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News: Mekelle city interim mayor admits presence and participation of Eritrean forces in Tigray conflict

Jan 04, 2021
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A screenshot of Ataklti Haileselassie, Interim Mayor of Mekelle city, as he spoke about the presence and participation of Eritrean forces in Tigray conflict

By Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane 

Addis
Abeba, January 04/2021
– Ataklti Haileselassie, Interim Mayor of Mekelle
city who was appointed by the Tigray regional state interim administration,
admitted the presence and participation Eritrean forces in the armed conflict
in Tigray.

In a video televised by Tigray TV, which is currently under
the control of the federal government appointed interim administration in
Tigray, Ataklit responds to questions from community members participating in a
meeting. According to Ataklit, the question of the presence of Eritrean forces
in Tigray was “a daily question of the interim administration,” and that “relevant
military leaders have been asked to give explanations.”

Tigray TV’s YouTube channel is no longer uploading Tigray TV programs being televised locally. The video
clip was therefore recorded from Tigray TV local broadcast and was
released on Facebook
.

“Why did they come in?” Ataklti asks and goes on to explain “the country’s largest command [the Northern Command], which was supposed to protect the country, was stabbed on its back and they [Eritrean forces] entered because there was no other defense. But it was also announced that they were being withdrawn from the country in a short time. It is a mistake to associate this with the interim administration,” he said.

The people of Tigray should not be harmed three or four
times in “such unplanned and meaningless war,” the interim mayor laments “we
have had a lot of embarrassment. When will it be enough for Tigraway from
entering an endless war and death? It is a shame that every ten years Tigraway
dies due to war. We don’t have a problem right now, so we don’t have to ask why
they came in now, but how to get them out. We are here to discuss what we can
do to stabilize the situation outside our city.”

Atakliti became the first senior government official to admit
the presence and participation of Eritrean forces in the armed conflict in
Tigray, which is categorically
denied by officials both in Addis Abeba
and Asmara despite growing
evidences.

In a press briefing he held on December
09, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he “confronted PM Abiy with that question, and he guaranteed to
me that they have not entered Tigrayan territory. The only area where they are
is corresponded to the disputed territory between the two countries that was
decided to give back to Eritrea.”  

However, citing U.S. government sources,
humanitarian agencies and satellite images, several leading international media
including the New
York Times
, Reuters,
and Bloomberg,
have reported about the presence and involvement of Eritrean forces in the
armed conflict in Tigray, which began exactly two months ago on Nov. 04/2020.

The Ethiopian government, continued referring
to the conflict as “law enforcement operation in Tigray,” and said it was
completed on November 28 after its forces “captured” the city of Mekelle, the
capital of Tigray. However, a latest report by Famine
Early Warning Systems Network
revealed the “conflict has been
ongoing at relatively lower levels, predominately in some central and eastern
areas.”

The Network, which is a USAID founded leading provider of analysis
on food insecurity, also warns “the conflict in the Tigray region resulted in a
notable decline in food security among displaced, urban, and poor rural
households despite the ongoing harvest.”  AS 

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