NewsWorldIn Ethiopia, rebels in Tigray put conditions on ceasefire

In Ethiopia, rebels in Tigray put conditions on ceasefire


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The rebel authorities in Tigray on Sunday said they accepted a “ceasefire in principle” in this region of northern Ethiopia which they have largely regained control, while laying down conditions that make a formal agreement difficult with the government .

The Ethiopian leaders will they accept the conditions set by the rebel authorities in Tigray? The latter gave, Sunday, July 4, their agreement in principle to a ceasefire, but they demand in particular the withdrawal of the Eritrean and Amhara forces, which support the Ethiopian army in the military operation that it has been carrying out for eight months against the former regional government, as well as the reinstatement of this government considered dissident by Addis Ababa.

Tigray has been the scene of fighting since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the army in early November to overthrow the local government, which emerged from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner accused these leaders of orchestrating attacks on military bases.

The pro-TPLF forces (Tigray Defense Forces, TDF) retook the regional capital Mekele on June 28. The federal government has declared a “unilateral ceasefire”. But the TDF continued to advance and regained control of much of Tigrayan territory, with the exception of areas in the west and south of the region annexed by forces of regional authorities neighboring Amhara.

Many countries and the UN have called for respect for the ceasefire, in particular in order to be able to deliver humanitarian aid to the population. “Provided that we have a foolproof guarantee that the security of our people will not be compromised by a second series of invasions, we accept a ceasefire in principle,” said Sunday a statement signed by the “government of Tiger”.

“However, before a ceasefire agreement is formalized, the following thorny issues must be resolved,” the text continues, before listing conditions.

Addis Ababa does not want to talk to TPLF leaders

The first is the return of the Eritrean and Amhara “invading forces” “to their pre-war territories”. Eritrea, bordering Tigray in the north, intervened from the first months of the conflict.

The Asmara regime has been the sworn enemy of the TPLF since a bloody border war between it and Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000, when the TPLF was in power in Addis Ababa. Its army is accused of atrocities against Tigrayan civilians (summary executions, rapes), and the US and the EU have repeatedly called for their departure.

This week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) reported that the Eritreans have largely “withdrawn from Tigray”, moving towards their border. The forces of Amhara, an Ethiopian region bordering southern Tigray, have taken advantage of the conflict to annex fertile areas in western Tigray. The Amhara believe that the TPLF seized it illegally in the early 1990s.

The press release also calls for the resumption of activities “of the democratically elected government of Tigray, with all its powers and constitutional responsibilities”.

The federal government did not immediately respond to AFP’s requests. But the power of Addis Ababa has always rejected any dialogue with the leaders of the TPLF, classified as a terrorist organization by Parliament in May. Ethiopian leaders said in a closed-door meeting with diplomats on Friday that the government was preparing for an “inclusive dialogue to resolve the Tigray crisis”, while reiterating that it would not be done with the leaders. of the TPLF.

Addis Ababa wishes to see them “to account” because “the actions of the TPLF must be condemned”, they affirmed, according to three participants in this meeting. Hunted for months, these leaders, including the strongman of the region, Debretsion Gebremichael, have returned to Mekele.

An alarming humanitarian situation

The rebel authorities for their part are calling on Sunday “for procedures to hold Abiy Ahmed and Issaias Aferworki (the Eritrean president) to account (on) the damage they have caused”. They also want the UN to create an “independent body of inquiry” into “horrible crimes” committed against civilians during the conflict.

They also reaffirmed their “unreserved support to those who engage in the delivery of humanitarian aid”, saying they are ready to guarantee and ensure their security. The humanitarian situation in Tigray is alarming. According to the UN, more than 400,000 people have “crossed the threshold of famine” in the region and an additional 1.8 million people “are on the brink of famine”.

Electricity and telecommunications are cut, flights suspended and two crucial bridges for delivering aid were destroyed this week. Accused of wanting to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching the region, the Ethiopian government has denied any responsibility.

With AFP



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