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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s dramatic move to recentralise governance in Ethiopia has an old and predictable logic to it. Eritrea’s leader Isias Afwerki has pushed for it as well. But it has meant Ahmed abrogating the Ethiopian constitution and shredding the underlying political contract between elites from the different regions of Ethiopia. It immediately led to war with Tigray that has literally collapsed Ethiopia’s once-mighty military machine. As July ends the Prime Minister has been forced into the dangerous move of mobilising ethnic militias. Matt Bryden argues the only way out is negotiation.