0430 GMT August 04, 2021
The dramatic reversal for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s forces signalled a turning point in the nearly eight-month-old conflict in Tigray that the UN says has pushed 350,000 people to the brink of famine, AFP reported.
The cease-fire announcement came as the rebels, who have branded themselves the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF), marched into Mekele, where residents danced as local officials fled the city.
"An unconditional, unilateral cease-fire has been declared starting from today, June 28," read a statement published Monday night by state media.
The cease-fire will last until the end of the current "farming season" and is intended to facilitate agricultural production and aid distribution while allowing rebel fighters "to return to a peaceful road", it said.
There was no immediate reaction from the TDF to the federal government’s cease-fire declaration.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday he had spoken with Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, and was "hopeful that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place".
He called recent events in Tigray “extremely worrisome,” saying they “demonstrate, once again, that there is no military solution to the crisis”.
The United States, Ireland and Britain have called for an emergency UN Security Council public meeting concerning Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray, diplomatic sources said.
The meeting could be held Friday, the same sources said.
The war in Tigray began last November, when Abiy sent troops in to oust the dissident regional leadership.
He said the move came in response to attacks by the regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), on federal army camps.
Abiy promised a swift victory, and federal troops took control of Mekele in late November.
But intense fighting has persisted throughout the region amid mounting reports of massacres and widespread sexual violence.