In Ethiopia, the release on March 12 of a video in which armed men set fire to at least three living civilians, most likely in the province of Guba, in the region of Benishangul-Gumuz, caused consternation. The video captures several individuals in the crowd wearing federal army and regional Amhara uniforms, leading to a major embarrassment for the government in Addis Ababa.
The federal government has not provided details about the precise date of the episode and the possible identification of the victims and criminals, while on the contrary the Tigray government claims that the victims are ethnic Tigrayans and their executioners part of the Amhara militia. The news, however, has not yet found official confirmation and comes a few days after the mutual accusations launched by the federal government against the Tigrayan TPLF, accused by Addis Ababa to continue to hit the cities of Amhara with artillery and conduct violence against the civilian populations of the areas under its control.
The increase in ethnic violence represents a serious threat to the stability of the country, and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed wanted to use the organization of the first congress of the Prosperity Party as an opportunity to promote the process of national reconciliation.
The congress was inaugurated on March 11 in Addis Ababa under the title of “From Challenges to Growth,” bringing together party delegates and regional delegations for three days, with the intention of discussing the country’s main problems.
The issue of security was clearly predominant in the party’s work, although the fight against corruption also represented a central element of the debate, in an attempt to attribute to the political group the role and the merit of having launched a concrete campaign to eradicate the widespread system of corruption especially within the public administration.
The first congress of the Prosperity Party also served to legitimize the role of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the helm of the same, after an initial constituent phase in which his role as founder had determined a de facto leadership awaiting ratification. The congress also elected Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and Party Director Adnan Farah as vice-presidents.
Another topic of particular relevance dealt with during the congress was the economy and the strategies for recovery undertaken by the government in the recent past. Of particular interest was the announcement of an imminent trade reform decided by the Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign, which provides for the entry of foreign companies into the local market.
The decision was taken as a result of the constant increase in the inflation rate, to combat which the government intends to adopt a number of measures, including monetary ones.
It became clear during the work of the congress, however, that the essential condition for Ethiopia’s economic recovery is closely related to the end of the conflict in Tigray, which has drained enormous amounts of money and caused incalculable damage to the public economy.
Stability in the north of the country, despite a significant decrease in the intensity of fighting, however, presents numerous unknowns on the political level. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed continues to publicly argue that a process of national reconciliation is not possible with Tigray’s ruling party TPLF, officially still recognized as a terrorist organization by the federal government. At the same time, however, there are persistent rumors of a closed doors dialogue between the government and Tigray, aimed at determining the parameters for an effective and lasting ceasefire and for the identification of a road map capable of offering a real peace process and the start of a direct dialogue between the parties.
These are not easy options for the Prime Minister, pressured by the Amharas and Afars for a greater involvement in the fight against the TPLF, while the Tigrinya occupation of a part of the Afar territory continues, the Amhara occupation of a significant part of western Tigray and the Eritreans occupation of the northern border of Tigray, in a mosaic of crises that can hardly see a solution without the action of an external mediation.