On February 15, Ethiopia’s parliament voted in favor of the early lifting of the six-month state of emergency decreed last November 12.
The decision was taken following the positive assessment of the general state of security in the country, after the de facto truce on the Tigray front seems to have drastically reduced clashes both along the borders with Oromia and with the regional state of Amhara. On the contrary, the clashes seem to be still relatively intense along the borders between Tigray and Afar, where for several weeks there have been reports of incursions by the Tigrayan military forces of the TDF with the aim of preventing the blockade of humanitarian aid to the capital, Mekelle.
The continuing conflict in the regional state of Afar is the object of a singular silence both on the part of the federal government in Addis Ababa and of the international community, although numerous local witnesses document its intensity and extent.
Several political forces in Afar accuse the federal government of not providing any military assistance to the local armed forces, thus allowing those of Tigray to act indiscriminately with the use of tanks and heavy artillery. The UN also confirms the continuation of hostilities, adding that the only humanitarian access channel to Tigray, which passes through the capital of Afar, Semera, is currently closed as a result of the ongoing fighting.
The government of Tigray, however, justified its intervention beyond the borders of the regional state of Afar claiming to have reacted to the repeated attacks suffered during the last weeks, and to the attempt of the counterparts to prevent the transit of humanitarian aids of the international organizations toward Mekelle. The TPLF government has also added that it has no plans to stay in the region, although at present it is extremely difficult to assess the real variables of evolution of the conflict.
Amnesty International has instead released a report on February 16, in which it explicitly accuses the TPLF forces of having committed atrocities during the clashes in the Amhara region. According to the international humanitarian organization, between last August and September the Tigrinya forces deliberately killed dozens of civilians, perpetrated rape – even against young girls – and conducted systematic looting campaigns in villages and towns.
Particularly heinous was the violence committed in the towns of Kobo and Chenna, where unarmed civilians were summarily executed by TDF units, as revenge for the losses suffered during the fighting that led to the conquest of the city in July.
The forces of the TPLF have not responded to the accusations of Amnesty International nor provided information to the repeated requests of the international humanitarian organization, which has collected in recent weeks numerous testimonies in situ, thanks to which it was also possible to identify some mass graves used for the summary burial of victims.
Finally, on February 17, the spokesperson of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dina Mufti, announced that the government does not intend to remove Tigray’s ruling party, the TPLF, from the government’s list of terrorist organizations.
According to the spokesperson, national and international calls for the removal of the TPLF from the list of terrorist organizations have intensified in order to facilitate the process of national dialogue and accelerate the possibility of a lasting truce. The government, however, does not intend to turn the dialogue process into a negotiation with Tigray and, therefore, has no intention of removing the ruling party in Mekelle from the list of terrorist organizations.
The intervention of the spokesman Dina Mufti has thus confirmed the positions expressed by the Prosperity Party on February 16, when a statement denied the possibility of a delisting of the TPLF from the lists of terrorists and, above all, denied the statements of the European Union’s special envoy, Annette Weber, who on February 12 had spoken during an interview of the possibility of a “delisting” of the TPLF and of an acceleration of the process of national dialogue.