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

Authorities called for dialogue to end insurgency in Amhara, violence in Oromia remained rampant, and Amhara-Tigray tensions persisted despite federal efforts to tackle territorial dispute.

Peace conference took place in Amhara region amid continued hostilities. Violence between federal forces and Amhara nationalist militias known as Fano persisted, with clashes reported in West Gojjam, North Gojjam, East Gojjam, Central Gondar, South Wollo, North Wollo and North Shewa zones. State of emergency declared in Aug 2023 expired 3 June, though military command posts remained operational amid fierce battles and Fano militants’ targeting of local officials and civilians. Security forces throughout month reportedly killed dozens of civilians suspected of Fano ties, including in West Gojjam and North Shewa zones. Regional, federal and military leaders 24-25 June gathered in regional capital Bahir Dar for peace conference, resulting in formation of 15-member Regional Peace Council, comprised of prominent figures from Amhara and backed by federal govt, to facilitate talks with Fano militias.

Oromia region remained wracked by insecurity. Fano militants conducted attacks in Oromia-Amhara borderlands and deeper within Oromia, threatening to heighten inter-ethnic tensions. Notably, alleged Fano militants 15 June fought with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in Dera Woreda (North Shewa Zone), marking first direct clash reported between the two groups, and which left four civilians dead; suspected Fano militiamen 15 June killed dozens of civilians in Nono woreda (West Shewa Zone). Meanwhile, federal-OLA fighting continued, with OLA 8 June claiming they had killed “thousands of regime combatants”. Resumption of peace talks appeared increasingly unlikely. 

Tigray-Amhara tensions persisted. Tigray-Amhara tensions simmered amid implementation of Addis Ababa’s plan to tackle their territorial dispute (which entails dismantling Amhara-established administrations in Western and Southern Tigray and resettling displaced Tigrayans). Notably, BBC 15 June spoke with residents in Tselemt woreda (Western Tigray), who claimed that Tigray forces had killed local leaders and attempted to dismantle Amhara administration themselves, before federal forces intervened. Meanwhile, federal parliament 4 June allowed Tigray People’s Liberation Front to re-register as political party.

Relations with Mogadishu remained tense. Somalia's ambassador to UN 24 June accused Ethiopian troops of illegal cross-border incursion that led to confrontations with local security forces (see Somalia). 

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In The News

9 7月 2024
The big question many have is if [Ethiopian Prime Minister] Abiy Ahmed could position himself as a mediator between [Sudan's army chief] Burhan and the UAE. Reuters

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
2 12月 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

Former Senior Analyst, Ethiopia
10 11月 2022
The deal [with Tigrayan leaders] was a huge diplomatic and political victory for the [Ethiopian] federal government. GZERO

William Davison

Former Senior Analyst, Ethiopia
1 9月 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

Former Senior Analyst, Ethiopia

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