Toward a Peaceful Order in the Horn of Africa by PM Abiy Ahmed

8 Feb 2021

The Ethiopian government’s victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front came at a high cost, and the humanitarian situation in northern Tigray remains grave. But only an Ethiopia at peace, with a government bound by humane norms of conduct, can play a constructive role across the region and beyond.

——

Operations undertaken by the Ethiopian federal government have freed the Tigrayan people from decades of misrule by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This has ignited new hopes, but also anxieties, about Ethiopia’s future and its role in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

The hopes stem from the removal – for good – of the corrupt and dictatorial TPLF. Ethiopians can now imagine a future based not on ethnic chauvinism, but on unity, equality, freedom, and democracy. Moreover, the source of ethnic division that had poisoned inter-state relations across the Horn of Africa has now been overcome.

But I cannot deny that the removal of the TPLF has fueled unease in the international community. Concerns about ethnic profiling in Tigray and obstacles to humanitarian relief abound. My government is determined to address and dispel these concerns.

So, to borrow from Thomas Jefferson, “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” compels me to explain why my government acted to restore peace in Tigray, how we are alleviating suffering there, and why our efforts – supported, I hope, by the international community – will benefit all my country’s people, including those in Tigray and throughout the Greater Horn.

No government can tolerate its soldiers and innocent civilians being ambushed and killed in their dozens, as happened at the hands of the TPLF last autumn. My primary duty as prime minister and commander in chief of the national armed forces, after all, is to protect Ethiopia and its people from internal and external enemies.

Our operations in Tigray were designed to restore peace and order quickly. In this, we succeeded, but the suffering and deaths that occurred despite our best efforts have caused much distress for me personally as well as for all peace-loving people here and abroad.

Ending the suffering in Tigray and around the country is now my highest priority. This is why I am calling for the United Nations and international relief agencies to work with my government so that we can, together, deliver effective relief to all in Tigray who need it.

Meanwhile, we are working, day and night, to deliver necessary supplies to our citizens in Tigray and to those in want in neighbouring provinces, as well as to ensure that human rights are respected and normal lives restored. To succeed, many challenges must be overcome. For example, reconnecting communication lines deliberately destroyed by the TPLF is testing our capacity to deliver humanitarian aid. In this work of reconstruction, the international community can be of enormous help.

My government is also prepared to assist community leaders in Tigray who are dedicated to peace. Indeed, we are already reaching out to them. The international community understood what the TPLF was. Many had condemned its ethnic-based violence. Sadly, some were ready to turn a blind eye to TPLF torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Without the TPLF, it was said, Ethiopia risked fragmenting along ethnic lines, like Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Ethiopia’s collapse, the argument went, would usher in chaos across the Horn of Africa.

Common sense tells us that a regime based on ethnic division cannot last; but, as the saying goes, common sense is not always common. Fortunately, human societies can tolerate racial, ethnic, and religious violence for only so long.

In the roughly five years leading to my election in April 2018 as leader of the then-ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which until then had included the TPLF, popular challenges to the regime multiplied. The TPLF responded with its usual brutality. The 2018 vote moved the country in a new and inclusive direction. The political party I now lead is the first in Ethiopia that is not based on race, religion, or ethnicity.

The TPLF’s regional policy was a crude extension of its domestic divide-and-rule strategy. TPLF Ethiopia, for example, adopted a policy of exclusion and ostracism toward Eritrea, against which it waged proxy wars from the sovereign territory of unstable neighbouring countries – entrenching their fragility. An Ethiopia free of the TPLF will champion peace and inclusive development. Internally, our “New Ethiopia” will be based on equality among all of our constituent groups, including the suffering people of Tigray. Externally, we will act in a way that recognises that our national interests are inseparably linked to those of our neighbours.

The peace deal signed with Eritrea in 2018 is a living example of what Ethiopia is able and willing to do. That agreement resolved a violent two-decade-old stalemate, and allowed Eritrea to reintegrate within the Horn and the global community. Most important, its citizens, and those in my country residing along the border, can now live without the shadow of war hanging over them.

My government has also sought to reset Ethiopia’s relations with our other neighbours. Following the political crisis in Sudan in 2019, Ethiopia was instrumental in bringing that country back from the brink of civil war, helping create a transitional government of civilians and military representatives. Likewise, Ethiopia’s stabilising role in Somalia is second to none, and our efforts to bring stability to South Sudan are unbroken.

Ethiopia’s current foreign policy is premised on a belief that closer regional integration benefits all. Our efforts to make operational the African Continental Free Trade Area is a key part of this. More concretely, just a few weeks ago, we inaugurated a highway that links the Addis Ababa-Nairobi-Mombasa Corridor, a project that removes physical barriers to cross-border trade between Kenya and Ethiopia. Likewise, the road from Addis Ababa to the Eritrean port of Assab is being rehabilitated as a transport artery for international trade.

Moreover, in partnership with the private sector, new expressways are being planned to connect Ethiopia with the ports of Djibouti and Assab (to replace the older road now being rehabilitated), which will then be linked with Juba, South Sudan’s capital, providing that impoverished, landlocked country with a viable outlet for trade. Joint projects in ports and logistics, industrial parks, and potash mining are also being developed. And it is my profound hope that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, when completed, will gain the support of all of our neighbours and offer unprecedented opportunities for everyone in East Africa.

Only an Ethiopia at peace, with a government bound by humane norms of conduct, can play a constructive role across the Horn of Africa and beyond. We are determined to work with our neighbours and the international community to deliver on this promise.

