Africa: Ethiopia’s Abiy Vows to Press On Despite Meeting AU Envoys

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met on Friday with three African Union (AU) envoys, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano and former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe. He refused them access to speak with leaders from the Tigray region, however.

“He’s only meeting with the AU delegation out of courtesy and respect,” said correspondent Samuel Getachew, speaking to RFI’s Africa Calling podcast. The AU headquarters are based in Addis Ababa.

Abiy has refused any further mediation, stating that he gave the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) ample time to deal with issues.

Getachew says that many young people in the country’s capital regard Abiy’s offensive into Tigray as necessary to destroy the TPLF, the regional Tigrayan authority and former controlling faction within Ethiopia’s federalist system, that they considered repressive.

“They remember TPLF as the party that abused human rights and there was a lack of democracy,” said Getachew.

But he also acknowledges that there is a lot pain among people who live in Tigray.

“When you speak to people with connections to Tigray, when you go to their houses and speak to them as individuals, they tell you a different story,” he said.

“Their families are stuck in Tigray, the people that are dying are everyday people – the farmers, young students – people barely surviving these difficult circumstances,” he added.

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Tigray has been cut off for three weeks since Abiy announced the military offensive on the region after he said the TPLF allegedly attacked a federal military base.