| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Tigray fighters say Ethiopia capital not facing ‘bloodbath’

Tigray forces fighting Ethiopia’s government on Sunday played down reports that they would face a hostile population or cause a “bloodbath” if they advanced into the capital city.

Several countries have urged their nationals to leave Ethiopia and the US has withdrawn diplomats as the year-long conflict in the north escalates.

Fighters from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and their allies in the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) have claimed several cities in recent weeks and have not ruled out marching on Addis Ababa.

The government, which has denied the capital is under threat, has nevertheless declared a state of emergency and local authorities have asked residents to organise to defend the city.

“The story that the Addis population is vehemently opposed to us is completely exaggerated,” TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda told AFP on Saturday night.

“Addis Abeba is a melting pot.” Addis Ababa is home to people with a wide range of interests. The claim that entering Addis will result in a bloodbath is completely absurd.”

While Tigray forces would enter Addis Abeba to depose Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, he stated that taking the capital was not “an objective.”

He also stated that the TPLF, which has dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly 30 years, has no intention of regaining power.

The TPLF deposed the Marxist Derg regime in 1991 and ruled until Abiy came to power in 2018.

Following months of tension, Abiy dispatched the army to Tigray in November 2020 to depose the TPLF-led regional authorities, accusing them of attacking military bases.

A few weeks later, he declared victory, but the conflict has continued.

The TPLF announced last weekend that it had taken two strategic cities in the Amhara region, months after its fighters retook their Tigray bastion.

  • AFP