Ethiopia has further intensified the pressure on the country’s restive northern Tigray region by moving to replace the local leadership with a new centrally imposed administration.
The move comes amid clashes between Tigrayan and national military forces that have brought Africa’s second most populous nation to the brink of what analysts say could be a long drawn-out and bloody civil war.
The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has called for an immediate de-escalation of tensions and a peaceful resolution to the dispute but there currently appears to be little desire to talk on either side.
In a statement on Saturday, Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel peace prize last year for ending a long-running conflict with neighbouring Eritrea, said “criminal elements cannot escape the rule of law under the guise of seeking reconciliation and a call for dialogue”.
“Our operation aims to end the impunity that has prevailed for far too long and hold accountable individuals and groups under the laws of the land,” Abiy said.
The vote on Saturday by the upper house of parliament now gives Abiy the power to replace a Tigray leadership his government regards as illegal.
A statement posted on the Facebook page of the Tigray government said it would win the “justified” war, and added that “a fighter will not negotiate with their enemies”.