The Pretoria Agreement: mere cessation of hostilities or heralding a new era in Ethiopia?

The runway at Axum Airport in northern Ethiopia was destroyed by retreating rebel combatants of the TPLF on Nov 23, 2020
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Original Publication on 25 Apr 2023


On 2 November 2022, welcome news came from Pretoria, South Africa. After 10 days of negotiations, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. This piece situates the importance of the war, and more importantly the agreement, within the longue durée of Ethiopian politics and highlights its importance as a turning point marking the end of the era of the dominance of the TPLF and the beginning of the end of ethno-nationalism’s hegemonic centrality to national politics, including at the expense of the Ethiopian state.

KEYWORDS: Ethiopia; Tigray People’sLiberation Front (TPLF); civil war; Cessation of Hostilities;Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF); Pretoria Agreement


On 2 November 2022, the eve of the second anniversary of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacks on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF), very welcome news came from Pretoria, South Africa. After 10 days of negotiations, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) and the TPLF signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) under the auspices of an African Union-led process (African Union Citation2022). The CoHA contributes to stopping the imminent advance of the ENDF to control Adigrat, Maichew and Mekelle, the largest remaining urban centres in the regional state, and the potential for the loss of more lives, destruction and more atrocities. It is a major success for the African Union in terms of realising its ‘silencing the guns’ agenda (African Union Citation2020) and giving meaning to the ‘African solutions to African problems’ principle (Ani Citation2019).

With the hope that the CoHA will be implemented without any major setbacks, this piece aims to elucidate the implications of ending the war in this way for the Ethiopian state and society. As Articles 1(2), 3(4), 7(c) and 9 perfectly illustrate, the agreement provides for a return of constitutional order in Tigray, reducing the war to being between the FDRE/ENDF and a rebel group (the TPLF) rather than the regional government of Tigray, allowing the return of federal authorities including the ENDF to their normal functions, and the disarmament of the hundreds of thousands of mobilised ‘Tigray Defence Forces’ (TDF). This ticks all the major demands of the FDRE, while the TPLF gets the chance to survive as an organised political group through its promised delisting as a terrorist organisation (Article 7(2c)). As such, the CoHA paves the way for federal forces to control Tigray through this agreement rather than through extreme force. Thus, it is primarily a win for the FDRE.

Based on these major takeaways from the CoHA, this piece situates the war, and more importantly the CoHA, within the longue durée of Ethiopian politics and highlights its importance as a turning point marking the end of the era of TPLF dominance and the beginning of the end of ethno-nationalism’s hegemonic centrality to national politics, including at the expense of the Ethiopian state itself. It primarily focuses on domestic and regional issues, although international actors had a significant role in the birthing of this new era marked by power consolidation around Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the ruling party, and Ethiopia’s foreign relations will also be recalibrated due to the emerging political priorities. By doing this, this piece contends that the agreement is not merely a marker of the TPLF’s eclipse, but the birth of a new epoch of redefining political discourse and practice comparable to the political and socio-economic transformations introduced in 1991. The advent of this new epoch is not a revolution, but a culmination of the political crisis that started with protests since 2014 and intensified with the reform of the post-2018 years and the severe deterioration of the TPLF’s domineering presence in security, political and economic spheres in the past two years. Based on the conduct of the war since 3 November 2020 on the ground and through propaganda warfare, as well as sustained lobbying among propaganda and diplomatic circles, the piece highlights four main indicators of the emergence of a new chapter in Ethiopia’s modern history.

National security and the survival of the state

The Ethiopian state has never been threatened in recent decades the way it is threatened by the war in the north. The state – as an idea, a territorial entity, and an amalgam of rules/institutions – has been on the brink for two years. Between 70% and 80% of the ENDF’s fighting capability – which was under the Northern Command – was either neutralised or dispersed, while a section also chose to fight on TPLF’s side (Dimtsi Woyane TV Citation2020). The ENDF was not only divided but also overstretched and poorly prepared for the type of existential threat that ensued. Therefore, coupled with the unprecedented external pressures and intermittent, yet persistent, violence in other parts of the country, some have predicted that Ethiopia’s collapse was a question of when, not if. Some even went on to discuss the imminent disassembling of Ethiopia and the possibility and/or impossibility of reassembling it with a new social contract (de Waal Citation2021).

