Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed through a televised statement aired today said that the government declared a ceasefire to focus on other national priorities and the decision to leave Mekelle was made to avert a scenario where the military sees the people at large as the enemy. In separate a joint presser the Ministry of Foreign Affairs(MoFA) and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) explained that the government’s decision to withdraw and declare a ceasefire was ‘an attempt to address the major concerns of the international community for cessation of hostility, unimpeded access to the region, and the withdrawal of Eritrean troops.
The PM disclosed that , amid increased pressure related to the GERD, Covid-19 pandemic and other issues,the federal government spent 100 billion ETB outside of the expense of the military operation, which is 13 percent more than Tigray’s annual budget, 20 percent of the country’s budget. “All we got in return was being blamed for creating hunger, allowing Eritrean troops, communication black out and impeding humanitarian access.” he said.
According to the PM the nature of the conflict changed over time explaining that a combat that started with a conventional army changed into a scattered insurgency after the federal government completed its military operation in Three weeks. Narrating the proceeding of the conflict, he indicated that members of the military were attacked by civilians from time to time. “This sentiment seeped into the majority of the members of the military,” the PM said, “They started viewing everyone they see as the enemy.”
“Priests were seen holding firearms and persuading people to take up arms,” he said, further explaining how graveyards were used to store firearms. He also accused civilians of sharing aid food with the armed group. He indicated that the people who were seen celebrating the recapture of Mekelle are in fact combatants awaiting for a chance to attack.
He went on to explain that the federal government had no plans to occupy Tigray’s capital Mekelle. He described that Mekelle was a seat of the region’s government and housed immense resources. “Military wise Mekelle is no longer a gravitational center,” the PM said, adding “The city has no more significance than that of Abiadi, Shiraro or Beshasha.” He underscored the need for the media to set the records straight and keep away from ‘the enemy’s narratives’.
He also adressed the speculations of attempts by Tigrayan forces to retake contested areas in western Tigray. He reminded that creating fear on the people of Amhara is tantamount to denying the fact that it is capable of defending itself against attacks. “The people of Armachiho, wolkayit and Tsegede, had been resilient in the face of challenges for the last 30 years while identifying themselves as Ethiopians and people of Bege Midir.”
The PM stated the government declared a ceasefire to focus on other priorities. He noted that the decision for declaring a ceasefire was made to avert a scenario where the military sees the people at large as the enemy and ‘leave a dark spot in its history’. “We chose to retreat and give the people of Tigray a period of reflection.” he said, adding “We have retracted our missiles and arms from the region. Last year’s threats are no longer.” He concluded by vowing that no one would defeat Ethiopians and being Ethiopian.
Similarly, Lieutenant General Bacha Debele and the State Minister Rediwan Hussien restated the federal government’s stance on the conflict that erupted in November last year. Redwan explained that the government’s decision to withdraw and declare a ceasefire was ‘an attempt to address the major concerns of the international community for cessation of hostility, unimpeded access to the region, and the withdrawal of Eritrean troops.’ He also said the army has to refocus its attention to protecting the country from another national threat, this time an external one, rather than fighting the already incapacitated TPLF.
Moreover, the Ambassador said the ceasefire would ‘help the people of Tigray to reflect on the pros and cons of colluding with a terrorist group to fight the Ethiopian troops who were providing protection and humanitarian aid in the region’. “The government declared the ceasefire because the Ethiopian army was not ready to exchange fires with people in Tigray who have been misled by the ethnically charged propaganda of the TPLF.” Redawan said, urging the international community to ramp up humanitarian aid to the people of Tigray and to pay attention to TPLF’s threats to launch attacks against the Amhara region and Eritrea.
General Bacha Debele, on his part, stated “Mekelle has ceased to be the center of gravity that is capable of posing a threat to the nation and the federal government.” He refuted the claims that the ENDF was expelled from Mekelle by Tigrayan forces saying, “The group was defeated in a Three weeks swift conventional war while it was armed to teeth but now its military, administrative and organizational structure is obliterated.” AS