By Zel’Alem Bealu
The Amhara FANO- Resilience, Resistance, and Rebellion
In the aftermath of Ethiopia’s transition from the decades-long rule of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), characterized by Tigray ethnic hegemony and autocracy, to the current Prosperity Party, dominated by the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Amhara FANO movement has emerged as a pivotal force shaping the nation’s political dynamics. Driven by a complex web of grievances, this movement of resistance and rebellion has highlighted the challenges facing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Prosperity Party in uniting Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic groups under a shared vision of democracy, economic development, and an Ethnic Federalist constitution.
A New Era: From TPLF’s Kleptocratic Ethnic Hegemony to Abiy’s Leadership
The political landscape of Ethiopia underwent a seismic transformation in 2018 when the Ethiopian people rose against the oppressive reign of the EPRDF government, which was dominated and led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a party that had held power for 27 years. The widespread discontent with the kleptocratic TPLF’s ethnic hegemony led to a fervent desire for change, ultimately propelling Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power. The initial optimism surrounding Abiy’s leadership garnered support from the majority of Amharas, who were eager to witness the democratization of Ethiopia and the implementation of constitutional and economic reforms.
TPLF’s Machinations and the Outbreak of Conflict
However, simmering tensions lurked beneath the surface. The TPLF, unwilling to relinquish control, conspired to overthrow the new government. This plot culminated in the TPLF launching a preemptive attack on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) in November 2020, heralding the onset of a brutal conflict. On November 3-4, 2020, loyal TPLF forces initiated assaults on the ENDF Northern Command headquarters in Mekelle and bases in Adigrat, Agula, Dansha, and Sero in the Tigray Region, marking the start of the Tigray War. The fundamental cause of the conflict lay in the TPLF’s bid to regain power by leveraging its substantial forces, including special units and irregular militias, numbering over 250,000 strong.
Invasion, Turmoil, and the Rise of FANO
As the conflict escalated, the TPLF extended its reach and invaded the Amhara and Afar regions following the withdrawal of GOE forces from Tigray in June 2021. Over the span of six months, the TPLF wreaked havoc in the Amhara and Afar regions, destroying public and private infrastructures, committing extrajudicial executions, engaging in sexual violence, and perpetrating war crimes. TPLF’s audacious advance towards the capital city raised alarm bells; however, Ethiopian government forces ultimately thwarted the TPLF’s ambitions. During this period, the Amhara FANOs responded to Prime Minister Abiy’s call to join the ENDF in defense of the nation.
Internal Struggles: Trials of the Prosperity Party
While the GOE grappled with the threats presented by the TPLF, internal factional power struggles brewed within the Prosperity Party. Evidently, the Oromo Prosperity Party (OPDO), seemingly in collusion with OLF/OLA Shane, came under accusations of ethnic cleansing and mass killings targeting Amhara civilians in the Oromia region. Regrettably, the concerns of the Amhara populace were met with indifference, leading to accusations against the government for allowing these unchecked atrocities to persist. This situation has given rise to allegations of state-sponsored genocide, further exacerbated by the displacement of millions of Amharas from the Oromia Region.
A Quest for Justice: The Genesis of FANO
With mounting evidence of systematic oppression, marginalization, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, the Amhara people reached a crossroads. The emergence of the FANO movement was a direct response to safeguarding their basic human rights for peaceful coexistence within a united Ethiopia. Reports surfaced of the Prosperity Party’s inner circle working to “reshape Ethiopian society“ to prioritize and advance the interests of the Oromo, potentially leading to the creation of a pure Oromia state, intensifying disillusionment.
The Amhara FANO Rebellion: A Struggle for Justice and Equality
At its heart, the Amhara FANO rebellion arises from the perceived injustices, discrimination, marginalization, and ethnic cleansing endured by the Amhara population. Moreover, the Amhara community responded with substantial skepticism and condemnation to the GOE’s unilateral decision to disarm the Amhara special forces and FANO militias, a move executed without prior consultation. The inability of the Prosperity Party’s Amhara faction to champion the political and economic interests of the Amharas deepened the discontent.
The movement’s rallying cries include requests for the withdrawal of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) from the Amhara region, the removal of the state of emergency, and the empowerment of the Amhara populace in selecting authentic leaders committed to protecting their economic, political, and human rights, as well as ensuring nationwide safety and security.
Conclusion: For an Equitable and Unified Ethiopia
The Amhara FANO rebellion encapsulates the myriad challenges confronting Ethiopia as it strives for a more democratic and inclusive future. The legacy of the TPLF’s ethnic hegemony, the current ongoing systematic marginalization and ethnic cleansing of the Amharas by the Oromo-dominated Prosperity Party, intricate ethnic dynamics, and struggles within the Prosperity Party have converged to give rise to the FANO rebellion.
As Ethiopia maneuvers through this critical crossroads, the Amhara FANO resistance movement serves as a testament to the quest for justice, freedom, human rights, dignity, equality, peaceful coexistence, and a more promising future for all Ethiopians.
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