Ethiopian Cross Square

In addition to the pressure of the epidemic on the African continent in 2020, the politics of several major countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa will also have ups and downs. The ethnic conflict in Ethiopia has also attracted the attention of the international media.

In Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, there is a famous cross square where major political and religious gatherings are held. There are several museums, book stalls and bookstores nearby. One day in 2019, I walked to the square to buy a book, and a man talked to me while waiting for the traffic light. The man was about 40 years old, his eyes were alert and serious, he said he was working in a humanitarian aid organization, and soon the topic turned to Ethiopian politics.

He said that Prime Minister Abiy, who just came to power, promoted political deregulation, and political forces of all major ethnic groups have begun to move freely. This is for the better development of Ethiopian society, but will people make good use of this opportunity to live together in harmony? Will it fall into chaos?

This man is not familiar with history books. He confuses the famous Ethiopian historian with the political figure of the same name, but strongly recommends me to buy the ancient book “The Glory of Kings”. Like most Ethiopians, he is keen to look at history from the national tradition, and at the same time is anxious about whether Ethiopia will be torn apart by the nationalist forces of different ethnic groups.

We quickly crossed the road and passed under the light rail system constructed by Chinese-funded enterprises. This light rail can also be regarded as the result of the rapid economic development of Ethiopia, and it is a symbol of the emulation of China’s economic development route during the time when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Tiren Front) was in power.

What this man said to me reflected the ideas that prevailed in the hearts of many Ethiopians at the time: on the one hand, he was excited about the loose policy of the new Prime Minister Abiy after he came to power, but he also saw the political forces of various ethnic groups clashing. feeling anxious.

At the end of 2020, fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s Tigray area. Although the government forces quickly suppressed Tigray’s resistance and declared victory in less than a month, the Ethiopian society’s expectation for peace is indeed here. The flames of war have shattered, the idealistic atmosphere in the early days of Abiy’s coming to power has disappeared, and all political forces are now facing a new era.

For the “Temporary Front” opposed to Abbey, it is like falling into the abyss. Political leader Debretzion is now following the guerrillas to retreat and flee, and the Abbey government is offering a reward of $250,000 to capture him. Residents in the Tigray area have always had a high degree of support for the Tiren Front. Although Tiren Front has failed, there is a high probability that the conflict with the central government will not disappear, and friction will continue to occur.

For many politicians who supported Abi’s ascent as prime minister in 2018, the reality is also bitter. For example, the governor of Oromo, Rema, who had a high reputation but took the initiative to give Abi to Abi, and the political commentator Jawar, all expected Abi to establish a peaceful order according to their expectations. Unexpectedly, they have now become Abi’s thorns. .

In Abi’s view, he probably thinks that the various forces are sinister, and ungrounded scholars say that reconciliation is too idealistic. He has driven the Tigray forces that have dominated the regime for many years to the edge. The oppressed Oromo and Amharic tribes don’t need to worry anymore. Then, merge all the political parties of all ethnic groups in the past and use a new ruling party. The party represents the new spirit of coexistence and common prosperity of all ethnic groups, and he is in charge of creating a new unity order.

Whether it was when the Gray party first took power 30 years ago, or when Aby took power to replace the Tigray government in 2018, people all looked forward to the arrival of equality and co-governance among all ethnic groups on the Cross Square. But helplessness was counterproductive. The reconciliation route is still difficult to overcome conflict and suspicion.

Abi’s iron fist may be able to suppress the conflict, but long-term stability requires efforts to eliminate hatred. How will he manage Tigray next? This will have a bearing on Ethiopia’s future prospects.