To answer the question, we have to clarify what we mean by peace. There are two ways of looking at peace.
First, peace may be considered as a context that gives primacy to life in the sense that the political, economic, and social structures and processes create an Ethiopia that enables her citizens to live in dignity and to develop freely their capabilities materially, culturally, spiritually, affectively, and cognitively. Such a context of life excludes ethnic, religious, gender , and social discriminations, exclusions, and violence. I will call this context of life “the peace of the living.”
The second kind is a peace that keeps Ethiopians in a state of submission to the powers that be. This is a peace that establishes a semblance of harmony between those who hold power and Ethiopians, because Ethiopians are reduced to saying, doing, and believing what the rulers tell them to say, do, and believe. In such a peace, Ethiopians accept as their own the needs and interests of the rulers. This is the “peace of the grave.” Peace is reduced to the mere absence of physical violence.
To keep my discussion short, I will concentrate on the war that Abiy/PP are waging on the Amhara. But the analysis applies to all Ethiopians, from East to West, and from North to South, who are resisting the Abiy/PP regime.
Like all oppressed Ethiopians, the Amhara want to be free to think, act and live in ways that allow them to develop their material, intellectual, and cultural capabilities and resources. The Amhara want to cultivate their lands freely to never suffer from hunger again. They want their children to be educated in an atmosphere free from ethnic indoctrination; they want to have access to health services without ethnic discrimination; they want to develop industries to escape poverty forever; they want to have the freedom, like every Ethiopian, to move, settle, and work anywhere in Ethiopia; they want to freely go to Addis Ababa or any other Ethiopian city without being subject to ethnic exclusion; they want to live with all Ethiopians as brothers and sisters, and share the cultures of their co-citizens and share their own culture with them. That is, it is their ardent desire to enjoy the “peace of the living.”
Abiy/PP are waging war against the Amhara. Yet, they are frolicking with the TPLF: an anti-Ethiopian clique that inflicted two years of destructive war on Ethiopians. Abiy/PP are gamboling with the TPLF, because they have things in common that bind them. The TPLF represents the Tigrean elites; Abiy / PP represent the Oromo elites. Both are elite-centric and do not represent the people they claim to represent. Both use “their people” as cannon fodder—the TPLF used Tigreans and Abiy/PP use the Oromos—in wars to lord it over Ethiopians. Both are interested in weakening Ethiopia and, if need be, to dismantle her in order to accumulate wealth and power at the expense of all Ethiopians, including the Oromos and Tigreans.
FANO, on the other hand, is interested neither in weakening Ethiopia nor in amassing wealth and power at the expense of Ethiopians, nor in taking power. Its goal is to give back power to Ethiopians. A political victory of FANO spells the beginning of the end of Abiy/PP’s regime, for a FANO political victory will create conditions that enable the in-gathering of Ethiopians of all ethnicities and confessions in order to build a new Ethiopia based on freedom, equality, and solidarity. That is why Abiy/PP feel politically and existentially threatened by the Amhara. Hence their frantic military, political, and propaganda war against the Amhara.
The vision of the “peace of the living” for which the Amhara are fighting speaks to all Ethiopians. The right to “peace of the living” firmly opposes Abiy/PP’s aim to establish the “peace of the grave.” Abiy/PP know that the TPLF failed to impose the “peace of the grave.” They are thus scared that they will also fail to impose the “peace of the grave.” Hence, their frenzied use of drones and heavy artillery against Amhara farmers, villages and towns, killing innocent men, women, and children, hoping to subdue the Amhara. They believe that the defeat of the Amhara will sap the will of other Ethiopians to challenge the Abiy/PP regime. But Abiy/PP may be in for a surprise, for the Amhara are waging a people’s war. As Vietnam shows (1955-75), even the most powerful military could be defeated in a people’s war.
The Amhara, indeed all Ethiopians, will never accept the “peace of the grave.” Peace is possible only and only when the Abiy/PP regime recognizes the “peace of the living” as the only kind of peace that the Amhara will accept. This means that Abiy/PP must abandon their futile ambition to impose the “peace of the grave” on the Amhara through lies, use of political puppets, intimidation, corruption, kidnapping, mass arrests, imprisonments, ethnic-cleansing, and war.
The Amhara’s desire for the “peace of the living” is integral to the FANO maxim, i.e., “The Amharas are free, only when all Ethiopians are free.” In terms of peace, this means, “The Amharas will enjoy the “peace of the living, only when all Ethiopians enjoy the “peace of the living.” Hence, FANO’s opposition to Abiy/PP’s killings in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, Somalia, and other kilils and its desire to create a pan-Ethiopian resistance movement against the Abiy/PP necropolitical regime.
It is imperative that those who want to mediate in order to bring peace and unity to Ethiopia keep in mind the difference between the “peace of the living” and the “peace of the grave.” The peace and unity of the grave is neither peace nor unity of the living. It will be the unity and freedom of the graveyard on which Abiy/PP will build palaces, luxury hotels, fancy parks, and feast and dance all the year round while 28 million Ethiopians go to bed with an empty stomach.
All Ethiopians desire fervently the “peace of the living” but categorically reject the “peace of the grave.” The answer to the introductory question then is: peace is possible in Ethiopia as long as it is the “peace of the living.”