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AFP
Wire Service
2 minute read
24 Nov 2021
4:02 am

South Africa, Kenya urge ‘immediate’ Ethiopia ceasefire

AFP

On Monday, Abiy said he would 'mobilise to the front to lead the defence forces' and called on Ethiopians to 'rise up for your country.'

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 08, 2021 Workers carry blankets on their heads in the historical Merkato district during the preparations for the eve of the Ethiopian New Year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. - France on November 23, 2021 became the latest country to advise citizens to leave war-torn Ethiopia as advancing Tigrayan rebels claimed to be within 200 kilometres (125 miles) by road of the capital Addis Ababa. (Photo by Amanuel Sileshi / AFP)

South Africa and Kenya on Tuesday urged warring parties in Ethiopia to commit to an immediate ceasefire, a day after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed to head to the front to lead soldiers battling rebels.

The year-long war has already killed thousands and pushed hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions, according to the UN.

Grave situation in Ethiopia

Ramaphosa meets with Kenyan president

Following talks with his visiting Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said they had discussed the “grave situation” in Ethiopia.

“We expressed our conviction that there is scope for dialogue among the warring parties in Ethiopia and that there is an urgent need for all parties to the conflict to commit to an immediate indefinite, negotiated ceasefire, and an all-inclusive political dialogue,” said Ramaphosa.

On Monday, Abiy said he would “mobilise to the front to lead the defence forces” and called on Ethiopians to “rise up for your country.”

Troops fail to topple rebel group

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has said it is pressing towards Addis Ababa, claiming control of Shewa Robit Town, 220 kilometres (136 miles) northeast of the capital by road. 

Abiy sent troops into Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region to topple the TPLF rebel group in November 2020, saying the move came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps. 

Though he promised a swift victory, by late June the TPLF had regrouped and retaken most of Tigray including its capital Mekele, prompting the federal army to largely withdraw from the region.

ALSO READ: What lies ahead for Ethiopia as war enters second year

Since then the TPLF has pushed into the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara. 

State of emergency in Ethiopia

During the year-long war, the TPLF formed an alliance with other insurgent groups including the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which is active in the Oromia region surrounding Addis Ababa. 

In early November Abiy’s government declared a six-month state of emergency.

Fears of a rebel advance on the capital have prompted several countries including the US and Britain to pull out non-essential diplomatic staff. 

Kenyatta landed in South Africa late Monday for a three-day working visit.

NOW READ: Timeline of Ethiopia’s conflict