Troops loyal to the former ruling party in the Tigray region of the Ethiopian rebels have entered the regional capital of Merkele, which is the worst blow to the Addis Ababa government since the terrible clashes in November last year.
“We have taken over Meckler,” a member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front said eight months after the start of a civil war that is likely to result in thousands of deaths, displacement of millions of people, and famine. fear.
A resident of Merkel said, “Because the soldiers control the city, everyone is very happy.” People waved red and yellow Tigray flags. But they added that within a radius of about 25 kilometers around the city, “there is still war.”
The calls of the officials of the Tigray Provisional Government appointed by Addis Ababa were unanswered, but witnesses and reports said they had fled the capital of Tigray.
Billene Seyoum, spokesperson Prime Minister Abi AhmedNo comment on the Tigrayan army taking over Mekelle.
But she confirmed that the Ethiopian government had declared an “unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” on Monday.International organizations have sounded the alarm Hundreds of thousands of people live in a famine-like environment.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said after talking to Abiy on Monday night that he hopes to “effectively cease hostilities in Tigray.”
In recent weeks, diplomatic and humanitarian sources have stated that troops loyal to the TPLF have retaken the territory occupied by the Ethiopian Federal Army.
TPLF senior member Getachew Reda said on Sunday that “our troops are gaining more and more money,” but his statement could not be confirmed. On Monday, he told Reuters via satellite phone that Meckler was “under our control.”
The fighting began in the Tigray region, the northernmost part of Ethiopia In early November, Abi sent troops to overthrow TPLF.
Government officials argued that after troops loyal to the TPLF attacked the northern headquarters of the federal army, he had no choice but to invade Tigray.Abiy had promised that the action would quickly restore law and order, but the conflict has become a protracted one. war This triggered the so-called massacre, Contributing to the humanitarian crisis.
It also absorbed troops from neighboring Eritrea. Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, was attacked by rebel rockets. Its strongman leader Isaias Afwerki hated TPLF. This conflict shocked the international community, and they awarded the Abi Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
The Addis Ababa government referred to the long-term dominant TPLF in Tigray as a “criminal group.” Until 2018, when Abiy took office, as the main member of the Ethiopian four-party coalition for nearly 30 years in power, TPLF played a decisive role in national politics.
The Tigray people have a long history of fighting Addis Ababa. They opposed Emperor Haile Selassie in the so-called Woyane Rebellion in the 1940s. Forty years later, they led a successful guerrilla war against the Marxist Dege regime and came to power in 1991 after marching into Addis Ababa.
The risk consulting firm Eurasian stated in a report on Monday that the unilateral ceasefire statement was issued after the fighters loyal to the TPLF had achieved several important military results, adding that the Tigray fighters “may join an interim agreement , Because it provides an opportunity to consolidate this wave “local support and consolidation of its position in Mekelle and its surrounding areas”.
However, it warned that “although this opens the door to dialogue for a more comprehensive resolution of the conflict, the discussion may be difficult and protracted”.