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Tigray rebel chief calls for political solution to conflict in Ethiopia

By Maggie Fick

NAIROBI (Reuters) – The commander of rebel forces in Tigray on Tuesday called for a negotiated ceasefire with the Ethiopian government and a political solution to the conflict in the northern region, saying the government could not win the war.

Tsadkan Gebretensae, speaking a week after the withdrawal of government forces from the Tigrayan capital Mekelle, told Reuters: “After the defeat of Abiy’s forces we are saying ‘Let’s have a negotiated ceasefire’.”

“We are restraining ourselves for a realistic political solution to the whole problem. I would like the international community to understand this situation.”

“But if there is no other choice, then the next choice will be: try to resolve it militarily,” he said by satellite phone from an undisclosed location.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s spokesperson and the head of the government task force on Tigray did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Abiy’s government has been battling the TPLF since early November, when it accused the then-governing party of Tigray of attacking military bases across the region. The TPLF has denied the charges.

Thousands of civilians and an unknown number of combatants have since been killed.

The fighting followed months of deteriorating relations. The TPLF accuses the government of discrimination against ethnic Tigrayans and attempts to centralise power. The government says it is cracking down on a TPLF “criminal clique”.

International pressure is now building on both sides to end hostilities so that aid can reach hundreds of thousands of starving people.

The Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire last week after its troops pulled out of Mekelle in what it called a strategic withdrawal. The TPLF dismissed that truce as a joke and said it had driven the government out of the city.

On Sunday, the TPLF said it wanted a full withdrawal of troops from Eritrea and the neighbouring state of Amhara before it could engage in any talks with the government about a ceasefire.

It said it would accept a ceasefire in principle if there were guarantees of no further troop deployments but a series of other conditions would need to be met before any agreement could be formalised.

These included unfettered access for aid into the region, as well as the full provision of essential services such as electricity, telecommunications and healthcare.

In the interview, Tsadkan said the war would continue unless Abiy accepted military defeat in Tigray. He also accused the government of deliberately blocking aid to the region. Aid has not been to enter Tigray since Mekelle fell but the government denies it has prevented shipments.

He also said about 8,000 soldiers are currently prisoners of the TPLF. Ethiopian army spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adene said the number of prisoners of war cited by Tsadkan was exaggerated, and Reuters could not independently verify the figures.

Tsadkan, 67, was a leader in the TPLF when it toppled the Communist Derg regime in 1991. He served as army chief of staff for a decade when the TPLF dominated the government, a period lasting nearly three decades until Abiy came to power in 2018.

On Monday, Abiy told parliament in Addis Ababa that a million young Ethiopians would volunteer to fight in Tigray if required, but also suggested he wanted a peaceful solution.

“We can continue the conflict, but the result will be to kill, to waste dollars from both sides, but we can’t win through this,” Abiy said.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


  1. This coawrd can’t not be even called military man let alone general. Usinng coerced civilians as spearhead attack tool and human shield while the coward and his toods are migling in civilian hideouts including churches and mosques does not make him anymore than scum. Even the underage boys and girls he enlisted to his militia makes him as criminal as any Criminal warlords that in Africa has produced. The west and dummy authors like this try to explain us about morality of war and peace. This are the same society that a century ago have blacks chained as animals and they still have deep racists behavior bin their society of everything alien. You can not teach morality to Ethiopians even if you scream add infinitum With TPLF still barking and provoking Ethiopia vhas every right to even consider options to preemptively attack with with least human and resource loss for the Ethiopian army. Including air bombaedment if the TPLF forces are located outside civilian areas. There is no reason to wait in Amhara borders band incurr of heavy fighting when they can be cleared on thevopen when advancing. And that also includes attacking trading bases in Sudan as that bciubtry also is openly at war with Ethiopia. The Derg knew how bto deal with Sudan back in time but we have now days weak central government and sometimes even suspectful if really is standing for what it matters. It does not make sense to wait until bTPLF attacks when you have all the means to sabotage and weaken them even if you are not to be stationed in Tigray. If they want to make a hell out of Ethipia let have the hell right in Tigray.

  2. Contrary to what is included in this article, the TPLF has at least on three occasions admitted to attacking Ethiopian Federal military bases in Tigray in November. That is what dragged the Ethiopian government to take military action. High ranking TPLF officials Getachew Reda, Tsadkan G/Tinsae and the late Sekuture Getachew have admitted this on three separate occasions and it is on record .

  3. Would ask the author to ask the corrupt Tsadkan what he did when he was in charge of Ethiopian army when ONLF insurgents was battling him in the Somali region. He literally burned down entire villages with air helicopter attacks. It could be even seen from sately imagery the crime he committed. And now is using boys and girls as young as 13 years old as charcoal for his war effort. He even is using elderly. So west moral bankruptcy is evident sleeping with sneaks. This is only pure lobbying and soul selling from the west leaders. He should be standing in ICC as right now. If you can not do it let the Ethiopian affairs to the Ethiopian people.

