The political leadership in Ethiopia’s northern region is asking the African Union, through President Cyril Ramaphosa, to intervene and stop the ongoing military offensive that the government has launched against its forces.

However, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says Ethiopia is a sovereign state with the capacity to manage its own affair and that the operation in the north is necessary to bring the region back to law and order.

The United Nations has warned that 9 million people risk being displaced if the conflict escalates.

In a letter to the AU, the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) that leads the northern region in Ethiopia, describes Abiy as dictatorial and a danger to the unity of Ethiopia.

The TPLF accuses him of running an illegitimate government that has now declared war on the Ethiopian people. But Abiy says the military offensive that he launched six days ago, is targeting a few elements that have refused to respect the country’s constitutional order.

“The fugitives within the TPLF have been determined to trigger an armed conflict by attacking the northern command of the federal armed forces stationed in the Tigray region earlier this week, intending to take control of its mechanised weaponry and capability. Few days prior to this attack, the regional administration of Tigray publicly declared that they can dictate terms regarding personnel changes and movements of the northern command, compromising the National Defense Forces. No federation and constitutional order can tolerate such illegality.”

The TPLF enjoyed power in Ethiopia for 27 years before Abiy took over.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accuses TPLF of undermining his administration:

State of emergency

The pope is the latest leader to call for peace. However, the prime minister is asking the international community to understand the context of his government’s actions.

“In a blunt violation of the constitution, TPLF adopted its own illegal electoral law, an illegal electoral commission, and conducted an illegal election in which it won all the seats in the Regional Council. TPLF’s illegal acts did not end there. It also undertook a massive military build-up with the objective of intimidating the Ethiopian people and government. Siphoning of funds aimed at aid and development, TPLF has been preparing for this eventuality since 2018. They organised and drafted irregular militias, not even sparing underage recruits.”

The northern region is under a six months state of emergency.

Six-month state of emergency in Northern Region:

The telephone network, the internet, and airspace have been shut down. The National Bank of Ethiopia has ordered all the 600 bank branches in the Tigray region to shut down.

There are reports of wounded soldiers being taken to the neighbouring region for medication.

Humanitarian agencies are worried that lack of access to entry into the region is hampering the delivery of much-needed assistance to the refugees hosted in the region.