TPLF warlord Tsadkan Gebretensae, served as chief of staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force under the late Meles Zenawi’s administration, claims TPLF got clandestine request for negotiation
It has been well over a month since the Ethiopian government unilaterally declared a humanitarian ceasefire, consequently withdrawing the Ethiopian Defense Force from much of the Tigray region. The stated objective of the ceasefire was to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid in the region and give farmers a chance to seize the rainy season to plant crops.
Neither of them happened. There are reports that farmers who are supposed to undertake their farming activity are rather fighting the TPLF’s war against the Ethiopian Defense Force, Afar and Amahra regional forces. Humanitarian aid was not delivered too as the preferred access to the region via Afar turned out to be a war zone.
Initially, the TPLF ridiculed the unilateral ceasefire, saying it was “a joke.” It was a “joke”, for TPLF, because TPLF was playing hero at the time with the claim that the Ethiopian Defense Force was routed in the region and that the ceasefire was meant for buying time. Tsadkan Gebretensae was one of the TPLF warlords, he is now given the title of member of the “central command force,” who was speaking from that position.
TPLF forces deepened their offensive against Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia in what seemed to be a demonstration of no interest in the ceasefire. It was not without a response. It stirred anger across Ethiopia, triggering unprecedented mass mobilization. Despite all out war by TPLF, it was unable to make major advances, especially in the eastern and western fronts.
Now Tsadkan Gebretensae is telling a different story. In an interview with the BBC News Hour, he said the TPLF is fighting in Afar (where tens of thousands of civilians were displaced, not to mention the number of casualties) and the Amhara region to put pressure on the Federal government to accept a ceasefire.
Not just that. TPLF wants the government to accept a ceasefire with its own terms and conditions. The release of “political prisoners,” resumption of banking and telecom services, and end to what he called harassment of Tigrayans are among the preconditions. Over 300,000 ethnic Tigreans are believed to be living in different parts of Ethiopia outside Tigray region. So far, the government admitted that the number of ethnic Tigreans arrested is under 350. Government claims that they are arrested over links to what is now designated as the terrorist TPLF group.
Tsadkan was explicitly asked why they took the fighting in the Afar region of Ethiopia. “It is to open the road in Afar that links Tigray with Djibouti.”
Furthermore, he made a claim that the Federal government has been attempting clandestine negotiation and that they demand the negotiation to be public.
The Ethiopian government has not yet remarked on the claims and remarks by Tsadkan.
However, reports emerging on social media, at times by activists with links to the war affected region, seem to suggest that the war is not going in favor of TPLF. The TPLF is said to have lost a considerable number of its forces, including child soldiers. The Ethiopian government has not yet officially lifted the unilateral ceasefire.