Ethiopia: Fresh clashes along Tigray border ends fragile ceasefire

By The Africa Report
Posted on Wednesday, 24 August 2022 16:38

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2021 A damaged tank stands on a road north of Mekele, the capital of Tigray
In this file photo taken on February 26, 2021 A damaged tank stands on a road north of Mekele, the capital of Tigray. - Tigrayan rebels agreed to a "cessation of hostilities" on February 25, 2022, a new turning point in the nearly 17-month war in northern Ethiopia following the government's announcement of an indefinite humanitarian truce a day earlier. The rebels said in a statement sent to AFP early on March 25, 2022 that they were "committed to implementing a cessation of hostilities effective immediately," and urged Ethiopian authorities to hasten delivery of emergency aid into Tigray, where hundreds of thousands face starvation. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

Northern rebels and Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) have clashed along the northern border of Tigray province.

Hopes for a negotiated settlement – which have been stalled for weeks – are now dwindling.

Positions on both sides have hardened say analysts, with intractable problems emerging.

In particular, the Tigray position has been to demand the return of Western Tigray, currently under control of Amhara groups who believe the area historically belongs to them.

Prime Minister Abiy’s ruling coalition relies on strong Amhara support.

On the government’s side, there has been a refusal to restart basic services including banking.

Searching for an effective mediator

Finding effective mediators is part of the problems, suggests the International Crisis Group Senior Analyst for Ethiopia William Davison.

“With the parties split on whether Kenya’s govt or the AU’s Obasanjo leads the mediation, the failure to even convene formal discussions means none of the underlying issues have been addressed that led to war in the first place and have got more serious during the conflict”, he writes on Twitter.

In an opinion piece, Tigray communications leader Getachew Reda criticised the AU’s role in negotiating a lasting ceasefire. “The AU, under the leadership of Moussa Faki Mahamat, has become an apologist for a brutal regime seeking to starve and bomb its own people into submission.

Blame game

Both sides blame the other for the violence.

“At 5am today (the TPLF) has attacked on the Eastern Front; from Bisober, Zobel and Tekulshe direction. By carrying out such measure, it has effectively broken the ceasefire”, said a government communications service.

In an email this morning, Tigray military spokespeople said: “Tigray’s Military Command would like to make it clear that, if the enemy does not stop the offensive it has begun based on a previously known attack plan, Tigray’s Army is reliably ready to repulse this offensive, and transition into a counteroffensive to liberate occupied sovereign Tigrayan territory and return our displaced people to their homes.”

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options