Ethiopia announces unilateral ceasefire in Tigray: Armed forces pull out of Mekelle
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The armed forces of Ethiopia have pulled out of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray. This rapid development happened after the government of Ethiopia declared a unilateral ceasefire that coverts the region of Tigray.
Irrespective of recent advancements by Tigrayan fighters, the military pullout by Ethiopia was planned and the factors behind this will be complex. Also, the government of Ethiopia under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is facing increased international pressure because of the specter of famine hitting the region.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, spoke personally with the leader of Ethiopia. Guterres told Abiy that it is “essential that civilians are protected, humanitarian aid reaches the people in need and a political solution is found”.
The BBC reports, “More than five million people are in urgent need of food aid, the UN says, with 350,000 facing famine.”
The Ethiopian government said the unilateral cease-fire “will enable farmers to till their land, aid groups to operate without any military movement around and engage with remnants (of Tigray’s former ruling party) who seek peace.”
New York Times reports, “The Ethiopian military has occupied the Tigray region since last November, after invading in cooperation with Eritrean and militia forces to wrest control from the regional government. The Tigrayan forces, known as the Tigray Defense Forces, spent months regrouping and recruiting new fighters, and then in the past week began a rolling counterattack back toward the capital, Mekelle.”
The complexity of the crisis and with Ethiopia facing other important issues, notably regional tensions over the Grand Renaissance Dam, means that Ethiopia is taking a step back in the hope of a compromise with regional Tigrayan political forces. At the same time, Abiy is listening to the United Nations and others concerning the enormous humanitarian crisis unleashed by the conflict in Tigray.
Associated Press (AP) reports, “The cease-fire could calm a war that has destabilized Africa’s second most populous country and threatened to do the same in the wider Horn of Africa, where Ethiopia has been seen as a key security ally for the West. It comes as the country awaits the results of national elections that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promoted as the centerpiece of reforms that won him the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.”
It is hoped that all sides in the crisis will halt all military fighting and that humanitarian agencies can assist the untold numbers blighted by the conflict. Equally, that Abiy and regional forces in Tigray will build on all positive steps to find a political solution that suits all parties.
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