In November 2020, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, accusing the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of having attacked a federal army base, announced the launch of a military operation against Tigray, province of northern border country with Eritrea. The head of the Ethiopian government since 2018, with his Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 2019, surely thought to end quickly this rebellion launched against the central power. On November 28, he even proclaimed victory, after having sent the army to the region to remove the dissident local authorities from the TPLF. But in June, pro-TPLF fighters took over most of the region, forcing government troops to largely withdraw. They then continued their offensive in the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.
It is the same Abiy Ahmed who declared a state of emergency throughout the country on Tuesday and ordered the inhabitants of Addis Ababa to prepare to defend their neighborhood. “All residents must organize themselves by city blocks and neighborhoods to protect peace and security in their area, in coordination with the security forces,” said the head of the department of peace and security in the capital. , Kenea Yadeta. Communications are cut off in much of northern Ethiopia. This gives credence to the announcement by the TPLF of the capture, on Saturday, of Dessie and, on Sunday, of Kombolcha, two towns in the Amhara region, close to Tigray, located at a road junction 400 kilometers away. north of Addis Ababa. For now, the government refutes the fall of these cities. But, for its part, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a rebel group of the Oromo ethnic group which has (again) allied itself with the TPLF, claimed to have entered several localities further south, along the river. highway leading to Addis Ababa. “If things continue in the current momentum, then the capture of Addis Ababa is a matter of months, if not weeks,” said OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbii. He adds that the fighters of his movement and those of the TPLF have “already joined and are in constant contact”, assuring that the fall of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is “a foregone conclusion”.
Abuses close to war crimes
The current events are bringing destabilization in the Horn of Africa. The Eritrean army would already intervene alongside the Ethiopian soldiers. Opposite, the rapprochement between the TPLF and the OLA is perhaps a matter of opportunism. The TPLF led the armed struggle against Mengistu Haile Mariam’s regime until its fall in 1991. It then dominated the ruling coalition in which the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a political wing of the United Nations, participated. ‘OLA, which withdrew in 1992. The OLA and TPLF then entered a conflict forcing Oromo leaders to flee the country and seek refuge in Kenya and Eritrea. Ultimately, the merger of these two groups could lead to the break-up of Ethiopia.
The situation is nevertheless marked by numerous abuses, “some of which may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity”, believe the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. man in a joint investigation released Wednesday. This report refers in particular to extrajudicial executions, torture, kidnappings, sexual violence – including gang rapes carried out on women and men – and looting.