Source: Project Syndicate

Latest News

Browse all
As the highly anticipated national elections will be held on 5 June 2021, with Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa cities casting their vote on 12 June 2021, far-reaching preparations have been undertaken in all regions together with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia.
4 May 2021
Progress on Electoral Preparations
በዩናይትድ ኪንግደም በኮቪድ ወረርሽኝ ምክንያት የተጣለው የእንቅስቃሴ ገደብ መላላትን ተከትሎ በለንደን፣ በስኮትላንድ እና በአየርላንድ /በዌብነር/ በተካሄዱ የድጋፍ ሰልፎች በጠላቶቻችን ድብቅ ሴራ ምክንያት የብሄር ተኮር ጥቃት ሰለባ የሆኑ ወገኖቻችንን ለመዘከር፣ ብሄርና ማንነት ተኮር ጥቃትን መንግስት እንዲያስቆም ለመጠየቅ፣ በትግራይ ክልል የሚካሄደውን ሰላም የማስከበር ዘመቻ ለመደገፍ፣ የኢትዮ-ኤርትራ ወዳጅነት ተጠናክሮ እንዲቀጥል ለመጠየቅ ፣ ምእራባዊያን ኢትዮጵያና ኤርትራ ላይ የሚያደርጉትን ጫና እና የፈጠራ የሚዲያ ዘመቻ በመቃወም…
4 May 2021
በዩናይትድ ኪንግደም ነዋሪ የሆኑ ኢትዮጵያዊያን፣ ትውልደ ኢትዮጵያዊያን እንዲሁም ኤርትራዊያን በጋራ የድጋፍ ሰልፍ አካሄዱ፡፡
Ahead of World Press Freedom Day, the Embassy in collaboration with the International Observatory of Human Rights, Ethiopian Digest, and Ethiopian Institute for Leadership, Communication and Organization, hosted a webinar on press freedom in Ethiopia. The webinar was held under the theme, "A Booster Shot for Media Freedom in Ethiopia."
29 Apr 2021
Ambassador Teferi’s Remarks at the IOHR Webinar on Media Reform and Press Freedom in Ethiopia
Ethiopian Airlines has joined hands with BGI Health Ethiopia to launch a high-end COVID-19 testing laboratory at its main hub and the continent’s busiest airport, Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The testing center will create a seamless travel experience that includes COVID-19 testing to passengers that are departing or transiting via Addis Ababa.
23 Apr 2021
Ethiopian Airlines launches high-end COVID-19 testing lab at Bole Airport
Ethiopia’s 6th  National Elections are scheduled to take place in June 2021. The highly anticipated elections will arguably be the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s first free and fair elections. With a few weeks remaining, citizens are encouraged to timely register to vote in exercising their democratic rights and engage constructively throughout the electoral process to collectively ensure free and…
16 Apr 2021
Ethiopia’s 6th National Elections
Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing Airline in Africa, celebrated its 75th anniversary on 8th April 2021 - the day it made its maiden international flight to Cairo. Since then, the Airline has overcome the ups and downs of the aviation industry, including the challenges unique to Africa, to become Africa’s largest, most profitable, and award-winning Airline.
9 Apr 2021
Ethiopian Airlines: Celebrating 75 Years of Excellence
Ethiopia's resolve to reach a settlement on the first filling and related operation of the dam failed to bear result due to Egypt and Sudan's rigid stance to make the negotiation and its outcome a tool to affirm their self-claimed water share while foreclosing Ethiopia's share. Ethiopia cannot enter into an agreement that would foreclose its current and future legitimate…
6 Apr 2021
Press Release on the Trilateral Negotiations on the GERD
The Embassy would like to reiterate the Government’s enduring priority, at this time, is to rebuild and rehabilitate the Tigray Region, and address the urgent humanitarian needs. The Embassy also rejects, in the strongest terms, the unsubstantiated allegations by the World Peace Foundation that the Government of Ethiopia is using “starvation as a weapon of war”.
6 Apr 2021
Statement to Channel 4 News on Allegations of “Starvation as a Weapon of War” in Tigray
The Embassy rejects, in the strongest terms, the unsubstantiated accusations by the World Peace Foundation that the Government of Ethiopia is “starving the people of Tigray” and using “starvation as a weapon of war”. The facts on the ground are entirely detached from the situation painted in the report. The Government’s main priority remains to rebuild and rehabilitate the Region…
6 Apr 2021
Statement to BBC World Service (Newshour) in response to World Peace Foundation’s report on the situation in Tigray
The Government of Ethiopia has continued intensifying its efforts to address the situation in the Tigray region and has made enormous progress. However, the statement issued by the G7’s Foreign Ministers on 02.04.2021 has failed to capture some of the important steps taken to ensure that the pressing needs of the region are in the process of being fully addressed…
3 Apr 2021
Press Release on G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Situation in Tigray
The Embassy is aware of a distressing video that has been circulating on social media over the last few weeks showing the alleged “massacre” of civilians in Mahbere Dego, Tigray. The aforementioned video is now the centre of recent reports by international media. The Embassy condemns, in the strongest terms, any acts of violence and human rights violations towards innocent…
3 Apr 2021
Statement on the Alleged Massacre in Mahbere Dego, Tigray
Organised by the Ethiopian Embassy in London, this webinar aims at promoting Ethio-UK relations in the coffee sector and will provide opportunities for stakeholders to discuss ways of tapping into the huge potential in the sector.
1 Apr 2021
WEBINAR | Ethiopian Coffee in the UK: Creating links and partnerships between Coffee Roasters in Ethiopia and the UK