Politics, World, Africa

Ultimatum for Tigray rebels to surrender ticking away

Regional capital Mekele encircled as fighters refuse to lay down arms

Addis Getachew   | 25.11.2020
Ultimatum for Tigray rebels to surrender ticking away

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

The Ethiopian army encircled the city of Mekele, capital of the Tigray regional state, on Wednesday as rebels refuse to surrender.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's four-day deadline given for Tigray's forces to surrender is set to expire.

Ethiopia launched on Nov. 4 an operation against the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party which controlled Tigray, accusing it of attacking a military base to steal weapons.

Thousands of people have fled to Sudan amid fighting between the National Defense Forces and fighters loyal to the TPLF.

Former Ethiopian official-turned rebels’ spokesperson Getachew Reda in a recorded video encouraged the residents of Mekele “to use knives and every tool that came handy to resist” the Ethiopian army.

He added that "Abiy’s forces may capture Mekele, but the people cannot be governed.”

The TPLF dominated Ethiopia's politics for decades before Abiy took office in 2018.

Last year, the premier dissolved the ruling coalition, and merged them into a single, national party, which the TPLF refused to join.

Tensions escalated when Tigray held a regional election in September, defying a nationwide ban on all polls due to the coronavirus pandemic. The vote was termed illegal by the federal government.

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