Ethiopia has returned to normal after weeks of ethnic violence and unrest triggered by the murder of the revered singer Oromo, Hachalu Hundessa, on June 29. The immediate and violent repression of law enforcement agencies wanted by Prime Minister Abij Hamed against the protests that broke out in Oromia and in the capital Addis Ababa has triggered an orgy of uncontrolled violence that has been diverted from democratic demands to ethnic and independence claims.
The exact number of victims of the two weeks of social unrest where Ethiopia has in fact been isolated from the rest of the world, is unknown. An estimated 300 to 400 deaths (mostly civilians) and over 5,000 arrests. Rough estimates, easy prey to political propaganda, of which no one will have the opportunity to validate or disavow due to the secret of Stateimposed on popular protest.
During the violence, dozens of innocent Ethiopians were murdered for the sole ‘crime’ of belonging to a specific ethnic group, mainly Amhara. Houses, businesses and vehicles belonging to Ethiopians of various ethnic and religious origins have been destroyed. “In Shashemene, a beautiful and diverse town located in the heart of the Oromia region, even school buildings were burned to the ground,” reports Yohannes Gedamu, a Political Science Researcher at Gerogia Gwinnet College.
If the government and the federal police have managed to control the protests (with unprecedented and disproportionate violence), Ethiopia is now further away from strengthening democratic and national unity. The TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) has formed a political alliance with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) against Prime Minister Abij Hamed. In reality, contacts to create a Tigrinya-Oromo front took place long before the political murder of HachaluHundessa.
It is not the first time that TPLF and OLF have been allies. During the seventeen years of guerrilla war in the early nineties against the Stalinist regime of the DERG ruled by Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam the two military organizations fought side by side. After the fall of the regime, the OLF felt in clandestinely and continued the armed struggle accusing the TPLF of having dominated the country’s political, social and economic rebirth on an ethnic level. At the height of its power (when it has absolute control of the federal government) TPLF has obtained the OLF as an international terrorist group.
It was after Abiy Hamed became Prime Minister in 2018 that the OLF was authorized to return to the country. Unfortunatelythe peace negotiations have failed and the war between the OLF and the central government has resumed. Governmental Intelligence accused the OLF of the death of singer Oromo Hundessa, producing very mild evidence. An act that has been interpreted by the Oromos as a further provocation, increasing popular support for the Oromo Liberation Front guerrillas.
The TPLF – OLF alliance, already widely announced on social media, took ufficially off last week. According to the version of Abji’s government, the alliance had existed for some months and would have planned the assassination of singer Hundessa in order to trigger violence on a national scale and destabilize the country. So now the TPLF is also accused by the Prime Minister, without producing convincing evidence.
In response to the accusations made by the TPLF, in an interview with Deutsche Welle Amharic, accused the Abjigovernment of being directing Ethiopia towards destruction. “The dictatorial group currently in government is solely responsible for what has happened and what is happening in the country. The economic, social and political victories that Ethiopia has achieved through years of struggle are now systematically destroyed, “said TPLF representative to DW Amharic.
During the interview, the TPLF warned the Tigrina population about the impending civil war. “The group that holds power at the federal level is plotting not only against the TPLF but also against the people of Tigray” declares the TPLF sending the people of Tigray to be ready for the fight. This open threat to the Prime Minister is part of the political strategy adopted by the TPLF after its exit from the Tigrini-controlled Government Coalition from 1991 to 2018 last January. A strategy that openly provides for the splitting of the Tigray.
Decisive will be the month of October when the government of Tigray has decided to call the administrative elections in its territory despite that the Prime Minister has postponed them on the grounds of protection of public health due to the pandemic from Covid19. WHO report no. 191 of 29 July estimates 15.200 infections and 239 deaths. The estimated level of contagiousness on the country’s population remains low: 0.014% and the mortality rate on the infected: 1.6%. Faced with these data, all opposition parties suspect that the postponement of the elections decided by Abij does not have reasons for the protection of public health but that it is a stratagem to remain in power.
The administration in Tigray scheduled for October against the will of the central government and the political – military alliance between TPLF and OLF foreshadow anything good in the immediate future of the country. To avoid a civil war that would be fought on two fronts, the Abij government did not choose the path of dialogue. On the contrary, it has taken the path of direct confrontation. At a press conference on Wednesday, July 8 The press secretary in the Prime Minister’s office, Nigussu Tilahun, officially announced that TPLF has a leading role in planning the assassination, without however providing evidence.
“The government is running out of patience. It will continue to take strong measures against those working on the disintegration of the country, “he said. Tilahun. As a first move, the government closed two media belonging to the TPLF and the Oromia Media Network, accused of promoting ethnic cleansing against the Amhara via broadcast radio and social media.
To the delicate and explosive internal situation are added the provocations of Abij who gave the order to start filling the basin of the mega Great Renaissance dam, making negotiations with Egypt and Sudan managed by the mediation of the African Union fail. As a further outrage, the Prime Minister officially stated that within a year the dam will start producing electricity thanks to the commissioning of two turbines.
Cairo and Khartoum had requested that the reservoir fillingphase and the start of energy production take place over a 7-year period. Some regional observers suspect that the Ethiopian Prime Minister is in every way seeking a conflict with Egypt and Sudan in order to reassemble national unity and crush his internal opponents. At the moment, these comments remain only suspicions, yet it is clear that the Abjigovernment has in every way wrecked the African Union mediation aimed at finding a good compromise to avoid a regional conflict.