ADDIS ABABA (Press TV) -- A military confrontation between Ethiopian forces and a powerful tribal faction in the northern Tigray region that is feared to escalate into a civil war is still ongoing after five days, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed now announcing three major replacements in his government.
Abiy’s office announced on Sunday that the army chief, the head of intelligence and the foreign minister had been changed without providing any explanation as to what had prompted the decision.
Deputy army chief Birhanu Jula, the office said, was promoted to army chief of staff, deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen took over the foreign ministry, and Temesgen Tiruneh, the president of the Amhara region, was named the new intelligence chief.
Amhara regional state forces and federal troops have launched a military campain against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a powerful ethnic faction that led the ruling coalition for decades until Ahmed took office in 2018.
Meanwhile, president of the Tigray region Debretsion Gebremichael hinted at the possibility of stopping the fighting with federal troops and entering into negotiations instead.
Gebremichael, who is also chairman of TPLF, said Sunday that fighting would continue until the federal government agreed to negotiate, adding that despite the continued airstrikes, the federal government held no authority in Tigray.
Tigray held regional elections in September, which the federal government called illegal, thus prompting tensions that led both sides towards armed clashes.
The regional government said a number of Tigrayans serving in the federal police and army had been sacked.
The military operations in Tigray were launched last week by the prime minister in response to what was described as an attack on federal troops.
Before Ahmed was elected, the Tigrayans held most of Ethiopia’s political power from 1991 to 2018.
Since 2018, Ahmed’s government has introduced a number of reforms, including legalizing previously banned opposition groups, and making peace with Ethiopia’s longtime enemy, neighboring Eritrea.