Inside Story

Is Ethiopia heading for a civil war?

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is facing a leadership test as he starts an offensive against the Tigray region.

Tigray’s leaders have dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition of ethnically based parties for decades.

But after Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in 2018, they refused to join his single-party alliance.

They have also resisted his sweeping reforms.

In September 2020, they went ahead with local elections, defying Abiy’s decision to suspend polls because of coronavirus.

The prime minister said his patience has run out with Tigray.

He has ordered a military operation in the region after accusing the TPLF of attacking federal troops, an accusation denied by the group.

It is feared the feud could lead to the break up of Ethiopia. The United Nations is calling for a de-escalation of tensions.

So just what are the causes of tension there?

Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom


Awol Allo – Lecturer at Keele University and a Horn of Africa analyst

Zadig Abraha – Ethiopian minister in charge of democratisation

Martin Plaut – Senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies