The Economist explains
BY SOME RECKONINGS Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, but it is far from united. Tensions among its 80-plus ethnic groups have been growing in recent months. And in November the country fell back into civil war. This pits the federal government against the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the northern state of Tigray and until recently dominated federal politics. The danger is that the conflict will spread across Ethiopia and beyond its borders.
It is difficult to know precisely what has been happening in Tigray. A communications blackout has been in place for more than a month and versions of events are highly contested. The TPLF fired the first shots on November 4th, when its fighters attacked a base housing federal troops—to pre-empt an imminent attack from federal forces, it said. In response, Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, ordered air strikes and sent in ground forces. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been killed and many thousands displaced. On November 28th the government announced that it had taken the regional capital of Mekelle. It has since declared that the TPLF has been “thoroughly defeated”, and that most of its leaders have been killed or captured. But Tigray’s president, Debretsion Gebremichael, remains at large and has vowed to continue fighting.