Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed tweeted an official statement on Thursday indicating the ‘final phase’ of an armed offensive
By Moyurie Som | 3.50 p.m. Nov. 26
- The 72-hour surrender period given to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front by Ethiopia’s federal government is drawing to a close
- The Ethiopian National Defence Forces have reportedly been asked to move on Tigray capital Mekelle
- PM Abiy Ahmed has asked civilians to “disarm, stay at home, and stay away from military targets”
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP): According to the statement tweeted by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the country’s National Defence Forces have been directed to mobilise in the Tigrayan capital of Mekele, to “conclude the third and final phase” of the federal government’s “rule of law operations” in the region. This comes after the expiry of the 72-hour period that was given to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to surrender to the federal government.
PM Abiy, in his statement, also instructed the civilians of Mekele to “disarm, stay at home, and stay away from military targets”.
“…Our National Defence Forces have carefully devised a strategy to bring the TPLF criminal clique to justice, without harming innocent civilians, heritage sites, places of worship, development institutions and property.”
Final Phase of the Rule of Law Operations Commences pic.twitter.com/TAAyZxSe0U
— Abiy Ahmed Ali 🇪🇹 (@AbiyAhmedAli) November 26, 2020
On Nov. 22, PM Abiy had declared a 72-hour ultimatum for the TPLF to surrender, adding that the Tigrayan leaders were at a “point of no return”. This was in regard to the conflict between the people of Tigray and the Ethiopian federal government that killed 600 civilians and resulted in tens of thousands of refugees.
The TPLF had refused to concede.
Ethiopia is made up of 10 semi-autonomous federal states or kililoch, distinguished along ethnolinguistic lines. Tigray is in the northernmost part of Ethiopia. According to the BBC, Tigrayans comprise 6% of the entire Ethiopian population.
The TPLF dominated Ethiopia’s political landscape for three decades, until the arrival of the current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in April 2018, who belongs to the Oromo ethnic group. Under Abiy’s administration, Tigrayans alleged that they were victims of ethnic targeting, citing unjust persecution for corruption and other crimes, and erasure of Tigrayans from powerful positions.
In August, the Prime Minister deferred the national polls in Ethiopia due to the pandemic. But Tigray reportedly defied the federal government and conducted its own elections on Sept. 8, 2020.
The TPLF won the regional elections by a landslide. PM Abiy refused to accept the newly elected TPLF government in Tigray, declaring the election ‘shanty’.
This girl has fled with thousands of others from brutal violence in Tigray, Ethiopia to a refugee camp in Sudan.
UNICEF is on the ground, working to reach children with safe water, nutrition and psychological support.
More than anything, the children of Tigray need peace. pic.twitter.com/7IKKG6EXid
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) November 25, 2020
On November 4, PM Abiy declared that the TPLF triggered a ‘military confrontation’ by crossing a ‘red line’ and reportedly attacking the federal troops in Tigray. He then directed Ethiopian forces to move in the offensive against the regional forces.
The TPLF dismissed Abiy’s claims, allegedly citing it as a way for the PM to mobilise the military in the region.
On November 9, 600 civilians were killed in a massacre in Tigray’s Mai-Kadra, with both parties accusing the other of committing atrocities. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 40,000 refugees have since fled the conflict region for Sudan.