Why did only Amhara elites oppose the Pretoria peace agreement?

Mekelle፡28 February 2023(Tigray Herald)

Writen by Zemenay Bahta

Now that the implementation process of the Pretoria agreement is slowly but surely gaining momentum, it has become abundantly clear who are furiously opposed to the prospect of peace in Tigray and Ethiopia at large. To date, we have not heard any opposition to the agreement or its implementation from other regions except from the Amhara region, as can be evidenced from the stand-off between the Amhara PP cadres and the other PP branches. Not surprisingly, media outlets that are sympathetic to their cause are openly calling for the Amhara PP to be brave enough and dissociate themselves from the PP altogether. Others are even suggesting that the Amhara people have to take up arms and fight the federal government with the help of, who else, the Eritrean dictator. But what is behind such a fierce opposition to peace, even as some of the opponents sometimes say that they are not opposed to peace in principle?

Two reasons explain the opposition to peace: (1) Most of the Amhara elites had hoped that the war would not end without ensuring that the TPLF is no more and, by extension, ensuring that the people of Tigray are left with no voice in the political affairs of their region and the greater Ethiopia; and (2) Closely related with such a cruel calculation is, of course, the prospect of Wolkayit and Raya returning to Tigray. As a matter of fact, this issue is the driving force behind the opposition to the Pretoria agreement and Amhara elites’ shameful marriage of convenience with the Eritrean dictator.

So, considering such a fierce opposition from the Amhara elites, is it fair to say that the implementation of the Pretoria agreement is in jeopardy? I would answer the question in the negative. Here is why: (1) While the opponents are the most vocal, the reality of the peace agreement appears to have been embraced by most Ethiopians; there is little talk of going back to war in other regions, or indeed in the capital, Addis Ababa, and in Tigray, including in Mekelle. As such, anecdotal evidence indicates that there is a broader support for the Pretoria agreement (Don’t get me wrong, there are a few here and there who oppose the agreement, but I believe they are in the minority); and (2) Given the fact that the international community, particularly those with leverage over Ethiopia, are fully behind the agreement, it is hardly likely that either party will revert or indeed afford to go back to war at this point. The train has already left the station. Therefore, I would argue that any effort to frustrate the agreement is bound to fail.

That said, though, it would be naive to discount the danger of the opposition to the agreement altogether. Although I still hope that the Amhara officials or their supporters will come back to their senses, read the writing on the wall, and work to address their concerns through dialogue, some diehard elements among them may resort to force. That is the last thing Ethiopia needs or deserves after a two-year devastating war that has claimed the lives of a million citizens and devastated the Ethiopian economy.

In this regard, I’ve the following unsolicited advice to the federal government: (1) Expedite the implementation of the agreement in terms of humanitarian assistance, access to basic services, and political negotiations; (2) Deal with the Eritrean regime in a transparent manner. Why are Eritrean troops still in Tigray and even other parts of Ethiopia, including Oromia? Unless the federal government deals with Eritrea at the earliest time possible, there will always be a risk to peace and stability in Ethiopia; (3) Deal with the war in Oromia head-on with a decision to engage the OLA in a peaceful dialogue; and (4) Work with Amhara politicians in addressing their concerns; there is nothing that cannot be resolved if there is the will to do so. The use of force, however, is always counter-productive.

Peace to Tigray, Oromia, Amhara, and indeed all of Ethiopia!!!

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