Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s actions belie his words
The mood at the international airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, is strikingly upbeat. In recent weeks arriving passengers have been met by smiling dancers and patriotic music. Garlands of flowers and bright yellow carpets adorn the arrivals hall. Banners proclaim the “Great Ethiopian Homecoming”, a state-sponsored effort to convince Ethiopians living abroad to come home for the holidays (Ethiopians celebrated Christmas on January 7th). Echoing John Lennon, the state’s Christmas greetings come with an implied message: war is over.
Ethiopia’s civil war has certainly cooled down. In late 2021 rebels from the northern region of Tigray were on the brink of storming the capital and toppling the government of Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister. Abiy declared a state of emergency and called on residents to fight. Embassies evacuated staff and urged their citizens to leave. But in a matter of weeks the Ethiopian army pushed the rebels into retreat. Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (tplf), asked for a ceasefire. Though fighting continues on several fronts, Abiy has declared victory.
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