Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) held a parade in Tigray’s capital – Makelle.
They showcased more than 7,000 Ethiopian soldiers taken prisoners in the fights.
There are however claims that the number of the captive soldiers may have been exaggerated and they may in fact include some Eritrean and Somali soldiers who are alleged to have fought on the side of the Ethiopian national army.
TPLF marched into the city this week after local officials and federal government troops pulled out, and the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has since declared a unilateral ceasefire.
Celebrations erupted on the streets of Mekele this week when rebel fighters took over the city, a pivotal moment in a brutal eight-month long conflict. Crowds of jubilant locals waving the red and yellow Tigrayan flag cheered, clapped and danced in Mekele as they welcomed the returning TPLF.
There are reports that the government and the rebels from the TPLF have reached some sort of a ceasefire agreement.
The captured soldiers will be returned home through the mediation of the Red Cross, while the officers will remain in the hands of the rebels.
Tigray has been the scene of fighting since the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, sent the army in early November to topple the dissident regional authorities, which emerged from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The 2019 Nobel peace prize winner accused them of orchestrating attacks on Ethiopian military bases.
After early successes and a premature declaration of victory, government forces became bogged down in a vicious and months-long battle with pro-TPLF fighters – the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF). The Ethiopian army was backed by troops from the neighboring Amhara region and the army of Eritrea, which borders Tigray.
The United Nations and numerous government have called for a ceasefire to be respected, especially to allow humanitarian aid to reach civilian populations.
A statement on July 4th said the TPLF would accept a ceasefire in principle if there were ironclad guarantees of no further invasions, but a series of other conditions would need to be met before any agreement could be formalized.
“Invading forces from Amhara and Eritrea must withdraw from Tigray and return to their pre-war territories,” it said.
“As long as we have a foolproof guarantee that the security of our people will not be compromised by a second round of invasions, we accept a ceasefire in principle,” a statement signed by the “government of Tigray” said
“However, before a ceasefire agreement is formalised, the following thorny issues must be resolved,” the text continues, before listing the conditions.
The rebel authorities are also calling for “procedures to hold Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed and President Issaias Aferworki to account for the damage they have caused”, as well as the creation by the UN of an independent investigation body to probe the ’horrific crimes’ carried out during the conflict.
Other conditions are humanitarian, including the distribution of aid and the safe return to Tigray of displaced people.
The government in Addis Ababa has always refused to open any dialogue with the TPLF leaders, classifying the group by parliamentary decree as a terrorist organization.
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- Ethiopian Government Announces Ceasefire, As TPLF Takes Control Tigray’s Capital