The African Union's flawed handling of the war with Ethiopia does not bode well for peace in Africa

The African Union’s flawed handling of the war with Ethiopia does not bode well for peace in Africa

in 2016 the the African Union (AU) adopted Perfects A roadmap for practical steps to silence the guns by 2020. Its primary objective is to stop human rights violations, humanitarian disasters and violent conflicts, and to prevent genocide. It is one of the leading projects in Africa Agenda 2063described by the African Union asBlueprint for Africa and the master plan to transform Africa into a global power of the future”.

In December 2020, the African Union extended this deadline to 2030.

Today, however, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan are experiencing high levels of instability and violence, and Africa is unlikely to silence the guns by 2030.

Ironically, in the same year, the continent had to take stock of its progress Silencing the guns by 2020 Plan, devastating war with possible Genocide The results (see UN conference to define genocide) that occurred in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

Genesis of genocide

To provide some background: After taking office in 2018, the current Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, set up a council boom party to replace the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The TPLF opposed this, and after the 2020 national elections were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the TPLF held regional elections in the Tigray region in September 2020.

The Ethiopian Federal Government and the National Electoral Council of Ethiopia (NEBE) did not recognize the elections. They argued that no application for a vote had been submitted by the TPLF and no organization other than NEBE had a mandate to hold any type of election.

As a result, the Tigray massacre took place between November 4, 2020, and November 3, 2022.

War broke out with the Ethiopian government and its allies, particularly Eritrea and the Amhara militias and Amhara Special Forces on the one hand, and the TPLF on the other. It broke out when the Northern Command was attacked by Tigray forces. However, this was a reason to start a war. Both parties had spent years preparing for war after the Prosperity Party dissolved the previous coalition, the EPRDF.

the war It took the lives of more than 600,000 civilians. Ethiopian, Eritrean and Amhara forces have collectively raped more than 120,000 Tigrayan women and girls and displaced more than 2.2 million people internally. More than 70,000 refugees have fled to Sudan in two years.

The historical and cultural environment of Tigray, including World Heritage Sites such as Negus and the Debre Damo Monasterywas vandalized.

The war cost the federal government 1.5 trillion birr ($28 billion) could have been used to develop infrastructure.

In the name of sovereignty

Genocide Watch has classified the Tigray massacre as Genocide phase 9. However, the African Union indirectly allowed Abiy to annihilate his countrymen by opposing any outside intervention to stop the war under the pretext of sovereignty and territorial integrity. This negligence has claimed the lives of more than 600,000 civilians. The leadership of the African Union can be held partly responsible for this outcome.

As the location of the headquarters of the African Union, Ethiopia has been able to exert disproportionate influence over the work of the organization. Instead of ending the war, the AU chairperson and his special envoy serve the Ethiopian government, casting doubt on the integrity and legitimacy of the AU as an institution for conflict resolution.

My father used sovereignty as a smokescreen to commit atrocities. In fact, the Ethiopian government has endangered its sovereignty by enabling the Eritrean army to invade the Tigray region and kill, rape and starve civilians in the name of destroying the TPLF.

The cost of the war on both sides and pressure from the United States and the European Union forced the warring parties to engage in peace talks. The federal government reluctantly joined the talks due to rising inflation, rising costs of servicing foreign debt and the suspension of budget support and aid programs by the United States, European Union and other international partners.

The TPLF changed its position after suffering a series of tactical defeats caused by federal forces using drones to strike critical targets deep in its territory.

Peace is deeply flawed

After months of shuttle diplomacy by Mike Hammer, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, and Annette Weber, the EU special representative for the Horn of Africa, a framework for mediation peace negotiations has emerged. In August 2021, the African Union appointed former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as the High Representative for the Horn of Africa to manage the negotiations.

the Stop the hostilities an agreement Signed November 3, 2022 at Pretoria. An implementation agreement has been signed Nairobi On November 12, 2022. The contribution of the African Union to the solution to the war should not be excluded.

However, in the face of the ongoing genocide, this contribution is insufficient.

Read more at The Daily Maverick: How political polarization overshadowed state control in Ethiopia

First, genocide still occurs in many forms. according to Human Rights WatchDespite the November 3, 2022 peace deal, Amhara authorities and soldiers in the western region of Tigray have continued to forcibly remove Tigray as part of the so-called attempted ethnic cleansing, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the process. The federal government and the African Union-appointed Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission (MVCM) do nothing to stop it.