Especially after the ENDF was routed and left Tigray in late June 2021 and when the TPLF forces unabatedly marched toward Addis Ababa in late 2021, it appeared to be a repeat of 1991.Footnote1 Many in the international community were certain that the government’s days were numbered and Ethiopia’s fate was in the hands of the TPLF, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA, with whom the TPLF formed a tactical alliance), and a motley assortment of diaspora-based ethno-nationalist movements (CNN Citation2021; New York Times Citation2021). Discussions about, or recommendations for, the establishment of a transitional government started surfacing. Therefore, it appeared that there was little left of Ethiopia’s internal and external sovereignty and territorial control until the federal government pushed the TPLF forces back to the borders between Amhara, Afar, and Tigray regions, and ordered the ENDF not to cross into Tigray in late December 2021. This was followed by a ‘humanitarian truce’ that lasted until the latest round of hostilities began around 24 August 2022 (US Department of State Citation2022).

The latest round of fighting – the third since 3 November 2020 – however, saw a reversal of not only the narrative of TPLF invincibility on the battlefield, but also Ethiopia’s imminent collapse. Without the feared repeat of atrocities and human rights violations, the ENDF and its allies managed to capture all the major cities except Mekelle, Adigrat and Maichew. Thus, if the 2022 CoHA and its provisions prove anything, it is the asymmetry in the balance of power on the ground and the resurgence of the state. What many critiques of the CoHA missed is the fact that the TPLF would not have signed such an agreement had it not been for the resounding defeat it faced, especially on the western front (Tigray TV Citation2022).Footnote2 Issues of implementation aside, the CoHA has simply cemented the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ethiopian state as a legal and legitimate premise of any current and future political settlement.

Beyond the provisions of the agreement, it is also important to understand what the TPLF’s near capitulation means for the security and survival of the state. As discussed in the next section, the TPLF has not only been the most cohesive political entity but is also adept at combining military, diplomatic, economic and communication tools and networks to achieve its political objectives. No other ethno-nationalist movement, including the OLA, in Ethiopia has such prowess. The TPLF and several other ethno-nationalists characterise those who they consider are against the current federal arrangement as ahadawiyan (proponents of unitary state), with connotations of regressive politics akin to the imperial periods favouring only the Amhara. Therefore, its defeat at the hands of ahadawiyan, and accepting this fact by signing the CoHA, means that other like-minded political movements are less likely to win on the battlefield. One has to ask what the TPLF – let alone Tigray region, which suffered much more – achieved by initiating the war. As the government’s chief negotiator Redwan Hussien said following the signing of the CoHA, given the costs incurred by all sides and Ethiopia as a state, ‘there is no winner and loser in this war.’ Yet, the war has disproportionately affected Tigray region in general and the TPLF in particular (Fana TV Citation2022a).

There is no doubt that it is too early to declare the triumph of the Ethiopian state in terms of its security and survival. This, in part, depends on the successful implementation of the CoHA and the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement. Nevertheless, narratives and rationalised arguments about the likelihood of the imminent dismemberment of the state can no longer be taken seriously. The sovereignty and territorial control of the state – the security and survival of Ethiopia – is now a red line that should be respected, in principle and in practice. This is what the signing of the CoHA has reaffirmed, deliberately or inadvertently, although it does not foreclose the likelihood of future ethnic conflicts and security threats.

Moreover, as the TPLF represented extreme forms of mobilised ethno-nationalism, its failure to deliver on any of its strategic objectives invites the end of an era that started in the 1960s with the rise of the politicisation of identities in Ethiopia. Ethno-nationally organised political groupings and rebellions started in the 1970s and became institutionalised in the 1990s; now, at the very least, we see it will no longer be the only hegemonic force with virtually unlimited capacity to contest the survival of the Ethiopian state itself.

Another unintended outcome is that the ENDF is now larger, modernised, and relatively more cohesive than it was when the war broke out (Fana TV Citation2022b). As much as it sadly came at a huge cost – human and material – and is stained by a damaged reputation due to the atrocities it is accused of, the ENDF is now a battle-tested national army. Together with the 2019 defence reform that decoupled it from the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which made the pre-reform ENDF a ‘bastion of revolutionary democracy’ (Tariku Citation2022, 44), the CoHA cements ENDF’s legitimacy as the sole national army that represents the legitimate monopoly of violence by the state.Footnote3

