The leader of Ethiopia’s war-hit Tigray promised to expel the “enemy” from the region, implying that the fighting will continue despite the federal government’s declaration of a ceasefire.
On Tuesday, the Tigray army was conducting a “mopping up” operation against the Ethiopian government forces retreating from the regional capital of Mekle, and the city was “100%” under their control again.
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesperson Getachew Reda told Reuters via satellite phone: “Merkeler’s active participation ended 25 minutes ago.” “Our troops are still heading south. Pursue eastward.”
The prime minister’s spokesperson, military spokesperson, and the head of the emergency task force of the Tigray government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
An eyewitness told Reuters that the Eritrean army fighting alongside the Ethiopian army had disappeared in the Shire town of Tigray.
Before retreating, the Tigray army fought the Ethiopian government and its allies, and obtained territory for several days.
Witnesses, who declined to be named for security reasons, said that Eritrean soldiers have not been there since Monday night. The second resident confirmed that the Eritrean army moved from Shire to northern towns on a large scale.
Last November, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Abiy Ahmed) sent federal troops into Tigray to overthrow the TPLF government. He said that the move was in response to the TPLF’s attack on the federal barracks and promised a quick victory.
But nearly eight months later, when the rebels entered Merkler on Monday, the operation was hit hard. Federal soldiers and members of the Provisional Regional Government appointed by Abbey fled, triggering street celebrations.
The Abbey government subsequently announced on Monday night Announcing a “unilateral ceasefire” – Although TPLF did not immediately respond.
“The Tigray government and army will perform all necessary tasks to ensure the survival and safety of our people,” the TPLF statement said. “The Tigray government calls on our people and the Tigray army to intensify the struggle until our enemy completely leaves Tigray.”
A guerrilla war
Al Jazeera’s Shiba Morgan reported in neighbouring Sudan’s Khartoum that the announcement of the ceasefire by the federal government acknowledged that the Ethiopian Defense Forces were in a different situation from a week ago.
“Let us not forget that on November 28, about three weeks after the attack on the Tigray area, Prime Minister Abi Ahmed declared that the war was basically over and the situation was stable. [new] The government,” Morgan said.
“He did not announce a ceasefire at the time. The Tigray Liberation Movement stated that even if it was a guerrilla warfare, they would continue to fight, which apparently happened a few months after Abiy announced it.”
Although the Tigray Defence Force has not controlled any major cities and towns for months, its leaders have repeatedly boasted that they are regrouping in remote rural areas.
Last week, they launched a major offensive that coincided with the highly anticipated national elections in Ethiopia, which took place in most parts of the country but were not held in Tigray.
The results of the polls have not yet been announced, but it is widely expected that they will provide Abi with a formal authorization.
The “difficult” road to peace
The brutal war in Tigray was marked by massacres, widespread sexual violence and other abuses.
The UN also warned that the conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people On the verge of famine.
When announcing the ceasefire, the federal government stated that the ceasefire will last until the end of the current “agricultural season”, aiming to promote agricultural production and the distribution of aid supplies, while allowing the rebels to “return to the path of peace.”
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday that he had talked with Abi, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, and “hoped that both sides can effectively cease hostilities.”
He called the recent incidents in Tigray “extremely worrying” and said they “reaffirmed once again that there is no military solution to this crisis.”
Diplomatic sources said the United Kingdom, the United States and Ireland called on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency public meeting, which may be held on Friday.
Since the outbreak of the war, the Security Council has failed to hold a public meeting on the Tigray issue. Many African countries, China, Russia and other countries consider this crisis to be an internal affair of Ethiopia.
Throughout the battle, Abi benefited from the military support of soldiers in neighboring Eritrea and the Amhara region bordering Tigray in southern Ethiopia.
Connor Vasey, an analyst at risk consulting firm Eurasia Group, said that the intervention of these forces “will complicate the full implementation of the temporary ceasefire, which so far appears to be a unilateral act of the federal government.” Initiatives”.
Vasey said that if discussions about possible political solutions do continue, they “may be difficult and protracted.”