The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday reiterated his government’s firm stance to bring leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to justice amid the ongoing fighting between the Ethiopian federal government and an insurgent Northern Tigray regional state government.
The Ethiopian PM made the remarks during his discussions with the three former African presidents, South Africa’s Kgalema Motlanthe, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano, who were appointed by the South Africa’s President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) as his Special Envoys to try to resolve Ethiopia’s ongoing situation.
Ahmed, in his discussions with the three former African presidents in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, expressed the federal government’s “determination to apprehend and bring to justice the TPLF clique and their operatives who also perpetrated the grave crimes against humanity in Maikadra,” a statement from the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office issued on Friday read.
He also expressed his “profound gratitude to the African Union Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa for the utmost concern and understanding shared in Ethiopia’s efforts to end impunity and bring the TPLF criminal clique to justice.”
Ramaphosa’s efforts came amid the Ethiopian government’s ongoing military operations against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which rules over Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray regional state, since the early hours of Nov. 4.
The federal government’s operation followed the TPLF’s attack on the Northern command base of the Ethiopian Defense Force, a division stationed in the region for over two decades and based in Mekelle city, capital of Tigray region.
In recent weeks prior to the ongoing conflict, there have been rising tensions between Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party and the TPLF, with each side accusing the other of trying to destabilize the country.
The Ethiopian government has been blaming the TPLF, which was one of the four coalition fronts of Ethiopia’s former ruling party the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), for masterminding various treasonous acts across different parts of the country with an overarching goal of destabilizing the country.
Three of the former four EPRDF coalition members had last year joined other regional parties in establishing the Prosperity Party, as the TPLF refused to join.
The mounting differences between the federal government and TPLF exacerbated in September this year, when the Tigray regional government decided to go with its planned regional elections, which the Ethiopian parliament had previously postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the efforts to de-escalate the fighting, three former African presidents discuss with the Ethiopian premier.
According to the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office, Ahmed “appreciated the Special Envoys for their visit to Ethiopia, in elderly concern, reiterating the well-meaning endeavors of African brothers and sisters who are equally hopeful for a prosperous and stable Ethiopia.”
My utmost gratitude to President @CyrilRamaphosa & his Special Envoys for their concerted effort to understand our rule of law operations. Receiving the wisdom & counsel of respected African elders is a precious continental culture that we value greatly in Ethiopia. pic.twitter.com/2utnEXG94o
— Abiy Ahmed Ali 🇪🇹 (@AbiyAhmedAli) November 27, 2020
According to the Ethiopian PM’s office, Ahmed, who recounted the numerous attempts by the federal government to engage peacefully, reiterated that “the premeditated attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force, which constitutes high treason under the Criminal Code of Ethiopia, was the final straw which forced the federal government to act in protection of the constitutional order of the country.”
Ahmed also affirmed the federal government’s “constitutionally mandated responsibility to enforce rule of law in the region and across the country. Failure to do so would nurture a culture of impunity with devastating cost to the survival of the country, he emphasized.
“He also emphasized the government’s “utmost commitment to the protection and security of civilians during the rule of law operations, demonstrated in the National Defense Force’s avoidance to engage in combat within cities and densely populated areas, by weathering rough terrain instead.”
Noting the establishment of a high-level committee of federal stakeholders to assess and respond to essential humanitarian needs of citizens in the region, Ahmed also emphasized identification and announcement of a humanitarian assistance route for the provision of necessary relief materials to citizens in the region coordinated through the Ministry of Peace in collaboration with UN agencies.