The Ethiopian Reconciliation Commission, established Ethiopia’s parliament on December 25, 2018, was dissolved on March 1.
Established with the goal of “promoting dialogue to maintain peace, justice, and national unity, and fostering consensus and reconciliation among the peoples of Ethiopia,” the Commission was ordered on March 1 by the government to transfer its unused budget to the newly established National Reconciliation Commission, formed on December 29, 2021.
The Ethiopian Reconciliation Commission had been formed in order to identify the causes of the crises and conflicts that have affected the country over the most recent years, facilitating the identification of the victims of these crises and outlining tools to foster peaceful coexistence among the peoples of Ethiopia.
After more than three years of work, however, the government has deemed insufficient the work of the Commission, without any tangible result, and decided to dissolve it, establishing in its place the new National Reconciliation Commission.
The handover between the two commissions was greatly accelerated by the conflict in Tigray, and the need to broaden and adapt objectives to the new dimension of stability in the country.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also intervened on this issue. On March 3, he held a press conference to explain the government’s point of view on the state of national security and the conflict in the north of the country, still characterized by tensions and violence along the border between the regional states of Tigray and Afar.
According to Abiy Ahmed the continuing conflict has had devastating consequences on society and the economy, calling on all parties involved to exercise the utmost caution not to exacerbate a situation already extremely complex and delicate.
The Prime Minister’s speech was delivered the day after the UN General Assembly vote to condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine, where Ethiopia decided to abstain from the vote by having its diplomatic staff deserting the hall.
Abiy Ahmed made no mention of the vote at the UN, nor of Ethiopia’s position on the merits of the issue related to Russian aggression against Ukraine, merely expressing concern over the evolution of what he generically referred to as the “rhetoric of escalation.”
In this way, it fully emerged how the international debate on the Ukrainian crisis has determined a visible embarrassment in the management of the national narrative on the conflict with Tigray, determining the need to assume a posture at the UN that could send a concomitant message in the direction of both Russia and the United States. A position, however, that did not spare the country any criticism, as well as Eritrea, which was among the only five countries in the world to vote against the resolution.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s speech often made generic references potentially referring to both the internal conflict and the Ukrainian one, recalling the need for dialogue and moderation.
Only at the end of his speech, the Prime Minister openly mentioned the conflict unleashed by Russia in Ukraine claiming that Ethiopia follows with attention the evolution of the crisis, inviting the parties to “explore the many possible paths to reach a solution”.
Not a condemnation of the Russian attack, therefore, but at the same time not even a strong support to Moscow’s action, through the use of a generic narrative formula largely focused on the need for dialogue and the search for a solution.
The Prime Minister’s speech, characterized by conciliatory tones and frequent references to the internal crisis and its dramatic consequences, has been interpreted by many as a sign of improvement in the process of national reconciliation and in the underground dialogue that many believe is underway between the government and the TPLF in the search for a solution to the very serious political and military crisis.
A positive development is instead reported in the border crisis between Ethiopia and Sudan for the issue related to the control of the al-Fashaga area, object of clashes and threats between the two countries during the last months, and the one related to the implementation of the GERD dam.
Regarding the issue of the al-Fashaga area, although the meetings are covered by the utmost discretion, it would seem that Ethiopia has agreed to recognize the Sudanese territorial sovereignty over the area, while Sudan would have allowed Ethiopian farmers to continue most of their activities, paying tributes to both the Sudanese and Ethiopian exchequers.
Equally positive, at least in appearance, is the dialogue regarding the issue of the GERD dam. Although Sudan continues to maintain a moderately critical stance towards Ethiopia, thus complying with Egypt’s requests, Khartoum and Addis Ababa seem to have reached an agreement both on the supply of electricity and on the regulation of water flows during the rainy season, when Southern Sudan is usually affected by devastating floods.