ETHIOPIA stands on the brink of civil war as a dispute between the country’s national government and the autonomous northern Tigray region threatens to spill into violent confrontation ahead of tomorrow’s regional election.
“Any decision by the House of Federation to stop or interrupt the election of Tigray will be tantamount to a declaration of war,” a statement from Tigray State Council warned.
Addis Ababa had banned the poll due to political unrest and the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier this week it warned that attempts to press ahead with the election in defiance of the federal government would be unconstitutional.
The vote is part of a national general election that was postponed earlier this year due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is one of 10 autonomous states in a country riven by tribal and ethnic conflict.
It is controlled by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a powerful force in national politics since its army overthrew the Deng administration in 1991.
But it has been locked in a power play with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since refusing to merge into his Prosperity party, which replaced the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.
The country faces the prospect of a civil war as Tigray insists on pressing ahead with the poll, while Ethiopian authorities take measures to prevent it from taking place.
The notorious National Intelligence and Security Services forcibly removed at least 10 journalists from an Ethiopian Airlines plane headed to Tigray on Monday to prevent coverage of the election.
The Ethiopian Foreign Correspondents Association said: “Authorities confiscated or attempted to confiscate phones, laptops and identification cards from all passengers.
“Very limited information was provided as to how to retrieve these items. Members of the public were also barred from boarding the flight.”