Ethiopia yesterday denied 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, despite 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 were not immediately available for comment. They said in a broadcast on Friday that they were making progress on the southern and northern fronts.
Assertions on all sides have been difficult to verify because Internet and telephone links to the region have been down since the conflict broke out on Nov. 4.
The devastation can be seen in satellite images provided by commercial space company Maxar Technologies, which show destroyed buildings along the main road in the town of Dansha, where the conflict broke out.
Hundreds, possibly thousands of people have been killed, more than 30,000 refugees have fled to Sudan, and Tigrayan forces have fired rockets at Ethiopia’s Amhara region and neighboring Eritrea.
The African Union late on Friday announced 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 union said in a statement.
The Ethiopian government has repeatedly said that 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 said 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 wrote on Twitter yesterday morning.
On Friday, UN 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 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 Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018.
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible adult population within just seven days, the Bhutanese Ministry of Health said on Tuesday. The tiny country, wedged between India and China and home to nearly 800,000 people, began giving out second doses on Tuesday last week in a mass drive that has been hailed by the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as “arguably the fastest vaccination campaign to be executed during a pandemic.” Bhutan grabbed headlines in April when its government said it had inoculated about the same percentage of eligible adults with the first dose
MISINFORMATION: The digital giant said there were ‘numerous’ offending videos that were removed from the channel, which has 1.85 million subscribers Sky News Australia has been banned from uploading content to YouTube for seven days after contravening its medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos that denied the existence of COVID-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin. The ban was imposed by the digital giant on Thursday afternoon, the day after the UK’s Daily Telegraph ended Alan Jones’ regular column amid controversy about his COVID-19 commentary, which included calling the New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant a village idiot on his Sky News program. YouTube has not disclosed which Sky News program the videos were from, but said there
African nations should build capacity to produce vaccines on the continent and work with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the raw materials needed to produce the inoculations are available, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. While a waiver on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights that is being discussed at the WTO is seen as a way to improve the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s least inoculated continent, Okonjo-Iweala said that only a handful of African countries have the capacity to produce the life-saving drugs. “There [are] a handful of countries — maybe Tunisia, Morocco to some extent,
CAUSE FOR ALARM: The virus has spread through 14 provinces in just a few days despite high vaccination rates, as authorities ramp up containment measures China is confronting its broadest COVID-19 outbreak since the pathogen emerged in late 2019 after the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant broke through the country’s defenses, with cases now in 14 provinces. While the overall number of infections — more than 300 so far — is much lower than outbreaks elsewhere, the wide spread indicates that the variant has been on the loose for some time and is alarming officials who wield the strictest containment measures in the world. It is the biggest challenge for the world’s second-largest economy since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December