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Ethiopia Replaces Head of War-Hit Tigray Region

Ethiopia announced Wednesday it had replaced the head of the interim administration of its war-hit Tigray region following a performance review.

Mulu Nega, a former higher education official, had been in the role since November, shortly after fighting broke out between government troops and forces loyal to the regional ruling party.

He is being replaced by Abraham Belay, who had been serving as minister of innovation and technology in the federal government, said Billene Seyoum, spokeswoman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“The appointment is a result of a six-month performance review of the role,” Billene told AFP.

Abraham is a member of Abiy’s Prosperity Party.

Neither Mulu nor Abraham responded to requests for comment late Wednesday.

Abiy announced in November that he was sending troops into Tigray after accusing the once-dominant regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of orchestrating attacks on federal army camps.

After federal troops took the regional capital Mekele in November, Mulu set about trying to establish an interim government even as fighting raged elsewhere in the northern region.

In an interview with AFP in February, he said he knew Mekele residents had “mixed feelings” about his presence in the office formerly occupied by their toppled leaders.

“They want to have a government take over the governance activities in the region,” he said.

“On the other hand, as we are not elected, they have also some doubts. That’s natural.”

He said he was happy in the job but did not want to stay on for long, planning to leave after elections are held in Tigray.

The region, still partly wracked by conflict, will not participate in national elections planned for early June, and it is unclear when voting will happen there.

Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, declared victory in Tigray in November, but TPLF leaders remain on the run.

World leaders are ramping up pressure on Abiy’s government to pursue a political resolution to the conflict, while Ethiopian officials say fighting is minimal and normalcy is returning.

Over the weekend Abiy’s Council of Ministers approved a resolution classifying the TPLF as a terrorist group, dealing a blow to the prospect of peace talks.



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