News: US says Eritrean troops still in Ethiopia, Tigray official calls claims of complete withdrawal “misleading”

Eritrean forces in Shire town on the eve of Epiphany (Timket) on 18 January. Photo: Haphtom Berhe

Addis Abeba – US Ambassador to the UN Security Council (UNSC), Linda Thomas Greenfield, said on Saturday, in Nairobi that the that Eritrean troops did not withdraw from Ethiopia, contradicting a claim by an Ethiopian army general who said there was no other security forces in the Tigray region other than the federal army.

Ambassador Linda said that the US knew Eritrean troops have moved back to the border, and have been asked to leave, Reuters news agency reported.

The US had previously said the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray was “ongoing” and that the development was “key to securing a sustainable peace in northern Ethiopia.”

A day earlier to the ambassador Linda’s comment on 27 January, a senior army leader of Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) major general Teshome Gemechu said that there is no other security force in the Tigray region apart from the Federal Defense Forces.

The General said this while briefing Military Attachés for various countries based in Addis Abeba; Representatives of the African Union, Leaders from the Red Cross Society and representatives of other international organizations on the implementation of the peace agreement.

The general’s remarks were also rebuked by Tigrayan official Getachew Reda who said that there were “thousands of Eritrean and Amhara forces in Tigray”, and called Major General Teshome’s statement “misleading”.

“Despite commendable signs of withdrawal of non-ENDF forces, there are thousands of Eritrean & Amhara forces in Tigray” Getachew tweeted, adding that, it is the AU Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission’s (AU MVCM) task to verify the withdrawal. However he also said, “if the [AU MVCM] team’s itinerary is any guide, there is little to suggest that this is going to happen soon”.

It is to be recalled that the African Union Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism (AU-MVCM) that was officially launched in Mekelle, on 29 December has since only confirmed the launch of the disarmament process of Tigrayan combatants and Tigrayan forces’ handing over of heavy weapons to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, which took place on Tuesday 10, January.

It has not issued any other statement, especially on the “withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region” which was stipulated to have happened “concurrently” with the “disarmament of heavy weapons,” according to the Executive Declaration on the Modalities for the Implementation of the Pretoria agreement, which was signed in Nairobi on 12 November 2022. AS

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