Old photo does not show Ethiopian troops in Amhara region in 2024

Ethiopia has started a national dialogue process aimed at resolving issues that threaten the existence of the state including armed conflicts. A Facebook user shared a photo allegedly showing Ethiopian soldiers arriving in the restive Amhara region to attack the local population and contrasted this with the dialogue launch in the capital Addis Ababa. However, the claim is misleading: although the picture is from Amhara, it dates back to the Tigray war in 2021 when federal troops and regional forces were allies. 

“These two pictures were taken today,” reads part of the post published in Amharic on Facebook on May 29, 2024. 

While one photo shows people seated in what looks like a conference room, the other features soldiers boarding a long line of buses.


“He [Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed] has deployed a killer army to exterminate a people of an ethnic group and on the other hand falsely claimed to be conducting a national dialogue,” the post adds.

The same claim also appeared elsewhere on Facebook, including here and here.

And this post, also from May 29, 2024, shared the image of the soldiers and buses, claiming that it showed “the Ethiopian army being sent to the Amhara region earlier today". 

National Dialogue 

The national dialogue process was officially launched on June 1, 2024, in a bid to overcome instability that threatens to tear apart Africa's second-most populous nation (archived here). 

Supporters of the move say it is the only way to address the fundamental problems confronting the fragile country, including deep-seated political tensions and armed conflicts. However, the opposition has largely rejected the process.

The Ethiopian government is currently fighting against armed groups in Oromia and Amhara – the two most populous regions in the country. The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel force took up arms against the government in 2018. Peace talks conducted last year between the warring parties were unsuccessful (archived here).

Fano, meanwhile, is a militia group operating in Amhara and was an ally of the government during the two-year Tigray war (archived here). But Fano turned against the government in July 2023 following a national decision to disarm all regional forces.

However, the photo does not show the Ethiopian army deployed to the Amhara region in May 2024. 

Old photo 

AFP Fact Check conducted reverse image searches and found that the image features Ethiopian troops and regional soldiers tasked with fighting back Tigray rebels in July 2021. 

The two-year war in the Amhara region was fought between the Ethiopian federal government and rebel forces in the Tigray region and claimed more than half a million lives before ending with a peace agreement in Pretoria in November 2022 (archived here).

The first photo, originally captured by Addis Media Network, a broadcaster owned by the Addis Ababa City administration, shows the opening day of the national dialogue held on May 29, 2024 — three days before the official launch (archived here). 

The second image was first published  (archived here) on July 20, 2021 by AFMEER TV, a Facebook page that frequently shares stories about Ethiopian politics in the Somali language. 

The accompanying text in Somali indicates the photo shows troops consisting of both regional and federal forces arriving in Amhara to fight back Tigrayan fighters who pushed into the region earlier in the same month (archived here). 

AFP reported on July 15, 2021 that various Ethiopian regions had sent troops to back the army’s fight against Tigray rebels in northern Ethiopia  (archived here).

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