ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s rebellious Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has admitted that it started the deadly conflict that has approximately killed around 500,000 people and displaced more than two million others when it attempted to ‘disarm’ the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (EDNF).
The conflict begun in November 2020 when elements of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front attacked headquarters of the EDNF Northern Command in Mekelle, and ENDF bases in Adigrat, Agula, Dansha, and Sero, sparking harsh Ethiopian federal government response.
For the last 16 months, the TPLF has maintained that it did not started the conflict and accused the Ethiopian federal government of standing behind the war which has resulted in soared relations between the Addis Ababa and its Western allies such as the United States.
In an opinion article published by the Foreign Policy website, TPLF spokesman Getachew K. Reda said Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed was about to install a ‘puppet’ government following the group’s controversial elections after the national government postponed polls following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Abiy planned to use force to oust the TPLF and install a puppet government over which he would have considerable sway. To decapitate Tigray’s leadership, the Abiy government was in the final stages of positioning personnel and heavy weapons drawn from the country’s three commands in late 2020. In addition, Abiy had also given secret directives to members of the Northern Command carefully selected based on their loyalty to the regime to prepare for an operation from within Tigray,” Getachew wrote.
He claimed that the Tigray region was surrounded ‘in all directions’ when his group’s Tigray government considered illegitimate by the federal government went on to attempt to disarm the Ethiopian National Defense Forces’ Northern Command in Tigray triggering the deadly conflict.
“Tigray was surrounded in all directions. Since the government of Tigray had timely intelligence regarding Abiy’s moves, it undertook a preemptive operation to disarm and neutralize the Northern Command—a move we considered a legitimate act of self-defense,” Getachew said.
He claimed that any failure, at the time, by the TPLF “to act would have resulted in the total annihilation of Tigray’s leadership; the Northern Command operation gave Tigray a fighting chance against a comparative military colossus.”
The senior member of the rebellious organization said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy’s immediate response “against Tigray the day after the attack on the Northern Command supports the argument that his government had already made extensive preparations for a military campaign.”