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Ethiopia: Tigray and anti-government groups form alliance

Headlines 15:57 05 Nov, 2021

The Tigray group once dominated Ethiopian politics, but was sidelined following the election of Ahmed

Ethiopia: Tigray and anti-government groups form alliance

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed faced a new challenge on Friday as nine anti-government groups, including Tigray militants, formed a new alliance.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has been fighting the central government for over a year. Now they have formed the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces along with other opposition groups.

The aim of the new alliance is "to reverse the harmful effects of the Abiy Ahmed rule on the peoples of Ethiopia and beyond," the organizers said, and "in recognition of the great need to collaborate and join forces towards a safe transition."

Political and military opposition alliance

The alliance also includes the Oromo Liberation Army. Some of the groups have armed fighters, Reuters reported.

One of the organizers of the alliance, Yohanees Abraha, told The Associated Press that the United Front would "establish a transitional government" and then "start meeting and communicating with countries, diplomats and international actors in Ethiopia and abroad."

Abraha added that the alliance is both political and military, but that it had not contact with Ahmed's government.

"Of course we prefer if there's a peaceful and orderly transition with Abiy being removed," a spokesperson for the Oromo Liberation Army told AP.

"The goal is to be as inclusive as possible. We know this transition requires all stakeholders,'' he added.

Government spokesperson Billene Seyoum responded on Twitter saying that opposition groups had had the option of resolving differences in elections earlier this year and any groups that rejected that option "cannot be for democratization."

US calls for a ceasefire

The announcement came as US special envoy Jeffrey Feltman was in the Ethiopian capital meeting with several senior lawmakers in an attempt to bring about an immediate ceasefire.

Fighting between the TPLF and government forces has left thousands dead and displaced over two million.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also made a call for peace on Thursday, saying: "The conflict in Ethiopia must come to an end. Peace negotiations should begin immediately without preconditions in pursuit of a ceasefire."

US senators also introduced a new sanctions bill on Thursday that would target those involved in the ongoing conflict.

The TPLF has claimed to have made significant territorial gains against government forces, claims that the government denies.

The Tigray group once dominated Ethiopian politics, but was sidelined following the election of Ahmed. They have accused the prime minister of centralizing power at the expense of the regions.