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Addis at the Brink of a Messy Break Up

Ethiopian lawmakers have ruled that federal officials should cut off contact with leaders of the northern Tigray region, which defied Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last month by holding elections his government deemed “illegal”. The decision, announced late on Tuesday by the House of Federation, the upper house of parliament, furthers the breakdown in relations between Abiy and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated Ethiopian politics before Abiy came to power in 2018 and is still in command in Tigray. The House of Federation “decided the federal government should sever any kind of relationship with the Tigray regional state assembly and the region’s highest executive body”, according to a statement aired by the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. The statement noted that the federal government would continue to work with local institutions in Tigray to provide “basic services” to the region, meaning the decision did not amount to a complete rupture. The TPLF led the armed struggle to topple the brutal Derg regime in 1991 and controlled the ruling coalition that took over. But since Abiy took office, Tigrayan leaders have complained of being unfairly targeted in corruption prosecutions, removed from top positions and broadly scapegoated for the country’s woes.