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THE Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has called for international mediators and unrestricted access to humanitarian aid in Ethiopia’s restive northern state as it lays out conditions for peace talks.
Spokeswoman Liya Kassa demanded the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray and the removal of an interim administration put in place by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after a military offensive which drove out the TPLF regional government in December.
A joint statement by groups including the National Congress of Great Tigray and the Tigray Independence Party (TIP) said on Saturday that the region had suffered “one hundred days of pain and agony,” urging the government to stop its bloody war.
Mr Ahmed launched an assault on the region in November 2020, accusing it of holding regional elections two months beforehand in defiance of Addis Ababa which deemed the poll “illegitimate and unconstitutional.”
He declared victory the following month, as government forces took control of the Tigrayan capital Mekelle.
More than 60 leading TPLF figures were placed on a wanted list, with several being killed by Ethiopian soldiers.
But the region has since been cut off amid allegations of rape and extra-judicial executions, with 300,000 internally displaced.
Aid agencies have been denied access by the Ethiopian government despite warning that 10,000 will starve to death without urgent intervention.
The Tigrayan groups warned of “an invasion of tyranny on a democratic aspiration of the people” and accused the international community of nurturing “new dictatorships in the Horn of Africa in addition to the ones we already had” through its silence.
Continued inaction will only worsen the situation, the statement said, pushing the Tigrayan people into armed resistance and making the region “an epicentre of human misery.”
“The people of Tigray have become a target of all these acts of violence because they chose to exercise their right to self-determination through an election, with the biggest turnout in their history and a hopeful participation of opposition parties,” they added.
The groups also called for “a deep and independent investigation of the egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity” and for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
Mr Abiy has not responded to the call for talks. He has previously insisted that he would not engage in negotiations until law and order have been restored.
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