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News: PM Abiy, Tigray Interim admin meet in wake of differences on ‘referendum’, drought response

Addis Abeba – In a major development and the first such meeting subsequent to the formation of the interim administration of Tigray a year ago, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his cabinet members met today with a delegation led by Getachew Reda, President of the Interim Administration of Tigray, and senior officials of the TPLF.

The meeting is taking place in the backdrop of a series of accusations and counter accusations between the federal government and the interim administration of Tigray concerning the full implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA), in particular the unresolved status of Western Tigray, and the response to the ongoing severe drought that is claiming the lives of hundreds in the Tigray region.

Speaking to lawmakers this week, PM Abiy said that “based on the available information, there have been no reported deaths attributed to starvation, so far”, a stark difference from the reports coming out of the region including those provided by regional officials.

The PM also repeated the government’s earlier claim that both the Tigray interim Administration and Amhara regional state officials have agreed to conduct a referendum to resolve the status of Western Tigray, which remains occupied by forces affiliated with Amhara region administration.

The interim administration refuted the accounts both on the severity of the drought and the federal government’s assertion on the “referendum”, and stated that not only were such information on the drought misleading, but also calling out the government’s claim on the referendum unconstitutional and erroneous.

In addition to the PM’s statement to the lawmakers, on 02 February, the Federal Government Communication Service issued a statement in which it asserted a long list of accomplishments by the government in fully addressing the challenges in the Tigray region through a comprehensive execution of the Pretoria Peace Agreement, including responding to the ongoing drought crisis that has gripped the region.

But the interim administration of Tigray provided a response, criticizing not only the issuance of the statement on accounts that discussions regarding the full implementation of the Pretoria agreement were pending, but also, once again, refuting the assertion that the region has agreed to conduct a referendum.

The Tigray delegation attending today’s meeting comprises Debretsion Gebremichael, who has recently been re-elected Chairman of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), as well as Lieutenant General Tadesse Worede, and Maj. General Tsadkan Gebretinsae, senior leadership of Tigrayan forces and deputy presidents of the Tigray Interim Administration, among other members of the interim administration.

According to the official readout by the office of the Prime Minister, the meeting aimed at undertaking an “in-depth review of the initiatives and progress in the Tigray Region since the inception of the Interim Regional Administration. The evaluation of Federal and Regional actors focuses on post-conflict reconstruction and implementation of the peace agreement.”

As of the writing of this news, there is no statement issued by the Tigray Interim Administration providing further details on the meeting. AS

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