Accept our rule or no ceasefire, say rebels


Captured Ethiopian soldiers marched through the Tigrayan regional capital Mekelle on Friday

Rebels in Ethiopia’s Tigray region say they must be recognized as its legitimate government before agreeing to a ceasefire.

The withdrawal of Eritrean troops was another prerequisite on a long list.

Authorities in Addis Ababa had previously declared a unilateral ceasefire as rebels took over much of the region and government officials fled.

Eight months of fighting between rebels and government forces left thousands dead.

More than two million people have been displaced and 400,000 are now affected by famine, according to the UN, with 1.8 million more on the brink of famine.

The rebels of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) initially described the Ethiopian government’s ceasefire as a “joke” and vowed to drive their “enemies” from the region.

This included Eritrean troops and pro-Ethiopian government forces from Ethiopia’s Amhara region south of Tigray.

But they have now produced a long list of preconditions for agreeing to a ceasefire, including an independent investigation into alleged war crimes, the provision of humanitarian assistance, and the restoration of basic services such as the electricity.

“As long as we have an infallible guarantee that the security of our people will not be compromised by a second round of invasions, we accept a ceasefire in principle,” he added. a press release signed by the “government of Tigray” said Sunday.

BBC World Service Africa editor-in-chief Will Ross said that in order for the Addis Ababa government to accept this prerequisite for rebel recognition, it would have to effectively admit that it lost the war and did not failed to drive away his enemy.

There are growing international calls for a ceasefire so that aid reaches the millions of war victims, he says, but it will take a huge compromise on all sides to achieve this. peace.

The conflict began on November 4, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive against regional forces in Tigray. He said he did so in response to an attack on a military base housing government troops there.

The escalation came after months of feuds between Mr. Abiy’s government and TPLF leaders.

After the first successes, notably the capture of the Tigrayan capital Mekelle, the Ethiopian army supported by Eritrean troops and Amhara forces got bogged down in fighting with the TPLF rebels.

Last week, Tigrayan forces recaptured Mekelle.

All parties to the conflict have been accused of committing massacres and human rights violations. Several thousand captured Ethiopian soldiers marched through the streets of Mekelle on Friday.

Ahmed’s government in Addis Ababa has so far refused to negotiate with TPLF leaders and has labeled the group a terrorist organization.

Tigray – the basics

  • Ethiopia is divided into 10 ethnically defined regional states described as largely autonomous, but with central institutions

  • In 2018, following anti-government protests, Abiy Ahmed took over and introduced reforms

  • Powerful politicians in Tigray, Ethiopia’s northernmost state, accused Abiy of trying to increase federal power

  • Relations deteriorated, and after the government accused Tigrayan rebels of attacking military bases, the Ethiopian military intervened in November.

  • Mr Abiy said the conflict ended at the end of November, but the fighting continued and escalated ahead of the national elections on June 21

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