Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: Accept our rule or no ceasefire, rebels say

Rebels in Ethiopia's Tigray region say they must be recognised as its legitimate government before they accept any ceasefire.The withdrawal of Eritrean troops was another precondition in a long list.

The authorities in Addis Ababa earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire as the rebels retook much of the region and government officials fled. Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels initially described the Ethiopian government's ceasefire as a "joke" and vowed to drive their "enemies" from the region. This included Eritrean troops and pro-Ethiopian government forces from Ethiopia's Amhara region to the south of Tigray. But they have now produced a long list of preconditions for agreeing to a ceasefire, including an independent investigation into alleged war crimes, the delivery of humanitarian aid and restoration of basic services such as electricity.

Eight months of fighting between the rebels and government forces have left thousands of people dead. More than two million people have been displaced and 400,000 are now affected by famine, the UN says, with a further 1.8 million on the brink of famine.

BBC World Service Africa editor Will Ross says for the Addis Ababa government to accept this precondition of rebel recognition, it would effectively have to admit it had lost the war and failed to oust its enemy.

There are growing international calls for a ceasefire in order for aid to reach the millions of victims of the war, he says, but it will take huge compromise by all sides in order to achieve peace.

The conflict started on 4 November, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive against regional forces in Tigray. He said he did so in response to an attack on a military base housing government troops there.

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