Tag Archives: Tigray region

EU: Haavisto second mission to Ethiopia

Pekka Haavisto, Foreign Minister of Finland, mandated by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, is undertaking a second mission to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Foreign Minister will discuss the situation in Ethiopia, notably the crisis in Tigray and its regional implications. Haavisto second mission to Ethiopia

During his visit, Haavisto will meet with Ethiopian authorities, and convey The EU’s continued concern regarding the humanitarian situation in Tigray, calling all parties to end hostilities and for the respect of International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law, as well as to allow independent investigations on alleged human rights abuse. He will also recall that Eritrean forces shall withdraw from Tigray. Finally, he will consult with the African Union to exchange views on the situation in Ethiopia as well as on regional issues.

On his way to Ethiopia, Haavisto is travelling to Saudi Arabia and to the United Arab Emirates for discussions on regional issues as well as the situation in Tigray.

He will report about his visit to European Ministers of Foreign Affairs during the next Foreign Affairs Council in April.

Mekelle shrouded in unknown

Brussels 29.11.2020 While the EU multiples its calls for peace in Tigray region, the Ethiopian government launched a manhunt on Sunday, November 29, for leaders of the political leadership of The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after announcing Federal troops had taken over the regional capital Mekelle and the military operations were completed. In the context of an issued by the government ban of journalists to enter the area, and shutdown of the internet upon the Federal government orders, the narratives of refugees fleeing to Sudan remain the major source of information about the situation in Tigray.

However, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael has communicated a message to the world that TPLF forces would fight on, raising the prospect that the violent episode could become a protracted regional conflict, destabilising the entire Horn of Africa, home to more than 200 million people.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed government has been at odds with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a powerful regional party that dominated the central Ethiopian government from 1991 until Abiy came to power in 2018. However the crisis has unfolded when the TPLF has refused the prolongation of the Prime-minister terms under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the evening, November 28, Abiy Ahmend said federal troops had taken control of the Tigrayan capital Mekelle within hours of launching an offensive there, causing grave concerns over the protracted street fighting and shelling in the city of 500,000 people.

The Prime minister, who refers to the three-week-old conflict as an internal law and order matter and has bluntly refused international offers of mediation, said Federal police will try to arrest TPLF “criminals” and bring them to court.

Meanwhile the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) expressed their deep concern by the current armed conflict between the Federal government of Ethiopia and the regional administration of Tigray led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), including the ongoing violence and allegations of serious breaches of fundamental human rights. They call on both parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire and to settle political differences by democratic means within the framework of the country’s constitution.

The resolution deplores the loss of life and killing of innocent civilians and the extrajudicial killings, regardless of their perpetrators. Parliament implores Ethiopia’s central government and the TPLF to take immediate action to deescalate the conflict and criticises the severe restrictions preventing humanitarian workers from accessing the area.

The text was adopted by 643 votes in favour, 5 against and 46 abstentions.

Abiy Ahmed sends troops to Mekelle

Brussels 22.11.2020 Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the expiration of a three-day ultimatum for Tigrayan leaders to surrender, and from that moment aimed at sending federal troops to Mekelle, the Tigray region capital. (Image: Tigray refugees in Sudan, source: social media).

“We urge you to surrender peacefully within 72 hours, recognising that you are at the point of no return,” Abiy wrote in a Twitter message on Sunday evening. There was no immediate comment from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which leads Tigray region.

Abiy’s statement came hours after an Ethiopian spokesman said the army plans to surround Mekelle with tanks and may attack it with artillery to end a nearly three-week war, urging civilians to “save themselves”.

Ethiopia: rockets hit Amhara region

Brussels, 20.11.2020 Ethiopia’s Tigray region militia fired rockets on November 20 at the distant capital of the neighbouring Amhara region, Amhara authorities said, raising worries the conflict could degenerate into civil war.

The illegal TPLF group have launched a rocket attack around 1:40 a.m. in Bahir Dar,” the Amhara government’s communications office said, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The rockets caused no damage, it said.

Bahir Dar, Amhara region’s lakeside capital, is located hundreds of miles from the fighting in Tigray. Tigrayan refugees have told Reuters the Amhara militia is fighting on the government side, and the two regions have a border dispute. (Image: Tigray Christians congregation).

A local journalist and another resident in Bahir Dar said they heard two explosions and had been told by people in the area that at least one missile hit near the airport.

“On Ethiopia, the situation in the Tigray region, the ethnic-targeted violence, the allegations of atrocities and the human rights abuses are of deep concern. There is a real danger of an imminent and major humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia and in the close region. We are very much concerned about these prospects and we have reiterated our calls for dialogue and to stop violence and return to dialogue” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, commenting on results of the Foreign Affairs Council, on November 19.

“I briefed Ministers about my calls with Ethiopian and regional partners, to whom I expressed my concerns and the European Union’s readiness to support a peaceful solution and an inclusive dialogue. There has been an intensive diplomatic outreach at different levels to stakeholders that could influence the two parties. The Commission has informed the Council about the mobilisation of financial resources to try to help the Ethiopian refugees that have fled the region, the conflict, to the neighbouring countries – mainly Sudan”  the EU diplomat explained.

Ethiopia: EU reacts upon atrocities reports

Brussels, 13.11.2020 The European Union diplomacy has been “extremely vocal” about the events in Ethiopia, Tigray region, the spokesperson said, while reacting upon the Amnesty International reports on hostilities there. The EU diplomacy have been following the situation closely, and both the High Representative Josep Borrell, and Janez Lenarčič, the Commissioner on Crisis management, have expressed deep concern about the situation there, she added.

