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HomeOpinion“Pretoria Agreement” and its Serious Leftovers (Tingirtu Gebretsadik)

“Pretoria Agreement” and its Serious Leftovers (Tingirtu Gebretsadik)

Pretoria Agreement _ Ethiopia _ Tingirtu
The author (Photo : SM )

By Tingirtu Gebretsadik1

How did the agreement isolate the Amhara People? 

Notwithstanding the fact that the Pretoria Agreement or the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement  (COHA) ended the two years’ span of horrendous war between the Ethiopian military forces together  with allied Forces against the Tigrai forces, serious problems are still being surfaced in the  country. Literally, COHA was signed on 02 November 2022 in Pretoria, South Africa, between  the current “federal” government of Ethiopia and the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).1 What followed then after is the serious question stimulated by this paper. The Oromo dominated  Prosperity Party (PP) runs the current government which seized power in the name of a reform  in March 2010, coming out of the then regime/party – Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary 

Democratic Front (EPRDF) – in which TPLF was a dominant one among the four-member political organizations representing major ethnic groups in the country. 

Right after the bloodiest civil war was halted with the “Pretoria Agreement”, things began to  dramatically change, thereby PP’s outlook on the Amhara people was altered as well. Alas, the  regime’s war against the Fano forces of Amhara has exceeded 14 months. Nevertheless, it’s vital  to ask why the Amhara political elite group was excluded in the stated agreement which  instigated the continuing war. 

COHA: Abiy Ahmed’s License to Kill  

The African Union and the AU High-Level Panel working with observers from the  Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations, and the United States  facilitated the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) between the Government of Ethiopia and  the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). In its press release on November 2, 2023, the State  Department proudly stated that COHA silenced the guns and ended a horrific two-year war that  killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions to flee their homes. It didn’t take much time for  some to soon realize that this Fool’s errand was only a misguided effort to achieve sustainable peace  in Ethiopia as there have been key and stumbling blocks remain undressed.  

One of the major flaws of the COHA is the glaring exclusion of the Amhara people, who are  crucial stakeholders with a significant interest in achieving sustainable peace in the region.  Although the conflict in Tigrai has been fought primarily between the “federal” government and  the TPLF, the fact that much of the war has been waged on Amhara territory makes the Amhara 

people key stakeholders who should have been included in the peace process. Unfortunately,  they have been omitted from the negotiations, an oversight that undermines the agreement’s  legitimacy and potential for success.  

What was even more disturbing is that Abiy Ahmed exploited the Pretoria Agreement (COHA)  as an international pretext to wage war against the Amhara people. Looking at what followed the  agreement; one could say that Abiy Ahmed had never intended to make peace with the Tigrai  people or TPLF. Instead, he used the agreement as an internationally legitimized tool to  translate his genocidal intentions into practical actions. He declared a state of emergency,  extending it three times to nearly nine months, and used this as a cover to: Kill thousands of  innocent civilians, drag thousands of ethnic Amharas to concentration camps and displace  thousands from Oromia and other parts of the country.  

Abiy Ahmed deceived the international community by claiming Amhara Fano was a barrier to  peace, while, in reality, he further intensified his covert genocidal intent to annihilate the Amhara people, whom he viewed as a threat to his power. Using COHA as a global license to advance his  genocidal anti-Amhara policy, Abiy Ahmed has successfully implemented his evil plans for the  past fourteen plus months utilizing the state apparatus and machinery to this end. 

When questioned about the killings of civilians and the devastating war waged against the Amhara people, Abiy Ahmed often presents a deceptive answer designed to appeal to the international community. He claims that his actions are nothing but directed towards successful implementation of the Pretoria Agreement (COHA), concealing his genocidal intent.  

What is New Now? 

The Prime Minister’s address to the “parliament” on July 04, 2024, implies the deadlock for  political talks on the government’s side. The civilian Amhara people are at a recipient position of  the PP’s stern military expeditions and assaults. It’s now unambiguous that war crimes are in the  making. 

