Amidst days of intense fighting in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, a senior Ethiopian official has accused militiamen of attempting to overthrow both the regional and federal governments. The escalating clashes between Fano militiamen and the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) have led to a state of emergency being declared.
Ethiopia accuses militia of trying to overthrow government
Gondar, Amhara’s second-largest city, witnessed continuous clashes over the weekend, with heavy weapons fire resonating into Monday morning. The severity of this conflict has quickly escalated, marking Ethiopia’s most serious security crisis since the conclusion of the two-year civil war in the neighboring Tigray region in November.
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Temesgen Tiruneh, director general of Ethiopia’s national intelligence service and the appointed overseer of the state of emergency, acknowledged that the militia fighters had gained control over some towns and districts. He publicly stated that their ultimate goal is to forcefully overthrow the regional government and then target the federal system itself. These remarks were broadcasted late on Sunday by state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting.
In response to the escalating situation, the state of emergency declaration grants the security services broad powers, including the imposition of curfews, restricting movement, banning the carrying of weapons and sharp objects, prohibiting public gatherings, and conducting arrests and searches without warrants.
As the authorities try to contain the unrest, government spokesperson Legesse Tulu confirmed that arrests of those behind the turmoil have already begun.
Fano, a part-time militia, previously allied with the ENDF during the Tigray war, has seen its relationship with the national defense force sour in recent times. One contributing factor to this deterioration was the federal government’s efforts to weaken regional paramilitary groups. Activists have voiced concerns that this has left Amhara vulnerable to attacks from neighboring regions.
The situation in Amhara has been volatile since April when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the disbandment of security forces from all 11 regions of Ethiopia, integrating them into the police or national army. This decision sparked violent protests across Amhara, with demonstrators accusing the government of undermining the region’s security. The government, however, refuted these claims, asserting that the move was necessary to ensure national unity.
As the clashes continue and tensions remain high, Ethiopian authorities are grappling with a complex security crisis that threatens the stability of the region and the nation as a whole. The state of emergency, with its sweeping powers, underscores the gravity of the situation and the determination of the government to restore order and preserve the integrity of the country’s governance. The outcome of these conflicts will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for Ethiopia’s future.