Tigray leaders have urged Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to “stop the madness” after the nation’s military claimed to have taken control of Mekele, the Tigray region’s capital, on Saturday.
Leaders demanded the PM withdraw troops from the region, adding that the fight between the two areas would continue “on every front” two days after Abiy announced victory.
Speaking with The Associated Press on Monday, Debretsion Gebremichael, leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said they “will continue until the invaders are out.”
Reports from human rights organizations affirm that the conflict has led to the death of hundreds of civilians. Tens of thousands of Tigrayans have fled the country to neighboring country Sudan to escape ethnic violence.
Abiy has denied reports that any civilian lives had been lost during the conflict.
“Our constitution was attacked but it didn’t take us three years, it took us three weeks,” Abiy told parliament, he said, referencing the American Civil War of the 1860s. “Our army is disciplined and victorious.”
The Nobel Peace Prize winner insisted that while drones were used to observe the TPLF, no rockets were used during the Mekele takeover. “Even though we have better capacity, we won’t use it. We are not the junta,” he said. “We conduct ourselves responsibly.”
“Attempting to rule the people of Tigray by force is like walking on a burning flame,” the Tigrayan statement reads. “Tigray will be the graveyard of dictators.”
Abiy refused all invitations for peace talks to resolve the conflict.