Addis Ababa | Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday ordered the army to launch the final offensive against dissident Tigray authorities in Mekele, the capital of this northern region of Ethiopia.
The army has been ordered to “carry out the (…) last phase” of the operation launched on November 4 against the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Mr. Abiy said on his report. Facebook account, promising that “everything would be done so that the city of Mekele (…) does not suffer serious damage” and “to protect civilians”.
“The last peaceful exit door of the TPLF junta has been closed by the arrogance of the junta,” said Abiy, at the expiration of a 72-hour ultimatum given to the Tigrayan authorities and members of their forces to surrender.
“If the TPLF criminal clique had chosen to surrender peacefully, the (military) campaign would have ended with the minimum of damage,” he said, recalling having given the leaders of Tigray “multiple opportunities to surrender peacefully in recent weeks ”.
The prime minister calls on “the inhabitants of Mekele and its surroundings to lay down their arms, to stay away from military targets and to take all necessary precautions”.
“Everything will be done to avoid targeting historical remains, places of worship, public and development institutions, private homes,” he said.
Spearhead during 15 years of the armed struggle against the military-Marxist regime of the Derg, finally overthrown in 1991, the TPLF then controlled the political and security apparatus of Ethiopia for almost 30 years.
Became Prime Minister in 2018, against a backdrop of violent anti-government protest, Mr. Abiy gradually removed the TPLF from power in Addis Ababa.
Tensions then continued to grow between the TPLF, entrenched in its stronghold of Tigray, and the federal government, until the organization in Tigray of a vote described as “illegitimate” by Addis Ababa.
Mr. Abiy justified the sending of the army to Tigray by accusing the TPLF of having attacked two bases of the federal army in the region, which the Tigray authorities deny.