Ethiopia: Tigray rebels vow to drive out ‘enemies’ despite ceasefire

 Ethiopia: Tigray rebels vow to drive out ‘enemies’ despite ceasefire

Tigray rebels vow to drive out ‘enemies’ despite ceasefire

ADDIS ABABA, 29 June: Leaders in Ethiopia’s war-hit Tigray pledged to drive out “enemies” from the region suggesting fighting will continue despite a federal government ceasefire declaration.

Tigrayan forces were conducting “mop-up” operations on Tuesday against Ethiopian government forces retreating from the regional capital Mekelle and the city was “100 percent” back under their control

“Twenty-five minutes ago the active engagement in Mekelle was over,” Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), told Reuters news agency by satellite phone. “Our forces are still in hot pursuit to the south, east.”

A spokeswoman for the prime minister, a military spokesman, and the head of the government’s emergency taskforce in Tigray did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Eritrean forces – who fought alongside Ethiopia’s troops – are no longer visible in the town of Shire in Tigray, a witness told Reuters.

The retreat follows days of territorial gains by the Tigrayan forces battling Ethiopia’s government and its allies.

The witness, who declined to be named for security reasons, said the Eritrean soldiers had not been seen since Monday night. A second resident confirmed there was a large movement of Eritrean troops out of Shire towards a town in the north.

‘Difficult’ road to peace

The brutal war in Tigray has been marked by massacres, widespread sexual violence and other abuses.

The United Nations(UN) has also warned the conflict has pushed hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of famine.

In announcing its ceasefire, the federal government said it would last until the end of the current “farming season” and was intended to facilitate agricultural production and aid distribution while allowing rebel fighters “to return to a peaceful road”.

UN Secretary-General(UNSG) Antonio Guterres said on Monday he had spoken with Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, and was “hopeful that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place”.

He called recent events in Tigray “extremely worrisome” saying they “demonstrate, once again, that there is no military solution to the crisis”.

Britain, the United States, and Ireland have called for an emergency UN Security Council public meeting, which could happen on Friday, diplomatic sources said.

The Security Council has failed to hold a public session on Tigray since the war erupted, with many African countries, China, Russia and other nations deeming the crisis an internal Ethiopian affair.

Samuel Getachew, a freelance journalist based in Addis Ababa, said there is pressure for “some kind of ceasefire” because of the conflict’s regional implications.

“It is a regional conflict, the Eritreans are involved in the north, some Ethiopians are heading to Sudan so it’s no longer an Ethiopian issue,” Getachew told international media.

“Ethiopia is a very powerful nation within the region, what happens in Ethiopia, especially on a large scale, will have an impact on other countries.”

Throughout the fighting, Abiy has benefitted from the military backing of soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea and Ethiopia’s Amhara region, which borders Tigray to the south.

These forces’ involvement “will complicate a blanket application of a temporary ceasefire, which so far appears to be a mostly unilateral move by the federal government”, said Connor Vasey, an analyst with the risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

Should discussions on a possible political settlement actually go ahead, they “are likely to be difficult and protracted”, Vasey said.

Web Desk

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