In depth: How Ethiopia’s civil war would affect Africa?
A prospective civil war in the African country Ethiopia may lead to a turmoil in the continent and the world. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has ordered his troops to counter an allegedly violent attack by armed forces in the country’s northern Tigray region. Though this may seem the most immediate conflict, the truth is the country has been under several smaller conflicts for months.
The 10 regions, and power struggle
A power struggle, an election and a push for political reform are among several factors that led to the crisis. Since 1994, the country has followed a federal form of government, hence the 10 regions have significant autonomy. These regions also have their own parliaments, their own security forces, and the right to a referendum for independent rule. The Tigray region is considered more prosperous than other regions and also has a stronger army.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is the influential party in the region. It was the leader of a four-party coalition that governed Ethiopia from 1991, when a military regime was ousted from power. Till now this party was in power in the government but after Abiy became prime minister in 2018, the party was in the opposition. The party was also engaged in war with Eritrea in 1998-2000.
Though the country became prosperous with this Federal government system, there were many protests about corruption. Abiy liberalised politics, set up a new party (the Prosperity Party), and removed key Tigrayan government leaders accused of corruption and repression. According to few reports, Abiy also had detained, fired and reduced the importance of several Tigray officials since coming to power, in what he had said was a crackdown on corruption. Abiy also played a major role in establishing peace with Eritrea for which he was conferred with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. This has also irked the Tigray party.
The start of the conflict
Observers say the conflict escalated in September, when Tigray held local elections in insubordination of the Ethiopian federal government. The central government said that these elections were “illegal” which further led to conflict with Tigray authorities. Now, the government has claimed that the Tigray army was in conflict with central forces and hence Abiy declared war on the region.
The Horn of Africa
Ethiopia is a part of the Horn of Africa, and dispute in this country may lead to conflicts in the adjoining areas. The Tigray region shares a border with Eritrea. Tigray leaders had launched rockets at the airport of Eritrean capital city Asmara claiming that the airport was being used by the Abiy government against them. The internal dispute, if it goes on, would not only affect the relations among the African countries but also result in many human casualties and displacement.