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Ethiopia: Tigray and anti-government groups form alliance

November 5, 2021

Nine factions opposed to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have joined forces to seek a political transition. Ethiopia has been mired in violent conflict for over a year. The US Embassy is now urging all its citizens to leave.

Armed Tigray forces, center, accompany captured Ethiopian government soldiers and allied militia members as they are paraded through the streets in open-top trucks
The formation of the new alliance comes as Tigray forces march on the Ethiopian capital Addis AbabaImage: picture alliance/AP

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed faced a new challenge on Friday as nine anti-government groups, including Tigray militants, formed a new alliance.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has been fighting the central government for over a year. Now they have formed the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces along with other opposition groups.

The aim of the new alliance is "to reverse the harmful effects of the Abiy Ahmed rule on the peoples of Ethiopia and beyond," the organizers said, and "in recognition of the great need to collaborate and join forces towards a safe transition."

What does the alliance plan to do?

The alliance also includes the Oromo Liberation Army. Some of the groups have armed fighters, Reuters reported.

One of the organizers of the alliance, Yohannes Abraha, told The Associated Press that the United Front would "establish a transitional government" and then "start meeting and communicating with countries, diplomats and international actors in Ethiopia and abroad."

Abraha added that the alliance is both political and military, but that it had no contact with Ahmed's government.

"Of course we prefer if there's a peaceful and orderly transition with Abiy being removed," a spokesperson for the Oromo Liberation Army told AP.

"The goal is to be as inclusive as possible. We know this transition requires all stakeholders,'' he added.

Government spokesperson Billene Seyoum responded on Twitter saying that opposition groups had had the option of resolving differences in elections earlier this year and any groups that rejected that option "cannot be for democratization."

International calls for a cease-fire

The UN Security Council called for all sides in the conflict to set up a lasting cease-fire, expressing grave concern about the deepening conflict in the country.

The 15-member body said in a statement it had "called for refraining from inflammatory hate speech and incitement to violence and divisiveness."

It came as US special envoy Jeffrey Feltman was in the Ethiopian capital meeting with several senior lawmakers in an attempt to bring about an immediate cease-fire.

German lawmaker Omid Nouripour from the Greens told DW that the country's integrity "is in danger." The situation could have a "huge impact not only for the people of Ethiopia, but for the entire region," he said.

The European Union has also called for a cease-fire. However, Nouripour said that wasn't enough, and refused to rule out sanctions. "It would be much more effectful if the European countries would come together and would talk about consequences."

International pressure on Ethiopia is 'crucial' – Omid Nouripour (Greens) speaks to DW

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also made a call for peace on Thursday, saying: "The conflict in Ethiopia must come to an end. Peace negotiations should begin immediately without preconditions in pursuit of a cease-fire."

US senators also introduced a new sanctions bill on Thursday that would target those involved in the ongoing conflict.

In response to the "fluid" security situation in the country, the US State Department advised all US citizens to "leave as soon as possible," noting that commercial flights were still available.

The TPLF has claimed to have made significant territorial gains against government forces, claims that the government denies.

The Tigray group once dominated Ethiopian politics, but was sidelined following the election of Ahmed. They have accused the prime minister of centralizing power at the expense of the regions.

Fighting between the TPLF and government forces has left thousands dead and displaced over 2 million.

kmm, ab/rt (Reuters, AP)