News: Amhara regional gov't calls on TPLF to ‘vacate occupied areas swiftly’

Recent reports have disclosed that in the wake of recent instances of violent clashes, an estimated number ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 civilians have been displaced from Alamata town (Photo: Alamata Communications/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – In its statement issued earlier today, the Amhara regional government called on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to “fully respect” the Pretoria deal and “swiftly vacate the areas it occupied recently.”

The statement warned that non-compliance will force “the government and people of the Amhara region, together with other brothers and sisters of Ethiopia, to save the country from destruction and defend our people from violence.”

The Amhara regional government alleged that on 25 March, 2024, the TPLF “colluded with external and internal forces hostile to Ethiopia and unilaterally declared war, using Amhara student textbooks as a pretext through the interim administration of Tigray.”

The Amhara regional government further stated that the federal authorities in Addis Abeba had repeatedly sought to negotiate with the TPLF in hopes that the group “might learn from the last three rounds of bloody war.” However, the regional government accused the TPLF that it has “abandoned this peace option” and “invaded” areas including Raya Alamata, Raya Bala, Ofla, Korem, and Zata, local areas located in southern Tigray zone.

Recent reports indicate that following recent violent clashes in Raya Alamata district, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 civilians and officials have sought refuge in the town of Kobo, located in the Amhara region. Local residents said many displaced people sheltered at a school in Kobo, while others returned home this morning.

The cause of the latest clashes is disputed, with local officials and residents offering differing accounts. Some stated that “TPLF forces” initiated the conflict, while the administrator of the Southern Tigray Zone said militants from the Tao area advanced towards Tigray militia positions, leading to an armed confrontation.

The Amhara government accused the TPLF of “waging an endless bloody war against the Amhara people” due to “deep-rooted hatred”. It appealed for “the international community to strongly condemn the invasion by the TPLF.”

It urged security forces to “fulfill their historical responsibility by organizing the people and protecting their environment.” The statement also called on the people of the region to mobilize and “protect themselves from false propaganda and infiltrators” and “stand by the government’s side.”

The statement praised federal efforts to end the war peacefully but said the TPLF “has been breaking the Pretoria Peace Agreement” by re-entering conflict.

In a press briefing held yesterday, General Tadesse Werede, deputy president of the Tigray interim administration and chief of Tigrayan forces, stated that the federal government and the Tigray regional administration have reached an agreement “on the need to dismantle administrations established by Amhara forces in Western Tigray, Tselemti, and some parts of Southern Tigray that are under occupation.”

Tadesse said the first step was disbanding armed groups and removing the “unconstitutional administrations,” to be followed by restoring the justice system. However, he noted that armed groups were disrupting this process. He added that the current status that led forces from the neighboring Amhara region to occupy these areas both in western and Southern Tigray was not the initial cause of the war but the result of the war.

Tadesse further revealed that the federal government’s position that these areas should remain under its control and should be resolved by a referendum has not been agreed by the Tigray region interim administration, echoing the earlier position issued by the interim administration. “The position taken by the federal government is not acceptable to Tigray”,Tadesse said, adding that the regional interim administration expects the federal government to “review and amend” its position.

However, the statement from the Amhara regional government asserted that these areas were territories that had been “seized by force” by the TPLF before the current constitution of Ethiopia was ratified. The statement claimed that “many historical evidences” showed residents there had raised “questions of identity and self-governance” and called for their rights to be respected even prior to that point.

The statement claimed that during the two-year war that ended with the Pretoria deal, these areas were “able to win the freedom” to address their “identity question self-governance that had been pushed away by force.”

The National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) issued a similar statement on Monday stating that the “TPLF, which is the eternal enemy of the people of Ethiopia,” has “invaded our people for the fourth time.” The statement urged both the federal and Amhara regional governments to “immediately cease the assault.”

The area has experienced another deadly clash in March this year, contributing to accusations and counter accusations between the authorities in the two regional states. The clashes took place just few weeks after a warning in the 2024 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community released on 11 March that despite the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed in November 2022 between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigrayans that ended a two-year war, the “unresolved territorial issues could lead to a resumption of conflict.” AS

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