Ethiopian MPs back plan to replace Tigray government

Monday, November 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Photo/Courtesy

Addis Ababa, Sunday

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed further air strikes after jets bombed the northern Tigray region amid reports that Tigrayan forces had seized control of federal military sites and weapons.

“Our operation aims to end the impunity that has prevailed for far too long and hold accountable individuals and groups under the laws of the land,” Abiy said on Twitter on Saturday.

Abiy said on Friday that air strikes had already neutralised “rockets that can hit a range of 300km (186 miles) from where they are stationed in Mekele City and other places in the vicinity”, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.

Ethiopia’s parliament voted on Saturday to approve the formation of an interim government for the Tigray region as fighting continued and fears of all-out war escalated.

Ethiopia’s federal government said the interim administration will “appoint officials, ensure the respect for rule of law, approve the region’s budget and facilitate the process of conducting elections”.

Experts and diplomats are watching in dismay as two heavily armed forces clash in one of the world’s most strategic yet vulnerable regions, the Horn of Africa.

Observers warn a civil war in Ethiopia – Africa’s second most populous country with 110 million people – could suck in or destabilise neighbours such as Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia.

Full-fledged war?

A statement posted Saturday on the Facebook page of the Tigray government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, said it will win the “justified” war, and added “a fighter will not negotiate with its enemies”.

“Tigray’s people are now armed with modern weaponry that could reach the seat of the infidels,” it added, an apparent reference to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. There was no reference to Saturday’s move by the federal government.

A simmering dispute between Abiy Ahmed’s federal government and his former Tigrayan allies exploded on Wednesday after Abiy ordered a military campaign, accusing the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking a federal military base and trying to steal equipment.

Ethiopian jets bombed the Tigray region as reports emerged that Tigrayan forces had seized control of key federal military sites and weapons.

Countries in the region fear the crisis could escalate into a full-fledged war under Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending a decades-old conflict with neighbouring Eritrea but has had to contend with outbreaks of ethnic unrest.

Abiy defended his decision as a limited military operation necessary to restore law and order in the region.

On Saturday, the upper house of Parliament “passed a decision to abolish the existing illegal Tigray regional assembly and executive, and for a caretaker administration to be formed”, state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported. - AFP

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