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

Hostilities continued to intensify in Amhara region, talks between govt and Oromo Liberation Army ended without agreement, and frictions within Tigray’s leadership simmered.

Fano-federal violence continued in Amhara, with heavy clashes in Lalibela town. Hostilities between federal forces and Amhara militias known as Fano intensified in Amhara region. Notably, fierce clashes 8 Nov erupted around Lalibela (North Wollo Zone), with Fano militants briefly taking control of town before withdrawing 9 Nov amid heavy artillery and drones. Fano fighters 25 Nov reportedly entered strategic Addis Zemen town (South Gondar Zone). Meanwhile, news agency Reuters 7 Nov reported that skirmishes between armed Amhara and Oromo militia in Oromia Special Zone killed 30 civilians.

Talks to end Oromia insurgency broke down. Govt and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) early Nov resumed high-level talks in Tanzania, facilitated by Intergovernmental Authority on Development, U.S. and Norway; talks 21 Nov ended without agreement, sides traded blame for breakdown; previous talks failed due to disputes on key political issues, such as OLA demands for greater political role in Oromia. Meanwhile, govt-insurgent fighting continued. Notably, radio network VOA Amharic 1 Nov reported that shootouts in North Shewa Zone left at least twelve civilians dead and displaced unknown number.

Tigray’s interim administration dismissed four top officials. Tigray region’s Interim Regional Administration (IRA) 8 Nov announced it had 28 Oct removed four high-ranking officials for failing to adequately perform their duties; IRA had dismissed six others late Oct. Move comes amid simmering power struggle between IRA and disgruntled senior faction of region’s ruling party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Another high-level meeting between IRA, TPLF leadership and Tigray military leaders began 12 Nov to address disagreement.

In other important developments. After PM Abiy’s Oct remarks on securing access to seaport raised concerns in region, Abiy 14 Nov reiterated he has no intention of using military force; still, he underscored importance of seaport access for Ethiopia’s development and warned failure to resolve issue now could trigger future conflict. U.S. development agency 14 Nov announced resumption of food assistance to Ethiopia, suspended in May due to aid diversion and theft.

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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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