SA calls for 'immediate' ceasefire in Ethiopia

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A supporter of the Ethiopian Citizen for Social Justice party waves a flag.
A supporter of the Ethiopian Citizen for Social Justice party waves a flag.
MARCO LONGARI / AFP
  • South Africa and Kenya have urged Ethiopia to commit to an immediate ceasefire.
  • The war has already killed thousands.
  • Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has vowed to head to the front to lead soldiers battling the rebels.

South Africa and Kenya urged warring parties in Ethiopia on Tuesday to commit to an immediate ceasefire, a day after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed to head to the front to lead soldiers battling the rebels.

The year-long war already killed thousands and pushed hundreds of thousands into famine-like condition, according to the UN.

Following talks with his visiting Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, President Cyril Ramaphosa said they had discussed the "grave situation" in Ethiopia.

"We expressed our conviction that there is scope for dialogue among the warring parties in Ethiopia and that there is an urgent need for all parties to the conflict to commit to an immediate indefinite, negotiated ceasefire, and an all inclusive political dialogue," added Ramaphosa.

On Monday, Abiy said he would "mobilise to the front to lead the defence forces" and called on Ethiopians to "rise up for your country".

READ | Law professor detained in Ethiopia

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) said it was pressing towards Addis Ababa, claiming control of Shewa Robit town, 220km north-east of the capital by road.

Abiy sent troops into Ethiopia's northern-most Tigray region to topple the TPLF rebel group in November 2020, saying the move came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps.

Though he promised a swift victory, by late June, the TPLF had regrouped and retaken most of Tigray, including its capital, Mekele, prompting the federal army to largely withdraw from the region.

Since then, the TPLF has pushed into the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara.

It has also formed an alliance with other insurgent groups, including the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which is active in the Oromia region surrounding Addis Ababa.

READ | At least 1 000 arrested since Ethiopia state of emergency, says UN

In early November, Abiy's government declared a six-month state of emergency.

Fears of a rebel advance on the capital have prompted several countries, including the US and Britain, to pull out non-essential diplomatic staff.

Kenyatta landed in South Africa late Monday for a three-day working visit.

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