Given the complexity and depth of the crisis Ethiopia is facing at this stage, it is hard to  understate the importance of national-level dialogue among conflicting actors. The ongoing war  in Amhara and Oromia, along with the paralysis in the implementation of the Pretoria agreement,  it’s unlikely to end without such a national-level dialogue.2 The exclusion of Amhara in the  agreement was why the ongoing conflicts was sparked, a key cause among other political, social  and economic reasons. The Amhara people have their own political concerns and have been part  of the war prior to Pretoria, as indicated above. 

Therefore, the fact that the Amhara forces were not part of the agreement is a key reason for the  ongoing conflict. Several opinion leaders of the Amhara community in the West believe that the  inclusion of the Amhara elite into the then Pretoria Agreement as a partner was thought as a  possible threat by the “federal” government for its succeeding policies. Despite being Addis  Ababa’s wartime allies and victims of the Tigrian forces’ summer 2021 march through Amhara (and Afar) territory, the Amhara were not in Pretoria.3 Consequently, the ceasefire has not  delivered peace. Ironically, the COHA tipped the Oromo dominated fascistic regime to wage a  fresh war against the Amhara people.  

The consequences of this ongoing conflict have been well reported. Overall, the overview  recorded 15.8 million people in need of food assistance and security in Ethiopia; within Amhara,  it assessed the severity of food security needs in Amhara region as level 5 (from 1 to 5 in levels  of severity) in three zones (North Gondar, Wag Hamra, and Central Gondar), level 4 in five  zones (South Gondar, North Wello, South Wello, North Shewa, and Oromia), level 3 in one zone  (East Gojjam), level 1 in five zones (West Gojam, Awi, West Gondar, North Gojam, and Bahir Dar town Admin).3 While the volume of these food insecurity and humanitarian failures is  increasing, the massacres on civilian population is mind boggling. Hence, the situation on the  ground is not only dire but also daunting. The “federal” government takes the responsibility for  all these culpable acts. 

Another very up to date report also shows the atrocities in the Region. Government security  forces, including Ethiopian military, police and militia, have killed health workers and patients,  threatened and assaulted doctors, wrongfully arrested patients, looted and destroyed medical  supplies, and misused healthcare facilities.4 Generally and more vividly, since the outbreak of  hostilities in Amhara in August 2023 through at least May 2024, the Ethiopian military and other  security forces have carried out attacks on health care in 13 towns in Amhara region.5 These  shows the all-around crimes the “federal” government is undertaking on civilians with red-hand evidences.  

On the contrary, the Fano forces are getting stronger from time to time. The latest military  achievements are lucid manifestations for this point. Recently, in early July of this year, General  Teffera Mamo joined the Fano forces. The joining of this Ethiopian National Defense Forces  (ENDF) military general is an immense manifestation of the feeble governance and political  turmoil in the country. General Teffera has been working as a senior officer of ENDF for  decades, but the incumbent government’s merciless bombardment on his own ethnic group,  Amhara, couldn’t be taken for granted. And now many expect how this experienced military  general could significantly change the war strategy, combat performance and overall results of  Fano’s upcoming missions. Surprisingly, another military general joined Fano less than a week  after, General Tezera Nugussie.  

The Way Forward 

It’s warmly acknowledged that the current regime is committing numerous atrocities against the unarmed civilian population. Anyone can set a timetable of the past six years since the current  PM snatched power – it has been years of mess – and understand how PP has been changing the  cemented social fabric of the country into a “no return” pattern.

If the government continues with making trivial agenda setting and palpable treacherous  measures by ignoring the serious issues related with the ongoing conflicts in several areas of the  country, its power stay will increasingly be precarious in any way, but what concerns much more  is the looming disintegration of Ethiopia. The government’s divisive policy will no longer be  tolerable, of course a safe exit for the ‘war crime engineers” at the top level of power needs to be  secured for the sake of peaceful transition. 

