Peace for All, Everywhere!

After months and months of military showdowns between the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a war broke out in October 2020. Ever since that first shot was fired that historically unfortunate night, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives, while millions have been displaced.

During the two years and three rounds of military conflict between the warring sides, the States of Tigray, Afar, and Amhara have been significantly damaged. Public services were severely damaged while the war turned Tigray into a “stone age,” in the words of Getachew Reda, the then advisor to the president of Tigray.

The war in words and on the field of diplomacy, both at home and globally, was nothing like anything seen before. Social media and mainstream media have been at the forefront of political and military confrontations.

After two years of brutal war, a peace deal was finally reached between the GoE and the TPLF. In November 2022, an agreement was signed in Pretoria, shocking many who expected the worsening of the situation, as that was the only thing to expect if it were for the words of war that had been thrown by both sides.

Not all peace agreements end in peace. This particular one, however, seems to be holding. TPLF handed over weapons in its possessions, even though critics keep saying the group is still well armed, and Tigray got a new interim administration, with Getachew at its helm.

As the surprise saga, which has been typical of Prime Minister Abiy’s (PhD) administration, continues, GoE held a ceremony to recognize those who contributed to the peace in the north at Friendship Square, on April 23, 2023. At the same event, Abiy told the gathering that peace negotiations would begin with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) on April 25, 2023, in Tanzania. OLA, which later confirmed the claim by Abiy, was designated as a terrorist group along with the TPLF; the labelling was removed for the latter after the peace agreement.

In the event, there were differences among the authorities themselves, very notable and still remaining with the potential to compromise the peace ahead. During his speech, Abiy praised Awol Arba, president of the State of Afar, for pacifying the transportation route from Tigray through Afar. Getachew, on the other hand, challenged Dr Yilkal Kefale, president of the State of Amhara, to do the same.

While Abiy also challenged Dr Yilkal, and Getachew, to visit each other’s capitals, Demeke Mekonen, deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, strongly stressed the need to implement the peace agreement to its fullest- hinting that there might be some issues ignored during implementation.

Adding these pieces to the latest security confrontation between federal and regional forces in the State of Amhara, one can only hope for the better. The severing of trust between Abiy’s administration and Amhara must be seen as a matter of priority.

The government must approach the disarmament issue wisely while making sure to avoid another round of war with another state. The precarious situation in the region only calls for perfection, not mistakes that could drag both the nation and the region back to war. The peace on one side of the nation must not compromise the peace in another part, either. Peace should be for all, and everywhere!

11th Year • May 2023 • No. 117 EBR


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