Ethiopia Crisis: AU must deploy ‘smart strategy’

Ethiopia Map

Dr Eugene Owusu, the Special Advisor to the President on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has called on the African Union (AU) to urgently deploy a strategy to resolve the year-long conflict in Ethiopia, in the wake of an escalation in the country’s civil war.

“The AU must make this an absolute priority and craft a smart strategy for a deal that maintains the integrity of the government and the Ethiopian state while providing a degree of autonomy for Tigray,” he said when he delivered a presentation at a virtual workshop organised by the Council on Foreign Relations, Ghana on Thursday.

A conflict between the Government of Ethiopia and forces in its northern Tigray region has thrown the country into turmoil.

Fighting has been going on since November 2020, destabilising the populous country in the Horn of Africa, leaving thousands of people dead with many others living in famine conditions.

A few countries, including US, UK, France, and Germany have advised their citizens to leave Ethiopia, amid an escalation of the civil war.

Dr Owusu said due to the complexity of the situation, it was difficult to have an exact assessment of how the conflict would end, stressing “there is no good solution at this point in time.”

He said a military intervention would not be feasible, adding that it would also not be possible for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to take over the Ethiopian capital as reported “because the Ethiopian military are armed to the teeth.”

“One of the scenarios is to have an inclusive political solution that brings the TPLF back to the Federal Government. This is desirable but this is most unlikely. The degree of mistrust that exist between them and the protagonist makes this scenario unlikely and indeed not feasible,” he said.

Dr Owusu said the African continent could not afford to neglect Ethiopia and cautioned that any such neglect could have dire consequences for the continent as it could embolden terrorist activities in the region.

“It all depends on what regional leaders and the African Union would do. It depends on the smart solutions they can come up with.
“I believe the AU and regional leaders must with a sense of urgency step up their efforts,” he said.

The conflict started in November last year, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the military to attack regional forces in Tigray.

He said he did so in response to an attack on a military base housing government troop there.

The escalation came after months of feuding between Mr Abiy’s government and leaders of Tigray’s dominant political party.
For almost three decades, the Party was at the centre of power before it was sidelined by Mr Abiy, who took office in 2018 after anti-government protests.

Mr Abiy pursued reforms, but when Tigray resisted, the political crisis erupted into war.

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