December 4, 2021

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Government of Ethiopia sets conditions for negotiation with the Tigray People's Liberation Front and warns UN against 'respecting the law'

Government of Ethiopia sets conditions for negotiation with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and warns UN against ‘respecting the law’

At least nine UN staff members remain in detention and the executive says it was due to non-compliance with the state of emergency

MADRID, November 12 (European press) –

On Thursday, the Ethiopian government indicated that in order to “sit down to negotiate” with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, it had “preconditions” and, on the other hand, warned UN staff in the region that it would “be held accountable” for not “respecting the law”.

“For the federal government to sit down to negotiate, there are certain preconditions that must be met,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Dina Mufti said at a press conference, Ethiopian media reported, “Addis Standard.”

The Mufti stressed that for possible talks aimed at a “peaceful solution”, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front would have to “withdraw from the Afar and Amhara regions – adjacent to Tigray – and stop their attacks and recognize the legitimacy of the government.”

On the other hand, he reported on the recent visit of the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, with whom he addressed the conflict and whose efforts “are widely recognized” by the Ethiopian government.

“The fact-checking process is still ongoing,” the spokesman said, stressing that “the government wants peace to prevail” and “firmly believes in a solution other than the war imposed by the TPLF”.

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman also expressed his regret at the announcement by some embassies of the evacuation of their citizens, and called that “it was issued because they are not fully aware of the situation on the ground”, but he made it clear that he had already done so. She was able to give “adequate explanations” for these places.

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In this context, he reiterated that it was “totally wrong” that the TPLF had “the ability to pose a threat” against the capital, Addis Ababa, and asserted that this group did not fully control “any city”, although he had said that It took longer to respond to the militants’ attacks because they “use children and women as cannon fodder”.

Warning to UN staff

On the other hand, the Mufti warned the UN staff that they “will have to be held accountable” as “anyone who does not abide by the law of the country” because they “live in Ethiopia and not in space.”

This statement came in response to questions about the arrest of at least 22 workers in the organization, including nine who are still detained, as well as about 70 truck drivers who provide services to it, as denounced by the United Nations.

“The individuals were arrested for violating the recently issued state of emergency,” the spokesman said, stressing that the arrests did not occur “because they are UN employees or because of their ethnicity.”

Specifically, the leadership administering a state of emergency approved in Ethiopia last week due to progress made by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has ordered homeowners to register their tenants’ IDs at police stations within a week, in a measure seeking to find those representing and gathering the Ethiopian newspaper. The above-mentioned “threat” to the security of the country.

For his part, spokesman for the United Nations Secretariat, Stephane Dujarric, said in a press conference that the organization was “actively cooperating” with the Ethiopian government to “resolve” the detention of its staff.

“We want the release of our colleagues as soon as possible and the release of those appointed by the United Nations and international NGOs,” he stressed.

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In this sense, he added that the country’s authorities’ “motives and criteria” for “detaining persons employed by the United Nations could not be linked to the “ethnic group that appears on their national identity documents.” Some reports of the arrests indicated that employees were detained for being from Tigray, although Addis Ababa denied this.

humanitarian situation

Thus, Dujarric lamented the “harassment and arbitrary detention of United Nations personnel” not only in Ethiopia, but in “many parts of the world,” despite his insistence on the impact of obstacles to humanitarian action on the current state of Ethiopia.

According to the update provided on Thursday, the people of Amhara are in need of shelter, food and water, in addition to medicine and protection, as the fighting has displaced many people from Disi, Kombolcha, Bati, Kamisi and other areas of the region. .

In this regard, he explained that “tens of thousands of internally displaced persons” have registered in the city of Debre Burhan, and many people have taken refuge in two schools in the city.

According to other reports, it has also reported that there are “thousands” of IDPs in Shafra and Adar in the Afar region, most of whom are women and children.

“As you know, the delivery of urgent humanitarian aid has been hampered by the lack of access due to insecurity. Electricity and communications have also been cut off in Disi and Kombolcha since October 30,” he said.

Since 18 October, humanitarian supplies organized by the United Nations via the Simera-Abala-Mekele road – the capital of Tigray – have not reached Tigray, and more than 300 trucks loaded with supplies have been detained in the first city “waiting for permission from the authorities”. to go on. “

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The progress of the conflict

The Ethiopian authorities confirmed that the army is achieving military victories “on all fronts” in its battles with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, in the context of the expansion of the conflict that erupted last year in the Tigray region.

On Tuesday, Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, said the group will continue its advance towards the capital unless Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepts its “conditions”. “The only obstacle to a peaceful solution to the conflict is my father’s obsession with a military solution to a primarily political problem,” he said.

The conflict began on 4 November 2020 when Abiy ordered a military offensive in response to the attack on the army base in Mekele after months of tensions between the TPLF and the central government over the postponement of members of parliament, which was finally convened in June. Abiy scored a landslide victory in the face of calls for a boycott and the absence of voting in several regions – including Tigray – due to insecurity.

However, the MILF made significant progress in June that allowed it to retake Mikkeli, after which Abiy declared a unilateral ceasefire invoking humanitarian reasons, which the group rejected, and expanded its offensive to the adjacent Amhara and Afar regions, raising fears of the spread of The war on the rest of the country.