Published: Sun, November 22, 2020

Ethiopia Pushes Toward Tigray Capital, Rebuffs African Mediation

Ethiopia Pushes Toward Tigray Capital, Rebuffs African Mediation

TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael told Reuters news agency by text message that his forces were resisting a push from south of Mekelle while also fighting near the northern town of Adigrat after it had fallen to federal troops.

The federal government has been pushing the military further into the Tigray region, which is under the de facto rule of the TPLF (Tigray People's Liberation Front), which state officials describe as a "military junta".

According to Reuters, it's hard to verify the current positions of the forces, as internet and phone lines have been down since the conflict began.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, have died and more than 30,000 refugees have fled to Sudan since the conflict erupted on November 4.

Ethiopia's military on Sunday threatened a "decisive" assault on the capital of the dissident Tigray region as it seeks to oust the local government, warning the city's half a million civilians to flee and warning that the onslaught would show "no mercy".

While many Tigrayan special forces and militiamen had surrendered or scattered around Adigrat, resistance was stronger on the southern front, Mr Redwan said, where rebels have dug up roads, destroyed bridges and booby-trapped roads.

United Nations officials in Geneva said that around $200 million will be needed to provide assistance to as many as 200,000 people who could flee unrest over the next six months.

The Ethiopian government rebuffed an African effort to mediate on Saturday, saying its troops had seized another town in their march towards the rebel-held capital of northern Tigray region.

This comes as the African Union on Friday night named former Presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa as special envoys to help restore normalcy in the country.

Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize past year for a peace pact with neighbouring Eritrea, has said he wants to remove the TPLF leaders before talking.

Abiy accuses the Tigrayan leaders of revolting against central authority and attacking federal troops in the town of Dansha.

But the rebels have said his Government has marginalised Tigrayans since taking office two years ago, removing them from senior roles in government and the military and detaining many on rights abuse and corruption charges.

Aid agencies fear a humanitarian disaster in a region where hundreds of thousands relied on food aid and were displaced even before fighting began.

Abiy also appointed an alternative interim government to run Tigray.

The prime minister drew plaudits for opening up Ethiopia's closed economy and repressive political system after taking office.

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