- “While we consider the concerns and advice of our friends, we reject any interference in our internal affairs,” he said in a statement.
- Abiy considers that, once the ultimatum he gave to the leaders of the Popular Liberation Front of Tigray (TPLF) to surrender, the time has come to arrest them.
- More than 40,000 refugees have fled to Sudan.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has rejected the growing international calls for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region, calling it “interference.” Instead, he says his country will handle the conflict on its own. Abiy, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize last year, insists on calling the conflict a “law enforcement operation.”
“While we consider the concerns and advice of our friends, we reject any interference in our internal affairs,” he said in a statement.
“We therefore respectfully urge the international community to refrain from any unwelcome and unlawful acts of interference and respect the fundamental principles of non-intervention under international law.”
“The international community should stand by until the government of Ethiopia submits its requests for assistance to the community of nations,” adds the statement.
According to diplomatic sources, the members of the United Nations Security Council supported this Tuesday, in a closed meeting, an effort to be led by the African Union for a mission of three high-level envoys to Ethiopia. Tigray regional leader Debretsion Gebremichael has yet to react.
Abiy considers that, once the ultimatum he gave to the leaders of the Popular Liberation Front of Tigray (TPLF) to surrender, the time has come to arrest them.
The Abiy government has warned the half-million inhabitants of Mekele to distance themselves from the leaders of the TPLF or there will be no “mercy.” the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, and other senior figures believe this language may lead to “more violations of international humanitarian law.”
Communications remain almost completely cut off in the Tigray region, with a population of six million. It is unclear how many people in Mekele, the provincial capital, are aware of the warnings and the threat of attack by Ethiopian federation forces.
The TPLF dominated the government of Ethiopia for more than a quarter of a century. However, they were put aside after Abiy, who took office in 2018, sought to centralize power in a country long governed along ethnic lines. Abiy dissolved the ruling coalition of ethnic roots, and created a party that accommodates the different powers, the Party of Prosperity (PP).
The TPLF chose not to participate in the PP, and challenged the federal government by holding elections in September, which the executive had postponed because of COVID-19. Each party now considers the other to be illegal.
The international community has called for the urgent reestablishment of communications in the Tigray region so that the claims of the warring parties can be investigated, and that food and other basic necessities can be sent, as hunger gains ground in the region.
The United Nations has not been able to send supplies to Tigray since the fighting began on November 4, after Abiy accused the TPLF of attacking a federal military base.
Hundreds, and possibly thousands of people were killed in three weeks of fighting. More than 40,000 refugees have fled to Sudan. Misery is spreading in the refugee camps in Sudan, which have access to little food, few medicines, and insufficient shelters, and little or no contact with relatives and neighbors left behind in Tigray.
Meanwhile, reports of discrimination against ethnic Tigray people, arrests, house searches, and even freezing of bank accounts, inside and outside Ethiopia, continue.