Getachew: Ethiopia lying, thousands of Eritrean troops still in Tigray

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda – then Ethiopian Government Communication Affairs Office Minister – addresses a news conference on violent protests that had been taking place in the Oromiya Region in November, 2015, in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on February 25, 2016. [Photo by REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri]

MEKELLE, Ethiopia - The federal republic of Ethiopia is misleading the world about the alleged withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the Tigray region, the Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] has sided while recognizing efforts by the foreign troops to vacate from various fronts in compliance with the Nairobi and Pretoria peace accord.

Getachew Reda, the spokesperson of the outfit and one of the negotiators, said the statement attributed to Major General Teshome Gemmechu Directorate General of Defense Foreign Relations and Military Cooperation of Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF], was both "inaccurate and misleading".

According to him, while there are signs of withdrawal from all fronts by Eritrean troops and Amhara regional militia, their presence in Tigray is still noticeable, adding that Addis Ababa should be "honest" when addressing critical issues that matter in national cohesion and integration.

"The following statement attributed to Gen Teshome of the ENDF is quite misleading at least for two reasons. One, it’s factually inaccurate as, despite commendable signs of withdrawal of non-ENDF forces, there are thousands of Eritrean and Amhara forces in Tigray," he said in a tweet.

"Monitoring and Compliance Team of the AU to verify whether this has indeed happened as per our agreement. And if the Team’s itinerary is any guide, there is little to suggest that this is going to happen soon. There is tons of withdrawal to be done before that happens," he added.

A few weeks ago, the TPLF started complying with some of the clauses in the peace deal, particularly handing over of sophisticated weapons to the Ethiopian troops. The TPLF agreed to participate in the disarmament process, while asking the government to restore critical services among them banking and telecommunication in Tigray, besides withdrawing foreign troops.

His sentiments corroborated a statement by US ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield who said on Saturday that Eritrean troops are still in Ethiopia although they have moved back the border, contradicting Ethiopian authorities who say the Eritreans have already left Tigray.

Major General Teshome Gemmechu said the country's military has taken charge, perhaps in compliance with the peace accord signed in Nairobi and Pretoria between Addis Ababa and Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF]. He insisted that the country was determined to have the accord implemented.

While briefing military attaches, African Union representatives, and members of the international community, Major General Teshome maintained that Ethiopia was committed to achieving peace and stability, after having been ranked as one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa.

There have been concerns that the Eritrean troops are yet to completely withdraw from Tigray even with reports that a number of them have left Shire and Axum, an ancient town in the northern region. The Amhara regional militia has also been fighting alongside ENDF in Tigray.

He also said there were many encouraging steps taken to implement the agreement including visits by government officials, opening up and services in the Tigray region, ENDF said, crediting the government for 78% of daily humanitarian supplies, and asking the international community “to strengthen their support.”


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