Elite cohesion and fracture in Tigray

Since its establishment in 1975, the TPLF has incrementally imposed itself on Tigrayan society, and later on the Ethiopian people under the EPRDF. Its hegemonic stature was established through fractures within the TPLF in its early years, which led to the creation of a smaller core group (Berhe Citation2009). This core group deciding on strategic issues became smaller but more coherent, including after the splits following the Ethio–Eritrean war (1998–2000). The TPLF, and by extension the EPRDF, had faced a serious political fissure due to disagreements over the handling of the Ethio–Eritrean war and the peace agreement signed in Algiers on 12 December 2000. Combined with the control structures and mechanisms from the pre-1991 years (including gimgema, meaning evaluation) and the central role it had within EPRDF’s increasing economic and political power after 1991, the TPLF emerged as the most coherent of the numerous political groups in the country (Gebregziabher and Hout Citation2018). As a result, the TPLF had a largely uncontested position in Tigray. Before the mid 2010s, the only opposition political party with some presence in the region was Arena Tigray, most of whose senior leadership were purged from the TPLF during the 2001 splits.

The killing of people with differing political projects for Tigray, especially before the 1990s, and the purges of 1993 and almost half of the senior party leadership in 2001, in due time translated into Meles becoming the party leader, with very few checks on his power (Gebru Citation2014; Tadesse and Young Citation2003). He wielded power and dominated the elite drawn from the TPLF and other coalition members. His unexpected death in August 2012 led to internal struggles within the ruling coalition, which the EPRDF tried to manage by instituting collective leadership among the four member parties.

Less known are the fractures which surfaced after Meles’ death within the TPLF. As elaborated by one insider, the inclusion of new members into the party’s central committee and the intention of the old guard to make a comeback reduced cohesion and increased factionalism within the central committee (Birihane Citation2019). The space for other political parties was created in the latter part of the 2010s, side by side with the Oromo and Amhara protests which pushed the TPLF from the centre back to Mekelle.

Despite the establishment of four parties in Tigray over the last half decade – National Congress of Great Tigray (Baytona); Tigray Independence Party; Salsay Weyane Tigray; and Asimba Democratic Party – the TPLF continued to maintain its dominance in Tigray politics. The relational process and the instrumental creation of an image of Tigray being encircled by enemies even before the war started left the population at the mercy of the TPLF. During the early months of the war, the atrocities committed against Tigrayan civilians helped in salvaging the TPLF’s image, this time around as ‘the saviour of the people’. Allegiance to the TPLF seems to have further increased as the war moved closer to Addis Ababa in the last quarter of 2021, thanks to its purported performance. Life in blockaded Tigray since June 2021 even elevated the stature of the TPLF within Tigray, as the only organised group to break the de facto siege and bring normal life back.

The TPLF’s hegemony in Tigray’s regional politics and the apparent internal cohesion of the party, at least to the ‘outsider’, created a solid political position for Tigray. On the other hand, Amhara and Oromia regions suffer from the challenges of holding a coherent political position on major contested topics. This is primarily due to differing intraregional political dispensations and the absence of a dominant political institution with comparable political clout and legitimacy. The divisions along intraregional differences which put elites from Adwa, Shire and Axum at the centre are relatively more muted, at least to outsiders, compared to intraregional contestations in Amhara and Oromia.

While Tigray might have benefited from the greater role of the TPLF in the federal government, at least when it comes to infrastructure projects, the cohesive support that the TPLF received enabled it to be the bulwark for group rights and other political positions at the national level.Footnote4 Moreover, the chances for the opposition to win any votes in elections were practically zero. If this helps the Tigrayan population it will be through the common voice this brings to national-level contestations and common purpose towards a certain socio-political objective, but it also exposed the Tigrayan people to the unbridled authoritarianism of the TPLF.

The CoHA appears to be positioned to shatter this image and bondage of the Tigrayan people with the TPLF. None of the preconditions the TPLF set were met before signing the CoHA, while a return to the previous status quo remains ignored to this day.Footnote5 The TPLF also negotiated and signed the agreement as a rebel group, delegitimising the elections and the claim of representing Tigray region over the past two years. Making matters worse, the TPLF agreed to the disarmament of its forces and to transfer the security of the region to the same federal forces it rejected as unconstitutional and labelled as genocidal. The loss of many lives, property and life chances, to conclude a peace agreement that offers only stopping further losses, is a serious reputational crisis for the TPLF.

