Ethiopian government declares ceasefire in Tigray | Western lawyer

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Former leaders of Ethiopia’s Tigray region say they regained control of the regional capital Mekelle after nearly eight months of fighting, and the government that toppled them declared a unilateral ceasefire with immediate effect. Residents of downtown Mekelle said they saw rebel troops in the town for the first time since they were driven out by government forces in November, and several described scenes of jubilation in the streets. The events marked a dramatic turning point in a conflict that has killed thousands of people, displaced more than two million and pushed hundreds of thousands to the brink of famine. They followed recent reports of escalating fighting between government troops and the former ruling Tigray party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF), outside Mekelle. “The capital of Tigray, Mekelle, is under our control,” Getachew Reda, a TPLF spokesperson, told Reuters by satellite on Monday evening. The Ethiopian government has said it is declaring a ceasefire following a request from the interim Tigray regional administration, which Addis Ababa appointed after ousting TPLF forces. “This unilateral ceasefire declaration begins from today, June 28, 2021 and will remain until the end of the agricultural season,” the federal government said in a statement Monday evening. The main planting season in Ethiopia lasts from May to September. Reuters could not immediately establish whether the ceasefire had been discussed with the TPLF. “Until all our enemies leave Tigray, we will fight,” Liya Kassa, another spokesperson for the TPLF, said in an audio statement posted Monday evening on the party-affiliated Tigrai Media House Facebook page. . Eritrea to the north and neighboring Amhara region to the south both sent troops to Tigray to support Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government after accusing the TPLF of attacking military bases in the region in early November. The spokesman for the Ethiopian prime minister and the army spokesman did not respond to phone calls and messages seeking comment. The TPLF could not immediately be reached for comment on the ceasefire. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had spoken to Abiy and “hoped that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place.” It is essential that civilians are protected, that humanitarian aid reaches those in need and that a political solution is found ”. The UN Security Council is expected to meet this week in Tigray at the request of the United States, Ireland and Britain, diplomats said. Witnesses in the city told Reuters that after rebel forces surrounded the martyrs memorial, some civilians took to the streets to celebrate. Fireworks briefly lit the sky, they said. Some of those gathered chanted “Abiy is a thief!” While others sang songs in honor of the TPLF and waved the region’s red and yellow flag. Earlier in the day on Monday. , residents reported seeing government soldiers packing vehicles and withdrawing from positions they occupied in Mekelle. The ICEF office in Mekelle on Monday. “This act violates the privileges and immunities of the United Nations and the rules of international humanitarian law concerning the respect of the objects of humanitarian aid,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement. The government did not respond to a request for comment on the charge. Last week, residents reported that TPLF forces entered several towns north of Mekelle, although in at least one case they withdrew within hours. On Tuesday, an airstrike killed more than 60 people in the town of Togoga, northwest of Mekelle, a medical official told Reuters. Ethiopian army spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane said last week that only fighters, not civilians, were affected – a claim refuted by medics. The attack was one of the deadliest incidents reported in months in an area where the government said most major fighting ended last year. Australian Associated Press

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