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Why there are fears that Ethiopia could break up

Author: Desta Gebremedhin

Affiliation: BBC

Organization/Publisher: BBC

Date/Place: August 16, 2020/UK

Type of Literature: Commentary 

Word Count: 1600


Keywords: Ethiopia, Breakup, National Unity



Journalist Desta Gebremedhin reports that the rising disputes between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which party rules the northern Tigray region of the federation, is an alarm of possible armed confrontation and the disintegration of the East African state. The animosities between the two escalated when the Tigray region decided to hold its regional election on September 4, 2020, against the central government and electoral board’s decision to postpone all national elections for an uncertain period due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Tigray’s decision to elect its regional parliament despite the suspension of the national election raises concerns that this may be a move towards secession. Widespread ethnic nationalism across the country, and a huge number of political arrests by the government create a serious threat to the unity of the Ethiopian state. Prime Minister Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has frequently asserted that Ethiopia will never fall apart and has expressed his confidence that he can maintain the unity and territorial integrity of Africa’s second-most populous state, although political, ethnic, and religious violence in various parts of the country remain a challenge. The writer concludes that for Ethiopia to maintain peace with neighboring Eritrea, it will be necessary to resolve disputes with the TPLF as Tigray is influential in maintaining stability. 


By: Jemal Muhamed, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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