Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Ethiopia’s Breakup Doesn’t Have to Be Violent

By Teferi Mergo and Kebene Kejela

27 Nov 2021 · 9 min read

Ethiopia—a multinational state of considerable contradictions—is once again in the news for tragic events. The outside world, which tends to hold a romantic view of the country, is only beginning to understand these divisions. The country is plagued by identity-based civil wars, currently between the central government, which is widely perceived to champion a unitary state, and many groups that are vying for different degrees of autonomy.

The Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) are the most prominent representatives of those fighting against the central government for the right to self-determination for their respective nations (Tigray and Oromia), with Amhara political groups rallying behind the government to defend Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s vision of a centralized state.

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