In the grand theater of Ethiopian politics, there are several moments when the script reads like a comedy of errors rather than a tale of triumph.

On November 2, 2022, a “peace deal” was signed between the delusional dictator Abiy Ahmed’s regime and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a feisty rebel group from the northern region of Tigray, stirred the pot with their own ambitions. From the moment the ink dried on that ill-fated day, it was clear that this so-called peace deal was no Shakespearean masterpiece but rather a tragicomedy in the making.

Now, why did the Pretoria peace deal fail? Well, picture this: you’re trying to fix a leaky boat, but instead of patching up the holes, you hand out buckets to bail out the water. That’s essentially what happened here.

Picture it: Pretoria, South Africa, the stage set for what was supposed to be a grand reconciliation between Abiy Ahmed’s regime and the TPLF. The scene was ripe with anticipation; hopes were high, and the world watched with bated breath. But alas, all was not to be as rosy as it seemed. The Pretoria peace deal, like a fragile vase teetering on the edge of a table, quickly shattered into a thousand irreparable pieces. But why, you ask? Oh, let’s unravel three issues no one wants to talk about!

Trust Troubles in Abiy Ahmed Vs. TPLF Tango

Since 2018, in the politically charged land of Ethiopia, there has been a political whirlwind blowing stronger than a herd of stampeding wildebeests. In this whirlwind danced two main characters: Abiy Ahmed, a crafty politician with a secret agenda tucked under his hat, and the TPLF, a power-hungry bunch whose popularity was about as low as a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.

In 2018, when Abiy came to power, like a wily fox, he was ready to tap into any opportunity amidst the national chaos. He had a smile that could charm the birds out of the trees and a hidden agenda that even the cleverest fox would envy. Little did the world know, Abiy had a secret agenda bubbling beneath his charming. With every twist and turn of his political dance, he painted himself as the hero riding in to save the day, a shining knight in a land of darkness. But behind the scenes, Abiy played the game like a seasoned chess master. With each move, he edged closer to his ultimate goal of solidifying power, all the while keeping his true intentions hidden behind a mask of charm and duplicity. 

Between 2018 and 2020, he ran the show left and right, taking away some of TPLF’s power and influence. The TPLF, once the ruling party in Ethiopia, felt sidelined and marginalized by Abiy’s rapid moves. Suspicion hung in the air like a thick fog, with the TPLF viewing Abiy’s overtures with skepticism if not outright hostility. And can you blame them? After years of wielding power, being relegated to the sidelines must have felt like a bitter pill to swallow. 

Now, fast forward to the Pretoria peace deal. Think about this: a glimmer of hope on the horizon, a chance for reconciliation, a chance to put all that bad blood behind them and move forward. But alas, the mistrust looms like a dark cloud over the peace-building process. The Pretoria peace deal started to stumble and stagger, thwarted by the absence of trust between Abiy and the TPLF. Like star-crossed lovers doomed to repeat the same mistakes, they danced around the issues, never quite finding common ground. 

From the moment the ink dried on the agreement, suspicion hung in the air like a thick fog. The TPLF, ever wary of relinquishing their grip on power, viewed every move by Abiy’s government with skepticism. Meanwhile, Abiy, no stranger to political maneuvering himself, saw the TPLF as a continued threat to his delusional vision of becoming the unchanged 7th king of Ethiopia. The lack of trust between these two factions was palpable, casting a shadow over every aspect of the Pretoria peace deal’s implementation. Instead of working together towards a common goal, they engaged in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, each trying to outmaneuver the other at every turn.

But it wasn’t just the mistrust that doomed the Pretoria peace deal from the start. Both sides were guilty of playing dirty tricks and engaging in underhanded tactics to undermine the deal. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, it became obviously clear that the Pretoria peace deal was nothing more than a fleeting dream, shattered by the harsh reality of political intrigue and personal ambition. 

The Battle for Power and the Fall of the Pretoria Peace Deal

Since 2018, both Abiy and TPLF wanted their slice of the power pie, and they weren’t about to share. Abiy Ahmed saw the TPLF as a thorn in his side, while the TPLF saw itself as the rightful heir to the throne. Cue the power struggles, the backstabbing, and the political maneuvering worthy of a Shakespearean drama unfolded.

Since 2018, the TPLF, with their insatiable thirst for power, and Abiy Ahmed, with his mysterious allure, were locked in a battle for supremacy. This tale of political intrigue and Machiavellian maneuvering between the two has been like watching two rival wizards duel, each trying to outwit the other with their spells of manipulation and cunning. As the TPLF and Abiy Ahmed danced their dangerous dance of power, tensions escalated, and the stage was set for one of the bloodiest wars in Ethiopian history. When the pot finally boiled over, it erupted into a full-fledged war, engulfing Northern Ethiopia (Amhara, Tigray, and Afar) in a maelstrom of violence and chaos.

This so-called Pretoria peace deal was supposed to end that bloody war and bring harmony and stability to Ethiopia. However, as fate would have it, the nefarious schemes of the TPLF and the malicious tactics of Abiy Ahmed cast a shadow over the implementation of the peace deal since day one. For instance, One crucial aspect of the Pretoria peace deal was the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) process. This was meant to disarm TPLF combatants, demobilize them, and reintegrate them into society. But alas, the power struggle between the TPLF and Abiy Ahmed made implementing DDR a Herculean task. Each side sought to control the process, using it as a bargaining chip in their quest for power. The TPLF, with their guns blazing and their revolutionary fervor at its peak, isn’t exactly thrilled about the idea of giving up their weapons and joining the peace party. They saw DDR as a threat to their power, their influence, and their very way of life. It’s like asking a lion to give up its roar – not gonna happen without a fight!

