Ethiopian Dissident Vows to Continue Fighting Federal Government

The former leader of Ethiopia’s embattled region of Tigray vowed to continue a months-long battle with the federal government in a conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands, killed thousands and threatened to destabilize the Horn of Africa.

“Let our enemies and friends know that until we get our victory we will not go anywhere,” said Debretsion Gebremichael, who was president of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. He spoke in a recorded telephone interview broadcast late Saturday on an online television channel, Dimitsi Weyane.

Several senior leaders of the TPLF have been killed, including the former Foreign Affairs Minister Seyoum Mesfin, and others arrested. This is the first time in nearly two months that Debretsion, who is wanted by the government on charges of terrorism and treason, has spoken publicly.

Bloomberg was unable to contact Debretsion independently but a senior TPLF member speaking on the condition of anonymity for security reasons confirmed it was him. Thousands of Tigray supporters on social media also expressed relief at hearing him speak.

Debretsion called on the people of Tigray to continue the struggle with “greater determination and without internal division,” and accused Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Amhara forces and Eritrean forces of looting, raping women and killing young men.

Billene Seyoum, a spokesperson for Abiy, did not immediately address the recording.

Federal troops responding to an alleged attack Nov. 4 entered the region and toppled a dissident ruling party that’s set itself in opposition to Abiy since he came to power in April 2018. Though the government announced victory on Nov. 28, fighting in Tigray has nevertheless continued.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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