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Ethiopia: Tigray conflict overshadows Abiy Ahmed’s quest for legitimacy

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Ethiopia

Image by PHOTO: AFP

Ethiopians are voting in national elections on Monday. it is a day of reckoning for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as he hopes to spice up his legitimacy with the vote.

At his first and last campaign rally in the week , he said his main goal is to uphold what he called the unity and freedom of the country. The election is happening against a backdrop of tensions.

In 2018 Abiy rode to power on a wave of optimism after 3 decades of oppressive rule dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Forces, a celebration anchored within the northern region.

After taking office Abiy made peace with neighboring Eritrea, bringing an end to a 20 year conflict.That move earned him the distinguished Nobel Peace Prize, but it also angered the TPLF forces who neighbor Eritrea.

Then last year Abiy sent the military into the northern Tigray region to crush the TPLF. Thousands are killed and millions displaced. to form matters worse ethnic violence has flared elsewhere. Hundreds have died in clashes on the border between Oromia and Amhara, the country’s two most populous states. 

Critics accuse Abiy of denying states with different ethnicities more autonomy. It’s led some opposition figures to boycott the poll. 

Despite violence between government forces and native insurgent groups in several parts of Oromia state, the officials within the Prime Minister’s home village of Beshasha say there’s nothing to stress about.

Abiy’s birthplace might guarantee safe polls, but in other parts of Oromia unrest is rampant.

Oromo armed groups actively contest the holding of elections, claiming they’re undemocratic which the present government is illegitimate.The two main opposition parties in Oromia decided to withdraw.

Their main leaders are behind bars.Especially in Western Oromia, clashes between the Oromo Liberation Army and federal forces pose a serious threat to the elections.

Inter-ethnic violence has also left hundreds dead and thousands displaced.As a consequence, several constituencies won’t be ready to vote on June 21st.

The international community has warned of electoral violence.To reduce the risks, the ecu Union held trainings like this one to supply tools for peacebuilding – targeting women, youth groups and traditional leaders.

Through the vote, Abiy Ahmed seeks to determine his political legitimacy. But the prime minister is facing various challenges, including the conflict in Tigray, that he’s facing mounting pressure, reception and abroad.

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