Ethiopia: Opposition Group in Tigray Opposes Referendum Over Occupied Areas, Urge Full Implementation of Peace Deal

Addis Ababa — The Assimba Democratic Party (ADP) has expressed its opposition to the federal government’s plan to conduct a referendum over areas in western and southern Tigray that have been occupied by the Amhara forces since 2020.

In a statement released yesterday, commemorating the first anniversary of the Pretoria Peace Agreement, the party emphasizing the need for the complete and comprehensive implementation of the agreement. It highlighted several critical issues that remain unaddressed after one year, with the most urgent being the failure of Eritrean forces to withdraw from key areas in Tigray as stipulated, including Irob, Zalambesa, Badme, and Adi Gushu. The continued presence of Amhara forces and militias in parts of west and south Tigray, was also noted.

The ADP drew attention to the dire situation of millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Tigray who are unable to return home, including refugees sheltering in neighboring Sudan. With humanitarian aid cut off for months, the party warned of severe consequences, including hunger-related deaths in the region.

Given these unresolved issues, the ADP strongly condemned the federal government’s decision to proceed with a referendum on occupied areas. The party asserted that this action goes against the Pretoria Agreement, defies the wishes of the people of Tigray, and violates constitutional principles.

In its position statement, the ADP demanded the complete withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces from the Tigray region as agreed in Pretoria. It called for the swift return of all displaced Tigrayans, urgent efforts to address the humanitarian crisis, and an immediate correction of the federal government’s approach to the referendum.

The party acknowledged the positive steps taken under the agreement, such as the restoration of essential services in Tigray, including medical, transportation, banking, electricity, and communications.

On 06 October, 2023, the federal government reaffirmed its commitment to fully implement the Pretoria Agreement. However, it cited delays, particularly in disarming Tigrayan ex-combatants. It also stated that contested areas of Tigray would see locally elected administrations, federal force deployment, and ultimately referendums to decide their status.

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