AfricaColumnsOpinionOPINION: Ethiopia Truce an Uncertain Prospect
News of a truce in Ethiopia is welcome, but it far from guarantees an end to the Tigray conflict.
Last week, good news emerged from Ethiopia. The federal government announced a truce in its sixteen-month conflict with Tigrayan forces, expressing hope that its action would improve the humanitarian situation in the region and pave the way for lasting peace. Tigrayan forces responded in kind, pledging to make the truce a success.

Trust is in extremely short supply, and questions abound about whether the positive statements will translate into real changes on the ground—particularly, whether trucks filled with humanitarian supplies will be able to reach Tigray for the first time since December. Significant troop movements in recent days are only fueling the atmosphere of uncertainty. The Ethiopian government coupled its announcement with a call for Tigrayan forces to withdraw from territories adjacent to Tigray proper, but the boundaries of Tigray have been a subject of dispute throughout the conflict. Over the past months, federal forces have mostly blamed Tigrayans themselves for humanitarian organizations’ inability to access Tigray by road, while sometimes faulting local armed groups operating outside of federal control; it remains to be seen whether the government is prepared to take action to ensure humanitarian access. In other words, there are plenty of potential excuses and deflections that could be employed should the government’s will to end the siege of Tigray be less than resolute. The Tigrayans built a hedge into their statement as well, noting that they will observe the ceasefire so long as aid reaches the region in a reasonable amount of time.

Moreover, the overall outlook for lasting peace and justice in Ethiopia remains grim. Over the past year and a half, internal divisions have been exacerbated by the normalization of political violence, unleashing of multiple armed groups, and dehumanizing rhetoric employed by Ethiopian leaders. Horrific atrocities have been committed by all parties to the conflict. Spurious claims of foreign plots have poisoned diplomatic relationships, and Ethiopia’s economic resilience has been badly battered. The political landscape in the country is hardly fertile ground for much sustainable, positive momentum.

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