Ethiopian military seized Mekelle “if vital”

Ethiopian army seized Mekelle “if necessary”

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ADDIS ABABA – In what appears to be a retort to the Tigray Defense Forces [TDF] Victory in Mekelle, the Ethiopian government now claims that the army can return to the city in the north of the Tigray region “if necessary”, casting doubt on the recently declared ceasefire.

A federal government spokesperson said the ceasefire that was declared on Monday was deliberately aimed at allowing humanitarian missions to help thousands of people facing famine in the war-torn region.

The statement comes hours after the Tigray Defense Forces claimed victory in the town where they had been evicted for several months. The team said they had expelled ENDF troops from the regional administrative capital, adding that “we will pursue our enemies”.

“Ethiopia is exposed to attack from outside” because of the conflict, Redwan Hussein, spokesperson for the Ethiopian government task force on Tigray, told reporters, apparently referring to Sudan.

On Monday, amid reports of Tigray troops reaching downtown Mekelle, the regional capital, the federal government issued a statement declaring a unilateral ceasefire with immediate effect.

Getachew Rada, spokesman for the overthrown Tigray government that was under the TPLF, told Reuters on Tuesday that the ceasefire declaration was a “joke”. Telephone lines were down in Mekelle on Wednesday.

Redwan described the ceasefire as a political decision “taken for a humanitarian cause”.

“If it is necessary, we can easily enter Mekelle and we can enter in less than three weeks,” he said.

The TPLF, an ethnically-based political party that has dominated Ethiopian national politics for nearly three decades, has been fighting the central government since early November. He made major territorial gains over the past week.

But TDF also threatened to sue Amhara regional forces and Eritrean troops who had been stationed in Tigray for months during the war. Rada insisted that the TDF “will not leave anything to chance until we defeat our enemies”.

Fighting in the area began when the TPLF, now TDF, attacked the northern command, killing and kidnapping a number of Ethiopian soldiers. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed ENDF troops to the region, which were closely assisted by regional forces from Eritrea and Amhara to free TPLF fighters.

Humanitarian missions say thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, the worst since Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018. He is also struggling to impose his authority across the country, with a number of cases of ethnic violence is also increasing rapidly.

AXADLETM

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