New Armed Alliance Challenges Ethiopia Premier as Crisis Worsens
(Bloomberg) -- Ethiopia’s dissident Tigray region agreed to ally with insurgents from the nation’s most populous ethnic group, potentially deepening a nine-month conflict raging in the country’s north.
The partnership between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army was agreed after talks over the past six weeks, OLA leader Kumsa Dirriba said by phone Wednesday. Getachew Reda, a senior member of the TPLF, confirmed the accord.
“There is an agreement on understanding each other to cooperate on a military alliance,” Kumsa, who is known by his nom de guerre Jaal Marroo, said.
The alliance risks escalating a conflict that erupted in November, when Abiy accused forces loyal to the TPLF, which dominated national politics for 27 years before being sidelined in 2018, of attacking a federal military base.
Ethiopia’s army was forced to withdraw from Tigray in June and a counter-offensive by the TPLF has since spread into neighboring regions including Amharra and Afar. Fighting has also spilled into neighboring Djibouti and Sudan.
The TPLF and the OLA formed the partnership after agreeing on principles of “respect for self determination and human rights,” Getachew said. “We have every reason to believe that working with them can work.”
Billene Seyoum, a spokeswoman for Abiy, didn’t immediately respond to questions about the alliance sent by text message. Abiy’s government labeled both the OLA and the TPLF as terrorist organizations in May.
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