News Update: Tigrayan Forces take over capital Mekelle; Fed. Gov accepts interim admin’s call for unilateral ceasefire

Residents of Mekelle this evening  Photo: Social Media

Addis Abeba, June 28, 2021 – Reports of the take over of Mekelle city by  forces formerly loyal to the TPLF which have since renamed themselves as Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) were coming out of Mekelle this afternoon. Addis Standard learned from residents of Mekelle that the city roads are overwhelmed by celebrating residents as the city was taken over by TDF. 

Hours after the reports, local media reported that Chief Executive of Tigray’s Interim Administration, Abraham Belay (PhD) announced that his administration has asked the federal government for a ceasefire agreement to provide a timely political solution to the plight of Tigray farmers. Abraham explained the need for a ceasefire ahead of the summer farming season, a better delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need and seeking a political and timely solution. 

In a nine-point request to the federal government, the interim administration noted that it made the proposal last week, following intensive discussion with regional leaders, Tigrayan intellectuals, businessmen and religious leaders. He pointed out that some in the fighting force out there are currently seeking a way to peace and it was important to give these forces a chance.

Earlier today tensions were at their peak in Mekelle city as the local television, Tigray Tv ceases its transmission today in the afternoon. A staff from the local TV who wanted to stay anonymous also confirmed to Addis Standard the termination of the TV transmission and said that the employees were told to leave the station. Another resident of Mekelle told Addis Standard that residents are hastily evacuating the roads to their houses and businesses including shops, hotels and banks were closed at the moment.

Residents also told Addis Standard the troops loaded in trucks were seen being rounded up in parts of the city. Later in the evening, residents  told Addis Standard that the city is rocked by people chanting. Addis Standard also spoke to Etenesh Nigusie, an official in the Interim administration, who was limited only to state that ‘the city is calm’. Further efforts to reach other Interim administration  officials were unsuccessful. 

This comes days after reports of flare ups in the region over the past days featuring an airstrike that claimed the lives of civilians. The spokesman of the ENDF said that the only combatants, not civilians, were struck in the airstrike. It is also remembered that the EU and the US condemned the attacks while also reiterating calls for an immediate ceasefire in the region and unhindered humanitarian access. 

The request of the interim administration was followed by a declaration of a ceasefire by the federal government. In a statement released late afternoon, the Prime minister’s office said “It is believed that there are forces within the scattered rebel forces who are willing for a peaceful resolution,” adding “The government has accepted the interim administration’s proposal.”

The statement concluded by explaining that the investigation against the leaders of TPLF would proceed, while declaring “ The government has announced an unconditional ceasefire that will last until the end of the farming season effective as of June 28, 2021.” Federal and regional institutions were instructed to follow suit, reminding that measures will be taken on those who try to use this opportunity for ill purposes. AS

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