Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Fails to Fulfill Lofty Promises of African Peace
Since April of 2018, Abiy Ahmed has served as Prime Minister of Ethiopia, a position he sought
to use in order to address international conflicts affecting the war-torn nation, such as border
disputes with Eritrea, through peaceful mediation.
Ahmed was lauded as a source of hope for such border disputes as a result of his revival of the
2000 Algiers Agreement, a peace treaty signed in hopes of resolving the Ethio-Eritrean conflicts.
Ahmed ceded the border town of Badme to Eritrea in an unprecedented move that indicated a
potential end to the dispute. In response to the agreement, the two nations signed the Joint
Declaration of Peace and Friendship in order to set a standard for future socio-economic and
However, since Ahmed’s election, many of his lofty goals have gone unmet, and widespread
criticism has surfaced regarding his salience as a champion peace crusader. The agreement with
Eritrea has gone largely unimplemented, as Ethiopian troops remain stationed in parts of Eritrea,
and trade agreements have been stalled or not widely executed.
Additionally, internal ethno-political conflicts also continue to persist. The Tigray region is the
northernmost portion of Ethiopia, and following the end of the Ethiopian Civil War in 1991, has
continued to wage conflicts with the legitimately elected Ethiopian government.
In 2019, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which ruled Ethiopia for nearly three
decades before Abiy Ahmed, refused to join Ahmed’s Prosperity Party, despite the Ethiopian
government being a dominant-party state. Tigray regional leaders accused Ahmed of creating an
illegitimate government, and Ahmed’s warming relationship with Eritrea was regarded as a
mistake to Tigrayan leaders who have negative views of Eritrea.
The TPLF argued that Ahmed violated the Ethiopian constitution by postponing the 2020
election due to COVID-19. Instead, the TPLF held their own regional elections, prompting
Ahmed to redirect funding from the TPLF to lower ranks of the regional government in order to
stifle the party and quell claims that his government should be voided. As a result, Ahmed’s
decision to engage in airborne warfare in Tigray is regarded as the catalyst to the ongoing civil
Ahmed has been accused of making ethnocentric decisions in his government, after firing several
Tigrayan army generals. Ethnic violence has only increased since Ahmed assumed office, with
many Tigrayans being displaced from their homes, granting Ethiopia the title of housing the
most internally displaced persons of any nation since Ahmed took office.
Despite arguable ethnic and political motivations, the conflict has also been framed as being
largely economically motivated. Both the TPLF and Ahmed’s governments are ardently seeking
control of Ethiopia’s natural resources, as well as external donations. Only the ruling party gets
major control over such wealth, explaining why the TPLF wants to regain their once-prominent
position in Ethiopian government.
As a result of Ahmed’s reforms and critical decisions regarding both foreign and domestic
policy, civil unrest is peaking in Ethiopia. The unrelenting pace at which Ahmed is overturning
decisions crafted by the TPLF is unsettling the once-powerful regional government and making
the prognosis for Ahmed’s desired peace increasingly bleak.