In Ethiopia, the Tigray forces continue their advance against the federal army

Despite the announcement the day before of a “unilateral ceasefire” by the Ethiopian government after the loss of the main Tigrayan city, the rebels continued their advance on Tuesday. The dissident authorities in the Tigray region have assured that their struggle will “intensify” until all “enemies” leave the region.

The forces of the dissident authorities in Tigray gained ground on Tuesday (June 29th), the day after the capture of the regional capital Mekele, calling for the “enemies” to be driven out from this region of northern Ethiopia which has been at war for almost eight months.

The rebels continued their advance, despite the announcement on Monday evening of a “unilateral ceasefire” by the Ethiopian government, after the loss of the main Tigrayan city, a major turning point in the conflict.

Mekele had been under the control of the federal army since November 28, three weeks after the launch by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Nobel Peace Prize 2019, of an offensive to overthrow the authorities resulting from the People’s Liberation Front du Tigré (TPLF).

Despite the victory proclaimed after the fall of Mekele, fighting has never ceased between the pro-TPLF forces, which call themselves the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), and the Ethiopian Federal Army, supported by troops from the authorities. neighboring regions of Amhara and by soldiers from Eritrea, a country bordering Tigray.

In a statement released the night of Monday to Tuesday, the former regional government called on “our people and our army to intensify their struggle until our enemies completely leave Tigray”.

Telecommunications are cut in Tigray, making it difficult to verify information on troop movements. But according to a United Nations official and a security assessment note consulted by AFP, the TDF notably entered the town of Shire, north-west of Mekele.

As the day before in Mekele, the arrival of the TDF was celebrated by the inhabitants of Shire, deserted by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers and by officials of the local administration installed by Addis Ababa.

“The population has taken to the streets in droves. Huge crowds have gathered along the main roads,” reads the UN security note.

Situation reversal

The International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank believes that the TDF now control “most of the region, including the big cities”.

On Tuesday evening, a spokesman for rebel forces, Getachew Reda, went so far as to threaten to “march” on the respective capitals of Eritrea and Ethiopia.

“We will do whatever it takes to protect Tigray. If it is necessary to march on Asmara to protect Tigray, we will do it. If it is necessary to march on Addis to protect Tigray, we will. Nothing is. excluded, “he told AFP, calling the ceasefire a” joke “.

In the space of ten days, the pro-TPLF rebels have dramatically reversed the balance of power on the ground.

Although they did not control any major city for months, their leaders had repeatedly claimed to cluster in remote rural areas. They launched their offensive on April 18, three days before the much-anticipated national elections, which were held across much of Ethiopia.

The TDF have ensured their progress “mainly thanks to massive popular support and the capture of enemy weapons and equipment,” said William Davison, analyst at the ICG.

Famine and the risk of epidemics

The conflict in Tigray was marked by numerous abuses against civilians (massacres, rapes, population displacements, etc.) which aroused the indignation of the international community.

Amhara forces there have been accused of annexing certain areas, where “ethnic cleansing” has taken place, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a statement, the Amhara branch of Abiy Ahmed’s party said it would oppose any attempt to retake these territories.

The humanitarian situation is catastrophic in Tigray. According to the UN, at least 350,000 people are in a situation of famine in the region – which the Ethiopian government disputes – and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday reiterated its concern about the risk of epidemics.

The ceasefire announced by Addis Ababa was welcomed Tuesday by China, France and the United Arab Emirates, as well as by the African Union (AU), which spoke of a “humanitarian ceasefire”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday he was “hopeful that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place.”

The United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom have called for an emergency public meeting of the UN Security Council, which could be held on Friday.

Western countries have never succeeded in holding a public session on Tigray, African states, China, Russia and other members of the Council deeming the crisis to be an internal Ethiopian affair.

With AFP

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