What you need to know:
Following the recent Tigray War, the Ethiopian government moved to disarm a number of the countries’ local security forces. This has resulted in instability across the country, but most notably in Amhara–the countries’ second most populous region. The Ethiopian government tried to disarm the militia in question, Fano, last year, and in April and August this year. However, the Prime Minister’s office has stated that “The threat the activity is imposing on national security and public peace is increasing day by day”, and further implies Fano is an ‘armed extremist group’. The regional government of Amhara requested help from the federal government of Ethiopia on Thursday to re-establish order, reports Reuters.
The recent conflict between Fano and the (Ethiopian National Defence Force) ENDF comes in the wider context of the ‘War on Amhara’. It is noteworthy that regional militias have been common in Ethiopia and at times allied to the ENDF. Fano for example supported the Ethiopian government in the Tigray War, and had a longstanding opposition to the TPLF. Fano had the intention of securing a number of additional regions to be added to Amhara following the Tigray War, including: Welkait, Raya, Dera, and the Metekel Zone. However, following the peace agreement in November 2022 no land changed hands–marking a shift in the relationship between Fano and the ENDF.
In the attempt to disarm the group, there have been clashes between Fano and the ENDF. In May 2022, it came hand in hand with local protests and a reported 4500 arrests across the region–this move was disparaged by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has a long-standing policy of disarming regional militias in an aim to create a unified national army, although he has encountered numerous difficulties in achieving this goal. Stark public resistance has come in the forms of both protest and conflict. On Wednesday, the ENDF and Fano clashed again in Kobo and Debre Tabor as the ENDF tried to force them out of these towns. Today, Abiy Ahmed has stated “It was found necessary to declare a state of emergency as it had become difficult to control this outrageous activity based on the regular legal system”.