Tigray crisis: Local residents ordered to defend against Ethiopia army Published1 hour ago

Tigray crisis: Local residents ordered to defend against Ethiopia army

Tigray special forces seized a national army base last week

(bbcnews)—The government in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region has ordered the total mobilisation of the population, as fears grow of a full-blown conflict.

It said local residents must “defend” against “flagrant aggression” by the federal government in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed earlier rejected a request for peace talks from the Tigray authorities.

Hundreds have been killed in eight days of fighting between Tigray forces and the federal army.

Last Wednesday, Mr Abiy ordered a military offensive after an army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, was taken over by forces loyal to the regional government of Tigray, following months of worsening tension between Tigrayan leaders and the federal government.

In other developments:

    • Aid agencies have warned that up to 200,000 people could flee the conflict into Sudan
    • Ethiopia and Eritrea have both denied that Eritrea forces are fighting alongside the Ethiopians against the Tigrayans
    • The Ethiopian army claims to have killed 550 Tigrayan fighters

What is behind the conflict?

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was the most powerful member of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition for many years but Mr Abiy curbed its influence after winning power in 2018 on the back of anti-government protests.

Relations got worse last year after Mr Abiy – who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending a two-decade conflict with neighbouring Eritrea – dissolved the ruling coalition, which was made up of several ethnically based regional parties.

He merged them into a single, national party, the Prosperity Party, which the TPLF refused to join.

Four things that explain the crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

Tigrayan leaders say they have been unfairly targeted by purges and allegations of corruption, and say Mr Abiy is an illegitimate leader, because his mandate ran out when he postponed national elections due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The simmering row boiled over in September after the TPLF defied the nationwide ban on elections, and held a vote which was declared illegal by the central government.

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