Ethiopia’s government has declared a state of emergency in the northern Tigray region after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accused the opposition-led local government of attacking federal troops and trying to “loot” military assets. “Our defence forces … have been ordered to carry out their mission to save the country. The final point of the red line has been crossed. Force is being used as the last measure to save the people and the country,” Abiy said in a social media post. Military operations in the region have commenced, Abiy’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday, without giving further details. In September, Tigray held regional elections in defiance of the federal government, which called the vote “illegal”. The row has escalated in recent days with both sides accusing each other of plotting a military conflict. Tigrayans had ruled Ethiopian politics since armed fighters removed a Marxist dictator in 1991, but their influence has waned under Abiy. Last year, the TPLF quit his ruling coalition. Since Abiy came to power in 2018, many senior Tigrayan officials have been detained, fired or sidelined in what the federal government describes as a crackdown on corruption. But Tigrayans say the moves are intended to suppress dissent. Tigray’s population makes up six percent of Ethiopia’s 109 million people.
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