Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abi Ahmed has strongly rejected efforts by international forces to end hostilities in the north of the country.
The statement of Abijah Wednesday came hours before the deadline for handing over leadership of the troubled Tigris region expired, after which federal troops were ordered to attack its capital, Meckel.
There are growing calls for mediation to end the conflict that threatens to destabilize the East African region. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have died so far, and many more have been forced to flee their homes.
The leader of the People’s Liberation Front Tigray (TPLF), the region’s ruling party, said on Tuesday that his people were “ready to die” defending their homeland, rejecting a request by the prime minister on Sunday night to lay down their arms within 72 hours.
Abijah launched a military campaign against the TPLF on November 4, accusing him of attacking federal military camps in the northern region and seeking to destabilize the country.
The 44-year-old leader, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said the TPLF had staged a “series of violent attacks” across Ethiopia to “frustrate the democratization process”.
“A fundamental element of the international legal order is the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states … We respectfully call on the international community to refrain from any undesirable and illegal interference,” Abij said.
Key events leading up to the Titi crisis in Ethiopia
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) ousts Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, the head of the communist junta that has ruled the country since 1974. The coalition group is led by the Tigra People’s Liberation Front (TLFF), guerrilla fighters who have left their homeland in northern Ethiopia for the capital, Addis Ababa.
Proclaimed Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
EPRDF takes power in disputed elections, and TPLF leader Meles Zenavi becomes Ethiopia’s prime minister. Tigers dominate the upper echelons of government.
Melesh introduces a system that gives the country’s major ethnic groups a chance to govern the areas they dominate. Although Tigranes make up about 5% of the population, they have disproportionate benefits, with other regions complaining that roads and other infrastructure are being built in their sparsely populated area.
The prime minister dies in office and is appointed heir to another ethnic group.
The EPRDF is divided over how quickly political reforms can proceed in response to street protests threatening the coalition.
Abiy Ahmed comes to power
Abiy Ahmed, Oromo, takes over as prime minister, winning praise at home and abroad for opening up one of Africa’s most restrictive political and economic systems.
Tigranes complain that they have been persecuted in the fight against corruption and abuse in the past. Former senior military and political officials are on trial.
Abbey was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his peace efforts, ending two decades of hostility to Eritrea. The TPLF continues to view Eritrea as an enemy.
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition agrees to form a single party, but the TPLF refuses to merge with three other ethnic parties, calling the move hasty and undemocratic.
Tigray is holding regional elections in defiance of the federal government, which has postponed nationwide polls due in August over Covid-19. The Abijah government says the vote is illegal.
The federal government is beginning to withhold some funds earmarked for welfare programs in Tigray, as part of a plan to starve the regional government of cash in retaliation for the vote.
Fighting breaks out
Abiy sends troops to Tigray, accusing the TPLF of attacking federal troops based in the region. The TPLF accuses Abijah of punishing the region for the September vote. Reuters
In his first year in office since coming to power in 2018, Abiy released thousands of political prisoners and made a series of changes. Some of them were replaced in his second year, amid rising political and ethnic tensions.
Officials in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, have described the Tigris offensive as a “law enforcement operation” aimed at removing “treacherous” rebel leaders and returning them to central government. The TPLF says it is defending its legitimate rights under Ethiopia’s distorted constitutional system.
The Federal Army told reporters that its forces are located 60 kilometers from Meckel, the headquarters of the TPLF.
The army has threatened a “relentless” attack on the city, warning civilians to distance themselves from the TPLF and leave as long as they can. The threat has sparked global concern, with human rights activists saying it could violate international legal codes.
Abijah called on the people of Mecca to side with the national army against the TPLF “in bringing this treacherous group to justice”.
TPLF officials denied that McCell was surrounded and his spokesman, Getachev Reda, said an important army unit – which he called the 21st Mechanized Division – had been destroyed in an attack on Raja-Wajirat led by the unit’s former commander, who is now fights TPLF. A spokesman for the prime minister, Billy Seymour, denied the allegations.
However, the collision appears to have occurred 15-20 miles (25-35 km) from McClellan, indicating that federal troops were advancing a considerable distance to Tigray from the border with the neighboring province of Amhara, where most of their forces began. two weeks ago.
Relying on the principle of non-intervention, Abiy hopes to garner support from other African countries and return to heightened pressure from the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and other ceasefire powers, analysts say.
The UN Security Council has scheduled, canceled and then rescheduled its first meeting to discuss the situation on Tuesday, as African and European nations debate a debate.
The EU, a major donor to Ethiopia, has also expressed concern about “increasing violence against ethnic communities, numerous casualties and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law”.
The president of the African Union, South African President Cyril Ramafoza, has backed the sending of three senior officials to Ethiopia, an initiative the UN has praised for “efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully” but seems to have lost momentum.
Officials in Addis Ababa said not all lawmakers would be allowed to meet with the TPLF leadership.
Ethiopia has long been a major blow to US policy in the fragile East African region, and so far Washington has backed Abyssinia.
Tibor Nagy, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said last week: “This is not a struggle between two sovereign states. “This is a faction of the government that governs a region that has decided to take hostilities against the central government.”
However, Akeake Sullivan, National Security Officer to US President-elect Bo Biden On Wednesday, he said he was “deeply concerned about the risk of violence against civilians, including potential war crimes, in the fighting over Meckele in Ethiopia” and called for an immediate start to dialogue on both sides, facilitated by the African Union.
The blackout of communications in the region makes it difficult to verify the allegations on both sides.