The government authorities in Ethiopia have ordered a military offensive after an army base was taken over by the forces loyal to the government in the state of Tigray. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad accused the regional ruling part, Tigray People’s Liberation Front, of the attack.
In response to the violent attack, the cabinet has decided to impose a state of emergency in the region for more than six months. Moreover, the federal government has shut down internet services, telephone lines, and electricity. In recent months, the tension between the TPLF and the federal administration has escalated, with both the parties accusing each other of using the military against one another.
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In an extraordinary session, Ethiopia’s national parliament proposed the TPLF be designated as a terrorist organization. While addressing the nation in a televised address, Abiy accused the TPLF of looting the military assets and added that the regional party had crossed all red lines, forcing the government into an armed confrontation with the angered group.
Before falling out with the incumbent Premier of the country, the TPLF was a part of the ruling coalition. Besides that, he accused the rebel group of dressing its fighters in military uniforms resembling those in Eritrea. Abiy added that their main aim was to implicate the Eritrean government in baseless claims of aggression against the people of the state of Tigray.
Abiy said, “The military in Ethiopia has been attacked from behind by its citizens, and many have been martyred, wounded and properties destroyed.” However, even a day after the attack, the details of the armed attack have not been verified yet. Meanwhile, the international media reports suggest that Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, the headquarters of the northern command, is under the control of regional forces.
There was a calm in Tigray’s capital. People were seen walking on the streets, but the authorities halted public transport and imposed restrictions, including airspace closure, BBC reported. It further added that the national flag career had been stopped from flying, and the state’s biggest telecom industry has also been closed.
Even though the government in Ethiopia has imposed a state of emergency, it remains unclear how it will implement the restriction given that the local military is in control of the region. Debretsion Gebremichael, the President of the regional government, alleged that the federal administration was attacking them in what he called punishment for organizing elections for its parliament.
This move by the regional powers was in direct defiance of the electoral commission and federal government’s decision to postpone all the election until the coronavirus outbreak in Ethiopia. Abiy’s government has rejected the results of the local polls, saying that these are “illegal.”
Since 1991, the TPLF has been a key player in the Ethiopian political system. But in 2018, when Prime Minister Abiy took office following mass protests by ethnic Oromos, the group’s power has waned. Amidst the growing unrest in the country, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Premier is facing criticism from all sides with accusations that he has reversed the forms he initiated earlier and ongoing ethnic clashes in parts of the country.
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