Fighting rages for control of strategic roads in northern Ethiopia, and Guterres calls for an end to the military conflict

Fighting raged on several fronts for control of strategic roads in northern Ethiopia, while the United Nations called for a halt to the fighting to make way for a political solution to the conflict in the country.

Fighting continues between the Ethiopian government forces, the Tigray Liberation Front and other allied armed factions in areas of the Amhara and Afar regions, bordering the Tigray region, amid fears that the battles will approach the capital, Addis Ababa.

According to Al-Jazeera correspondent, the pace of confrontations increased to control the strategic roads along the fronts of the Amhara and Afar regions, and extended to the borders of “Shawa” governorate.

In northeastern Ethiopia, the special forces of Afar region announced that they had responded to the attacks of the Tigray Liberation Front militants on the town of Melle, which overlooks a vital corridor between the port of Djibouti and the capital, Addis Ababa.

Hayat Ali, the official in charge of logistical support for the Afar Special Forces, said that the militants of the Tigray Front are seeking to control the Djibouti port route in order to strengthen their negotiating position and put pressure on the central government in Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian military official indicated that the Afari forces bear what he described as a moral and national responsibility towards the Ethiopian people, in protecting this corridor.

The Tigray Front had recently threatened to advance towards Addis Ababa from its advanced positions, 400 km from the capital, in an effort to topple the government of Abiy Ahmed, which has ruled the country since 2018.

In return, Ahmed pledged to confront the attack of the Tigray Front and its allies from the Oromia region and other regions, and called on the population to take up arms to defend the capital, amid air strikes targeting the front’s sites in Tigray and neighboring regions.

A call to end the conflict

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed that the course of military conflict will not bring lasting peace and stability to Ethiopia.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Guterres urged all parties in Ethiopia to end hostilities and prioritize the well-being of civilians.

He also urged them to allow safe and unimpeded humanitarian access.

Guterres called on the Ethiopian authorities to release all United Nations staff members detained without charge, expressing concern over reports of arbitrary arrests that may widen divisions between ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

The United Nations had announced that at least 1,000 people – most of them from Tigray region – had been arrested in Ethiopia since the authorities imposed a state of emergency on November 2.

In turn, Washington yesterday renewed its call for its citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately, in light of fears that the conflict will spread to the capital, Addis Ababa.

Last Thursday, Ethiopia set conditions for possible talks with opposition factions, including a halt to attacks, the withdrawal of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front from the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, and recognition of the government’s legitimacy.

For its part, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front is demanding that aid be allowed into the region, where the conflict erupted last year.

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