Ethiopia offers reward for locating fleeing Tigray leaders

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The Ethiopian authorities on Friday offered a reward of about 200,000 euros for information allowing to locate the fugitive dissident leaders of the northern region of Tigray, targets of a military operation launched by the federal government on November 4.

The leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that led regional institutions after having held the levers of power for nearly 30 years in Addis Ababa, have been on the run since the announced capture of Mekele, the capital of Tigray , November 28.

The Ethiopian army will pay 10 million birr (around 210,000 euros) “to anyone who knows the exact whereabouts of the leaders of the TPLF junta,” said the chief of the information department of the army, General Asrat Denero , cited by state broadcaster EBC.

General Asrat also gave dedicated telephone numbers to call to communicate any information.

On November 30, two days after the fall of Mekele, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assured deputies that TPLF leaders were being tracked “from the crisis room” by the federal army and would be quickly arrested.

He had assured that they were about 50 km west of Mekele, but the deposed president of Tigray and head of the TPLF, Debretsion Gebremichael, then assured AFP that this location was inaccurate.

The fleeing TPLF leaders have been unreachable for almost two weeks.

Mr. Abiy, Nobel Peace Prize 2019, sent the army to Tigray to replace with “legitimate institutions” and bring to justice the leaders of the TPLF, who had defied the central power for several months.

After weeks of growing tensions, Mr. Abiy accused them in early November of attacking two military bases in the region, which Mr. Debretsion denied.

On November 13, the Ethiopian Federal Police issued arrest warrants against Mr. Debretsion and 63 other TPLF leaders.

Despite the end of the military operation announced by Addis Ababa, fighting continues in Tigray, according to the UN, which deplores that the Ethiopian authorities are restricting its access to the region.

No precise assessment of the conflict in Tigray is available, but the fighting has pushed more than 50,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring Sudan and has displaced more than 63,000 inside the region, according to the UN.

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