Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed on Friday ruled out the possibility of a dialogue with the leaders of the rebel Tigray region during a meeting with African Union special envoys who are trying to end the deadly conflict between Ethiopian troops and Tigray’s forces, reported Africa News.
During the meeting, Abiy, who won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for ending a two-decade standoff with Eritrea, told the envoys that he is ready to speak only to representatives operating legally in the region. He said that he will not talk to TPLF leaders until they are defeated or give up.
Abiy’s meeting with the African Union envoys- former presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa- came after the Ethiopian prime minister announced the start of the final phase of the conflict which began on November 4th. The government had given the TPLF until Wednesday to surrender or face an assault on Mekelle, home to 500,000 people.
The Ethiopian army has been fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for past three weeks. The violence has killed many hundreds and displaced tens of thousands more.
According to the prime minister’s office, Abiy said he appreciated the AU envoys’ concern over the fighting but told them his government’s failure to enforce the rule of law in Tigray would `”nurture a culture of impunity with devastating cost to the survival of the country.”
The Ethiopian prime minister ensured that great care would be taken to protect innocents and spare the city from severe damage.
As Tigray has been almost entirely cut off from the outside world since Nov. 4, the United Nations has issued a warning over shortages that have become extremely critical in the embattled region.
As per a new UN report, more than a million people are displaced and food for nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea will be gone in a week.