US pushes Ethiopia’s Abiy over Tigray

Ethiopian leader under pressure to adhere to UN Security Council guidelines in region following significant rebel advances and destruction of key bridge

A broken car at Samre Technical College, which was looted and temporarily occupied by alleged Eritrean soldiers in Tigray.
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday pushed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for further commitments on the Tigray crisis following last week’s ceasefire after considerable military advances by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

In a phone call, “Secretary Blinken urged Prime Minister Abiy to commit to the steps outlined in the United Nations Security Council on July 2,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Mr Price said that the commitments include “the complete withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces from Tigray; full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need” and “the establishment of a transparent process to hold accountable those responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities”.

Mr Blinken also called for “an affirmation that neither the internal nor external borders of Ethiopia will be changed by force or in contravention of the constitution”.

The UN last week said that more than 400,000 people in Tigray are facing famine and that clashes could continue despite the ceasefire.

Addis Ababa declared a unilateral ceasefire last week after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front advanced on Mekelle, the province’s capital. The rebels have accepted a ceasefire in principle under stringent conditions, including the restoration of their government in Tigray.

Mr Blinken “stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to commit to an immediate, indefinite, negotiated ceasefire”.

In the meantime, efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Tigray’s embattled civilian population became drastically more difficult last week after the destruction of a key bridge over the Tekeze River. It remains unclear who destroyed the bridge.

Mr Blinken “condemned the destruction of bridges into Tigray and other impediments to access”.

The conflict erupted last year after Ethiopian and Eritrean forces entered the region alongside ethnic Amhara militias to push back against an offensive by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

US officials threatened to sanction Eritrean officials last week if they did not withdraw their forces from Tigray.

Ethiopia has maintained a blackout in the region, hindering lines of communication and banning media access.

Updated: July 06, 2021, 10:29 PM