Peace and war in Abiy’s Ethiopia

(Reuters) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government on Friday declared a state of emergency in response to days of clashes in the Amhara region between the military and local Fano militiamen.

It is the latest unrest to hit Ethiopia since Abiy took power in 2018 pledging to open up one of Africa’s most restrictive political and economic systems.

The following is a timeline of events over those five years:

April 2018 – Abiy takes over as prime minister and quickly wins praise at home and abroad for releasing political prisoners and promising to liberalise the economy.

July 2018 – Ethiopia and Eritrea, which fought a border war from 1998 to 2000, end two decades of formal hostilities by signing a peace deal.

August 2018 – Ethiopia’s government signs a peace agreement with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which had since the 1970s fought for self-determination for Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromiya.

June 2019 – The federal government foils a coup attempt by a rogue state-backed militia against Amhara’s regional administration. Dozens are killed in the fighting.

October 2019 – Abiy is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his peacemaking efforts with Eritrea.

June and July 2020 – Dozens of people are killed during violent protests that erupt in the capital Addis Ababa and Oromiya following the killing of a popular singer.

November 2020 – War breaks out in the northern region of Tigray after fighters loyal to the ruling party there attack military bases in what they call a pre-emptive strike.

April 2021 – Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups – the Oromo and Amhara – clash in Amhara, with officials estimating a death toll of up to 200.

June 2022 – In one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in Ethiopia for years, gunmen in Oromiya kill about 340 civilians. Residents said the victims were ethnic Amharas, while the prime minister’s spokeswoman said they included ethnic Oromos, Amharas and Gumuz.

November 2022 – The federal government and Tigray regional forces agree to cease hostilities after a two-year war that killed thousands, displaced millions and left hundreds of thousands facing famine.

April 2023 – The federal government orders the integratation of all regional security forces either into the national army or the police, sparking a week of violent protests in Amhara.

August 2023 – Fighting breaks out between the military and local Fano militiamen in Amhara, quickly becoming Ethiopia’s most serious security crisis since the end of the Tigray war.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Aaron Ross and Angus MacSwan)