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Is there a ‘Civil War’ in Ethiopia?

The Conflicting Tell of two Ethiopian Officials

By MFC Staff

On November 24, 2021, President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia tweeted “[fighting] a civil war is particularly tragic,” referring to the experiences of other countries in relation to war between the federal government led by PM Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray regional government of Ethiopia. On the same day, in less than one and a half hours, Mr. Taye Dendea Aredo, the State Minister with the Ministry of Peace, posted on Facebook (now      Meta), “there is no civil war & has never been one in Ethiopia and in Africa for that matter! We are always fighting a colonial war in civil suit!” Mr. Taye said this in response to Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, the special envoy of the US to the Horn of Africa for, “[framing] the situation in Ethiopia as a civil war that may last for 20 years!”

Until recently, referring to the over a year-long conflict between the two fighting groups was considered controversial. While the Tigray regional government led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dub the conflict as  a civil war the Ethiopian government refused to acknowledge the same by downplaying it. What is however      catching the attention of the public is the conflicting narrative surfacing on social media from the same administration.

Is the war in Ethiopia a CIVIL WAR though? Sources from experts and academic materials answer the questions with a resounding yes. Kathleen Lawand, the former legal expert at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated in her interview with the Committee in 2012 that civil war (non-international or internal war) “refers to a situation of violence involving protracted armed confrontations between government forces and one or more organized armed groups, or between such groups themselves, arising on the territory of a state.”

Faustin Ntoubandi, a contributor to the Oxford Bibliographies, reiterated further with examples,      “Conflicts since the late 20th century in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, as well as the ongoing ones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine, and Syria, are just a few illustrations of the pervasive character of NIACs [civil wars].”

These definitions of civil war  clearly  indicate that Ethiopia is in fact on the same table along with those countries mentioned above.

However, at the time of writing this article, neither President Sahle-Work nor Mr. Taye retracted their statements. The President’s official twitter account has 24.7k followers, whereas the person account has 372.5k followers, on both of which the claim had been shared. Mr. Taye’s verified account has 544,932 followers as of the writing of this article.

We at the MFC strive to verify misleading and false claims so that people get fact-based information and make an informed decision as well. In the process of our work, accuracy and transparency hold a central role. Therefore, if you see errors in our content, please write to us at [email protected] so that our team will make corrections.

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ሓደ ናይ ፌስቡክ ገጽ "ናይ ሻዕብያ ስራሕ ኣብ ትግራይ ዝገበሮ" ዝብል ጽሑፍ ዘለዎ ቪድዮ ኣካፊሉ
“አቶ ታዲዮስ ታንቱ ከእስር ተፈትተዋል” የሚሉ መረጃዎች በፌስቡክ እና በትዊተር ላይ እየተሰራጩ ይገኛሉ። ይሁን እንጂ



(MFC) is an independent fact-checking organization which is launched to pin-point, track-down, scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, publish and distribute the factual accuracy of claims made by public figures. MFC’s project has geographical priorities. Our work mainly focuses on nations in the Horn of Africa and their diaspora community who reside abroad. We operates from various regions of Africa, Europe and North America. Through a multitude of professional proficiency, MFC deploys best practices of journalism, scholarship and expertise in order to flag, investigate and publish a fact.

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