ADDIS ABABA (Reuters)
November 13, 2020
Ethiopia sought to tighten its grip on the rebellious Tigray region on Friday by appointing a new local leader during a military offensive that has killed hundreds and shaken the wider Horn of Africa region.
Abiy accuses the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which rules the mountainous region of more than five million people, of treason and terrorism. They say he has systematically persecuted Tigrayans since taking office in April 2018.
The conflict began last week when Abiy says the TPLF attacked a military base, since when his army has been carrying out air strikes and ground combat which the government says has “liberated” west Tigray.
Abiy, who comes from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group the Oromo, said parliament had named former Addis Ababa university professor and deputy minister for science and higher education Mulu Nega, 52, as chief executive of Tigray.
“The Chief Executive will recruit and appoint heads to lead executive organs of the regional state from political parties legally operating in the region,” he tweeted.
Current Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael, who won a local election in September despite central government orders to cancel it, has been formally accused along with other TPLF officials of treason, armed rebellion and terrorism.
There was no immediate response from Debretsion or other TPLF figures to Friday’s appointment. A dissertation by Mulu, published on the web site of Twente University in the Netherlands where he obtained a doctorate in 2012, states his place of birth as Tigray.