Ethiopia declares state of emergency in Tigray region as crisis with TPLF escalates
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Federal Council of Ministers in Ethiopia on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the troubled Tigray region just hours after Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed sanctioned the deployment of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] as the crisis with Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] escalated.
The State of Emergency is decreed for a period of six months and a State of Emergency Task Force to be led by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, and accountable to the Prime Minister, state media reported, in what could plunge Ethiopia into an unprecedented crisis.
For the last seven months, TPLF has been embroiled in a disagreement with Ahmed's administration, with elections being at the center stage. The party cut ties with the Prime Minister after he abandoned their initial coalition for the Prosperity Party.
Despite reservations by the electoral board to hold elections in the country, Tigray went on to hold elections, something which could have triggered the latest standoff. All the ministers from the party have resigned from the government.
Ethiopia PM said the attack on the military base in Tigray crossed the last red line, adding that it was a plan to rob ENDF forces of artillery and military equipment. Further, he noted the government will be forced to employ military confrontation, ordering the army to carry out missions to save the country.
Tigray announced airspace closure, claiming that Northern Command will "stand with the Tigray people and the regional government". But Abiy appeared on state TV saying that the initial "attack" resulted in "many martyrs, injuries and property damage"
He said TPLF "attack" targeted Mekele and the town of Dansha in western Tigray. The assault on Dansha was "repelled" by security forces from neighboring Amhara region, he noted, but the Tigray administration denounced a plot by Abiy's government to bring Tigray "to its knees"
On Wednesday, the US embassy in Addis Ababa said: "We urge an immediate de-escalation of the current situation in Tigray and measured response by both sides. We strongly encourage all parties to prioritize civilians' safety and security."
The President of the Somali Regional State, Mustafe Mohamed Omar, said that the Somali Regional State supports the operation of the national army in the Tigrean region, rare support for the under-siege Prime Minister, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
The President called on the Somali people to refrain from spreading false information. Mustafa took over the administration after the federal government led by Abiy Ahmed arrested his predecessor, Abdi Iley.