Nine Ethiopian groups to form anti-government alliance

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Nine anti-government factions are forming an alliance to push for a political transition in Ethiopia, two of the groups said on Friday, piling more pressure on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as rebel forces advance towards the capital.

Several of the factions have armed fighters, although it was not clear whether they all do.

The alliance includes political, military, and diplomatic cooperation and expands an existing agreement between forces from the northern region of Tigray and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), one of the organisers, Yohanees Abraha, told Reuters.

The pact will be signed in Washington on Friday.

Called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces, the alliance includes the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been fighting Abiy’s government for a year in a war that has killed thousands of people and forced more than two million more from their homes.

The front is joining hands in an on-the-ground effort to stop Ethiopia’s further disintegration, Yohanees, who is a TPLF member, told Reuters.

“We are considering establishing a transitional arrangement and we have agreed that the regime in power at this time must go as soon as possible,” he said.

He added the nascent alliance was not in touch with the Ethiopian government but planned to begin liaising with foreign governments and bodies.

Abiy’s spokesperson, Billene Seyoum, asked for reaction to the formation of the alliance, referred Reuters to a comment she posted on Twitter in which she defended Abiy’s rule since he took office in 2018.

She said in the post the opening of political space after Abiy took office provided ample opportunity for the opposition to settle differences at the ballot box.

Abiy’s party was re-elected in June. She did not refer directly to the new alliance.

Spokespeople for the government and foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the alliance. TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda also did not respond on Friday.