Ceasefire comes amid reports that Tigray’s former governing party back in control of the regional capital Mekele.
Ethiopia’s government said it has “positively accepted” a call for an immediate, unilateral ceasefire in its northern Tigray region after nearly eight months of deadly conflict, amid reports that Tigray’s former governing party has retaken control of the regional capital Mekelle.
The statement on the ceasefire on Monday carried by state media came shortly after the Tigray interim administration, appointed by the federal government, fled the regional capital, Mekelle, and called for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds so that desperately needed aid can be delivered.
Ethiopia says the ceasefire will last until the end of the crucial planting season in Tigray. The season’s end comes in September.
“The government has the responsibility to find a political solution to the problem,” the head of the interim administration, Abraham Belay, said, adding that some elements within Tigray’s former ruling party are willing to engage with the federal government.
Meanwhile, the former governing party in Ethiopia’s Tigray region said on Monday it was back in control of Mekelle, and residents reported seeing troops in Tigray regional uniforms in the city for the first time since November.
“The capital of Tigray, Mekelle, is under our control,” Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), told Reuters news agency by satellite phone.
The Ethiopian prime minister’s spokesperson, the head of the government’s emergency task force on Tigray and the military’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to phone calls and messages seeking comment.
The region in recent days has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict.
Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting as Ethiopian and allied forces pursue Tigray’s former leaders and their supporters, and as humanitarian groups plead for more access to the region of 6 million people. Hundreds of thousands of people face the world’s worst famine crisis in a decade.
International pressure on Ethiopia spiked again last week after a military air strike on a busy market in Tigray killed more than 60 people.
More to follow.