Clock ticking for Tigray as Ethiopia PM gives a 72-hour ultimatum


In an unprecedented move, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has issued a scathing attack on the ‘rebellious’ Tigray region while the latter promises to keep on the fight.

Ethiopia’s PM has stretched out a brief 72-hour olive branch to the northern Tigray province demanding an unconditional cessation of hostilities and surrender. In what is the precursor before a full-blown assault on the Tigray capital, the situation looks dire for the region. In a tweet, the former Nobel Peace Prize laureate urged them to surrender peacefully describing their current situation as a “point of no return.

Also read: Ethiopia Tigray conflict

Hardline positions on both sides

On Sunday, the Ethiopian military contemplated a besiege of the region’s capital Mekele that houses hundreds of thousands of residents. Military communication from state broadcasters urged residents to disassociate themselves from the junta militia or face a merciless onslaught driven by tanks. 

Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) promised fierce fighting to stop the advance of the Ethiopian army according to comments shared with news agency Agence France-Presse.

Full-scale escalation

The TPLF played a central role in the deposition of Mengistu Hailemariam who led the unpopular military Derg regime. TPLF forces dominated the national political scene across East Africa until Abiy rose to the position of prime minister in 2018. Abiy started by overrunning several towns through aerial bombing campaigns and fierce ground combat. 

Abiy’s administration considers the TPLF as a criminal association refusing all calls for peaceful resolution of conflicts. The annoucement by the African Union to send in a special envoy to negotiate for peace was described by PM Abbey as “fake news.”

Susan Rice, referred to it as “war crimes” when referencing the tweet of Laetitia Bader an HRW researcher.

Ph: Alexandros Michailidis /