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Tigray Conflict: Ethiopia Not Interested in External Mediation – UN

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Ethiopia denied on Saturday that talks on the growing conflict in its northern Tigray region were imminent, just hours after three African former presidents were named to help mediate the two-week-old crisis.

Ethiopian troops are taking towns and advancing on the Tigrayan capital Mekelle in spite of resistance from regional forces who have used bulldozers to plough up roads and are putting up resistance, the Addis Ababa government said late on Friday.

Tigrayan forces said in a broadcast on Friday they were making progress on the southern and northern fronts.

Assertions on all sides have been difficult to verify because internet and phone links to the region have been down since the conflict broke out on Nov. 4.

A hint of the devastation can be seen in satellite images provided by commercial space company Maxar Technologies.

Destroyed buildings lined the main road in the town of Dansha, where the conflict broke out, the images showed.

Hundreds, possibly thousands of people have been killed, more than 30,000 refugees have fled into Sudan, and Tigrayan forces have fired rockets at Ethiopia’s Amhara region and the neighbouring nation of Eritrea.

The African Union announced late on Friday the appointment of former presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa as special envoys.

“The primary task of the Special Envoys is to engage all sides to the conflict with a view to ending hostilities, creating conditions for an inclusive national dialogue to resolve all issues that led to the conflict, and restoring peace and stability to Ethiopia,” the AU said in a statement.

The Ethiopian government has repeatedly said it will not engage in talks with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which it regards as a renegade administration, pointing to what the government says was a surprise attack the group launched on federal troops in Dansha, sparking the conflict.

“News circulating that the envoys will be travelling to Ethiopia to mediate between the Federal Government and TPLF’s criminal element is fake,” a government taskforce on Tigray tweeted on Saturday morning.

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that Ethiopia was not interested in external mediation.

“Until now, there has not been acceptance by the Ethiopian authorities of any form of external mediation,” he said.

The government has appointed an alternative interim government to run Tigray when troops take Mekelle.

Its new head gave a glimpse of government strategy this week when he hinted at forgiveness for TPLF rank and file – the political party has not been outlawed – and a public relations campaign against the TPLF.

The TPLF is extremely popular in its home region and dominated national politics from 1991 until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018.

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Kenya Planning To Destabilise Somalia, Minister Alleges

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Osman Abukar Dubbe, the Minister for Information Culture & Tourism of The Federal Republic of Somalia, has accused neighbouring Kenya of plotting to destabilise his country as it prepares for general elections.

Dubbe accused Kenya of political interference and hosting opposition leaders in Nairobi.

Politicians from Somalia’s southern Jubbaland regional state were among those who have previously held meetings in Nairobi amid discussions over Somalia’s 2020/2021 elections.

Speaking during a press conference broadcast live on the Facebook page of the state TV, Dubbe said, “We respect Kenya, appreciate our neighbourliness and mutual interest. On our side, we always uphold these principles. However, Kenya seems not to be interested in that but rather wants to pursue an inappropriate daydream and is a state focused on ambitions to pursue taking the Somali land and waters.

“Mogadishu has never hosted a single opposition politician from Kenya, who want to create tension in our neighbours, but instead, Nairobi has become a base where attacks on Somalia are launched from. It has become the base where agreements reached inside Somalia are violated.

“(Nairobi) has become a place where plans to cause political tensions intended to destabilise the emerging governance in our country… That is why we had recalled our ambassador from Nairobi for consultation,” the information minister said.

Dubbe also said al-Shabab seized territories in southern Somalia after the Kenyan Defence Forces that are part of AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) withdrew from strategic towns in the region.

“After the Kenyan forces withdrew from the towns without informing anybody they were seized (by al-Shabab). Imagine the problems the Somali people who lived there experienced. Is that something we can ignore. Go and ask the residents in Fahfadhun what had happened to them,” the minister told reporters in Mogadishu.

On Monday 30 November, the Somali federal government recalled its ambassador to Nairobi and asked Kenya’s ambassador to Mogadishu “to depart for consultations”.

The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied reports that it is interfering in Somalia’s internal and political affairs.

Relations between Kenya and Somalia have been marred in recent years largely due to a maritime dispute over a 150,000 square kilometre area in the Indian Ocean rich in oil and gas deposits.

According to the National Electoral Commission, Somalia will hold presidential elections on February 8, 2021, which will be preceded by legislative elections from December 1 to 27, 202.

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Uganda Presidential Election: Bobi Wine Resumes Campaign Tomorrow

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Bobi Wine, the candidate of the National Unity Platform (NUP) in the forthcoming Ugandan presidential election, has said he will resume campaigning on Thursday.

Bobi Wine, a former reggae musician whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said this after a meeting with the electoral commission on Wednesday.

He told reporters that he had asked the electoral body to protect opposition politicians from harassment by the security forces.

The 38-year-old had requested a meeting with the Electoral Commission chairman, Simon Byabakama after police blocked him from holding a campaign rally at Budondo sub-county headquarters in Jinja city.

Security operatives were also said to have fired live bullets at Bobi Wine and some of his supporters. A bullet was said to have hit the tyres of the presidential candidate’s car.

Kyagulanyi told journalists that since he started his campaign, security personnel have continued to harass him and the Electoral Commission has remained silent on the matter.

“I have been forced to think that the electoral commission has lost track of this race and left us to be tormented and disrespected by security organs which are meant to be protecting us,” he said on Tuesday.

At the meeting, Bobi Wine told Byabakama to ensure that the security forces stop blocking roads and venues to prevent opposition candidates from campaigning.

The police have repeatedly defended themselves, saying they were implementing guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Uganda will hold its election in January 2021.

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Tigray Crisis: Top Official Linked To TPLF Surrenders – Ethiopian Govt

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The Ethiopian government said on Tuesday that the former speaker of the House of Federation, Keria Ibrahim, who was one of the top officials of Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) has surrendered.

Ibrahim is one of nine executive committee members of TPLF, whose forces have been fighting government troops for the past month.

She served as speaker of the House of Federation, Ethiopia’s upper parliamentary chamber, before resigning in June after the planned August election was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, Ms Ibrahim accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of running a “dictatorial regime” and violating the constitution.

In September TPLF went on and held its local elections, a move that angered the Federal Government.

Mr Ahmed launched a military offensive in Tigray on 4th November, accusing TPLF leaders of treason after its fighters attacked a government military base.

The month-long conflict has killed hundreds and displaced thousands of people.

Despite the PM announcing over the weekend that the military campaign was over and successful, fighting is reportedly still ongoing in parts of Tigray region.

It has been difficult to verify claims from the Federal and Tigray regional governments because communication is heavily hampered.

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