In a major setback to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, rebel forces have entered the regional capital of Mekelle. In so doing, they may have forced Abiy into a ceasefire, according to reports in state media.
Celebratory gunfire has been heard in the city, which for months now has borne the brunt of the power struggle between Abiy’s government in Addis Ababa, and the dissident members of Ethiopia’s former ruling party, who lost power when Abiy acceded to the Premiership.
Swedish researcher Kjetil Tronvoll in touch with forces loyal to the former government of Tigray claims that the Ethiopian army earlier withdrew from the city, and that the Tigray Defence Forces have been ordered to enter Mekelle “as of this evening to restore calm and stop alleged looting”.
#ENDF is pulling out of #Mekelle, the capitol of #Tigray. @reda_getachew told me on satellite link now that #GovernmentofTigray has ordered #TDF to enter the capital as of this evening to restore calm and stop allegded looting. The war is taking a new turning point. #Ethiopia
— Kjetil Tronvoll (@KjetilTronvoll) June 28, 2021
With Ethiopian election results still being counted, it is a blow to the authority of Abiy’s regime, and may increase the pressure for peace talks to be opened, say analysts.
The BBC report that the interim government in Tigray has declared a unilateral ceasefire in Tigray. Members of the interim government appointed by Addis to run Tigray have fled Mekelle after TDF took over the city.
According to the Addis Standard, ‘”State media reported that the “request” by the federal government appointed Tigray Interim Administration for a ceasefire in the war torn-Tigray state “has been positively accepted by the federal government.”‘
More on this story as it develops
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