Formulating a new, clear and trustworthy peace and transitional process in Ethiopia is now a  necessity, not a choice. All concerned international actors, organizations and states should focus  on this and further encourage all stakeholders to seek a peaceful and all-inclusive transitional  process if saving the country is the primary issue.  

Above all, the international community must act now to prevent further atrocities and ensure  justice and accountability for the Amhara people by condemning the regime’s actions and hold it  accountable for the atrocities committed, impose targeted sanctions on regime leaders and  officials responsible for the violence, support independent investigations into human rights  abuses and war crimes, demand an immediate end to the state of emergency and the release of  political prisoners, facilitate a inclusive national dialogue to address the root causes of the  conflict and ensure provision of unfettered humanitarian aid and support to affected communities.  

Closing Remarks 

Though the Pretoria COHA was able to silence guns of the bloodiest Tigray war, the country at  large is still roving with chaos. The time has come for the international community to  acknowledge the flaws in the Pretoria Agreement (COHA) and take decisive action to rectify its  mistakes. The agreement has been exploited by the brutal regime of Abiy Ahmed to justify the  genocidal campaign against the Amhara people.  

The Amhara Region has continued to be a war zone. Oromia hosts abundant military  confrontations sparingly across the Region. Afar and Somali regions are at an active war with each  other. And yet, the “federal” government is mocking the “national discussion/justice” agenda  excluding multiple and considerable stakeholders in the country. Therefore, while the Amhara war needs international interference with a new all-inclusive democratic and transitional process,  the political atmosphere needs to be reconfigured at all with an integrated, comprehensive and  indisputable transitional political arrangement.  

Not only Ethiopia’s role of “regional anchor state” in the volatile Horn and Eastern Africa has  waned, but also the very existence of the country is at stake. For that reason, all Ethiopians and  the international community must think of a newer political arrangement for the country. 

Since failing to implement the Pretoria agreement, the Abiy Ahmed administration’s track record  clearly indicates a lack of willingness, capacity, or both, to effectively govern the country. In  contrast, Fano has continued to gain strength, despite limited recognition from Western  governments. Notably, high-ranking ENDF generals, who have lost faith in the regime, are  defecting to join Fano, bolstering its military capabilities and legitimacy. This shift not only  enhances Fano’s power but also transforms it into the de facto Ethiopian National Defense Force,  as the regime’s army disintegrates. Consequently, Fano has emerged as the only viable power  bloc capable of assuming federal government power. If the US aims to promote genuine peace  and stability in Ethiopia, supporting Fano and dismantling the genocidal regime appears to be the  most viable solution. 

1 Mr.Tingirtu is a former Assistant Professor of Sociology at Jigjiga University, Ethiopia (until  [May, 2023]). Due to the deteriorating political situation in Ethiopia, the author is forced to immigrate to the United States, where he continues to advocate for human rights and social justice. Mr.Tingirtu can be reached at tingirtsocy@gmail.com

Endnotes  

1. CoHA, “Agreement for lasting peace through permanent cessation of hostilities between  the government of the Federal Democratic republic of Ethiopia and the Tigray People  Liberation Front (TPLF).” (2022).  

https://igad.int/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Download-the-signed-agreement-here.pdf.

2. Kujenga Amani, “Ethiopia’s Pretoria Peace Agreement and the Fate of the ‘Contested’  Areas” (March 20, 2024). 

https://kujenga-amani.ssrc.org/2024/03/20/ethiopias-pretoria-peace-agreement-and-the fate-of-the-contested-areas/

3. UNOCHA, “Humanitarian Needs Overview: Ethiopia” (26 February 2024, pp. 27-28) 4. HRW, “’If the Soldier Dies, It’s on You’: Attacks on Medical in Ethiopia’s Amhara  Conflict” (July 03, 2024). 

5. HRW, “’If the Soldier Dies, It’s on You’: Attacks on Medical in Ethiopia’s Amhara  Conflict” (July 03, 2024). 

6. ARC, “Ethiopia Query Response: Situation in the Amhara Region (January 2022- February 2024)” (March 2024).

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com


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