  4. If peace is not an option we will do it militarily. What a shame! Such moronic idea can only come from corrupted and bloodless life such as this so called commander. What a sick man. Is it not enough what has already been wasted? Do you not see the tears of Tigrean Mothers and Fathers for their loved ones? When will TPLF really represent the interest of the Tigrean people?
    At 67 years old, he still is a warmonger at heart. If anyone thinks such kind of opinion come from a normal mind they are mistaken. He and his likes are a bunch of twisted minded people wrapped up with hate, crime and atrocities through out their long destructive struggle and during their power at the helm ruling the Ethiopian people. There are no limits for their madness! The so called Western media fanning and adding fuel to the conflict is nothing new. They have been at it since the beginning of time. It serves their narratives. It has nothing in it for the people of Tigray. We have seen it in the past and it has not changed. Can someone ask the Commander where his Son’s and Daughter’s as well as his relatives are? What resources he had acquired by looting Ethiopia and its people for the last 45 years? Oh well, these facts are not sensational for the Western media to get their ratings up. It is the part with blood and guts and the images of burned up trucks and military hardware with the background image of the proud Tigrean people collecting WFP supplies. That is what the media wants to show. When are we going to wake up and say enough is enough? When will be the tears of the Habesha people be stopped for good? One thing is clear, as long as TPLF exists there will never be peace in Ethiopia. They are the most sick minded people on the planet. If you doubt this, have a conversation with Getachew Reda. He will fill you in with their far reaching plans of winning a war and gaining territories. I cry for the innocent people of Tigray, I shed my tears for the many that are displaced in the four corners of my country regardless of religion, ethnicity and language. I cry for you.
    Will there be peace and tranquility in the land of thirteen months? Time will reveal that. We have to wait for it. For now, the news is full of holes and and a creation of fabrication. We do not know which one to believe. The motto of fake news is “confuse and diffuse”. It does not matter which side is saying it, conflict and war will not benefit anyone. Let us stop this madness and rethink our path forward for the sake of the suffering people of Ethiopia.

  5. 10 preconditions for talk with Junta.. 1. Tsadqan himself and all former security officers under TPLF leadership must surrender. 2. Aigaforum Tigrayonine and all TPLF controlled medias shall be closed forever. 3. TPLF must take full responsibility for starting the war.4. All Tigrayans shall be disarmed 5. Mai Kadra criminals must be delivered to federal police. 6. Tigray should pay Amara region war repatration for the next 50 years. 7. Tigray Liyu force should be dismantled. 8. EFFORT discloses all hidden acounts for auditing. 9. Tigray shall be under a federal command post for the next 5 years. 10. TPLF formally appologizes to Eritrean people and government.

  6. Hi Maggie,

    You quote Tsadkan G. saying “After the defeat of Abiy’s forces . . .”

    By “Abiy’s forces”, I think Tsadkan meant to say Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF). The question is the EDF defeated as Tsadkan and others claim? I don’t think so.

    Right now, the U.S. is polling its out forces from Afghanistan after twenty years of fighting in the country. I’m not a military analyst, but I believe the U.S. losses in human and material are considerable. So, they have to pull out. Are they pulling out because they’re defeated? I don’t think so. Win or no win, they can drag the war going for decades, but they not interested. Are they pulling out because they have achieved their stated goals? Maybe. But the Taliban are poised to take over.

    If you go back several decades, the Russiians were also in Afghanistan. Were they defeated by the Taliban when they withdew? I don’t think so. Like the U.S. are capable to do, they cound have continued the war for decades. They didn’t.

    In my humblest opinion, no state engages in a war that when costs in human and other resources piles up. At a given point in time, governments withdraw from these kinds of wars.

    Hence, withdrawing army particularly withdrawing army unilaterally does not necessarily signify defeat. There is a cost calculus in it.

    Think of the the war in Viatnam where, first the French and then the U.S. witdrew. With the arsenal they had, they could have wiped out Viatnam from the face of the earth, but they didn’t do it. Remeber how Japan was defeated during the second world war. The N bomb. My observation is that U.S., Russian and French withdrawals from these wars are not referred to as defeat. Why? The reason is clear.

    I’m not comparing EDF with the armies of these mighty powers, but if their withdrawal is not considered as defeat, EDF’s withdrawal cannot equally be peresented as one. TPLF might bragg about its “win”, but it’s not yet out of the woods. The cost claculus makes sense for Ethiopia too.


    Tell Tsadkan to swallow his words.

