Ethiopia’s Armed conflict in Tigray: causes, consequences and possible ways out
Asnake Kefale (Addis Ababa University), René Lefort (independent writer/author on Ethiopia) and Lovise Aalen (Chr. Michelsen Institute).
The armed conflict between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and the Tigrayan regional forces, which erupted on the eve of November 3, was the latest in a long series of confrontations between Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs the regional state bordering Eritrea. Although the federal government by November 28 claimed to have regained full control of the region, there are signs that the conflict has moved from a conventional war into a protracted insurgency, where the TPLF will operate through guerilla warfare.
The communication blackout in Tigray region and a propaganda war from both parties make it difficult to evaluate the actual steps and outcomes of the conflict. Conservative estimates point at hundreds killed, but the actual numbers are likely to be much higher. The conflict has already resulted in tens of thousands of refugees moving across the border to Sudan. A humanitarian and political crisis is evolving, with long lasting ramifications for Ethiopia and for the Horn of Africa region.
Aiming at moving away from the strongly polarized accounts of the war, the panelists will address the reasons why the armed conflict erupted. They will discuss the implications for Ethiopia as a country and for the larger Horn of Africa region. Finally, drawing on insights from Ethiopian history and examples of other civil war contexts, they will focus on possible ways out, if any, where the political leaders can commit to a cessation of hostilities and a peaceful political settlement.
Asnake Kefale is a political scientist and professor at Department of Political Science and International Relations, Addis Ababa University and a senior adjunct researcher at the Addis Ababa based policy think-tank, Forum for Social Studies. He has written extensively on federalism, conflict management, political economy, and migration in the Ethiopian context, and is currently involved in several international research projects on Ethiopian politics.
Rene Lefort has been writing about sub-saharan Africa since the 1970s and has reported on the region for Le Monde, Le Monde diplomatique, Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur. Over the past fifteen years, he has done extensive fieldwork in rural Ethiopia, which has resulted in several journal articles on the power of the state versus the peasantry in the Ethiopian countryside.
Lovise Aalen, senior researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute, has researched Ethiopian politics for the last two decades. She has focused on the implementation of ethnic federalism on the ground in Southern Ethiopia, the EPRDF’s ideas of revolutionary democracy and the developmental state, regime-youth interactions, and female political participation in authoritarian contexts.
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