Ethnically targeted measures, hate speech and allegations of atrocities occurring in Ethiopia are deeply worrying. The demonisation of ethnic groups is a vicious and lethal cycle from which Ethiopia must be spared” the statement of Borrell and Lenarčič reads.

The danger of a major humanitarian crisis is imminent and an immediate de-escalation is needed. All parties should show restraint and reinforce their calls to avoid incitement to hatred and violence”.
“Human rights and international humanitarian law need to be upheld, including ensuring safe and free movement of civilians as well as a timely, independent, unimpeded and unconditional access of humanitarian workers to most vulnerable”.

Amnesty International can today confirm that scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) town in the South West Zone of Ethiopia’s Tigray Region on the night of 9 November” according to the statement of the organisation, published on their site.

The organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab has examined and digitally verified gruesome photographs and videos of bodies strewn across the town or being carried away on stretchers. It confirmed the images were recent and using satellite imagery, geo-located them to Mai-Kadra in western Tigray state (14.071008, 36.564681)” .

On November 4, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive against forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is the governing authority of the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray.
(Image below: Orthodox priest in a church of Axum; in 1980, UNESCO added Axum’s archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historic value).

 

Ethiopia: Borrell conveys concern

“Over the past days, I have been holding talks to support efforts to restore peace and political dialogue in Ethiopia” reads the statement of Josep Borrell (pictured) on the latest developments in Ethiopia.

“During my talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, I conveyed the EU’s concern for the risks to the integrity of the country and the stability of the wider region should the current situation endure. In this regard, I have offered the support of the EU for any action contributing to de-escalation of tensions, return to dialogue and securing rule of law throughout Ethiopia” the EU top diplomat continued.

“In talks with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, of Sudan, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and with Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, I renewed the EU’s support to any initiative of IGAD and the African Union to address the situation”.
“Additional consultations have occurred with other partners in the wider region and will continue”.
“Stability in the region remains a priority for the European Union”.

EU committed to stablity of Ethiopia

“The EU is a committed and reliable partner of Ethiopia, and we attach great importance to the stability and unity of the country, which is crucial for the whole of Horn of Africa the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson said, commenting on the recent political events in the country in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 7 the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali made an announcement that the ruling party will stay in charge until next elections, while the election calendar was postponed due to sanitary conditions, and Tigray region refused to follow.

Africa’s second most populous (115M) country was due to hold national elections in August 29, and the incumbent Prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali hoped would give him a mandate for wide-ranging political and economic reforms people are awaiting for long.

However the election board announced in late March that it would be impossible to organise the polls on time because of the pandemic.

The EU have been following closely the recent political developments in the country, and has “taken note” of the swift decision of the House of People’s Representatives to ask the Constitutional explanations of the postponement of the elections, the EEAS spokesperson ensured.

“We encourage and support the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of all political parties at federal and regional level in order to organise the next elections in a coordinated way” the spokesperson of the EU diplomacy continued. She also underlined that the EU intended to deploy the EU Election observation mission (EUEOM) for the general elections, “in this context we pay special attention to the conditions of the organisation of elections throughout the electoral process”.

The events in Tigray region became a matter of concern after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced plans to conduct elextions in Tigray region despite of the federal government decision of postponemet. In relation to this decision of Tigray region leading political force the EU diplomacy “have taken note of the declaration of the Tigray’s People Liberation Front (TPLF) to hold elections in the region, the EU delegation of the ground in Addis Abeba has regular contacts with TPLF, and is seeking the clarifications on this declaration” the spokesperson underlined.

The EU diplomacy is also fully aware that the decision to hold regional elections separately from the general election has been debated in the country by legal and constiutuional experts, and the “European Union is encouraging and supporting the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of political parties of both level – national and regional” the spokesperson underlined.

Citing the CVOID-19 pandemic as the reason for the calendar change, last month on March 31 the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) postponed indefinitely the legislative elections scheduled for August 29. The supporters of the decision, mostly from the incumbent government, have expressed consent, while the opposition condemned the decision defining it as a “power-grab“. They also indicated that the later date would not take into account poor rain season weather conditions and agricultural activities, complicating electoral campaign.

Tigray region elections controversy

Ethiopia’s Tigray region plans to hold elections, its leading party announced, setting it on a collision course with the federal government in Addis Ababa and imposing strain on the country’s fragile unity.

On May 4 the Executive Committee of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has passed a decision to hold the upcoming elections at the regional level after the decision of the election board to postpone the elections “indefinitely” the context of the pandemic.

The end of March Ethiopian electoral board postponed parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for August 29 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. A new date has yet to be set but the opposition has already questioned the move.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the region’s governing party, split acrimoniously from the national Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition last year when its three other parties merged to form the new Prosperity Party.

The TPLF said it would proceed with elections in Tigray region despite the nationwide postponement of voting due to COVID-19.

We are making preparations including the holding of a regional election in order to safeguard the rights of our people from chaos,” a TPLF statement said. It did not mention a date for the vote.

Addis Alem Balema, an expert and a prominent Tigray politician has criticised Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in connection with the change of the election schedule.

Government was working half-heartedly on the next election. Now the Coronavirus complicated it,” the expert said.  Moreover, he criticized Prime minister’s administration pointing that the rule of law in the country is “messy“.

Concerning the strategy to address the situation, Alem Balema added the measures to be taken need to ensure the “rights of nations and nationalities, and foster the federal system.” 

Consultation has to continue and the upcoming election has to be free, fair, and credible” he added.