African Union Commission (AUC) has called for an immediate ceasefire between the conflicting parties in Ethiopia’s Amhara region.
In a statement by its Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Wednesday, AUC said the safety of civilians caught in the crossfire must be ensured.
The Chairperson emphasised the significance of peaceful dialogue for a lasting solution to the crisis.
He said the AU is “following closely and with grave concern the continued military confrontations in the Amhara region of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.”
He said the AUC is ready to back any efforts within Ethiopia to restore peace and stability.
Ethiopia’s Amhara region has been in turmoil since April 2023, when the central government decided to disband regional security forces and merge them with the national army or police.
This sparked resistance and violence from the local Fano militia, which had backed the government in the war against Tigray.
The Fano militia clashed with the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), which saw them as a threat to national security and stability.
The situation worsened in the past few weeks, as Fano fighters seized several towns in the region and fought with the ENDF.
The government declared a state of emergency and imposed curfews in some areas, and also arrested journalists, activists, and community leaders associated with the Amhara cause.
Civilians suffered from the conflict, as they were killed or wounded in the crossfire, or forced to flee from the violence.
The crisis in Amhara challenges Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s vision of a united and prosperous Ethiopia, which he has pursued since he came to power in 2018.
Abiy has introduced political and economic reforms, mediated regional disputes, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending a long-standing border conflict with Eritrea.
However, his efforts have also met opposition from some ethnic groups and regions, who feel left out or threatened by his centralizing agenda.
The Amhara region is Ethiopia’s second largest and most influential region, with a long history of rivalry and tension with the neighboring Tigray region.
The two regions have competing claims over land and resources, which were worsened by the Tigray War that started in 2020.
The war ended with a peace deal in November 2022, but the status of the disputed territories remains unsettled.
The Amhara people also have complaints against the federal government, which they accuse of ignoring their security and interests.
The conflict in Amhara is not only a domestic issue, but also a regional one, as it could affect the stability and security of the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopia is a key ally of the United States and other Western powers in fighting terrorism and extremism in the region.
It is also a major contributor to peacekeeping missions and humanitarian operations in neighboring countries such as Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.
Any further escalation or deterioration of the situation in Amhara could undermine Ethiopia’s role and influence in the region, as well as its relations with its partners.
The crisis in Amhara is a test of Ethiopia’s unity and democracy, as well as its potential for development and prosperity.