Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: On the brink of civil war

Filed on November 16, 2020


Peace usually has a fragile grip on countries where the power of guns can rule over ballots. In 2018, Abiy Ahmed won plaudits for holding free and fair elections in Ethiopia, releasing political prisoners, offering an olive branch to neighbouring in Eritrea, and promising reforms. He has been successful on a number of counts. However, the latest power struggle with the well-armed regional government of Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front is stoking tensions and pushing the country to the brink of a civil war. The recent clashes between the Ethiopian government and TPLF have all the markings of escalating into a full-blown crisis that could reverse recent economic achievements and reforms made in the last few years. It bodes ill for the whole continent.

Tribal and ethnic divisions have long existed in Ethiopia but the election of Abiy, who is considered a reformist, had offered hope of ironing out differences and leading the country well as a democracy. But deepening conflict with the regionally strong TPLF that had dominated Ethiopian politics for decades seems to prove otherwise. The TPLF’s refusal to pay heed to the government’s decision of deferring the elections and holding its own in September has been the point of contention. The world cannot let another country slip into a conflict. Neighbouring Sudan and Kenya could get embroiled in this conflict too, and exodus of people looking for a safe shelter could lead to another humanitarian crisis. The world community has heavily invested in Africa. It is in the wider interest that it comes together to help the Ethiopian government in resolving this conflict and ensuring peace in the Horn of Africa.

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