Addis summit raises questions about AU’s muted stance on Ethiopia rifts

From Thursday, African leaders will gather in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, home of the African Union (AU), for the continental body’s annual summit. According to AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, regional integration and “maintaining momentum in addressing issues of peace and security” is high on the agenda.

But in an ironic twist, the host of the summit has either initiated or been involved in multiple conflicts in the last three years. Ethiopia’s two-year civil war with the state of Tigray may have ended in November 2022 after a Pretoria pact, but federal troops are currently upping drone strikes against rebels known as Fano militia in the state of Amhara, next door to Tigray. This week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council said “at least 45 civilians” had been killed by federal troops in Amhara.

Within the Horn of Africa, Addis Ababa’s relations with neighbouring Mogadishu are frosty after Abiy Ahmed’s government announced a port deal this January with the autonomous region of Somaliland in return for recognition of its statehood – a development that has immensely angered Somalia.

Last month, Mahamat addressed a presummit session of the AU’s Permanent Representative’s Committee, stressing the importance of continent-wide solidarity and unity, citing conflicts in Sudan and Chad. He also called for a humanitarian ceasefire to end the war in Gaza.

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