The leaders of both Ethiopia and Eritrea conducted an historic meeting on Sunday September 16, 2018. During the summit in Saudi Arabia, both leaders signed a peace agreement, effectively ending the 20-year war between them. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki were hosted by Saudi King Salman in Jeddah. The event was held in the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed has called on political parties in the Oromia region to unite in order to safeguard ongoing reforms in light of the region’s recent struggles. Abiy, who is an ethnic Oromo, was speaking at the delegates conference of the Oromo People Development Organisation party (OPDO), which he heads and represents in the ruling coalition. He urged Ethiopians and Oromo’s to unite and defeat those that wanted to undermine peace and stability and pit opposition forces against each other. Lemma Megersa, Oromia’s regional president and vice chairperson of OPDO has said that the region will take full responsibility to rehabilitate victims of the recent ethnic attacks in his region.
In light of recent ethnic clashes, the United States’ embassy has closed its embassy in Addis Abeba for one day due to security reasons. The embassy subsequently announced a cancellation of all services and appointments asking the public to reschedule their appointments via the website.
On Monday, September 17, at least 23 people were killed in ethnic Oromo heartland near Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. The violence targeted ethnic minorities. The violence escalated on Saturday, the day of a rally marking the return to Ethiopia of leaders of the exiled Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which had waged a four-decade insurgency for self-determination for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. Mobs of Oromo youth (Qero) marched into Asha Meda and attacked homes and looted businesses, chanting ‘leave our land’. The violence threatens to weaken reformist Abiy’s efforts at reconciliation. Abiy, the first Oromo leader in the ethnically diverse country’s modern history, has pursued a reconciliation strategy since taking power in April, steering the state away from a hardline security policy in place for decades. Ethnic tensions have resurfaced in the aftermath of recent clashes, and Abiy’s response hereto will be paramount to his efforts to win the 2020 elections. Ethiopians have criticized the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on his response to the unrest. People are calling on him on social media to reinforce law and order and some are calling for a state of emergency to be put in place to avoid more deaths.
Ethiopia’s internal security lapses coupled with floods in parts of the country have earned them the unenviable record of global leader in internally displaced persons. According to the Geneva-based group, Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, IDMC, Ethiopia currently had about 1.4 million internally displaced persons for the first half of this year.