Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed defended the military operation launched by his government in the northern Tigray region, denying warnings that this operation could lead to the outbreak of a civil war.
Abiy said, “Ethiopia is grateful to the friends who have expressed their concern,” but he said that fears that the situation in Ethiopia might slide into a state of chaos are unfounded and the result of a lack of understanding of the prevailing situation.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister’s statements came a day after the leader of the Tigray region, “Departition Gebremaikel,” called the African Union to intervene to prevent Ethiopias slide towards civil war.
Abiy Ahmed had fired prominent members of his administration, including the army chief, the director of the intelligence service, and the foreign minister.
The Prime Minister’s Office announced the government changes via Twitter, without giving reasons.
Abiy Ahmed continues his military campaign announced Wednesday, despite international appeals to resort to dialogue with the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Tigrayans.
There are reports of casualties in the fighting in the Tigray region and the transfer of wounded to hospitals in the neighboring Amhara region.
It is still impossible to deliver aid to the region due to the closure of its entrances.
Fears are growing that the current fighting will lead to civil war, and also destabilize neighboring countries.
Tigray politicians had dominated political life in Ethiopia for decades until Abe came to power in 2018, and the region is resisting his steps to reduce his influence.
What are the causes of tension?
Tigrayans say they have been targeted through purges and allegations of corruption, and that Abe is an illegal prime minister, because his mandate continued after he postponed elections due to the Coronavirus crisis.
The dispute intensified last September after the ruling party in Tigray, called the People’s Liberation Front for the Liberation of the Tigrayans, defied the election ban and held a vote the central government deemed illegal.
Things began to deteriorate last year, after Abe dissolved the ruling coalition, made up of several ethnic regional parties, and merged them into one national party, the Prosperity Party. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigrayans refused to join it.
In his tweet Sunday, Abiy Ahmed urged Ethiopians not to discriminate against Tigrayans, who make up 6 percent of the population of more than 100 million.
Abe was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending the protracted conflict with Eritrea.