Ethiopia’s struggle to build a nation
A Fractured Giant
“Today is the day on which we defeated our enemy.”Emperor Haile Selassie, on his return to Addis Ababa
“By virtue of His Imperial Blood, as well as by anointing He has received, the person of the Emperor is sacred. His dignity is inviolable and His power indisputable.”Article 4 of the revised Constitution of Ethiopia (1955)
“Let it be clear to everybody that I shall soon make these ignoramuses stoop and grind corn!” Mengistu Haile Mariam, vowing to take on the imperial elite
“Henceforth we will tackle our enemies that come face to face with us and we will not be stabbed from behind by internal foes.”Mengistu Haile Mariam
“If I failed, it was only because I was betrayed.”Mengistu Haile Mariam
“War is the epitome of hell – I know because I have been there and back.”Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech
“Famine looms. It is not a crisis; it is a catastrophe.”USAID chief Samantha Power tweets in June
November-December 2021 | State of emergency
The unthinkable suddenly beckons for Abiy as the rebels push towards Addis Ababa. Advancing south through Afar and Amhara, Tigrayan forces clash with government troops near a town just 190 kilometres (118 miles) from the capital. Jolted by the pace of the rebel gains, the government declares a state of emergency on Nov. 2. Abiy appeals to Ethiopians to mobilise in defence of the nation, then dons fatigues and travels to the front to personally command the counter-offensive.
By December, government troops have pushed the rebels back hundreds of kilometres. Under mounting military pressure, the TPLF says on Dec. 20 that it has withdrawn its forces from the northern regions neighbouring Tigray. The move is seen as a possible step towards a ceasefire.
After the decades of struggle to forge a united Ethiopia, the country is once more searching for a viable formula to reconcile tensions between centre and regions, assimilation and autonomy.
Sources: This account is based on research materials including books and reports, and Reuters archives
A Fractured Giant
By Matthew Green
Photo editing: Simon Newman
Graphic: Aditi Bhandari
Art direction: Troy Dunkley
Edited by Janet McBride