Ethiopian rebels have said that unlike government propaganda, the people of Addis Ababa would not be hostile to their presence. The TLPF, in recent weeks, have made significant advances on the capital, capturing two major strategic cities not too far away from Addis Ababa. In response to this, the government of Prime Minister Abiy have called on civilians within the capital to be ready to take up arms to protect their city from the rebels. However, the TLPF, supported by the Oromo Liberation Army, has disputed any desire on their part to disrupt the lives of the people of Addis Ababa. “The story that the population in Addis is vehemently opposed to us, it is absolutely overstated…Addis is the capital of Ethiopia, it’s a melting pot…the claim that Addis will turn into a bloodbath if we enter Addis is absolutely ridiculous”, so says Getachew Reda, the spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Reda further goes on to say that the TLPF is ready to deal with the government but “we cannot negotiate with someone who still wants to maintain a chokeholds on our people, who is using hunger and starvation of children as a weapon of war. A long as these conditions we have put forward are met, we are, yes (willing to negotiate)”.

At a rally held in the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday, tens of thousands of supporters of Prime Minister Abiy came out to cheer federal troops stationed in the city, anticipating an assault by rebel forces on the capital. At the rally, demonstrators took the opportunity to denounce the United States, which has called for a cease=fire of the intensifying year-long conflict in the east African country. One placard read “Shame on you USA”, while another read “sucking Ethiopia’s blood”. This, presumably, is in response to the US suspending Ethiopia form the AGOA export agreement last week as a sanction against the state, as well as what locals consider to be interference in their affairs in the same vein as Afghanistan by the USA. The US joins the UN Security Council, African Union, Kenya, and Uganda who have all also publicly called for an end to the fighting. Canada has described the situation as “rapidly evolving and deteriorating”, and has withdrawn the families of embassy staff, as well as non-essential Canadian employees, although the embassy remains open for now. UN aid chief Martin Griffiths, travelled to Mekelle and met people affected by the unrest. According to a statement by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Griffiths “engaged with de facto authorities on the need for humanitarian access and protection of civilians through all areas under their control, and respect for humanitarian principles.” He was joined on this trip by the AUs special envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo. TLPF spokesperson Reda has confirmed that the two did visit Mekelle. Obasanjo also visited Afar, Oromia and even Somalia to assess the situation on the ground.

According to sources on the ground, the TLPF and OLA advance have rapidly approached Addis Ababa, now being around only 100kms away from the capital city. In response to this, military vehicles and tanks, which were not very visible in the last few weeks, are now roaming the city in anticipation of a possible attack. However, the citizens living within the city are not panicking, with most continuing with their day-to-day lives and not paying too much attention to the military actions around them.

The government of Ethiopia has now said they are willing to come to the negotiation table, only if the TLPF/OLA alliance agrees, and if the negotiations are led by the AU special envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo. This is in response to offers by the US to be the mediating party. Abiy has said that African problems will be resolved by Africans and he wants no interference from the West. The TLPF/OLA have also tentatively agreed that negotiations should be a target to end the conflict, although neither party, nor the AU, has come out officially with a rapprochement process.

In the latest developments of this year long conflict, at least 16 UN local employees have been detained in the nation’s capital. According to a government spokesperson, they have been held for their “participation in terror”. Legesse Tule, government spokesperson, said they were held “because of their wrongdoing and their participation in terror acts”, although he refused to elaborate on details, save to say it had nothing to do “with their office and job.” The UN, in condemning these detentions, have insisted they are being held against their will, with UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric saying that six staff members were detained then released. Additionally, some dependents of the employees were also detained with no cause.

The UK has now officially recalled all its citizens in Ethiopia, for security reasons

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