CW 46/2020: War and Peace?
Press Review 7 November 2020 to 13 November 2020

Threat of civil war in Ethiopia?

The government offensive launched against the Ethiopian province of Tigray in the north continues. The military intervention was ordered by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Nobel Laureate of the year 2019, Abiy Ahmed. The attack was initiated by cutting off telecommunications in the region and by air strikes, while at the same time several  military and government officials from the Tigray region were declared dismissed.  The growing tensions between Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which provides the local government, were preceded by the elections held in Tigray on 9 September. Due to the Corona pandemic, the parliament decided to postpone all elections.  TPLF, however, opposed this and held elections in Tigray. This was followed by a military clash between local and government forces on 3 and 4 November around the Northern Command headquarters in Mekelle, which led to the launch of the offensive on the same day. It is not yet clear which side of the conflict will be the winner and when the conflict will end, although Abiy’s government is reporting successes. The fighting is said to have already claimed hundreds of victims on both sides. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has already announced that the first refugees of this conflict are already on their way. To this day, Ethiopia is actually considered a stable nation in terms of domestic politics and a guarantor and mediator for  stability in the region. The conflict is probably based, among other things, on disputes between the country’s various ethnic groups with Prime Minister Ahmed as a member of the ethnic majority of the Oromo. The chairman of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called on both sides to find  a peaceful solution to the conflict and to respect human rights. On Friday, 13 November  2020, Reuters reported that Moussa Faki Mahamat had dismissed Mebratu Melese Gebreegziabher from the Tigray region, who was acting as Head of Security and Safety Division within the AU.

Breakthrough in Libya peace talks

According to the United Nations, a breakthrough has been achieved in the political talks about Libya’s future. In neighboring Tunisia, the Libyan warring parties agreed on a joint road map. According to the roadmap, elections are to be held in the North African country within the next 18 months, as the acting UN-Libya envoy Stephanie Williams states. Libya, a major oil producer, has been plagued by violence since the fall of long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The North African country is dominated by armed groups, torn apart by local conflicts and divided between two bitterly opposed parties: The UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli under Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and a rival administration in the east, linked to the renegade military ruler Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA). Since foreign powers also bring weapons and mercenaries into the country, many Libyans continue to be skeptical of foreign peacemaking efforts. The talks in Tunis, however, follow a ceasefire agreed upon by the GNA and LNA in Geneva last month. Parallel to the talks in Tunisia, military negotiations between representatives of the GNA and the LNA are taking place in the Libyan port city of Sirte. The positive development in Tunis is now expected to give impetus to these intra-Libyan peace talks. However, the meeting was overshadowed by news of the death of Hanan al-Barassi, a prominent Libyan lawyer and women’s rights activist, who was killed by an unknown armed man in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday.

In other news

Fill in the Black is a new card game. It was developed by the Nigerian Funmi Oyatogun, inspired by her experiences as a black person in Nigeria, Great Britain and the US. Oyatogun wishes to unite black people with her game. The card game is intended to help close the communication gap between blacks around the world and to promote and raise awareness of black culture in its various nuances and forms. Analogous to games like Taboo or Charade, terms have to be paraphrased and guessed without using certain other terms. According to Oyatogun, the terms origin from the culture and history common to all blacks.

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