Ethiopia: Increased tensions likely in Amhara Region through late May amid ongoing military operations
Increased tensions likely in Amhara Region, Ethiopia, through at least late May amid ongoing military operations.
Increased tensions are likely to persist in Amhara Region through at least late May amid ongoing security operations. Federal security personnel are undertaking military operations to integrate a local militia known as FANO into several security structures, including the federal or regional police and the national army. Amhara activists opposed the decision and viewed the move as a way to reduce autonomy and leave the region vulnerable to attacks. This decision has sharply increased tensions between the federal government and FANO. Low-level clashes and civil unrest incidents have led officials to impose various restrictions on gathering and movement, including in Gondar.
On May 6, the leadership of FANO and federal government representatives met in Gondar. The summit aimed to reduce tensions in Gondar between FANO and government forces. As of May 8, there are unconfirmed reports that federal troops have withdrawn from Gondar to nearby military camps to reduce tensions.
Fighting between the federal government forces and FANO may occur if the latter refuses to hand its weapons to authorities. The federal government will likely maintain a heavy army presence, including deploying armored vehicles across the Amhara region, particularly in major cities such as Bahir Dar, Gondar, Dessie, Mota, and Kombolcha, over the coming days. The army may further implement a security lockdown of the affected urban centers through curfew, patrols, and checkpoints. Ongoing security operations may result in travel restrictions and short-term ground transport disruptions. Intermittent internet disruptions are also likely in the coming few days.
The latest tension comes after the head of the ruling Amhara branch of the Property Party, Girma Yeshitila, was killed in a shooting April 27. Although no group has claimed responsibility yet, officials have accused the FANO militias of carrying out the attack. Girma reportedly advocated the integration of the FANO’s militias into the federal army.
The federal government’s move came despite strong criticism, especially from ethnic-Amhara activists and members of the National Movement of the Amhara (NaMA) party, who see the move as a way for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to disarm FANO so that the neighboring Tigray Region would regain control of occupied disputed territories, (Wolkait) Western Tigray and Raya zone (Southern Tigray). Amhara forces controlled Wolkait and Raya zones in November 2020 following the military confrontation between the federal troops and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels. FANO fought alongside the national forces against TPLF rebels between 2020-2022.
Fighting between the federal government and TPLF rebels ended on Nov. 2 after signing a peace agreement in Pretoria, South Africa. Several steps have been taken to implement the peace deal, including forming an Interim Regional Administration (IRA) and removing the TPLF from the designated terrorist list. Despite positive trends, key issues remain, including the complete disarmament of the TPLF’s forces and the withdrawal of non-government forces (Eritrean troops and Amhara militias) from Tigray territory.
Maintain contact with diplomatic representations. Heed the instructions of the security forces. Travel with personal identification documents to facilitate transit through checkpoints. Liaise with trusted local contacts before traveling to or within Amhara Region. Reconfirm all transport services before departure. Avoid concentrations of security personnel and travel at night. Plan for possible short-term telecommunication disruptions.
Source : https://crisis24.garda.com/alerts/2023/05/ethiopia-increased-tensions-likely-in-amhara-region-through-late-may-amid-ongoing-military-operations