Nine Ethiopian opposition groups announced the formation of a political alliance against the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday, a year after Abiy announced a military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. At a Washington D.C. press conference, representatives of the groups signed the document officially creating the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces.
According to organizers, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army currently fighting against federal forces are joined by the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front; Agaw Democratic Movement; Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement, Gambella People’s Liberation Army; Global Kimant People Right and Justice Movement/Kimant Democratic Party; Sidama National Liberation Front, and the Somali State Resistance.
While the United Front says that it seeks to start a political transition process, Oromo Liberation Army spokesperson Odaa Tarbii would not rule out the removal of Abiy by force, stating to the Associated Press that while “Of course we prefer if there’s a peaceful and orderly transition with Abiy being removed”, it would depend on the actions of Addis Ababa and other events over the coming weeks. Berhane Gebrechristos, a former Ethiopian foreign minister and Tigrayan official, said at the event at the National Press Club that “Definitely we will have a change in Ethiopia before Ethiopia implodes”.
Addis Ababa has described the formation of the alliance as a “publicity stunt”, claiming that some of the member groups did not possess political “traction”. The dismissal came alongside a denial that the Ethiopian capital was under siege following recent advances by TPLF and OLA forces, claiming that there was a “sense of normalcy”.
However, the U.S. State Department issued a warning on Tuesday advising US citizens in Ethiopia to leave the country “as soon as possible”, stating that “the security environment in Ethiopia is very fluid”. The warning follows the State Department’s issuance of a Level 4 “do not travel” warning earlier this week.