As such, it is very likely that the uncontested political position of the TPLF will be eroded in the coming months and years. The stories of struggle and sacrifices which legitimised the TPLF’s image have been seriously dented, as it failed in this war and also as almost all households and young people made major sacrifices over the past two years. The unique social stature and authority that comes coming from being a tegadalay/tegadelti (literally ‘fighter’ or ‘combatant’, but implying a sense of affection and reverence due to their sacrifices) can be claimed by the hundreds of thousands who joined the armed struggle over the past two years: thus, the stature of this role will be reduced. It is likely that the relatively lower support for the TPLF from the younger generation will be further eroded. There are also major differences of opinion with the diaspora, who mobilised against the peace agreement in the days following the signing. Thus, the era of a cohesive Tigrayan elite and the generalised trust bestowed to the TPLF by the Tigrayan population will at the very least be questioned and contested.

Experts in the era of infodemic/mis- and disinformation – Ethiopians and foreigners

The war in northern Ethiopia has had two major effects on Ethiopian and foreign experts of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. First, it has been a divisive issue among Ethiopian scholars and experts, and eventually most had to pick sides. It also divided foreign experts, who also picked sides in the conflict – some even before the war started (e.g. Alex de Waal, Martin Plaut, Kjetil Tronvoll, William Davison and Rashid Abdi for the TPLF, and Jon Abbink, Ann Fitz-Gerald, Bronwyn Bruton and Jeff Pearce for the Government of Ethiopia). Their tweets and opinion pieces easily show whose side they are on and the extent to which they are willing to defend that side’s actions. As such, most scholars (both Ethiopians and foreigners) were reduced to mere activists rather than voices of reason and resolution. If we consider that the survival of the state was at stake, it is understandable that Ethiopian scholars inevitably had to choose a side. Second, unlike in the past, foreign experts could no longer frame or define the situation in Ethiopia unchallenged. The hitherto foreigner- (mainly US/European-)dominated expertise of conflict and security in the Horn in general, and Ethiopia in particular, has been transformed significantly. It is the onset, if not the apex, of a decolonial moment of knowledge production and interpretation in which locals (Ethiopians in this case) wrested the power of framing from foreign experts. The age of Christopher Clapham, John Markakis or random journalists with microphones and cameras popping up from nowhere and imposing certain tags without backlash is gone, partly thanks to social media and citizen journalism.Footnote6 Every angle and framing of a given story is questioned, ridiculed and challenged by Ethiopians of all sides. Cases in point are the pro-government #NoMore and pro-TPLF #TigrayGenocide campaigns which dominated the public discourse and garnered support from in and outside Ethiopia. Therefore, thanks to social media, like Twitter and Facebook, most experts siding with either camp struggled and have been on the defensive in whatever they say or publish.

As such, the war in northern Ethiopia can be taken as a perfect instance of the ‘post-truth era’. Narratives and discourses were based not on facts but trending hashtags, sensational reports, dramatized demonstrations, lobbying capabilities and the willingness to unscrupulously avail one’s ‘expertise’ in the service of the warring sides. Some have not only fallen for the trappings of siding with this or that camp, but have also gone to the extent of publishing a special issue of an academic journal that focuses on genocide (Ibreck and de Waal Citation2022). They even singled out certain groups of Ethiopian society and declared that their ‘empire is gone’ and that they should ‘accept’ their fate, prompting petitions on social media ( Citation2022).

This has continued even after the signing of the CoHA. Pro-government ‘experts’, who are viewed as ‘genocide deniers’ and ‘paid government mouthpieces’, say that they are ‘cautiously optimistic’ and that it is time to ‘give peace a chance’ – perhaps because the CoHA is perceived to favour the government.Footnote7 On the other hand, echoing the sentiments of the Tigrayan diaspora, those who sided with the TPLF are now severely criticising it for signing the CoHA which they disparage as ‘surprising’,Footnote8 an agreement of ‘capitulation’,Footnote9 ‘saving TPLF’s skin’,Footnote10 or state that ‘some Tigrayan commanders would rather continue guerrilla war than submit to what they regard as humiliating peace terms’ (de Waal Citation2022a). As a result, misinformation and disinformation, as well as misinterpretation of the CoHA, littered social and mainstream media in the immediate weeks following its signature. Instead of helping Ethiopians – who are personally affected and therefore understandably emotionally attached to every development in the conflict – of both sides to overcome the division among them and to see the world out there rationally, some foreign experts are still adding fuel to the fire. They are playing the classic role of the spoiler, discouraging compromise and realistic demands (de Waal Citation2022b).

