The ongoing Tigray conflict in Ethiopia has been described by observers as a taste of déjà vu and an impending balkanization, given the dimension the war has taken in the past year, especially in recent months.
The greatest fear, however, is that the actions of the two warring parties – the Ethiopian federal authority and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – are fast tilting the country towards another anarchical state that could make today’s Libya a child’s play.
Ethiopia’s deep sense of independence and freedom as the only uncolonized country in the continent, coupled with its recent developmental strides and political reforms, makes it Africa’s pride.
Many countries in the horn of Africa and continent-wide look up to it for leadership. Its highly ambitious developmental measures have also been cited as a model worth emulating by other countries.
Unfortunately, the downsides of the war have battered the country’s economy and derailed its developmental movements, as it now suffers some of the greatest humanitarian tolls, including famine.
Reports say thousands, including children, have died, tens of thousands have fled the country, millions are internally displaced, and over 400,000 in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Like Ethiopia, Libya was for many years one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa and regarded among Africa’s richest countries until the 2011 uprising that led to a civil war and international military intervention. Today, the once oil-rich prosperous North African country is now a shadow of itself, a socioeconomic retarded state, and a den of human trafficking and modern slavery.
Recently, as the TPLF rebel forces and their allies closed in on the capital, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed travelled to the frontline and vowed to lead Ethiopian troops into battle himself. “We won’t give in until we bury the enemy,” he boasted.
In its response, a spokesperson of TPLF claimed Abiy’s leadership “chokehold on our people” and vowed to continue the rebels’ “inexorable advance.”
The ego-driven adamance from both parties explains why the conflict is biting so hard on Africa’s second-most populous country.
The good news, however, is that there is still time for the Ethiopian federal government and TPLF leadership to prioritize peace above ego and avert the impending Libya-like deep turmoil.
*Olusegun Akinfenwa writes for Immigration Advice Service, a law firm based in the United Kingdom and offering immigration services globally.