Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met on Friday with three African Union (AU) delegates, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano and former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe. However, he denied them access to talk to leaders from the Tigray region.
“He only meets with the AU delegation out of courtesy and respect,” correspondent Samuel Getachew told RFIs Africa Calling podcast. The AU headquarters are located in Addis Ababa.
Abiy refused any further mediation, declaring that he had given the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) enough time to deal with matters.
Getachew says many young people in the capital of the country consider Abiy’s outrage in Tigray necessary to destroy the TPLF, the local Tigraian government and former governing faction within Ethiopia’s federalist system, which they consider oppressive.
“They remember TPLF as the party that abuses human rights and there was a lack of democracy,” Getachew said.
But he also acknowledges that there is a lot of pain among people living in Tigray.
“When you talk to people with connections to Tigray, when you go to their homes and when individuals talk to them, they tell you a different story,” he said.
“Their families are stuck in Tigray, the people who die are everyday people – the farmers, young students – people who barely survive these difficult conditions,” he added.
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Tigray has been cut off for three weeks since Abiy announced the military attack on the region after he said the TPLF had allegedly attacked a federal military base.
The UN called for unrestricted access to the region to help those trapped in the crossfire, including the six million inhabitants of Tigray.
Getachew says victims of the fighting, no matter what ethnicity they come from, say the same thing: “The core of war crimes is everywhere,” he said.
“And not just Amhara victims,” he said, referring to the alleged massacre of 600 people in Tigray that took place earlier this month.
The victims were mainly Amharas, a minority in the region. The state-run Human Rights Commission said earlier this week that it had verified the massacre, but that it was impossible to determine due to three weeks of independent communication and restrictions on reporting.
“I respect what they wrote, and I’m sure it happened, but it’s happening right now in every corner of Tigray,” Getachew added.