    • Dear Sukri Manna,
      I am afraid I have to disagree with your assessment of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 20 years of bombing infrastructure, killing thousands, and displacing communities for NO REASON the US finally came to its senses (probably because the war exhausted it to no end, both emotionally and financially; over $3 trillions wasted); the US made matters worse than they were, accepted defeat and withdrew its forces at night!

      Coming to Tplf is a different matter altogether. Tsadkan is catering to Western media and his admirers. By claiming victory he is stealing the show. The fact however is the opposite. What victory is Tsadkan talking about when almost all Tplf leaders are either dead or in jail! On top of that he is a fugitive (really a terrorist) running away from the law; he can’t leave the country, etc.

      What is unfortunate is that Abiy’s Admin has simply surrendered the PR area to Tplf.

  7. Anyone wanna bet? How about a billion dollars? My homeboy Chairman and Reverend Debre just gave me that amount just for the wager. If you dare you can bet against my prediction that the indomitable army of my homeboy will capture Asmara and the entire Eritrea in less than a month. On August 1, 2021 his bullet proof army will wipe out the entire Eritrean and Ethiopia army and Chairman Debre will declare 89 internationally recognized autonomous republics under his benevolent leadership. That is 80 republics in the present day Ethiopia and 9 republics in the present day Eritrea. This inevitable victory will once and for all prove the fact that Eritreans, Oromos, Amharas, Somalis, Afars, Sidamas, Gambelas, Benishanguls and everyone in these two countries don’t know how to fight except Chairman Debre and his Gold Race. All of them are cowards and hide under the skirt of their mothers at the firing of the first shot. Look at what he just did. He was busy developing his country when suddenly he heard commotion outside. When asked his people what was all the noise about and they told him it was the Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali and UAE armies. That was when he pulled out his Smith & Revolver and fired in the sky. Then the entire invading armies started running away in all directions. In the midst of the stampede women from his Gold Race were able to capture 532,625 soldiers of the invading armies using the wooden spatulas they were using in their kitchens. This is the first time in the history of warfare where an armed soldier was captured by a woman using a wooden spatula. Anyone wanna bet? The latest wire I received from BBC, AFP. AP, NY Times and Reuters is both Isaias and Abiy have fled their countries. I’ve confirmation that Abiy is hiding in an abandoned building on 9th Street in DC and Isaias in some ‘hafaa’ in a condemned old shotgun house in Jeddah. The top 5 military commanders in history of warefare are Tsadkam, Debre, Getachew, Meles & Hannibal. Not a single Oromo and Amhara even made the cut because inherently they are not gallant enough to fight. They are all mama’s baby cowards.

  8. Aba Farda,

    You’re a real Aba Farda. You’re farting your eyes and brain shut.

    Wake up, man.

    TPLF is intoxicated with what it calls a “win” and flexing muscles for more. It wants to hustle hundred million strong. If it leaves Tigray in any direction, it will find itself in a minefield from which it will not survive.

    Agitationg Tigrawie to rise up against what it called “invading army” is completely different from fighting in a land that’s not its. The reality is as Tigrawie rose up, the people invaded by TPLF/Tigrawie will also rise up against the invaders.

    What TPLF called “invaders” was killed and taken prisoner because it restrained itself from shooting against people. The pople that was spared from death rose against the so called « invaders » with sticks and stones. The « invaders » allowed to be taken prisoners rather than shoot against people who come with sticks and stones. Is this a behavior of « invaders »? Not at all. They should be rewarded for their restraint instead.

    History has shown that TPLF/Tigrawie will not show such restraint when it invades. Given this fact, the invaded will have no choice but to defend themselves.

    That TPLF/Tigrawie cannot be defeated is a myth and will be shown to the whole world in a short while if TPLF/Tigrawie leave their homeland and invade their neighbours.

    TPLF’/Tigrawie’s demise is their intoxication with what they thought is a “win”. They are obssessed with baseless self agrandissement for which they’re known for decades. They don’t seem to realize that time has come to deflate their ego.

    Aba Farda, wake up and smell the coffee.

    • What did you call me, boy? You better watch your potty mouth, buster!!! I have already forwarded your comment about me to my homeboys Chairman Debre, Field Marshall Tsadkan and Prime Minister Getachew where you called me every bad name including racially motivated derogatory terms just because I am black. They will issue an arrest warrant for you thru Interpol and you will be persona non grata for the rest of your life. That means you will never be allowed to set your foot anywhere in the present Ethiopia after Chairman Debre takes over ruling the country on August 1, 2021. You know what Chairman Debre is gonna make me on August 2, 2021, a day after he takes over the entire country? He is gonna make the President of The Republic of Oromia with the Gabisa’s, Allo’s Ararso’s clans as my prime minister, foreign and defense ministers. I also asked him to make one of my long time warra Chercher(Carcar) friends, Kebede, the President of The Amhara Republic and he agreed. Watch your language, mister!!!!

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