Secondly, seven months after the agreement, Eritrea still controls many of Tigray’s lands and is committing heinous crimes, especially against indigenous communities such as the minority. Aerop and Bow People who face eradication as a result. It also prevents humanitarian groups from accessing Tigray and the MVCM from operating in the area.

Thirdly, the agreement does not include the Eritrean forces, although they were the main aggressors in the war. Instead, the African Union classified them as non-Ethiopian soldiers in the National Defense Force.

The obvious reason for this designation is that despite the call for Eritrean forces to join the war by the Ethiopian government, Abiy put great pressure on the African Union not to include Eritrea in the peace agreement.

There are several reasons for this. First, to prove that he can handle the war independently. Second, to reduce international pressure by justifying the need to address the issue internally. Thirdly, given the crimes committed by the Eritrean forces, the Eritrean government, Abiy’s friend and enemy of the TPLF, is unwilling to be involved and held accountable.

Neither the TPLF nor the federal government explained why a known aggressor, Eritrea, was not named in the agreement. The African Union and the federal government may have forced the TPLF to remain silent about Eritrea’s exclusion from the deal.

Questions about TPLF

Although Ethiopian officials, including Abiy, referred to TPLF officials as cancer, he gave them certificates of appreciation for their role in negotiating the agreement as part of the federal government. End the war – keep the peace program. The award was issued when the victims of genocide were still denied justice.

War is a place where young people who do not know each other and do not hate each other are killed, by the decision of old people who know each other and hate each other, but do not kill each other. – Eric Hartmann

TPLF cadres have been heavily involved in the theft of life-saving humanitarian aid. Concerns about the diversion and sale of large amounts of aid led the United Nations World Food Program and Usaid to halt food deliveries in the area. The people of Tigray continue to bear the brunt of the consequences.

Betrayal or hope for the victims of genocide?

cessation of hostilities an agreement It provides for a “comprehensive national transitional justice policy aimed at accountability, truth-assurance, redress for victims, reconciliation and healing in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the African Union Transitional Justice Policy Framework.”

The transitional justice system does not satisfy the victims of genocide because it is a technical tool designed to facilitate impunity. It was deliberately created to undermine an investigation by the international community.

The federal government has no legal or moral legitimacy to investigate its own genocide. In addition, the Ethiopian court system is complicit in the genocide committed by Tigray. An old Amharic proverb comes to mind: “If you search for your lost oxen with the thief, you will not find them.”

Seven months have passed since the cessation of hostilities agreement was signed, but the government has yet to release any investigations or hold anyone accountable for the grave violations.

Proposing transitional justice serves political purposes, not justice. The Ethiopian Ministry of Justice established an inter-ministerial task force in September 2022 to conduct investigations. However, it lacks the political independence, political will, and institutional capacity to hold perpetrators to account.

The level of mass atrocities committed by parties to the conflict meets the threshold for genocide and merits an independent investigation to hold the perpetrators of the war (including Eritrean forces) accountable. Eritrea is an independent state and should not become part of the transitional justice process in Ethiopia.

The lack of accountability and justice will fuel the Tigrayans’ thirst for revenge. From 1889 to 2023 Ethiopia had five governments, all of which committed heinous crimes against the Ethiopian people. The victims were denied justice because their governance structure was linked to ethnicity.

Those who believe they are not represented associate the atrocities with the innocent and wait their turn to exact revenge. This miserable past can only be reversed if justice is served.

There is no hope for Africa’s Agenda 2063 without peace

The lack of progress in silencing the guns in Africa and the inaction of the African Union on the Tigrayan genocide have had adverse effects on efforts to promote peace and security in Africa.

The African Union has no shortage of declarations, plans or agendas, and has many other goals that have failed in practice. that it Self financing Crossing import duties by 2017 was a hollow gesture. Donors and foreign partners will account for 61% of the African Union budget in 2023.

The African Union is obsessed with setting deadlines for overly lofty goals. It’s unclear on what basis the 2020 Silencing the Guns deadline was set and then extended to 2030, though. Conflict Statistics In Africa from 1989 to 2021 showing an increasing trend with slight fluctuation.

To achieve Agenda 2063, silencing the guns must be a priority, as peace and security are essential to all other agendas. DM

Dr. Haft Gebrselassie Gebrieh is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town. His research focuses on building democratic governance and resilient institutions in Africa, with a particular focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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