motivations were for anyone to assassinate the chief of staff.
Instead of benefiting from the fruits of democratic reforms, Ethiopia is currently dealing with instability from a very tricky transition.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy has implemented important reforms but the changes have uncorked social tensions long bottled up by an authoritarian state. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to bolster efforts to prevent violence around the elections and support the government’s reforms.
High-profile assassinations, intercommunal violence and the question of Sidama statehood have endangered Ethiopia’s transition to a multi-party democracy. In this excerpt from its Watch List 2019 – Second Update, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to support a parliamentary vote and assist with economic reforms.
Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The second update to the Watch List 2019 includes entries on Colombia, Ethiopia, Iran and Libya.
The shocking murders of five high-ranking officials have exposed the gravity of Ethiopia’s crisis. To mitigate risks, politicians should refrain from doing or saying anything provocative, while the federal government and ruling elites take urgent steps to heal deep and dangerous internal rifts.