Ethiopia: there will be no “bloodbath” in Addis Ababa, say Tigrayan rebels

#Other countries : Tigrayan rebels deem fear of a “bloodbath” in Addis Ababa “ridiculous” and “not credible” if they were to enter the Ethiopian capital to overthrow Abiy Ahmed’s government, told AFP a spokesperson.

Several countries have called on their nationals to leave Ethiopia as the conflict between rebels and government forces in the north of the country escalates. The US government on Saturday ordered the departure of its non-essential personnel.

After claiming last weekend the capture of the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, the fighters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and their allies of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), did not rule out to march on Addis Ababa.

The government has denied any major rebel advance and any threat to the capital. He declared a state of emergency, however, and authorities in Addis Ababa called on residents to organize to defend the city.

“To say that the people of Addis are fiercely opposed to us is totally an exaggeration,” Getachew Reda, spokesman for the TPLF, said in an interview with AFP on Saturday evening.

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“Addis is a melting pot. People with all kinds of interests live there. To say that Addis will turn into a bloodbath if we go in is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t think that assumption (…) is credible” , he added.

Taking the capital is not “an objective”, said Getachew Reda: “We are not particularly interested in Addis Ababa, we want to make sure that Abiy no longer poses a threat to our people”.

But if the Prime Minister does not leave, “of course” that the rebels will take the city, he added, while assuring that the TPLF did not wish to take back the power, which he held for 27 years until in 2018.

“I can assure you that this does not interest us”, he declared: “We just want to make sure that the voice of our people is heard, that they exercise their right to self-determination including by holding a referendum to decide whether to remain a member of Ethiopia or become independent “.

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According to him, the rebels are advancing towards the south and “approaching Ataye”, 270 kilometers north of the capital, as well as towards the east towards Mile, located on the road to Djibouti, crucial for the supply of goods. ‘Addis Ababa.

The TPLF dominated Ethiopia’s political and security structures for nearly 30 years, after taking Addis Ababa and overthrowing the military-Marxist Derg regime in 1991. It was ousted from power by Abiy Ahmed, appointed prime minister in 2018, and withdrew to its stronghold of Tigray.

After months of tension, Abiy Ahmed sent the army to Tigray in November 2020 to remove regional authorities from the TPLF, whom he accused of attacking military bases.

He proclaimed victory on November 28. But in June, pro-TPLF fighters recaptured most of the region and then advanced into neighboring Afar and Amhara regions.