Ethiopia’s Tigray troops have formed an alliance with eight others to oppose Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and seek a political transition after a year of war.
The Oromo Liberation Army, which is now fighting with Tigray forces, as well as seven other factions from around the country, signed the agreement in Washington on Friday.
Jeffrey Feltman, the United States’ special envoy, is meeting with senior government officials in Ethiopia’s capital amid calls for a rapid cease-fire and talks to end the war, which has killed thousands of people and displaced more since November 2020.
In a statement issued Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for a cease-fire and talks, and urged Tigray and Oromo Liberation Army fighters to “immediately stop the ongoing march into Addis Ababa.” He also encouraged Ethiopia’s government to put an end to its military campaign, which includes airstrikes in Tigray and ethnic militia mobilization.
According to organizer Yohanees Abraha of the Tigray group, the new United Front of Ethiopian Federalist Forces wants to “create a transitional structure in Ethiopia” so the prime minister can leave as soon as feasible. “Of course, the next stage will be to meet and communicate with countries, diplomats, and international actors in Ethiopia and abroad.”
According to him, the new alliance is both political and military in nature. He went on to say that it has had no contact with Ethiopia’s government.
Odaa Tarbii, a spokeswoman for the Oromo Liberation Army, confirmed the new alliance. When asked if he meant for Abiy to be forced out, he said it would depend on Ethiopia’s government and events in the next weeks. “Of course, we prefer if Abiy is gone in a peaceful and orderly transition,” he said.
Ethiopia’s group of leaders the alliance as a “publicity stunt” on Friday, alleging that some of the members “are not truly organizations with any traction.”
It also said that life in the capital had a “sense of normalcy” and refuted that the capital was under siege.
Billene Seyoum, the prime minister’s spokesman, tweeted Thursday evening that “any outliers that rejected the democratic procedures Ethiopia embarked on cannot be for democracy,” referring to Abiy’s opening up of political space after taking office in 2018. Some opposition groups are welcomed back from exile as part of his reforms.
In response to the tweet, an OLA official stated that some of those who returned to Ethiopia were later imprisoned or placed under house arrest. Over the last three years, a lot of goodwill has been lost,” he said.
The Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, Agaw Democratic Movement, Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement, Gambella People’s Liberation Army, Global Kimant People Right and Justice Movement/ Kimant Democratic Party, Sidama National Liberation Front, and Somali State Resistance are among the other organizations that signed on Friday, according to organizers.