Kenya: Blinken Decries Military Escalation in Ethiopia in Phone Call With Kenyatta

27 November 2021

Nairobi — The United States (US) Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed concern about the signs of military escalation in Ethiopia in a phone call with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday.

Ethiopian forces are currently engaged in a fight with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which is backed by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).

The State Department's Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that Blinken emphasized the need for urgent negotiations to arrest the situation.

"Secretary Blinken expressed grave concern about worrying signs of military escalation in Ethiopia and emphasized the need to urgently move to negotiations," said Price.

Blinken's statement dated November 26 came a few days after reports emerged that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had joined the front line in the battle against regional forces from Tigray who recently warned that they will be advancing to Addis Ababa.

President Kenyatta and Blinken agreed on the importance of unhindered humanitarian access for all communities affected by the conflict and reiterated their support for an inclusive political dialogue.

The ongoing conflict has prompted the international community to advise their citizens to leave the country for the sake of their safety.

Despite continuous calls for ceasefire between the warrying parties, both sides have remained adamant in the war that has displaced hundreds of thousands and killed thousands.

The United States and Kenya pressed for a ceasefire in Ethiopia during Blinken's three-nation tour of Africa in November. Blinked was in Nairobi on November 17-18.

During the visit, the US Secretary of State warned of a global retreat in democracy as he encouraged Kenya to ensure free elections during in 2022.

Kenya has been on the forefront in calling for dialogue between Abiy's government and the regional government in Tigray.

On November 14, President Kenyatta made an unscheduled visit to Ethiopia and met Abiy over the conflict that that began in 2020 when the Nobel Prize winner launched a military offensive against the TPLF in Tigray.

On Friday, Abiy vowed to "bury the enemy" in his first message from the battlefront according to state media, as the UN warned the year-long conflict had left millions short of food.

As Tigrayan rebels reported major territorial gains, claiming to have seized a town just 220 kilometres (135 miles) from Addis Ababa, international alarm over the escalating conflict has deepened, with foreign countries urging their citizens to leave.

State media reported Wednesday that Abiy, a former lieutenant-colonel in the military, had arrived at the front line to lead a counter-offensive against the rebels, handing regular duties to his deputy.

In an interview shown Friday on the state-affiliated Oromia Broadcasting Corporation channel, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner said he was certain of achieving victory against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group.

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