In general, discussions about the conflict in northern Ethiopia have been polarising not just among ordinary Ethiopians, but also among Ethiopian and foreign experts. Polarisation over the conflict and peace processes is evident in both social and also mainstream media. These experts have played an undeniable role in the spread of misinformation and disinformation regarding the war. As such, the war was fought not only in the battlefields of the northern mountains but also in every nook and cranny of the social and mainstream media, reinforcing hate speeches, stereotypes, and polarised views.

Realignment of security and power dynamics in the Horn of Africa

The regionalization and internationalization of the war in northern Ethiopia has also had profound effects on regional alignments in the Horn of Africa. Sudan and Ethiopia, which enjoyed cordial relations during the TPLF/EPRDF era, are now in a frozen border conflict which started the same week that the TPLF attacked the Northern Command. Coupled with the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the conflict in Ethiopia gave Sudan and Egypt the opportunity to resort to brinkmanship and subversion. Sudan also took advantage of the reduced presence of Ethiopia’s armed forces along the common border and annexed the al-Fashaga contested territories. Moreover, the Ethiopian government has accused Sudan of supporting the TPLF and turning a turn a blind eye to recruitment, training and launching of attacks from within its territory, alongside other mobilization activities (Sudan Tribune Citation2022).

However, the war also brought Ethiopia and Eritrea – arch enemies during the TPLF/EPRDF era – closer than the 2018 rapprochement could have done. The Ethio–Eritrean rapprochement was one major contextual factor for the eruption of the war itself. In the last two years, the threat posed by, and the common enemy they found in, the TPLF has synchronised the pursuit of their respective national security. Perhaps one could also argue that although the war was primarily about refiguring or disfiguring Ethiopia, the successes on the battlefronts would not have happened without Eritrea’s involvement at the level it did. Conversely, the Eritrean army is responsible for a larger proportion of the atrocities perpetuated in the region. The exclusion of Eritrea from the peace talks, despite ENDF attempts to provide security guarantees to Eritrea, is the greatest threat to the success of the peace deal. What is very clear is that Ethio–Eritrean relations are back to the ambivalent positions of the mid 1990s, and the situation will remain tense for some time.

For a short while, the two were also purported to have brought Somalia on board – a cooperation agreement was signed before the war started – seemingly forging a tripartite alliance with the potential to overshadow the eight-country regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) (Joint Declaration Citation2022). Somalia did not directly participate in the war – although some allege it did – but there was a perception that the three were working together (Gebreluel Citation2021), with some even claiming that Somali troops under military training in Eritrea were used as cannon fodder during the early weeks of the war (Somali Guardian Citation2021). This alliance was interrupted by the unseating of Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed following the June 2022 election.

The war has also created a conducive environment for Kenya’s regional stature. Straddling two regional cooperation frameworks, Kenya was not as committed and active as Ethiopia, especially in terms of regional security provision, which until recently allowed Ethiopia to dominate IGAD. When the war in Ethiopia’s north engulfed the Ethiopian government domestically, Kenya stepped up to fill the leadership vacuum in the region. This has enhanced Kenya’s image at the international level at the expense of Ethiopia, albeit perhaps temporarily. Ethiopia’s relations with Djibouti and Somaliland are also not as warm as they used to be during the TPLF/EPRDF era, for now.

Overall, the politico-security dynamics of the Horn of Africa no longer resemble how they were before 2018 – or before 3 November 2020 to be exact. Alignments and statuses have changed. Ethiopia is not as influential as it was before 2020. Successful implementation of the CoHA could enhance opportunities for the resurgence of Ethiopia as a regional hegemon – albeit a contested one. Eritrea, despite all the accusations levelled against it, will also not be as isolated as before the 2018 rapprochement. With a robust security guarantee from Ethiopia’s federal government, the Eritrean government may be satisfied to live with the new reality of a weakened TPLF. With this, the Horn of Africa is heading towards a new regional politico-security dispensation in which Ethiopia will eventually play its role as a significant regional power.


