The Tigrayan forces returned to Mekele and

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A spectacular turnaround in Tigray in northern Ethiopia: the region, at war since November, was the site, on Monday 28 June 2021, of a major offensive by the Tigray rebels, which seized the capital Mekele province. An important piece for the Ethiopian army and the government of Abiy Ahmed. Tigrayan Forces (TDF) seems to be able to control other cities.

The regional capital is now under the control of TDF. The insurgents’ approach had created a wave of panic in Mekele. The interim administration had left the scene just before, as did the federal troops who, according to witnesses, committed thefts, including material from humanitarian organizations.

Otherwise, the information remains fragmented, too communication is reduced with Tigray. Nevertheless, several sources speak of a rebel heading south, with a recovery of the towns of Mehoni and Maychew, on the road leading to Alamata, an area conquered at the beginning of the war by Amhara militias from the neighboring region, as it is a territory which both parties dispute. Various callers also describe a progress for the TDF north of Mekele, with in particular a takeover of the city of Shire, confirmed by a diplomatic source, where thousands of people chased from the western Tigres are crowded into the camps for displaced people.

Tigrayan’s forces spokesman Getachew Reda told Reuters that they would pursue the retreating Ethiopian army, even if it meant entering Amara province or nearby Eritrea, “if necessary.”

Express operation

In several recycled places, including Mekele, residents celebrated the rebel’s arrival with demonstrations of joy and even fireworks. It must be said that the attack launched on Friday at five in the morning was dazzling. An operation called Alula, named after Ras Alula Aba Nega, a 19th-century Tigrayan general and politician.

We knew a counterattack was brewing. After the first defeats, the old power and its troops had retreated to the countryside and the mountains to prepare for reconquest. They were also favored by at least part of the population and by the Tigrayans who decided to join the armed struggle.

A ceasefire

At the same time, the Ethiopian federal authorities have therefore announced that they have declared a unilateral ceasefire on Monday, June 28, even when the Tigrayan rebels recaptured the capital Mekele and that their commanders for their part did not mention suspension of fighting. It was during the signing of the “Government of the National State of Tigray” that the uprising of the former TPLF celebrated the capture of the regional capital of Mekele on Monday night. “Tigray’s defense force and the legally elected Tigray government are back in their rightful place,” he said in a statement. But there is no mention of the ceasefire decided by Addis Ababa. On the contrary, the insurgency says “to pursue” the “invading forces” and speaks of “cleansing” operations.

On Addis Ababa’s side, the communication took place in two stages. First, the official press authority forwarded a “request” for a “humanitarian ceasefire” formulated by the head of Tigray’s government administration, Abraham Belay, as the plow. And this request was immediately followed by a dispatch announcing that the federal authorities had “accepted” this unilateral ceasefire, citing the difficulties associated with Covid-19, grasshoppers and population movements due to military operations. But this Tuesday, it is silence that prevails at this stage.

Another actor involved in this conflict in Tigray, the Eritrean government, has not formally responded to recent events. Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Ghebremeskel simply published a cryptic tweet, which seemed to say that for Eritrea, the war against the former TPLF continued, but without further clarification. However, the United Arab Emirates, which was Ethiopia’s ally at the beginning of the conflict, praised the ceasefire and “stressed”, which is new, “that a political solution is the only way to end the conflict in the country.”

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