Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Sunday issued an ultimatum to the leaders of the country's northern Tigray region, telling them to surrender to federal forces within 72 hours. If the Tigray People's Liberation Front rejects the warning and holds out, as they say they intend to do, the government's troops will allegedly move to take Tigray's capital city Mekelle by force Wednesday.
But, Al Jazeera reports, even the capture of Tigray may not end the conflict that broke out earlier this month after long simmering tensions. Already, hundreds of people have died and tens of thousands have fled, but "the conflict could evolve," Ahmed Soliman, a research fellow at London think tank, Chatham House, told Al Jazeera. "There is the frightening possibility it could become entrenched," he said. "Both sides are heavily armed and this could lead to a prolonged insurgent warfare."
There is also the concern, Soliman added, that "the conflict could also spill over into neighboring countries."
The United Nations fears major hostilities may soon break out, as well, and U.N. Security Council will hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss the fighting. Read more at Al Jazeera and BBC. Tim O'Donnell
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who last year won the Nobel Peace Prize after reaching a pact with Eritrea and helped lead mediation efforts to curb violence in Sudan, has rejected the African Union's attempt to mediate talks between his own government and Tigray, a rebel-held northern Ethiopia region, Reuters reports.
Abiy reportedly plans to begin peace talks only after the government's forces capture leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front. Until then, the army will reportedly continue its march toward Tigray's capital city, Mekelle, which it says it will reach soon.
The fighting broke out earlier this month and has increasingly intensified. Hundreds of people are estimated to have died in the conflict, and more than 30,000 refugees have fled to Sudan since the violence began, with perhaps 200,000 more possibly crossing the border before too long, per Reuters. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee representative in Ethiopia, Ann Econtre, said she was "deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Tigray, which is compounded by the lack of access and our current inability to bring in food and supplies to those in need." Read more at Reuters and Al Jazeera. Tim O'Donnell
Anti-government protests have been raging since last year, with demonstrators upset over the government taking farmland belonging to the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, for development purposes. Earlier this month, activists say more than 500 people were killed during the Oromo holy festival Irreechaa, with police firing bullets and tear gas, but the government puts the official death toll at 52, with all dying in a stampede.
The state of emergency, the first in 25 years, took effect on Saturday. On state-run television Sunday, Desalegn said "vital infrastructure, businesses, health and education centers, as well as government offices, and courts have been destroyed," and he promised reforms and to open talks with the opposition. Local media is reporting that in Oromia, the largest of Ethiopia's nine regional states, mobile internet service is down and social media is blocked. Catherine Garcia