The signing of the CoHA is the end of an era of TPLF domination in all spheres of Ethiopia’s affairs. While the TPLF’s decline in political significance at the national level is now hastened, given its strong organizational, control and mobilization capacity it is fair to conclude that no such ethno-nationalist group with the power to threaten the state will come into existence soon. This, however, does not mean that ethno-nationalism will be dissipated from the political scene. It will remain an important organizing force, including for violent conflicts, but without the possibility of causing serious threats to the state. As such, the CoHA is not just a document binding the warring parties to permanently cease hostilities, but also indicates the dawning of a new era comparable to 1991. In May 1991, the TPLF-dominated EPRDF took control of Addis Ababa, as the Derg crumbled. By dismantling the army, purging many from the civil service and restructuring the state along ethno-linguistic lines, the TPLF/EPRDF created a new order. This post-1991 political order was challenged by sustained youth-based urban protests that began in 2015 in Oromia and Amhara regional states, leading to the rise of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to the premiership in April 2018. However, the TPLF did not concede defeat, and neither did the new administration immediately destabilize the political and economic basis of the TPLF-dominated order. As such, the war was an attempt by the TPLF’s militant faction to make a comeback to state power by mobilizing all remaining sources of power. Given the failure of this attempted comeback, the TPLF finally agreed to sign the CoHA and allow a new era to start in Ethiopia’s politics, after much loss of life and destruction of property. The CoHA essentially seals the gradual process of taking the state back from the TPLF, and is beginning an era with the consolidation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s and his ruling party’s power, although this does not necessarily mean that all sources of instability are gone.

A timeline of key events during Ethiopia’s Tigray war are outlined here


The authors would like to thank colleagues and friends who commented on the earlier drafts of this piece.

Disclosure statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Notes on contributors

Fana Gebresenbet is Director and an associate professor of peace-building and development at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University. He has co-edited two books, Lands of the future (Berghahn, 2021) and Youth on the move (Hurst, 2021), and published numerous journal articles and book chapters. His research interests cover the politics of development, political economy and peacebuilding in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

Yonas Tariku is a lecturer and academic coordinator of the MA programme at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University. His primary research focus is on national and regional security in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa; his publications focus on peace, conflict and security. Since 2015, he has also been part-time trainer at the Ethiopian National Defence Force’s International Peace Support Training Institute.


1 The Tigrayan forces are called TDF in Tigray and by some foreign media outlets. This name was preferred as many youth joined the fight as the TPLF deserted Mekelle and went to the valleys and gorges of Tigray. Partly pushed by atrocities committed during fighting, youth of various political inclinations, including leaders of opposition political parties, joined the armed rebellion in Tigray. Another factor contributing to this choice is the TPLF’s representation of itself as a legitimate regional/independent government with an army. After the CoHA was signed, the Tigrayan diaspora resisted the agreement by stressing that there is no TPLF army, thus claiming that the requirement to demobilisation does not refer to the TDF. On 11 November 2022 the TPLF Central Committee stated that it does not have an army. Furthermore, Gen. Tadesse Werede was presented as the Chief of Tigray Armed Combatants at the agreement in Nairobi, on 12 November on the implementation of the CoHA.

2 For instance, the Global Society of Tigray Scholars & Professionals (GSTS) ‘strongly opposes several provisions of the CoHA that directly contrive the vital interests of the people of Tigray and defeat the stated objective to achieve lasting peace’. One of the provisions it rejected pertains to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), which it says leaves ‘the people of Tigray in the hands of forces accused of horrendous atrocity crimes’ (‘Statement: Ethiopia – Tigray Peace Talks need to urgently enact the immediate, verified, & permanent withdrawal of invading Eritrean forces’. Accessed 14 November 2022.

3 This does not necessarily contradict the policing interests of the regions. As per the intentions of the Police Doctrine, the elastic definitions of this power to establish Special Forces by the regions will be limited to agreed bounds, with the ENDF having a major say (see Article 87 of the FDRE Constitution and Proclamation 1100/2019 of the ENDF).

4 For example, World Bank data show that Tigray benefited from an above average improvement in road density between 2006 and 2016, along with Addis Ababa and central Oromia (Kanth and Geiger Citation2017). Data related to food aid and basic assistance, however, show that about one million citizens in Tigray were beneficiaries of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) and an additional 250,000 were permanent direct support beneficiaries when the war broke out in late 2020 (FEWS NET Citation2020).

5 The six demands are: restoration of essential services to the people of Tigray; unfettered humanitarian access; an end to ongoing war crimes; accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide; withdrawal of all foreign forces from Tigray; and the restoration of the boundaries of Tigray as they existed prior to the outbreak of hostilities (i.e. the return of Western Tigray). See ‘Open Letter from the President of the Government of Tigray’, 23 August 2022, at

6 Many private, digital platforms on YouTube and Telegram have been actively reporting on the security situation and challenging the narratives of the mainstream media.

7 See the following tweets as examples:

8 See

9 See

10 See article

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