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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 8th July 2021

Ethiopia's tenuous ceasefire

Blue Lines

With the latest reports from the UN that almost a million people face famine in Tigray despite the Ethiopian government's announcement of a unilateral ceasefire on 28 June, there is little prospect of an end to the fighting. Federal troops withdrew from Tigray's regional capital, Mekelle, but Tigrayan forces are still battling with Eritrean and Amhara regional forces.

On 6 July, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urging an indefinite ceasefire and the immediate exit of the Amhara and Eritrean forces from Tigray. Alongside mounting diplomatic pressure, Abiy's government faces growing financial pressure. He claims the war has cost $2.3 billion in terms of infrastructure damage in Tigray, although independent reports accuse the federal forces of calculated destruction in the region.

More immediately threatening to the government is the withdrawal of budget support from the US and European Union. Although the conflict has shredded Nobel Laureate Abiy's international standing, the government is slashing its diplomatic budget. Abiy told parliament that about 30 embassies would be closed, with dozens of diplomats set to work as non-resident ambassadors. It may rely more on pro-government groups in the diaspora pushing the official line on the Tigray conflict and multi-party elections.