Home Africa Ethiopia’s Amhara Reject Plan To Resettle Ethnic Tigrayans In Captured Territories

Ethiopia’s Amhara Reject Plan To Resettle Ethnic Tigrayans In Captured Territories

Ethiopia's Amhara

Leaders of a militia in Ethiopia’s Amhara region accused the administration in neighbouring Tigray of “beating a war drum” over plans to return hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans to territories Amhara fighters captured during a civil war.

The future of the disputed territories in northern Ethiopia has remained a flashpoint since the end of a 2020-2022 civil war, in which Ethiopia’s Amhara militiamen fought alongside the federal government against Tigrayan rebels.

Hundreds of thousands were killed in the war. Some of the worst violence was in the two territories, which constitute the southern and western parts of Tigray under the federal constitution. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans fled, and Amhara fighters set up their own governing administration.

The vice president of Tigray’s interim administration, General Tadesse Worede, said on Wednesday that Tigrayan officials had agreed with the federal government to finalise plans for the return of displaced people – by June 7 for one area and July 7 for the other.

Combatants in the area will be disarmed and new local governing administrations created, Tadesse said. The federal defence minister has previously pledged to dissolve “illegal administration” in these areas.

A federal government spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about Tadesse’s remarks.

Amhara nationalists say they have a historical right to the land, and leaders of an Amhara militia known as Fano described Tadesse’s comments as provocation.

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“They are beating a war drum. We won’t tolerate anyone who would try to impose force and invade,” Beyene Alamaw, a representative of Fano’s branch in the Gondar area, told an online media briefing late on Thursday.

Leaders from three of Fano’s four main branches were represented at the briefing.

Last month, in the most significant violence since the end of the war, clashes erupted between armed Amharas and Tigrayans in one of the disputed areas, forcing around 50,000 people to flee, according to the United Nations.

Despite being allies during the Tigray war, Fano militiamen have been battling the army since last July across Amhara.

The conflict has been fuelled in part by a sense of betrayal among many Amharas about the terms of the November 2022 peace deal between the federal government and Tigrayan leaders, which did not settle the status of the disputed areas.

The federal government has pledged to hold a referendum on whether the areas will belong to Tigray or Amhara, a position rejected by Fano.