Imagine you’re the TPLF, sitting pretty with your arsenal of guns and a tight grip on the region of Tigray. Along comes DDR, waving its peace flag and telling your soldiers to hang up their rifles. Suddenly, you’re faced with the prospect of losing control and being sidelined in the political game. Cue the panic! With DDR looming like a dark cloud over their power base, the TPLF wasn’t about to let the Pretoria peace deal steal their thunder. They dug in their heels, throwing shade at anyone who dared to suggest disarming their troops. As a result, the implementation of the peace deal hit more roadblocks than rush hour traffic.

Who knew DDR could cause such a stir? But hey, that’s Ethiopia for you – where every move is a chess piece on the board of history, and the stakes are higher than the altitude in the Simien Mountains.

The Missing Piece: Amharas and the Pretoria Peace Puzzle

We’re diving deep into the murky waters of the Pretoria Peace Deal between Abiy and the TPLF, where the exclusion of Amharas turned what could have been a smooth voyage into a Titanic-sized disaster. Consider the TPLF, once the big cheese in Ethiopian politics, finding itself at odds with Abiy Ahmed like two stubborn goats on a narrow cliffside trail. Then came the Pretoria peace talks, a glimmer of hope in the fog of war. But, alas, like a movie with a missing reel, something crucial was absent: the Amharas.

Now, you might wonder why the exclusion of Amharas is such a grievous mistake. Well, Amharas aren’t just any old bunch. They’re like the spices in Ethiopia’s national stew, adding flavor, depth, and texture to the social fabric. The Amharas, like it or not, are a major player in Ethiopia’s political theater. By leaving the Amharas out, it’s like trying to stage “Hamlet” without Hamlet himself. Adding insult to injury, the Amharas were not mere bystanders in this tale of political turmoil. They were the primary victims of the war, the ones whose homes were ravaged, whose livelihoods were upturned, like ships lost at sea in the midst of a tempest. By excluding the Amharas from the peace talks, the Pretoria deal overlooked their suffering, their pain, and their very existence. This exclusion not only stung like a swarm of angry bees but also threatened to undermine the very foundation of the peace process.

You might be wondering why the Amharas are always caught in the crossfire. Since 1991, when the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) swept into power, Amharas were sidelined. To this day, the Amharas do not have any true political representatives. For over three decades, the Amharas have been feeling like the last slice of pizza at a party – always left out and getting colder by the minute.

Fast forward to the Pretoria peace deal between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Abiy Ahmed in 2018. Now, Abiy’s the new kid on the block, promising peace, unity, and maybe even a little bit of that elusive harmony. But hold your horses! Behind the scenes, the Amharas are feeling more neglected than a forgotten sock under the bed. Facts!

  1. Land Disputes: It all started back in 1991 when TPLF swooped in like a hawk, snatching up the ancestral Amhara territories of Wekiat and Raya faster than you could say “land grab.” For centuries, these lands were inhabited by the Amharas, who were none too pleased about being given the old heave-ho by the TPLF. Fast forward to the present day. The Amharas, ever resilient, have reclaimed Welkait and Raya as rightfully theirs. But, the TPLF still yearns to reclaim those lands. In the end, the saga of Wekiat, Raya, and the Pretoria peace deal serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us all that when it comes to politics and land disputes, you can’t just sweep the grievances of entire Amharas under the rug and expect everything to be hunky-dory.
  1. Political Marginalization: Despite being one of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, since 1991, the Amharas have been excluded from positions of power and influence. For decades, political parties have historically catered to other ethnic groups, leaving the Amharas feeling sidelined and disenfranchised. The Amharas, no strangers to the bitter taste of betrayal, found themselves once again sidelined in the game of national reconciliation. It’s like inviting everyone to a potluck but telling the Amharas to bring their own table. Ouch. The ripple effects of excluding the Amharas didn’t stop at the negotiating table in Pretoria. Back home, it fueled distrust and resentment and more than a few raised eyebrows. 
  1. Violence and Discrimination: Amharas have faced targeted violence and discrimination, both at the hands of the government and other ethno-fascist groups. From arbitrary arrests to ethnic cleansing campaigns, the Amharas have borne the brunt of Ethiopia’s ethnic tensions.

So, when the Pretoria peace deal was brokered without considering the interests of the Amhara people, it was doomed from the get-go. Without the Amharas involvement, any peace deal would lack legitimacy and fail to address the root causes of the conflict. Without the buy-in and support of the Amharas, the Pretoria Peace Deal was about as sturdy as a house of cards in a hurricane. The exclusion bred resentment, distrust, and a sense of betrayal among the very people whose support was crucial for any hope of lasting peace.

In the end, the Pretoria Peace Party turned out to be a real pooper. Its failure to include the Amharas from the get-go doomed it to a watery grave, sinking hopes of stability and reconciliation in Ethiopia’s troubled waters. So, let this be a lesson to all would-be peacemakers: when charting a course for peace, make sure to bring everyone along for the journey. After all, a ship is only as strong as its crew, and a peace deal is only as durable as its inclusivity. Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of inclusivity!

By Sisay Amoraw

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