Ethiopia’s government on Monday declared an immediate, unilateral ceasefire in its Tigray region after nearly eight months of deadly conflict as Tigray forces occupied the regional capital, soldiers retreated, and hundreds of thousands of people continue to face the world’s worst famine crisis in a decade. The ceasefire could calm a war that has destabilized Africa's second most populous country and threatened to do the same in the wider Horn of Africa, where Ethiopia has been seen as a key security ally for the West. It comes as the country awaits the results of national elections that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promoted as the centerpiece of reforms that won him the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, the AP reports.
Abiy's transformation from making peace to waging war has appalled many observers since the fighting in Tigray erupted in November. Since then, the world has struggled to access much of the region and investigate growing allegations of atrocities including gang rapes and forced starvation. Thousands of people in the region of 6 million have been killed. Ethiopia's statement was carried by state media shortly after the Tigray interim administration, appointed by the federal government, fled the regional capital, Mekele, and called for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds so that desperately needed aid can be delivered. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he had spoken with the prime minister and is "hopeful that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place." Meanwhile, Mekele residents cheered the return of Tigray forces for the first time since Ethiopian forces took the city in late November and Abiy declared victory.
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