ETHIOPIA’S Tigray rebels have joined forces with other armed and opposition groups in a new escalation of a war that threatens to tear apart Ethiopia.
Representatives of the new United Front of Ethiopian Federalist Forces signed the deal in Washington on Friday, AP news agency quoted organisers as saying.
The new alliance includes the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the Oromo Liberation Army, and seven other groups from around the country.
The United Front of Ethiopian Federalist Forces seeks to ‘establish a transitional arrangement in Ethiopia,’ organiser Yohanees Abraha, who is with the Tigray group, told AP.
‘The next step will be, of course, to start meeting and communicating with countries, diplomats and international actors in Ethiopia and abroad.’
He said the new alliance is both political and military. It has had no communication with Ethiopia’s government, he added.
A spokesman for the Oromo Liberation Army, Odaa Tarbii, confirmed the new alliance. When asked whether it meant to force Abiy out, he replied that it depended on Ethiopia’s government and events over the coming weeks.
‘The goal is to be as inclusive as possible. We know this transition requires all stakeholders,’ he added.
In an apparent address to the new alliance, the spokeswoman for the prime minister, Billene Seyoum, tweeted that ‘any outliers that rejected the democratic processes Ethiopia embarked upon cannot be for democratisation.’
She pointed out Abiy’s opening-up of political space after taking office in 2018. His reforms included welcoming some opposition groups home from exile.
Other groups signing on Friday include the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, Agaw Democratic Movement, Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement, Gambella Peoples Liberation Army, Global Kimant People Right and Justice Movement/ Kimant Democratic Party, Sidama National Liberation Front and Somali State Resistance, according to organizers.
Tigray fighters and their allies are pressing south toward the capital, Addis Ababa, after driving government troops from Tigray in June.
The TPLF was formed in 1975 in the mountainous northern region to show resentment at the power of the centralised Ethiopian state
Inspired by Marxist-Leninism, they started as a small band of insurgents who became a guerrilla army.