Ethiopian government soldiers and Tigrayan fighters are battling for control of the country's northern Tigray region. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) sees Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as a bitter enemy: in the 25 years before he became Ethiopia’s leader in 2018, the TPLF dominated national politics and controlled ministerial, government and military appointments. Critics called the TPLF-led coalition authoritarian. Abiy, an ethnic Oromo, shut the TPLF out of his new coalition and promised democratic reforms.
How did it start?
In November 2020, Abiy ordered a military offensive in Tigray. He accused the TPLF of attacking an Ethiopian army base in the region.
Tensions between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF had been rising in the previous months, after Tigray held a regional election in September 2020 without the permission of the central government. The government had postponed general elections earlier in the year, citing coronavirus concerns.
At first it appeared the Ethiopian army had defeated the TPLF. But in June 2021 the TPLF retook the Tigrayan regional capital Mekele. Prime Minister Abiy declared a ceasefire on June 28. But fighting continued and began affecting the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.