Leader of Tigray’s forces tells Ethiopia PM to ‘stop the madness’

The defiant leader of Ethiopia’s rebellious Tigray region has called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to “stop the madness” and withdraw troops from the region as he asserted that fighting continues “on every front”, two days after the government declared victory.

In a phone interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Debretsion Gebremichael, who heads the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said he remains near the Tigray capital, Mekelle, which the Ethiopian army on Saturday said it now controlled.

Far from accepting Abiy’s declaration of victory, the Tigray leader said the fighting is not over and “we are sure we will win”. The fight is about self-determination of the region of some six million people, the Tigrayan leader said, and it “will continue until the invaders are out”.

“I’m close to Mekelle in Tigray fighting the invaders,” Gebremichael told the Reuters news agency in a text message, a claim the government dismissed as a “deluded claim”.

Also on Monday, Abiy told parliament that federal troops had not killed a single civilian in their nearly month-long offensive against rebellious forces in the northern region.

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from Kenya’s capital Nairobi, said Abiy’s claim “contradicts the claims made by the TPLF leadership that many civilians were killed or even targeted in air strikes”.

TPLF claims shooting down plane

Gebremichael also told Reuters that some Eritrean soldiers fighting alongside the Ethiopian federal forces had been taken prisoner by his side.

 Abiy won a Nobel Peace Prize last year for making peace with Eritrea, but the TPLF continues to regard the country as a mortal enemy.

Abiy’s government launched the offensive in Tigray after what it described as an attack by local forces on federal troops stationed there.

The TPLF accuses Abiy of wanting to consolidate control at the expense of Ethiopia’s 10 regions, which exercise wide-ranging powers over matters such as taxation and security. Abiy denies this.

Tensions escalated after Tigray held a regional election in September in defiance of the federal government, which had postponed voting nationwide in August because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government called the Tigray vote illegal.

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/30/tigray-forces-say-they-shot-down-ethiopian-plane-retook-axum


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