US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged all parties to the Tigray conflict to commit to an immediate, indefinite, negotiated ceasefire.
In a phone call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday, Secretary Blinken condemned the destruction of bridges into Tigray and other impediments to humanitarian access.
“Secretary Blinken urged Prime Minister Abiy to commit to the steps outlined in the United Nations Security Council on July 2, including the complete withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces from Tigray; full, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need; the establishment of a transparent process to hold accountable those responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities; and an affirmation that neither the internal nor external borders of Ethiopia will be changed by force or in contravention of the constitution,” a statement attributable to spokesperson Ned Price said.
In addition, Blinken emphasised the urgency of holding an inclusive political dialogue to begin the difficult work of forging a lasting resolution to the country’s ethnic and political divisions.
The call comes a day after PM Abiy addressed Parliament where he said his government could easily recruit one million new fighters but wants to foster a period of “silence” in the country’s war-hit Tigray region.
His address came a week after TPLF took over Tigray’s capital, Mekele after Ethiopia federal forces withdrew after following an “unilateral ceasefire”.
“In one, two or three weeks, 100,000 trained, armed and organised special forces can be mobilised,” Abiy told lawmakers.
“If said special force isn’t enough, if a militia is needed, in one or two months half a million militiamen can be organised. One million youths can be mobilised and trained.”
In his view, those interested in seeing the conclusion of the conflict in the Tigray region are very few.
“It seems there are interests that seek to see the weakening of the Ethiopian state through a protracted conflict,” he said.
In a statement on July 4, TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda listed 10 demands that must be met before a ceasefire agreement is formalised.
They include the withdrawal of invading forces from Amhara and Eritrea from Tigray, for and independent investigation into crimes committed in the region, unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to Tigrayans, full access to all forms of services such as electricity, telecommunications, banking, flights education, healthcare and commerce without interruption.
Other conditions are for the federal government to respect the Tigray government and allow it to resume its regular work, release of detained Tigrayans members of the ENDF and the creation of an independent international entity to follow up on the implementation of the preconditions as a non-negotiable element of the ceasefire.