News Alerts

08 Nov 2020 | 12:23 PM UTC

Ethiopia: Foreign minister and other high-level officials removed amid Tigray Region conflict November 8 /update 4

Ethiopia News Alert

Prime Minister Abiy removes foreign minister and other high-level officials amid Tigray Region conflict on November 8; avoid the region

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/8/2020, 12:00 AM until 11/11/2020, 11:59 PM (Africa/Addis_Ababa). COUNTRY/REGION Tigray

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Event

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reportedly removed Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, Chief of Defense Staff General Adam Mohammed, and Head of National Intelligence and Security Service Demelash Gebre-Michael from their positions on Sunday, November 8, amid ongoing clashes in the Tigray Region of the country. Additionally, former Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew has been appointed as security advisor to the Prime Minister.

Previously, on Friday, November 6, the Abiy announced that the Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) had conducted airstrikes against alleged Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF)-aligned forces in the Tigray Region amid continued clashes in the state. Abiy stated that the airstrikes had targeted several long-range 'rocket launchers' in areas around the regional capital Mekele on Thursday, November 5, after they were seized by TPLF-aligned forces. The government claimed at the beginning of the offensive on Wednesday, November 4, that the TPLF had seized artillery systems and other equipment from Ethiopian National Defense Forces' (ENDF) bases around Mekele, but it is unclear whether the rocket systems targeted in Thursday's strikes had been appropriated in the initial alleged uprising.

Abiy did not specify what type of rocket systems had been destroyed in the airstrikes but stated that they had a range of around 300km (185 miles), similar to a Scud-type short-range ballistic missile. Several major cities, particularly in the Amhara region, are within this range of Mekele but it is unclear whether the alleged capture of the rocket systems provided the trigger for military intervention in the Tigray Region, nor whether the TPLF-aligned forces had the capability to operate them.

Further military clashes are likely in the Tigray region in the medium term, with a realistic possibility of civilian harm in major flashpoint areas.

Context

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had ordered a military offensive in the Tigray Region on Wednesday, after accusing security forces aligned with the regional Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking Ethiopian National Defense Forces' (ENDF) positions in the state. The operation follows two years of escalating tensions between the TPLF and the federal government in Addis Ababa, which they had previously dominated before the appointment of Abiy as prime minister in 2018, amid claims that the region was being marginalized by his sweeping reforms program. However, tensions reached a high point in September when the TPLF staged their own regional elections in the Tigray region in defiance of a decision by the government to suspend national polls due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The federal government subsequently declared the vote illegal and the upper house of Ethiopia's parliament voted to withhold budgetary subsidies to Tigray in early October. Amid the rising tensions, regional authorities also issued a statement on Tuesday, November 3, accusing Addis Ababa of planning a war in the Tigray region.

Advice

Those in the Tigray region are advised to monitor developments in their area of operations and liaise with appropriate consular authorities. Travelers should avoid the Tigray Region and northern areas of the Amhara region whilst hostilities continue and heed any directives issued by local authorities.

 

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