Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed replaced his army chief, the head of intelligence and the foreign minister on Sunday as the conflict with the northern Tigray region escalates.
Abiy’s office said in a statement that Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen had been appointed foreign minister while deputy army chief Birhanu Jula was promoted to army chief of staff.
Temesgen Tiruneh, who was president of the Amhara region, was appointed as the new intelligence chief.
The prime minister did not explain the move but on Sunday he accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), an ethnic faction in the north of the country of preparing for war with the federal government since 2018.
Fears of a civil war
Though he did not provide any evidence.
Tensions rose with the Tigray region on Wednesday after the prime minister accused the TPLF of an attack on federal troops.
The federal army is continuing its offensive on the area and it’s feared the fighting could spark a civil war.
Communications systems in the Tigray region have been shut down since Wednesday, making it difficult to confirm reports of violence.
Nine million risk displacement
Tigrayans dominated Ethiopian politics for decades until Abiy was elected and reorganised the ruling coalition into a single party which the TPLF refused to join.
Tensions mounted in September after Tigray held a regional election despite the federal government calling the vote illegal.
Nine million people risk displacement from the escalating conflict, the United Nations said in a report published on Saturday. It also warned that the fighting was blocking food and other aid.