Ever since protests began in the State of Oromia back in 2013, Ethiopia has hardly been able to breathe the air of peace. Then, the protests intensified following discontent among the youth claiming the expansion of Addis Ababa into the State of Oromia was detrimental and unfair to farmers in the area. Later, the protests expanded as the youth in the State of Amhara joined the demonstrations.
Following the protests, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was forced to bring to the front a young prime minister who made a series of significant reforms, which brought him a public rally of gratitude on just the 100th day of his premiership. It didn’t even take until the end of the rally to know what the rest of his premiership would look like, though. A bomb exploded under the podium where the Prime Minister was seated, injuring rallygoers. That marked the challenging time ahead for the young Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.).
Later, a Facebook post from a famous activist rocked the State of Oromia, causing the killing of hundreds and serious damage to property. The killing of a famous singer, Hachalu Hundessa, caused another round of insecurity and destruction in the same state. This was against the backdrop of the series of killings of innocent civilians and property damage in Wollega of that same state. The states of Benishangul-Gumuz, Amhara, Somali, and Southern Nations and Nationalities have all seen severe security challenges that have resulted in the killing of innocent civilians, severe destruction of property, and displacement of communities.
As the nation was learning to adapt to the new normal, disaster on a scale not yet seen hit hard. In November 2020, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked a federal army base in the State of Tigray, sparking a two-year war between itself and the federal government. Since then, the war has been fought in three rounds.
The first round of engagement ended in three weeks with federal forces taking control of the capital of the State of Tigray., Foreign media reported that the round of engagement alone might have cost the government USD one billion. After taking the capital, the government’s reconstruction efforts cost ETB 100 billion, though all of it was fated for destruction yet again.
In the second round of engagement, TPLF pushed in as close as Northern Shoa, and deep into the State of Afar. The second round of military engagement is said to have caused the loss of lives and hundreds of billions in property destruction in the two states alone. Yet another round of conflict between the two parties inflicted more damage and pain on the part of the TPLF.
Olusegun Obasanjo, chief negotiator on behalf of the African Union who led peace talks between the warring sides, later revealed the destruction on the side of Tigray. In an opinion piece that was published in a new American publication called SEMAFOR, Obasanjo seemed to place the blame on the TPLF’s attack on the Ethiopian Defense Forces garrison in Tigray on November 4, 2020. The Tigray region, which was the principal theater of the battle, suffered extremely high levels of material and human devastation. More than 600,000 people are believed to have perished as a direct result of combat, illness, or a lack of access to humanitarian help. The cost of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of private and public properties and institutions has been estimated at about USD 25 billion, according to Obasanjo.
The November 2 agreement in South Africa that came as a surprise to many citizens who were following the matter, closed this two year nightmare. Despite rhetoric on the disarmament aspects of the agreement, both sides have done a commendable job for agreeing to settle this using political means.
Whatever the pushing or pulling factor is and whichever way peace is going to be administered, there is no bad peace. Going ahead, both sides will profit from using their time and mobilizing their resources in rebuilding destroyed communities in the States of Tigray, Amhara and Afar. EBR
11th Year • Nov 2022 • No. 112