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Most Ethiopians might not have known it at the time, but three decades after the end of civil war in Ethiopia, the country had slid into another potential one in the deep night of Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Citizens woke up on Wednesday morning to the image of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), dressed in a black jacket, addressing the nation on television on the start of military engagement in the northern part of the country.

After months, if not a couple of years, of ceaseless political tension, forces of the federal government  and Tigray Regional State engaged one another following the latter’s alleged attacks on a major command unit deployed close to Meqelle.

“Force has become the last resort to saving the country and the people,” the Prime Minister stated late Tuesday night. In sessions by the legislative houses soon after, a six-month state of emergency was declared in Tigray Regional State, as well as the approval of a resolution to establish a transitional government.

Over the next couple of days, barely any information came from the northern part of the country. There was a complete communications blackout in Tigray Regional State, including the cutting of phone lines and suspension of flights to the region. Throughout the week, both sides have admitted to airstrikes near Meqelle as well.

Most other claims are highly contested by both sides, and the state of the conflict remains uncertain, making predictions speculative. Despite the communication blackout from the region, the state government has managed to issue statements through its communication bureau, including one from yesterday that characterised the administration in Addis Abeba as a "traitor" but indicated that it remains open to national dialogue.

The international community and civil society have not wasted much time pleading for de-escalation of tensions, which have arrived sparingly even before the outbreak of military engagements. Observers of the Horn region have been warning of the potential for the deterioration of relations, especially following their mutual delegitimisation on the back of the postponement of Ethiopia’s general elections and the Tigray regional government’s own administration of regional polls.

However, the Prime Minister has indicated that a point of no return has been reached, tweeting on Friday that, "criminal elements can't escape the rule of law under the guise of seeking reconciliation and a call for dialogue."

You can read the full story    here    

PUBLISHED ON Nov 07,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1071]

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