New alliance wants to oust Ethiopia’s premier by talks or force

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 11, 2021 file photo, Ethiopian government soldiers ride in the back of a truck on a road leading to Abi Adi, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. The United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 that humanitarian conditions in Ethiopia are "hellish" as the nine-month Tigray conflict spreads in Africa's second most populous country. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

A newly-formed alliance of Ethiopian opposition factions has set a goal of bringing down Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed by force or negotiation.

The alliance plans to follow that up by forming a transitional government.

The current government, already embroiled in a year-long war against northern forces, dismissed the alliance’s creation as a stunt and accused some members of past ethnic violence.

The alliance was announced by faction leaders in Washington in spite of the calls from African and Western leaders for a national ceasefire, as federal troops battle the northern-based Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allies.

With the rebels threatening to move on to the capital Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian army on Friday called on former personnel to rejoin the military to fight them, state media said.

The U.N. Security Council on Friday called for an end to the fighting in Ethiopia and for talks on a lasting ceasefire as the 15-member body expressed deep concern in a rare statement about the expansion and intensification of military clashes.

The council also “called for refraining from inflammatory hate speech and incitement to violence and divisiveness.”

The U.S. advised its citizens to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible, with the U.S. Embassy, in a statement, saying: “The security environment in Ethiopia is very fluid.”

The war, which has killed thousands of people and forced more than two million from their homes, has intensified in recent weeks.

Announcing the formation of the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces at an event in Washington, the alliance said it was setting up a command to coordinate military and political efforts.

“The next step will be to organise ourselves and totally dismantle the existing government, either by force or by negotiation … then insert a transitional government,” said Mahamud Ugas Muhumed, of the Somali State Resistance, one of nine member groups, all of whom have armed units.

The pact expands an existing agreement between the TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), organisers said.

“We’re trying to bring an end to this terrible situation in Ethiopia, which is created single-handedly by the Abiy government,” said Berhane Gebrekristos, a TPLF leader and former Ethiopian ambassador to the United States.

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