Saturday, 28 November, 2020

AU Appoints 3 Envoys to Help Resolve Ethiopian Conflict

News Alert: Ethiopia says PM Abiy will receive AU Chair envoy “one on one”; news circulating on media quoting Ramaphosa’s statement on mediation “fake” Ethiopia Denies Dialogue On Conflict After AU Names Three Former Presidents As Mediators
Deanna Wagner | 22 November, 2020, 17:13

Claims by all sides are hard to verify because phone and internet communication has been down since fighting began on November 4.

The Ethiopian government has repeatedly said it will not engage in talks with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which it regards as a renegade administration, pointing to what the government says was a surprise attack the group launched on federal troops in Dansha, sparking the conflict.

"The next decisive battle is to surround Mekele with tanks", Dejene Tsegaye, a military spokesman, told state broadcasters on Sunday, threatening a siege of the city.

A communications blackout in the region has made claims from both sides in the conflict hard to verify, but hundreds of people are reported to have been killed while tens of thousands have fled the fighting into neighbouring Sudan.

"We want to send a message to the public in Mekelle to save yourselves from any artillery attacks and free yourselves from the junta ..."

The government has appointed an alternative interim government to run Tigray when troops take Mekelle.

However it also contradicted Ramaphosa, saying, "News circulating that the envoys will be traveling to Ethiopia to mediate between the Federal Government and TPLF criminal element is fake".

The party continues to rule Tigray, one of 10 regional states under Ethiopia's system of ethnic federalism whereby by regions are delineated by ethnicity and language.

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U.S. officials said they, too, had urged de-escalation, but saw little prospect for negotiations.

Reuters could not confirm the latest statements on the war. "They (are) sending waves after waves but to no avail".

Tigrayan forces were not immediately available for comment.

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

Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize past year for a peace pact with Eritrea, aims to capture TPLF leaders before talking. The rebels say Abiy's government has marginalised and persecuted Tigrayans since taking office two years ago.

The United Nations and other aid agencies have said the conflict is creating a humanitarian crisis in Tigray, where many among the more than 5 million population were already displaced and relying on food aid even before the conflict.

The TPLF is extremely popular in its home region and dominated national politics from 1991 until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018.