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Ethiopia rebels accept Tigray cease-fire

July 4, 2021

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front has demanded that "invading forces from Amhara and Eritrea" withdraw from the northern region first. The rebels are also seeking the restoration of their government.

Captive Ethiopian troops walk in front of civilians in Tigray
Captive Ethiopian soldiers walk towards the Mekele Rehabilitation CenterImage: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

The leaders of Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region said Sunday that they want a full withdrawal of "invading forces" before they can engage in talks with the federal government about a cease-fire.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the regional authority that was driven out last year by Ethiopian forces and troops from neighboring Eritrea, said it would accept a "cease-fire in principle" if there were guarantees of no further invasions.

"Invading forces from Amhara and Eritrea must withdraw from Tigray and return to their pre-war territories," the TPLF said in the statement.

The rebels said they required "ironclad guarantees that the security of our people will not be compromised by a second round of invasions." 

The TPLF also called for the restoration of  "the government democratically elected in Tigray with all its powers and constitutional responsibilities."

What is the Tigray conflict?

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) ruled the northern region of Tigray and dominated the central government in Ethiopia for decades before Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in 2018.

Abiy's forces, along with troops from Amhara, another region of Ethiopia, and forces from neighboring Eritrea, have been fighting the TPLF since late last year.

Accusing the TPLF of attacking military bases in Tigray, government forces and their allies overran the region last November.

The TPLF recaptured Tigray's capital Mekelle on Monday to cheering crowds.

The return was followed by a unilateral declaration of a cease-fireby Abiy's government, which the TPLF initially labeled a "joke."

At least 1.7 million people have been displaced since the conflict began.

Three opposition parties have claimed at least 52,000 people have died in the region since fighting erupted.

On Friday, the United Nations warned that more than 400,000 people in Tigray are now facing famine, and there is a risk of more clashes despite the unilateral cease-fire by the federal government.

mvb/mm (AFP, Reuters)