Africa

Nine Ethiopian groups to form anti-government alliance

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)

Nine anti-government factions in Ethiopia will form an alliance on Friday, two of the groups named in an announcement seen by Reuters said, as pressure mounts on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with rebel forces making advances towards the capital.

Two of the groups, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and the Agaw Democratic Movement (ADM), confirmed to Reuters the announcement was genuine.

Several of the groups have armed fighters although it was not clear if they all do.

Abiy’s spokesperson, Billene Seyoum, asked about the new anti-government alliance, referred Reuters to a comment she posted on Twitter in which she defended Abiy’s rule since he first took office in 2018 following a wave of anti-government protests. His party was re-elected in June.

“The opening up of the political space three years ago provided ample opportunity for contenders to settle their differences at the ballot box in June 2021,” Seyoum said in the post.

She did not refer directly to the new alliance.

Spokespeople for the government and the foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the alliance.

On Thursday, African and Western nations called for an immediate ceasefire in Ethiopia after Tigrayan forces from the north said they made advances towards the capital this week.

The announcement of the new alliance comes during a two-day visit to Addis Ababa by U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman.

On Thursday, he met African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, as well as the Ethiopian defence minister, finance minister and deputy prime minister, according to the State Department.

It was not clear whether the U.S. envoy would meet Abiy. His spokesperson said she had no information on that.

The new alliance, called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces, includes the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been fighting Abiy’s government for a year in a war that has killed thousands of people and forced more than two million more from their homes.

The TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda did not respond to comment requests on Friday.

The groups will hold a signing ceremony on Friday in Washington, they said in the announcement.

The front is being formed to reverse the harmful effects of Abiy’s rule on the peoples of Ethiopia, the groups said.

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