Bay of Plenty Times

Alarm sounds as ten­sions rise in Ethiopia — Pmthreat­ens civil­ians

- Military · U.S. News · Middle East News · Politics · Human Rights · Warfare and Conflicts · Society · Ethiopia · Abiy Ahmed · United Nations · Africa · African Union · United States of America · Donald Trump · UN Security Council · Australia · Cyril Ramaphosa · World Politics · Tigray · Mek'ele · Abiy Addi

Alarm spi­ralled yes­ter­day over Ethiopia’s im­mi­nent tank at­tack on the cap­i­tal of the de­fi­ant Tigray re­gion and its pop­u­la­tion of half a mil­lion peo­ple, while the­un­se­cu­rity Coun­cil met for the first time on the three­week-old con­flict amid warn­ings that food in the re­gion is run­ning out.

Prime Min­is­ter Abiy Ahmed’s 72-hour ul­ti­ma­tum for the re­gion’s lead­ers to sur­ren­der ends today. His mil­i­tary has warned civil­ians of “no mercy” if they don’t move away in time — which some rights groups and diplo­mats say could vi­o­late in­ter­na­tional law.

“The highly ag­gres­sive rhetoric on both sides re­gard­ing the fight for Mekele is dan­ger­ously provoca­tive and risks plac­ing al­ready vul­ner­a­ble and fright­ened civil­ians in grave dan­ger,” United Na­tions hu­man rights chief Michelle Bachelet said. The al­le­ga­tion that Tigray lead­ers were hid­ing among civil­ians “does not then give the Ethiopi­ans state carte blanche to re­spond with the use of ar­tillery in densely pop­u­lated ar­eas.”

A year be­fore tak­ing power in Ethiopia and in­tro­duc­ing re­forms to win the No­bel Peace Prize, Abiy suc­cess­fully de­fended a PHD the­sis in con­flict res­o­lu­tion. Now he sits in Africa’s diplo­matic cap­i­tal, home of the African Union, and re­jects calls for di­a­logue.

Mean­while, a pow­er­ful voice in diplo­matic ef­forts, the United States, is in dis­ar­ray as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion fo­cuses on in­ter­nal politics af­ter los­ing the elec­tion — and af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in­fu­ri­ated Ethiopia with com­ments on a sep­a­rate is­sue this year.

The diplo­matic vac­uum has brought Ethiopia, one of Africa’s most pow­er­ful and pop­u­lous coun­tries, to what Amnesty In­ter­na­tional calls “the brink of a deadly es­ca­la­tion.”

Just ahead of the as­sault on Mekele, the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil met be­hind closed doors yes­ter­day to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion in Ethiopia for the first time.

Over the week­end, the cur­rent AU chair­man, South African Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, backed three high­level en­voys, an ini­tia­tive the UN chief quickly praised for “ef­forts to peace­fully re­solve the con­flict.”

But in an un­usu­ally pub­lic dis­agree­ment, Ethiopia said the en­voys would meet with Abiy and not the Tigray lead­ers. — AP

 ?? Photo / AP ?? Tigray refugees are now in Su­dan.
Photo / AP Tigray refugees are now in Su­dan.

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