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Dr. David Matsanga.

Fifth Estate

Dr. Matsanga on Ethiopia crisis: Mediation won’t work now, let’s focus on the aftermath

The bad mediation by AU peace mediator General Obasanjo has created more chaos than solutions because the Government of Ethiopia has no confidence in the mediation process.

It is therefore clear now that we start writing the post war records.

The rebel forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army are closing in on Ethiopia’s capital, an inevitable conundrum beckons in the Horn of Africa and the vast East African region. This is a tragedy of Africa.

If TPLF and OLA match on Addis Ababa anytime, Ethiopia will plunge into a rollercoaster of unending cycle of turmoil.

The ripple effect of the fall of Addis Ababa and break up of Ethiopia will be catastrophic and will be felt far and wide by its neighbors, this is a crisis in waiting.

Yesterday I talked to my friend who is in one of the rebel groups and I was shaken to the bones. With only 280 kilometers from the capital, and in light of their recent successes on the battlefield, the rebels may have little inclination to negotiate with the current hardline government that has also maintained that it won’t negotiate with “Terrorists”.

At this juncture, money should not be wasted on General Olusegun Obasanjo and Jeffrey Feltman led negotiations, they are barely flogging a dead horse.

Nothing is more likely to change the course of the conflict. In fact they are making the situation worse. It reminds me of Yugoslavian war and the siege of Sarajevo

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The time for negotiations seem to have long expired and whatever remains is the rebels goal of ousting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed,and the Prime Minister ousting the the rebels whether by force or through a negotiated settlement and installing a transitional government.

As this is happening, the USA has already prepared a transitional government in Washington that makes peace impossible. Why is the AU not seeing the double standards of the USA in Ethiopia’s tragedy?

I want to tell the world that I worked with the TPLF group in London in 1989 . I know how they operate. Those handling the conflict have to realize that TPLF is not just some scrappy insurgency.

It’s the same outfit that led a rebel coalition to victory during Ethiopia’s last civil war in 1991, ousting the totalitaria Derg regime, led by Mengistu Haile Mariam.

The world therefore, must remember that whether or not the TPLF or OLA succeed in toppling Abiy, it’s clear that they have gained enough leverage on the battlefield to ensure they play a significant role in Ethiopia’s political future.

It is now clear that we could have a replica scenario of the prolonged South Sudan and the Sahel conflicts in West Africa. Therefore, it would only be wise to focus on handling the aftermath than the current conflict which has little prospects.

I want to tell the AU that the structure of the rebel alliance of groups fighting alongside TPLF and OLA might make it an uphill task to manage post-conflict reconstruction of Ethiopia. We must not miss that out.

Kenya and other neighbours of Ethiopia must anticipate early enough that this alliance is at greater risk of splintering, because its members do not necessarily share the same vision for the Ethiopian state. In fact, it’s based on these deep rooted differences that Abiy Ahmed came to being as a compromise.

Therefore, let us not only focus on the impending battle in Addis Ababa. It will make all the more important to prioritize processes that can contain future confrontations, including between rebel groups that are currently allies in the war. In addition to the careful management of the demobilization process.

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I write today to be on record. The bottom line is that the Ethiopian conflict needs to be managed carefully to ensure that the country doesn’t sink further and the impact spills over and proliferate to the borders of its neighbours.

AU must have and needs a foresight in solving the conflict based on history. The world should focus on how to manage the aftermath of the conflict, as opposed to engaging in acts of futility.

The double standards of USA are worrying me and millions of peace lovers. They have now issued a terror alert as a sign of weakness that made them leave Afghanistan hurriedly.

God bless Africa.

The author is a Political Scientist, International Conflict Resolution Expert and Chairman of Pan African Forum.

[Views expressed here are his]

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